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Internet Television

Channel 4 Dumping 4oD In Favor Of All 4 | New Streaming Television Hub For UK Viewers
4oD has been a successful effort, with Channel 4 having offered on-demand television across a range of platforms for several years. But the name is being dumped, and the service is being given a major overhaul to better cater
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Gigaom: After downloading the U2 album to your phone, Apple now helps you to delete it
13 hours ago Sep. 15, 2014 - 10:52 AM PDT Apple has reversed course on its U2 promotion by adding an opt-out option that will remove the U2 album Songs of Innocence from a user’s iTunes library. The option, which was first
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Gigaom: Amazon’s Fire TV connects with Spotify 15 September 2014, 21.19 Internet Television
Gigaom: Amazon’s Fire TV connects with Spotify
15 hours ago Sep. 15, 2014 - 9:35 AM PDT Spotify is coming to Amazon’s Fire TV, with a twist: instead of launching a regular app on the device, Spotify just made the Fire TV a Spotify Connect-capable device (hat tip to
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Gigaom: Watch movies from Google Drive with Chromebook to Chromecast video streaming
15 hours ago Sep. 15, 2014 - 9:12 AM PDT A new experimental feature for Google Chromebooks ties the company’s Google Drive and Chromecast device together: You can stream videos stored on Drive directly to a Chromecast. Google
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Gigaom: More than 1,000 pro-Hachette authors send a letter to Amazon’s board of directors
17 hours ago Sep. 15, 2014 - 6:56 AM PDT Yes, the contract fight between Amazon and book publisher Hachette is still going on; yes, there are still shipping delays and no pre-orders for many Hachette titles. Some of the public
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Earth News Reports

Aerofex Develops a Working Hover Bike That’s Straight Out of Return of the Jedi!
Share on TumblrEmail How many of you watched Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and wished you had a speeder bike like the ones Luke and Leia race through the forests of Endor? Well, you may not have to wait much
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Local Motors 3D-Prints Incredible Full-Scale Car in Just 44 Hours!
Share on TumblrEmail Arizona-based Local Motors has succeeded in creating the world’s first 3D-printed car at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago. Called the Strati, the
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Stella McCartney, Livia Firth Launch Inaugural “Green Carpet Collection”
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Italian Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Praises Livia Firth’s Green Carpet Challenge London Fashion Week Stella McCartney, Livia Firth Launch Inaugural “Green Carpet Collection” by Jasmin Malik Chua ,
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Chris Gelinas: Quality Clothes Can’t Be “Refreshed Every 15 Seconds”
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Dame Vivienne Westwood Pledges £1 Million to Tackle Climate Change Chris Gelinas: Quality Clothes Can’t Be “Refreshed Every 15 Seconds” by Jasmin Malik Chua , 09/15/14   filed under: Green
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This “Jetpack” Could Help You Run a Mile in 4 Minutes 15 September 2014, 21.20 Eco Fashions
This “Jetpack” Could Help You Run a Mile in 4 Minutes
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Solar-Powered Soldiers to Revolutionize Australian Combat Wearable Technology This “Jetpack” Could Help You Run a Mile in 4 Minutes by Bridgette Meinhold , 09/15/14   filed under: Wearable
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3 professional tools to create your own typeface 15 September 2014, 21.20 Green Architecture
3 professional tools to create your own typeface
As a graphic designer, creating and publishing fonts has always been something I wanted to do. While I was studying, I would often take a day to make a handwritten font, but I never found the time and courage to create a really
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8 themes to create a directory site with WordPress 15 September 2014, 21.20 Green Architecture
8 themes to create a directory site with WordPress
WordPress themes have made the designers’ work easier and simpler. They do not have to start from the scratch for building a website. The directory websites has also been a very important part in online business and wordpress
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12 great design freebies for your resources library 15 September 2014, 21.20 Green Architecture
12 great design freebies for your resources library
Design freebies are a blessing sent to us by the Internet and kind designers who are willing to share some of their work for free. Like other templates and downloadable items, these files allow you to save plenty of time
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7 jQuery plugins for better typography on screen 15 September 2014, 21.20 Green Architecture
7 jQuery plugins for better typography on screen
jQuery with a motto of write less, do more has made the life of programmers and developers much easier and time efficient with its several plugins. Web typography has never been an easy job unless we were introduced to the wide
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Are Swiss watchmakers really f*cked? 15 September 2014, 21.20 Green Architecture
Are Swiss watchmakers really f*cked?
So the iWatch is here, or Watch, as they call it. Honestly I’ve been a bit disappointed as I was expecting a real game-changer. Jony Ive was quoted saying that “Swiss watchmakers were f*cked”, so I did think
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Technology News Reports

Aerofex Develops a Working Hover Bike That’s Straight Out of Return of the Jedi!
Share on TumblrEmail How many of you watched Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and wished you had a speeder bike like the ones Luke and Leia race through the forests of Endor? Well, you may not have to wait much
Read More 150 Hits 0 Ratings
Local Motors 3D-Prints Incredible Full-Scale Car in Just 44 Hours!
Share on TumblrEmail Arizona-based Local Motors has succeeded in creating the world’s first 3D-printed car at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago. Called the Strati, the
Read More 172 Hits 0 Ratings
Analyzing Bitcoin: Why BTC is so valuable, and whether it will still be in the future
This article is the result of a year-long collaboration between myself and Dr. Justin Gash, Associate Professor Mathematics at Franklin College. For the past year, we’ve tracked and analyzed the movements of the Bitcoin
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Apple unveils Apple Pay, a digital wallet for your iPhone 6 and Apple Watch
Apple has announced its new mobile payments system: Apple Pay. As expected, it will allow you to use your iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, or Apple Watch as a digital wallet, paying at one of the 220,000 contactless payment locations
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The great Internet Slowdown: Join tomorrow’s protest against the FCC’s new net neutrality rules
Tomorrow, September 10, will mark the first great Internet Slowdown — a protest by some of the web’s largest companies over the FCC and US government’s handling of net neutrality. All across the web, on sites such as
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How to watch Apple’s iPhone 6 event live stream on Windows and Android
Later today, Apple will unveil the iPhone 6 at a special event in Cupertino, California. Somewhat unusually for Apple, it will be broadcasting a live video stream of the event — but, for reasons we still can’t fathom,
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Win a PUBLIC Bike (Worth $574) or a Solar Power Backpack in Inhabitat’s Back to School Contest!
Share on TumblrEmail It’s that time of year again – school bells are ringing across the States, and students everywhere are getting ready for a brand new year. To encourage you to green your
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Toyota’s New Transforming Urban Utility Vehicle is the Swiss Army Knife of Cars!
Share on TumblrEmail Makers, meet your DIY dream car. Toyota‘s Calty Design Research Studio just unveiled its brand new Urban Utility concept car – an ultra flexible vehicle with a transforming interior
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This Family is e-Biking 6200 Miles Across the US to Set a World Record!
Share on TumblrEmail How do you top crossing the Americas by car with the entire family in tow? If you are the Camper Clan family, you do it by setting a Guinness World Record by traveling 6,200 miles across
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“Hello, Computer” -- Intel’s New Mobile Chips Are Always Listening
Tablets and laptops coming later this year will be able to constantly listen for voice commands thanks to new chips from Intel. By Tom Simonite on September 5, 2014 New processors: A silicon wafer etched with Intel’s
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Google Launches Effort to Build Its Own Quantum Computer
Google’s crack at a quantum computer is a bid to change computing forever. By Tom Simonite on September 3, 2014 Quantum core: Techniques developed at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to build this device,
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On the Horns of the GMO Dilemma 10 September 2014, 18.52 Tech
On the Horns of the GMO Dilemma
Can genome-editing technology revive the idea of genetically modified livestock? By Antonio Regalado on September 2, 2014 Four years ago, Scott Fahrenkrug saw an ABC News segment about the dehorning of dairy cows, a
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2014 Visionaries | Innovators Under 35 10 September 2014, 18.52 Tech
2014 Visionaries | Innovators Under 35
Already a Magazine subscriber? You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account. Activate Your Account Become an Insider It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research,
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The Apple Watch May Solve the Usual Smart Watch Annoyances
Apple’s first smart watch seems like the best of its kind so far, but the user experience is still a little unclear. By Rachel Metz on September 9, 2014 Show off: CEO Tim Cook unveiled the Apple Watch on Tuesday. Today
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Sapphire Screens Would Test Apple’s Manufacturing and Design Skills
To make sapphire screens, Apple would need to source high-quality raw material and be clever about incorporating it into devices. By Kevin Bullis on September 8, 2014 Crystal clear: A slice of a sapphire crystal. At
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With Mobility’s Future Hanging on 200-Year-Old Tech (Batteries), Power-Savings Amps Up
twicepix/Flickr The most interesting devices on the market these days are connected with Wi-Fi. When I first started writing about wireless LANs, the name of the game was connecting laptops. The far-sighted architects of
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Hacked Celeb Pics Made Reddit Enough Cash to Run Its Servers for a Month
Reddit If you saw Kate Upton or Jennifer Lawrence naked last week, there’s a good chance you saw them on the social news site Reddit. The self-proclaimed “front page of the Internet” was one of the main hosts of the
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Project to Turn Bitcoin Into an All-Powerful Programming Language Raises $15M
Vitalik Buterin. Vitalik Buterin A year ago, Vitalik Buterin was a teenaged college dropout dabbling in the bitcoin digital currency. Now, he’s the founder of a futuristic programming project that just got backed to the
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How to Protect Yourself From Big Bank-Card Hacks 10 September 2014, 18.51 Tech
How to Protect Yourself From Big Bank-Card Hacks
Bon Bon/Getty With hackers stealing millions of credit and debit card numbers with seeming impunity from Target, Home Depot, and other retailers lately, it might seem as if there’s nothing the average consumer can do to
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Why Apple Devices Will Soon Rule Every Aspect of Your Life
Alex Washburn / WIRED The biggest thing Apple showed off Tuesday wasn’t a product, or even a product line. It was the way all of Apple’s products—and thousands more from other developers, manufacturers and
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Minecraft Fans Spooked by Talk of Microsoft Acquisition
BY­NDKenming Wang | CC The word is that Microsoft may acquire Minecraft, the wildly popular game that lets you create your own virtual worlds, and Brent Smithurst isn’t very happy about it. Minecraft is a big part of his
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The first human brain-to-brain interface has been created. In the future, will we all be linked telepathically?
International researchers are reporting that they have built the first human-to-human brain-to-brain interface, allowing two humans — separated by the internet — to consciously communicate with each other, with no
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How were the celeb nude photos leaked, and can we prevent it from happening again? (Updated)
As you may have heard, hundreds of private, nude and nearly-nude celebrity photos — of Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, among others — were leaked onto the internet on August 31. Despite a truly impressive number of
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Google X reveals Project Wing, autonomous drones that can deliver things ‘in just a minute or two’
Google X, the web titan’s secretive special projects lab, has revealed that it’s working on a drone-based delivery system called Project Wing. Outwardly, the Google X project sounds a lot like Amazon’s Prime Air, but a
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Google’s Twitch acquisition falls through, Amazon steps in (Updated: Confirmed)
Updated @ 19:01, August 25: Amazon has confirmed that it has acquired Twitch for $970 million in cash. Twitch has a statement confirming the acquisition, too. The original story remains below. After weeks of uncertainty and
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Engineering Students Create the World’s First Unstealable Bike
Share on TumblrEmail Chances are that if you do a lot of bike commuting, you’ve had a cycle or two (or three) stolen. Three engineering students in Chile got sick of replacing their own stolen bikes, so
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Renovo Unveils All-Electric Supercar With a $529,000 Price Tag
Share on TumblrEmail Silicon Valley-based startup Renovo Motors just unveiled one of the world’s most spectacular all-electric sports cars: the Renovo Coupe. The Renovo Coupe borrows its chassis from the
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Is Your Neighborhood’s Urban Design Making You Fat? 22 August 2014, 19.30 Transportation
Is Your Neighborhood’s Urban Design Making You Fat?
Share on TumblrEmail “What is the influence of street network design on public health?” This question prompted a recent study that has just been published in the Journal of Transport & Health. While
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Small Eruption Suspected at Iceland’s Barðarbunga
The region around Bardarbunga seen from the slopes of Askja. Photo by Dave McGarvie, used by permission. Ruv.is is reporting that a small subglacial eruption has begun at Iceland’s Barðarbunga after a week of seismic
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Don’t Get Bullied by IT 22 August 2014, 19.28 Tech
Don’t Get Bullied by IT
Feeling bullied by IT? Image: bnilsen/Flickr In a modern world of self-service technology, enterprises have been introduced to a new technology — shadow IT. Shadow IT, also known as rogue IT or stealth IT, can be defined
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From Big Data to Actionable Data: Has Our Biology Failed Us, or Have We Failed to Use It?
Image courtesy of Thinkstock. The 21st Century has seen technology contribute life-altering realities like getting from New York to Beijing in less than 14 hours or grandparents using Facetime to see their newly anointed
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Gadget Lab Podcast: How Much Does Twitter Affect Your View of the News?
Ariel Zambelich/WIRED It’s been a crazy week in the data streams. Twitter has once again proven to be an empowering tool that lets bystanders become a multifaceted reporting force, as in the case of the civil unrest in
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Game|Life Podcast: Legal Pinball, Free Infinity, 10 Million PlayStation 4s
The PlayStation 4 in repose. Ariel Zambelich/WIRED Wrapup and analysis of this week’s news is the order of the day on the latest Game|Life podcast. Disney is giving Disney Infinity away for free on Wii U, and all you have
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The Longest, Fastest F1 Race of the Season Happens This Weekend
A look down the hill at the Eau Rouge corner. Ferrari Summer vacation is over for Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and the boys, and the Formula 1 season resumes this weekend at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in
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PlayStation Now is even better than I hoped it would be
Ever since the PlayStation Now beta launched at the end of July, I’ve been pondering the value proposition of Sony’s streaming offerings. During this soft launch, the selection of titles is extremely limited, and the
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The American Midwest: Traveling where the cloud can’t follow
Every year, my dad’s relatives get together for a family reunion. I love visiting with my family, but it comes with one major downside: the location. You see, my dad’s family all live in rural Ohio and West Virginia —
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Roku takes aim at TV market with new Roku TV 19 August 2014, 00.30 Administrator Technology
Roku takes aim at TV market with new Roku TV
With built-in media apps becoming more widespread throughout the TV market, it seemed like the set-top media box would soon be a device of the past. Perhaps Roku has seen this writing on the wall, as it announced the Roku TV
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7 Ways to Keep Your Eco-Footprint Lower than Your Tuition 19 August 2014, 00.29 Transportation
7 Ways to Keep Your Eco-Footprint Lower than Your Tuition
Share on TumblrEmail It hurts to say it, but summer’s almost over. Soon students around the world are going to be heading back to the accidentally-nod-off-while-studying sleep schedules and caffeine
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28-Sq-Ft Bicycle Caravan is a Portable Home for Your Inner Bohemian
Share on TumblrEmail This tiny mobile caravan offers micro-quarters on wheels to help unleash your inner bohemian. Powered by an attached bicycle, the 28-square-foot mini dwelling boasts a small bedroom or
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Bicycle Snake Bridge Makes Urban Cycling Even Safer in Copenhagen
Share on TumblrEmail The area around the Fisketorvet shopping center is a hotspot for pedestrian-cyclist conflicts, particularly in the summertime. In addition
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Robots Rising 19 August 2014, 00.25 Tech
Robots Rising
Already a Magazine subscriber? You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account. Activate Your Account Become an Insider It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research,
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Innovators Under 35 | 2014 19 August 2014, 00.25 Tech
Innovators Under 35 | 2014
Introduction All 35 of these people are doing exciting work that could shape their fields for decades. But they’re solving problems in remarkably different ways. We consider some of them to be primarily Inventors;
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How Agriculture’s Growth Promoters Might Work: A Mouse Study Sheds Some Light
Rama (CC), Flickr The farm practice that underlies most agricultural use of antibiotics is known as “growth promotion”: It calls for giving very small doses of antibiotics routinely to meat animals because those doses
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Regime Change: Steve Ballmer Has Finally Resigned From Microsoft’s Board
WIRED When Steve Ballmer resigned as CEO of Microsoft last February, he didn’t leave the company entirely. The 58-year-old executive retained his seat on the Microsoft board. But now, after 34 years with the company,
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What’s Up With That: How the Weather Guy Knows What It “Feels Like” in Your City
A US Navy sailor checks the perceived temperature on a device that measures relative humidity. Gary Nichols/US Navy I’ve moved a lot, and a city never feels like home until I can anticipate how the day’s weather will
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The HTC One Now Comes in a Windows Phone Version
HTC HTC has just announced a Windows Phone version of its flagship smartphone, the One. The HTC One for Windows is new in terms of platform only: It’s a spitting image of the beautiful brushed-aluminum HTC One Android
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Terminal Velocity 19 August 2014, 00.24 Tech
Terminal Velocity
Much of high-end auto racing has always been about squeezing a bit more kinetic energy out of each drop of gasoline. But improvements in electric car technology mean racing can ditch the fossil fuels. Starting in September,
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Huge Tournament Celebrates End of Oakland’s Bizarre 80-Year Pinball Ban
Pinball enthusiast TJ Beyer sets up an Iron Man machine at a Radio Shack in Oakland to mark the beginning of a month-long tournament. Ariel Zambelich/WIRED OAKLAND, California—Can you believe there was a time when the
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Norwegian Artist’s Incredible Dinocycle Leaves Fossil Fuels in the Dust
Share on TumblrEmail Moestue built the trike over a six-month period last year. He welded together several bicycle frames to support the dinosaur’s body. He
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Bike Lift&Carry Makes Lugging Your Bicycle Upstairs as Easy as Carrying a Shoulderbag
Share on TumblrEmail Are you an urban cyclist that loathes the stairs? Whether it’s schlepping your two wheels up to the apartment or down the steps to the metro, transporting a heavy bike is at best an
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Data-Driven Health Care 17 August 2014, 01.18 Tech
Data-Driven Health Care
Medical data is a hot spot for venture investing and product innovation. The payoff could be better care. By Nanette Byrnes on July 21, 2014 After decades as a technological laggard, medicine has entered its data age.
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No, Dystopian Sci-Fi Isn’t Bad for Society. We Need It More Than Ever
Mark Stevenson/Getty Yes, the future freaks us out. That much of Michael Solana’s recent op-ed in this space is undoubtedly true. With widespread surveillance, the militarization of police, the stockpiling and application
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Author Nick Harkaway on Improvised Grenades and ‘Existential Pulp’
Chris Close Photography Nick Harkaway is the author of several popular books that straddle the border of realism and science fiction, particularly his debut novel The Gone-Away World, in which a scientific experiment gone
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Significant Earthquake Swarm Hits Iceland’s Barðarbunga
The view of Barðarbunga in Iceland from the slopes of Askja. Photo by Dave McGarvie, used by permission. It has been over 4 years since the last eruption in Iceland. However, there are signs that an eruption might be in the
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As Google acquisition looms, Twitch becomes just like the YouTube beast it tried to distance itself from
It’s been several months since YouTube and Twitch reportedly reached an agreement for the former to acquire the latter. While the rumor remains unconfirmed, recent changes to Twitch’s functionality and copyright policing
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PORTAL is a travel router that offers instant anonymity after one-time setup
The internet provides a wealth of information at our fingertips, but it may also leave your personal information at someone else’s fingertips. Anonymity tools like Tor have existed for years, but interest in remaining
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Snowden went too far by revealing the NSA’s MonsterMind cyber weapon
Edward Snowden has long expressed frustration with the pace, and to a certain extent the depth, of the journalism springing from the classified NSA documents he brought to light just over a year ago. In his estimation, the
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Brace for the BGPocalypse: Big disruptions loom as internet overgrowth continues
Over the past 24 hours, you may have felt some tremors of high latency and dropped connections as you surfed the internet. Usually these tremors would be nothing to worry about — they’re usually just the standard
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How I used technology to find my long-lost family 15 August 2014, 18.26 Technology
How I used technology to find my long-lost family
Searching for your family history is an exercise in frustration. Depending on your country of origin and specific ancestry, your grandparents might be as far back as the paper trail goes. If you throw a curveball into the
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Google invests in 60-terabit $300-million trans-Pacific cable to protect its growth in Asia
Google has joined forces with a number of Asian telecoms giants to deploy the world’s fastest trans-Pacific submarine cable. The cable, which is lumbered with the rather unimaginative name “Faster,” will have an
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The Man Who Really Built Bitcoin 15 August 2014, 18.25 Tech
The Man Who Really Built Bitcoin
Who cares about Satoshi Nakamoto? Someone else has made Bitcoin what it is and has the most power over its destiny. By Tom Simonite on August 15, 2014 In March, a bewildered retired man faced journalists yelling questions
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A Chinese Internet Giant Starts to Dream 15 August 2014, 18.25 Tech
A Chinese Internet Giant Starts to Dream
Punk bands from Blondie to the Ramones once played in Broadway Studios, an age-worn 95-year-old neoclassical building surrounded by strip clubs in San Francisco’s North Beach. But early on this bright June morning, a
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Bendable Displays Are Finally Headed to Market
Flexible displays haven’t been usable as touch screens, or durable—those problems have now been solved. By Kevin Bullis on August 13, 2014 Big printer: Kateeva’s room-sized prototype printer in Menlo Park,
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Turning a Regular Smartphone Camera into a 3-D One
Microsoft researchers say simple hardware changes and machine learning techniques let a regular smartphone camera act as a depth sensor. By Caleb Garling on August 11, 2014 On camera: With a few hardware changes, such as
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Spotting Cancer in a Vial of Blood 15 August 2014, 18.25 Tech
Spotting Cancer in a Vial of Blood
The answers Bert Vogelstein needed and feared were in the blood sample.  Vogelstein is among the most highly cited scientists in the world. He was described, in the 1980s, as having broken into “the cockpit of
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A Mouse with the Same Cancer as You 15 August 2014, 18.25 Tech
A Mouse with the Same Cancer as You
For $12,000, a company grafts a patient’s cancer into rodents and tests drugs on them. By Alexandra Morris on August 11, 2014 Test tube: Human tumors will grow in this mouse, which has no immune system. At a laboratory
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The Internet Is Officially More Popular Than Cable in the U.S.
Ariel Zambelich/WIRED You can’t call them “cable companies” anymore. For the first time, the number of broadband subscribers with the major US cable companies exceeded the number of cable subscribers, the Leichtman
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A Famous Art Museum Is Offering Everyone Remote Tours, Using Robots
Alexey Moskvin, Tate Britain Since at least the 1960s, we’ve romanticized nighttime visits to art museums. In From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, published in 1967, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a
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The Most Powerful Range Rover Ever Is Surprisingly Fuel Efficient
The Range Rover Sport SVR is the fastest, most powerful Land Rover ever made. Land Rover The Range Rover Sport SVR is the fastest, most powerful Land Rover ever made. Land Rover Jaguar Land Rover took the
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“Hello, Computer” -- Intel’s New Mobile Chips Are Always Listening PDF Print E-mail

Tablets and laptops coming later this year will be able to constantly listen for voice commands thanks to new chips from Intel.

New processors: A silicon wafer etched with Intel’s Core M mobile chips.

A new line of mobile chips unveiled by Intel today makes it possible to wake up a laptop or tablet simply by saying “Hello, computer.” Once it has been awoken, the computer can operate as a voice-controlled virtual assistant. You might call out “Hello, computer, what is the weather forecast today?” while getting out of bed.

Tablets and lightweight laptops based on the new Core M line of chips will go on sale at the end of this year. They can constantly listen for voice instructions thanks to a component known as a digital signal processor core that’s dedicated to processing audio with high efficiency and minimal power use.

“It doesn’t matter what state the system will be in, it will be listening all the time,” says Ed Gamsaragan, an engineer at Intel. “You could be actively doing work or it could be in standby.”

It is possible to set any two- or three-word phrase to rouse a computer with a Core M chip. A device can also be trained to respond only to a specific voice. The voice-print feature isn’t accurate enough to replace a password, but it could prevent a device from being accidentally woken up, says Gamsaragan. If coupled with another biometric measure, such as webcam with facial recognition, however, a voice command could work as a security mechanism, he says.

Manufacturers will decide how to implement the voice features in Intel’s Core M chips in devices that will appear on shelves later this year.

The wake-on-voice feature is compatible with any operating system. That means it could be possible to summon Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana in Windows, or Google’s voice search functions in Chromebook devices.

The only mobile device on the market today that can constantly listen for commands is the Moto X smartphone from Motorola (see “The Era of Ubiquitous Listening Dawns”). It has a dedicated audio chip that constantly listens for the command “OK, Google,” which activates the Google search app.

Intel’s Core M chips are based on the company’s new generation of smaller transistors, with features as small as 14 nanometers. This new architecture makes chips more power efficient and cooler than earlier generations, so Core M devices don’t require cooling fans.

Intel says that the 14-nanometer architecture will make it possible to make laptops and tablets much thinner than they are today. This summer the company showed off a prototype laptop that is only 7.2 millimeters (0.28 inches) thick. That’s slightly thinner than Apple’s iPad Air, which is 7.5 millimeters thick, but Intel’s prototype packed considerably more computing power. 

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Google Launches Effort to Build Its Own Quantum Computer PDF Print E-mail

Google’s crack at a quantum computer is a bid to change computing forever.

qubit wafer

Quantum core: Techniques developed at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to build this device, known as a qubit, will be used to try to build a working quantum computer at Google.

Google is about to begin designing and building hardware for a quantum computer, a type of machine that can exploit quantum physics to solve problems that would take a conventional computer millions of years.

Since 2009, Google has been working with controversial startup D-Wave Systems, which claims to make “the first commercial quantum computer.” And last year Google purchased one of D-Wave’s machines. But independent tests published earlier this year found no evidence that D-Wave’s computer uses quantum physics to solve problems more efficiently than a conventional machine.

Now John Martinis, a professor at University of California, Santa Barbara, has joined Google to establish a new quantum hardware lab near the university. He will try to make his own versions of the kind of chip inside a D-Wave machine.

Martinis has spent more than a decade working on a more proven approach to quantum computing, and built some of the largest, most error-free systems of qubits, the basic building blocks that encode information in a quantum computer.

“We would like to rethink the design and make the qubits in a different way,” says Martinis of his effort to improve on D-Wave’s hardware. “We think there’s an opportunity in the way we build our qubits to improve the machine.” Martinis has taken a joint position with Google and UCSB that will allow him to continue his own research at the university.

Quantum computers could be immensely faster than any existing computer at certain problems. That’s because qubits working together can use the quirks of quantum mechanics to quickly discard incorrect paths to a solution and home in on the correct one. However, qubits are tricky to operate because quantum states are so delicate.

Chris Monroe, a professor who leads a quantum computing lab at the University of Maryland, welcomed the news that one of the leading lights in the field was going to work on the question of whether designs like D-Wave’s can be useful. “I think this is a great development to have legitimate researchers give it a try,” he says.

Since showing off its first machine in 2007, D-Wave has irritated academic researchers by making claims for its computers without providing the evidence its critics say is needed to back them up. However, the company has attracted over $140 million in funding and sold several of its machines (see “The CIA and Jeff Bezos Bet on Quantum Computing”).

There is no question that D-Wave’s machine can perform calculations. And research published in 2011 showed that the machine’s chip harbors the right kind of quantum physics needed for quantum computing. But evidence is lacking that it uses that physics in the way needed to unlock the huge speedups promised by a quantum computer. It could be solving problems using only ordinary physics.

Martinis’s previous work has been focused on the conventional approach to quantum computing. He set a new milestone in the field this April, when his lab announced that it could operate five qubits together with relatively low error rates. Larger systems of such qubits could be configured to run just about any kind of algorithm depending on the problem at hand, much like a conventional computer. To be useful, a quantum computer would probably need to be built with tens of thousands of qubits or more.

The chip at the heart of D-Wave’s latest machine has 512 qubits, but they are wired into a different, more limited, component known as a quantum annealer. It can only run a specific algorithm used for a specific kind of problem that requires selecting the best option in a situation with many competing requirements—for example, determining the most efficient delivery route around a city.

Martinis was a coauthor on a paper published in Science earlier this year that took the most rigorous independent look at a D-Wave machine yet. It concluded that in the tests run on the computer, there was “no evidence of quantum speedup.” Without that, critics say, D-Wave is nothing more than an overhyped, and rather weird, conventional computer. The company counters that the tests of its machine involved the wrong kind of problems to demonstrate its benefits.

Martinis’s work on D-Wave’s machine led him into talks with Google, and to his new position. Theory and simulation suggest that it might be possible for annealers to deliver quantum speedups, and he considers it an open question. “There’s some really interesting science that people are trying to figure out,” he says.

Martinis thinks his technology for fabricating qubits could make better quantum annealers. Specifically, he hopes to make one whose qubits can more stably maintain a quantum state known as a superposition—effectively both 0 and 1 at the same time. The qubits of D-Wave’s machine can maintain superpositions for periods lasting only nanoseconds. Martinis has built qubits that can do that for as long as 30 microseconds, he says.

Martinis makes his qubits from aluminum circuits built on sapphire wafers and chills them to 20 millikelvin—a fraction above absolute zero—so that they become superconducting. D-Wave’s chip requires similar cooling to operate, but has circuits made from a superconducting material called niobium, on top of silicon wafers. Martinis is in the process of switching to making his own qubits on silicon, and believes certain electrical insulator materials used in D-Wave’s chips may be limiting its performance.

However, Google has not given up on D-Wave. In an online statement, the leader of Google’s quantum research said that the two companies will continue to work together, and that Google’s D-Wave computer will be upgraded with a new 1,000 qubit processor when it becomes available.

Hear more from Google at EmTech 2014.

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On the Horns of the GMO Dilemma PDF Print E-mail

Can genome-editing technology revive the idea of genetically modified livestock?

Four years ago, Scott Fahrenkrug saw an ABC News segment about the dehorning of dairy cows, a painful procedure that makes the animals safer to handle. The shaky undercover video showed a black-and-white Holstein heifer moaning and bucking as a farmhand burned off its horns with a hot iron.

Fahrenkrug, a molecular geneticist then at the University of Minnesota, thought he had a way to solve the problem. He could create cows without horns. He could save farmers money. And by eliminating the dairy industry’s most unpleasant secret, he might even score a public relations success for genetic engineering.

The technology Fahrenkrug believes could do all this is called genome editing (see “Genome Surgery” and “Genome Editing”). A fast, precise new way of altering DNA, it’s been sweeping through biotechnology labs. Researchers have used it to change the genes of mice, zebrafish, and monkeys, and it is being tested as way to treat human diseases like HIV (see “Can Gene Therapy Cure HIV?”).

With livestock, gene editing offers some extraordinary possibilities. At his startup, Recombinetics, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, Fahrenkrug thinks he can create blue-ribbon dairy bulls possessing traits not normally found in those breeds but present in other cattle, such as lack of horns or resistance to particular diseases. Such “molecular breeding,” he says, would achieve the same effects as nature might, only much faster. In short, an animal could be edited to have the very best genes its species can offer.

That could upend the global livestock industry. Companies could patent these animals just as they do genetically modified soybeans or corn. Entrepreneurs are also ready to challenge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has never approved a GMO food animal. They say gene editing shouldn’t be regulated if it’s used to merely swap around traits within a species. “We’re talking about genes that already exist in a species we already eat,” says Fahrenkrug.

The use of the technology remains experimental and far from the food chain. But some large breeding companies are starting to invest. “There may be an opportunity for a different public acceptance dialogue and different regulations,” says Jonathan Lightner, R&D chief of the U.K. company Genus, which is the world’s largest breeder of pigs and cattle and has paid for some of Recombinetics’ laboratory research. “This isn’t a glowing fish. It’s a cow that doesn’t have to have its horns cut off.”

GMO Bust

To date, GMO food animals have been a complete bust. After the first mice genetically engineered with viral DNA appeared in the 1970s, a parade of other modified animals followed, including sheep that grow extra wool thanks to a mouse gene, goats whose udders made spider silk, and salmon that mature twice as quickly as normal. But such transgenics—animals incorporating genes from other species—mostly never made it off experimental farms.

Opponents of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) gathered millions of signatures to stop “frankenfoods,” and the FDA has held off approving such animals as food. AquaBounty Technologies, the company that made the fast-growing transgenic salmon, has spent 18 years and $70 million trying to get the fish cleared. Two years ago, the University of Guelph, in Ontario, euthanized its herd of “enviropigs,” engineered with an E. coli gene so they pooped less phosphorus, after giving up hope of convincing regulators.

Lenore bulls

More meat: The genome of the Nelore bull on the right was edited to produce 30 percent more muscle fiber.

Genome editing can also be used to create transgenic animals. But cows edited to be hornless would not have DNA from a different species, just DNA from a different breed of cattle. That is what entrepreneurs hope will create a regulatory loophole. The FDA’s regulations on genetically engineered animals, issued in 2009, didn’t anticipate gene editing and, in Fahrenkrug’s opinion, may not cover it. 

In response to questions from MIT Technology Review, the FDA agreed that its rules “addressed the technology at the time.” But the agency says it reserves the right to regulate gene editing, too. “We are carefully considering the appropriate regulatory approach for products made using this technology but have not reached any decisions,” said agency spokeswoman Theresa Eisenman.

To make hornless dairy cows, Fahrenkrug says, he looked up the genetic sequence that naturally causes Angus cattle, a beef variety, to lack horns. Following nature’s no-horns recipe, he used a gene-editing method called TALENs in his lab to introduce it into skin cells from a horned Holstein bull. In total, he deleted 10 DNA letters and, in their place, added 212. Some of those cells were then turned into embryos through cloning and used to impregnate several cows. Fahrenkrug is expecting the first of several hornless calves to be born within a few weeks. He declined to say where they were being kept, citing the risk of sabotage by animal-rights or anti-GMO activists.

Scared to Death

Any genetic tinkering with the food supply could arouse opposition, but Fahrenkrug hopes the vision of a hornless cow could make people see things his way. Animal-rights campaigners hate GMOs. But they hate dehorning more. Farmers do it only because they have to. Douglas Keeth, an investor in Recombinetics, says his great-grandmother was gored to death by a dairy cow. “When I was a young man working on a farm, we’d dehorn cattle with mechanical means. You do 100 steers and, well, it’s a bloody mess,” he says. “You wouldn’t want to show that on TV.”

Although not all cattle have horns, most Holsteins do. According to the Holstein Association USA, all 30 of the top-rated Holstein bulls in the U.S. have horns. Semen from these champion bulls, which are prized for fathering offspring that produce titanic amounts of milk, is frozen and shipped around the globe. After more than a century of selective breeding, the average dairy cow in the U.S. produces 23,000 pounds of milk a year (compared with about 5,000 pounds for an ordinary cow).

With Holsteins smashing milk records, any effort to mix in useful new traits by mating is challenging. That’s because crossing a record milker with a lesser animal will dilute its pedigree, says Lightner, whose company shipped $177 million worth of frozen bull semen last year. It can take several generations of crosses to make a true milk champion again.

Gene editing, by contrast, is fast and precise. Last year, working with the Roslin Institute and Texas A&M University, Fahrenkrug easily created Brazilian Nelore cattle with increased muscle mass. He did that by adding to Nelore embryos a muscle-boosting mutation that occurs naturally in breeds like Belgian Blues, though it had never before been seen in rangy, heat-tolerant Nelores. The edit consists of deleting 11 DNA letters from a single gene, thereby cutting production of a muscle-regulating protein called myostatin. Lightner says such feats are why Genus has started underwriting gene-editing research. “We haven’t realized the opportunity for genetic engineering in animals to any degree,” he says. “But these new approaches that let us move traits around could be transformational.”

Fahrenkrug’s ideas have grabbed the attention of dairy farmers, too. The technology “is very cool,” says Tom Lawlor, head of R&D for the Holstein Association USA. But he says milk producers are afraid of genetic engineering. “The technology definitely looks promising and seems to work, but we would enter into it slowly as opposed to rapidly for fear the consumer would get the wrong idea,” he says. “We get scared to death, because our product is milk, and it’s wholesome.”

Conventional breeding has also become far more precise thanks to DNA tests. By July of this year, an international collaboration calling itself the “1,000 Bull Genomes Project” had decoded the DNA of 234 dairy bulls, including Swiss Fleckviehs, Holsteins, and Jerseys. Breeders can now accurately size up an animal’s genes at birth. One result is that a few hornless bulls are already approaching top-ranked status. That leaves Lawlor unsure if there’s much of a need for gene editing.

Patented Cattle

In January, Fahrenkrug filed a patent application laying claim to any animal whose genes are edited to remove their horns. The threat of cattle patents has alarmed some farmers already distressed by seed patents. “They could take semen from my bull, gene-edit it, patent it, and the farmer will get totally screwed,” says Roy MacGregor, who breeds hornless cattle in Peterborough, Ontario. “They should not be allowed to.”

Anti-GMO campaigners also won’t have to look far for reasons to criticize gene editing. There are easy targets, like a strategy Fahrenkrug conceived to prevent cattle from reaching sexual maturity. That may make it quicker to fatten them for slaughter. It would also allow gene-editing companies to keep selling animals without the risk of “uncontrolled breeding of the animals by the buyers,” as another of Recombinetics’ patent applications puts it.

It’s possible, even probable, that cautious regulators, activists, and commercial challenges will keep products from gene-edited animals off supermarket shelves for years. Maybe forever. But what’s not slowing down is the advance of gene-editing technology. “People will say to me, ‘You realize this changes everything, don’t you?’ Because it does,” says Fahrenkrug. “The genome is information. And this is information technology. We have gone from being able to read the genome to being able to write it.”

Gain the insight you need on GMO at EmTech MIT.

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2014 Visionaries | Innovators Under 35 PDF Print E-mail

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The Apple Watch May Solve the Usual Smart Watch Annoyances PDF Print E-mail

Apple’s first smart watch seems like the best of its kind so far, but the user experience is still a little unclear.

Apple iWatch

Show off: CEO Tim Cook unveiled the Apple Watch on Tuesday.

Today I finally got to try on a smart watch that fits my wrist, looks good, and purports to be full-featured yet not overly annoying.

While other smart watches I’ve tried and spied have been mostly clunky, finicky, ugly, and, frankly, not all that smart (see “So Far Smart Watches Are Pretty Dumb”), Apple’s just-announced Apple Watch looks stylish, thoughtfully designed, extremely customizable, and full of great technology that is cleverly implemented. In other words, it appears to be awesome.

But it only “appears” to be awesome, as I was not able to try out a fully functional one. Apple did not make them available to journalists in its demo pen after announcing the product—along with two extremely slim, updated iPhones—on Tuesday morning near its headquarters in Cupertino, California. And Apple has not said when it will be available, specifically, other than early in 2015.

I was able to get a feel for it, though, as demo devices running a noninteractive loop of some of the functions the Apple Watch will have when it is released were available to try on. A demo staffer, meanwhile, showed me features of an Apple Watch on her own wrist that I was not allowed to touch (that one, too, did not look fully functional).

Apple is offering the Apple Watch in three different finishes: a sport-geared one with an anodized aluminum body, a more “classic” one in shiny stainless steel, and a fashion-geared one with an 18-karat-gold body. The most inexpensive model will cost $349, which is pricey but not insane for a useful, everyday gadget (and definitely not very expensive for a nice watch), and all of them will require an iPhone to be functional.

The Apple Watch will come in two sizes (38 millimeters and 42 millimeters), which is great news for anyone like me who doesn’t have a meaty wrist. On my arm, the smaller one felt a bit heavier than I’d like, and looked pretty thick, but it wasn’t uncomfortable and definitely fit better than other smart watches I’ve tried on. It has a crisp, bright display protected by sapphire, which is harder than glass and so should be less prone to scratches and breakage (see “Sapphire Screen Would Test Apple’s Manufacturing and Design Skills”).

Apple has clearly put a lot of thought into the ways users should (and shouldn’t) interact with wearable tech. The Apple Watch has a touch screen, and as the demo staffer used her finger to navigate, the apps on the screen moved fluidly. The display is also force-sensitive, which means it can tell the difference between a tap and a press, which enables a broader number of controls. There’s also voice control for doing things like tweeting and sending messages.

Apple iWatch

Friendly faces: The crown on the side of the Apple Watch can be used to scroll through a list of contacts.

Even cleverer: a turn of the dial on the left side zooms in and out of maps and a moves between different pictures of contacts—a somewhat obvious-seeming way to navigate such a small display without totally obstructing it (and one that’s been around for quite a while).

A big annoyance of mine with other smart watches is their obtrusive alerts, but Apple has clearly thought about that, as it is trying to incorporate a new kind of haptic feedback that is less annoying than your standard wrist-based buzz. The demo watch I wore gave me a sense of this with a notification that felt like a slight tap. This will be used for, among other things, letting you know when to turn if you’re getting directions via the watch, making it possible to navigate without looking at your wrist or phone.

Beyond challenging other smart watch makers, the Apple Watch is a huge threat to activity-tracker makers like Fitbit and Jawbone. It has several sensors on its backside including what two demo staffers confirmed to me is a photoplethysmogram, or PPG, sensor, which tracks changes in blood flow by shining a light on your skin and measuring how it scatters off your blood vessels (see “Using Your Ear to Track Your Heart”). You may have seen this type of measurement in a hospital in the form of a device that grasps your fingertip, and it can be used to accurately derive a host of biological signals like heart rate, temperature, and respiration rate. On the Apple Watch, it works in concert with an accelerometer and also takes advantage of the GPS and Wi-Fi on the iPhone to measure activities and calories burned.

This kind of sensor gives the Apple Watch the potential for much more accurate tracking than many devices already on the market, and that data will presumably be available to third-party health and fitness apps; the data collected will feed back to the iPhone and into the new Health app included in the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. A new operating system, IOS 8, will be included on the new iPhones (which are coming out on September 19) and will be available to existing iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad users on September 17.

Apparent awesomeness notwithstanding, there are many unknowns about the Apple Watch that temper my excitement. The screen on the device is extremely bright, and adjustable, but it’s not clear how it will perform in bright sunlight or, really, any kind of light other than the darkened demo room with strategic lighting.

The watch is also water-resistant and has a battery that’s meant to last through a day of use, according to one of Apple’s product demo staffers, but full details of its robustness and battery life haven’t been released.

And then there’s no way to tell how accurate its heartbeat sensing will be. The wrist is a sensible location for a wearable device, but it’s a tricky body part to use for accurately gauging body signals because there’s a lot of noise to filter out from motions that aren’t really related to our overall activity.

There’s the possibility that the Apple Watch really just does too much. It can be used to answer phone calls, and a walkie-talkie feature lets you communicate with other Apple Watch users (I’m skeptical this will become much more than a fun gimmick). A developer kit will let outside developers build apps for it. Apple even announced a new payment feature on Tuesday, Apple Pay, that brings contactless payment to the iPhone via the use of near-field communication, and the Apple Watch will be able to do this, too.

Ultimately, of course, it will be up to users to decide how good the Apple Watch is, and how it’s used—nobody will force you to enable all kinds of notifications, pick up incoming calls, or buy a pack of gum from your wrist. And, like the rest of you, I’ll reserve my final judgment for an unknown date in the not-too-distant future when I actually get to try it out. 

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Sapphire Screens Would Test Apple’s Manufacturing and Design Skills PDF Print E-mail

To make sapphire screens, Apple would need to source high-quality raw material and be clever about incorporating it into devices.

Crystal clear: A slice of a sapphire crystal.

At Apple’s latest product unveiling tomorrow, CEO Tim Cook may sing the praises of super-strong sapphire, and proclaim it as the perfect screen material for its new iGadgets.

Cracked screens are a common problem for smartphone users, so virtually unscratchable, unbreakable screens could make for a compelling marketing campaign. But just how durable sapphire will be is debatable. Much will depend on how well Apple can manufacture it in large quantities, and how it incorporates the material into its devices.

Rumors have been circulating for months that Apple plans to use sapphire, a substance that is significantly harder than glass, in its latest iPhones, and perhaps its first iWatch. The company’s decision to invest about $700 million in an industrial sapphire plant in Arizona starting last year has added considerable weight to the theory.

Sapphire is already used in small amounts to make scratch-resistant screens for luxury watches, and Apple uses small pieces of sapphire to protect the camera and the home button on the iPhone 5S. But sapphire’s high cost has limited its applications; although new ways of growing sapphire crystals have made it cheaper to produce in recent years, it’s still roughly five times more expensive than toughened glass.

While sapphire can be much stronger than the toughened glass now used for most smartphone screens (it is second only to diamond on a standard scale of hardness), if it isn’t processed correctly, it can actually be more prone to breaking.

Indeed, one test of a new smartphone with a sapphire display from Kyocera shows it cracking after a drop of just three feet. And Corning, the company that makes the Gorilla Glass, which is widely used in smartphones, has produced a video of sapphire cracking after being scuffed up by a few everyday objects.

But Corning is hardly an unbiased observer, and these tests say little about how Apple’s devices will perform, because the properties of sapphire depend so heavily on how it is processed and incorporated into devices.

Some types of cutting and polishing can introduce defects into the material that make it easier to break than glass. “Any flaws or scratches dramatically reduce the strength,” says Neil Alford, a material engineering professor at Imperial College of London. The material’s properties also depend on the orientation of the crystal—certain cuts of sapphire are stronger than others.

To prevent a gadget’s screen from cracking, you need to do two things, according to Robert Ritchie, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies the failure mechanisms of materials. First, you need be careful to avoid defects that might allow scratches, because these can lead to more serious cracks. Second, the overall design needs to absorb the energy of an impact. Sapphire itself isn’t great at this—it’s a brittle material, though slightly more fracture-resistant than glass, Ritchie says. So you need to be clever about how you package it in a phone or a watch, so that the other materials in the device can absorb the energy of an impact.

If Apple does announce sapphire-screened devices on Tuesday, and those screens prove resilient to scratching and breaking, it will be because the company has succeeded in both engineering the material and incorporating it into devices with great skill.

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With Mobility’s Future Hanging on 200-Year-Old Tech (Batteries), Power-Savings Amps Up PDF Print E-mail

Image: twicepix/Flickr

twicepix/Flickr

The most interesting devices on the market these days are connected with Wi-Fi. When I first started writing about wireless LANs, the name of the game was connecting laptops. The far-sighted architects of those first standards saw the possibility of connecting everything, but even they are impressed by what we have managed to accomplish.

In the tech world, we used to talk about how higher performance CPUs were struggling to keep up with the demands of new software. Now, in computing and the world of the Internet of Things, the new race is between batteries and the demands of devices. Computing power is no longer the limitation. We are now limited by battery life.

Computing power growth is described as following Moore’s Law, but all the processing power in the world does not help if your device has now power. To take one example, the iPhone battery has improved by 15% since the first iPhone hit the market, but it is obvious that the capability of the hardware and demands of software have grown by more than 15%. And the iPhone is not even the worst case.

Sensors of all sorts, whether smart locks from companies like August, or smoke detectors like Birdi, need to carefully manage battery capacity. (One of the neatest things about Birdi is that they monitor battery capacity. Rather than waiting for the chirping sound to annoy you into hastily locating a replacement, Birdi sends you a new battery before your old one is dead.)

The core problem faced by mobility devices, however, is a mismatch in capabilities. In hardware, we are accustomed to exponential growth, where each year brings another new percentage leap in capacity. In batteries, capacity growth is linear, and the amount of energy in batteries has already reached potentially dangerous levels. In a memorable turn of phrase, the energy density of lithium batteries is now comparable to hand grenades.

Coping with the potential for user desires and needs of hardware to pull away from the battery capacity to run them is a consistent topic of discussion within the industry, and one that I often feel in my professional life working for a Wi-Fi infrastructure company. With so many of these devices connecting over Wi-Fi networks, we have a small role to play in power efficiency. (One of my many activities within the Wi-Fi Alliance was to lead the development of requirements for an emerging new power-saving technology that enables devices to make more efficient use of their battery charge.)

Batteries are now two centuries old, and remain vitally important for powering portable, mobile, and wearable devices. Continued innovation in these devices depends on keeping the gap between the demands for stored energy by the device and the ability of batteries to supply it.

Future progress depends not on sharp increases in battery capacity, but in a diversity of techniques to extend battery life. Microprocessors are now rated on power consumption in addition to raw speed, using part of the ongoing miniaturization to lower power consumption instead of increasing processing power. System designers everywhere are working to improve power-saving capabilities in displays, network interfaces, and protocols.

In the future, small devices might even use solar cells to gather energy during the day to be stored for operation in the dark, removing the need for charging from the electrical grid altogether.

Matthew Gast is the Director of Advanced Technology at Aerohive Networks.

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Hacked Celeb Pics Made Reddit Enough Cash to Run Its Servers for a Month PDF Print E-mail

reddit_tile-inline

Reddit

If you saw Kate Upton or Jennifer Lawrence naked last week, there’s a good chance you saw them on the social news site Reddit. The self-proclaimed “front page of the Internet” was one of the main hosts of the celebrity nude photographs hacked from Apple’s iCloud accounts and leaked across the Internet. Over the weekend, Reddit cleaned up the portions of the site that hosted the stolen photos—but not before it had made a significant chunk of revenue from its role in the massive celebrity sext-spillage.

In just six days, Reddit earned enough money from the nude pics scandal to power its servers for roughly a month, says John Menese, the 33-year-old creator of a Reddit sub-forum expressly launched to share the photos. That statistic, he says, is based on how many times members of the subreddit paid for so-called Reddit “gold,” the $3.99-per-month premium accounts that users often gift to each other to bestow a few extra features and prestige. Each subreddit publicly displays the amount of server time paid for by its members’ Reddit gold, and Menese tracked his forum’s contribution until just before it went offline. His estimate of the site’s take from the sext scandal doesn’t include any advertising revenue the site may have made from the quarter billion pageviews Menese’s subreddit created during its short time on the web.

“If Reddit had wanted to, they could have banned us on Sunday when our traffic broke their servers,” says Menese, a 33-year old salesman at a Las Vegas call center. “Instead, they chose to milk a week of publicity and a month of server time in Reddit gold before they stepped in.”

Menese and another moderator of the subreddit, which they called TheFappening in a reference to Reddit’s lingo for masturbation, say that Reddit credited their users for paying for at least 27 days worth of site server time before the forum was banned Saturday. For comparison, that would mean it generated about half as much revenue from Reddit gold in six days as the site’s “programming” subreddit, the oldest on the site, earned in the four years since Reddit’s gold program was created.

Reddit staff didn’t respond to WIRED’s request for comment on its financial rewards from its TheFappening scandal. But one administrator admitted in a long note about the staff’s ambivalence on the issue that it had “hit new traffic milestones, ones which I’d be ashamed to share publicly.”

That immense traffic, however, already was waning when Reddit banned TheFappening. At its peak on September 1st, the site pulled in 141 million visitors in a day, according to numbers Menese accessed as a moderator of the subreddit. By September 2, it only attracted 45 million pageviews. By September 6, when Reddit finally pulled TheFappening from the site, the majority of the forum’s users visitors likely had moved on.

“It’s sad that Reddit already made their money and then made a show of banning the site,” says Menese.

That belated filtering, long after Reddit had received the majority of the scandal’s financial benefits, provides ammunition to critics; they accuse it of profiting from its anything-goes community at the expense of victims like the women whose photos were hacked from Apple’s iCloud accounts and subjected to its users’ horny feeding frenzy. The issue is particularly timely as the site seeks to raise a new round of investment at a valuation higher than $500 million. As T.C. Sottek wrote at the Verge, “Reddit is a kleptocracy that speaks to lofty virtues while profiting from vice,” and went on to compare TheFappening to “sexual assault, condoned by a state that earns revenue from it.”

In a statement on the scandal, Reddit CEO Yishan Wong was sympathetic but unapologetic about hosting the photos. “We understand the harm that misusing our site does to the victims of this theft, and we deeply sympathize,” he wrote. “Having said that, we are unlikely to make changes to our existing site content policies in response to this specific event.”

Menese, for his part, is unrepentant about his involvement in violating the privacy of a dozen innocent women. He argues that TheFappening only linked to the images, and that he wasn’t involved in their initial theft. He points to other existing corners of Reddit that host stolen nudes, like the “celebs” subreddit or “candid fashion police,” where users post creep shots of women under the guise of critiquing their fashion sense. “There are lots of other subreddits that have questionable content,” he says. “But they’re still up right now because people whose photos are on them don’t have lawyers.”

He’s still not sure why those sites—along with far more hideous ones like WatchPeopleDie and SexyAbortions—are allowed to persist while his own forum was banned. “Reddit basically stands up for free speech until it becomes inconvenient for them to do so,” he says.

Or, he might have added, until it no longer helps them pay their server costs.

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Project to Turn Bitcoin Into an All-Powerful Programming Language Raises $15M PDF Print E-mail

Vitalik Buterin. Image: Vitalik Buterin

Vitalik Buterin. Vitalik Buterin

A year ago, Vitalik Buterin was a teenaged college dropout dabbling in the bitcoin digital currency. Now, he’s the founder of a futuristic programming project that just got backed to the tune of $15 million.

The project is called Ethereum—an effort to transform the kind of technology used in bitcoin into something that can help you build, well, anything—and after a two-month Kickstarter-style crowdfunding campaign, it has raised 30,000 bitcoin, or close to $15 million at today’s bitcoin prices. According to Buterin, Etherum could represent the future of the blockchain—the cryptographically backed distributed public ledger that drives bitcoin—and apparently, many others agree with him.

The tool is part of a sweeping movement to remake internet services using a blockchain—software that’s controlled not by a central authority but by a worldwide network of machines. Developers are building everything from secure chat services to social networks, hoping to remove common tools from the control of big corporations like Google and Twitter. But Ethereum seeks to widen the scope of this effort even further.

Buterin and his cohorts will build their own blockchain, but instead of simply logging financial transactions, the Etherium blockchain will come with a Python-like scripting language that will let you do all kinds of fancy programming. You could write games, online storage services, or even algorithmically determined smart contracts. “You can write anything that you would be able to write on a server and put it on to the blockchain,” says Buterin. “Instead of Javascript making calls to the server, you would be making calls to the blockchain.”

Instead of Javascript making calls to the server, you would be making calls to the blockchain.

Buterin and crew have also funded the project in a unique way. Those who donated bitcoins to the project received something else in return: Ethers, the digital currency that will be mined by the Ethereum software when it officially goes online, sometime in the next few months.

Bitcoin are valuable because they’re both useful as a currency and in short supply. Only 21 million bitcoin will ever be created. That’s not the case with Ethers. Buterin and company plan to produce 15 million of them each year on their blockchain. There’s another important difference too. You will need to use Ethers in order to run software on the Ethereum network. Buterin calls it the platform’s programming “fuel.” The 30,000 bitcoin sale is a bet that people will actually want to do this.

As far as Buterin is concerned, it’s also seed money for his new project. There are already about 20 core developers working on Ethereum, which is backed by about eight bitcoin-rich investors. Now, he is going to hire some more. “We intend to spend the bulk of the money to work on the core code,” he says.

Close to 200 other hackers are playing around with the Ethereum code. They’ve build software such as domain name registrars, online voting apps, crowd-sourcing platforms, and even simple computer games on an Ethereum test-bed. Those early test programs will get their chance to run on the real Etherium platform when the project starts mining its genesis block in the next few months.

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Computer News Reports

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Facebook open sources its mcrouter data-caching tool 15 September 2014, 21.19 Computers
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T-Mobile takes Wi-Fi voice and text everywhere 10 September 2014, 18.52 Computers
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Airbnb to reveal 124 New York hosts to attorney general
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Report: Samsung to announce Galaxy Gear 3 next month
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Communications

Joomla! Specific Links
Joomla! Specific LinksA selection of links that are all related to the Joomla! Project.
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Netflix Expands Into Mainland Europe: Streaming Video In France, Germany, Austria
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Netflix News Roundup: Subscriber Numbers, Pricing Tiers, Net Neutrality Statement
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What The Net Neutrality Ruling Means For Online Video 18 January 2014, 22.47 4G Voice, Video, & Data
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Vdio Is Dead | Rdio Shutters Video Service 28 December 2013, 22.35 4G Voice, Video, & Data
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YouTube Launching Paid Spotify-Like Streaming Music Service Before End Of 2013
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Is Online Streaming Availability To Blame For Movie Piracy? Research Suggests It Could Be
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Google Launches Chromecast, a $35 Dongle That Streams Content From Mobile To TV
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Hulu Owners Decide Not To Sell After All | Fox, NBC, & Disney Reinvest Millions Instead
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PalmPad: HP Slate in Palm Clothing? 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
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Android This Week: Leveling Off; Fring Calling; LogMeIn 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
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MobileTechRoundup 226 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
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Kindle for Android Gets Periodicals, In-App Store 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
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Samsung ATIV Smart PC 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
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Norton Hotspot VPN 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
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