Tech Today w/ Ken May

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YouTube starts testing silky smooth, ultra HD video quality

Posted by kenmay on March - 27 - 2015

YouTube introduced videos that play at 60 frames per second last year and ones viewable in 4K resolution in February. Now, the website is starting to experiment with videos that are both silky smooth and ultra high-def. TechCrunch has spotted a low-key, semi-secret playlist comprised of only six videos that you can choose to play at 60 fps in 4K resolution — just toggle the settings switch to see the option. You’ll have to load YouTube on Chrome to see the 2160p60 4K setting under Quality. Plus, you’ll need a device capable of displaying ultra HD (3840 × 2160 resolution) to enjoy the feature’s benefits. Trust us when we say it’s not worth the buffering time if your computer or TV isn’t designed to handle 4K: the videos will look worse. We’ve embedded all six files below the fold, but feel free to visit the playlist itself to watch them all continuously. Filed under: Misc , Google Comments Via: TechCrunch Source: YouTube

This beautiful satellite image shows one of the most saddening long-term natural disasters on Earth. The black patch in the upper left corner is the remaining body of the Aral Sea, located on the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in Central Asia—which has lost around 90 percent of its water volume since 1960 because of Soviet-era irrigation schemes. Read more…

Singapore’s insatiable appetite for sand to use to expand its island’s territory has led to a worldwide boom in illegal sand-mining, run by criminal gangs who are responsible for the destruction of entire islands in the Pacific rim. Read the rest

A second-tier German professional basketball team has been relegated to an even lower-tier as a result of being penalized for starting a recent game late—because the Windows laptop that powered the scoreboard required 17 minutes to perform system updates. The March 13 match between the Chemnitz Niners and the Paderborn Baskets was set to begin normally, when Paderborn (the host) connected its laptop to the scoreboard in the 90 minutes leading up to the game. In an interview with the German newspaper, Die Zeit (Google Translate), Patrick Seidel, the general manager of Paderborn Baskets said that at 6:00pm, an hour and a half before the scheduled start time, the laptop was connected “as usual.” Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

These Smart Light Switches Require Zero Wiring

Posted by kenmay on March - 27 - 2015

The ultimate expression of the lazy smart home is probably turning the lights off from your phone. It’s not necessary, and it probably doesn’t even save any time ; but damn it’s cool. This switch will let you do that, without needing to be an electrical engineer. Read more…

Occasionally, we get to catch a glimpse of the hidden tests that ensure our technology-infused world runs smoothly: color bars on TV or blocks of “lorem ipsum” gibberish text. There’s a fascinating story behind how each of these tests came to be and how they work. Read more…

Add / Remove We have seen numerous ventures — such as #Tweetstay — promising to secure holidaymakers a better deal on hotels by bartering on the customer’s behalf. Now DreamCheaper has automated the process. The German start-up helps customers to make the best of hotels’ fluctuating room prices, by canceling and rebooking their room anytime it spots it at a better price. To begin, customers make a hotel booking as normal — choosing the commonly available ‘flexible booking’ option. They then create an account on DreamCheaper and forward their confirmation email to the start-up, which begins a process of price-comparison that continues right up until the day before check-in. Most hotels offer widely changing room prices depending on supply and demand and deals from booking aggregators, so the startup’s automated system monitors the hotel’s changing prices and cancels and rebooks the customer’s room at a cheaper price. DreamCheaper can boast saving customers an average of EUR 65 — or 15 percent — per booking. It takes a 20 percent cut of any money saved so it is always incentivized to get the best price. Could a similar service be offered in other industries where prices often fluctuate? Website: www.dreamcheaper.com Contact: info@dreamcheaper.com

NASA announces details of its asteroid redirection mission

Posted by kenmay on March - 26 - 2015

Today, NASA held a press conference in which it described the latest developments in its plan to return an asteroid to an orbit close enough to Earth that it could easily be studied by a manned mission. Gone is the idea of returning an entire asteroid. In its place, a robotic probe will pluck a boulder from the surface of an asteroid and return that, testing our ability to redirect similar rocks if they threaten Earth. In fact, the entire mission is generally focused on technology development. Once the asteroid is placed in a cis-lunar orbit (orbiting Earth and closer than the Moon), it will be visited by a crewed Orion capsule that will allow detailed study and a return of samples to Earth. But the focus of this mission will be testing technology that will allow extended manned missions in space. The current timeline involves further studies of potential targets for extracting a boulder in the years leading up to 2019. Right now, three asteroids are on the menu: Itokawa (which was visited by the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa), Bennu (which is planned for a sample return mission called OSIRIS-REx), and 2008 EV5. In each case, the orbit and composition are well-known, making them relatively low risk. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

An anonymous reader points out this daunting construction plan in Japan. “Japanese authorities have unveiled plans to build a giant 250-mile long sea barrier to protect its coastline from devastating tsunamis. According to the proposals, the £4.6bn ($6.8bn) barrier would reach 12.5m high in some places – stretching taller than a four storey building. It would be made out of cement – and actually be composed of a chain of smaller sea walls to make construction easier. The plan comes four years after a huge tsunami ravaged Japan’s north-eastern coast.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

An anonymous reader writes There’s great news coming out of Russia for epic road trip lovers. Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin has proposed building a highway that would reach from London to Alaska via Russia, a 13, 000-mile stretch of road. “This is an inter-state, inter-civilization, project, ” the Siberian Times quoted Yakunin. “The project should be turned into a world ‘future zone, ‘ and it must be based on leading, not catching, technologies.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.