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PC Magazine

PC Magazine August 2016

PC Magazine provides lab-tested reviews, detailed tips and how-tos, insightful feature stories, expert commentary, and the latest tech trends to help you at work, at home, and on the road. And for a limited time, we're offering a copy of Breakout: How Atari 8-Bit Computers Defined a Generation with new subscriptions. This brand-new book is all about what made Atari's computers great: excellent graphics and sound, flexible programming environment, and wide support.

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United States
Ziff Davis
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12 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
wherever you go, there you are

A buddy suggested, in the summer of 1997, that we drive from Los Angeles to New York and see the country. I had just turned 25, so I could legally rent a car. We figured we could do it in one week, with about six hours of driving a day—although once we left Boulder, Colorado, we decided to plow through all of Kansas to Hannibal, Missouri, stopping only for gas, beef jerky, and bio breaks. As we drove out of L.A. and into the desert, I pulled out a toy borrowed from the office: a portable GPS system. “Portable” may be too strong a word for my make-shift global positioning system. It was a brand-new version of Microsoft Streets and Atlas 1998, a six-pound Dell laptop, and a serial-port-based GPS device,…

2 min.
mobile networks & ai in medicine

“FASTEST MOBILE NETWORKS 2016” A wise man once said, “All politics is local.” The same can be said for mobile phone service.... Regional ratings like these are arbitrary at best, because they put a lot of weight on a strong signal in a limited area and average it out over areas that may have no service at all. Bottom line is, forget the hype, forget the coverage maps, forget the fan boy arguments, and just figure out what works best where you’re going to spend most of your time. RAWLCM Verizon is pushing everyone to get rid of expensive-to-maintain POTS [plain old telephone service], but without 99.9 percdent of us getting a good cellular connection, why would one give up POTS? We need a paradigm shift in telephony. Ben Myers Basically, if you mainly use…

4 min.
google tackles ai, robotics safety to prevent future toasters from killing us in our sleep

Humans have been afraid of the dangers posed by AI and hypothetical robots or androids since the terms first entered common parlance. Now Google has released its own early research into minimizing the potential danger of human-robot interaction, as well as calling for an initial set of guidelines designed to govern AI and make it less likely that problems will occur in the first place. “A cleaning robot should not create messes or damage its environment while pursuing its primary objective.” We’ve covered Google’s research into an AI kill switch, but this project has a different goal — how to avoid the need for activating such a kill switch. This initial paper describes outcome failures as “accidents,” defined as a “situation where a human designer had in mind a certain (perhaps informally…

7 min.
how the pokéconomy is changing business, one lure at a time

Pokémon Go is a genuine phenomenon. It’s fun, it’s addictive, and it’s absolutely everywhere. You can’t walk down a street without bumping into a few wandering trainers flipping Pokéballs at Doduos or a group of strangers huddled over their smartphones on a street corner because the Lure Module brought them together. Pokémon Go is what happens when you take a beloved video game property with two decades’ worth of fans and give them a free augmented-reality (AR) mobile application that forces them to walk (and walk) around their neighborhoods. The app has freemium monetization with its Shop, where players can buy in-game currency, called Pokécoins, to purchase game items. But Pokémon Go is also transforming the power of Internet-driven commerce for the brick-and-mortar retail and service world. Millions of U.S.-based SMBs…

1 min.
samsung will spend $1.2b to connect everything to the internet

Samsung has pledged to spend $1.2 billion on US-based Internet of Things research and development over the next four years. CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon delivered the news during an IoT forum in Washington, D.C., where he called for his peers to “start talking and thinking differently” about the space, and pushed for a more human-centric, collaborative approach to the technology. “At Samsung, putting people at the center of everything we do is our highest value. The same must be true for IoT if we want to realize its full transformative power,” Kwon said in a statement. It appears Samsung has its collective eye on health care. “Today, IoT is changing individual lives—helping people to age in their homes. But tomorrow, using IoT, we can give the same independence to millions of Americans,” Kwon said.…

5 min.
the case for buying an unlocked phone

At PC Magazine, we’ve long been proponents of unlocked cell phones. Last year we reviewed 39 unlocked models available in the U.S., and our list of The Best Unlocked Phones offers options from $149 up to $700. In 2006, I declared that the “unlocked cell phone revolution begins now.” It didn’t. According to Strategy Analytics, 14.6 million unlocked phones were sold in the U.S. in 2015, for a total of about 10 percent of the US market, with Blu and Apple leading the pack at 36 percent and 12.3 percent, respectively, of that 10 percent total share. “Americans aren’t used to paying for phones up front, and for many years, phone prices were hidden in carriers’ nearly universal two-year contracts.” There are several historic reasons for this. Verizon and Sprint have been hostile…