Weekly tech news roundup for October 3

Microsoft announces Windows 9 10
Even though everyone expected the next version of Windows to be #9, apparently they’re skipping straight to 10. The new OS is such a huge leap from the old, they decided it warranted jumping ahead in naming order. If you’re curious to know what it’s like, Microsoft is opening up a Windows Insider Program where PC experts and IT pros can, “come on a journey” and be “part of creating the best Windows yet” –translation, get access to early beta versions of the software. The new OS, according to TechCrunch, is clearly going after enterprise users and will offer feature that will identify what device you’re on and change the interface accordingly. They think this will make for greater productivity—an element really missing with Windows 8. The technical preview ends April 15 of next year….just in time for Microsoft’s Build conference.

Elf yourself on mobile
JibJab wants you to have all the fun you’ve had on their website while you’re on the go. They have a new app, JibJab messages, that lets you paste a photo of your head on to a silly character—only now it’s a gif you can send and share. You can only send 10 messages a month – then you’ll have to spend $0.99/mo. for unlimited or pay the same for 10 more. I did a little experimenting using the silly painted pumpkin on my desk and came up with the somewhat disturbing lovely creation featured above.

Apple could release Retina screen iMacs and new iPads
Sure, Apple just introduced new phones and a watch, but there’s another event scheduled for October 21 and the rumors are already flying. The first rumor: Apple may introduce Retina displays on desktop machines for the very first time. 9to5mac’s sources say the Retina iMac computer will have new guts—a faster processor, better WiFi, antennas, etc. The second rumor is about iPads—Apple may be introducing new iPads on the 21st that have Touch ID (a feature I’ve gotta say I like on my phone), Apple Pay, and even a gold version. It would make sense for Apple to bring new iPads to market before the holiday season so get ready to upgrade if you want any of these features.

vivofitReviews are positive on the Garmin Vivofit/Vivosmart
Don’t get me wrong, I love my FitBit One, but it’s not without limitations. As such, I’m always looking at the newest introductions to the fitness tracker marketplace—enter, the Garmin Vivofit and Vivosmart. The Vivofit is a wrist wearable and I spotted two favorable reviews of it in the tech news this week, one from Engadget and one from TechCrunch. Neither reviewer was in love with the form (the strap on the Vivofit especially isn’t popular), but the reviewers love the battery life and that the Vivofit is waterproof. Also, the “Move” bar encouraging you to get up and get moving was also considered a great feature. TechCrunch goes so far as to say it’s “the best fitness-focused activity tracker yet.” For $169, depending on your budget, it could be worth considering if you’re in the market.

Facebook launching new mobile ad “network”…using your data
By using data gleaned from Facebook, they’re going to let advertisers buy ads through them for use on other, non-Facebook nor Facebook-owned, websites. The system is called Atlas, and they think by using their data they can beat or take on Google. As always, Facebook says it will only be using basic facts about you—not any details or identifying information. And, as always, it’s a tad creepy to think about Facebook targeting ads based on the information they have on you no matter where you are on the web. It always feel a tad “big brother,” doesn’t it?, but really, it’s not any different from what Google does. A brave new world indeed.

And in related news, Google is planning full-screen mobile ads
The ads are known as “interstitials” and will pop up when you’re between levels on a game or another logical break point, as it were.

Special lenses create an “invisibility cloak”
University of Rochester scientists have made a device to make things invisible…but it’s not quite the cloak of Harry Potter fame. It’s a stationary device that uses a series of four lenses to bend the light around objects (small objects, for right now). You see what’s on the other side of the lenses, but not what’s between them. The cloaking solution uses off-the-shelf parts and is scalable (all of us StarTrek fans just did a happy fan “squee!”). Check it out in this 2:52 video:

Shellshock security patch released for Apple devices
Although Apple said that the “vast majority” of OS X users weren’t vulnerable to the Shellshock bug (only those who had changed certain things in the Advanced Settings menu), it’s not a bad idea to make sure you download the update. It’s not going to pop up in your Update menu, so you need to go and get the patch yourself. If you’re running Mavericks, go here. If you’ve got Lion, go here. And if your machine has Mountain Lion, go here.

eBay giving PayPal its independence
PayPal has finally grown up and is ready to leave the nest. eBay announced this week that in 2015 PayPal will finally become a stand-alone company. Dan Schulman of American Express is joining the soon-to-be new company immediately and will take the reins post separation. There has been a lot of internal pressure to peel PayPal off from its creator, with the belief that two companies will be better than one for shareholders. Given the competition in the “digital wallet” space, it could be a bit more nimble on its own, I would imagine. For more, read the press release.

potatostockKickstarter-inspired PotatoStock really happened
Remember the guy who did a Kickstarter project asking for $10 to make a potato salad…but he got about $55,000? Well, he did something good with the money—he held PotatoStock. About two thousand people came and ate all of the 450 pounds of potato salad (and probably would have eaten more–they ran out!). A vendor brought 300 t-shirts and sold them all in an hour. Better yet? Zach Brown raised $20,000 for the Columbus Foundation, an agency that helps the disadvantaged in the city. Image: TechCrunch (Zach’s in the green)

The crystalline material changes color when absorbing or releasing oxygen. Crystals are black when they are saturated with oxygen and pink when the oxygen has been released again. Credit: University of Southern Denmark

The crystalline material changes color when absorbing or releasing oxygen. Crystals are black when they are saturated with oxygen and pink when the oxygen has been released again. Credit: University of Southern Denmark

New tiny crystals suck up oxygen in a big way
University of Southern Denmark researchers have created a crystalline material that super-efficiently sucks up and stores oxygen. A single spoon full of the stuff will absorb all the oxygen in a room…which can be released when you’d actually like to breathe again (is it just me, or does this seem like totally James Bond stuff?). The practical uses for a substance like this are many, believe it or not (and not just for super-spies who need to kill off some bad guys). Think about replacing oxygen tanks with only a tiny bit of these crystals—storage and transport suddenly becomes super easy for both those with medical needs and scuba divers as well. To release the oxygen, the material must be gently heated or subjected to low oxygen pressure so we’ll have to watch and see how this technology develops. PhysOrg has more on the story.

Get the most out of your iPhone 6/iOS 8 device
If you’ve got Apple’s latest iOS, you might be missing on some hidden features that make it extra easy and nice to use. Mashable had a nice round-up of ones you might not know about including how to hide photos, mute texts, medical ID, timed selfies and more.

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.
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