Photos on Amazon cloud drive, unlocked cell phones are now illegal, Questia’s iPhone app and online trends

Death Star petition meme

Totally trending: It’s our Internet and technology roundup

Get out your iPhone and download the new Questia iPhone app, or use your android phone to upload photos with Amazon Cloud Drive Photos. Just don’t do it on unlocked cell phones – back in October 2012, unlocking a cell phone without your carrier’s permission became illegal, and the grace period after the ruling passed ended in January 2013. If you unlocked your phone before that, you’re safe – but don’t do it with a new device!

Amazon goes photo

On January 24, 2013, Amazon updated its Amazon Cloud Drive Photos Android app to allow users to upload pictures on the go. Competing with apps like Google +, Dropbox, and Facebook, Amazon introduced the feature that its app can now automatically upload photos from your mobile device to the cloud. Formerly, Amazon’s app required each image, or folder, to be uploaded manually.

“The new update changes that,” Sarah Perez reported in Tech Crunch, “and it even switches on the auto upload functionality by default – so be aware, if you’re cautious about going over your free storage limits (currently 5 GB).” In Perez’s January 25, 2013 article, “Amazon Takes on Google, Facebook & Dropbox By Adding Auto-Uploads To Its Cloud Drive Photos App,” she noted that while the auto-update feature makes the new app version notable, it’s still relatively bare bones compared to other competing apps. “But if you’re already buying into the Amazon universe for your files, music and photos, then it’s a worthwhile upgrade.”

Unlock = illegal

Cell phone carriers have never been big fans of users unlocking their phones and taking the device with them to another carrier. Now, those carriers have the upper hand: as of January 26, 2013, unlocking a cell phone and taking the device with you if you change companies, even after your contract runs out is no longer allowed. You can still unlock a phone with the cell carrier’s permission – but as Craig Lloyd wrote in his January 25, 2013 article, “Unlocking your phone becomes illegal starting tomorrow,” on SlashGear, the companies almost never want to give you that permission. “Of course, these changes won’t take away your ability to unlock phones,” Lloyd explained, “but it’ll give carriers the upper edge when it comes to keeping their phones on their networks, meaning that if they catch you with an unlocked phone, they can turn you in.”

Luckily, jailbreaking and rooting cell phones is still legal – at least, for the next three years.

Questia’s new app

Questia, an online database resource with more than 75,000 academic books and 9 million journal articles in its library, has just made access to that information go mobile. Though Questia has introduced mobile apps before, Questia Library 3.0 has updated the interface for ease of use and provides access to a selection of its library to non-subscribers. A press release, “Cengage Learning Launches New Questia iOS App for Mobile Research,” posted on Yahoo! Finance on January 15, 2013, lists the three key features of the 3.0 version:

  • Search and discovery. The new interface is designed for faster, more user friendly searching.
  • Smooth reading. Rather than rely on old page-turning displays, the new interface is more fluid, which makes for easier reading on a phone or tablet.
  • Saved projects. When researching on the go, users can save their progress – then pull it up later on their computer.

According to a survey by Questia reported in the Cengage Learning press release, “students spend an average of seven hours researching each term paper, while many spend 10 hours or more!.” The app is designed to help students to search more efficiently so they can cut their research time down.

On Twitter and YouTube

Twitter’s abuzz with wishful thinking and ways to get into trouble:

On YouTube, “People are awesome,” or not so awesome, and someone finally explains the debt limit in simpler terms:

That last video has a reference to a meme that you may have spotted around. On the White House’s petitions page, intrepid citizens requested that construction of a Death Star, aka Star Wars, be included in the budget by 2016. Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch of the White House Office of Management, responded in the negative, but filled his reply with so many Star Wars references – and so much information about the science being funded by the U. S. government – that it’s well worth the read. As is the subsequent appearance of the U. S. Death Star in memes.

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