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Friday, September 13, 2013


If you want to make some extra money on the side, HangPay lets you charge money for Google Hangouts.

The process is simple: just share your personal HangPay link with someone. When they click on it, you’ll get a notification. Open up the Hangout, choose a price, and start talking. If they reject the fee, you can negotiate.

Here’s what you see when someone starts to initiate a paid call:

HangPay uses Google Wallet for transactions, and they take a 4 percent fee. During the beta test, they’ve seen accountants, nutritionists, language tutors, and lawyers hanging out and getting paid.

Seasoned entrepreneurs could also use HangPay to make a little extra money on the side. For example, they might provide consulting to companies or offer advice to newbies. Currently, advice startups like Clarity only offer voice chat.

The Los Angeles company grew out of Curious Minds, an incubator cofounded by David Gonen and Jonathan Gonen. Communications manager Rob George admits that Google could add a payment feature and make HangPay obsolete, but he doubts they will.

In fact, Google encourages independent developers to make apps for Google products by opening up its API software. Other Hangout apps include Aces Hangout Poker to play poker, and to listen to music and create avatars that dance.

In the end, it’s an extraordinarily simple and useful app – and a reminder that our time is valuable.



The Zooka by Carbon Audio is a portable Bluetooth speaker unique for its flexibility: snap it onto your laptop or iPad, or place it near your phone, and the sound gets louder.

When it comes to portability, most of us would agree that less is more, but optimal size is a function of both ergonomics and performance quality. With a slide-on design, Zooka seems to merge with the device, providing subtle augmentation where comparable devices easily become excess clutter.
Zooka photo
The body of the Zooka is made from medical-grade silicone, giving it flexibility as a grip or rigidity as a stand. Zooka can become a side grip for your hand for a video chat with family, or a stand that props up your iPad for a conference call from the road, a movie at home, or an expo display at the office.

Since its release in March 2012, Zooka has found users among a younger tech-savvy crowd (especially music lovers), as well as an older generation who might otherwise have trouble hearing clearly on increasingly smaller audio devices (whose capacity for great sound quality shrinks right along with them).

Zooka’s dual 30-mm speakers provide an omni-directional sound to fill any room. Though compatible with any Bluetooth device, and flexible enough to slide on to most of them, Zooka was designed specifically for the Apple iPad. Zooka transmits from devices within a 30-foot range, and runs on a lithium-ion battery charged through a micro-USB port.

The founding team of Zooka’s creator, Carbon Audio, has a mix of talent and experience as designers, former audio company executives, and lawyers. CEO Mark Schneider served as vice president and general manager of Logitech’s Audio Business Group, when it was the worldwide leader in consumer speakers and personal audio equipment. Carbon Audio plans to debut its second audio product sometime this summer.

Guest author Kaitlynn Hendricks is a systems builder and a solution-focused, broad-scale economist. She works as a business developer in Washington, DC, where she spends her days pursuing, supporting, and telling stories about ventures in development and stewardship of globally conscious, locally focused networks of human, physical, and liquid capital. She enjoys timeless and occasionally avant-garde fashion, reading things that are just a little bit too complicated to really understand, relentlessly challenging the status quo, and exploring the city on her vespa.

SuperTooth Crystal review

You're in the car. You need to use your phone, but you want to do it safely and without breaking the law and accruing a fine. You need a hands-free kit. And as luck would have it, that's exactly what we're reviewing here.

The SuperTooth Crystal is a hands-free kit that's a little bit different to what's gone before - it acts as a speakerphone on your sun visor, and also pairs with your phone's GPS to give you voice directions (similar to theTomTom Hands Free Car Kit), and plays music from your phone. It's svelte, portable and a breeze to install and use.

Is it the perfect companion for the connected driver though? Perfect may be a bit strong, but it's certainly worth considering.

You can pair the SuperTooth Crystal with up to eight phones, although it can only monitor two phones at once - which is more than enough for practical uses.The SuperTooth Crystal itself is remarkably easy to pair with your phone over Bluetooth - simply hold the power button down while the device is off and it'll enter pairing mode. Enter the default code of 0000 if prompted, and you're good to go.

The only thing that's easier that pairing the device is installing it in your car. Inside the pack you'll find a small metal clip that hooks over the edge of your sun visor. Once in place the SuperTooth Crystal attaches firmly using the magnet on the back of the speaker unit, and you're done.

If you need your sun visor down, then you can simply slip the speaker around to the other side.

The benefit of this location, beyond its obvious ease of installation, is the fact that the unit is near your head. That's great for when you're actually using it as a hands-free kit, since it picks up your voice clearly and the person you're talking to comes out clear as well.

Answering calls is straightforward, via a single button push, and doesn't require you to take your eyes off the road. And it's the same for volume controls.

On the plus side, the SuperTooth Crystal does hold its charge well (offering standby for 1,000 hours of use and talk time of 20 hours). Plus you're more likely to have the charger connected to your phone, so overall we won't knock it for that.We do have a couple of issues with the design, though. The first is pointed at the power cable, which is a standard USB jack that won't reach in the vast majority of cars.

We're a little less forgiving when it comes to the quality of the speaker, though. For voice calls and GPS directions it's fine, but you can't say the same when it comes to playing back music.

It's distorted, muddy and, well, pretty rubbish to listen to. Which detracts from this being a single device that covers all your in-car hands-free needs.


Having said that, if all you need from your hands-free kit is the ability to talk to people while driving, then there's a lot to recommend the SuperTooth Crystal. There are cheaper options available than this, which is priced at £49.99//AU$79/US$69, but this does at least feel like a quality piece of kit.

Ford CEO: driverless cars nowhere near ready yet

The driverless car is still a long way from becoming a reality and even when it arrives, it won't be quite what you think or what you want it to be.

That's the opinion of Ford CEO Alan Mulally who met with TechRadar in Berlin this week.

Mulally is widely credited with having saved Ford from financial ruin when he took over as CEO seven years ago, and has been touted as a possible successor to Steve Ballmer at Microsoft.

Ballmer himself said of Mulally: "He understands the fundamentals of business success as well as any business leader I know."

Mulally is hugely excited about the prospects for the driverless car, which have been the fodder of science fiction for over 50 years.

Cars get smarter every day

And technological advances in the past few years have brought the idea back into the public consciousness as a viable product.

Ford cars already have the ability to detect danger and autonomously perform emergency stops regardless of what the driver is doing. The cars can also park themselves, and they can even listen to your commands and understand what you're saying.

But the one thing they can't do is drive you to work. And even when they do eventually gain this functionality, Mulally says you won't be able to kick back and have a nap because you never know when you'll have to take control of the wheel.

"The sensor set now and all the GPS data is getting to a place where there is a lot of capability to be able to make improvements in safety. The most important thing is that you can do that technically and you can anticipate all the different situations, but we're not quite there yet.

"We can't detect snow, for example. Or if you have a construction site and we don't know about that, it's not on your navigation. So one obstacle is technical.

"But I think a big thing is going to be affordability. These driverless vehicles that you see are $600,000, $700,000 vehicles. So this is about economics too.

"Another really big issue is going to be the ultimate responsibility for the car. Because now we are responsible for the car.

The smartest car?

Ford's new S-Max concept car includes a heart-rate monitor and the ability to track your blood sugar levels. The driver's seat gets an ECG that logs heart rates and patterns as well as picking up on any acute heart problems. It can even call for medical help and trigger the active safety systems if the worst happens and it detects a heart attack. The system can also warn a parent if a sleeping child is suffering a diabetic episode.

"Some people say, 'Well, clearly you need to keep the driver in the loop so they know what's going on.' But it's very different in a car because things happen so fast that you can't be doing something else like reading the paper or combing your hair because all of a sudden the car says 'would you please take over, we have a situation here.' We just don't have time to do that."

Mulally says the driverless car will not arrive in showrooms all of a sudden, but that it will evolve over time with features being added every year.

"It used to be only passive safety, but all this active safety that we're adding now [is] making the car safer and safer and safer. So it's not like it's going to be one big leap into the driverless future. You're seeing all that going in the car today, but who knows what the time frame is. It'll come when all those things come together."The neat thing about this technology is that it's going into the car now.

Baby steps

Ford's vision for the connected car is to use driver's smartphones to take on most of the grunt work, a different approach to the one other manufacturers have taken.

"One of the things that people really loved about Ford was that when we moved to the connected world, we made the decision to use the consumer's smartphones and not build the capability into the car. You can have one integrated life, because you could bring whatever your phone was, whatever operating system it was. You have this Ford that can use all of your capability. We got a tremendous response from that.

"A lot of people have done their own system and they embedded it in the car, and then the software can't keep up with the consumer's electronics and you have to change your car out. And we want to get to a place where you can just flash your car over the internet and you have the latest software and applications. Because the car has a life cycle that is much larger than consumer electronics."

New Mac OS X 10.8.5 update fixes Mail, Wi-Fi and screensaver bugs

Apple has squeezed in another Mac OS X Mountain Lionupdate before the expected October launch of its next operating system version, OS X 10.9 Mavericks.

Today's update, OS X 10.8.5, brings several bug fixes to the Apple software along with MacBook Air Mid-2013 Software Update 1.0 after nearly three months of beta testing.

"The OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.5 Update is recommended for all OS X Mountain Lion users," wrote Apple in its official release notes. "It improves the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac."

Specifically, it fixes Apple's Mail program, which failed to display messages in certain instances, and remedies AFP file transfer performance over the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi protocol.

Other small bugs squashed

Apple also took to fixing other annoying bugs in Max OS X 10.8.5 like the one that prevented a screensaver from starting automatically.

Improvements to Xsan reliability, large files being transferred over Ethernet and authenticating to an Open Directory server are here, too.

Finally, OS X 10.8.5 marks the first improvements for the new Haswell-powered MacBook Air that launched just as this update went into beta testing.

MacBook Air (Mid 2013) Software Update 1.0 and all of the other changes are available in the updates pane of the Mac OS X App Store with a required restart.

Phone wars continue! Galaxy S5 to match iPhone 5S on power


S4 knows not of 64-bit chips, it knows only the peace of the wilderness  
The Galaxy-iPhone war shows no signs of halting with Samsung confirming that it's looking to match the iPhone 5S 64-bit processor chip in its next smartphones.

Whatever comes after the Samsung Galaxy S4 – theGalaxy S5, we assume – will boast the same level of power according to Samsung co-CEO Shin Jong-kyun, who spoke to the Korea Times.

However he said we shouldn't expect this to appear too soon, which figures as we probably won't see the Samsung Galaxy S5 until next March and the

Apple shot first with 64-bit on Tuesday, with the iPhone 5S A7 chip marking the world's first smartphone with such a processor.

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Samsung's also not convinced that Apple can go big in China (namely in theiPhone 5C), adding that it's unlikely Cupertino will threaten its 20 percent market share in the country.

"Apple believes that it can boost its market share in China thanks to stronger brand awareness," said an unnamed Samsung exec. "However, with better pricing, a diversified product lineup and solid partnerships with local channels, Samsung plans to keep its current momentum in China.

"We have no reason to allow Apple to steal market share from us."

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Microsoft throws next-gen gaming an Xbone

The Xbone nickname has caught on among less-than-satisfied gamers in recent months, and despite Larry Hryb saying he feels the nickname is disrespectful, it seems Microsoft has gone ahead and bought the Xbone domain name anyway.
According to the WHOIS records, Microsoft is the proud new owner of, which it may have had to shell out a sizable amount for to take it from the previous owner.
The record shows that the domain was created back in 2000 but last modified on September 11, which we assume is when the keys were handed over to Microsoft.