Tech Today w/ Ken May

Featured entries

A typography historian shares his favorite typefaces

Posted by kenmay on September - 25 - 2017

Paul McNeil just published his comprehensive typographical overview, The Visual History of Type . To celebrate, he also published a list of his six favorite faces for It’s Nice That, starting with the first compact italic: The Aldine Italic / Griffo’s Italic / 1501 Few typefaces have had as great an influence on Western culture as Francesco Griffo’s Italic. At the end of the 15th century, when most books were large and heavy, Aldus Manutius commissioned Griffo to cut this compact, inclined letterform. Easily legible at small sizes, the Aldine Italic permitted the production of small, affordable, portable books suited to the requirements of an educated, mobile class of literate individuals. Over the next three centuries, the practice of publishing changed everything. By allowing texts to be reliably reproduced and disseminated in an almost limitless time frame, it triggered new ideas that profoundly challenged all forms of institutional control, leading to dramatic religious reforms, radical socio-political changes, and to the scientific worldview that initiated the modern era. • The Visual History of Type (via It’s Nice That ) Image via

An anonymous reader writes: SafeBrowse, a Chrome extension with more than 140, 000 users, contains an embedded JavaScript library in the extension’s code that mines for the Monero cryptocurrency using users’ computers and without getting their consent. The additional code drives CPU usage through the roof, making users’ computers sluggish and hard to use. Looking at the SafeBrowse extension’s source code, anyone can easily spot the embedded Coinhive JavaScript Miner, an in-browser implementation of the CryptoNight mining algorithm used by CryptoNote-based currencies, such as Monero, Dashcoin, DarkNetCoin, and others. This is the same technology that The Pirate Bay experimented with as an alternative to showing ads on its site. The extension’s author claims he was “hacked” and the code added without his knowledge. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

This Guy Is Digitizing the VHS History of Video Games

Posted by kenmay on September - 22 - 2017

An anonymous reader shares a report: UK-based gaming journalist and blogger Chris Scullion is on a mission to preserve his collection — and maybe your collection, too — of these old video game VHS tapes. In the 80s and 90s, video game companies and trade magazines made these tapes to accompany popular titles or new issues with bonus material or promotional footage, giving a glimpse into how marketing for games was done in the industry’s early days. Scullion has 18 tapes to upload so far, and plans to provide accompanying commentary as well as the raw video as they go up on his YouTube channel. Scullion’s first upload is a promotional tape for Super Mario All-Stars, given away by Nintendo UK in 1993. It’s hosted by Craig Charles, who played Lister in the British sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf. Digitizing his collection keeps that sweet nostalgia content safe from degradation of the magnetic tape, which starts to go downhill within 10 to 25 years. He’s capturing them in HD using a 1080p upscaler, at a full 50fps frame rate by converting to HDMI before grabbing — a higher frame rate than many standard commercial digitizing devices that capture at 30fps — so that no frames are missed. Some of the tapes he’s planning to digitize have already been converted and uploaded to YouTube by other people, he says, but most are either poor quality or captured with less-advanced grabbing devices. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Nestle Makes Billions Bottling Water It Pays Nearly Nothing For

Posted by kenmay on September - 22 - 2017

Nestle, the world’s largest food and beverage company, has been bottling water since 1843 and has grown into the largest seller of bottled water. But a detailed report on Bloomberg uncovers the company’s operation in Michigan, revealing that Nestle has come to dominate in the industry in part by going into economically depressed areas with lax water laws. It makes billions selling a product for which it pays close to nothing. Find the Bloomberg Businessweek article here (it might be paywalled, here’s an alternative source). Read more of this story at Slashdot.

These people revealed their passwords a little too freely

Posted by kenmay on September - 22 - 2017

Earlier this month on Jimmy Kimmel Live , random people on the street were asked to share their main internet password. Amazingly, some did… on camera, no less. ( Viral Viral Videos )

HTC gives Vive developers all app revenue for the rest of 2017

Posted by kenmay on September - 22 - 2017

Now that HTC is all-in on Vive headsets and letting Google deal with its Pixel smartphone business, it has to deal with another reality: The public still isn’t exactly sold on VR. To keep sales momentum going, it has announced a promotion aimed at attracting Vive app developers and keeping existing ones happy. Rather than taking its usual 30 percent cut, HTC will give 100 percent of app revenue to developers for the entire fourth quarter of 2017, starting in October. The developer promotion will end on December 31st, HTC says. It’s hard to say how much revenue apps could generate during that time, as HTC keeps such info under wraps. It’s no doubt hoping that developers will lower their prices a bit, in turn driving hardware sales. “The holiday is the most important time for developers, and we want to show our appreciation for them, ” HTC Viveport VR’s Rikard Steiber told Venture Beat . The Vive VR headset was one of HTC’s lone financial bright spots last year, and the company recently said sales are still going just fine. Nevertheless, it’s reportedly being outsold by the PlayStation VR, probably because Sony’s PS4 brand is much better known by the gaming public. As such, Sony has arguably the best VR games for its platforms as developers go where the money is. HTC is banking on the social experience of VR Arcades (credit: ©HLenie) HTC will also share more hourly revenue with VR arcade operators , giving them 70 percent instead of 50 percent as before. The company’s Viveport Arcade system, its licensing platform enabling titles to be played in public spaces, is in trial with 700 titles and 50 operators around the globe. The Taiwanese firm also unveiled the Viveport Scene SDK that lets developers create new effects to entice potential buyers to try out apps or games. Developers can also build “VR Previews, ” or movies that run on Vive headsets to show customers what a game is like to play. HTC recently launched a monthly $6.99 subscription service, and unveiled a new standalone headset that works via the cloud rather than a PC (in China only for now). Now that it has an extra billion in the bank, it’s trying a lot of things to push the Vive platform out to more consumers, and the next year or two will crucial for the Vive and VR in general. Source: Venture Beat

Netflix adds HDR support for iPhone 8, iPhone X and iPad Pro

Posted by kenmay on September - 22 - 2017

Netflix is adding high dynamic range (HDR) support to more mobile devices. A handful of Android handsets are already benefitting from the picture upgrade, including the LG G6 , Sony Xperia XZ Premium , and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 , among others . Now, thanks to the release of iOS 11, iPhone users suffering from FOMO can get in on the action too. You’ll be able to binge watch in Dolby Vision HDR on the newly launched iPhone 8, 8Plus , and the upcoming iPhone X . Along with Apple’s new smartphones, iPad Pro (2nd-gen) owners will also receive the bump in picture quality — that goes for both the 10.5 and 12.9 inch models of the tablet. HDR essentially expands the range of both contrast and color in comparison to standard dynamic range. As a result, bright parts of an image look brighter, and the darker bits also pack more depth. If you’re on Netflix’s premium plan, and you’re selected programme carries the HDR or Dolby Vision tags, then you’re good to go. Source: Netflix

Uber just lost its London taxi license

Posted by kenmay on September - 22 - 2017

In a surprise announcement today, Transport for London has confirmed that it will not reissue Uber’s private hire operating licence within the city. In a statement, the regulator said that the company operations were not “fit and proper” and noted that it will be allowed to accept new rides in London up until September 30th. Uber can appeal the decision, which will allow its cars to stay on the road until a final ruling is passed. According to Transport for London, Uber’s policies regarding the reporting of serious criminal offences, how it obtains medical certificates and performs driver checks did not meet its standards. It also noted Uber’s use of its “Greyball” software in the capital , which allowed the company to evade authorities all over the world by tagging known officials and serving up dummy versions of the app that were populated with ghost cars. This is a developing story, please refresh for updates.

The iPhone 8 has a gigabit LTE modem (updated)

Posted by kenmay on September - 22 - 2017

At first blush, iFixit’s tech autopsy on the iPhone 8 didn’t reveal anything particularly notable, besides some different screws and a way to remove the glass backing. So far, so meh. But then when it came to the laundry list of chips and modems all crammed inside Apple’s latest smartphones, we noticed something. It looks like the company has made its first gigabit LTE phone , capable of substantially faster download speeds. Or at least, the iPhone 8 could have, if it had everything else. (Update : As some readers have pointed out, the iPhone 8 (according to iFixit’s teardown) doesn’t appear to have the antennas necessary to harness gigabit LTE. We’ve updated this post to reflect that. Apologies for the mistake.) The latest iPhones do offer support for more LTE bands and networks ( depending on your model ) than ever before, but its rivals appear to be ahead when it comes to gigabit LTE. Samsung’s Galaxy S8, Note 8 phones and even the Essential phone all pack gigabit LTE modems, ready to go. It’ll be a mainstay of nearly all new phones going forward, and Apple’s new phone, available today, starts behind its biggest competitor. Phone carriers haven’t initiated the roll-out of this next-generation LTE. However, all the major US phone networks are all promising to launch gigabit LTE services by the end of 2017. So why didn’t Apple add gigabit LTE to its latest phones? Sources suggest that Apple tapped both Qualcomm and Intel for modems for this year’s iPhones. Because of this, Bloomberg sources back in June , suggested that any gigabit LTE functionality would be disabled, as some phones would be compatible, those with Qualcomm modems, while others (with Intel modems) wouldn’t. Intel does have a gigabit LTE modem in the works — it apparently wasn’t ready for this round of iPhones. There’s also some corporate politics here. In the middle of several of legal scuffles, Qualcomm has alleged that Apple would prevent Qualcomm-equipped iPhones from performing at full capacity so they would work just like Intel versions. For now, your new iPhone 8 can handle all the current LTE services you’re using. It may not, however, be ready for the next wave of upgraded networks at a time when rivals are primed and ready. Source: iFixit

Beyond the big five, humans have dozens of senses

Posted by kenmay on September - 22 - 2017

The five traditional senses are tied to visible sense organs, but depending on the definition, humans possess dozens of senses , including thermoception (temperature), proprioception (bodily spatial relations), nociception (pain), equilibrioception (balance), and mechanoreception (vibration). (more…)