Friday tech news roundup for December 6

Possible Amazon delivery by drone has everyone buzzing
On Monday the tech blogs and news sites alike were abuzz with the news Amazon.com hopes to make deliveries by drone. These air deliveries, called “Prime Air,” will be able to deliver packages up to five pounds and in 30 minutes or less (that’s Amazon’s goal, at least). Yes, really. The drones pick up the packages at the end of a conveyor belt and fly to their destination…as long as it’s within 10 miles. Don’t get too excited yet though, it’s going to take some time to get their proposed system approved by the FAA. Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, said that you won’t have to look out for drones until 2015 at the earliest (and assuming this delivery method even gets the thumbs up).

Note: The day after Amazon made their announcement, The Verge reported that UPS is also jumping into the drone delivery game. Clearly, we should all buy stock in ear plug companies ;-).

national-geographics-google-mapsGoogle Maps Engine and National Geography team up to share map content
As the press release notes, fold-out National Geographic maps have been popular (and frequently saved) for years, so making them digital was natural. You’ll be able to access the content by running Google Maps Engine. National Geo notes, “Google Maps Engine lets us turn our maps into interactive full-screen images that can be panned and zoomed and overlaid with tons of great data.” For high-resolution and printed copies of the maps, you’ll have to spend a little money, but it goes towards National Geo’s non-profit mission so it’s hard to complain.

Two million Facebook, Google passwords stolen
How did hackers score all the passwords? Malware. Experts believe the passwords were probably stolen to sell—although they probably didn’t need to bother because the most common password was, apparently, “123456.” This is a good reminder to check and see if your anti-virus is up to date and to always create strong passwords. TDS recently posted a blog with F-Secure’s easy method for creating secure passwords.

StarWars instagram Vadar selfieGeek alert! Star Wars auction and Instagram
It was with a Darth Vadar selfie that the official Star Wars universe jumped into Instagram this week. The move to social media is being seen as a soft marketing for the upcoming Star Wars VII movie which hasn’t even begun shooting yet. No matter, you’ve got to appreciate the lighthearted entry into the photo sharing site.

If you’re more of a Han Solo fan, you could always get in on the auction for his blaster being held on December 21st. It could make the perfect present for that special Star Wars geek in your life….if you’ve got a few hundred thousand dollars. The starting bid is $200,000 and the price is expected to go as high as $300,000 dollars.

Let the gift idea lists begin!
Mashable had two good ones this week. The first is 15 Tech Stocking Stuffer Gadgets Under $15. The second is 17 Gifts for the Techie Who Has Everything. I’m not sure I’m going to race out and order all of these, but they might get your creative gift-giving juices flowing.

New camera takes photos in the dark
Even though this camera won’t likely be released widely, it’s still pretty darn cool. MIT researchers have developed the special camera that can see in the dark by using laser light to gauge depth. And not a lot of laser light either – their technology only uses one photon of reflected light. This video does a good job of explaining how the technology works and the images from the camera are pretty cool. As Mashable noted, it’s very James Bond!

In other quasi-related tech news…
Turbo F.A.S.T., Netflix’s first original animated series premiers December 24th
Based on the hit movie from the summer about a snail that dreams of going fast, it’s Netflix’s first foray into animation. You can watch the trailer below to see what you think. The movie was cute, but without the original voice actors I’m not sure if it’ll work. However, I see that Star Wars icon (and now a highly respected voice actor) Mark Hamill is listed in the cast (on IMDB) so there is hope.

About Missy Kellor

Missy works on the Corporate Communications team and reports stories to TDS employees and customers. This is right up her alley because she’s an extrovert and also a big fan of research (really, she’ll look up just about anything that strikes her interest). Missy is a native of Madison, Wis. with an undergraduate in Anthropology and a master’s degree in Life Sciences Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her interest in the Internet as a mass media shaped her work towards a PhD in Journalism and Mass Communications. She’s also worked as an editorial assistant, copywriter, and production artist. In her off hours, Missy is a crafter, Pinterest addict, reader, wife, and mom of two kids. You can find Missy on G+ and on Twitter.
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