Items tagged with Misc

Ever been off the beaten path and discovered an amazing craft beer that isn't available locally? If you owned a SYNEK machine, you could bag it and tag it for consumption at home, right from your countertop. That's the general idea behind this Kickstarter project, which wants to do for beer what Kuerig did for coffee. It's the first ever countertop beer dispenser, an accomplishment in and of itself. But what really makes the SYNEK worthy of attention is that the vacuum bags it uses can be filled from any tap using a special hose that never comes into contact with air, thereby giving you access an unlimited variety of brews without degrading the quality or taste. The bags hold up to a gallon of... Read more...
Google Maps’ Street View has helped completely change how we’re able to see the world. Indeed, Street View makes navigation far easier than ever before, but it also allows us to see into places from the comfort of our own homes. For instance, there’s the “Skyfall” island in Japan, the Grand Canyon, and more, and the search giant is also now mapping Ellis Island and Liberty Island, site of the Statue of Liberty. According to the New York Times, it’s taken a long time and a lot of complication to gain access to Liberty and Ellis Islands, both of which are operated by the National Park Service. Credit: Michael Appleton/New York Times “For the first time,... Read more...
While the Xbox-versus-PS4 push and pull endures, Microsoft is doing one thing that helps keep its customers happy and may bring in a few more: Constantly rolling out updates. The company has had an update each month since February, and Xbox Chief Phil Spencer tweeted that they’ll continue at least through October. “We've worked through the feature list through October,” reads the post. “MUs will continue and features look good.” Xbox now has a feedback channel called Xbox Feedback that allows users to pitch things they want to see, thus ensuring that Xbox owners have a voice in new features that Microsoft gives them. The most recent update for July, for example,... Read more...
Lyft announced that its was pushing into Brooklyn and Queens, places where its chief competition, Uber, already has a foothold, and it now has the green light to launch in all five boroughs after coming to agreements with the state and with local entities. That’s a huge deal for the rideshare service, of course, but there are caveats. One is that, according to a statement from New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York State Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin M. Lawsky, Lyft must use only commercial drivers. Additionally, Lyft has to cease operations in Buffalo and Rochester by August 1st. A post by Lyft indicates that the cessation is temporary. ”Lyft... Read more...
Driverless, autonomous car technology is quickly proliferating as multiple companies have stated publicly that they’re planning to roll them out within the next several years. Other companies such as Intel are working hard on technology to go in autonomous cars, too. But it’s not just American and European companies diving in--China’s Baidu says that it’s developing its own (mostly) self-driving vehicle, too. Baidu, you may note, is not a car company; it’s a tech company, similar in many respects to Google, and it’s unclear who Baidu would partner with on the actual vehicle. In any case, the company has an intriguing philosophy on what an autonomous car should... Read more...
Tesla’s proposed “gigafactory”, a massive production facility that would make batteries for the company’s electric cars, is looking for a state to call home, and you can count California among those campaigning hard to be chosen. According to USA Today, the California state legislature is working on a bill to speed an approval process to persuade Tesla to come to the state; this follows an earlier measure designed to give Tesla property tax breaks. Model S Other states in the mix include Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. KTVU in Concord, CA reports that one nagging problem for California is that one area where the gigafactory could be built is actually a Superfund... Read more...
A man named Duff Watson nearly got himself and his two young sons (ages 6 and 9) thrown off of a Southwest Airlines flight out of Denver over an angry Tweet. He was upset that the gate agent wouldn’t let his kids board early with him even though he had priority status and posted on Twitter, “RUDEST AGENT IN DENVER. KIMBERLY S. GATE C39. NOT HAPPY @SWA” according to Reuters. The crew then pulled him off of the plane and made him delete the post before letting him back on, even threatening to call the police unless he complied. He relented, deleted the Tweet, and flew on to Minneapolis. Obviously, there are pieces of the story missing here. For example, how would Kimberly S. have... Read more...
Google’s acquisition of Twitch, the increasingly popular video game broadcaster, is complete. The deal was first announced back in May, and Google has signed the all-cash offer of a billion dollars. Suddenly, the YouTube juggernaut is even more powerful and expansive. According to VentureBeat’s sources familiar with the matter, the exact price is unknown but Twitch’s early investors are pleased with the manifold return on investment they’re now enjoying. Twitch has some exciting days ahead. Amid acquisition talks, the company announced plans to build a studio in San Francisco where their top-notch contributors can produce high-end content and new talent can develop their... Read more...
While the FCC has come under fire for its stance on net neutrality of late, it has also been on the offense against ISPs. For example, the agency has stated that it will look into the bad service finger-pointing between Netflix and Verizon in hopes of adjudicating the dispute and discerning the underlying problems, and it’s also giving ISPs a warning about their level of transparency. “Consumers deserve to get the broadband service they pay for,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a Rule Enforcement Advisory. “The FCC’s transparency rule requires that consumers get the information they need to make informed choices about the broadband services they purchase.”... Read more...
A company called littleBits has taken the hobby DIY kit to a whole new level with its Internet of Things-friendly cloudBit and Cloud Starter Bundle that allow you to add connected intelligence to any number of otherwise “dumb” items. The $59 cloudBit is designed to work without any need for wires or soldering, and it’s technically its own tiny computer board running Linux and packed with a FreeScale i.MX23 ARM926EJ-S processor, 64MB of RAM, a 4GB SD card, and an 802.11b/g USB adapter. There are also ADC and DAC I/O pins, as well as GPIO. littleBits mentioned a number of applications the cloudBit can be used for, including a DIY Nest alarm, a doorbell alert system that sends... Read more...
For as ubiquitous as Facebook is and for as many features as the social network has, there are a few much-needed items that the company just hasn’t gotten to over the years. (For example, why can’t you comment on a comment?) Facebook is taking care of one of those long-needed features today, though, by introducing Save. Save lets you mark all sorts of content such as links, places, movies, TV, and music to get back to later. No one can see what you’ve saved unless you allow them to, and Facebook stashes them for you and categorizes what you’ve saved so you can easily find whatever you’re looking for. Adding this feature is not just something that users have wanted... Read more...
Whether you’re disgusted by the prospect of Facebook owning an exciting grassroots-type product like the Oculus Rift or believe, like John Carmack and Michael Abrash, that combining Facebook’ big moneybags with Oculus’ know-how will make possible all the promise of VR technology, Facebook’s blockbuster deal to acquire Oculus VR is now complete. Several months in the making, the $2 billion deal which included $400 million in cash has cleared all regulatory and practical hurdles. In a joint statement, Facebook and Oculus said, “We’re looking forward to an exciting future together, building the next computing platform and reimagining the way people communicate.”... Read more...
Although Netflix’s system for tracking what you’ve viewed and offering up suggestions accordingly is a fine way to discover new movies or TV shows you may want to watch, it can also be annoying when you watch something that turns out to be awful (or embarrassing). Worse, your friends or family members who see your account can see that thing you wish they couldn’t--doubly bad if you allow Netflix to share your viewing habits on social media. The company is testing a new feature called Privacy Mode that would let users hide a movie or TV show. “Choosing that option means the program will not appear in your viewing activity log, nor will it be used to determine recommendations... Read more...
Did you ever go on a big family road trip where there were two or more cars in the caravan, and you brought along walkie-talkies so you could communicate on the drive? Now, of course, nearly everyone has cell phones to accomplish the same thing more easily, but there’s a problem: When you don’t have service, you’re hosed. And of course, it’s not just on long drives where a lack of service can be problematic. If you don’t have an international plan when in another country, or you’re in the woods, or wherever, you may find yourself with a need to connect with others without a means to do so. goTenna looks to fill that gap. It’s a device that allows you... Read more...
Don’t freak out, but Facebook is testing a new feature that would put “Buy” buttons on ads within the social network. Simply, users would see an ad, and the ad would have a button that you could click to purchase the item you see, all without leaving Facebook. This is an obvious evolution of having ads on Facebook, and it actually makes a lot sense for businesses looking to build their brands on the platform. It seems like this capability would rely on users to impulse buy; a click (or two or three?) and you’ve purchased what you want, all without that built-in second guessing you get when a click sends you to a new site. There are also clear areas where privacy and security... Read more...
Google is always tweaking its products, and Chrome OS has one substantial change coming regarding the look and features of its windows management. (That’s “windows” not “Windows”, mind you.) Google “Happiness Evangelist” François Beaufort posted a screenshot that shows a stacked set of open windows with a search bar and bookmarks along an area at the bottom. The new look doesn’t quite appear ready for primetime (it’s admittedly a first draft), but a more powerful tool to manage open windows in Chrome OS would be a welcome innovation. Beaufort stated in the G+ post that you can actually track the new user experience as it’s developed... Read more...
The evolution to gigabit Internet speeds continues with the news that Time Warner Cable will be trying to bring what it calls the “Gigasphere” to L.A. in 2016. The city is soliciting requests for information (RFIs) for gigabit-level Internet service, and TWC is in the mix. “Over the last four years, Time Warner Cable has invested more than $1.5 billion to enhance our infrastructure and services in Los Angeles,” said executive VP and chief strategy Peter Stern in a press release. “This significant investment coupled with new ‘Gigasphere’ technology positions us to be able to introduce gigabit-per-second speeds in 2016.” Hollwood Boulevard in L.A.... Read more...
Well here’s one: MIT researchers are developing a way to harvest energy from, off all things, water droplets. They discovered that when water droplets spontaneously “jump” away from a superhydrophobic surface, they generate a tiny electric charge. Condensation is the real mechanism for the movement of the water, and the team figured out that by using interleaved metal plates--particularly when adjacent plates have opposite charges--they could gather that energy and send it through an external circuit, thus powering small electronic devices. This machine harvests energy from water droplets What’s really cool about the whole thing is that it’s a passive process, meaning... Read more...
The race to develop a driverless car is on, driven in large part by the efforts of Google, although plenty of other companies such as Intel and Ford are investing heavily into developing such technology as well. You can count Nissan as one major car maker that’s in the fray, as CEO Carlos Ghosn revealed the company’s plans to reporters in Tokyo. Nissan has a roadmap for a nearly autonomous car by 2020. By 2016, Nissan will have vehicles that can self-park; by 2018, they’ll be able to change lanes without driver intervention, and by 2020 they’ll be able to navigate intersections autonomously. Nissan's electric Leaf Ostensibly, autonomous cars will reduce the number of traffic... Read more...
Elon Musk’s vision for fleets of all-electric vehicles seems to be going well for the most part, some litigious miscellany notwithstanding, but the cars are rather expensive. However, that’s all going to change in 2017, when Tesla releases the Model 3 that will cost just $35,000. Granted, a $35,000 car is not what you’d call cheap, but it’s far more affordable than the nearly-$70,000 Tesla Model S sedan. Tesla Model S Based on an all-new platform, the Model 3 should have a range of over 200 miles on a single charge, and of course it will make use of Tesla’s growing nationwide network of Supercharger stations. There will no doubt be plenty of leaks and rumors about... Read more...
In case you hadn’t heard, data breaches are a problem--a huge problem--and to quantify that somewhat, New York AG Eric Schneiderman released a report detailing his state’s data breach information including the costs involved. There’s a lot of meaty data in the report, but one part that stands out is that there were 900 data breaches in New York in 2013 exposing the personal details of 7.3 million people at a cost of $1.37 billion. Woof. Those numbers were driven in large part by the massive Target breach as well as those of Sony and Living Social, and they point to the fact that hacking is the leading problem. The report shows that hacks were responsible for 40.78% (2,009) of... Read more...
In dribbles and drips, we’re (allegedly) learning more about the next Microsoft OS, Windows 9 “Threshold”. The latest bit to leak out is a screenshot that purports to show the new desktop environment, including a remade Start screen. The screen grab comes from My Digital Life forum user DUF_, and you can see that the Start menu is back in force in Windows 9. In addition to having something resembling the traditional look of the Start menu, Microsoft has also added Metro apps to it, which is a reasonable way of unifying the two environments in a much more sensible way than in Windows 8.1. Assuming this is a real shot and not an elaborate fake, it’s yet an early version... Read more...
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