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Posts Tagged ‘virgin islands’

APPLE HomePod

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Apple has a product that promises to “rock the house.” But what if that house is already rockin’?

That’s the situation that Apple finds itself as it showed off its HomePod, a speaker that looks and acts a lot like competing products from Amazon and Google. The only hitch is Amazon has been at this since late 2014 with its family of Echo speakers, and Google introduced its Home speaker last year.

Apple presents the HomePod as a high-end speaker with surround sound, the ability to recognize where it is spatially and a DJ able to provide you with the best tunes. It will also tap into Siri’s voice-recognition abilities to answer questions and control the smart home, but much of the time was spent talking about audio quality.

“Apple is smart to position it as music centric rather than yet another smart speaker or just a home for a digital assistant,” said Jan Dawson, an analyst at Jackdaw Research. “That both plays to Apple’s strength and history in music and avoids the direct comparison in terms of price because this really does a lot more.”

The company will need to show why the speaker is markedly better than the competition due to the price gap. At $349, it is far more expensive than the Echo ($180) and Home ($129). Amazon’s most popular speaker, the Echo Dot, is only $50.

Apple has some time to make its case — the HomePod won’t come out until December.

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Apple iOS 10.3.2 Is Now Available

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Today Apple has launched iOS 10.3.2 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Apple released five betas of iOS 10.3.2 to developers and the public before rolling out the final version. This update comes a bit over a month since iOS 10.3.1 was released on April 3rd. iOS 10.3.2 is considered a minor point release update containing bug fixes and security improvements for iOS 10.3, which added major features like Find My AirPods, Wi-Fi Calling on iCloud devices with Verizon, a Podcasts app widget, new app animations, an Apple ID Settings menu, weather forecasts in the Maps app, an iCloud storage meter and a complete under-the-hood revamp of the file system.

The download size of the iOS 10.3.2 update varies based on the device you have. On the iPhone SE, it appears to be between 160-170MB. And it is between 190-200MB on the iPhone 6S Plus and iPhone 7 Plus. You can update the Apple Watch on a connected iPhone while the smartwatch is on the charger with over 50% battery remaining. macOS 10.12.5 is available as a download on the Mac App Store. And you can update the Apple TV through the System menu and tapping on the Software Update.

If you value your security, you’ll want to seriously consider downloading the iOS 10.3.2 update on your iPhone or iPad. iOS 10.3.2 brings (by our count) 23 security patches for a potential exploits. That’s a ton for a small maintenance update and a great reason to install iOS 10.3.2 in the near future. Your iOS 10.3.2 update will bring even more security features if you failed to download previous versions of iOS. If you skipped iOS 10.3.1, your iOS 10.3.2 update will bring its security patch. If you skipped iOS 10.3, iOS 10.3.2 will also bring its monster list of patches as well.  The iOS 10.3 update delivered over 60 known patches for potential exploits. That’s substantial, even for a milestone upgrade. The previous version of iOS 10, iOS 10.2.1, brought 14 known patches.

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Wireless charging for BMW 5 Series hybrid in 2018

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Wireless charging is, for the most part, still something that requires an aftermarket solution. But BMW will offer its own setup starting with the 5 Series in 2018.

The 2018 BMW 530e plug-in hybrid will be able to wirelessly charge its battery using a BMW-branded induction pad. It can be installed in the open or under cover. Once it’s connected to power, the 530e will position itself over the pad such that a current can transmit wirelessly from pad to vehicle. You can thank electromagnetic induction for this trick little setup. An induction coil in the pad creates an alternating electromagnetic field. The car parks atop that first coil and that field then creates an electric current in a second coil in the car, which is used to charge the battery.

The wireless charging pad will permit a charge rate of up to 3.2 kW. That’s only slightly less powerful than BMW’s i Wallbox, which provides 3.7 kW charging. It should take about 3.5 hours to wirelessly charge the 530e’s 9.2-kWh battery, as opposed to 3 hours flat using BMW’s hardwired solution.

It’s a clever system, no doubt, but there are still some questions. It’s not due to hit the market until 2018, and BMW wasn’t willing to confirm whether or not it will be available in the US, or just in Europe. Furthermore, nobody’s really sure how much this will cost, and whether the charging pad must be purchased independently of any vehicle option that enables wireless charging.

BMW’s wireless charging system couldn’t come at a better time. Its primary competitor, Mercedes-Benz, intends to unveil its own wireless charging solution for a plug-in hybrid variant of the S-Class flagship sedan. That should happen in 2018, as well.

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Who drinks & Smokes more? Landline vs Wireless Users

Monday, May 8th, 2017

As the popularity and usage of mobile phones increase steadily, landlines are slowly going to the days of yesterday. A study released Friday from the US Health Department confirmed that 50.8 percent of adults live in households with only wireless phones, with 39.4 percent owning both a landline and wireless connection, and a mere 6.5 percent of homes using only a landline.

While this overall takeaway may be to no surprise, the demographics within wireless-only and landlines households are pretty interesting, as well as some self-reported health habits.

For instance, over 70 percent of adults aged 25 through 34 live in a wireless-only household. And the majority of wireless-only households (83.7 percent) are unrelated adults living together with no children.

Because the study was conducted by the USHD, health-related behaviors and status were also surveyed. A larger percentage of wireless-only users reported that they had at least one heavy drinking day in the past year (compared to 18.8 percent of landline users), and 18.4 percent of cell phone users currently smoke compared to 12.1 percent of landline users. Despite these health behaviors, however, 41.5 percent of cell phone users met the 2008 federal physical activity guidelines (in contrast, 36.9 percent of landliners met the guidelines).

The study did note the possibility of coverage bias, stating that most major survey research organizations include more wireless telephone numbers than landline, which could skew results.

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Voice recognition by Google Home

Monday, May 1st, 2017

Google announced that its Home smart hub device can now recognize and identify up to six different users by the sound of their voice. It’s an inevitable but crucial step in the development of smart home virtual assistants. The new skill means that different people in a household will be able to ask the Google Assistant questions about what’s on their calendar, or what their commute looks like, and the Home device will know who is speaking to it and give tailored responses. It’ll make it a more streamlined experience for families sharing a smart home speaker hub.

The setup process involves adding additional users through the Home app, who then train the device to recognize them by repeating a few key phrases. Google uses a neural network that’s actually located on the device itself to differentiate the distinct voices in the household.

The system will still respond to requests from random people, like a guest in your home, but it also means that your Home device should only read your more personal information like what’s on your schedule for the day to you.

Amazon Echo devices already work with multiple user accounts, but they have to be switched manually by explicitly asking Alexa to do it, which adds at least one step. Amazon does let you do voice training so that Alexa can get to know your voice (as does Siri when you set up an iPhone) but it can’t recognize who is speaking and switch accounts on the fly. An Amazon representative declined to comment on when or if Alexa would gain that skill.

If you live in the United States, you should be able to set up this feature by opening the opening the Google Home app and checking for a card that reads “multi-user is available.”

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UBER takes it to the Skies by 2020

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Uber has revealed plans to team up with Aurora Flight Sciences to create and test out a network of aerial taxis for passengers to hire by 2020. At Uber’s Elevate Summit in Dallas, Texas, the companies said the electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft will be part of the Uber Elevate Network, a scheme designed to eventually give Uber users the opportunity to use both land and air to reach their destination.

Uber has had trouble with the development of self-driving cars having recently paused tests due to a crash in Arizona and a court case between Uber and Waymo over intellectual property rights but partnering with a strong player in the aircraft industry may be more of a success. “Uber is taking a big step forward toward making the world’s first VTOL network a reality and our partnership with Aurora Flight Sciences will help get us off the ground,” said Mark Moore, Director of Engineering for Uber. “The Elevate VTOL network will help improve urban mobility around the world and transform the way we travel.”

The ride-hailing service has a vision which would provide consumers with on-demand urban air transportation by 2020 that would cost roughly the same as your average land taxi fare today. According to Uber’s description of the Elevate Network project, on-demand “flying taxis” would not only shave time off commutes drastically, but help reduce the growing issue of city congestion. “Just as skyscrapers allowed cities to use limited land more efficiently, urban air transportation will use three-dimensional airspace to alleviate transportation congestion on the ground,” Uber says.

The partnership will utilize Aurora research already underway for the US Department of Defense, the XV-24A X-plane project, and current craft prototypes will form a base for the eVOTL concept. The eVOTL will include adapted vertical take-off and landing technology in the same way that helicopters move and the craft which will not only be quiet but also zero-emission and will include collision avoidance systems.

Uber said the goal was to “enable customers in the future to push a button and get high-speed flight around cities.” The companies have already conducted one successful test flight and plan to run trials in both Dallas, US, and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. All in all, Uber and Aurora hope to have 50 aircraft in the air for tests by 2020.

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CLOUDBOOKS, possibly CHROMEBOOKS worst nightmare!!

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

 

Microsoft appears to aiming at the other end of the market. It’s rumored that the company will be debuting a new kind of PC at its education-focused event on May 2: an inexpensive computer designed to primarily run apps from the cloud, a device that will finally directly respond the rapid rise of Chromebooks. It’s called a CloudBook, according to reports, and it’ll run a new variant of Windows 10 called Windows Cloud. The main thing separating Windows Cloud from regular Windows? Machines running it will only be able to run apps downloaded from the Windows Store. That restriction is very similar to what separated the old Surface tablets, the Surface RT and Surface 2, from regular Windows machines. But that was because they ran Windows RT, the now-defunct version of Windows designed for ARM-based devices (as opposed to Intel/AMD x86 machines). Today, Windows RT is long dead, and older, Win32-based apps are even available in the Windows Store.

All that said, two qualifiers: Although Windows RT is gone, Windows 10 can still run on ARM devices—all Windows mobile phones have ARM chips and run it. So, theoretically, Microsoft could debut a Windows PC with an ARM chip whenever it wants. And that brings us to the second qualifier: Even though the Windows Store now offers some Win32 apps, that doesn’t necessarily mean the CouldBook will run them. At least one report says it will run Win32 apps, though, so a more likely scenario is this: The CloudBook will indeed have an Intel chip, but Windows Cloud will have a setting where you can restrict apps to Windows Store only, which will be the default. After all, if the whole idea is to take on Chromebooks, the OS will need to offer robust management tools.

Windows once tried going down the route of cheap machines barely worthy of the label “PC,” and the world rejected the result: the netbook. Times have changed, though: The cloud is now king, and Chromebooks have proven the viability of the model, which will go a long way toward convincing OEMs to get on board. In 2017, it should be possible to create a cheap Windows machine that performs well at a few cloud-based tasks (browsing, email and Office apps, mainly). The main challenge Microsoft will have with such a machine would be managing expectations. People tend to expect a certain amount of versatility from any PC under the Windows umbrella. Even if Windows Cloud and the CloudBook give Chromebooks a run for their money, it could face an even tougher comparison: Windows 10 itself.

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IPhone 8 VS Galaxy S8. Your Choice!

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

The new Samsung Galaxy S8 has launched, and its target of choice is the as yet unlaunched Apple iPhone 8 Anniversary Edition. These phones are critical for both companies. Apple survives largely off the iPhone today, and Samsung is trying to recover both from its burning phone problem and from its top executive being arrested on bribery charges. Neither firm can afford a big loss to the other, and Samsung just came out of the gate with one hell of an opening salvo.

A big difference is that Apple can focus on product, while Samsung has to restore its image, and that is a far harder thing to do.

Iphone’s Downfall

Apple’s iPhone both surprised and, for a time, drove the smartphone market. It helped wipe out Palm, forced BlackBerry to make massive changes, and knocked the once-dominant Nokia down to the third tier of mobile phone players. On the other hand, Apple’s attempts at diversification haven’t gone very well. The iPad is no longer the PC killer it once was thought to be, the iPod is all but gone, and the Apple Watch was a disappointing misfire. (Ironically, it is still the most successful single product in its class, suggesting an as-yet-unresolved class problem.)

Apple no longer controls the smartphone market, though. Control now is shared — and firms using Google’s Android platform represent a significantly larger share. In this new Android-led world, Samsung has been the company to beat. Apple has had an amazing run recently, largely because Samsung’s halo phone, the Samsung Note 7, had a nasty tendency to catch fire. Samsung didn’t address that problem well at all, leading to the phone being banned from planes and ultimately recalled. That didn’t give Apple a sustainable advantage, though, because Samsung didn’t fail. That means the gains that Apple got likely will go away once Samsung re-enters the high-end segment and recovers its brand, which really is the bigger problem. It has made a start — recovering the phone is what it just did.

The long-term problem for Apple is that Apple’s margins are industry-leading but Samsung’s aren’t. That means Samsung and others can put more into their phones and still charge less. That’s why the S8 is so scary. It is a technology showcase that Apple can’t match unless it cuts into margins, and Apple can’t do that without collapsing its valuation.

In effect, Apple is between a rock and a hard place if Samsung can execute — but execution isn’t easy.

Samsung’s Downfall

Thanks to the burning phones and a tendency for some of Samsung’s washing machines to explode of late, folks aren’t trusting Samsung much. This has resulted in Samsung having to run an expensive campaign to recover its brand. Having worked on a similar project at IBM decades ago, I know this kind of problem is neither cheap nor quick to fix. It took IBM millions and five years to recover its brand. Samsung’s market is both more forgiving and more fickle, which suggests it could do it far faster, but I still think it will take at least two years of solid execution and millions in marketing.

This may not be helped by the fact it currently is selling refurbished Galaxy Note 7s, which still are banned from airplanes. Given that the failure was caused by a design feature rather than a component problem, these phones still could catch fire.

This seems like a continuation of the tactical thinking that got Samsung into this mess in the first place, and if one of these refurbished phones should catch fire, it could result in a huge advantage for Apple. It also suggests that the problem created cash liquidity issues that likely resulted in this incredibly risky decision.

A lot of folks have speculated that if the new phone catches fire, then Samsung is screwed. However, the reality is that none of its phones can catch fire, because that will cause people to disbelieve the message of a new, more quality-focused Samsung. So, the phone it launched may be up to the challenge of restoring Samsung’s brand, but the company’s execution appears to be falling short in other respects. It still could fail due to the decision to resell the problematic Note 7s and the sheer time it will take to recover its image.

Conclusion

With a healthy and well-executing Samsung, the new Galaxy Note S8 could have done scary things to Apple’s iPhone 8 sales, particularly because Apple simply can’t afford to match in its phone the kinds of advancements that Samsung has showcased. However, Samsung isn’t healthy, and its decision to resell the problematic Note 7 is a showcase of what has been a string of excessive risks. An Apple supporter could rig a refurbished Note 7 to catch fire in a critical location, and the risk that Samsung represents could be removed. That’s a hell of a temptation for a lot of Apple employees and partners, even if Apple management weren’t involved in such a move.

Further, Apple just torpedoed Andy Rubin’s iPhone killer before it launched, suggesting Samsung should be thinking far more defensively. Apparently, Tim Cook did pick up at least one Steve Jobs skill — and if Samsung doesn’t watch out, this one will bite it in the butt. Unless Samsung suddenly gets a lot smarter, this round likely will go resoundingly to Apple, despite what otherwise is a very strong effort with its new S8 phone.

Against Apple, it generally is the execution, not the product, that makes the critical difference, and Samsung remains overmatched.

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HEALTH monitored by Contact Lens

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

A research team led by Oregon State professor Gregory Herman has developed a transparent biosensor that, when added to a contact lens, could conceivably be used to detect symptoms an array of health conditions. Currently, a lab-tested prototype can only detect blood glucose levels, but in the future, the team believes it could detect other medical conditions, possibly even cancer. It’ll be a few years before we see such futuristic contact lenses on pharmacy shelves, but the technologies required to build this noninvasive diagnostic device largely exists today.

Imagine a biosensing contact lens that can tell when your blood sugar is getting too low, or if there’s something wrong with one of your organs. By leveraging the power of ultra-thin transistor technology, researchers from Oregon State University have taken us a step closer to achieving that goal.

When he embarked on the project, Herman was looking for a better way to help people with diabetes. Today, diabetics can continuously monitor their blood glucose levels with electrodes implanted under the skin. Trouble is, this form of monitoring can be painful and cause skin irritations and infections. A disposable, biosensing contact lens would be more practical, safer, and far less intrusive.

To get started, Herman piggybacked off an idea he and his colleagues came up with a few years ago—a semiconductor composed of the compound gallium zinc oxide (IGZO). This is the same semiconductor that has revolutionized electronics, allowing for higher resolution televisions, smartphones, and tablets. Herman now wants to apply a similar technology to diagnostic medicine.

To make the prototype contact lens, the researchers fabricated a biosensor containing a transparent sheet of IGZO transistors and glucose oxidase—an enzyme that breaks down glucose. When this biosensor comes into contact with glucose, the enzyme oxidizes the blood sugar. This causes the pH level in the mixture to shift, triggering measurable changes in the electrical current flowing through the IGZO transistors. Tiny nanostructures were embedded within the IGZO biosensor, allowing the transparent device to detect minute glucose concentrations found in tears.

“There is a fair amount of information that can be monitored in a teardrop,” Herman told Gizmodo. “Of course, there is glucose, but also lactate (sepsis, liver disease), dopamine (glaucoma), urea (renal function), and proteins (cancers). Our goal is to expand from a single sensor to multiple sensors.” As noted, the current model can only test for glucose, so only time will tell if the technology can be leveraged to sniff out these other chemicals.

The sensor is still in the development phase, and it has yet to be attached to a contact lens. Eventually (and ideally), a souped-up version of this device will transmit data via radio frequency (RF) to a receiver. As a bonus, the RF signals will also power the device; in future, a tiny antenna will be used to charge the capacitor. Currently, the prototype is not transmitting data outside of the sensor, and scientists take readings by measuring the electrical current flowing through the device.

Given that contact lenses are disposable, these devices need to be affordable. But Herman doesn’t see this as a problem. “We are using a technology that is very similar to what is used for cell phones, the IGZO thin film transistors,” he said. “One hundred transistors in a cell phone display is going to cost less than ten cents.” Encouragingly, Herman and his colleagues developed an inexpensive method to make IGZO electronics, but as he himself admits, “there are other costs that will need to come down.” The affordability of these hypothetical devices is still an open question.

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Windows Keyboard crosscut on a Mac

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

A Mac’s keyboard layout just isn’t quite right for Windows. Whether you’re primarily a Windows user or primarily an OS X user, the layout doesn’t feel quite right when you run Windows in Boot Camp but you can fix that.

There are several possible ways you might want to rearrange these keyboard shortcuts depending on what you’re used to. All it takes is a few cl…icks with SharpKeys and you’ll feel more at home. Mac keyboard layouts are subtly different from PC keyboard layouts. On a typical PC keyboard, the bottom-left corner of the keyboard contains keys in this order: Ctrl, Windows, Alt. On a Mac keyboard, you’ll see the following layout: Control, Option, Command. In Boot Camp, these keys function as Control, Alt, Windows.

In other words, the Alt and Windows key are swapped from where you’d expect them to be. Worse yet, Mac users will have to use the Control key for various keyboard shortcuts that require the Command key on Mac OS X.

There has to be a way to fix this and there is. We’ll be using SharpKeys to remap these keys in Windows. SharpKeys is an easy-to-use, open-source graphical program that creates the appropriate Windows registry entries to remap keys. You could actually do this all in the registry editor if you like, it just takes more work. This utility works on Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and even older versions of Windows.

If you’re used to Mac keyboard shortcuts, you may want to make the Command key function as the Control key. You’ll then be able to use Mac keyboard shortcuts like Command+C, X, or V for Copy, Cut, and Paste in Windows. Pressing Command+L will focus the location bar in your web browser on Windows just as it does on OS X — without the remapping, that Command+L shortcut equals Windows Key+L, which will lock your Windows system.

To do this, install SharpKeys and launch it. Click the Add button and click “Type Key” under the “From key” column on the left. Press the left Command key. Next, click the “Type Key” button under the “To key” column on the right. Press the Control key. Log out and log back in, or reboot your Mac. The Alt/Option key will function as a Windows key and the Command key will function as the Alt key. This means the layout at the left side of your keyboard will be Control, Windows, Alt just like on Windows.

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