Blog Posts by Tori Floyd

  • iTunes U (Business Wire)Today, Apple hit a major milestone with its iTunes U program: over one billion digital education resources have been downloaded through it.

    For many who are out of the school system or who aren’t attending one of the 1,200 universities and colleges or 1,200 K-12 schools that currently participate in iTunes U, the program and its possibilities remain kind of a mystery.

    iTunes U has grown rapidly over the last nine months. TechCrunch reports that in its first five years, iTunes U managed to deliver 700 million downloads to students. From June 2012 to now, it managed to serve another 300 million, indicating the concept is finally catching on with schools in a big way.

    [ Related: Two free ways to get a university education, virtually speaking ]

    If you aren’t familiar with iTunes U, you could be missing out on a potentially valuable opportunity at a free education. Teachers can create virtual classrooms by combining audio and video files, presentations, PDFs, iBook textbooks, ePub books and

    Read More »from iTunes U crosses 1B downloads – but what is it exactly, and who’s using it?
  • (Image via Splitsecnd)Being able to contact emergency services via technology like OnStar when you’re in a tight spot is great, but if you’re driving a car not equipped with the technology, you’ve typically just been out of luck.

    Now, a new device called Splitsecnd automatically calls 911 if you’re in a crash, giving any car the ability to make a lifesaving call when you aren’t able to.

    The device plugs into your cigarette lighter and detects when your vehicle has been in a crash. Engadget explains that once the device has been triggered, it contacts local emergency services with your location while a representative talks to you and explains what’s happening. You can also press the button on the device to contact a representative directly in the event of a medical emergency or other situation where you’re in need of help, but haven’t had an accident.

    As an added bonus, the device will also let you track the whereabouts of all your family members with the device through the free Splitsecnd mobile app for

    Read More »from Splitsecnd device notifies 911 when you’ve been in a car accident
  • (Image from this week’s Mobile World Congress, Nokia debuted a cell phone it hopes will make huge progress in making cell phone technology accessible to more people.

    The Nokia 105, which will cost customers €15 (about $20 CAD), is being advertised as a phone that could be accessible to more people, due to its low cost and lengthy battery life. According to Nokia, the phone has up to 12.5 hours of talk time and 35 days of standby time, which also makes it an ideal emergency phone.

    [ Related: Nokia launches cheaper Windows Lumia smartphone for developing world ]

    Because it’s built to be as cost effective as possible, it doesn’t come with much in the way of bells and whistles. Users can make calls, send SMS text messages, play the pre-loaded games, listen to FM radio and use the Nokia Life service in countries where it’s available, an education service that can help teach life skills like how to study or handle finance and can assist those who want to learn English.

    With its primary audience

    Read More »from Nokia unveils the 105, a $20 cell phone with 35 days of battery life
  • Moon Tae-hwa, a devout Christian and family counselor, uses a computer to hunt down online porn in S. Korea.A radical move being mulled by Iceland’s government is set to have widespread impact on how governments across Europe and North America regulate online content.

    Iceland is exploring the possibility of banning pornography online and investigating what measures would need to be taken in order to enforce such a ban. There has been a loose ban on printed pornography in the country for decades now, but the plan to ban online porn would be a major move for Iceland.

    "When a 12-year-old types 'porn' into Google, he or she is not going to find photos of naked women out on a country field, but very hardcore and brutal violence," said Halla Gunnarsdottir, political adviser to the interior minister in an Associated Press story.

    [ Related: Bill C-30 killed by Conservatives but Internet privacy may still be at risk ]

    While the move to protect children from violent images is largely supported in the country, the implementation of the ban is what has some people questioning it. According to AP,

    Read More »from Icelandic government faces backlash over plan to ban pornography
  • Image of Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming headset

    Gamers are always looking for new ways to get more out of their gaming experience, and an upcoming headset from designer Palmer Luckey promises to do just that. The Oculus Rift, a virtual realty simulator worn on the head that lets you look around the gaming environment as if you were inside a physical space.

    It’s not just a run-of-the-mill VR helmet, though; the Oculus Rift delivers “vivid, three-dimensional images” as the New York Times describes it.

    Cliff Bleszinski, known as “Cliffy B” to many of the Xbox loyal, tested out the headset and had very positive things to say. As the co-creator of the popular Gears of War, Bleszinski has been in the industry for quite a while and has seen many video game technologies come and go.

    “The next big thing isn’t always a brand-new technology that you’ve never heard of,” Bleszinski told the New York Times. “It’s this thing that existed 10 years ago and quietly got better.”

    Many of the Oculus Rift’s parts are the same as what you would find in

    Read More »from Must-Have Monday: Get into the game with the next generation of virtual reality headset
  • It seems like a modern day version of ‘The Emperor Has No Clothes’: Taiwanese mobile company Polytron has unveiled its prototype for a new phone, but instead of the usual claims of a sleek look and carefully chosen colours, this phone is almost completely see-through.

    Mobile Geeks reports the company is showing an early version of its transparent phone hardware, currently running without an operating system, mostly to promote awareness about the kind of technology that they’re capable of making.

    Does anyone else feel like this is a joke? Am I the only one who thinks the practicality of a transparent phone is very limited? While it does look cool, years of watching sci-fi shows has taught a valuable lesson about the future: trying to read text on a transparent surface is a pain. Most of the time, you’d have to hold the device up to the light in order to read anything on it, and that brings with it a whole host of potential problems.

    But Polytron’s hardware is still in the early stages,

    Read More »from ‘Invisible’ phone debuted by company, and it’s more plausible than you think
  • (Facebook photo)Life clearly isn’t easy when you’re 104-years-old, and apparently, that includes being able to share your real age on social media.

    Michigan grandmother Marguerite Joseph is an active Facebook user, but because of a strange oversight by the company, isn’t able to put her real age on the social network.

    Joseph uses Facebook to keep friends and family up to date on how she’s doing and spend time with her granddaughter, Gail Marlow, who regularly updates Joseph’s Facebook page.

    [ Related: Facebook isn’t going anywhere on February 29 ]

    “All of our family members always asked how grandma was doing on my Facebook page,” Marlow told Click On Detroit. “So I decided I would set up a page of her own so she could stay connected to her family in Canada.

    But while Joseph has done a good job of keeping her 109 Facebook friends informed about her day to day life, a strange glitch is preventing her from also sharing her real age. When Marlow tried to set Joseph’s birth year to 1908, it keeps

    Read More »from 104-year-old grandmother gets apology from Facebook for having to lie about her age
  • Since it was announced about a year ago, the hype around Google’s Project Glass has been growing. And chances are good that’s going to grow exponentially now that Google has released this video, showcasing what it’s like to wear Google Glass:

    As the video shows, you can take photos and videos, participate in Google Hangouts, check the weather, get directions or search the Internet all with voice commands, and the results appear in the tiny screen on the upper-right side of your field of vision. All commands start with “OK Glass” and are followed with basic instructions. It won’t make use of thousands of apps like a smartphone does, but will be limited to doing a few basic things well, Mobile Syrup reports. The device will make heavy use of Google Now, the tech giant’s automatic information feed that provides updates on all the basics you’d need during your day.

    [ Related: Google to sell early version of $1,500 Internet glasses to select few ]

    If you’re interested in getting your hands

    Read More »from Google Glass video showcases what the Project Glass experience is like
  • The highly anticipated PlayStation 4 has finally been revealed, and it appears that the battle for supremacy in the next generation of consoles has really begun.

    At an event in New York City today, Sony revealed that its next generation console would indeed be called the PlayStation 4, and that it will focus on the gamer experience, challenging the heavily "entertainment" centric experiences of the Xbox 360 and the Wii U.

    Mark Cerny, director of the upcoming game Knack that was unveiled at today's event, explained the five pillars of Sony's strategy when creating a gamer-first console:

    • Simple: Cerny explained to the crowd that they made the PS4 'consumer-oriented,' easy to use and functional for both players and game designers.
    • Immediate: With improved hardware including the enhanced PC GPU, 8GB of unified memory and local storage HDD, Cerny said that the speed at which gamers can start playing has been greatly improved. This includes faster start-up time and less lag time between
    Read More »from PlayStation 4 announced at Sony special event in New York
  • After being on KickStarter for only one day, the 3Doodler 3D printing pen has smashed through its funding goal of $30,000, raising over $710,000 at the time of writing.

    What likely attracted the attention of over 8,000 backers (and counting) is the affordability of this 3D printing technology. It’s not going to let you print out a house or a case for your phone, but it also won’t run you thousands of dollars like a traditional 3D printer will. You can get a full 3Doodler pen and two bags of mixed colour plastic for a pledge of only $75 on the KickStarter campaign.

    Instead of drawing with ink, the 3Doodler uses ABS plastic, the same material used in many other 3D printers. It extrudes the heated plastic and it quickly cools, solidifying and keeping the shape you drew in three-dimensional space. Once you’re finished, you’ve got a 3D plastic model that you just drew out of thin air.

    You can hear the pitch and, more importantly, watch the pen in action here:

    If you’re quick, you can

    Read More »from Bring your scribbles to life with the world’s first 3D printing pen


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