Friday tech news roundup for April 4

amazon fireAmazon introduces Fire TV/set-top box
I don’t know how you could have missed this news: on Tuesday, Amazon unveiled its new $99 set-top box to allow customers to access Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Vimeo, NBA and MLB…and Prime Instant Video, of course.

What you may not know is how it measures up to other existing devices on the market such as Apple TV Roku, and Chromecast. The Los Angeles Times had a good piece about how the Fire stacks up. Yesterday, CNET offered up their review of the Fire as well. So far, reviewers seem interested, but are not entirely convinced there’s a big advantage for consumers to go buy one yet. However, given that Amazon has acquired gaming companies, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to think Fire will soon have even more content available sometime soon.

Nest halts sales of Nest Protect smoke alarms
Nest is pulling their new Protect fire alarm from the market for now. They found a problem with the wave feature which allows Protect users to turn off the smoke or carbon monoxide alarm by waiving their hands. The manufacturer discovered this feature could be triggered by accident, during a “unique combination of circumstances,” according to a blog post by CEO Tony Fadell. If you have a Nest Protect, you can go here for FAQ about the safety notice.

Mashable wondered if landlines are becoming an endangered species
This week, the website pondered if landlines are going the way of the Dodo. We, of course, say “NO!” and would like to remind everyone of the eleven reasons why landlines are awesome.

Halfbike is one of the most interesting Kickstarters of the week
Did you see this one? It’s been featured on a few websites apparently, but just made it on my radar this week. Halfbike looks a bit like a funky, long-necked tricycle to me, but I’ve got to admit it also looks fun. Here’s a video of a halfbike in action:

For only $899, you can have your own if you pledge now.

But then there’s also the SITU smart scale Kickstarter
It’s not just a regular food scale—it also the calories and nutrients in food. According to their Kickstarter info you, “place your food on SITU and you’ll see exactly what’s in it—from calories to salt to sugars to vitamins and minerals.” It connects via Bluetooth to your mobile device app. The creator says it would be helpful for diabetics, calorie counters, and anyone on any kind of restricted diet or health goals. Looks pretty slick if it works as promised.

Hacks to help master your Gmail inbox
Mashable had 10 Gmail hacks this week you might want to take a peek at. From keyboard shortcuts and how to undo sent messages, there’s probably something here you might not know (but want to).

Would changing fonts REALLY save the government $400 million?
As it happens, probably not. Last week the Internet was on fire after a 14-year-old published a project saying that if the government switched fonts, they could save up to $136 million per year on printing costs. The thing of it is, many this week are saying there are many flaws in this project. Atlantic posted their analysis and so did Gizmodo.

While the potential savings are, apparently, not what he thinks they could be, you’ve gotta hand it to him – what a simple but smart idea to save money! (methinks I should change my standard font at home and maybe I can save on ink cartridges!)

The history of the barcode
No wait, don’t fall asleep yet! Did you know that bar codes got their start as circular bullseye shaped stickers? And did you know they didn’t really get rolled out for popular use until 1974? (ugh! I’m older than bar codes!!). Gizmodo has a short, and quite interesting story about the history of the barcode you should check out if you’ve got a few minutes. If you like learning about the history of every day things, it’s a good one.

ThinkGeek’s Mr. Beard machine
And, in case you missed it, you should check out ThinkGeek‘s fun April Fools’ Day product, Mr. Beard:

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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