This Week in Tech News

Samsung to Send Kill Switch to Remaining Galaxy Note 7s

Episode 1347

Galaxy Note 7

With about 100,000 Note 7s still out in the wild, Samsung is about to send out an update that will make the mobile phone inoperable unless it's plugged in. It is hoped that these outlyers will then be returned by owners. Verizon has already said it won't push that update over the air during the holiday season. Meanwhile, Samsung has upped the ante to a full refund, plus an additional $100 for the trouble.

AT&T Has to Pay Back over $88 Million to Customers

Episode 1347

AT&T Logo

In performing what what the FCC called illegal "sneak charges" for ring tones and other items without consent, AT&T violated FCC regulations and must now pay customers back over $88 million in charges. Leo says it amounts to about $30 per customer.

White House Releases Augmented Reality App

Episode 1346

1600 app

The White House has released an augmented reality app. The app called "1600" allows anyone with a smartphone or tablet and a $1 bill to take a tour of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Leo believes it's far more useful than virtual reality.

Microsoft is the first to leverage augmented reality with HoloLens. It's currently $3,000, but that should get cheaper soon. Leo says he wouldn't be surprised to see if plummet in price by next year.

Hands-on with the Microsoft Surface Studio

Episode 1345

Microsoft Surface Studio

The Microsoft Surface Studio is, believe it or not, Microsoft's first desktop computer. It's got a high resolution 27" screen and Leo simply can't stop playing with it. It's ideal for artists. It's expensive, though, at $3,000. What's disappointing is that the low end model at that price point only has 8GB of RAM, an i5 processor, and a 5400 rpm spinning hard drive. So Leo thinks it's a bit underpowered. He also says it's a great tool for those in creative endeavors.

Samsung Buys Harman

Episode 1342

Samsung Logo

Samsung has gotten into the high end audio world by picking up Harman, the maker of luxury and studio sound including JBL, AKG, Mark Levinson Sound, Revel Speakers, and Bowers and Wilkins.

Read more at news.samsung.com.

Fake News Is Not Just a Problem with Facebook

Episode 1341

Facebook Logo

Leo says that Facebook is learning about how to deal with fake news, but it's by no means the only portal that has to deal with it. There are plenty of news websites that fall for it as well. But while people are caught up in fake news, they are missing real news, like Apple being able to turn over the content of your iCloud account to authorities with a simple request. But nobody reports on that.

Britain Passed the Most Extreme Surveillance Law Ever in a Democracy

Episode 1341

Houses of Parliament

Britain passed the "Snooper's Charter," which is being claimed the most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy. Current Prime Minister Theresa May introduced it before she was Prime Minister. She's tried two times to pass it, and after four years, it was passed on Wednesday by both houses of Parliament. The law will force internet service providers in Britain to record every internet customer's web history in real time for every place they visit. It discourages encryption. It gives law enforcement and intelligence agencies the power to hack into devices of any citizen.

Too Much Battery May Have Been the Cause of the Note 7 Problems

Episode 1341

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

The news has broke that putting to large a battery into the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 may have led to the batteries to "plate" do to the limited space and that cause it to leak lithium and catch on fire. Samsung has recalled them all and there's talk that they may replace the batteries and sell them refurbished. Good luck with that.

Unicode Consortium Approves 51 New Emojis

Episode 1340

Sunglasses Emoji

If you've been around computers awhile, you probably have heard the term ASCII, American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It was limited though, because it only had 256 different letters, which is fine for our alphabet and left a lot of room for accents and glyphs. But, to be practical, we needed more than 256. There are many other alphabets with non-Roman characters. So we went to Unicode, which is 16 bit instead of 8 bit, and that gives us more than 65,000 different characters.

Facebook Blamed for Allowing Fake News to Affect Election

Episode 1339

Facebook Logo

In the aftermath of this week's election, people are blaming Facebook for not taking down fake news reports that could have impacted it. Leo says that Facebook can't vet every single post to verify if it's accurate. That's just unrealistic. And according to Facebook, the fake news posts this year was only a very tiny percentage of the posts that were put up. Leo also says that the most important thing we can teach kids today is to develop critical thinking, to verify what they read themselves and not to take things without a grain of salt.