Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for March 29th, 2017

The Matrix Voice is an Alexa for your Raspberry Pi

Posted by kenmay on March - 29 - 2017

 Matrix Labs just completed a successful crowdfunding campaign for what amounts to an AI voice recognition system for the Raspberry Pi which allows you, a mere mortal, to make your own Alexa in your basement. Created by Rodolfo Saccoman and Brian Sanchez their first board, the Creator, fits right on top of a standard RaspPi and gives you an 8 microphone array, a temperature sensor, … Read More

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This Elusive Giant Octopus Snacks on Giant Jellies

Posted by kenmay on March - 29 - 2017

The giant deep-sea octopus Haliphron is so rare that marine biologists have seen it just three times in 27 years. Using a robotic sub, scientists have finally caught video footage of this animal at mealtime—revealing its distinct preference for gelatinous sea creatures. Read more…

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Self-assembling wires could lead to faster processors

Posted by kenmay on March - 29 - 2017

There’s a very real fear that processor speed upgrades will slow to a crawl as it becomes increasingly difficult to make denser chips. Don’t tell that to a team of researchers at MIT and in Chicago, though — they’ve devised a chip-making technique that could keep Moore’s Law relevant for a while longer. Their approach produces much finer wires by letting them partly assemble themselves, rather than relying on the very deliberate (not to mention slow) ultraviolet or scanning processes used to make chips today. The team starts out with the conventional process of using an electron beam to etch patterns on a chip, but that’s where much of the familiarity ends. The next step is to lay down a mix of two polymers that naturally separate themselves into patterns. When you place a protective polymer coating on top of those polymers, you force them to self-assemble in a dense, vertically oriented way that produces four wires where there would usually be one. There’s a long way to go before you see this method put into practice. Thankfully, it promises to be relatively simple. You could use existing chip lithography techniques, and it wouldn’t be difficult to add the coating process. This would use well-understood materials, to boot. As such, there’s a real possibility that companies could build very dense (that is, denser than 10nm ) chips without throwing out their current technology, leading to speed and energy improvements that once seemed unrealistic. Source: MIT News , Nature

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This patch announcement video fails to mention a massive change to late game enemy power hidden in the latest World of Warcraft update Keeping a massively multiplayer online game fresh and challenging for longtime players while simultaneously staying accessible and fun for lower-powered relative newcomers is always a challenge. In World of Warcraft , a hidden change to the way end-game enemies power up alongside players has unintentionally thrown that balance out of whack, and Blizzard is working on a fix. Shortly after yesterday’s release of Patch 7.2 for the long-running MMO, players quickly began noticing that high-end enemies were scaling up in power depending on the power of the gear the player characters were wearing. The specific power numbers involved seem to make it so that players could perversely make a fight easier by taking off their high-end gear and replacing it with slightly worse weapons and armor, reducing the enemy’s health and power greatly in the process. The change in how enemy scaling works took many players by surprise because it wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the extensive patch notes Blizzard released yesterday. Furthermore,  WoW assistant director Ion Hazzikostas spoke out specifically against this kind of gear-based enemy scaling in a Twitch interview last year . Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Intel says that when its long-delayed 10-nanometer Cannon Lake chips finally arrive, they’ll be a “full generation ahead” of rivals Samsung and TMSC, thanks to “hyper scaling” that squeezes in twice as many transistors. That will yield CPUs with 25 percent more performance and 45 percent lower power use than its current Kaby Lake chips when they ship towards the end of 2017. Furthermore, Intel thinks the tech will keep Moore’s Law going and give it a 30 percent cost advantage over competitors like AMD. These are bold words, particularly since its chief rival Samsung is already producing 10-nanometer chips like the Snapdragon 835 , the world’s hottest mobile CPU. However, Intel says that while the chip trace sizes are the same, it has better feature density, letting it squeeze in twice as many transistors as chips from Samsung. That in turn produces smaller die sizes, which “allows Intel to continue the economics of Moore’s Law, ” the company explains in a PowerPoint . Down the road, Intel will also release enhanced 10-nanometer tech called 10+ and 10++. To be sure, that’s mostly marketing-speak that will help it keep consumer’s attention until 7-nanometer chips come along. However, the refinements will offer a further 15 percent performance and 30 percent efficiency boost, it says. Intel laid out all this chip info as part of its Technology and Manufacturing Day yesterday, probably to sooth buyers and investors. Not only did Samsung and Qualcomm beat it to the punch for 10-nanometer chips, AMD also unveiled Ryzen processors that could eat into both its high- and low-end PC markets. However, Intel sounds pretty confident about its next-gen chips and beyond. It’s planning on building 10-nanometer chips for three years before moving on to 7-nanometer tech, about the same cycle length as its current 14-nanometer chips. “We are always looking three generations –- seven to nine years — ahead, ” says Intel Executive VP Stacy J. Smith. “Moore’s Law is not ending at any time we can see ahead of us.” Source: Intel (PDF)

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Today NBC announced that for the 2018 Winter Olympics, it will finally back off of its hated policy of tape delaying significant portions of the games. In 2016, it streamed much of the competition live, but segments like the Opening Ceremony and each day’s prime time programming got the tape delay treatment on TV. In a world connected in real time by phones, Facebook and Twitter, splitting up viewers makes less sense than ever, and NBC is finally acknowledging that instead of just pointing to the ratings or encouraging that viewers ” move back east .” Ratings for the 2016 Olympics dropped 18 percent from the 2012 London games, and going live everywhere could help turn that around. With the 2018 event occurring in PyeongChang, South Korea, big events that are scheduled to take place in the morning there will happen during the prime time window on the East Coast of the US. Rather than forcing viewers to jump on the internet to watch events live, going all live on TV could boost those ratings back up in the place where advertisers are paying the most money. NBC will kick off its evening lineup simultaneously at 8PM ET, 7PM CT, 6PM MT, and 5PM PT, with a break for local news and then the “Primetime Plus” package in all areas. The network has already signed up for Olympics broadcasts rights through 2032, however, exec Jim Bell would only tell the LA Times that it is “likely” to continue the all-live broadcasts for Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022. Source: NBC

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Windows 10 Creators Update starts rolling out on April 11th

Posted by kenmay on March - 29 - 2017

Windows 10 users won’t have to wait much longer to get their hands on Paint 3D . Microsoft announced today that the upcoming Creators Update for the OS will be available starting on April 11th. As usual, though, Microsoft is staggering the rollout so it doesn’t inundate every Windows user (and its servers) at once. Windows 10 desktop users will have their go at it first, and afterwards it’ll head to laptops and mobile devices. The Creators Update is a big deal for a few reasons: It’ll introduce Paint 3D, Microsoft’s new 3D creation app that’s simple enough for children to use. And it packs in some useful new features like Game Mode , which devotes more system resources to games, ensuring better overall performance. There are also some helpful Edge upgrades , like the ability to preview tabs and file away collections of tabs for later use. The Creators Update won’t make Windows 10 look much different, but it should hopefully make it a much more useful OS.

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