Tech Today w/ Ken May

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RIP Jerry Doyle, Babylon 5’s Mr. Garibaldi

Posted by kenmay on July - 29 - 2016

Jerry Doyle, best known for his role as Chief of Security Michael Garibaldi on Babylon 5 , has passed away at the age of 60. Read more…

Roll20’s online tabletop gaming system has been a haven for veterans of pen-and-paper RPGs for awhile now, but for fans of the original role-playing adventure game, it just got a lot better. Wizards of the Coast is now selling officially licensed Dungeons and Dragons modules on Roll20 — starting with the fifth edition starter set adventure , ‘ The Lost Mine of Phandelver ‘. Technically, players could already use Roll20 to play Dungeons and Dragons content, just not officially. The online gaming system is designed to work with any tabletop-style RPG game — giving players digital dice, VOIP and webcam chat systems and the ability to draw maps on a shared playspace. You can play anything on it — but that usually comes with the extra hurdle of distributing materials via email and having players open them outside of the platform. Native content purchased on the Roll20 marketplace , like the new D&D module, is just a lot easier to work with. All of the character sheets, manuals, documents and high resolution maps are right there, in the ROll20 interface. The first D&D Roll20 module comes with five pre-generated characters, digital game tokens, maps and all the necessary documentation to take 4-6 players through the Lost Mine of Phandelver . At $20, it costs the same as the 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons starter pack. Additional modules will follow soon after, though they cost a little more: Storm King’s Thunder , the next officially licensed D&D Roll20 module, rings in at $50. Source: Polygon , Twitter

(credit: NASA ) Deep space travel takes a toll on the body—and it’s apparently something you can’t moon-walk off. Apollo astronauts who have ventured out of the protective magnetosphere of mother Earth appear to be dying of cardiovascular disease at a far higher rate than their counterparts—both those that have stayed grounded and those that only flew in the shielding embrace of low Earth orbit. Though the data is slim—based on only 77 astronauts total—researchers speculate that potent ionizing radiation in deep space may be to blame. That hypothesis was backed up in follow-up mouse studies which provided evidence that similar radiation exposure led to long-lasting damage to the rodents’ blood vessels. All of the data is published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports . The study, while not definitive, may add an extra note of caution to the potential hazards of future attempts to fly to Mars and elsewhere in the cosmos. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

While CBS is busy licensing content to Netflix for display outside of the US and Canada , here its own streaming services are off to a good start. On today’s earnings call, execs said CBS All Access and the streaming version of Showtime have combined to reach more than two million subscribers, with the number “about evenly split” between the two. $CBS Moonves: “CBS All Access and Showtime OTT streaming services have surpassed two million subscribers” — CBS IR (@CBSInvestors) July 28, 2016 This is all well ahead of the upcoming All Access-exclusive Star Trek series, and in response to questions, the company stated that its service is helping to reach customers who get their TV only over the internet. The demographic is apparently “younger, skews slightly female…and consumes double the amount of content” as traditional viewers. The CBS digital news channel wasn’t included in those numbers, but still had “record” views in June. CEO Les Moonves claimed Star Trek: Discovery will be profitable “even before it launches, ” which makes it less likely we’ll see any changes made to the current strategy. Source: CBS Q2 2016 Earnings

Apple has finally sold its billionth iPhone

Posted by kenmay on July - 28 - 2016

Apple has managed to pull in some extremely impressive numbers when it comes to its flagship mobile phone. While iPhone sales overall had begun to decline over the last quarter, that didn’t stop the company from selling its one billionth iPhone last week. Apple’s CEO announced the milestone today during a special employee meeting in Cupertino this morning. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, thanked employees for “helping change the world every day, ” noting that Apple has “always set out to make the best products that make a difference.” The billionth iPhone was sold about two years after Apple sold its 500 millionth iPhone. That’s a lot of units, and with the impending launch of additional phones to its line, it’s likely to sell a whole lot more in the future. Via: TechCrunch

What to do if you’ve just signed up to work in one of the most expensive real-estate markets in the world, with almost all of your net worth tied up in illiquid shares in your employer’s company? Just ask a Silicon Valley bank for a 100% mortgage, which they’ll cheerfully supply on 24 hours’ notice, with all the “white-glove service” trappings you could ask for. (more…)

Intel’s Core m3 Compute Stick. Andrew Cunningham Back in January at CES , Intel showed us a full range of mini desktop PCs that it has been releasing steadily over the course of the year. The first was a new, inexpensive version of its Compute Stick , followed by a new, mainstream Skylake NUC , and finally a quad-core NUC box that wasn’t quite like anything the company had done before. Now Intel has sent us the last device we learned about at the beginning of the year: a Core m3-powered version of the Compute Stick that sits somewhere between the Atom version and the Skylake NUC on the price and performance spectrum. It looks more or less like the Atom version we’ve already seen, but it introduces a few neat ideas (and enough performance) that it’s actually plausible as a general-use desktop computer. The bad news is the price tag, which at $380 (with Windows, $300 without, and XXX with Windows and a Core m5) is pretty far outside the sub-$150 impulse-buy zone that the other Compute Sticks exist inside. So how well does it work? What compromises do you make when you shrink a decent laptop’s worth of power into a stick? And how big is the niche for a relatively powerful, relatively expensive stick-sized desktop, anyway? Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Security experts have cloned all seven TSA master keys

Posted by kenmay on July - 28 - 2016

 Key escrow – the process of keeping a set of keys for yourself “just in case” – has always been the US government’s modus operandi when it comes to security. From the disastrous Clipper chip to today the government has always wanted a back door into encryption and security. That plan backfired for the TSA. The TSA, as you’ll remember offers a set of… Read More

Office 365 Gets New Word, PowerPoint and Outlook Features

Posted by kenmay on July - 28 - 2016

New submitter Miche67 writes: As part of the July 2016 update to Office 365, Microsoft is adding several features across the board to Word, PowerPoint and Outlook. Word, however, is getting the biggest new features — Researcher and Editor — to improve your writing. “As its name implies, Researcher is designed to help the user find reliable sources of information by using the Bing Knowledge Graph to search for sources, and it will properly cite them in the Word document, ” reports Network World. “[Editor] builds on the already-existing spellchecker and thesaurus to offer suggestions on how to improve your overall writing. In addition to the wavy red line under a misspelled word and the wavy blue line under bad grammar, there will be a gold line for writing style.” The new features are expected to be available later this year. In addition to the two new features added to PowerPoint last year — Designer and Morph, Microsoft is offering Zoom, a feature that lets you easily create “interactive, non-linear presentations.” “Instead of the 1-2-3-4 linear method of presenting slides, forcing you to place them all in the order you wish to display, presenters will be able to show their slides in any order they want at any time, ” reports Network World. “This way you can change your presentation order as needed without having to stop PowerPoint or interrupt the display.” As for Outlook, Focused Inbox is coming to Office 365. Focused Inbox separates your inbox into two tabs. The “Focused” tab is where all of your high-priority emails will be found, while everything else will be in the “Other” tab. Outlook will learn from your behavior over time and sort your mail accordingly. In addition, @mentions are coming to Outlook 365 and Outlook for PC and Mac, “making it easy to identify emails that need your attention, as well as flag actions for others.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Did you know that beaked whales are a thing, and that they’re more than just giant, weird-looking dolphin clones? Read more…