Items tagged with Misc

How does one even begin a post with the above headline? In what is either a massive troll or an uncomfortable sign of the times, a pair of Brits named Matt Gray and Tom Scott are touting a new social network launching soon that will use only emoji. Dubbed “emoj.li”, the social network contains no words--no words!--but also no spam, which is its main selling point. “Social networks are broken,” says the product video, “with spam, trolls, memes, and hashtags.” Further, “There is no spam, because there isn’t an emoji for spam.” If you’re smelling a rat, you’re not alone, but Gray and Scott specifically state that this isn’t... Read more...
We first caught wind of Microsoft’s next version of its Windows OS back in December (and learned a bit more in January), and Redmond’s strategy for unifying the Windows experience across various types of devices is becoming more clear. According to a report from ZDNET’s Mary Jo Foley, Windows “Threshold” (which will likely eventually be dubbed “Windows 9”) will be more about creating versions of the same OS that are germane to specific types of devices. For example, desktops and laptops will have a more desktop-friendly version, possibly without all the Metro UI business, while multimode devices and convertibles will get something more akin to what Windows... Read more...
There are many ways to get beer from a container into your mouth, but the founders of a curious machine called SYNEK believe they’ve developed the best method of all time. SYNEK is a portable (all you need is an outlet) machine that dispenses cold beer on demand, like a tap, but without the need for a keg. The idea is that such a device allows you to keep a reasonably large amount of beer on hand and on tap without needing to fill bottles or growlers or having a kegerator around. You can fill a SYNEK bag from any tap with up to a gallon of beer and stick in in your fridge. When you feel like it, pop the bag into the SYNEK and poof, cold beer on tap. The team says that beer stored this way... Read more...
Here’s an interesting psychological factoid: Emotional states can be transferred to other people via text-based messages on social media, such as Facebook. That means that if, for instance, you view a bunch of sad posts, you’re more likely to pen a sad post yourself shortly thereafter even though you don’t realize that the sad posts made you sad. Here’s another even more interesting but more disconcerting factoid: Researchers figured that out by running experiments. On Facebook. Without your knowledge or consent. Here’s a snippet from the “Significance” section of the paper, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of... Read more...
AT&T and DirecTV are trying to convince lawmakers that a proposed $48.5 billion merger between the two companies--that’s forty-eight and a half billion dollars--and so far the best argument they have going in their favor is the promise of lower costs when comes to pricey negotiations for rights to video content. It what seems like a couple of lines from an Onion article, Reuters reports that Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) asked AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson point blank if he could promise that these cost savings will be passed on to consumers. “No sir, I can’t,” was the reply. Image Source: Flickr (Adam Kutzko) However, Stephenson did state that he hoped... Read more...
While Tesla is making waves with its all-electric fleet of cars, Toyota is exploring a non-fossil fuel alternative vehicle as well. The company announced that it will release a hydrogen fuel cell sedan next year, coming to Japan by April and in the U.S. and Europe sometime next summer. Why hydrogen? “Hydrogen is a particularly promising alternative fuel since it can be produced using a wide variety of primary energy sources, including solar and wind power,” reads a Toyota press release. “When compressed, it has a higher energy density than batteries and is easier to store and transport.” Toyota has been working with fuel cell technology since 2002, when it developed its... Read more...
Google is undeterred; after brilliantly failing to wedge itself into our living rooms with Google TV (though it’s made modest inroads with the Chromecast dongle), the company is rumored to be mounting another effort by partnering with other companies to put out set-top boxes loaded with Android. According to CNET’s sources, at least one of the devices will run on the NVIDIA Tegra 4 chip, although Intel-based boxes are also expected. Presumably, this Android set-top box offers some sort of gaming features along with TV and movie streaming. It only makes sense; in addition to the presence of the Tegra 4 chip, Amazon’s Fire TV box is definitely geared toward gaming, and there have... Read more...
Who would have thought that the standard bearer of the Internet of Things (IoT) wave would be a company that makes smart, connected thermostats and alarms? Yet indeed, Nest announced the Nest Developer Program with numerous partners that should lead to a rapid proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) innovations and related products. Call it the Google bump if you will. Nest’s acquisition by the search giant brought with it a nearly unlimited amount of money, and now Nest is no longer just a cool-looking connected thermostat or a fancy smoke alarm; it’s becoming the center of an IoT ecosystem. The “Works With Nest” program allows other companies to integrate their products... Read more...
Biometric monitoring via wearables appears to be the Next Big Thing, as far as the biggest tech companies are concerned. Samsung is on its second generation of smartwatches (with a new generation already rumored), Google is expected to reveal much more about its Android Wear wearable platform next week, and Apple’s iWatch is allegedly coming to market this autumn. However, for the perspective of the average user, biometrics are only so compelling. Sure, it’s neat to be able to monitor your heart rate from your wrist or track your steps, but that’s just it--they’re merely “neat” features. However, according to a Reuters report, the big aforementioned companies... Read more...
Although the FCC is drawing the ire of many for its new stance on net neutrality, it’s important to remember that the agency is also doing good work to get Internet access to people who will certainly benefit from it. The FCC is “modernizing” its E-rate program to increase broadband Internet access into schools and libraries all over the country, including in rural areas. This week, the FCC hit the $1 billion funding mark, which is quite fast for the E-rate program, meaning that broadband is getting into schools more rapidly and more cheaply. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler A large part of the FCC’s push to manage the E-rate program better is to get WiFi into schools; along... Read more...
There’s a little mess of wires and solder that started it all--the world’s first microchip for which its creator, Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments, eventually won the Nobel Prize in physics. And although at auction, the thing stirred up bids as high as $850,000, it failed to reach the reserve bid nor hit the $1 million to $2 million range expected by auction house Christie’s. A second, more stable prototype was also in the lot along with a letter from Kilby about the process of making them. Credit: Christie's via NBC News No matter; we care a lot less about the price than the fact that this crucial bit of computing history exists. Like many readers, the magnificent world of computing... Read more...
Following Google’s initial foray into the connected home front with the acquisition of Nest is an acquisition of Dropcam, a startup that makes a cloud-based WiFi video monitoring service. Rumors had emerged a few weeks ago that this was happening, but now the deal is going through for $555 million. According to the Wall Street Journal, Nest co-founder Matt Rogers confirmed that the company is paying cash for Dropcam. The deal will close pending regulatory approval. There are, of course, concerns over any Google-owned products and services in the connected home because of the search giant’s ad-focused revenue stream, but Rogers assured that neither Nest nor Dropcam will sell ads, and... Read more...
Even when the government conducts secret activities, those ventures have to be funded, and a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives last night took a swipe at the NSA’s domestic spying practices by cutting some of its funding. According to Ars Technica, Representatives James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Thomas Massie (R-KY) authored an amendment to a defense appropriations bill that “none of the funds made available by this Act may be used by an officer or employee of the United States to query a collection of foreign intelligence information acquired under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1881a) using a United States... Read more...
Kids have never had it so good. As if having myriad digital entertainment options in addition to marvelous physical toys such as LEGOs weren’t enough, now they get both. LEGO is coming out with Fusion kits, which consist of 200 pieces and let you build facades on a special “Fusion Capture Plate”. The facades are 16x16 bricks, and they must have a door; then, you capture your creation with the game’s free iOS or Android app, and it’s reconstructed virtually inside the game. Townspeople interact with your building and give you feedback on it. But wait, there’s more: You can build a tower for battle within a Tower Defense game. You can strategize by creating a... Read more...
Facebook doesn’t go down all that often, but when it does it’s big news. The social network reportedly experienced an outage at approximately 1 a.m. PST that affected users all over the world. Users in countries including Australia, New Zealand, England, South Korea, India, were unable to access Facebook, instead seeing an error message saying "Sorry, something went wrong". The outage lasted about half an hour. Credit: Reuters/Thomas White “Earlier today, we experienced an issue that prevented people from posting to Facebook for a brief period of time,” Facebook’s APAC spokesperson Charlene Chian said.”We resolved the issue quickly, and we are now back to 100%.... Read more...
MakerBot announced a new line of 3D printers at CES that run the gamut from smallish and more affordable to large (and less affordable, for the average Joe). The latter is now shipping, and MakerBot believes that it’s more than just a big 3D printer. “This is a massive scale for a 3D printer and comparable to 3D printers that cost tens of thousands of dollars more,” said MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis in a press release. “We believe that the MakerBot Replicator Z18 is going to disrupt the industry in that it enables 3D printing of large-scale and complex prototypes and models that were previously out of range for the creative community.” MakerBot Z18 That community, he... Read more...
Tesla has faced sales bans of its electric cars in multiple states, but there’s reason for optimism for the company in New Jersey. The state is considering a bill that would allow Tesla to sell its vehicles directly to consumers in the state, and it has just passed the state Assembly. It still must pass the state Senate, which is a significant hurdle to overcome, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense not to. The sales ban is the result of enforcement of an antiquated law that requires cars to be sold through certain means, and Tesla’s sales model doesn’t follow that mold. Tesla Model S Obviously, the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers is not supporting the measure,... Read more...
Microsoft wants to be more open with the web developer community, and thus the company has a new developer channel for Internet Explorer. It’s a fully-functioning browser designed to give an early sneak peek at new IE features, and it’s currently available for download for both Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1. UI enhancements Users can get a taste of new F12 developer tools including the ability to automate tests with the WebDriver standard and using the Gamepad API to add Xbox game controller support to online apps and games. Other features include a better, faster debugging experience; “richer analysis capabilities throughout the Memory and UI Responsiveness profilers”;... Read more...
It’s hard to imagine what else the CEO of a company that makes streaming media boxes would say, but Roku CEO Anthony Wood boldly claimed that it’s just a matter of time before DVRs become a thing of the past. “To me, it's pretty clear that all TV is going to be streamed. It's either going to be streamed to a smart TV, a gaming console or a streaming player,” said Wood In a Q&A with the AP. “Things like DVD players are going to go away. Cable boxes are obviously going away, too. DVRs are just a stepping stone technology.” Roku streaming boxes He also said that he ditched the DVR when his broke--five years ago. He says in his house, all of their TV watching... Read more...
Portland, Oregon is one of the nearly three dozen additional lucky locales slated for a Google Fiber rollout, and the city is now one step closer to being wired for the search giant’s gigabit Internet service. Portland’s commission has approved a franchise agreement with Google, which was a big hurdle to overcome before the service could come to the area. The agreement includes a provision that Google will provide free outdoor WiFi networks to certain areas of the city as well as Internet service to numerous nonprofits in exchange for waiving the 3% PEG fee (which covers public access, educational, and government programming) that Portland charges Comcast. Portland, Oregon (Credit:... Read more...
Tesla and it’s fervent visionary founder, Elon Musk, made a bold move this week by open sourcing its patents in hopes of jumpstarting the electric car industry. It’s a calculated move that wagers that Tesla can make the best electric cars even while allowing other companies to use its innovative technology all while taking away a chunk of the gas-powered car market. As part of its push to promote electric cars, Tesla also met with BMW this week to both promote electric cars and discuss how to better use Tesla’s charging stations. No other details of the talks were revealed, but a BMW spokesperson told Reuters that “Both companies are strongly committed to the success of... Read more...
Health monitoring is all the rage in the mobile market these days as evinced by giants such as Apple and Google announcing new technologies with HealthKit and Google Fit, respectively, and the growing pile of wearable devices coming to the fore. A new technology from a team at MIT could either take that trend to a whole new level--or obviate it. The CSAIL (Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) previously developed wireless technology that can track people through a wall by emitting a low-power signal that reflects back and reveals movement, and now they’ve improved its accuracy a great deal. It can detect subtle movements such as the rise and fall of a person’s... Read more...
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