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Faster, Cheaper Fiber Could Rev Up Internet
June 30, 2015
Researchers have found a way to significantly improve the performance of fiber networks, which could lead to benefits for both consumers and Internet service providers. Information in fiber optic cables degrades with the distance it travels. When you try to increase the speed at which the data is traveling by boosting the power in the network, degradation gets worse.
Microsoft Is Looking More Like the House Nadella Built
June 30, 2015
Some aspects of CEO Satya Nadella's vision for Microsoft are becoming more clear. For one thing, the company's interest in advertising is seriously on the wane. Microsoft reportedly has handed off most of its digital advertising sales business to AOL. Microsoft will retain control of its search advertising sales, however, and Bing will replace Google as the engine powering AOL's consumer searches.
Yelp Study Blasts Google for Screwing With Search
June 30, 2015
Google has been tampering with the responses its search engine gives to queries and, as a result, has been hurting social welfare, alleges a survey conducted by Michael Luca, a Harvard Business School economist, and Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and former FTC advisor. Yelp sponsored the research. The team last week sent a paper reporting the results to the European Commission.
ISS Cargo Lost in SpaceX Falcon Flameout
June 29, 2015
The SpaceX CRS-7 rocket failed minutes after Sunday's launch, blowing up in mid-air. Just after T+2 minutes, when the craft's altitude was 32 km, its speed was 1 km/second, and its downrange distance was 30 km, its flight path apparently began curving downward. Three explosions then occurred. "There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted.
Uncle Sam Wants a Hoverbike
June 29, 2015
The United States Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has commissioned two companies to develop hoverbike technology. The Army intends to operate the hoverbike as a new class of tactical reconnaissance vehicle. "This isn't for jungles or mountains, but could be ideal for patrols over deserts, swamps, or other open areas with mixed terrain," suggested tech analyst Rob Enderle.
The Encryption Software Scuffle
June 29, 2015
In the face of encryption that could block brute force attempts for years, law enforcement agencies at every level have been calling for keys that allow investigators to crack open smartphones and court cases alike. Some of the world's leading tech companies and privacy advocates have called for the White House to stand against any proposal to weaken the security software on consumer products.
The Automobile as We Know It Is Dead
June 29, 2015
There's a massive number of efforts going on to kill the car as we know it. Among them are efforts to make it a tiny self-driving box that we'd likely be embarrassed to be seen in, efforts to make it highly customized and amazing, and efforts to change its fuel from gasoline to CNG, electricity or something else. There is no doubt that the car as we know it soon will be dead.
Gadget Ogling: Vertical Vinyl, Kid-Friendly Video Chats, and a Smart Pool Monitor
June 27, 2015
I enjoy music as much as anyone, though I'm no real audiophile and I have not an enormous passion for one format over another. I admire the romance of vinyl but find it unwieldy and cumbersome when digital recordings work just fine for me. The Floating Record turntable is beautiful, though, and I'm almost tempted to race to my record store to stock up on vinyl to play on one of these.
Self-Driving Cars Avoid Collision, as They Should
June 26, 2015
Two self-driving prototype vehicles, one operated by Google and the other operated by Delphi Automotive, earlier this week avoided a collision in Palo Alto, California. Neither car touched the other, but the incident spurred a number of rattled headlines over the so-called "near miss." In actuality, both vehicles responded as they were supposed to, the companies said in response to the media brouhaha.
Oculus Rift: This Is My Final Form
June 26, 2015
No more screendoor-effect issues or motion-induced sickness. On-board power, outside power requirements under control. With each prior iteration of its Rift headset, Oculus VR assured gamers that they hadn't yet seen the its final form. Finally, in the run-up to this year's E3 and at the show, came the invitation for everyone to "step into the Rift" and behold what the VR headset has become.
3D Printing Could Resurrect Custom Carmaking
June 25, 2015
Divergent Microfactories just introduced the world to the Blade, a 3D-printed supercar it designed as a proof of concept to spur the establishment of other microautomakers and reshape the auto industry. Divergent Microfactories envisions microautomakers emerging similar to the way microbreweries have popped up across the U.S. It wants to "democratize the auto industry."
Lexus Teases Smokin' Hoverboard
June 25, 2015
Some said it could never be done. Some said it would be at least another half century before someone could develop an actual hoverboard. However, Toyota on Wednesday announced that a division of its Lexus arm has built a prototype of a hoverboard, one that truly leverages magnetic levitation. Superconductors, cooled by liquid nitrogen, and permanent magnets give it lift.
Devialet Wants You to Experience an Emotional Sound Implosion
June 24, 2015
Capable of pushing out sound levels that approach the edge of the infrasound spectrum, Devialet's Phantom speaker system finally reached the U.S. market last week. Two versions of the speakers will be available: the 740 watt, 99 db base model, the Phantom, will sell for $1,990; the 3,000 watt, 105 dB Phantom Silver will sell for $2,390. Devialet will begin fulfilling U.S. preorders this September.
Internet Players Wrestle with Proposals to Prevent Capture
June 24, 2015
The Internet is run by a bunch of geeks sitting in a darkened space, lit only by the glow from LED screens, right? That Hollywood image may be how the general public perceives what it takes to send and receive emails, deliver apps, enable electronic transactions, and store great gobs of data. There is much more to operating the Internet, however, including a challenging management environment.
Amazon Holds Coming-Out Party for Echo's Alexa
June 23, 2015
About seven months of invitation-only exclusivity for Prime customers came to a close on Tuesday as Amazon opened up sales of Echo, its digital assistant hardware, to anyone willing to spend $180 for it. Amazon will start fulfilling new Echo orders on July 14, but shoppers can prepurchase the cylindrical tower now. The device is animated by Alexa, Amazon's digital assistant software.
Data Requests Put Amazon Between Rock, Hard Place
June 23, 2015
Amazon's recently released first report on government requests for information revealed that from January to May, it received 813 subpoenas and 25 search warrants. The company fully responded and provided all the requested information sought for 542 of the subpoenas. It provided only some of the requested information for 126 of the cases, and it did not respond to 145 requests.
Sony Meets Microsoft in Game Console Muscle Match
June 23, 2015
Beefed up and slimmed down, the new 1TB PlayStation 4 Ultimate Player Edition is scheduled to arrive in Japan before this month concludes and then launch in the UK in the middle of July, Sony announced on Sunday. The revised console, bearing twice the storage capacity of its predecessor, will arrive in the U.S. somewhere inside of the two weeks that follow its July 15 launch in the UK.
Apple Knuckles Under to Taylor Swift
June 23, 2015
Apple has given in to a demand from pop diva Taylor Swift to pay royalties to owners of music streamed by its Apple Music service. "We hear you, @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple," tweeted Eddy Cue, who oversees Apple's content stores. "Apple will always make sure that artist[s] are paid." Cue's tweets might resolve the firestorm Swift ignited over the weekend.
3 Things That Will Change Electronic Entertainment Forever
June 22, 2015
E3 -- perhaps the biggest and most important gaming conference in the world -- took place last week. Sony and Microsoft came ready to do battle, Nintendo showed up, and we were up to our armpits in little companies doing amazing things with virtual reality. However, companies that weren't at the event likely have more to say about the future of gaming than those that had a big presence there.
Gadget Ogling: Wrist-Saving Keyboards, Resource-Saving Smartphones and New Angles on Reality
June 20, 2015
Here to save all our wrists -- or at least those of the populace with a spare $299 to spend on a computer accessory -- is a lovely, wood-finished keyboard called "Keyboardio Model 01." Taking its cue from a long history of ergonomic keyboards, the device splits an atypical keyboard in two, dedicating half the keys to each of your hands, and it's set in a gorgeous maple wood construction.
DxO One Bridges iPhone-DSLR Camera Divide
June 19, 2015
DxO on Thursday announced a new compact camera designed to allow iPhones and iPads to capture higher-quality digital images. The DxO One is the first digital camera that plugs into the Lightning connector found on Apple devices and that uses their Retina display as a viewfinder. The DxO One isn't designed to replace either DSLRs or the iPhone's camera, said DxO SVP Kirk Paulsen.
Skies May Soon Be Friendlier to Amazon Drones
June 19, 2015
Amazon on Wednesday appealed to members of Congress to approve use of its fleet of drones for package deliveries. Electrically powered drones could deliver packages to consumer homes and offices faster, more efficiently and with less environmental impact than automobiles, Paul Misener, vice president of global public policy at Amazon, suggested in testimony before the House Oversight Committee.
Hyperloop Dreams May Become Concrete
June 19, 2015
SpaceX this week announced plans to construct a mile-long Hyperloop test track next to its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, scheduled for completion by June 2016. The company concurrently announced an open competition for university students and independent engineering teams to design and build the best Hyperloop pod. Entrants will be able to test their pods on the track.
US Internet Handoff Generates Sparks in Congress
June 19, 2015
The U.S. government has played a central -- perhaps critical -- role in the development of the Internet. Currently the U.S. retains a stewardship position in the worldwide operation of the Internet through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency within the Commerce Department. That stewardship is slated to end, however.

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