If you know anything about the birth of the Internet, you know that DARPA played a key role (well, DARPA and Al Gore , that is 😉 )…but do you what it is? As it happens, DARPA is part of the Department of Defense and the name stands for “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.” As Engadget says, it’s sort of a “mad science” division with the Pentagon. If you’ve ever been curious about what they do and have done, you should check out this piece. It gives an interesting overview of some of the agency’s current (and past) big projects (including robots, and prosthetics, and drones—oh my!).
Senate committee approves mobile phone unlocking bill
In fact, they approved it unanimously (when does that ever happen?). A U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee decided on July 10 that mobile phone owners should be able to unlock their devices so they can move to a different service provider. It isn’t law yet, but the committee Chairman is hoping the full senate will take it up.(If you care to read the bill, you can read it here.)
First Kickstarter of the week: RocketSkates
Okay, these new, electric, motorized skates don’t *actually* have rockets in them—but they will let you go up to 12 miles per hour in a Jetsons-esque fashion. What also makes them unique is that you have the ability to easily use the ball of your feet to hop up (or down) a flight of stairs without taking the skates off. You also don’t need a remote control to make them work—instead you shift your weight to make them go faster or slow down.
Second Kickstarter of the week: potato salad (???)
I couldn’t resist including this one because it’s kind of funny. Zack Brown, a seemingly regular guy from Columbus, Ohio, put up a Kickstarter so he could make his very first potato salad. He was hoping for $10—he’s now at $46,411. Clearly he did not anticipate the outpouring of support he has received—his $3000 Big Stretch Goal was to rent a party hall and invite the whole Internet to a potato salad party (for those who donate $10 and above). He also has 525 backers who he has promised to give a bite of the potato salad (among other potato salad swag)—no word yet on how he’s going to accomplish that. A video interview with the local news from July 7 is online, if you’re curious to see what he’s like.
Apparent iPhone 6 front panel video hits the web
YouTube user Marques Brownlee evidently got his hands on a front panel for a new 4.7 inch iPhone 6. Brownlee talks as if the panel is made from sapphire crystal. Of course, there’s no way to know for sure if: a) it’s really from an iPhone 6 and, b) if it’s really sapphire crystal – but, he sure puts whatever it is through its paces. In the video Brownlee tries to scratch it and bend it, but doesn’t manage to do any kind of damage to the front panel. Here’s hoping it’s legit because I could go for a new iPhone that’s less prone to scratches!
Microsoft announces the end of Windows 7 support
Yeah, it’s true. Microsoft just stopped supporting Windows XP, but they’ve decided to give us all a deadline on Windows 7 too—good thing it’s a ways away. As CNET reports: Mainstream, free support is ending on January 13 for a number of major Microsoft products, including all versions of Windows 7 (Enterprise, Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate and Starter). Extended support for Windows 7 lasts until January 14, 2020, so users can expect to continue to receive free security updates, but not feature updates, for Windows 7 until that point.
A better way to find good stuff on Netflix
TechCrunch waxed eloquent about a better way to find the good stuff on Netflix—a website called A Better Queue. I haven’t checked it out yet, but it sounds like a good idea (since I, like most Netflix users, hate their search). The site uses Rotten Tomato ratings to help you find the movie gems hidden the morass of crappola. Apparently you set some simple search criteria—rating, year the movie was released, and the genre. I haven’t investigated the site myself, but it sure sounds worth checking out! Note: there’s no app yet, but hey, I’ll use my laptop if it means I can find something decent to watch!
New Harry Potter short story online!
This is more in the realm of “geek news,” but J.K. Rowling posted a new story about a 34-year-old Harry and the gang on the Pottermore website this week (well, maybe it does count as “tech news” 😉 ). The story, with a byline by Rita Skeeter, was so popular the site crashed Tuesday morning. To read it, you’ve got to create a free account (something I just did). You’ve got to give them your birth month, name (or a name, anyway) and your email, but it seems you can opt out of notifications. They’ll send you a confirmation email and you need to click on the link. Once you’re in, look for a link to the Daily Prophet and select the July 8 gossip edition.
Finally, a little Friday fun—an extended Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer
I’m not even going to try to tell you this is in any way tech news. It is completely and totally geek news. If you, like me, are anxiously awaiting the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, you will enjoy this 2:29 minute extended trailer. August 1 is less than a month away!