#410 April 20, 2015 – Project Loon Ready to Soar

This week’s headline story: Project Loon Ready to Soar!

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 8.38.08 AMGoogle is preparing to launch thousands of high-altitude balloons to provide Internet access to unserved and under-served areas around the globe. Dubbed “Project Loon” the two year old effort has gone from “will it work?” to being presented as something that will work. The Project Loon team has posted a new video showing everything from how it manages its Internet-delivering balloon fleet, the balloon creation process, their partnership with local LTE network providers abroad and other aspects of the initiative. The team has has progressed from struggling to launch and keep one balloon aloft each day, to launching dozens of balloons a day, and keeping them afloat for up to 100 days at a time. Check out the video in the show notes.

in other tech news…

  • Insurance company now offers discounts — if you let it track your Fitbit [Computerworld]
    Fitness bands are popular for tracking steps, calories and sleep in hopes of losing weight and leading a healthier lifestyle. Now they may provide financial savings as well. John Hancock policyholders who wear Internet-connected Fitbit can get discounts of up to 15% on their life insurance policy.
  • Jawbone Gets a Charge Out of Amex [Ecommerce News]
    One fitness band also serves as as an electronic wallet. Jawbones new UP4 smartband, scheduled for release this summer, complements its biometrics-tracking with a mobile payment capability powered by American Express. Just swipe the band over a reader at checkout to pay for merchandise.

in Information Security News…

  • Investigators Warn Airplane Computers Could Be Hacked [NewsFactor]
    The Government Accountability Office presents chilling new scenarios for airlines and passengers. As airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration attempt to modernize planes and flight tracking with Internet-based technology, attackers have a new vulnerability they could exploit. A worst-case scenario is that a terrorist with a laptop would sit among the passengers and take control of the airplane using its passenger Wi-Fi. It’s recommended that aircraft control systems run on seperate network connection than passenger wi-fi, rather than trusting firewalls to keep hackers out.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Analysts Puzzle Over Apple Watch Preorder Figures [Ecommerce News]
    Will Apple Watch succeed in the market? With a million pre-oreders taken in the first day offered, many analysts have become certain that it will.
  • Android Phone Gone AWOL? Just Google It [NewsFactor]
    Google is offering a valuable new feature for Android phone users. When you can’t find your phone, just type “find my phone” in Google search to see a map to your phone with a button that allows you to ring it up. The feature only works with the latest version of Android – Android Lollipop.
  • MakerBot lays off one-fifth of its workforce [Engadget]
    Makerbot, the company credited for starting the 3D printing craze, has laid off roughly 20 percent of its staff and closed some of its stores. The company says that it is focusing its efforts on improving and iterating its products, growing its 3D ecosystem, shifting its retail focus to its national partners and expanding its efforts in the professional and education markets. Makerbot was acquired by 3D printing giant Stratasys in 2013.
  • European Union Charges Google for Violating Antitrust Laws [NewsFactor]
    Google has 10 weeks to respond to the finding of the European Commission that it gives an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service when users look for product information online.

and finally,

  • Internet Naming Body Moves To Crack Down on .Sucks Domains [NewsFactor]
    The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, recently approved 600 new top level domain names, and is now reconsidering one. ICANN is getting complaints about the new .sucks domain name. The Canadian company, Vox Populi Registry Ltd., is charging businesses roughly $2000/year to purchase and protect their brand.sucks domain name before the name is released to the public, where it will sell for only around $10 a year. Major companies and industry groups wrote ICANN asking it to halt the roll-out of “.sucks,” calling it a “shakedown scheme” and “predatory.”

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