netflix-offline-playback

Weekly tech news roundup for December 2

Watch Netflix offline
It’s true. Now you can go on a plane or the subway and still watch Netflix. That’s right, if you haven’t heard, Netflix is launching offline playback. Just download the most recent version of the Netflix app, and look for the download option (image courtesy of Netflix). The content available sounds a little random—Neflix originals and then movies like Pulp Fiction, Nightcrawler, Minions, and Paddington (quite the range!)—but it’s nice there’s something for everyone.

Smart speakers are taking over
Okay, maybe not entirely, but they’re pretty darn popular. A research group is estimating that Amazon has sold just over 5 million of their Echo smart speakers in the last two years. With Google now entering the marketplace, and the holidays fast approaching, it’s not a stretch to think smart speaker sales are only going skyrocket. Do you have one? Do you want one? I haven’t figured out why I “need” one yet, but I’d be curious to know why other people love them. (Oh, and if you want one but can wait, Bloomberg is reporting Amazon is coming out with an uber one with a screen.)

Don’t download that photo from Facebook or LinkedIn
There’s some new malware—ransomware, specifically–circulating on social media called “Locky.” The sneaky malware is making the rounds on Facebook and LinkedIn in a coded image file. If you notice a file that downloaded to your machine automatically, do NOT open it. If you do, the malware will be installed on your machine and your machine will get locked up until you pay a ransom. Now, it should be noted, Facebook says this isn’t happening, but I figure it’s better to safe than sorry and it’s a good reminder to always be vigilant!

Make yourself look way better
Facetune 2 got lots of press this person-holiday-vacation-bikiniweek for their new photo-editing app. The original was said to make “your selfies look next-level awesome” and apparently the newest app is even better. TechCrunch described it as “the closest you’re going to get to fit a professional photo retoucher in your pocket.” High praise indeed…but there’s a “but.” You pay $1.99 for the app—every month (or $6.99 for 6 months or $9.99 for 12). It’s a new kind of pricing model, so time if all want to look that good that badly.

Space travel making astronauts near sighted
Get this: being weightless messes up your eyesight. Apparently they’ve known this for a while, but researchers now think they know why. Microgravity causes a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and the spinal cord which, in turn, causes astronaut’s eyeballs to flatten causing myopia. This process also causes the optic nerves to stick out (yeah, that’s not good either). Even after heading back to earth, their eyesight doesn’t go back to how it was before. Huge bummer, but maybe now some therapies can be targeted to help.

We spent a record amount of money on Monday
Like, a lot—$3.39 billion, according to reports. That makes it the biggest online shopping day EVER.

Check your Android for infections
One MILLION Android devices have been infected with some new malware called “Googlian.” According to The Verge, the Jelly Bean, Kit Kat and Marshmallow operating systems are vulnerable. Once a device downloads an infected app, “the malware compromises the device’s Google authorization token, giving it broader access to the user’s Google account including Gmail, Drive, and Photos.” Eeeep! Apparently personal data hasn’t been touched, and instead the malware automatically downloads apps and then leaves 5-star ratings. Check whether you’ve been infected using this tool, and reinstall your system software if you have been.

Kickstarter of the week: Foldscope
While I love the idea of having my very own Dobot mechanical arm (because, mechanical arm!), I’m choosing the Foldscope because IT’S AN ORIGAMI MICROSCOPE. The whole idea of having a microscope you can have at the ready in your pocket or purse—well that’s just cool. And, I love the idea they’re trying to spread these inexpensive but oh-so-useful devices across the world through their Kickstarter. For $30 you can share a twenty-pack of Foldscopes to a school in need or get that many of your very own to use and share (you can’t deny that’s not a little awesome).

 

 

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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