Are You Suffering From Oculus Face or Rift Rash?

Gaming has been the spawn of many unique illnesses, such as trigger finger pain, bent thumbs from excessive controller use, and so much more. Now we’re moving forward and onto more modern gaming related illnesses with Oculus Face. Wearing a VR headset for extended periods of time isn’t as uncomfortable as it used to be, the headsets are lighter, more ergonomic and more comfortable in general. However, that doesn’t mean to say they’re not going to make a lasting impression; literally.

https://twitter.com/stevekovach/status/714470354517757952?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

The Oculus headset started shipping into the hands of customers earlier this week and that means there are many people out there getting lost in the world of VR right now. The only downside, at least so far, is that the headset leaves temporary red marks on the face, being comically named “Oculus Face” or the even more silly “Rift Rash”, neither sound like something you would want, but they’re obviously pretty harmless anyway.

https://twitter.com/stevekovach/status/714567978680000512?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

VR is cool, but it’s quite clear it doesn’t make you look too cool afterward. Hair screwed up, face all marked with red lines and sweat marks. Perhaps Google were onto something with their ergonomic and lightweight Glass designs after all. The foam padding is pretty comfortable from my own experiences, so it’s likely extended exposure that leads to these minor issues and I doubt it’ll be enough to put many of you off of a purchase any time soon.

Gelid Zentree USB Charging Station Review

Introduction


As our lives increasingly revolve around portable and mobile devices – smartphones, tablets, wearables, and handheld gaming – so our homes become invaded by a tangle of accompanying cables. Thankfully, most devices – even with a proprietary connector on one end – are USB compatible, encouraging the rise of USB charging stations that can centralise the power needs of your many devices.

Unlike many other USB charging stations on the market, though, the Zentree from Gelid Solutions not only provides a single hub into which you can plug up to four devices, but also a series of nubs – the 3D Tree Array – covered by a removable green silicone rubber top, into which you can neatly stack your devices while they charge.

While the 3D Tree Array is the Zentree’s most visible identifier, the station’s real selling point is its Smart IC chip, which auto-negotiates the best power output for each device that is connected to it, and cuts off power to a device once its battery is full. Gelid boasts that the Zentree can charge four iPad Pros simultaneously in the same time it would take to charge one using the proprietary cable.

The Zentree has been specifically tested using Apple’s iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watch, a wide range of Android smartphones and tablets, plus the Pebble smartwatch, various Bluetooth headsets, and portable power banks. The kit includes four USB-to-Micro-USB cables, but any USB cable can be plugged into the four ports.

“Zentree provides a carefully designed docking surface, 3D Tree Array, which supports multiple gadgets of different sizes: iPhones, iPads, androids, tablets, phablets, smartwatches or really any other USB device. The top is made of a soft silicone rubber, it protects your smartphones and tablets from scratches and slip-off. The Smart IC, a core part of Zentree Charger Unit, auto-negotiates the best output charging power for your gadgets and ensures truly safe multi-device charging.” – Gelid.

Specifications

  • 4 Ports
  • 4A per Port
  • 48W total Power Output
  • Active Mode Efficiency: >87%
  • Dimensions (l)x(w)x(h): 224mm x 159mm x 95mm
  • Idle Power Consumption: 0.04W
  • Weight: 590g
  • Smart IC for Safe and Efficient Charging
  • Smart IC Auto-negotiates Best Charging Current for Your Device
  • Smart IC Auto Cuts Off Power when Battery is Full
  • Supports iPhones, iPads, Androids, Tablets, Phablets or Really any other USB Device
  • Individual Surge-protection
  • 3-Dimensional Tree Array
  • Non-scratching
  • Anti-slip
  • Seamless Cable Management
  • Eco-friendly Materials

Tested Devices

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
  • PlayStation Vita
  • Poweradd Pilot X7 power bank

Packaging and Accessories

Our review sample of the Gelid Zentree arrived in a plain, unbranded box.

Upon opening the box – revealing the Zentree’s bright green 3D Tree Array poking out of the packaging – I must admit that I was a little daunted, having no idea what the product looked like before I began the review process.

The Zentree includes an IEC C8 power cable, four USB-to-Micro USB cables, and two hooks with adhesive pads on the back. I was happy to find that the USB cables are flat, which is great for preventing tangles.

Gaming in Your Browser is About to Get Interesting With WebAssembly

WebAssembly, it may be something that most of you have never really heard of, but it’s going to have a huge impact on the way we use or web browsers. WebAssembly is a compiling technology, which is capable of bringing browser output closer to that of native machine code; not even the best JavaScript compilers come anywhere near it in terms of performance.

Luke Wagner, a Mozilla developer, helped reveal the new additions as Mozilla Hacks this week, while also confirming the availability of WebAssembly ports of Unity’s Angry Bots. The game can now be played on a Chrome, Firefox, Edge and even Safari will be joining the party soon enough.

Below you’ll find a video released by Microsoft that shows the Angry Bots running in Edge using the Chakra engine via WebAssembly.

‘Despite being an early implementation, the demo starts-up significantly faster than just using asm.js as the WebAssembly binaries have a smaller file size and parse more quickly than plain JavaScript that needs to be parsed in the asm.js case.’ said Chakra Program Manager Limin Zhu.

The new format for native web applications supports all the functionality enabled by the asm.js JavaScript subset. Rather than replace Java, it’ll simply expand on what was already possible seamlessly, while allowing more direct access to processor instruction sets, and many other benefits.

‘Two upcoming changes will also significantly improve the developer experience. A standard textual representation of WebAssembly will enable developers to view the source of a WebAssembly binary like any other web script or resource. In addition, the current placeholder Wasm object will be redesigned to provide a more powerful, idiomatic set of methods and properties to instantiate and introspect WebAssembly modules from JavaScript.’ said V8 Java, while announcing their collaboration with WebAssembly.

So what does this mean for most users? Not much in technical terms, but it’s already leading to faster performance, more features and more functionality for or browsers and web applications, which is certainly no bad thing.

Super-Charged P100D Tesla Plans Discovered in Firmware Update

Tesla enthusiast and self-proclaimed white hat hacker Jason Hughes has been doing some digging, taking apart the latest Tesla firmware update that was sent his own Tesla P85D, and it looks like he’s uncovered a secret!

The Model S currently comes in three variants, but it seems Elon Musk has a fourth model in the pipeline, and it’s going to be powerful! Jason claims to have spotted files pointing towards a 100kWh car, which is quite a bump from the current 70 and 90kWh models available. With the available models being named the 70D, 90D and the P90D, it would be safe to assume that a new 100kWh model would be called the P100D.

The information was discovered in Firmware Update 7.1 and while he could have release the information immediately, he decided to tease Elon a little bit first with the following tweet as well as some forum posts. Followed up later the next day with “You guys are great. Fun to get home and find people have cracked some SHA256 I posted. Nice work.”

I don’t have to tell you this whole thing needs a pinch or fist full of salt, but it’s certainly believable that some information to a future car would be held within the firmware. Tesla would likely use their cars firmware to test future models and we’ve seen similar leaks in the past for graphics cards and other bits of tech.

“There are quite a few things that are in the firmware that I’m not prepared to share publicly. Just like the P100D has been in there for months with my lips mostly sealed.” said Hughes.

However, Tesla rolled back an update, perhaps to remove the files or tighten up the encryption keys on the files unlocked, and potentially other parts of the system that used the same keys, who knows. Either way, Elon seems to be playing it cool right now, so we’ll have to wait and see.

 

Reflective Russian Satellite to be Brightest ‘Star’ in the Sky

When you look up at the night sky, the brightest thing you will see is likely to be the Moon. However, a team of Russian engineers want to ensure that the second brightest object isn’t just any other star billions of miles away, but a man-made object!

After reaching their fundraising goal, the team look to launch a satellite that will have no other purpose than to glow brightly. The object is no bigger than a bread bin, but once it is in orbit, it will open up into a pyramid shape of reflective surfaces. The object will stay in a sun-synchronous orbit of 370 miles above the Earth, ensuring it is always in the sunlight, giving it the ability to outshine any other star in the Sky. Unfortunately for the team, not everyone is happy about their project.

While they hope to inspire that anyone can achieve a goal of doing space-bound projects, by giving people something to wonder about when they look up at the sky as it floats around in space, many scientists are concerned that it will cause too much light pollution. While using telescopes and other technologies to view real stars and other space-bound objects, light pollution is a big problem and effectively turning on a big light up there could hinder some scientific efforts.

“We want to show that space exploration is something exciting and interesting, but most importantly that today it is accessible to everybody who is interested,” said project leader Alexander Shaenko to Sputnik News.

There’s not too much concern, though, as the $20,000 project is only said to last for a few weeks, although if their goal is a success, it could inspire others to do the same in the near future. Personally, I can’t wait to see it, it’s a cool idea and hopefully it will give off the right message and encourage people to look up and wonder about the universe, if only for a moment.

iPhone Gaming Through The Years

Image via technobuffalo

In 2007, Tony Blair and John Howard, the prime ministers of the United Kingdom and Australia respectively, left their positions of power and bought their rule to an end. Also coming to end, was JK Rowling’s vastly successful series of Books about a young wizard as Harry Potter and the Deathly Gallows was released to critical acclaim. Just starting out in the world however, was a momentous industry shifting, device that would turn life, and the tech world in particular, upside down on itself.

Remarkably, the iPhone is nine years old this year. Having made its revolutionary debut back in 2007, time has flown by and with every constantly updating evolution, this personal little device keeps improving year upon year.

Back when we first met the iPhone as a newly born, Androids hadn’t even been invented yet, leaving BlackBerrys as THE phones to have. How distant that all seems now, a device that gives up over half of it face space for real buttons. At the same time in 2007, the newly released Wii, was also blowing minds with something as simple as tennis being played with an entirely disconnected remote whose sensors could follow its user’s actions, making it seem like futuristic visions were at last being realised.

iPhone gaming

Image via ttgtmedia

While the Wii didn’t quite hail in the new age of interactivity we might have expected, it did reintroduce proper family friendly gaming as its legacy. However, the legacy left behind by the year’s other huge technical release did change its landscape forever. With its then unique multi touch interface, the iPhone ushered in the smooth pinch-to-zoom era of smartphones and smartphone gaming.

In August that year, the first native iPhone game, Lights Off, was released, preceding the then unreleased App Store. It was basically a clone of the old electronic version of itself and the only way to access it was to install the game on to your iPhone. What it achieved, however, was to provide a premonition of things to come for using the iPhone as a gaming device.

Of course, despite the game mentioned above, it was the launch of the App Store that really brought about a boom in mobile gaming. Games like Sega’s Super Monkey Ball which today costs around 69 pence but, on release in 2008, would cost its user £5.99. Here was Sega, having withdrawn from the console market, leaving behind Microsoft and Sony to scrap it out, being the first big developer to really recognise, and then dedicate their product to, the uniquely emerging smartphone features, in this particular case, tilting controls.

Nowadays of course, the gameplay on an iPhone is truly slick and amazing and can be enjoyed anywhere. The sheer power of the engine allows for a sleek and smooth game speed, while its graphics, high resolution screen and beautifully sleek design all allow for gaming that is both beautiful and easy and a genuine rival market to video games.

We couldn’t do this without mentioning Angry Birds which, while it might now seem like one of the most annoying inventions ever but was, in its day, truly glorious and really capitalised on touchscreen gaming. Particularly the sweet slingshot movement that propels the birds across the screen, powered by a simple finger pull back motion.

iPhone Gambling

These new capabilities, have allowed other industries to claim their slice of the iPhone market and utilise its (and now Android’s) key features. For instance, recognising that people like to play casino and poker games whenever they get the chance, the online casino industry, as well as the poker and bookmaking websites, were all quick to recognise that there was a niche in the market for people who wanted to gamble immediately and not have to wait until they get back home and login.

When they first started out, gambling apps were pretty basic, offering only a very limited number of functions.  For example, to make a more complicated bet, other than a straight forward single on an outcome, the user would be expected to navigate their way back to their host’s main website.  Now though, thankfully, that has all changed significantly.  

Now, by default, and largely thanks to the iPhone, apps routinely offer live scores and results as well as news and betting tips, casino games and poker tournaments. In an example of how big mobile gaming has become, the world’s largest online poker room, PokerStars, have recently announced Duel, a poker game especially designed for smartphones, where users can play long distance, one-on-one poker without time restraints.

Then there’s Roulette, playable on various iPhone gaming apps, which employs touchscreen functions to play the game, as does slots. Use your touch screen controls to tap spin, take your turn or spin the reel.  For anyone that worries that important details may be lost on such a small screen, app developers take such things into consideration when developing the app and, despite Android having the larger market share, gambling operators often prioritise iOS devices in development stages such is their brilliance for their business models.

It’s funny to think how far we’ve come in these past nine years, but we can surely all appreciate the turning point that was the heralding of that first generation iPhone. Without its success, iPads, Android tablets or phones, in fact touch screen game systems at all, wouldn’t be here now. And it’s funnier still, how things that once amazed us are things we now take for granted, which leaves us wondering – what next?

Amazing Space Ready 3D Printer Unveiled by NASA

Living in space faces many challenges, such as the availability of critical spare parts. Supply trips to the ISS are somewhat uncommon, so getting a replacement part for a broken piece of equipment is both slow and expensive. NASA’s newest revelation from its research park in Silicon Valley helps to tackle just such a problem, a 3D printer that works in space. Not just a proof of concept either, with it planning to be launched to the ISS on the 23rd of March, where it will be used to build both spare parts and parts for experiments.

This isn’t the first 3D printer to be used in space, a prototype printer had already been trialled by the crew of the ISS previously. This new printer will be more than the previous prototype and, in fact, be a fully operational model for use by ISS crew members.

Andrew Rush, the chief executive of Made In Space, the NASA-funded startup developing the technology stated: “You can bring us a USB stick with your file, and we can digitally send it to space.” “Via 3D printing we can make that object and completely avoid putting it on a rocket.”

This is just the start of space manufacturing too, with Made In Space being given $20 million to work on a project named Archinaut. The system would allow the construction of huge structures in space, manufactured and assembled automatically by robots. Rush believes that Archinaut could construct “giant radio dishes that could service many people, or do amazing science and peer deep into the universe’s past.” The success of this project could revolutionize space construction and say goodbye to the current method of sending “flat packed” structures to space on rockets where they are then unfolded and constructed, allowing structures too fragile to survive the launch to space or other logistically problematic structures.

For now, the ambitions remain small-scale with the 3D printer, however, far more exciting things are in the near future. Made In Space estimate it will be 3 to 4 years before the truly big projects take root, and the technology is planned to be licensed out to commercial enterprises, of which Tesla may for one be very interested. Making the 3D printing no longer reliant on the Earth’s resources is another step on the road to the self-sufficiency of space. The raw materials that can be found in space, from asteroids to the surfaces of moons and planets are being explored as resources to be used for 3D printing, with the end goal of not just removing reliance on Earth, but even allowing for the construction of things that are impossible with only materials from the Earth’s environment.

Image credit to Made In Space

The Benefits of a High Spec Tablet

Over recent years, technology has come a very long way and amongst the high tech devices and gadgets now available to us are tablets. These smart devices have helped to revolutionise our lives and they are used for all sorts of purposes from business and entertainment through to research, browsing, shopping and more. The size of the average tablet makes it perfect for using while on the go, at work or while on holiday, which is why these devices have become so popular over the past few years.

If you are investing in a tablet, it is well worth looking for a high spec one that offers a range of features. This is because tablets are so versatile that they can be used for all sorts of purposes and the better the spec of your tablet the more enhances your user experience will be. If you use your tablet for entertainment such as streaming movies or playing online casino games at places such as Betway, it is particularly useful to opt for a higher spec one, as you can enjoy better graphics, better speed, and a far more pleasurable entertainment experience.

Choosing the right tablet

The specs of a tablet will help to determine its suitability based on what you plan to use it for. If, for instance, you only want the tablet for browsing and basic use, you can opt for a lower priced one rather than going for very high specs. However, these days many people want to use their tablets to enjoy entertainment. This could be anything from watching movies via streaming sites through to playing virtual slot and table games at a casino site such as Betway, where you can benefit from a great variety of exciting games. This type of entertainment can be made all the more enjoyable if you have a high quality tablet designed to enhance your experience.

Tablets come with a range of screen sizes these days, and opting for a larger screen means that you can make the most of entertainment such as movies and gaming when you are on your tablet. You should also look for a tablet that offers high quality graphics, as this is an important part of the entertainment experience on these devices. Remember, the higher resolution tablets will give far sharper and clearer images, so make sure you go for a high res tablet if you plan to use your device for entertainment purposes.

Tablets these days often come with advanced processors, which means that you can look forward to faster speeds when you are using the device. This is great news if you are using your tablet for entertainment, as the last thing you want when watching movies or playing games is for the screen to continuously freeze or for the site to take forever to load. Again, going for a high spec tablet from a reputable manufacturer will enable you to benefit from faster speeds as well as better graphics.

Oculus Confirms Rift Compatible PC Bundles

 

The range of potential possibilities concerning the forthcoming Oculus Rift headset promises to be both exciting and also worth the wait, in theory, the problem lies with headset compatibility for the extensive array of PCs that are currently on the market. It seems Oculus have already thought of this and have recently released details of specially crafted PC bundles that have been tested to ensure the headset will work with the machine.

Oculus have announced the first set of machines from well-known computer manufacturers ASUS, Alienware and Dell; these PCs have been tested and also certified by Oculus. The headset manufacturer has also confirmed that the first bundles will be available to pre-order for consumers starting from the 16th February 2016 at 8 am pacific time.

Other confirmed details include the stockists that will be able to accept pre-orders for the bundle, these are, Best Buy, Amazon and the Microsoft Store. There is no word as yet if the UK will receive these bundles as the company has stated that it will “ship in limited quantities to select countries and regions”  One would have thought these bundles would eventually be available within the UK when you consider the size and also profitability of the market.

Below is a selection of Oculus-ready’ PCs that the company has announced, it has also been stated that consumers who were excited enough to purchase an Oculus Rift without yet owning a compatible PC, the company said pre-order customers will be able to purchase a discounted PC at a later date.

 

The price of these bundles will start at $1,499, for that you will receive an “Oculus-certified PC and everything that comes with Rift – the headset, sensor, remote, an Xbox One controller, EVE: Valkyrie Founder’s Pack, and Lucky’s Tale”.

 

Take a Trip to the Malware Museum

I’m sure many of you have been to a museum at one point or another but did you know there was also a museum for Malware? That’s right, there’s a huge online collection of things that want to ruin your computer, and no, I’m not just talking about that “download more RAM” banner. Don’t worry, though, as this museum isn’t going to leave you with a wildly virus infected computer, it’s actually run by Archive.org and is more an art exhibition that a pit of doom that will wipe your hard drives.

Most people have heard of malware, most of you have likely suffered at the hand of it too, but there’s also a little artistic beauty to many of these bits of malicious software of days gone by. The exhibition was put together by online security expert Mikko Hypponen, and offers a visual collection of old-school viruses and the often creative visual effects, ascii art and more that they use to use to effectively troll their victims. It’s certainly a colourful display too, and you can see them in action in all their glory.

There are some pretty cool animations in there too, it’s not just blocks of text or pop ups like you would expect from modern spam-centric viruses. If anything, I’d say the hackers of the past were far more creative and more often than not were just out to demonstrate their skills and cause destruction, rather than be financially motivated; not that this makes what they did any better for the user of course.

So what are you waiting for? Take a trip back to the days of MS-DOS and floppy discs, screen saver viruses and more and who knows, maybe you’ll learn a bit of computer history while you’re at it.

View the full gallery at Archive.org.

White Hat Hacker Tweaks Dridex Malware to Distribute Antivirus Software

The Dridex banking malware has been a huge headache for a large part of the financial and technology industries, but it seems there’s a white knight out there looking to turn the tables on this pesky infection. After a mysterious hijacking of the virus distribution servers, they’ve now started dealing out legitimate installers for Avira Free Antivirus, thus helping to remove the infection from systems and hopefully clearing up a few other issues along the way. The bonus being that anyone stupid enough to fall for the infection in the first place could technically come out cleaner on the other side.

The malware is most often spread through spam messages and malicious Word documents. Being one of the three most widely used trojans in the world, the malware targets online banking users and steals information before feeding it back to a server where it can be used to take money, as well as other information from your accounts. Agencies in the UK and US managed to disrupt the botnet last year, even going as far as indicting a man in Moldova who they believe was responsible for the attacks, but it did little, if anything, in the long run to prevent the botnet from distributing the software.

Researchers at Avira recently noticed that the Dridex distribution servers begin pushing an up-to-date Avira web installer instead of the trojan, which is obviously a great step in combatting the problem, although how long this will last remains to be seen.

“We still don’t know exactly who is doing this with our installer and why, but we have some theories,” said Moritz Kroll, a malware expert at Avira, via email. “This is certainly not something we are doing ourselves.”

The only theory that makes sense so far is that a white hat hacker has hijacked their servers and tried to turn the tables.

“I really think it is a hacker who has discovered how to do a good thing but perhaps with not strictly legal methods,” Kroll said. “If you think about it, there was a huge media announcement when Dridex was ‘taken down’ by the government authorities and a much smaller level of reporting on its return to the marketplace. That has got to be frustrating to some and might cause them to think: ‘The government tried to take it down, they could not, I can do something myself’.”

Either way, anything that slows this nasty bit of software is a good thing!

Energy-Friendly Chip Could Boost Neural Networks

The quest to gain a greater insight into artificial Intelligence has been exciting and has also opened up a range of possibilities that have included “convolutional neural networks”, these are large visual networks of simple information-processing units which are loosely modelled on the anatomy of the human brain.

These networks are typically implemented using the more familiar graphics processing units (GPUs). A mobile GPU might have as many as 200 cores or processing units, this means that it is suited to “simulating a network of distributed processors”. Now, a further development in this area could lead to the potential for a specifically designed chip that has a sole purpose of implementing a neural network.

MIT researchers have presented the aforementioned chip at the “International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco”. The advantages of this chip include the notion that it is 10 times more efficient than an average mobile GPU, this could lead, in theory, to mobile devices being able to run powerful artificial intelligence algorithms locally, rather than relying on the cloud to process data.

The new chip, coined “Eyeriss” could, lead to the expansion of capabilities that includes the Internet of things, or put simply, where everything from a car to a cow, (yes apparently) would have sensors that are able to submit real-time data to networked servers. This would then open up horizons for artificial intelligence algorithms to make those important decisions.

Before I sign off I wanted to further delve into the workings of a neural network, the workings are that it is typically organised into layers, each of these layers contains a processing node. Data is then divided up among these nodes within the bottom layer, each node then manipulates the data it receives before passing it on to nodes within the next layer. This process is then repeated until “the output of the final layer yields the solution to a computational problem.” It is certainly fascinating and opens up a world of interesting avenues with which to explore, when you combine science and tech, the outcome is at the very least educational with the potential for it to be life changing.         .

Imperia by Oswalds Reimagines Audio Speakers

The way audio is transmitted to the consumer has evolved over the past decade or so, from higher quality headphones, well, some brands more than others, to the diverse sound systems that have incorporated today’s modern MP3 players, Smartphone’s and also transformed the flat audio from paper-thin Televisions into a Cinema experience. Audio company OMA (Oswalds Mill Audio) have decided that modern speakers are just too rudimentary in their design and have therefore announced a product by the name of the “Imperia”.

Below is an image and also a summary of this eye-catching product.

  • The Imperia has a four-way horn system with a vertical array of conical horns covering 100 Hz to 20 kHz.
  • Two rear loaded subwoofer horns using a massive 21″ neodymium woofer handling 20 Hz-100 Hz.
  • A special OMA sub is 104db 1w/1m and is powered by its own solid state amplifier.
  • The system as a whole is extremely efficient at 105db 1w/1m and is entirely time aligned.
  • The 100hz and 300hz wooden conical horns are made from a choice of solid Pennsylvania Black Walnut, Cherry or Ash.
  • The Dimensions are H 86″ D 60″ (max depth at horn) W 41″ Base footprint 41″ x 41″

OMA have stated that they are the “only manufactures to use the straight-edged cone speaker design, this is due to the fact that such a design will not add to the sound wave deformity”

I know what you’re thinking, how much? Answer is too much when you consider this product is expected to retail for around $280,000 dollars (£191,744) The product is certainly unique and provides a new dimension to sound systems, but I think I will stick to my current audio setup for the time being until this design is available at a considerably cheaper price.

Microsoft Built a Datacenter at the Bottom of The Pacific Ocean

Building a datacenter can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor, but the latest project from Microsoft may have solved quite a few problems all at once. Typically it can take two years to build a datacenter on land, and even then you’ll find that they need to be built quite far from built-up residential areas and city centers, which then leads to increased latency for users. Then you’ve also got the issue of cooling the datacenter, as all that hardware generates a lot of heat and the cost of cooling it can quickly become a headache. Microsoft’s solution to all of this? Build the datacenter at the bottom of the ocean!

While it may seem like a wacky idea, it’s pretty clever. The ocean water is a very efficient way of cooling the datacenter and it’s passive too, so there are no ongoing running costs for the cooling as there would be in a building that used air conditioning systems. Microsoft said that during their testing, they observed no heading of the marine environment beyond a few inches of the device, so there should be no major impact from these units.

Microsoft’s Project ‘Leona Philpot’ was deployed about 1 kilometer off the pacific coast, where it stayed for 105 days and worked perfectly. Having it deployed in water like this means that it can be located close to populated areas, reducing latency and not taking up valuable land space around cities. What better, for Microsoft at least, is that these units can be deployed in just 90 days, much quicker than land-based datacenters. Microsoft’s researchers are already working on a follow-up to Leona Philpot, where they will deploy a unit three times the size and perform further tests. It will be interesting to see how well these datacenters perform and if they’ll become more popular than the current land based ones although we suspect that may not be for a long time.

Garmin Unveils The “Quatix 3” Luxury Watch

The humble watch is seen as somewhat old-fashioned compared to the digital life that nearly all consumers live these days, tech companies on the other hand, have been looking to integrate various digital features within so-called smart watches with the aim of marketing the product for the 21st century. Global GPS brand Garmin who are synonymous with Sat Navs have unveiled a new watch by the name of the Quatix 3.

Below is a quick rundown of the announced specifications.

  • Physical dimensions – 2.0” x 2.0” x 0.6” (51.5 x 51.5 x 16.0 mm)
  • Display Size – 1.2” (30.4 mm) diameter
  • Display resolution – WxH – 218 x 218 pixels; transflective MIP colour; sapphire lens
  • Weight – 3.0 oz (85 g)
  • Battery life – Up to 50 hours in UltraTrac mode; up to 20 hours in GPS training mode; up to 6 weeks in watch mode

The watch also comes equipped with a “protective stainless steel EXO bezel and buttons”.

If you happen to be a fisherman or an avid race boat enthusiast, the Quatix 3 has you covered, below is a quick summary of these targeted features.

  • Saltwater fishermen – Will have features available to them that include navigational as well as NMEA 2000 data including depth, speed, water temperature etc.
  • Sailors – Will have the option to receive data that includes a virtual starting line feature that lets you set up a starting line between 2 marked GPS waypoints, e.g., a buoy and the committee boat
  • The watch also contains an Altimeter, Barometer and Compass.

The watch is expected to be released within the first quarter of April 2016, prices are expected to be $599.99 (£420.54).

It will be interesting to see if this watch has a great appeal within the general consumer market when you consider many of the features are targeted at a specific audience. Garmin will hope this watch will be able to hold its own, it makes sense for Garmin to implement its knowledge within a new smartwatch.

Self Driving Baby Stroller – What Could Go Right!?

I’ve got two children, they’re amazing kids and I love putting them in the buggy and pushing them around and racing it through the supermarket; my kids love that too. However, this latest invention could be trying to take all that fun away from us, as it does all the pushing and driving on its own. For just $2,750, the Smartbe developed hands-free smart stroller will push its self up hills, through the supermarket, it’ll even keep up the pace while you go for a jog alongside your child. In theory, it’s a nice idea, but I wouldn’t trust it with my child’s life for even a second.

Of course, this is a futuristic bit of kit, so it’s more than just a motor and a smart camera. The Smartbe offers up a rocker feature to help put the child to sleep, and even a bottle warmer for those “feed me!” moments. It can play music, has lights, webcam, microphone and all kinds of stuff; it’s damn near a Tesla for babies.

‘I know how uncomfortable it is to push an ordinary stroller through snow in Manhattan, up hills in San Francisco, or for a jog along the path through the heat and humidity of Miami,’ Guillermo Morro CEO and founder of Smartbe told SFGate. ‘So, I set out to design a better stroller, one that combines all the greatest technology to give parents and babies a better experience.’

It’s just a concept at the moment, with the team hitting Indiegogo with a goal of $80,000. It’s a pretty cooler stroller, with some great technology and I can see where they’re coming from with their ideas, but alas, it’s not something I would feel a need for personally. Fortunately, they’ve had the sense to release a model that isn’t self-propelling, and that will be just $399, and it’ll still retain some of the cool extra gadgets.

Would you own one of these for your children?

Razer Nabu Smartband Review

Introduction


Smart wearables are nothing new, but it’s certainly still a growing market. With that in mind, it makes sense that gaming brands such as Razer would want to get in on the action, they already make a wide range of peripherals, and while I’m sure they would love us all to sit at our desks using Razer hardware, gamers need to get exercise too. Being able to track your fitness is no bad thing, especially if you’re trying to get in shape, but the Razer Nabu offers a little more than your average connected sportswear.

“Stay on top of everything when the Nabu notifies you of incoming calls, texts, emails, and other app alerts discreetly via the private message screen and a gentle vibration.” – Said Razer.

All the basics of a fitness band are available here, as the Nabu will use its accelerometer and built-in algorithms to give you real-time feedback on the band, as well as in the dedicated mobile app. You can track your steps walked, distance travelled, calories burnt, hours slept, active minutes and personal goals. The sleep tracker is a cool feature, as it’ll measure the actual duration you slept once you’ve finally stopped fidgeting, the sleep quality, again no doubt tracking the amount of times you turn in your sleep, as well as offering you a silent alarm via its vibration function; handy if you want to get up for your morning coffee without waking the kids.

Check out this cool product video from Razer, although amazingly it’s NSFW and features quite a lot of graphic violence… cool! Zombie dismembering aside, it does a great job of demonstrating many of the features of the Nabu.

Display and Sensor

  • OLED 128×16 single color
  • 3-axis accelerometer
  • Cylindrical vibration motor

Hardware

  • Single button for OLED screen access and other specific functions
  • Lithium-polymer battery with up to 6 days battery life
  • Rain, sweat, and splash proof. Not suitable for showering and submerging.
  • Charging via proprietary USB cable.
  • Wireless syncing with mobile devices via Bluetooth LE.

Tested devices

  • iPhone 5/5S/6/6 Plus with iOS 8 (or higher)
  • Android 4.3 (or higher) device with Bluetooth Lower Energy (BT 4.0 or higher).
  • Click here for a list of tested Android devices.

There are even more cool features too, such as shaking hands with another Nabu owner and you can exchange social media information and more! With support from a wide range of popular applications, you can ensure you get all the information you need, right when you need it, all right on the built-in OLED display on the top of the wristband.

As with any other Razer product, the NABU is very nicely packaged, with a clear image of the product on the front and, of course, those more than familiar Razer colours.

Around the back of the box, a quick technical rundown, as well as a plastic panel that acts as a size guide for the wristband; very handy!

Open the box and you’ll find, ta da! Another box.

This one is more like a presentation box, and you’ll find a nicely secured NABU wristband on the interior, as well as a small pull-out drawer at the base for the accessories.

There’s a small USB charging cable, which naturally comes with the Razer Green header, a small link attachment for the wristband to adjust the size, and the usual documentation.

Make the World a Little Bit Smaller With a Conference Call

New Zealanders might be at the “bottom” of the world, but with today’s technology, there is no longer reason to feel isolated. The Internet has given us the ability to communicate in so many more ways that even the bottom of the world can be connected. Conference calls allow for reliable, effective communication no matter where in the world you might be.

Conference Calls Bring Us Closer

Conference calls make it easy to conduct business over the telephone or the Internet. Now, Internet calling offers the best quality, and that is important, especially when there is a great distance between the people participating in the call. Internet conference calling, according to BioSci Consulting, allows individuals to work together to come up with innovative ideas to solve existing problems, and  many, providers, such as Blue Jeans, offer conference call solutions for New Zealand businesses.

Participants in conference calls all have a role to play. Some are more outspoken, some are inquisitive, and others prefer to sit back and let others do the talking. The most important part of any conference call is to encourage everyone to make a contribution. If everyone contributes, the call is time well-spent, and everyone leaves with a sense of accomplishment.

A feeling of camaraderie on a call is especially important when the participants are not close together. In today’s global economy, we no longer want to be in the same room as our business partners because we want to expand our reach as far as possible. Conference calls allow us to work with our colleagues as if they were sitting right next to us, when in reality, they might be on the other side of the world. Moreover, regular voice communication allows us to get to know each other better. Hearing the tone of someone’s voice allows us to have more insight into their personality, so when we engage in non-verbal communication, we are more familiar with the people we work with.

Embrace the Medium

Former Wharton School of Business professor Butch Ward is an old hand at conference calling, and agrees that knowing the participants on a call is crucial to the success of doing business over the phone or Internet. He realizes that meeting in person isn’t always possible, but the better you interact, the more likely you are to accomplish the goals you want to achieve.

Set Your Agenda

It is important to have an agenda in place beforehand. E-mailing the participants to alert them to what will be discussed will give them the opportunity to prepare, and make significant contributions. Having a set agenda will allow those who aren’t as outspoken the opportunity to speak up, If they know what is going to be discussed. The worst possible outcome of a conference call is descending into a free-for-all, where participants all begin talking over each other, and there is no flow to the conversation.

Choose a Leader

One person should lead the conference call. Pick someone who is assertive enough to keep everyone in line, and outspoken enough to shut down anyone who tries to dominate the exchange. A leader should ensure that everyone remains cordial and respectful.

Moreover, the leader should make it clear that controversial topics and personal opinions could be counterproductive. The goal of a successful conference call is to address the issues at hand and find effective solutions. It is especially important for the leader to accomplish as much as possible when there might be a significant time change involved. If businesses in New Zealand are doing business in North America or Europe, the time difference might be as much as 18 hours.

Conference Calls Can Keep Your Business on Budget

While many of today’s businesses strive to compete in the global economy, those keeping an eye on expenses need to make sure the cost of doing business doesn’t eat into profits.

Conference calls help significantly curtail expenses because they cut down on travel. Video conference calls make it possible to meet prospective business partners from other parts of the world, while feeling like everyone is in the same room. This mode of communication can be just as effective as meeting in person, but it avoids the need for expensive air travel, especially from the South Pacific, where travel is not only costly, it is also time-consuming.

Forbes, in its Career Bootcamp series, reminds us that many business practices changed after the 2008 financial crisis, and stresses that we still need to be mindful of frivolous expenses. Hosting a successful conference call can certainly pinch-hit for expensive business trips if we stick to our agendas and make sure we communicate effectively with our partners. The world is still vast, but conference call makes us feel closer than ever.

Bank of China Releases a Laser Blasted “Monkey” Coin

Tech is always advancing in new and exciting ways. With the aim of developing and modernizing techniques for the 21st century, the coin production process at The People’s Bank of China placed into circulation a $10 dollar limited edition of at least 500 million coins, but when you consider China has a current estimated population of at least 1.357 billion, this may well be a limited laser blasted and multilevel “Monkey zodiac coin”.

The coins in question use materials including a Brass Alloy for the outer ring, which is illustrated by the first image below, this is coupled with a Nickel Alloy composite which is implemented for the inner core and is conveyed by the second image. The technique used to make these commemorative coins changes the traditional moulding process in favour of a lower yet more efficient manufacturing footprint.

The coins have the word “SHIYUAN” which is located next to the selected domination, this word comes from the  Chinese phonetic alphabet. The coins, released to coincide with the 2016 Lunar New Year are also decorated to include a floral pattern as well as a traditional decorative monkey and also a lantern.

Collectors who wish to collect such a coin will be able to reserve a maximum of five coins, the date by which the coins will become available will be from the 16th January 2016.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Neighbours Unhappy Again!

Mark Zuckerberg is not really ingratiating himself with his neighbours within the local but admittedly expensive community that is Liberty Hill in San Francisco. The extensive construction and the accompanied noise and disruption has not been a favourite with the fellow residents and now a parking dispute has again caused friction between the Facebook founder and his neighbours.

The aforementioned parking dispute involves Mark Zuckerberg’s security team “permanently’ and illegally occupying desirable parking spots in the area with two silver SUVs”. Below is an image to illustrate the alleged problem that has annoyed the fellow residents, as you can see, these vehicles are stationed next to the social network founder’s house.

It has annoyed the community to such an extent that it has distributed a letter to residents urging them to “complain to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) about the vehicles and also contact Zuckerberg’s residential security manager, Tim Wenzel” Below is an image of the letter that was obtained.

In response, a spokesperson for Mark Zuckerberg states “The security team’s cars are parked in accordance with local parking laws. The team strives to be sensitive to neighbour’s concerns and regrets any inconvenience.”

Disputes, in this case, can be perceived as rather silly with the potential to escalate out of all proportion, I think this has evolved from allegations in 2014 of persistent and noisy construction work followed by further allegations involving an apparent restraining order which had reportedly been filed by Mr Zuckerberg’s security team against a 62-year-old local man, leaving him temporary homeless in 2015. I do think there is also a perception that “rich” individuals do not respect the social etiquette within the community, but rather zoom in and develop an area without any consideration for residents.

It will be interesting to see if there are any further reports of alienation between both parties in the future.

Image courtesy of dnaindia

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Captures Fantastic Sand Dunes Of Mars

Space exploration is a fascinating subject which encompasses a wide selection of avenues which include the search for other life forms to new discoveries both concerning known and also unknown distant plants. NASA has recently released images from the Curiosity Mars rover which show a fantastic selection of images of Sand Dunes from the red planet.

Below is a selection of images of Sand Dunes which have been both snapped and also transmitted back by Curiosity, it conveys an extremely steep surface where “cascading sand has sculpted very different textures”  Researchers are implementing the rover with the aim of examining examples of the Bagnold Dunes, “this is a band of dark sand dunes lining the northwestern flank of Mt. Sharp”. 

The Curiosity rover “conveys the downwind side of a dune at around about 13 feet high within the Bagnold Dunes field on Mars”. Below is an image which really does capture both the steepness and also the varying textures, The mission’s dune-investigation campaign is designed to increase understanding about how “wind moves and sorts grains of sand in an environment with less gravity and much less atmosphere than well-studied dune fields on Earth”

Below is another incredible image, the Curiosity rover has been stationed on Mars since August 2012 and had managed to reach the base of Mount Sharp in 2014. This image was also taken from the “telephoto-lens camera of the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, this reveals fine details of the downwind face of Namib Dune. Sand on this face of the dark dune has cascaded down a slope of about 26 to 28 degrees”.

 

It’s certainly impressive and what space discoveries are all about, it also makes you wonder what else will be found within the near future, perhaps there really is life on Mars, if not, the advancement within this area of tech will make it a possibility of deeper and more detailed space exploration.

Automotive Companies Choose Microsoft At CES

The Automotive industry is an avenue with which tech companies are always striving to exploit, from self-driving cars, clever Sat Nav that manages to avoid rivers to the self-aware AI system that has become ubiquitous for many branded vehicles. Now, four further automotive companies have announced partnerships with Microsoft with the aim of enhancing their computing power.

The four companies who have confirmed a working relationship at CES in Las Vegas (Where the gang at eTeknix insert plug here) are Volvo, Nissan, Harman and engineering partner IAV. These companies join a growing list for Microsoft which also include Toyota, Ford, Qoros (Chinese automotive manufacturing company) and Delphi (UK manufacturing company)

Microsoft envisage that every car will be connected to the Internet and strangely to other cars and will also be a “Companion within your digital life”. The following is a quick summary of how Volvo, Nissan, Harman and IAV plan to integrate Microsoft tech into their cars.

  • Volvo – plan to interrogate Microsoft Band 2 with a Windows 10 smartphone and also the Volvo Call Universal App. This means that consumers can interact with the Microsoft Band by holding down the “action button” and requesting a function
  • Harman – Plan to offer drivers the ability to access the Office 365 productivity suite within the Harman infotainment systems. This means that drivers will be able to interact with Office 365 via an intelligent personal assistant software to schedule meetings etc.
  • IAV – Plan to use Windows 10 Continuum to stream Windows 10 via a mobile device directly to a car’s dashboard, giving drivers access to Windows 10 features and apps such as Cortana, Skype for Business, Calendar, Outlook and Groove Music.
  • Nissan – Plan to incorporate Connect Telematics Systems (CTS) which will be powered by Microsoft Azure. This will be incorporated into the LEAF and Infiniti models.

Tech will always be pushed into the automotive industry with the aim of offering consumers a different experience, companies will need to make sure any software is secure and, therefore, cannot be remotely hacked. Drivers will also need to be mindful and not be distracted by the many tech options, imagine attempting to schedule a meeting while travelling at 60 miles an hour down a motorway.

Image courtesy of digitaldealer

Oculus Founder Discusses Adoption Challenges For VR Headsets

The potential of Virtual Reality is rather exciting and is tipped to be one of the biggest attractions of this week’s CES (Consumer Electronic Show 2016), this is also where the gang of eTeknix are currently stationed in Las Vegas and are ready to bring you the very latest news. VR and the accompanying headsets do bring its own challenges, from adoption to market interest; there are many things to consider, so much so that Palmer Luckey, who is the founder of Oculus VR has discussed such issues and it’s very interesting.

On the subject of Virtual reality headsets replacing smartphones, Palmer Luckey stated that “the technology required many years of further development before it could replace smartphone’s for mainstream users” Mr Luckey also stated that VR headsets would need to be more powerful, cheaper and also slim enough for it to be considered to be both a viable alternative and also an appealing product for a wider adoption.

Asked how long it would take before we would see a ubiquitous use of VR, Mr Luckey stated that it could be anything from “five years – ten years”. The price point is also crucial and analysis by “Touchstone Research” have found that US Internet consumers would be willing to spend the following amounts on a VR device. As you can see, 31% would be willing to spend between $200 – $399 dollars, but if you go to the other end of the spectrum then it conveys that 6% would not be happy to spend a single dollar.

Palmer Luckey also recognises that “the current headset design is “obviously not the ideal form factor” as it is too bulky and needs to be slimmer. Further details include the recent announcement by Oculus concerning the finalization that it will be taking pre – orders for the Rift on January 6,th 2016 and shipping would be in the first quarter of 2016.

It will be interesting to note how this product performs and also how quickly this new tech is adopted by the market.

Image courtesy of fastcompany

Which Companies Had The Most Security Vulnerabilities In 2015?

Cyber security is a hot topic and the rise of attacks which looks to exploit security flaws within a company’s software is becoming increasingly commonplace within the tech world. CVE Details have thus released its rundown of the most security vulnerabilities in a variety of software products for 2015 and it contains a top five that includes Mac OS X, iOS, Flash, Adobe Air and Air SDK.

Below is an image which details the number of vulnerabilities per software product, as you can see, the reports suggest that Mac OSX had a reported total of 384 vulnerabilities with IOS just slightly behind on 375, Adobe Flash player makes up the top 3 with 314 that have been officially disclosed. There is, however, one or two caveats behind these stats, for example, CVE Details Lists every version of Mac OSX as one entry, while the many multiple editions of Windows are listed separately, this means that while OSX is at the top, if you look down you will see Windows has a higher count of vulnerabilities when you take into account versions from Windows 8.1 all the way back to Vista etc.

The second image of the bar graph also conveys the vulnerabilities of the top 50 products by vendor, as you can see, Microsoft edges out Adobe while Apple is third.

In 2014 the list of the top five were IE browser, Mac OS X, Linux Kernel, Chrome and iOS, it is also worth noting that not every software company has the same policy when it comes to disclosing security vulnerabilities within their software. 

Image courtesy of businesscomputingworld

A Look At The World’s Largest Model Trainset Railroad

When I saw this story I was half expecting a slightly scaled up version of your standard railroad train set, it turns out I was wrong, and by wrong I mean really wrong as this train set boasts more than eight miles of track, lifelike scenery, 3,000 buildings and a 40-foot bridge.

The reports convey that Northlandz is the vision of “Bruce Williams Zaccagnino and his wife Jean” who began to develop the concept around 44 years ago, below are a selection of stats which really captivate this remarkable achievement.

  • The Railroad Layout is around 20 years old
  • It has over 100 trains
  • There are 500,000 tiny trees
  • 400 bridges
  • It is located in a 52,000sqft building in Flemington, New Jersey.

Now for the images, below is Bruce Williams Zaccagnino who is standing by this fantastic creation, as you can see, the detail is phenomenal and certainly captures the intended surroundings and then some, it reminds me of a real life open gaming world, so much so that Mr Zaccagnino is a “multi-award winning computer software game developer and publisher who has solitaire’s Journey and Perfect General accredited to his name, he also loved model trains as a kid“.

Below is another image of this amazing achievement, it really does look like a Hollywood film production stage.

Below is another image of what appears to be a large city, “Northlandz has been open to the public since 1997 and took some 16 years to build”. The detail would certainly make for an educational visit for budding film, game and TV production students who would like to pave a career in the creative industry.    

Below is the last selected image, it looks akin to a miniature version of the Truman Show and feels as if it is a world within a world, by all means check out the links above for a full set of images.

Oh, and below is a video which conveys this achievement.

Rolls Royce SUV Anyone?

Well, I did not expect to see this in 2016, Rolls Royce are known for the final word in automotive luxury and this is perfectly conveyed by the companies expensive fleet of vehicles that are transported to international clients. Rolls Royce is synonymous for innovation and if these reports come to fruition, consumers could be feasting their eyes on an SUV edition.

Below is an image to convey this potential vehicle, it’s not exactly subtle, various reports state that it will be named “Cullinan” after a non-carbonado gem-quality diamond and will be limited to 1000 units worldwide.

As for specs, reports suggest it may be “equipped with the Rolls-Royce Phantom V12 engine with the same specifications” as well as a four-wheel drive system which will bring benefits to the overall travel of the vehicle. As for the design, it will be compelling to note both the weight and also handling of this potential saloon considering it will have all the bells and whistles for comfort, I also wonder what the Miles to gallon ratio of fuel will be?

If this vehicle comes to pass then it will be interesting to see both how fast the clientele snaps up this new design and also the types of luxurious locations where they will in doubt be shipped to, you can just imagine someone wrecking it after crashing that front end.

image courtesy of autocarsconcept

FitBit Has A Surprising And High Profile New Fan

FItBit’s range of smart fitness products has catapulted the company onto bigger and better avenues over the last year or so, the new breed of small, light yet powerful wearable pieces of tech has captured the imagination. It now looks as if the company has another fan that is rather more powerful than your average consumer.

That consumer in question is 44th US president and a fan of tech Mr Barrack Obama who was seen sporting what looks to be a FitBit Surge while being interviewed by comic legend Jerry Seinfeld. Below is a snap that was taken of Mr Obama wearing the device, it seems the president has been looking forward to test driving the watch since last year. There has also been a humorous take concerning Mr Obama’s preference for FitBit considering both Apple and Samsung smart watches have a recording function built-in which might be slightly dodgy for the president.

According to research that was conducted by IDC, FitBit is the world’s highest selling wearable device and leads Apple. It conveys the paradox that many government officials find themselves in, on one hand they attempt to clamp down and pursue tech companies over surveillance and various laws, yet they also use the gadgets that have been created by that industry.

Image courtesy of kaiserkiwi