Tech Today w/ Ken May

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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…

Online retail giant Amazon is launching a marketplace for handcrafted goods: Handmade at Amazon . It’s “an arts-and-crafts bazaar online that squarely takes aim at a niche but growing market dominated by the Brooklyn-based Etsy,” as the New York Times puts it . Handmade at Amazon went live early Thursday more than 80,000 items from roughly 5,000 sellers in 60 countries around the world. Crafters can sell their crocheted pants or 3D-printed succulent cozies on the new Amazon marketplace, just as they’ve been able to for years at Etsy, a $2bn-a-year business. Amazon’s business is a lot bigger: $75 billion in annual sales. And Amazon’s is growing, while some recent changes at Etsy have been followed by challenged growth. Is this the end of Etsy? Amazon will start out with six categories — home, jewelry, artwork, stationery and party supplies, kitchen and dining, and baby — Mr. Faricy said. One distinct advantage Amazon will bring is reach. Its 285 million active customer accounts dwarf Etsy’s 22 million, giving artisans access to far more traffic and potential customers. And Amazon is also offering logistical backing to its sellers, allowing them to ship products, in lots, to one of the company’s many fulfillment centers around the country. Amazon will then ship out those products as part of its Prime service, which offers members unlimited free shipping for an annual fee. Most sellers are likely to give Amazon a bigger cut of their sales for that reach, however. Etsy charges a 20-cent fee for each item a seller lists on its site and takes a 3.5 percent cut of the sales. For now, Amazon will charge no listing fee but take 12 percent of sales, which it says covers all costs, including payment processing, marketing and fraud protection. ” Amazon Challenges Etsy With Strictly Handmade Marketplace ” [nytimes]

Porous concrete helps prevent flooding

Posted by kenmay on October - 8 - 2015

Add / Remove Concrete can be a burden during heavy rainfall. Runoff from the normally impervious material puts pressure on drainage systems, leading to flooding and ice hazards as well as environmental concerns. UK-based Lafarge Tarmac has developed a porous concrete that aims to solve these issues. Concrete runoff is a major source of localized flooding in urban areas, and pooling water in low temperatures increases the risk of ice patches. Topmix Permeable, however, allows rain water to drain straight through to the underlying water table, easing the burden on existing water drainage systems. This is due to an increased amount of void space in the material — up to 35 percent more than standard concrete, which allows up to 1000ml of water to run through a square meter per minute. The porous concrete also has environmental benefits — the material filters out pollutants that normally runoff into water systems and delivers more water into soil layers, preventing drying out of natural areas. Whilst unsuitable for heavy traffic areas, Topmix Permeable has already provided effective drainage surfaces for pedestrian access areas such as carparks. Other areas of potential utilization include cycle paths, sports pitch borders and paving around new housing development. If large scale adoption occurs, porous concrete may even be a source of city cooling, as evaporation from stored underground water lowers surrounding temperatures. As urban growth leads to increased surface impermeability, adopting porous concrete can help reduce flooding risks and even help maintain the natural environment around cities. In what other ways could porous materials be used? Website: Contact: The post Porous concrete helps prevent flooding appeared first on Springwise .

It was exciting when Mark Zuckerberg suggested that Facebook was building a “Dislike” button . So many things not to like! However, the social network just started testing a new emoji reactions feature that is probably the real future of disliking stuff on Facebook. Read more…

Paleontologists in Germany have identified the fossilized remains of a horse-like animal that dates back 48 million years. Remarkably, the fossil still contains its unborn foal and traces of soft tissue—leading scientists to call it the earliest and best-preserved specimen of its kind. Read more…

Members of the SAG-AFTRA union have overwhelmingly approved a measure authorizing an “interactive media” strike that could have wide-ranging impact on the availability of professional voice talent for video game projects. The union announced today that 96.52 percent of its members voted in favor of the strike. That’s well above the 75 percent threshold that was necessary to authorize such a move, and a result the union is calling “a resounding success.” Despite the vote, union members will not strike immediately. Instead, a strike can now be called whenever the union’s National Board decides to declare it. Armed with that knowledge, SAG-AFTRA will be sending its Negotiating Comittee back to talk with major game publishers including EA, Activision, Disney, and Warner Bros., which are signatories to a current agreement with the union. After their old agreement technically expired at the end of 2014, both sides have failed to reach a new understanding in negotiation sessions in February and June. SAG-AFTRA is looking for a number of concessions from the game industry, including “back end bonus” royalties for games that sell at least two million units, “stunt pay” for “vocally stressful” work, and more information to be provided about projects before time-consuming auditions are scheduled. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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