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Space Explorers Hole Up in Hawaii to Simulate Life on Mars
October 23, 2014
The third in a series of four simulated missions to Mars planned by NASA kicked off last week at a remote site on the Hawaiian island of Mauna Loa. A six-person team, comprising the Hawai'i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation 3 mission, is inhabiting a dome for an eight-month study of the human factors that contribute to astronaut crew function and performance over time.
Smart Nightlight Calls Your iPhone When Smoke, CO Alarms Start Wailing
October 22, 2014
Leeo on Tuesday introduced the Smart Alert Nightlight, a $99 gadget that can detect when the alarm sounds from a smoke or carbon monoxide detector and send alerts to an iPhone. About the size and shape of a coaster, the Smart Alert Nightlight plugs into a wall outlet where it does double duty as illuminator and monitor. When it hears an alarm, it uses its WiFi connection to send a push notification.
The Next-Gen TV Cable Dilemma
October 22, 2014
Television manufacturers are moving toward ultra high definition -- also known as "4K" -- which offers four times the resolution of HD. It also offers greater depth of color and faster frame rate. That means more information must travel through the cable from the video source to the TV. The current de facto cable, HDMI, or high-definition multimedia interface, solves some of the old problems.
Google Takes a Flyer on Magic Leap
October 21, 2014
Magic Leap on Tuesday announced that Google was the lead investor in a $542 million round of funding for its secret endeavors. Also participating were Qualcomm, Legendary Entertainment, KKR, Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Andreessen Horowitz and Obvious Ventures. Details are scarce about Magic Leap's forthcoming products, but they are likely proprietary wearable technology.
$10K Will Get You a Clunky, Slow Hoverboard That's Nothing Like Marty McFly's
October 21, 2014
The designers behind the Hendo Hoverboard on Tuesday took to the crowdfunding site Kickstarter to help launch a prototype and bring it to actual production. The funding period for this project will run from Tuesday through Dec. 15. The team has set a Kickstarter goal of $250,000 and already raised in excess of $100,000 in the opening hours. Early investors can get on board -- literally.
Kickstarter Puts Kibosh on Tor-Based Router Funding
October 21, 2014
Kickstarter on Friday suspended a crowdfunding campaign for Anonabox, a portable networking device designed specifically to run Tor. The campaign for the privacy-minded router, which launched earlier last week, was wildly successful. In just a few days, it reportedly garnered more than $600,000 in pledged funds from thousands of backers. The Kickstarter goal for the $45 device was just $7,500.
Gadget Ogling: Apple vs. Google, a Bossy Activity Tracker, and Feeling Your Path
October 18, 2014
There was plenty of focus on the cameras at Apple's presentation, as it tries to promote the tablet as an ideal viewfinder for taking high-quality images, while adding iPhone features like time-lapse and burst mode. However, the new push of iPad photography is just encouraging even more people to look foolish by taking photos with their tablet in public. This is a plague.
BBC to Preserve Memory of Its 'Forgotten' Articles
October 17, 2014
The BBC will publish and continually update a list of its published articles that were removed from Google searches under Europe's "right to be forgotten" rule. David Jordan, director of editorial policy and standards for the BBC, announced the move. The decision is a reaction to the EC ruling that search engines must remove "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" links upon request.
Netflix Drives Into a Ditch
October 17, 2014
Netflix stock closed Friday at $357, up slightly from the depths it plummeted to earlier this week. Shares fell almost 25 percent in premarket trading on Thursday -- more than $110 a share -- to $338. The plunge followed news of weak subscriber growth in its third quarter. Netflix reported $1.2 billion in Q3 revenue, which was up 38 percent from the same period a year prior.
Tide Starts to Turn Against Gamergate's Women-Hating Campaign
October 17, 2014
Backlash against the #Gamergate movement escalated several notches this week, thanks to high-profile newspaper reports and a public statement from the Entertainment Software Association. "Threats of violence and harassment are wrong," the ESA said. "They have to stop. There is no place in the video game community -- or our society -- for personal attacks and threats."
Enter the Nexus Dragon
October 16, 2014
Google on Wednesday announced three new devices in its Nexus line: a tablet, a phablet, and a streaming media game player-cum-Android TV device, all of which run Lollipop, the latest version of its Android OS. Lollipop lets users sync content from phones to tablets to TVs and use it seamlessly. It has a consistent design across devices so transitions between tasks are more fluid.
Debate Simmers Over Facebook, Apple Egg-Freezing Benefit
October 16, 2014
Facebook and Apple, companies already known for their generous employee benefits, are raising the bar even more by paying for egg-freezing services for their female employees. Facebook began covering up to $20,000 in these expenses at the start of the year, and Apple will beginning covering them at the start of next. At first blush, it seems to be a typical high-tech perk.
Find My iPhone? Find Me! Lost Phone Feature Helps Rescuers Locate Crashed Car
October 16, 2014
A woman whose car rolled 500 feet down an embankment near San Jose, California, was located through the Find My iPhone feature on her smartphone after spending 19 hours in the ravine where her Chevy Cruze ended up. The OnStar feature in her car triggered two calls to police, at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Monday, but neither pinpointed the location of her car.
Skype Qik Video Chat: Shoot, Send, Vaporize
October 15, 2014
Microsoft on Tuesday released Skype Qik, a new mobile chat app that features short, self-destructing video messages that automatically self-destruct in two weeks -- or sooner if set to do so. Skype need not be installed on a mobile to use Qik, which runs on Android, iOS and Windows phones and is available for free from the Google Play, the iTunes App Store and the Windows Phone Store.
August Smart Lock Gets Key Exposure in Apple Stores
October 14, 2014
The August Smart Lock will become available for purchase at Apple retail stores in the U.S. starting this week, the company announced on Tuesday. Priced at $249.99, the smart device uses Bluetooth and a mobile app to create a virtual key. It has been shipping since late August in limited quantities to those who ordered it online, but it currently is backordered, with delivery expected in 90 days.
Wireless Carriers Could Take a Shine to Ad-Blocking
October 14, 2014
Shine Technologies may well upend the Net neutrality issue with the launch of AdSight, an ad-tracking product in development. AdSight reportedly will allow carriers to monitor the ads being delivered over their pipes. The data provided will be very granular, including who the ads are from and the level of individual ad impressions. The technology also will be able to block ads selectively.
The Double Irish Jig Is Up
October 14, 2014
Apple and other multinational companies that have been exploiting the notorious Double Irish tax loophole for years will have to look elsewhere for a comparable tax dodge. The Irish government's budget, presented on Tuesday by Finance Minister Michael Noonan, closes the loophole. The country's residency rules have been amended to require that all companies registered in Ireland be tax residents.
Samsung Plots Foray Into Speedy 60-GHz WiFi Market
October 14, 2014
Samsung on Sunday announced that it has resolved issues hindering the commercialization of 802.11ad standard 60-GHz WiFi technology. The company's solution maintains maximum speed by eliminating co-channel interference regardless of the number of devices on the network, using what it claims is the world's first method that allows multiple devices to connect simultaneously to a network.
Snapchat Hackers Could Be Prosecuted for Child Porn Offenses
October 13, 2014
Private videos and pictures shared between tens of thousands of Snapchat users -- possibly as many as 200,000 -- were posted online by hackers over the weekend in an episode dubbed the "Snappening." Much of the content is sexual, including many nude photos -- some possibly of minors. The hackers appear to have gone for maximum embarrassment and humiliation with this particular breach.
Apple Faithful Prepare to Not Be Dazzled
October 13, 2014
If you're looking for an extravaganza on the scale of last month's new iPhone unveiling, chances are you won't find it at Apple's "Way Too Long" event to be held Thursday at its Cupertino headquarters. "This will be a very low-key event," said Gartner analyst Van L. Baker. The consensus is that Apple will be refreshing its tablet and PC lines, and releasing the prime-time version of OS X Yosemite.
Google's Doctor Is In
October 13, 2014
Google is offering a limited trial of a feature that offers people conducting searches of medical terms the opportunity to engage in a video chat with a health professional via its Helpouts service. Helpouts, which launched last November, connects users with experts in a variety of fields such as Art & Music, Fitness & Nutrition, and Health. The experts typically charge a fee for their service.
DARPA's Concept Car Makes the Batmobile Look So Passť
October 13, 2014
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency last week posted a video of an advanced concept ground vehicle under development in its Ground X-Vehicle Technologies program. It's not clear whether the vehicle in question is a light armored car or a tank, but DARPA wants to give it improved survivability through the use of advanced technologies. The vehicle will rely more on speed than on armor.
When Computers Get a Right Brain
October 13, 2014
IBM is massively increasing its commitment to Watson, which was evident at last week's IBM Think Forum. IBM recognizes that if it can get a product that thinks first, then it can again take absolute control over the technology market, and every other company will be chasing it again. It is making some impressive headway, and the firm that succeeds at this will change the world.
Tesla's Dual-Motor 'D' Ready for Takeoff
October 10, 2014
Tesla Motors on Thursday unveiled the "D" that CEO Elon Musk has been teasing -- a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive, higher-tech version of its Model S electric car. The new model offers better traction, increased driving range, automated features and even higher speeds, Musk said. From the outside, you won't be able to tell it from the current Model S, however. It will share the same exterior.

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