? All Tech Radio Episode 403
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  • A McDonald's franchise in Pennsylvania says it will give employees more payment options after it was sued by a former employee who says she was charged a fee to access her wages from a debit card. Company spokeswoman Christina Mueller-Curransays employees of 16 McDonald's restaurants in northeastern Pennsylvania will be given the option of getting paid via direct deposit or paper check. Former employee Natalie Gunshannon alleges she was charged $1.50 to withdraw cash. Her lawsuit has focused attention on the practice of paying low-wage employees via debit cards that can be laden with fees. Mueller-Curran says the debit card used by franchise owners Albert and Carol Mueller includes free withdrawals. She says the company has always tried to treat its employees fairly.
  • Ed Snowden dropped another bombshell over the weekend. Now only has the US government been spying on us but also our allies and the United Nations. EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said Sunday that U.S. authorities were immediately contacted about a report in Der Spiegel magazine that the U.S. spy agency had tapped EU offices in Washington, Brussels and at the United Nations. Protests have been going up all over Europe about President Obama. The U.S. government said it would respond through diplomatic channels. "We will also discuss these issues bilaterally with EU member states," a spokesperson for the Director of National Intelligence said.
  • Google Inc. is developing a videogame console and wristwatch powered by its Android operating system, according to people familiar with the matter, as the Internet company seeks to spread the software beyond smartphones and tablets. With the game machine and digital watch, Google is hoping to combat similar devices that Apple Inc. may release in the future, according to the people. Android smart phones make up 75% of all smart phones currently on the market and they believe they will be competition to Microsoft's Xbox, Sony and Nintendo.
  • Apple is said to have filed a trademark application for the term "iWatch" in Japan - just a few weeks after it reportedly did the same in Russia - thus fueling rumors that, yes, Cupertino is indeed planning a move into what CEO Tim Cook calls "wearables." Apple filed for the trademark on June 3, and the filing was made public last Thursday, reports The Wall Street Journal (paid subscription required). The category in which it was filed, the WSJ writes, is for a "computer or watch device" - and if the iWatch rumors that have been coursing about recently are in any way accurate, it'd be both.
  • Microsoft hopes to take a dominant role in the living room this fall with the launch of the Xbox One, but Don Mattrick, the executive who recently introduced the new game console and media center to the world, has reportedly left the company ahead of that launch for a position at Zynga. Mattrick is expected to take a major role, possibly even chief executive, at social game maker Zynga,according to Kara Swisher of AllThingsD. The report suggested that Mattrick's departure was not related to a recent consumer uproar over Microsoft's initial plans to include aggressive digital rights management restrictions on the Xbox One. Those initial plans would have restricted sharing and buying used games, and required the console to be connected to the Internet at all times. But in a rare public reversal last month, Mattrick himself penned an open letter to consumers explaining that Microsoft had changed its stance on Xbox One DRM. When the console ships this fall, it will no longer require a persistent online connection, and the Redmond, Wash., company will not restrict sharing or trading of disc-based games.
  • Mozilla has announced that smartphones running Firefox OS have arrived, with Telefonica-owned Spanish mobile phone operator Movistar promising delivery of the first low-priced phones on Tuesday. The Firefox shop announced on Monday that Alcatel's One Touch Fire handset, along with the ZTE Open, which will be distributed by both Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica, will be available "soon". Telefonica, though, proceeded to jump ahead of the German-based carrier by announcing the ZTE would be commercially available from its Moviestar shops on 2 July. The ZTE Open will be priced at €69 with €30 of pre-paid minutes. There was no similar announcement from Deutsche Telekom at the time of writing, but it the inaugural launch will be in Poland, the German carrier said in a statement.
  • Skype's starting off July with the release of a brand new version of its Android app. The overhauled 4.0 update borrows a good deal from the Microsoft-owned VoIP company's Windows 8 app, bringing conversations to the top. Log in, and you'll see recent chats -- from there, you can give one a tap to replay. You can also start a fresh one with a swipe and a tap on a contact name. Skype's promising a faster and more reliable app this time out, released as the Android version passes 100 million installs. Check out a celebratory video after the break.
  • Microsoft today announced a number of changes to its sales process, including third-party support for its tablet lineup. The Surface has long been under Redmond's thumb, primarily available online and via a handful of retail locations. But starting today, a handful of resellers like PCM and Softmart will begin offering the tablet. Through the Microsoft Devices Program, the 10 chosen companies can resell Surface Pro and Surface RT devices to commercial customers, helping to activate a chain of sales to businesses, schools, and universities. "Business customers are increasingly seeking devices that span work and play, can be easily managed and configured and have the right software to get the job done," Patrick Hart, vice president of software marketing for PCM, said in a statement. Softmart's vice president of national sales, Roe Miller, echoed that sentiment, adding that the program "demonstrates our commitment to finding the perfect solution for our corporate clients who rely on Microsoft devices and services."
  • Tougher federal rules restricting advertisers and marketers from tracking and targeting children online take effect today, with positive and potentially negative results predicted. It took the Federal Trade Commission four years to balance the input from a wide spectrum of child safety advocates calling for an update to the 1998 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, versus tech companies and large corporations who derive profits from online marketing to kids staunchly resisting any new regulations. "At the FTC, protecting children's privacy is a top priority," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "The updated COPPA rule helps put parents in charge of their children's personal information as it keeps pace with changing technologies." Predictably some are hailing the new rules as a milestone, while others contend the FTC's move will stifle the growth of appropriate online products and services aimed at children. Nick, Disney, Cartoon Network and Facebook are in this camp. Advertisers and marketers must now abide by an expanded definition of "personal information" for children under 13, to include geo-location data, as well as photos, videos and audio files. Also banned: so-called "behavioral advertising" directed at children without parental notice and consent, including "re-targeting" ads are based on browsing history.
  • Have you ever thought to yourself that you wished you owned a flying electric bicycle? Well, maybe you haven't, but some inventors out of the United Kingdom have, and arecurrently seeking crowd funding through Kickstarter to help kickstart their dream of one day unveiling Paravelo to the public. Paravelo, according to XploreAir, is said to be the world's first flying bicycle, capable of altitudes up to 4,000 feet. It is a combination of a para wing and conventional bicycle. As you can see from the image below, at the heart of this bike's design is a towed lightweight trailer carrying a powerful fan. In order to fly one connects the bike and trailer, unfurls a flexible wing and fires up an electric starer motor, which in turn gets the biofuel-powered fan going. The theory on take off is simple - find some open space, rev this sucker up to its 15 MPH speed and up you go into the skies, hitting a top air speed of 25 MPH. This ultra-light aircraft, which can fly for up to three hours, includes an optional tent to camp with after you land somewhere in the outback. When not in use, the entire flying bike and tent reportedly packs down easy to store inside one's home or office.

email from listeners:

  • Donna from Seattle asks "Do Windows Surface tablets come with Office and Outlook?"