Marriott hotel in Nashville

The battle between hotels and hotspot-toting travelers isn't over just because Marriott settled a complaint that it blocked personal WiFi -- far from it. Google, Microsoft and a US carrier lobbying group (the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association) are opposing a hotel industry petition asking the FCC to let them block guests' hotspots while they're on the premises. Google and its allies contend that the hospitality business is trying not only to make customers pay for expensive WiFi, but also to effectively take control of unlicensed wireless frequencies. Everyone has "equal rights" to use those airwaves, the carriers say.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

Silk? Meh. Taffeta? Blergh. When it came time to craft her latest dress, Dutch artist Anouk Wipprecht instead turned to 3D printing and one of Intel's teensy Edison modules for something truly special. The end result? A "spider" dress that leaps to defend its wearer when it senses motion. (Our internal pedants would point out that the six legs make it more of an insect dress than a spider dress, but we digress).

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

Vizio is cracking jokes about fellow TV manufacturers like LG and Samsung with this new ad for anti-curved glasses. While we weren't bothered by it in our observations, we also haven't seen a ton of benefit from the approach yet. As usual, Vizio is separating itself from the pack by promising tech customers want, at a lower price, something it claimed when the others were pushing expensive 3D glasses or charging a ton for WiFi-equipped smart TVs. The tagline for 2015? "Beautifully flat Ultra HD." Vizio won't be showing off its TVs in Las Vegas this year, but the ad will give us something to consider while we're checking out what all the others have to offer.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

Transparency has always been one of Mozilla's big selling points with Firefox OS, but a new smartphone from KDDI in Japan is taking that idea to its literal extreme. KDDI's Fx0 is the first Firefox OS phone to hit Japan, and as you can see, its clear case (crafted by designer Yoshioka Tokujin) doesn't leave much to the imagination. It's also the first device running Mozilla's mobile platform to include LTE and NFC. And unlike most Firefox OS phones, it packs in some decent hardware, including a quad-core 1.2 Ghz Snapdragon 400 processor, 1.5GB of RAM, and a 4.7-inch IPS display. Up until now, Firefox OS been targeted at low-end devices for emerging markets like Brazil. But the Fx0 shows that Mozilla wants to take on developed markets, rather than just compete for scraps.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

The US military would like to use small drones a lot more, especially to gather intelligence inside buildings and other structures. The problem? Most drones aren't fast or maneuverable in tight places, to the point that even a kangaroo can take one out. Enter DARPA: the gadget arm of the military has just created the Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program to build fully autonomous UAVs that can get through "a labyrinth of rooms, stairs and... other obstacle filled environments." The drones would also have to move at 45 miles per hour in complex spaces without relying on GPS waypoints -- which is where the birds of prey come in.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

Android Lollipop statue on Google's campus

And just like that, the Rockstar Consortium's lawsuit campaign against Android is over. The patent holding group (backed by Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft and Sony) has sold all of its commonly held patents to clearinghouse RPX for $900 million, or a fraction of the $4.5 billion the total patent pool was worth a few years ago. Rockstar will accordingly drop the lawsuits that it still had left, including those leveled against HTC, LG and Samsung. Don't worry that RPX will promptly turn around and sue someone else, either. It already has a deal to license those patents for defensive purposes to a group of 30-plus companies, including Google and Cisco, while the Rockstar companies get to keep their licenses.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

Skype on the web

Want to get advice while you're plugging away at that big report in Office Online? You won't have to fire up a separate app (or website) any longer. As hinted at by recent leaks, Skype chat is now built into the web productivity suite's versions of PowerPoint and Word. If you want to share ideas with a colleague, you can keep the conversation running alongside your docs without having to juggle windows or browser tabs. Yes, Google Drive has had a similar option for a while, but this collaboration upgrade is definitely handy if you frequently work in Microsoft's world.

0 Comments

It was during German trade show IFA that LG's home appliance boss Jo Seong-jin allegedly damaged a Samsung washing machine while visiting a local store. He may have thought that his actions were mere high-school hijinks, but his Korean rivals don't see it that way. In fact, the hostility between the companies has boiled over to the point where Samsung reported the incident to South Korea's authorities, who have apparently banned the executive from traveling to CES in January.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

Uber in New York City

Ridesharing companies like Uber insure drivers when they're picking up fares, and personal policies are supposed to cover moments when those drivers are waiting for customers. However, BuzzFeed News has learned that it doesn't work that way in practice -- and that's potentially a very expensive problem if you've signed up. While Uber says that "many" personal insurance plans safeguard its drivers in between rides, some of the largest US insurers (Allstate, Geico, Progressive and State Farm) say that these options won't cover ridesharing at any point. They may even cancel your policy if they find out that you're taking paying passengers. Moreover, both Lyft and Uber limit their liability for victims outside the car to $50,000. You could still rack up a huge medical bill if one of these drivers hits you while you're crossing the street.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

Sony Pictures claimed it couldn't premiere The Interview after major theater chains pulled out due to threats, but independent operators (and the president) have successfully called it out. Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League tweeted that Sony has authorized screenings of the now must-see film, and you can expect to see Christmas Day shows available within the hour. The Hollywood Reporter notes that the Plaza Atlanta theater has also stated it will have showings on Thursday, although Sony Pictures has yet to comment publicly. According to LA Times reporter Joe Bel Bruno Sony Pictures has confirmed the plan, and indie theaters "are lining up" to show North Korea's least-favorite movie while CEO Michael Lynton is trying to get the widest release possible. Citing anonymous sources, several outlets have reported the plans include a video-on-demand release, and will be announced publicly later today.

Update: Sony Pictures has released a statement confirming a "limited theatrical release" on Thursday, but so far has not provided a list of theaters where the movie will be shown, or if any video-on-demand release is a part of the plan. According to Lynton the studio never gave up on releasing the movie, and "we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience." President Barack Obama has chimed in again, with a statement applauding the decision. Now we're faced with the toughest question of all: Did we actually want to see this movie?

Update 2: The movie will be released online! At 1PM ET today on YouTube, Xbox and Sony's website. You can get all the details here, but if you prefer the theatrical experience a list of theaters is posted right here.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

Must Reads