Microsoft Urges U.S. to Adopt Laws Similar to EU’s GDPR

Microsoft corporate vice president/deputy general counsel Julie Brill believes that the federal government is essential in guaranteeing “a strong right to privacy” in the United States. She noted that California and Illinois have enacted serious data protection laws, but that the U.S. needs federal regulation. She came to that conclusion after observing that the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enacted almost one year ago, has been “very effective” in transforming how companies manage personal data. Continue reading Microsoft Urges U.S. to Adopt Laws Similar to EU’s GDPR

FCC Votes 3-2 to Roll Back 2015 Net Neutrality Regulations

As anticipated, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 along party lines yesterday to repeal the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules, which were originally introduced to help protect an open Internet. FCC chair Ajit Pai and two other Republicans backed the change. Net neutrality rules were created as a means of regulating how broadband providers treat Internet traffic in an effort to avoid slowing content delivery or providing fast lanes for specific services. Dismantling the rules is seen as a win for cable and wireless providers and will likely result in lawsuits. Continue reading FCC Votes 3-2 to Roll Back 2015 Net Neutrality Regulations

Amazon Go Closer to Public Launch, Amazon Opens Pop-Ups

Amazon Go, an experimental convenience store in Seattle that relies on a mobile app instead of human cashiers, is moving into its next stage prior to a public opening. Amazon Go was originally slated to open early this year, but technical glitches led Amazon to postpone the launch. The technology is improving, and Amazon has shifted hiring from engineers and research scientists to construction managers and marketers. Shoppers will scan their smartphones upon entering; cameras and sensors will track the items removed. Continue reading Amazon Go Closer to Public Launch, Amazon Opens Pop-Ups

Amazon’s First ‘Thursday Night Football’ Game Tops Twitter’s

The numbers are in for Amazon’s first live-stream of NFL “Thursday Night Football,” the September 28 match between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. Amazon topped Twitter’s 2016 numbers with regard to average audience size and time spent viewing, with 1.6 million global viewers tuning in to the Amazon Prime stream. Prime Video views are just 2.5 percent of the total audience for the game, almost all of which came from TV. The game was broadcast by CBS and also streamed on the NFL Network. Continue reading Amazon’s First ‘Thursday Night Football’ Game Tops Twitter’s

Equifax Breaches Spur Businesses to Prioritize Cybersecurity

Equifax’s two cyber breaches, which exposed about 143 million Americans’ personal information, were the work of hackers who took advantage of a flaw in Apache Struts software. The nonprofit Apache Software Foundation and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team warned of the bug in early March, but Equifax only alerted its end users on September 7, almost five months later. IT experts say the event highlights the challenges in keeping software current and identifying all potentially vulnerable applications. Continue reading Equifax Breaches Spur Businesses to Prioritize Cybersecurity

Sinclair Broadcast Group to Acquire Tribune Media Company

Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group announced it will acquire the Tribune Media Company, which owns 42 television stations across 33 markets. Chicago-based Tribune also owns cable network WGN America, digital multicast network Antenna TV, and holds minority stakes in Food Network and CareerBuilder. Sinclair has agreed to pay $3.9 billion for Tribune ($43.50 per share), plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt. According to the Chicago Tribune, “The combined company will become a TV broadcasting behemoth, owning and operating 233 television stations in 108 markets, pending any required divestitures by the FCC.” Continue reading Sinclair Broadcast Group to Acquire Tribune Media Company

Comcast to Roll Out its Xfinity Prepaid Services in Five States

Later this year, Comcast will debut a prepaid service similar to the plans wireless companies use to attract low-income households. Dubbed Xfinity Prepaid Services, the customer can buy TV or Internet services for seven or 30 days at a time, with a one-time equipment set-up fee. Upon completion of the term, the user can renew the service with no limitations. Xfinity Prepaid Services will first be available in Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Florida and Indiana. Comcast will extend the service to all its customers by end of 2017. Continue reading Comcast to Roll Out its Xfinity Prepaid Services in Five States

El Capitan Theatre Marries Dolby Vision with Dolby Atmos Tech

Disney’s historic El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles is one of five theaters in the world to combine the Dolby Vision advanced laser projection system (created in partnership with Christie Digital) and Dolby Atmos surround sound technology. The facility, which first opened its doors in 1926, now features two Christie 6P 4K laser projectors and more than 100 speakers. Audio engineer, musician and tech journalist Ryan Waniata viewed a screening of Brad Bird’s “Tomorrowland” and was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the theater. Continue reading El Capitan Theatre Marries Dolby Vision with Dolby Atmos Tech

Fox Film is First to Screen in Barco’s Escape Theater Format

New panoramic screening technology from digital cinema projector company Barco will debut this month with screenings of the 20th Century Fox film, “The Maze Runner.” To create a panoramic image, Barco’s “Escape” theater configuration uses three projectors and three screens — a primary screen front and center, with two angled screens on either side. While the side screens will initially feature footage created using visual effects, Fox is experimenting with camera setups to produce future movies for Escape. Continue reading Fox Film is First to Screen in Barco’s Escape Theater Format

University is First to Recognize Video Gaming as Varsity Sport

A private university in Chicago is leveraging the growing popularity of eSports to become the first U.S. school to formally recognize electronic gaming as a form of collegiate athletics. Starting this fall, Robert Morris University-Illinois will consider “League of Legends” a competitive varsity sport, and will offer athletic scholarships to star players valued up to 50 percent the cost of tuition and room and board. The university is currently recruiting student gamers for the first year of competition. Continue reading University is First to Recognize Video Gaming as Varsity Sport

California Senate Passes Amended Smartphone Kill-Switch Bill

Weeks after the California Senate voted down legislation that would require anti-theft tech in all new smartphones, it has now passed a revised version of the bill after Apple and Microsoft withdrew their opposition. While the legislation is applauded by law enforcement groups, it is still opposed by some wireless carriers, and could face an uphill battle in the state Assembly. If passed, kill-switch technology would be required for phones sold in California that are manufactured after July 1, 2015. Continue reading California Senate Passes Amended Smartphone Kill-Switch Bill

Comcast Uses Chicago Cable Service to Launch Wi-Fi Hot Spots

Comcast has started to use hundreds of thousands of homes in the Chicago area to create more hotspots for its publicly accessible wireless network. The company will continue to roll out this service to more areas in the next few months. The service will use Comcast-issued home equipment, and separate the Wi-Fi signal to allow anyone within range to get Internet reception. Comcast claims that since the two services are separated, the Comcast users’ signals will not be disturbed. Continue reading Comcast Uses Chicago Cable Service to Launch Wi-Fi Hot Spots

Holodecks Could Become a Reality Within the Next Ten Years

Hollywood, computer companies and video game makers have often pursued interesting ways to bring entertainment closer to reality, a pursuit that may head to the next level with the introduction of holodeck-related technologies. Some scientists and researchers now believe that holodecks, which would allow the audience to become a part of the story rather than just passively sitting back and watching it, could become available in some form by 2024.  Continue reading Holodecks Could Become a Reality Within the Next Ten Years

Stanford Scientists Build Computer Using Carbon Nanotubes

A team of engineers at Stanford University has built the first functioning computer that uses carbon nanotubes rather than the standard silicon. The new material for building transistors could dramatically impact the way computers work in the future. While others have discussed the possibility of carbon nanotubes for years, Stanford’s team is the first to put them to practical use. The material could launch a new generation of devices that run faster and use less energy. Continue reading Stanford Scientists Build Computer Using Carbon Nanotubes