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T-Mobile's 911 Outages Last Year Cost Company $17.5 Million

posted Sunday Jul 19, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

T-Mobile's 911 Outages Last Year Cost Company $17.5 Million

Lots of tech news happens in the course of the week and sometimes you have to skip stuff that doesn't have a conclusion yet. This happened last year, when T-Mobile had two nationwide 911 outages in the month of August. This meant that emergency calls were not connecting to emergency service provider, which is a really big deal. The reason this is being talked about now, however, is because the Federal Communications Commission has now issued a fine for those outages.

Because of the incidents, T-Mobile will have to pay out $17.5 million to the FCC and will also have to put in place a compliance program that includes failovers for the company in order to prevent an outage from happening again in the future.

The FCC document reports that on August 8th, 2014, T-Mobile had two 911 outages, for a total of three hours without service. T-Mobile users dialing 911 at that time were unable to place the call, let alone reach a dispatcher. The FCC also said that T-Mobile took way too long on letting emergency service providers know about the problem. Additionally, T-Mobile did not have the necessary backups in place to counter a drop in coverage at this magnitude.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement that he will be holding services accountable if these issues persist.

The Commission has no higher priority than ensuring the reliability and resilience of our nation's communications networks so that consumers can reach public safety in their time of need. Communications providers that do not take necessary steps to ensure that Americans can call 911 will be held to account.

For reference, the FCC says there are just over 27,000 emergency calls places in the US from all cell phone providers every hour. Considering T-Mobile makes up a large portion of the consumer cell phone base, two outages totaling three hours is a problem that needs to be rectified.

A spokeswoman for T-Mobile said that there have been "significant changes" made to the 911 service over the past year and that this type of problem shouldn't happen in the future.

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Microsoft Presents New Way to Get Work Done with GigJam

posted Sunday Jul 19, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Microsoft Presents New Way to Get Work Done with GigJam

Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference was this week in Orlando, and it allowed the company to show off some new products and services that were outside the Windows 10 craze. On that list was a new service that helps you get work done. No bells, no whistles, just productivity.

Project GigJam, as it's been called for a while now, was in development for several years before it was announced at WPC 15. It's a simple an easy way to not only do work, but allow others to see and collaborate on your work. GigJam operates by taking a task and disassembling it into individual steps and focus points. You can assign people or groups certain tasks, connect to other software apps to grab information or even jump into internal databases to extract the data you need for the project at hand.

Running off of Microsoft's complex and efficient Azure Web Services, GigJam can be installed to any of the popular operating systems. Geared towards business power users, the entire system works using APIs, meaning there isn't special integration that's required to make GigJam work for you.

GigJam doesn't tout itself to be a new single product. As Microsoft's GM of Ambient Computing and Robotics Vijaty Mital puts it,

(Gigjam is) a new and different kind of productivity offering. We turn every task in an application into a multi-person app, all at the speed of communication. GigJam is doing something unprecedented. It's an entirely new system. it's ultra-light weight and follows standard protocols of HTTP, OAuth, REST, HTML/JavaScript, and more.

Microsoft's TechNet blog laid out two scenarios that GigJam is perfect for.

  • A physical therapist who previously worked alone to create a rehab protocol now involves the patient and the patient's family (each interacting from their own devices), all the while making sure that sensitive physician's notes and the patient's records are appropriately shielded.
  • An engineer assigned to inspect an aircraft fuselage can opportunistically accelerate the work by divvying up some of it for a couple of colleagues who happen to be nearby and free, while still maintaining personal responsibility through the ability to review the colleagues' input before committing it.
A sign-up link is on GigJam's homepage, where you'll be notified when the service goes live if you provide an email address. I'm very curious to see how the system works and have already signed up. If it can improve efficiency for businesses simply by making it easier to work together and gather information, then the Microsoft team has hit another home run this year.

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Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata Dies at 55

posted Sunday Jul 12, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata Dies at 55

It is with great sadness that we have to even type these words. Nintendo has just issued a press release stating that President and CEO Satoru Iwata has passed away at the early age of 55. From the statement, Nintendo says it is due to a bile duct growth.

Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth.

Appointed as President in 2002 and CEO in June of 2013, Iwata took the reigns with great force over the past few years, in an attempt to bring Nintendo back to the glory days. He capped that statement emphatically at E3 when the games Nintendo showcased had a release date within the next year and were extremely popular with fans worldwide.

GiantBomb.com writer Alex Navarro put it on Twitter best when he said,

Industry isn't old enough to have lost many giants. This is a major one. Brutal...Say whatever you want about Nintendo under Iwata's direction, people LOVED him. No matter how cynical the audience got, he always connected.

For Nintendo, this does open up a succession discussion as to who will follow in his iconic footsteps. It is possible Miyamoto may take over a larger role in the company, or even Nintendo USA President Reggie Fils-Aime could head the gaming giant in the right way.

Iwata took a 50 percent paycut, with many other directors at Nintendo taking cuts as well over the past handful of years to show their dedication to the vision of restoring Nintendo as a leader in innovation and gaming. Nintendo will always need someone at the helm who is deeply passionate about the company, but also one who is not afraid to be a bit goofy at times, because that is at the heart of Nintendo.

Rest in Peace, Iwata-san. The entire staff at PLuGHiTz Live extend our deepest condolences and respects to Mr. Iwata's family, his colleagues and the whole Nintendo team.

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Mitro Shuts its Doors on August 31st

posted Sunday Jul 12, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Mitro Shuts its Doors on August 31st

Have you used Mitro, Twitter's password manager that the company acquired last year? If you didn't, that's okay, as not many people did. However it was very popular within Silicon Valley startups as a way for companies to manage internal passwords and credentials. It was also free, which was a nice selling point. However, Mitro announced it will be closing on August 31st.

A page dedicated to the shutdown explained why.

Unfortunately, we can no longer maintain Mitro. On August 31st, 2015 it will be shut down. Please follow the directions below to export your data and remove the extension. We will delete all data on September 13th, 2015. Thank you for your support, and sorry for the inconvenience. If you wish to transfer to an alternative password manager, we recommend 1Password, Dashlane, or LastPass.

TIMELINE

July 18th: Creating new accounts will be disabled.

August 4th: Final email warning will be sent.

August 16th: Mitro will be come read-only.

August 31st: Mitro will be turned off.

September 13th: All Mitro user data will be permanently destroyed.

The site also says that if you want to pay $200 per month because of the "extreme hardship" this may cause, you can email one of the product managers, which seems insane for a password manager. This was one installed via a Chrome Extension, which opens it up for even more trouble than it would be worth to save your passwords.

So there you have it. Twitter is shutting down Mitro and is, for now, getting away from the password management space. With all of the other options out there, I doubt this will create too much of a rift, especially since the company has made it extremely easy to export your data to an Excel spreadsheet or .csv file.

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Bubble Wrap: No Pop and the Fun Stops

posted Sunday Jul 12, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Bubble Wrap: No Pop and the Fun Stops

There comes a time in every person's life when they no longer get to enjoy one of their favorite past times. Sometimes it's because of life changing up circumstances, other times it's because of innovation. This one surely falls into the latter as the joy and amazing feeling of popping Bubble Wrap is going away, thanks to hands of those at the Sealed Air Corp.

Bubble Wrap, which is a name of a product and not a type of product mind you, has been sold by the Sealed Air Corp since 1960 as a way of cheaply and effectively protecting items during shipping. Since then, billions have basked in the glory of popping every air bubble on the strip of plastic sent in their boxes along with their product. For some, the product was just a bonus to getting to be able to pop another sheet of Bubble Wrap.

Now, the company is launching a new iteration of their famous packing supply. Sucking the fun out of our lives, the new product, called iBubble Wrap, will not pop when pressed on. Sealed Air Corp. is looking to benefit and target online businesses who not only use the stuff but also want to save money and space. iBubble Wrap takes up one fiftieth of the space of traditional Bubble Wrap and no longer comes pre-inflated in single bubbles.

Instead, the protective packing material will be inflated when it reaches the retailer, who will then place it into shipping boxes. iBubble Wrap has columns that are connected and distribute air where needed and as you inflate it. One truckload of the new product has the same amount of packing material as 47 trucks that would have shipped the original Bubble Wrap. I guess it makes sense when you look at it that way.

Still, it feels like my bubble of fun that lives within my heart is being ripped out only to not be popped, but stepped on. It now makes sense why babies cry when they enter this world.

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The Pirate Bay Founders Acquitted of Criminal Charges in Belgian Court

posted Sunday Jul 12, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

The Pirate Bay Founders Acquitted of Criminal Charges in Belgian Court

Last year, the last and final co-founder of The Pirate Bay was arrested in Thailand and transported back to Sweden to face criminal charges. The four were also being tried for criminal charges in Belgium, which is where our story takes us today. Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström have all been acquitted of criminal copyright infringement and electronic communications.

Now, it's important to note the context of the trial. The charged were brought up based around the allegations that the four were still involved with the site from September 2011 to November 2013. The problem is that the four have denied such allegations, saying that they've cut ties with TPB ever since they sold it to Reservella in 2006.

During the trial, the prosecution attempted to connect the four founders to the website at any point during the two years in question. Unfortunately, it didn't really pan out and the court found that the group were not at all tied to the since the sale.

This is a small victory for them, as there are a handful of other countries that are waiting for the founders to stand trial in their borders. The quartet will have to face different charges in each country and can still face serious jail time if found guilty in those countries.

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