Why did Netflix pay Comcast to stream its videos faster? Because Netflix was losing customers.

August 31st, 2014

That’s according to a petition Netflix filed to the Federal Communications Commission this week in opposition to Comcast’s (CMCSA) proposed mega-merger with Time Warner Cable (TWC).

In February, Netflix reluctantly agreed to pay Comcast to directly connect to its network. Prior to the direct connect, Netflix delivered its videos to Comcast customers via third parties, including Cogent Communications (CCOI). But Comcast customers experienced abysmal Netflix speeds — among the worst in the country.

Netflix speeds became so slow in December 2013 and January 2014 that customers grew irate, Netflix said in its petition. Calls made to Netflix’s customer support center about slow-loading videos more than quadrupled during those months.  More

The world wants a bigger iPhone and big smartphones in general

August 28th, 2014

Within two weeks, the smartphone landscape will have changed drastically from where it stands today, with the likely introduction of at least one iPhone 6, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and perhaps a few new models from Motorola, including the rumored Moto x+1.

What these upcoming flagship phones all have in common is that they’re expected to be either big or bigger than their predecessors. The Galaxy Note 4 will likely stay with the huge 5.7-inch display size now on the Note 3, while the new iPhone will grow to 4.7 inches and the Moto X+1 is rumored to be larger than 5 inches. Of course, there’s also speculation that a larger, 5.5-inch iPhone 6 could also be introduced.

A few years ago, “phablet”-size phones, with screens that creep near or beyond the 5-inch (diagonal) threshold, were chastised for being overgrown, but now any overgrowth seems to be in the worldwide demand for such big-screen phones. Even Apple — once notorious for creating and leading markets because hey, Steve Jobs just knows what you want better than you do — seems ready to capitulate to the trend and supply that demand.  More

UK catapult centre works on vision of windowless aircraft

August 26th, 2014

Imagine being on a flight where, in place of windows, screens lining the cabin project images of the sky outside. New technology that could help reduce the weight of an aircraft could soon see windowless planes take to the air.

Plastic display screens for use in aircraft cabins are one of several applications of printable electronics that are being developed at the Centre for Process Innovation in Sedgefield in northeast England, part of the government’s network of technology centres known as “catapults”. 

By using conductive inks, printed electronics – technology that has long promised to enliven products from perfume bottles to food packaging – can incorporate electrical circuits in cardboard and plastic for just a few pence per unit. In pharmaceuticals, smart packaging could tell a patient when to take their medication, for example.  More

This nail polish may detect date-rape drugs

August 25th, 2014

Considering how many of us often leave our drinks unattended at a bar, it’s easy for a stranger or date to slip something into our drinks – such as Rohypnol, which looks like aspirin and dissolves quickly in liquid, or GHB, which is a clear, odorless liquid.

These date-rape drugs render the victim with diminished capacity, which in turn could facilitate a sexual assault.

A new nail polish line called Undercover Colors hopes to be the “first fashion company empowering women to prevent sexual assault.”

The inventive nail polish changes color when it comes in contact with liquid laced with such date-rape drugs as Rohypnol, Xanax, and GHB.

The wearer of the nail polish simply puts her finger in a drink. If the color of nail polish changes, she knows to dump the cocktail and of course, report the date.  More

Data breach at UPS Stores in 24 states

August 22nd, 2014

United Parcel Service has discovered a computer breach at 51 stores, making Big Brown the latest retailer to lose customer data.

UPS (UPS) said that the hacking had escaped detection at stores in 24 states, or around 1% of its locations. At most stores, the malware attack occurred after March 26, and was eliminated by August 11.

No fraud has yet been discovered, UPS said, but customer names, postal addresses, email addresses and payment card information were compromised.

Tim Davis, president of The UPS Store, apologized in a statement for any anxiety the theft may have caused customers. He said the company had deployed “extensive resources to quickly address and eliminate this issue.” More

Twitter officially adding tweets to your timeline from people you don’t follow

August 21st, 2014

Many Twitter users have noticed for a while that tweets from people they don’t follow, as well as favorited posts from people they do, have been turning up in their timelines.

The change appeared to be another experiment by the folks at Twitter as it looks at ways to improve content discoverability on the service and create more connections.

While some Twitter tests lead to new features for the service, others are quietly brushed under the carpet and never spoken of again. However, it looks like this one is now an official feature after news outlet Quartz spotted explanatory notes referring to it on a Twitter support page.