Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for June, 2017

Charter tests streaming-only cable service for $20/month

Posted by kenmay on June - 30 - 2017

If you’ve cut the cable cord, or have been tempted to do so, you may be getting yet another streaming option soon. Cable company Charter Communications is testing a new streaming service called Spectrum Stream among their internet subscribers. According to Reddit users who have been offered Spectrum Stream, the service costs $20/month and has 25 TV channels, including local broadcast networks, AMC, TNT, FX and the Food Network. For an additional $15 per month for three years, users can subscribe to a higher tier that includes more premium channels. Networks such an HBO and Showtime are an additional $7.50 per month each. It takes yet another additional $12/month for access to sports networks. It’s important to note that this service appears to be streaming only; there are no set-top boxes and no DVR features. Subscribers can access their channels through apps on their mobile devices and existing streaming devices. They also will have tiered access tiered access (depending on subscription level) to Charter’s vast on demand catalog. Until recently, cable companies have been reluctant to ditch ESPN from low-tier packages because of pressure from its owner, Disney. But more and more customers are canceling service to stop paying high fees for channels they don’t watch; it’s inevitable that these cable companies would seek lower priced options. As more cable companies try to court cord cutters, it will be interesting to see how services such as this complement or compete with other streaming companies. Via: Fast Company Source: Reuters , Reddit

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Here’s how to make your own Butterbeer

Posted by kenmay on June - 30 - 2017

In honor of Harry Potter ’s 20th anniversary, the gentlemen of SORTEDFood concocted their own Butterbeer recipe, which is both sickly sweet and slightly alcoholic.

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What each model of the iPhone added to the game

Posted by kenmay on June - 30 - 2017

 It was 10 years ago today that Steve Jobs announced the long-rumored iPhone to a crowd of tech lovers excited to a fever pitch. We’ve already looked at the history of the iPhone going back to the Newton, but 10 years of iPhone have brought us more than a dozen devices, each of which brought something new and important to the smartphone game. Let’s go through them, shall we? Read More

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After 28 years, Sony resumes vinyl record production

Posted by kenmay on June - 29 - 2017

Sony last pressed a vinyl record in 1989. And it’ll be pressing them again by March 2018, reports The BBC , proof of the mainstream return of the ancient format—once again a billion-dollar business. Folks always argue about quality (will mainstream product mean mainstream mastering?) but the reasons for vinyl’s resurgence are complex. It’s a nice thing to own, it’s a pleasing retail experience, it’s nostalgic, it’s a better gift, it’s big enough to hang on a wall, you can fend off zombies with it, and so on. There are seriously lame aspects to vinyl, though: quality deteriorates with use; easily damaged even when stored; no metadata; no controls; fiddly hardware. So whenever I read a “vinyl returns” article I dream of a new HD physical media format that’s backward compatible with it. An LP-sized optical disk with the grooves on a clear laminate layer, perhaps. Or maybe a vinyl with a hidden flash storage layer within and exposed metal rings to read it with near the spindle. Or some kind of bad-ass sharpened metal disk played the old-fashioned way but at nyquist-busting RPM.

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Traditional Japanese-style Starbucks opens in Kyoto

Posted by kenmay on June - 29 - 2017

A Starbucks like no other is opening tomorrow in Kyoto. Unlike the other nearly 24,000 Starbucks cafes in the world, this one requires customers to take off their shoes before entering. It has tatami rooms with low tables and cushions on the floor for seating. The usual Starbucks sign outside is replaced with a simple dark sea green banner that displays the logo. And most fascinating of all, no lines are allowed. In other words, they will only allow a certain amount of customers in at a time and everyone else must scram in order to keep the cafe peaceful for those jacking up on caffeine. According to Japan Times : Starbucks Coffee Japan said a two-story Japanese home built more than 100 years ago will be used for the shop, and it will be located near the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kiyomizu temple, a popular tourist destination… The shop will face Ninenzaka, one of the popular streets leading from Kiyomizu temple to Kodaiji temple, which is lined with traditional shops. The house was used until 2005 and previously hosted traditional entertainers such as geisha. https://youtu.be/0xP09hsgyCQ

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The Fresno, California Sheriff’s Department raided a “beehive chop shop” and uncovered $1m worth of bees stolen in “great beehive heists” that have taken place across the bee-starved state. (more…)

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According to MSPoweruser, the London Metropolitan Police are still using around 18, 000 PCs powered by Windows XP, an operating system Microsoft stopped supporting in 2014. What’s more is that the police force is upgrading its PCs from Windows XP to Windows 8.1, instead of Windows 10. Only 8 PCs at the police force are reportedly powered by the “most secure version of Windows right now.” From the report: From the looks of things, the London Metropolitan Police will continue to upgrade their systems to Windows 8.1 at the moment. Windows 8.1 is still being supported by Microsoft, although the mainstream support for the OS is set to end on the 9 January 2018. Microsoft will offer extended support for the OS until 2023, which means Windows 8.1 is still a much more secure alternative for the Metropolitan Police than Windows XP. Windows 10 still would have been the best option in terms of security, however. Microsoft is releasing security updates for the OS every month, and the new advanced security features like Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection makes PCs running Windows a whole lot more secure. The spokesman of the 0Conservative London Assembly said in a statement: “The Met is working towards upgrading its software, but in its current state it’s like a fish swimming in a pool of sharks. It is vital the Met is given the resources to step up its upgrade timeline before we see another cyber-attack with nationwide security implications.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk just tweeted that his tunnel-carving operation, The Boring Company, just completed cutting out its first segment with its Beckett-homaging drill, Godot. While the plan is to build an entire subterranean network underneath the streets of Los Angeles, it’s unclear where this first tunnel portion was cut and how far it went. Last we heard, negotiations for permits to start digging under city soil were promising but not concrete. No longer waiting for Godot. It has begun boring and just completed the first segment of tunnel in LA. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 28, 2017 Location is important: Back in February, The Boring Company was safely and legally cutting test tunnels in the SpaceX parking lot, but anything beyond the borders of the organization’s land would require getting permission from the city. The founder tweeted that he’d had “promising conversations ” with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti two weeks ago — and that getting permits was harder than developing the tech for his future tunnel network — but we haven’t seen official confirmation that Musk got the green light to start digging on city grounds. That network isn’t for a new public transit system, mind you: The Boring Company’s tunnels will haul cars, bikes and pedestrians on electric sleds at up to 125 miles per hour, according to a concept video released in April, that will shrink half-hour drives aboveground to five-minute blitzes below. The first leg of the network is slated to run from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Culver City, Santa Monica, Westwood and up to Sherman Oaks. Source: Elon Musk (Twitter)

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The Equal Rights Center is suing Uber, alleging that the company has chosen not to include wheelchair-accessible cars as an option in its standard UberX fleet of vehicles, and excludes people who use wheelchairs in Washington, D.C. According to the lawsuit, Uber is in violation of Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the D.C. Human Rights Act. TechCrunch reports: After conducting its own investigation of Uber’s services for people in wheelchairs, the ERC found that passengers had to wait an average of eight times longer for an accessible car to arrive. They also had to pay twice as much in fares, according to the ERC’s study. Ultimately, the ERC wants Uber to integrate wheelchair accessible cars into its UberX fleet so that people who use wheelchairs don’t have to wait longer and pay more to use the car service. Uber said in a statement provided to TechCrunch: “We take this issue seriously and are committed to continued work with the District, our partners, and stakeholders toward expanding transportation options and freedom of movement for all residents throughout the region.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Researchers Create New Probiotic Beer That Boosts Immunity

Posted by kenmay on June - 29 - 2017

randomErr writes: A new patent has been filed for a innovative brewing technique that incorporates a live strain of good bacteria into the brewing process. Researchers at NUS (National University of Singapore) have created a probiotic sour beer that may boost immunity and improve gut health. The bacteria Lactobacillus paracasei L26 is capable of neutralizing toxins and viruses and regulating the immune system. Chan Mei Zhi Alcine, of the Food Science and Technology Program at NUS said, “While good bacteria are often present in food that have been fermented, there are currently no beers in the market that contain probiotics. Developing sufficient counts of live probiotics in beer is a challenging feat as beers contain hop acids that prevent the growth and survival of probiotics. As a believer of achieving a healthy diet through consuming probiotics, this is a natural choice for me when I picked a topic for my final-year project.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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