September 2015

Tech News

When I’m not busy with school or work or family or friends, I like to read. To be honest, most of what I read nowadays is in a digital format – I have an e-reader, I catch all my news online, I even read short stories from The New Yorker on their website. In particular, I really enjoy reading about technology and the latest and greatest happenings in the field. Since I go to school in Silicon Valley and I’m majoring in a tech field, you could say I have some experience figuring where to get my tech news from. And as fall approaches, with those cool nights that lend themselves to reading by the fireplace (or wrapped in a snuggie in my dorm room), I thought it would be interesting to share all some of my favorite online sources of tech news. This is my personal favorite list; please share where you get your tech news in the comments below! Or if you don’t read up on technology all the time, what are some of your other favorite news sources? I think it’s always interesting to hear about potentially new sources from people who have vetted them first, especially if they’re in subject areas I’m not familiar with!

Online Tech News

  • Gizmodo.com: One of my top two daily checks for the latest tech news. Gizmodo is branded as a design and technology blog, but it has a fair amount of other science and general geek news as well. The posts are short, sweet and to the point, but with enough humor and information to actually get something from them. I follow them on Facebook and often read their posts from my news feed.
  • Engadget.com: The second of my daily tech news sites. Engadget focuses more on actual tech gadgets/electronics than tech news as a whole; this is where I go to read the latest reviews on emerging technologies. Engadget is also multilingual, so there are several international versions of the site as well for foreigners. Engadget is always on top of the latest expos, conferences and tech company reveals. I also follow it on Facebook to get most of their new stories in my news feed.
  • NYTimes.com/pages/technology: You can’t beat the quality of the New York Times when looking for news, and the same holds for news in technology. I especially like reading the “Personal Technology” section, because I’m really interested in how people interact with technology and what the latest trends are on the market (and what that might mean for the future!). You can also find a number of opinion pieces (especially around diversity in the tech field), business technology, and interesting social good applications for tech. I often get a digest of the most popular articles each day with my IFTTT app.
  • PCMag.com, 9to5mac.com: These two sites are my go tos for any news regarding pcs or macs, respectively. PCMag also has more general news, but mostly pertaining to computers in general. 9to5mac is great for you Apple junkies out there, speculating about the latest iPhone, looking for the next best app or searching for a buying guide to your next piece of Apple hardware.
    Wired.com: Also a monthly magazine. I should really visit Wired more often – they have amazing articles about how technology affects us in a variety of channels – our culture, the economy, the government. And it’s not just about the latest hardware – there are pages devoted to design, entertainment, security and science.

So those are some of my top tech sources to scour daily/weekly/monthly. Where do you like to get your news? Share with us in the comments!

Windows 10 Launch Update

Not too long ago we wrote an article  regarding potential concerns you should have before updating to Windows 10. Now that Windows 10 has officially reached 45 million users per Microsoft’s estimates, it only seemed fitting to do an update on the Windows 10 release. There were some minors bugs as was to be expected, but it turns out a whole list of other features have come up that might have some users scratching their heads.

It was well known that Microsoft was going to take a more invasive role when it came to Windows 10, but there are certain areas that Microsoft’s All Seeing Eye shouldn’t be able to access from a privacy point of view. If you select “Express Settings” during Windows 10 installation you apparently give Microsoft access to contacts, calendar details, text and touch input, location and more. While Microsoft claims this information is only used for personalization and targeted ads, the reality is that it can be potentially hazardous given the nature of cyber-attacks in today’s Internet society. Even more concerning is Microsoft’s access to keystrokes, which include your user name and passwords for most of your online accounts, even online banking. The threats are easy to see, but if you would like to opt out of these settings you may do so under the privacy tab in Settings.

Microsoft has slowly watched its Internet Explorer browser wither and die over the years, and its new Edge browser was designed to reverse this. While Edge is designed to be the go-to browser for Windows 10, it really doesn’t innovate much over other iterations of Internet Explorer. What is more interesting though is the issues some users have been reporting with Mozilla Firefox not playing nicely with Windows 10. Microsoft’s deliberate push to force users into using the new Edge browser has resulted in Mozilla CEO Chris Beard writing an open letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella criticizing the lack of control when it comes to selecting a default browser. While Beard might be making a big fuss over nothing given that users can choose their preferred browser by going into Settings, it does raise concerns over the experience that Microsoft is forcing its users to have.

While not as big of an issue to some users, Microsoft has received criticism for removing its DVD player from Windows 10. In order to play DVDs, users must purchase a $15 app from the app store. There are some work around solutions by using third party DVD players, but in a time where streaming has replaced DVDs as the primary method of viewership, this doesn’t seem like a game breaking issue for Microsoft.

With a launch as big as Windows 10, it’s not surprising that Microsoft ran into a few hiccups. What users should be concerned about is the approach that Microsoft is taking to Windows 10 regarding personal information and privacy. Windows 10 is intended to be the last iteration of Windows, and all subsequent changes will be updates that most users won’t have control over. The best thing users can do is stay informed about any changes coming their way in future updates, and take all the precautions necessary to keep their private information private.

Have you updated to Windows 10 yet? Share your thoughts in the comments down below!

Google’s Alphabet Move and What it means for you

If you have been following tech news within the past couple of week you may have heard something about Google and Alphabet. Without getting into the specifics from the business perspective, all you need to know is that Google has reorganized itself into a parent company called Alphabet in order to spur innovation and work on ambitious tech projects. The Google search engine that you’ve been using for years still exists, but now projects like Google’s self-driving car, mobile divisions, etc. belong to Alphabet as opposed to Google. The move is meant to please shareholders more than consumers, but there are some details that might have an impact on how you interact with Google or Alphabet in the future.

When you think of Google, you probably think about the search engine as opposed to the other wonky tech devices and programs that they are trying to force down your throat (Google+ anyone?). You can breathe a sigh of relief because the Google search engine will remain exactly as it has been for years. Google as you know it has just become a small cog in a much larger company. Alphabet is now the company, and Google is more like sub company within Alphabet. Again, this won’t do much to your day to day experiences with Google, but you may start to see more autonomy over time when using Google. The types of ads you see will alter slightly depending on whatever projects are going on within the other Alphabet companies, but you won’t be forced to connect your Google+ or YouTube account together just so you can function online. Details are fairly limited as of right now, but with a little more breathing room, Google can now focus and innovate itself into becoming a better search engine for you the consumer.

Transitioning from Google will allow Alphabet to develop their more experimental projects, which may also impact you if these projects ever come to fruition. Take Google’s self-driving car for instance. While the project was initially under Google’s leadership, it has now become an independent project under Alphabet. With more independence comes more innovation, including the ability to purchase other startup companies in order to help develop the self-driving car quicker than before. Even projects like Google Glass, which by the way has not been cancelled for whatever reason, will now be freed from the consumer Internet market, giving them the power to take wing even faster. Projects like these are a few years off sure, but the likelihood that they will come to fruition for consumers is even more likely now that they have become independent companies under Alphabet.

Google has been such a well-known brand for years, so completely rebranding and reorganizing their entire company is an ambitious move. If everything works the way it’s supposed to, we may see innovation in transportation, urban planning, medicine and social networking, all thanks to the new Alphabet. It’s a huge risk for Google to take, but Google has never been a cautious company. As of right now, we can say goodbye to Google and hello to Alphabet.

What are your thoughts on the new rebranding of Google? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!