All gaming aspirations aside, Amazon says it has a good reason for building its newFire TV set-top box: People really like its streaming video content. The company is claiming that its instant video usage has tripled year over year, surpassing both Apple’s and Hulu’s instant video numbers. So, what sparked all the growth? Amazon doesn’t say specifically, but the press release dedicates a considerable portion of text to lauding its exclusive Prime Instant Video content, its original series and its large catalog of titles available for digital purchase and rental. All well and good, but the announcement is clearly a thinly veiled advertisement for its new hardware — which is fine, but it does leave us wondering by what margin Amazon is leading its competition. After all, Netflix’s standing is conspicuously absent from the reported line-up.
Microsoft Ends Support for Windows XP
It’s the end of the line for Microsoft‘s Windows XP: as of today, the company will no longer release security updates for the 12-year-old operating system.
“Microsoft has provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years. But now the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences,” wrote Microsoft in an announcement.
Microsoft’s Office 2003 is another product that will not get security updates after this date.
Launched on October 25, 2001, Windows XP is one of the most successful Microsoft products ever; its successor, Windows Vista, was quickly replaced with Windows 7, and it took as long as September 2012 for Windows 7 to overtake XP as the most popular desktop operating system.
Microsoft released three Service Packs for Windows XP; the last one, SP3, was launched in May 2008. In April 2009, Microsoft ended Mainstream Support for the OS, meaning it stopped providing free technical support and accepting warranty claims. Up until today, the company provided Extended Support, which included paid technical support and security updates.
What does it mean for the end user? Simply put, you can continue to use Windows XP and Office 2003, but as time goes on, they will be more and more vulnerable to malware and other security risks.
For users still running Windows XP, Microsoft recommends upgrading their PC to a model that can run the latest version of Windows, 8.1. For instructions for moving your data from Windows XP to 8.1, go here.
Battery Prototype Recharges Smartphones in 30 Seconds
A battery that uses nanotechnology to charge your smartphone in 30 seconds may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie but an Israeli startup claims to have created just that.
StoreDot unveiled its battery charging prototype Monday at Microsoft’s Think Next conference in Tel Aviv.
StoreDot’s prototype is able to completely recharge a smartphone battery from 0%-100% in just 30 seconds. It relies on bio-organic nanodots, tiny conductive crystals that help enable rapid charging.
Currently, the device is closer in size to a laptop charger than a smartphone charger, but the company says it expects the final product will be about the size of a typical smartphone battery.
The charger is still a prototype, which means it will be some time before it is commercially available. The Wall Street Journal reports the company hopes to begin production in “late 2016.”
“The only disadvantage is that the industry is not ready for it,” Dr. Doron Myersdorf, CEO and cofounder of StoreDot, the nanotechnology company behind the charger, told TechCrunch. “We are talking about a new type of materials that can be introduced into different types of devices.”
The company hasn’t revealed exactly how much the charger might cost, only that it will retail for roughly twice the amount of a typical phone charger.
Google Bus Protests: How Far Is Too Far?
Had you been standing on the corner of 24th and Valencia Streets in San Francisco last Tuesday, you would have been forgiven for thinking the circus was in town. People in skin-tight red, blue and yellow suits rolled around on inflatable balls, performed acrobatic routines and walked on stilts. The performers certainly generated a crowd, but not solely for their acrobatic talents. Instead, this was another Google Bus protest, an increasingly common occurrence in San Francisco where citizens are expressing displeasure over rising rent costs and gentrification brought on by Silicon Valley’s tech growth. The tech shuttles, which are referred to as “Google Buses” — regardless of which company operates them — serve as symbol for this anger.
But while last Tuesday’s protest was a clever way to attract attention, multiple protests in the following days have taken a turn for the bizarre. A group of protesters in Oakland, Calif. mounted a bus full of Yahoo employees last Wednesday, before one protester vomited on the vehicle’s windshield.
On Saturday, protestors brought signs and banners to the house of Kevin Rose, a general partner and venture capitalist at Google Ventures. Claiming to be a group called “The Counterforce,” the protesters handed out fliers to Rose’s neighbors that had the headline “Kevin Rose: Parasite!” The flier cited Rose as a reason that rents have skyrocketed:
As a partner venture capitalist at Google Ventures, Kevin directs the flow of capital from Google into the tech startup bubble that is destroying San Francisco. The start-ups that he funds bring the swarms of young entrepreneurs that have ravaged the landscapes of San Francisco and Oakland.
In both instances, protests were taken to a more extreme level than what San Francisco has previously seen with the bus blockades. However, the two incidents are not unprecedented: A Google Bus’ window was smashed during an Oakland protest in December, and The Counterforce claimed another personal attack in Berkeley, Calif. when the group protested outside the home of Google engineer Anthony Levandowski in January, calling him “evil.”
The increased intensity of these protests leads to other questions: Have protesters gone too far? Is targeting an individual’s home or vandalizing private property crossing the line?
It’s a tough question to answer, said Tom Temprano, co-president of Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, one of the organizations that appealed San Francisco’s proposed tech-shuttle program last week to the city’s Board of Supervisors.
Temprano and his organization are working on the tech-shuttle issue from a political angle, putting pressure on politicians and city administrators to initiate change. That said, he doesn’t believe he has the right to dictate how others get their message across.
“When you threaten to take away something as essential as the roof over someone’s head, they’re going to respond,” Temprano said, adding that he hasn’t participated in any of the blockade protests to date. “For some folks, it’s hitting home hard, and they’re hitting back in a way that they feel is most appropriate.”
“I personally don’t feel comfortable telling a protester whose grandmother has been forced to move the South Bay because she was evicted from her home of 30 years how they should or should not be responding to this crisis.”
To some of those who responded to the news on Twitter, calling out individuals at their home and vandalizing buses crosses the line of acceptability. Google Ventures did not respond to Mashable’s request for comment, but it appears the protesters got at least one prize out of their trip to Rose’s house: a Twitter declaration in support of their cause.
The jury is still out on whether that means much from a man they consider a parasite.
Geek This Week:
Aaron: WNYC app, WNYC sleep study, MS Word on iPad exploit.
Gozer: Star Talk, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Tomb Raider Definitive Edition
Aaron & Gozer: Silicon Valley on HBO
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