Saturday, February 04, 2017
Asus Chromebook Flip (C302CA-DHM4) Review & Rating | PCMag.com
POed Comcast subscriber
Here's what's happening. The Roku app will let you watch all the Comcast channels available through your set-top box on a TV that's not connected to a big, ugly cable box. Not only are those set-top boxes unsightly and bulky but they're also expensive. Comcast charges a $9.95 rental fee for each additional box in your home. (The first box is included with the price of your monthly service.) The Federal Communications Commission estimates this costs customers on average more than $230 a year.
The idea of being able to connect multiple TVs, like the TV you might have in your bedroom or the one in your basement, to your cable TV service without paying an additional $10 a month per box sounds like a sweet deal, right?
But not so fast. A Comcast spokesperson confirmed that the company will be charging customers an "access fee" of $7.45 for each TV using the Roku app.
That's the same price Comcast charges customers who use a TiVo or other CableCard device instead of renting a set-top box from Comcast. FCC rules require Comcast and other cable operators to give subscribers a discount if they use a Cablecard device instead of renting a set-top box, which is why the price is discounted for Comcast customers.
What makes this fee striking is that it's not designed to pay for any particular cost to Comcast's business. The $9.95 fee that 99 percent of cable customers pay for set-top boxes is listed on bills as an equipment "rental fee." Even the Cablecard fee includes a bit of hardware from the cable operator. But the Roku app is purely software. It doesn't require a piece of equipment supplied by the cable company, nor does it require a technician to come to your home to set it up.
What's more, Comcast already offers its TV subscribers its Xfinity TV Everywhere app at no additional cost to watch programming on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets throughout their homes. And specific cable channels like ESPN and HBO make their own Roku apps available at no additional charge to Comcast and other cable subscribers, who are already paying for these channels as part of their TV subscriptions.
So why will Comcast charge customers a fee for the app? That's a good question. Comcast declined to answer, saying it's still evaluating its pricing structure before it rolls out the service to all customers later this year.
But Gigi Sohn, who served as a senior adviser to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, said she knows why.
"It's gravy to them," Sohn said. "You're already paying handsomely for the service. And now they're making you pay a second time."
Sohn said this is why Wheeler, who stepped down from the FCC on January 20 when President Donald Trump was inaugurated, was pushing for new rules to open up the set-top box market to competitors. The proposal developed under Wheeler's FCC would have required all cable operators to develop an app to provide their TV programming, but the rules would have spelled out that cable operators wouldn't be allowed to charge customers extra to use the app.
Why Comcast's new Roku app fee will infuriate you - CNET
Friday, February 03, 2017
A federal judge in Seattle on Friday put a nationwide block on U.S. President Donald Trump's week-old executive order barring nationals from seven countries from entering the United States.
The judge's temporary restraining order represents a major challenge to Trump's action, although his administration could still appeal the ruling and have the policy upheld.
The Seattle judge, James Robart, made his ruling effective immediately on Friday, suggesting that travel restrictions could be lifted straight away.
"It's a wonderful day for the rule of law in this country," said Washington state solicitor general Noah Purcell.
The state's attorney general, Bob Ferguson, said: "This decision shuts down the executive order right now." He said he expected the federal government to honor the ruling.
The new Republican president's order signed on Jan. 27 triggered chaos at U.S. airports last weekend. Some travelers abroad were turned back from flights into the United States, crowds of hundreds of people packed into arrival areas to protest and legal objections were filed across the country.
The challenge was brought by the state of Washington and later joined by the state of Minnesota. The Seattle judge ruled that the states have legal standing to sue, which could help Democratic attorneys general take on Trump in court on issues beyond immigration."
Seattle judge blocks Trump immigration order | Reuters
Sleeping Giants' main target has been Breitbart News, which made headlines Wednesday after students at University of California at Berkeley protested an appearance by one of its columnists. The right-wing news and opinion site, formerly run by senior Trump aide Steve Bannon, has been criticized as a platform for conspiracy theories and racism. Bannon himself called Breitbart "the platform of the 'alt-right,'" a loose, online movement of people promoting the notion of "white identity," including white supremacists and those advocating for a separate white homeland.
Sleeping Giants decided to get companies to block their ads from appearing on the site. And in doing so it learned that because of the way online ads are sold, few advertisers know where their ads appear.
So far about 820 companies have blocked their ads on Breitbart, according to Sleeping Giants. They include big consumer brands like Kellogg's, BMW and Visa, as well as dozens of tech companies, including Autodesk, Lenovo, HP, Okta, Vimeo and T-Mobile's parent company Deutsche Telekom. Ride-hailing company Lyft also decided to block its ads on Breitbart. Uber, which has been called out by Sleeping Giants for its ads on the site, didn't respond to request for comment."
Lyft, HP won't advertise on Breitbart. Uber, Amazon remain - CNET
Thursday, February 02, 2017
Wednesday, February 01, 2017
"Read professional reviews of Apple’s new MacBook Pro lineup, and you’ll come away thinking the new laptops have great battery life.
Dive into a customer forum, though, and the upshot will be exactly the opposite: The new MacBook Pros have “piss poor” battery life."
Tested: The truth behind the MacBook Pro's 'terrible' battery life | PCWorld
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
"Silicon Valley’s response to the election of President Donald Trump was initially marked by caution and optimism, but the president’s immigration ban seems to have hardened opinions. Speaking on Thursday, January 26th, when reports of the ban were first surfacing, Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt told employees that Trump’s administration is going to do “evil things as they’ve done in the immigration area.” Deliberate or not, Schmidt’s wording resonates when compared to Google’s most famous corporate motto: “Don’t be evil.”
These remarks were made at the company’s regular end-of-week meeting and reported by BuzzFeed News. An earlier story covering the same meeting by Vice noted that it was a tense affair, with Google staffers asking why the company wasn’t taking a harder stance against the ban. One employee of the company from Iran reportedly said: “[I want] Google to take positions, this is a fascist regime, this isn’t normal.”
Schmidt reportedly told employees on Thursday that he believed the “tone of this government is very much economic growth.” He said: “I think at the end of the day, they are going to do these evil things as they’ve done in the immigration area and perhaps some others. But the core focus is going to be to get the growth rate in the country — which is roughly one-and-a-half to two percent — up another point by simply pushing through increases in federal spending and overcoming the Tea Party.”
“IT’S PAINFUL TO SEE THE PERSONAL COST OF THIS EXECUTIVE ORDER.”
Eric Schmidt to Googlers: Trump’s government will do ‘evil things’ - The Verge
"Chrome OS is now the second most popular OS (sorry, macOS); nearly half of students own Chromebooks; and, according to Google, Chromebooks saw 20 percent year over year growth in retail in 2016 while the rest of the PC industry was down.
But Microsoft could have an answer coming soon in the form of Windows 10 Cloud."
Windows 10 Cloud May Be Microsoft's Chrome OS Killer
Monday, January 30, 2017
The protest came after employees donated more than $2 million to a crisis fund that will be distributed among nonprofit groups working to support refugees. Google match employees’ donation with $2 million. "This was in direct response to the immigration action," Enzam Hossain, an employee on the Mountain View campus, told The Verge. "We wanted to be a part of it, and support our colleagues who are facing it."
Google employees staged a protest over Trump’s immigration ban - The Verge
"A few months ago I did something extremely out of character: I went out and bought a TV without obsessively reading product reviews. I just drove to Walmart and purchased the nicest-looking TV in stock for $500. It was a curved Samsung. This was an enormous mistake, and I should have just bought a Vizio E-Series. My wife Becky loudly reminds me of this mistake nearly every time we turn the TV on; she hates this product more than any other half-baked gadget I have forced into our lives. So I asked her to explain why, and she gave me this, which begins with what I can only describe as a vicious character assassination. — Nilay
Several years ago I asked Nilay for a new suitcase for Christmas, expecting a sturdy Samsonite or Tumi. You know, a suitcase. Instead, I received what he had deemed the ‘prettiest one.’ It was subsequently destroyed both aesthetically and functionally after its very first journey in the hands of American Airlines.
That is the Samsung curved TV he brought home from Walmart. ‘I bought the prettiest one,’ he said. Again. Those were the words uttered by my in-house technology expert, who quit his job as a lawyer for a new career writing technology reviews. A gamble which I fully supported at the time, and only question when he justifies a purchase by telling me ‘it was the prettiest.’
So, this Samsung television. (Ed. note: it is a Samsung UN40K6250AF.) The screen is curved, which means that it picks up and seemingly magnifies every glimmer of light in the room. Because that’s what you want in a television screen. The curved screen demands that you sit dead center of the TV unless you want to observe the equally frustrated facial expressions of the person sitting opposite you on the couch trying in vain to see through the glare. The glare is ridiculous. It’s so completely terrible that I give up after watching something for 30 seconds and walk away whisper-yelling swears at my sucker of a husband for bringing this piece of shit into my home. This television makes me hiss in anger.
THIS TELEVISION MAKES ME HISS IN ANGER Do you enjoy watching TV in a room with literally any light, natural or otherwise? Sorry, you can’t. On a sunny day there is exactly one cushion on our gigantic 12-person sofa from which you can see the picture on this stupendously awful television. And it’s no better at night unless you turn off every single light in the room. Which is fine for late night movie watching, but impossibly annoying at all other times. Leave the couch to get snacks or another glass of wine, and you better remember to turn off any light you use or you’ll be getting right back up again. I guess if you’re a Fitbit-obsessed step-counter like I am, that counts as one of the few pros offered by this trash heap of a television.
Have the fools who designed this thing ever watched TV? Were they visually impaired? Was it tested in a cave? I hate it so much. It is shiny and beautiful. It is the prettiest. If you’re looking for a weird modern mirror, it’s a wonderful addition to a room. As a television, it is a piece of impulse-buy garbage designed for suckers."
"Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos weighed in this afternoon on President Trump’s executive order banning entry to the US for citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations. Amazon’s VP of Human Relations wrote a statement on the ban over the weekend, but this new message comes directly from Bezos himself.
Washington state, where Amazon is headquartered, is the first to directly take on Trump’s executive order. The state’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, announced on Monday that he would challenge the ban in federal court. Washington state Governor Jay Inslee also added his voice. ‘It is an insult and a danger to all of the people of the state of Washington, of all faiths,’ Inslee told reporters on Monday.
Bezos and Amazon are part of a chorus of voices from the tech industry speaking out against the executive order. Below is the full email from Bezos to Amazon employees."
Sunday, January 29, 2017
"SAN FRANCISCO — On Friday morning, Silicon Valley was largely ambivalent about President Trump. The software programmers, marketing experts and chief executives might not have voted for him, but they were hopeful about finding common ground with the new administration.
By Saturday night, much of that optimism had yielded to anger and determination.
Mr. Trump’s executive order late on Friday temporarily blocked all refugees while also denying entry to citizens of Iran, Iraq and five other predominantly Muslim countries. The directives struck at the heart of Silicon Valley’s cherished values, its fabled history and, not least, its embrace-the-world approach to customers. Two worldviews collided: the mantra of globalization that underpins the advance of technology and the nationalistic agenda of the new administration.
In response, a significant part of the tech community went to the barricades.
Netflix’s chief executive, Reed Hastings, wrote on Facebook that Mr. Trump’s actions “are so un-American it pains us all” and that “it is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity.”
Brian Chesky, the chief executive of Airbnb, made the same point. “We must stand with those who are affected,” he wrote on Twitter.
A Google founder, Sergey Brin, who immigrated from the Soviet Union when he was 6, seemed to take that suggestion literally, attending an impromptu protest on Saturday evening at San Francisco International Airport. When some of the demonstrators realized that the 10th-richest man in America was with them, they asked for selfies. He good-naturedly obliged.
“I’m here because I'm a refugee,” Mr. Brin said, according to one protester.
The tech companies’ reaction was more forceful than that of other industries. Just about everyone in Silicon Valley came from somewhere else or is a son or daughter of someone who did or is married to someone who did.
That list starts with the most famous Silicon Valley citizen of all: Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder, whose biological father immigrated from Syria in 1954. Mr. Trump’s order proclaimed that “the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States” and would be suspended indefinitely.
Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said that his great-grandparents had come from Germany, Austria and Poland, and that the parents of his wife, Priscilla Chan, were refugees from China and Vietnam.
“Like many of you, I'm concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook on Friday."
Silicon Valley’s Ambivalence Toward Trump Turns to Anger - The New York Times
"Mere hours after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday barring immigration to the States from seven countries, tech industry executives began publishing notices criticizing the new regulation and warning employees of its potential broad and dramatic impacts.
From Apple, Google and Facebook to Microsoft, Airbnb and Box, the message was pretty much the same: Limiting immigration hurts employees and innovation.
'Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do,' Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an email to employees, in which he also promised the company would do what it can to help staff affected by the order. He also said the order 'is not a policy we support.'
Some tech VIPs were more forceful. 'This is a breach of America's contract with all the immigrants in the nation,' wrote Sam Altman, head of Y Combinator, which has invested in more than 900 startups, including Dropbox, Airbnb, Reddit and Instacart.
Silicon Valley And Donald Trump Google CEO speaks out against 'painful' order Apple's Cook takes aim at Trump's ban Facebook's Zuckerberg calls US 'nation of immigrants' And others outright slammed the president. 'Trump's order is simple bigotry,' tweeted Pierre Omidyar, eBay's founder who also started a media company called First Look.
Together, the statements mark a turning point in Trump's relationship with the tech industry. With few exceptions, Silicon Valley executives have spent the last decade campaigning and fund-raising for former President Barack Obama and presidential contender Hillary Clinton, making clear their support for Democrats and the party's causes like net neutrality, expanded education and LGBT rights.
Following Trump's surprise win, 13 tech execs met with him at Trump Tower in New York, discussing issues such as investment, trade and, yes, immigration policy. It appeared at the time that industry executives were cautiously preparing to work with him.
'We want you to keep going with the incredible innovation,' Trump said then. 'Anything we can do to help this go along, we're going to be there for you.'"