Tech Today w/ Ken May

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Mark.JUK writes: Global Chinese ICT firm Huawei and Japanese mobile giant NTT DOCOMO today claim to have conducted the world’s first large-scale field trial of future 5th generation (5G) mobile broadband technology, which was able to deliver a peak speed of 3.6Gbps (Gigabits per second). Previous trials have used significantly higher frequency bands (e.g. 20-80GHz), which struggle with coverage and penetration through physical objects. By comparison Huawei’s network operates in the sub-6GHz frequency band and made use of several new technologies, such as Multi-User MIMO (concurrent connectivity of 24 user devices in the macro-cell environment), Sparse Code Multiple Access (SCMA) and Filtered OFDM (F-OFDM). Assuming all goes well then Huawei hopes to begin a proper pilot in 2018, with interoperability testing being completed during 2019 and then a commercial launch to follow in 2020. But of course they’re not the only team trying to develop a 5G solution. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Betternet is a Free, Unlimited VPN With No Registration

Posted by kenmay on October - 9 - 2015

Windows/iOS/Android/Chrome/Firefox: A good VPN is a handy tool. A free, unlimited one is even better. Betternet aims to make using a VPN (as well as my wordplay) dead simple. Read more…

DNA nanomachine detects HIV antibodies in minutes, not hours

Posted by kenmay on October - 9 - 2015

Current methods for detecting the antibodies that indicate HIV infection are agonizingly slow and cumbersome. However a new DNA nanomachine developed by an international team of researchers (and funded, in part, by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) could shorten the process to a matter of minutes. The DNA-based nanomachine is designed and synthesized to recognize and bind with a specific target antibody, even within biologically-dense and complex samples like blood. When these “machines” do bind with the target antibody, the joining causes a structural change that generates a little burst of light. A test that used to require hours of careful, complex and downright expensive prep-work could now take as little as five minutes. And the sooner that doctors are aware of the infection, the sooner they can start treating it . What’s more, these nanomachines can easily be customized to detect a wide variety of antibodies. “Our modular platform provides significant advantages over existing methods for the detection of antibodies, ” Prof. Vallée-Bélisle of the University of Montreal, a senior co-author of the paper, said in a statement. “It is rapid, does not require reagent chemicals, and may prove to be useful in a range of different applications such as point-of-care diagnostics and bioimaging.” The team hopes to further develop the technology, making the signals even easier to detect. “For example, we could adapt our platform so that the signal of the nanoswitch may be read using a mobile phone , ” Simona Ranallo, University of Rome PhD student and first-author of the paper, said in a statement. “This will make our approach really available to anyone! We are working on this idea and we would like to start involving diagnostic companies.” [Image Credit: lede – LightRocket via Getty Images, inline – Marco Tripodi] Source: University of Montreal

X-Men line-up decade-by-decade

Posted by kenmay on October - 9 - 2015

Ed Piskor drew this cool pin-up of an X-Men family tree (abridged). Each row represents a decade of the X-Men from 1963-1992.

SIgn Of the Times: Calif. Privacy Protections Signed Into Law

Posted by kenmay on October - 9 - 2015

The EFF reports a spot of bright news from California: Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act. CalECPA, says the organization, “protects Californians by requiring a warrant for digital records, including emails and texts, as well as a user’s geographical location. These protections apply not only to your devices, but to online services that store your data. Only two other states have so far offered these protections: Maine and Utah.” The ACLU provides a fact sheet (PDF) about what the bill entails, which says: SB 178 will ensure that, in most cases, the police must obtain a warrant from a judge before accessing a person’s private information, including data from personal electronic devices, email, digital documents, text messages, and location information. The bill also includes thoughtful exceptions to ensure that law enforcement can continue to effectively and efficiently protect public safety in emergency situations. Notice and enforcement provisions in the bill provide proper transparency and judicial oversight to ensure that the law is followed. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New, Ultrafast Swimming Drones Are Tiny Ocean Explorers

Posted by kenmay on October - 9 - 2015

The future of drones isn’t in the skies. It’s in the ocean. That’s what the OpenROV team proved in 2012 with their wildly successful remote-controlled ocean-going drone (complete with underwater camera). And now they’re back with the Trident, a sleeker, faster model–which I took for a test swim last week at San Francisco’s Aquarium of the Bay . Read more…

Microsoft is making a big splash with its latest gear, the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book. These pricey products are designed to compete directly with Apple’s traditional hegemony on premium gadgets. But just how well do these latest offerings measure up against Apple? Read more…

In Brazil, a 70-year-old woman was killed when directions she followed from the driving app Waze led her and her husband into a neighborhood controlled by a violent drug gang. The destination they meant to go to? A beach area popular with tourists, which was in the opposite direction. (more…)

Microlattice: Metal That’s 100 Times Lighter than Styrofoam

Posted by kenmay on October - 8 - 2015

While Airbus is figuring out how to stack folks double-height in Business Class, Boeing has been looking into ultralight metallic structures. HRL Laboratories , a research institute that does R&D for Boeing, has developed what they’re calling “the world’s lightest material.” And despite it being 100 times lighter than Styrofoam, it’s actually made out of metal . The researchers achieved this by creating “a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness of 100 nanometers, 1, 000 times thinner than a human hair, ” resulting in a piece of metal (nickel, at least in the prototypes) that is 99.99% air. Take a look: Direct applications have not yet been settled on, but might include structural reinforcement, shock absorption or heat transfer. Also not clear is whether we’ll see these “microlattices” pop up first in airplanes—or cars. HRL Laboratories also does R&D for General Motors.

If you’re on a grandfathered unlimited plan on Verizon, your bill is about to get higher. $20 higher, to be exact. Unlimited plans will cost $50 per month, starting on your first billing cycle after November 15th. Read more…

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