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    brettlarsonEmmy® Award winning Brett Larson has been covering technology for more than a decade. He worked at CBS Radio in San Jose building the station group web sites, then Macworld magazine covering the rebirth of Apple, including the iMac, iPod and transition to Mac OS X. From there he went to TechTV where he continued to cover Apple, the Macintosh and consumer technology as well as the businesses behind them. With success in front of the camera, it was time for a big move, across the country to New York City.

    In New York, Brett has been covering technology on television for CBS News, CNN, CNN International, Headline News, Fox News, Fox Business Network and Al Jazeera. He’s also on the radio at top stations like 1010 WINS-AM in New York City and WTOP-FM in Washington DC. Brett’s featured in online videos for major media outlets like AOL and Yahoo and written and hosted 5 primetime 30-minute consumer technology specials for the CBS station group. His friendly on-air presence has been a hit with audiences everywhere.

    Brett is currently doing technology segments for WTOP-FM in Washington DC, WTMJ in Milwaukee, KQTH in Tucson,  and KFBK in Sacramento. Want to add him to your station line up? Have a story idea? Reach him Reach him Here.

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    New York, NY — It seems the father of the Internet, Vint Cerf, has a serious concern about our reliance on digitally documenting everything we do: will future historians be able to see anything we’re doing? You don’t have to think that far back to get an idea of what he’s worried about either… that CD collection you might have gathering dust, do you still have a CD player? In my house, I have two MacBook’s and a Mac Mini of which only two have CD/DVD drives. If I upgrade that Mac Mini to the current model, it lacks an optical drive. Sure my BluRay player will play the CD’s but if I want the data off them, my options are slowly becoming limited.

    Take a step back a few decades further to your cassette collection (if you remember or even had those). I had hundreds of cassette tapes containing everything from mixes carefully crafted for my long commute to me on the radio in the early days of my career. But you know what I didn’t have? A tape player. I got rid of that a long time ago because I had upgraded to CD’s and tapes were so cumbersome. And what of all those video games I have for my NES? Fortunately, I still have my NES and if I didn’t there are plenty of places I can go online to play the now-classic games for free.

    But the problem extends beyond our mix tapes and Mario Brothers. Everything we do now is digital from our vast music collections to the movies we watch and more importantly the documents of everything happening in our life. Granted, when I got the mortgage on my apartment in Manhattan I was handed a phone-book sized stack of paperwork that I needed to “Hold onto” everything else is handled in digital form. Historians have slowly began digitizing everything so that aging books and classic documents are preserved but as Cerf points out, will the technology exist to read those documents in the short and long term?

    We’ve made some historical finds from stone tablets and ideas written on paper, so the importance of keeping our stuff safe and readable is very real. I’ve seen some comforting finds along the way like old video games saved and made playable on the Internet without the need for an x86 PC running DOS from 1983. One would hope as computers get faster, storage space gets larger and we become more connected that more projects will surface to create emulators so that our ‘old’ data doesn’t bit rot into nothing more than the magnetic tape its saved on. Though Cerf suggests, when browsing your digital photos, if you see one you like you should print it out. And of course, I always remind, back up all that critical data so that your own history doesn’t get lost to a crashed drive, stolen computer or natural disaster. For simple backup tips, check this out.

     

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    New York, New York — This week was a good one for investors in a promising little computer company in Cupertino California. Not only did Apple hit an historic milestone in valuation, the new way to pay just took to the skies. And as much as you may love your Smart TV, it might not be the best at keeping secrets. Turns out if you can talk to your TV it isn’t just listening for you to change the channel. And a little story that nearly flew under the radar, a 100 year old company has a technology that will make those tiny screens on our Smart Watches and in our car dashboard look a lot nicer.

    iValue

    We found out this week that Apple is the most valuable company in history as the company stock hit $123/share [127.08 at market close Friday the 13th]. That means Apple is worth north of $700B and “Activist Investor” Carl Icahn thinks they’ll hit the $1 Trillion mark soon enough. Apple stock did a 7 for 1 reverse split after it hit $700 a share, which had the stock tumble to near $90 as recently as November. Since then it has climbed slowly past the $100 mark and further. Many are speculating if it can go any higher and certainly the pending release of the Apple Watch may help push it higher or lower. And now rumors are surfacing of a Apple contemplating a self-driving car? Siri may be doing more than telling you what song is playing or answering how much wood a wood chuck would chuck if it could chuck wood.

    Cleared for Take Off

    Speaking of Apple, the company’s contactless payment system, Apple Pay, will begin flying on coast-to-coast flights with JetBlue. Not even 6 months old, it’s the first in flight for a contactless payment system and a big nod of support from an industry used to doing things the way they’ve already been done— and charging you for it. JetBlue says the service will roll out on flights from JFK to San Francisco and Los Angeles (flights that have also been upgraded with the new Mint first class service). From there it will get on board the entire fleet by the middle of the year. The upgrade also brings another inflight upgrade for JetBlue: the traditional credit card terminals are being replaced with iPads. The iPads will give inflight crew the ability to do more than take your money it will also let them look you up online and get real-time information about your connecting flights.

    Can You Hear Me Now?

    Turns out your Smart TV is a really good listener. But unlike your pet, nosy neighbor or a fly on the wall what it hears is reported back to a “third party” to help make your Smart TV a better person! Samsung got the bulk of bad publicity (that Smart TV’s probably heard a lot of grumbling about) when someone actually read the privacy policy to find that the TV you talk to isn’t just listening when you say “turn on Real Housewives!” It’s listening all the time and that information is sent to a third party so the conversation can be distilled down to commands your TV needs to know. But that’s not okay. Senator Al Franken is now looking into it all, penning a letter that says the privacy policy isn’t clear on “how these third parties treat voice data” and if they’re really all about keeping your private information a secret. It opens up that privacy can of worms again when we have to ask: where do we draw the line in the sand?

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    New York, NY — Apple Pay is still in it’s infancy but has already been used at tens of thousands of retailers right here on the ground. But now, JetBlue will roll out the contact-less payment system on select flights starting next week. Since the service only works with iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users they’ll be the ones to enjoy it when it launches– but consider the sales numbers of the newer iPhone’s were record breaking, I’m sure that includes a lot of people. This move makes JetBlue the first airline to offer the new form of payment but it certainly won’t be the last. I mean, come on, when was the last time an airline made it harder to take your money?

    To make it work, JetBlue will replace those traditional swipe terminals with iPads able to accept Apple Pay. They’ll accept traditional plastic cards too so you won’t starve if you haven’t upgraded. The new iPad’s will also give the cabin crew more information about you like your name, birthday and other information that will be useful in flight– think connecting flights. That idea sounds pretty cool but considering my luck when flying I just hope it doesn’t include any complaints I’ve made or a running tally on the number of drinks I’ve ordered.

    When the Apple Watch comes out in April (We hope) you’ll also be able to use that to pay. Although, given the rumored battery life of the Apple Watch, you may want to keep that credit card nearby. Apple Pay will be first added to JetBlue flights from JFK to San Francisco and LA– which also happen to be the flights that feature the airlines first class Mint service. Additional flights will be added next month and the goal is to have them on board all flights this year.

    Considering how cramped flights have gotten over the past decade, not having to reach for your wallet to pay for your snacks, drinks, pillows and everything else you need in flight, this will be a much appreciated upgrade.

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    New York, NY — Kids and technology, well, they literally go hand-in-hand. It should come as no surprise then when I tell you that since 2011, Internet enabled devices in the hands of kids up to 12 years old has grown 250% (According to the IPSOS Kids and Family Center of Excellence). With all those devices and all that connectivity, you probably want your kids to be learning something as they’re being entertained. Enter ‘The Digits’ an interactive show that let’s kids rock out while they learn math.

    It’s the creation of Funda, a company founded by Scotty Iseri. I sat down with Scotty in Portland Oregon to get the full scoop on Funda and ‘The Digits’ which was a few years in the making. The show “combines interactive learning” so parents can connect with their kids and watch what their kids are learning. Not long ago, in a very near galaxy, ‘The Digits’ started life on mobile devices and online. Because of it’s popularity the online show is going to TV and Funda will be making a second mobile app to go with the new TV series.

    Getting ‘The Digits’ into the hands of kids coast-to-coast was no easy task. The biggest problem: where are people going to find out about Funda? As Scotty said “When you create media for kids your user is not your customer.” So the goal is to try and get programming to be kid tested and parent approved— like Kix serial.

    With the success of ‘The Digits’ Funda will go on to create more shows to teach kids science and computer programming. Check out the digits on their web site.

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    New York, NY — Even though gas prices are dropping, you still don’t want to pay more than you have to when you’re at the pump. The difference of 30¢ a gallon on a fill up of a 15 gallon tank is $4.50. Sure that doesn’t sound like much once, but do that once a week for a month and you just spent $18 you didn’t have to spend. So why not find the cheapest gas around? Enter GasBuddy a crowd-sourced free app that will save you money when you hit the road.

    GasBuddy is crowdsourced from other users— similar to how Waze gets traffic spot on. Considering GasBuddy has been downloaded over 40 million times you can bet the prices you get are accurate. It’s easy to use: just open it, tap ‘Find Gas Near Me’ and you’ll be presented with a list of stations or a map of stations near you. You can sort the list by distance, price or fuel type. So whether you’ve got to put premium in your Porsche or Diesel in your Dodge or just the lowest price you can get into your Lexus, you’ll find it.

    When you find the station that fits your needs— likely the one furthest from you, not off the freeway and lacking a clean bathroom— just tap the name and you’ll get a map of where it’s located. A few more taps and you can get turn-by-turn directions from wherever you are to wherever your gas is.

    GasBuddy is free and available on every mobile platform (That includes YOU BlackBerry users) and online at GasBuddy.com. Check them out before you hit the road to make sure you’re saving as much as possible when you fuel up. Got other gas saving tips? Post them in the comments section below.