When we reviewed Amazon's Fire Phone, we said that you'd better off waiting for the sequel. That's good advice for you, but not ideal for the company, since it ate a $170 million loss and has $83 million worth of unsold devices piled high in warehouses. It's probably for that reason that the company has, once again, slashed the off-contract price of the handset down from $449 to $199. Technically, of course, since the device comes with a year's free Prime subscription (worth $99), you're only really paying $100, which you have to admit is pretty damn cheap. You're still probably better to wait for the follow-up, though.
Sony Pictures' employees around the globe are still locked out of their company computers after they were hacked on the 24th by a group calling itself the "Guardians of Peace." Now, new details have emerged that shed some light on what they want and how they did it. Someone who claims to be part of the group and identifies himself as "Lena" told Salted Hash and The Verge that it's not money they're after: "We Want equality. Sony doesn't. It's an upward battle." Further, he hints that the whole deal was an inside job and that they have physical access to the company's offices: "Sony left their doors unlocked, and it bit them," Lena wrote. "They don't do physical security anymore. Sony doesn't lock their doors, physically, so we worked with other staff with similar interests to get in."
What's the next hot connected gadget category? Forget watches, we're thinking bikes, judging by the overwhelming interest in crazy, innovative new models like Teague's 'Denny' e-bike. Chinese search giant Baidu is all over that with the Dubike, a non-motorized bicycle equipped with regenerative electric tech and laden with smart fitness technology. It sports heart rate, pedal rate, peddle pressure and other sensors which which connect via Bluetooth to a smartphone app. With that info, it'll monitor your health stats, provide mapping directions, track your bike's position and recommend cycling routes or fitness programs via social networks -- to name just a few possible functions.
Tinkering to get better performance out of your ride is one of the more rewarding aspects of vehicle ownership. The thing is, as cars have become more and more computer-dependent, getting a horsepower boost or better gas mileage by swapping exhaust systems or air filters is just the beginning. Sometimes to hit the level you'd want, tweaking the engine control or primary control module by aftermarket means is necessary. Thanks to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, however, that puts wrenching on your vehicle into murky legal territory. The folks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (PDF) have your back and are hoping to keep the DMCA out from under your hood, though. As Autoblog notes, the EFF is hoping its petition to the federal copyright office will result in removing some of the legal issues that can arise from futzing with your car's electronic brain-box.
A call comes in on Skype from that old family friend who's now living in Sweden, but you're in the middle of a pretty amazing game of Threes, or finely honing a very important email that needs to be sent this hour. Take the call? Pretend you're not there? Well, you can now multitask on your Android phone in the latest Skype app update. It adds a picture-in-picture floating window of the incoming video call, which can rest over whatever you're already doing on that device. Just remember to keep those filler noises flowin', even if you're paying no attention.
Usually, deleting emails is a no-fanfare, one-click affair -- but not when you're the Central Intelligence Agency or the Department of Homeland Security. Both agencies have recently submitted proposals to the National Archives and Records Administration that outline their plans to delete years' worth of emails, which the Archives has already tentatively approved. The CIA apparently turned one in to comply with the administration's directive, ordering federal agencies to conjure up viable plans to better manage government emails by 2016. If approved, all the correspondences of every person to ever be employed by the CIA will be flushed down the digital toilet three years after they leave. All messages older than seven years old will also be nuked, and only the digital missives of 22 top officials will be preserved -- something which several senators do not want to happen.
Sony's first idea to be born out of its new built-in "venture style" plan to create new products and impress, well, you and me, is apparently a combination of its e-ink reader tech and a smartwatch device. According to people familiar with the matter, both the watch face and wristband will be crafted from a "patented material" that'll be able to offer up all kinds of displays and different designs -- something that is also the thinking between the image you see above. That's no Sony prototype, but FES' e-ink watch: a device that's seeking crowdfunding in, oh, Japan. Using e-ink could also differentiate the product, if it happens, from the Pebble, which uses a lower-resolution monochrome LCD instead.
Tired of just having static pictures to visually guide you through your contacts list? If so, you're in luck. A new app for iOS brings video updates to said collection of names and numbers so "you can see what all your friends are up to." The software is called Rinbw, and it replaces images for your pals that opt in with 5-second clips updated at will. You can also "fruit" a clip, which is the app's term for letting folks know you've seen their latest work. And as you might expect, notifications alert you every time a fellow Rinbw user posts a new status. "Scrolling through your contact list used to be boring and unexciting. Rinbw turns it into a fun way to share moments of your life with your friends at any time and place," the company explains. Itchin' to give it a go? The app available for free via the iTunes link that follows.
China's strained relationship with the concept of intellectual property is one of the reasons that you can buy a local copy of a Range Rover Evoque for a third of the price. That's one of the reasons why western businesses are wary about selling their products in the nation, since it can often be time consuming and expensive. Still, it looks as if HBO is going to try and buck the trend after recruiting Tencent to distribute shows such as Game of Thrones, Rome and True Detective through the latter's Tencent Video streaming service.
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