Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for April 6th, 2017

(credit: freestocks.org ) Uber has devised a “clever and sophisticated” scheme in which it manipulates navigation data used to determine “upfront” rider fare prices while secretly short-changing the driver, according to a proposed class-action lawsuit against the ride-hailing app. When a rider uses Uber’s app to hail a ride, the fare the app immediately shows to the passenger is based on a slower and longer route compared to the one displayed to the driver. The software displays a quicker, shorter route for the driver. But the rider pays the higher fee, and the driver’s commission is paid from the cheaper, faster route, according to the lawsuit. “Specifically, the Uber Defendants deliberately manipulated the navigation data used in determining the fare amount paid by its users and the amount reported and paid to its drivers,” according to the suit filed in federal court in Los Angeles. Lawyers representing a Los Angeles driver for Uber, Sophano Van, said the programming was “shocking, “methodical,” and “extensive.” Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A new startup called Zunum Aero is aiming to reinvent how users travel short distances, such as from San Francisco to Los Angeles. “The Kirkland, Washington-based company plans to build a fleet of hybrid electric jets to sell to major carriers for service on densely traveled regional routes like San Francisco to Los Angeles or Boston to Washington, DC, “reports The Verge. Two aviation giants, Boeing and JetBlue, are reportedly backing the startup. From the report: Lower operating costs (i.e., no fueling) will allow carriers to reduce fares by 40 to 80 percent, they predict. And by flying a smaller aircraft that would be subject to fewer TSA regulations, Zunum claims it will take less time to go through security before boarding one of its planes. Zunum aims to build several models of hybrid-electric propulsion jets. At launch, its first class of aircraft will be tiny, in the 10-15 foot range, with a 10-passenger capacity and a range of up to 700 miles on a single charge. (Think San Francisco to Portland or Atlanta to DC.) Those planes can be expected to roll off the assembly line by the early 2020s, the company’s CEO Ashish Kumar told The Verge. By the 2030s, as electric battery technology improves, Zunum hopes to build larger aircraft that can carry up to 50 passengers and travel up to 1, 000 miles on a single charge. (Think Seattle to LA or Boston to Jacksonville, Florida.) Zunum’s aircraft will feature hybrid electric motors with the capacity to accept recharging power from a variety of sources. Because airplanes are typically kept in service for up to 30 years, Kumar says its important for Zunum’s aircraft to be future proof. That means designing them to be compatible with future battery designs and range-extending generators, with an eye toward ultimately switching from hybrid propulsion to fully electric motors once the technology catches up. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The most reliably impressive technology I’ve played with this decade is projection-mapping: using powerful LCD projectors to paint 3D surfaces with images tailored to map exactly over those surfaces, turning plaster and paint into stone, wood, or animated surfaces. (more…)

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Vulnerabilities in the Broadcom system-on-a-chip that provides wifi for many Android devices mean that simply lighting up a malicious wifi access point can allow an attacker to compromise every vulnerable device in range, without the users having to take any action — they don’t have to try to connect to the malicious network. (more…)

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The physical appearance of your bowel movements can already reveal a lot about your body’s digestive health , and color changes can even indicate more severe problems. But scientists at Rice University want to make it even easier to spot medical problems in your colon, by tinting your poop a rainbow of different… Read more…

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Enlarge Nvidia has quietly released the Titan Xp, an updated version of 2016’s Pascal Titan X which was colloquially and soon confusingly referred to as the Titan XP. The new Titan Xp is available directly from Nvidia for £1,160 or $1,200—the same price that last year’s Titan X launched at. Delivery time is listed as “1-3 working days.” The new Titan Xp finally features a full-fat Pascal GP102 GPU, with all 3,840 CUDA cores unlocked. Last year’s Titan X and the recently released  GTX 1080 Ti only have 3,584. Previously the only way to get your hands on GP102 was to pick up a Quadro P6000 card for a few thousand bucks. Memory speed on the Titan Xp has been increased over last year’s Titan, from 10GHz up to 11.4GHz. Max boost clock has also been bumped up slightly, from 1,531MHz to 1,582MHz. The amount of memory stays the same: 12GB of GDDR5X RAM, as does the 384-bit memory bus width. Thanks to the memory speed increase, though, max bandwidth is a monstrous 547.7GB/sec—higher even than original HBM . Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Why Your Passport Is One of Four Colors

Posted by kenmay on April - 6 - 2017

My passport is navy blue. My family members’ passports from other countries are a deep forest green, maroon, or navy blue also. Thinking about it now, I don’t think I’ve ever seen, say, a hot pink passport. It turns out there’s a good reason for that, but it’s not what you think. Read more…

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Microsoft Reveals Xbox Scorpio’s Impressive Specs

Posted by kenmay on April - 6 - 2017

Microsoft has promised that their next console, Scorpio, will be “the most powerful console ever, ” and today the company delivered on that promise, revealing a set of beefy specs that, in terms of raw power, surpass any video game console on the market today. Read more…

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Epix has long been the baby of four studios (Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount and Viacom), but it’s about to have just one parent. MGM has bought out the stakes of its partners for just over $1 billion, giving it full control over the internet-friendly, movie-focused TV channel. The move will still see Lionsgate and Paramount supplying first-run movies as part of “multi-year” deals, so don’t panic about a sudden dearth of content — this is more about a changing media landscape than any kind of feud. The acquisition should close later in April. In unveiling the deal, Epix chief Mark Greenberg is quick to acknowledge that the “priorities have evolved” for some of its soon-to-be-ex partners. While he doesn’t go into detail, Lionsgate just bought Starz — why would it split its attention between two networks that accomplish similar goals, both online and off? Viacom, meanwhile, is backing away from offering its freshest content on streaming services as it worries about getting its finances back in order. You probably don’t have to worry about Epix’s long-term future, but don’t be surprised if you see a greater emphasis on MGM’s media offerings than before. Source: MGM

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The final shot of The Blair Witch Project is haunting. It’s Michael standing in a corner, turned away so he won’t see the terrible thing about to happen to Heather, who is holding the camera. However, in a new interview, the filmmakers explained that was almost changed before release. Read more…

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