≡ Menu
windows-10

Microsoft has announced some more features for Windows 10, its next step in creating one platform for all form factors.

The event was less low key than the last one, which took place in a small conference hall in San Francisco. The event also brought more information on Windows 10, including the fact Windows 8.1 users will get it for free, and Windows 7 users for the first year.

Windows 10 will be a fully cross-compatible operating system, working on PC, mobile and tablet. Microsoft even hinted Windows was just a “service”, potentially pointing to reskinned versions of the OS on Android and other platforms—this was not announced at the event however.

Microsoft has added Cortana to Windows 10 and the virtual assistant can do a lot more, including understand hashtags, show local events and answer queries more effectively. Microsoft has re-added the Start Menu, and users can drag it out to full-screen, basically swapping the Metro UI for the Start Menu.

There have been many changes to applications on Windows 10, including updates to Calendar, Photos, Outlook, Office, Music, Xbox and a new People app, a sort-of social network. Microsoft did not go into detail about the People app, but did announce Xbox One will get these updates; gamers will now be able to stream to Windows 10 PCs and tablets.

Internet Explorer has been dropped in favor of Project Spartan, a new web browser with a new rendering engine. Microsoft did not go into detail about the rendering engine, but here’s hoping more open source features are added. Spartan feature annotations, Cortana and reading lists.

Surface Hub is a new 84-inch 4K all-in-one computer for enterprise, and features Skype video conferences and presentations. Microsoft also unveiled Windows Holographic with HoloLens headset, their own virtual reality headset with no focus on games.

{ 0 comments }
elon-musk

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has always denied the potential of hydrogen fuel-cells for vehicles, and in a recent question and answer Musk reiterated how ‘dumb’ the idea is, and why electric battery cells are already more efficient.

“I don’t want to get into a debate on this because I just think hydrogen fuel-cells are extremely silly.” Musk said. “It’s very difficult to make hydrogen, and store it, and put it in a car. Hydrogen is an energy storage mechanism, it is not a source, so you have to get hydrogen from somewhere. If you get that hydrogen from water the process is extremely inefficient as an energy process.”

The chief executive followed up with reasons why the electric car is already far ahead of where hydrogen will ever be, claiming hydrogen has “very low density, it is a pernicious molecule, hydrogen leaks are invisible and it is extremely flammable.”

Musk’s comments come after Toyota and Honda both work on hydrogen based cars for mass adoption by 2020. It seems like the Japanese companies are committed to multiple charging alternatives, to move away from petrol.

Detroit’s auto-show played host to various conversations with automotive executives, but like usual the Tesla Motors CEO was the main feature at the event, alongside rumors General Motors would partner with Google on self-driving cars.

The chief executive of Tesla believes the company will be profitable without any subsidiaries by 2020, following the launch of the Tesla Model X and Model 3. The growth of Tesla manufacturing should hit at least half a million within five years.

Musk will continue to invest in automation, SuperCharger stations and new efficient energy solutions, alongside acquiring new talent to build the cars. Speaking on the Tesla stock, Musk said long term buyers should not be worried, and short-term buyers don’t deserve re-assurances.

{ 0 comments }
space-x-satellite

Google is about to make a major investment in Elon Musk’s Space X, reportedly worth $1 billion.

The investment—first reported by The Information—focuses on the development of low-orbit satellites to beam cheap internet to undeveloped nations. Facebook, Virgin Galactic and Google’s own SkyBox Imaging are also working on this type of internet.

The $1 billion investment would give Google 10 percent of Space X, if the value of the space company is $10 billion. Reports said Space X was nearing that valuation, and new interests in internet on Mars have pushed it over the milestone.

Google’s mission to connect the next 2 billion people on Earth to the internet is in full swing, following successful launches of its Project Loon balloons, and other investments into low-orbit satellites in 2014.

To launch these satellites into low-orbit and maintain the mission, it may need the help of Space X, something a 10 percent ownership in the company would bring. It is not clear if Elon Musk or any other executives at Space X actually want Google to have such a strong hold on the company.

Elon Musk has unveiled quite a few missions for Space X in the next 10 years, including getting people to Mars, establishing colonies, and establishing internet. Back on Earth, Space X works on low-orbit satellites, NASA missions and researching the moon and other potential planets for exploration.

One of Space X’s main focuses in the next year is landing part of the Falcon 9 spacecraft on a drone barge, allowing Space X to potentially salvage parts of the spacecraft. The current method is to leave all parts of the spacecraft and build from scratch, and unsustainable model according to Musk.

Space X will still remain a private company in 2015, unless Elon Musk finds some reason for public adoption. The space company maintains funding through venture capital and NASA investment, making it rather risky for investors at the current time.

Once the space industry of mining ores, tourism and colonisation starts to become a real thing, Space X may be interested in becoming public, but for now it does not look like the right time.

{ 0 comments }

Google Bringing Modular Smartphones To Puerto Rico

project-ara

Google is doing an early spring clean on all its moonshots projects, announcing new automotive partnerships for the driverless car project, moving Google Glass over to Nest Labs, and also bringing Project Ara to Puerto Rico later this year.

It seems like a definitive move to keep Google’s moonshots active, after a rather silent 2014 from the search giant. Project Ara has its own developer conference coming later in the year, allowing developers and manufacturers to check out the modular design.

The modular smartphone project has been worked on by Google X Labs, using a familiar DARPA-style work ethic of two years to finish the entire project. Google might use another year to test the waters with Project Ara, starting in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico might not seem like a tech hub, but Google believes it could be an excellent testing ground for the modular smartphone, and Google will deliver the experience in rented delivery trucks across the Caribbean island.

Testers will be able to view over 20 modules, including speakers, battery, and microSD modules. Google has hinted at even more modules coming soon, and potential partnerships with mobile component manufacturers in late-2015.

Google has still not given details on the release date for Project Ara, which could be pushed back to 2016 if Google finds significant problems in the Puerto Rico test — hopefully this will not happen.

Modulation of smartphone components is still new territory for Google, considering the past five years have been all about packing individual components into one single unit, like an APU. Project Ara looks to redefine this vision, but may still offer an APU for things like processor, RAM and GPU to fit in one module.

Google has not commented on price for Project Ara, although head of services Sundar Pichai said they were aiming for $50 base price.

{ 0 comments }
surveillance-uk

Je Suis Charlie might be all about freedom of speech—even though critics claim the protest is simply to allow anti-Muslim views, but still shun any abhorrent views on Jewish and Christians—however it has also allowed the UK and French governments more control over the internet systems we use daily.

The UK government has used the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ banner to call for more surveillance on messaging platforms like WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook Messenger, under the banner of freedom of speech, the government looks to filter out any “hateful” content that may be pro-terrorism.

Even though this is fundamentally flawed since reading private messages is taking away freedom of speech and privacy, it is also a way for the UK government to get around the awkward encryption services WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook Messenger use to stop government snooping.

With all of the discussion in the UK on how best to police radicals, the Conservatives—who are notorious for their lack of critical understand of internet structure—are pushing to have the police be able to pass through these encryption tools.

In a clear misjudgement, the UK government also believes by passing a law through government, these U.S. based companies will simply hand over the keys to UK authorities, when in reality Facebook, Microsoft and Apple are more likely to not hand over anything, or simply leave the country.

What the government have got right is nobody in the UK seems to care, the apathy towards having every private message read and stored by the government should be far more scary than the threat some radical Muslims pose to the West, but yet there is no march against the government on these radical plans to police the internet.

In France, the government has pursued new laws to effectively stalk Muslim and other “terrorist” groups, without a large degree of any terrorist-evidence. The law was passed without any of these “freedom of speech advocates” speaking up, sadly.

The Je Suis Charlie tragedy might be appalling for most, but for governments in Europe it is merely a ladder, allowing them access to more surveillance under the “anti-terrorism” acts established throughout two decades.

The major failure of the European people is not how to better close their borders—which seems to be the prerogative of almost every European country—but that surveillance groups have been able to seize control over most of the internet, without any real consequences.

{ 0 comments }
ai

Artificial intelligence might be the next great achievement by humanity, but according to many tech enthusiasts and scientists, it may also bring humanities’ doom if efforts are not controlled, restricted and researched.

This, according to The Future of Life Instituteis what researchers need to figure out. The good and bad of AI, and how companies and organizations can control the new systems and reap the benefits of AI.

Currently, AI can best be spotted on virtual assistant services like Siri, Google Now and Cortana, alongside smart home appliances that learn from user habits, but in the near future AI might be used for much more.

Google recently acquired DeepMind for $500 million, a startup working on an artificial brain, alongside working on its own AI programs. Facebook is also investing heavily on AI for its social network. Nuance is another company working on replicating the human brain with an artificial design.

Even though these tech companies goals are to recreate the human brain and allow computers to think for themselves, the implementation of such a system could bring global change to economies around the world.

Having an AI control the household or a manufacturing line may remove the need for any human workers at all, if the main intelligence unit communicates with electronics and robots in stores and factories.

All of this seems fine, but the implementation of AI on a battlefield, or AI by a rogue nation, could bring disastrous consequences. Several technology companies are already researching standards and security to make sure AI can be shut-down and cannot be used for destructive means.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said “If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably [AI]. So we need to be very careful.” Stephen Hawking also called for regulation on AI, alongside members of DeepMind and Google.

 

{ 0 comments }

6 Awesome Things To Check Out At CES 2015

ces-2015

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was not as big of an event as last year, when Samsung went on a rampage announcing product after product, but we did get a look into the future of self-driving, wearables and smart home technology.

Here are our six things to check out from the event:

1. Mercedes Benz F 015

bmw-self-driving-car

Mercedes showed off quite a few new automotive products coming in the next half-a-decade, including the Mercedes Benz F 015 ‘Luxury In Motion’, a self-driving concept. The car is not built in the same way as normal cars, the front passengers face the back passengers, rather than everyone facing forwards, and the driver is able to turn the seat around, if they want to take the wheel.

The concept is a bit far off being a real product, considering it would need government approval to have a seat that can face away from the wheel, and self-drive. Mercedes and other automotive experts put the self-driving experience at a good five years away.

2. Samsung SHUD 4K TV

samsung-suhd-tv

Samsung didn’t show much at CES 2015, however, TVs were a big part of the whole event and Samsung didn’t miss out in this area, announcing a new digital standard for displays, SUHD. The new standard brings more accurate color representation, alongside darker blacks and lighter whites. Samsung showed this off on a wide variety of 4K and 8K TVs, ranging from 55-inch to 105-inch in size, some even using 3D technology.

3. LG G Flex 2

lg-g-flex-2

The lack of phone announcements at CES 2015 was quite shocking, considering manufacturers use the extensive press coverage as a way to get millions of eyes on an announcement. The LG G Flex 2 was the biggest thing announced, LG’s second curved display, leading on from the success of the LG G Flex.

Internally, the LG G Flex 2 sports a 1080p display, Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of memory.

4. Withings Activité Pop

withings-activite-pop

Withings announced the Activité a month ago, and has followed up with the Activité Pop, a much cheaper device for those who don’t care about the Swiss Made logo or the metal design. Withings has also removed the leather band, replacing it with a sporty band. The watch will be available for $149 and comes with all the same software features as the original.

5. Sling TV

sling-tv

Dish Network has super-charged the move to internet-only TV services, with the announcement of Sling TV. The $20 per month service brings some of the best TV channels available on cable, including ESPN and ESPN2. In total, 10 channels will be available, alongside two genre specific channels, named Kids and News.

6. Acer Chromebook 15

acer-chromebook-15

The Acer Chromebook 15 features one of the highest-end spec sheets coming to Chrome OS, featuring a full Intel Core i3 processor, using the 5th generation Intel technologies. It looks to be the best option for Chromebook users in the office.

{ 0 comments }

FCC Launches New Site For Complaints

fcc

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to make it easier for U.S. citizens to file complaints against organizations and services, launching a new website to handle complaints.

Named the Consumer Help Center, the new website will feature six categories of complaints—TV, phone, internet, radio, accessibility and emergency services. All six will feature problems and solutions pages, and if the problem cannot be solved through the solutions page, citizens are able to file a new complaint to the FCC.

The new system should remove unnecessary complaints on solved issues, giving the FCC more time to work on new problems. The help center will not be a place for comments on legislation and decisions, this will stay on the old system, for now.

“The help center will streamline the process of synthesizing and analyzing consumer complaint trends,” said the FCC’s Mike Snyder, “and will make more of that data readily accessible to the public.”

Hopefully, this does not mean valid complaints get tied in with already solved issues, and the FCC takes its foot off the peddle on certain topics. Bundling comments on the same organization or place should be overviewed by someone, to make sure a new problem has not cropped up.

The new website comes at a time where the FCC is receiving thousands of complaints on infrastructure, and these complaints may work to deter the two big U.S. mergers of Comcast-Time Warner Cable and AT&T-DirecTV.

No net neutrality complaints are available on the page, although citizens are welcome to complain about internet services through the section, even though these should not comments on the FCC’s decisions.

{ 0 comments }