Good morning! Today, we bring you tales of television and translation.
The biggest story of yesterday and why you should care today: The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a series of proposals that would ultimately allow consumers to use cable boxes from companies other than their cable providers.
If adopted as regulation, this decision would break the hardware monopoly cable providers enjoy, under the theory that a little competition in the hardware space will improve cable boxes as a whole. It also opens up all sorts of opportunities for other companies; you may have Xfinity as your cable provider, but you'd be able to buy a cable box from, say, TiVo or Roku, Android TV or Apple TV.
The FCC is essentially trying to create a software-based replacement for CableCard. Pay-TV operators from the cable, satellite, and telco industries would have to provide content and programming information to makers of third-party hardware or applications. Theoretically, customers could then watch their TV channels on various devices without needing to rent a set-top box from their cable company and without buying equipment that is compatible with a physical CableCard.
This is not a final proposal, but the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which allows for public comment and debate before a final ruling. Keep an eye on this story, as it could affect how you watch TV in the very near future.
The most useful tech news: Microsoft is experimenting with an Outlook.com Premium Service. Not to be confused with the ad-free Outlook.com service (approximately $20/year), the Premium service revives custom domain support (it was axed in 2014)
The company also announced two new features for its Microsoft Translator App: The first is an offline translation engine for Android users -- perfect for situations where you need translation capabilities but you have no Internet access. The second is an image-translation feature that uses optical character recognition to allow iOS app users to finally translate signs by simply taking a photo of them. This ability has been available to Windows Phone users since 2010.
And in "how-tos you can use," try "9 Instant Ways to Turn Your Emails into Tasks" and "The Best Keyboard Shortcuts in Default Windows Programs."
The most amusing tech news: Do you have two free days and a jigsaw that can cut through metal? Then you have almost everything you need to produce your own Batarang. Who hasn't dreamed of outfitting their own utility belt with the same tools the Dark Knight uses as he patrols Gotham?
What we published yesterday:
GALLERY: Windows 10 Redstone Build 14267 out for Windows Insiders -- "This gallery will walk you through the new features, the majority of them being in Microsoft Edge, as it appears Redstone development has moved beyond the under the hood phase which has been its focus over the last two months."
How to use If This Then That for Ad Hoc Storage and Automation -- "It's very bare bones backup, but that simple file duplication is the first step in longer-term asset management. Here are some of the ways you can use IFTTT to automate your own archival activities."
Going Paperless with OneNote and the Cloud -- I decided to go paperless with my podcast in order to save on those precious resources. Here's how I did it.
What I Use to Do What I Do: The UX Developer -- "Welcome to another installment of "What I Use to Do What I Do," the series in which people talk about how they use hardware and software in all parts of their life -- and what tech they love and hate. Today, we've got a user experience designer and developer who also runs an Android- and Google-centric podcast."
Surface Pro 4 & Surface Book Firmware Updates Fix Sleep/Power Issues -- "The issues, ranging from failure of the devices to properly enter and remain in sleep mode plus randomly waking up while in bags to run at full power while closed, have plagued the latest hardware in Microsoft's Surface line since they arrived last fall."
Connecting Cortana to Your Microsoft Health Account -- "By connecting Cortana to the Microsoft Health account you can enlist Cortana to view your current stats which should help remind you to step away and perform an activity or two, and pull in historical data (eventually)."
Band BPM is a Simple Smartphone Heads-up Display for Your Microsoft Band Data -- "Sometimes the small display on the Microsoft Band can be a bit difficult to read during jostling and bouncing during activities. Those small, secondary numbers for heart rate, pace, distance, calories burned, etc. can be tough to discern. For those iPhone users, a new app is now available that does something pretty simple."