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Facebook Tweaks Trending Topics Out of Abundance of Caution
May 26, 2016
Facebook this week said it would make several procedural changes to its Trending Topics feature to quell concerns that the results could be steered in a particular political direction, even though it has found no evidence of bias. The company will retrain workers in the Trending Topics department and institute additional oversight and control to make sure trending stories are selected fairly.
Tiny HopperGo Neatly Stashes Loads of Mobile Entertainment
May 26, 2016
Dish Network continues to change the way we view recorded TV. It made location-shifting as easy as time-shifting via its Sling technology, and its Hopper let users transfer recordings to a mobile device. Now it has introduced another option for taking recorded content anywhere: the HopperGO, a compact DVR hard disk drive that lets users transfer content from a set-top box to the portable unit.
OnePlus Offers Free Headsets to Lure Crowd to VR Smartphone Launch
May 25, 2016
The 30,000 virtual reality headsets OnePlus announced it would give away as part the unveiling of its OnePlus 3 smartphone were snapped up Monday, the day they became available. OnePlus has set up a VR space called "The Loop" in which it will unveil the OnePlus 3. The Loop can be accessed only by users of the OnePlus Loop VR headsets, made by AntVR.
Oculus Riles Users Over Piracy Block That Fails Anyway
May 25, 2016
It took a hacker just a day to come up with a workaround for the platform update Oculus released last week, which blocked users from running the company's games on rival virtual reality systems. Version 1.4 of the Oculus App blocked a hack from LibreVR called "Revive" that allowed users to play Oculus games on rival systems, including the HTC Vive and Valve.
Versatile iBot Wheelchair to Make a Comeback
May 24, 2016
Toyota and DEKA Research and Development last week announced an agreement that will revive development of the iBot, a wheelchair that can climb stairs. The companies revealed their pact to develop mobility solutions for the disabled community at the annual convention of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. One of the first initiatives under the agreement will be to resurrect the iBot.
The Rise of Drone Racing, Part 1
May 24, 2016
Tearing through open spaces and timing each turn to burst out of them, a seeming continuum of drones weaves through a set of obstacles lap after lap, until the stutter of a pilot's joystick breaks the cadence of this competitive concert and destroys the illusion. It's the drama -- anticipating and reacting to those human moments -- that has propelled drone racing to the spotlight.
Google's New Custom Chip May Not Live Up to the Hype
May 23, 2016
Google last week announced the Tensor Processing Unit, a custom application-specific integrated circuit, at Google I/O. TPU was built for machine learning applications and has been running in Google's data centers for more than a year. Google's AlphaGo software, which thrashed an 18-time international Go champion in a match earlier this year, ran on servers using TPUs.
Vendors Gain Congressional Support on IT Pricing
May 23, 2016
Selling information technology to the U.S. government is never easy, and it's even harder when a vendor cannot highlight the qualitative differences it believes separates its competencies from other providers competing for the same work. Yet a major contracting tool federal agencies use in seeking IT products and services tends to smother those differences in skills and competencies.
Hyperloop Dreams Are Getting Real
May 21, 2016
The Hyperloop -- the high-speed transportation concept Elon Musk has promoted heavily -- is edging closer to becoming a reality. Russia plans to develop a Hyperloop network for freight transportation, the country's transport minister announced Friday. MIT last week unveiled its Hyperloop Pod, a prototype of its award-winning design concept intended for human travelers.
Google Patents Tech to Limit Injuries in Vehicle-Pedestrian Accidents
May 20, 2016
The United States Patent and Trademark Office earlier this week granted Google a patent for "Adhesive Vehicle Front End For Mitigation of Secondary Pedestrian Impact." The patent application, filed a year and a half ago, credits Google employees Alex Khaykin and Daniel Lynn Larner as the inventors of the new technology. This latest patent grant is for "a system for protecting a colliding object from a secondary impact."
Google Challenges Right to Be Forgotten in French High Court
May 20, 2016
Google on Thursday filed an appeal with France's supreme administrative court over an order from a privacy regulator requiring it to scrub certain search results around the world under a law called "the right to be forgotten." The March order from the CNIL requires Google and other search engines to delist the information of Europeans that shows up in searches for their name.
Gadget Ogling: Speedy Tortillas, Racing Robots, and Real-Time 3D
May 20, 2016
Flatev is a pod-based system for instant tortillas in the mold of a Keurig coffee maker. Insert a pod of fresh dough -- you have several choices, all organic -- then adjust settings for type of dough and desired crispiness, and 90 seconds later you'll have a fresh, warm tortilla. There's a heated drawer to keep your tortillas warm while you make as many as you need.
Apache Guru Behlendorf to Helm Hyperledger Project
May 20, 2016
The Linux Foundation on Thursday announced that Brian Behlendorf, a primary developer of the Apache Web server, has joined the Hyperledger Project as executive director. The project is a collaborative effort to advance blockchain technology by identifying and addressing important features for an open standard for distributed ledgers that will apply across industries.
Google Plots Home Invasion
May 19, 2016
Google CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off the company's annual I/O developers conference on Wednesday with a keynote address that included previews of a batch of new products. Among those showcased were Google Assistant, a tool that can understand and respond to complex questions in real time; and Home, Google's highly anticipated response to Amazon's Echo speaker.
Otto Kits Out Big Rigs With Aftermarket Self-Driving Tech
May 18, 2016
Otto on Monday introduced a self-driving kit designed to help those behind the wheel of big rigs drive more safely and efficiently. The company is developing a suite of sensors, software and other truck-related enhancements that could be retrofitted into existing vehicles. The technology has been tested in Otto's research fleet, and the company completed an autonomous demo on public highways.
Motorola Shows Off New Moto G Collection
May 18, 2016
Motorola on Tuesday unveiled three new smartphones: the fourth-generation Moto G, the Moto G Plus and the Moto G Play. The Moto G and Moto G Plus can be customized using Moto Maker, while the Moto G Play can not. All three run Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. The Moto G and Moto G Plus became available Tuesday in Brazil and India. They will be rolled out elsewhere over time.
Google to Dim Flash Player in Chrome Browser
May 17, 2016
Google last week announced that it would minimize use of Adobe's Flash Player in its Chrome Web browser by the end of the year by turning off its default status. When Chrome encounters a Web page, it will report the presence of Flash Player only if a user has indicated that the domain should execute Flash or if the site is in one of the top 10 domains using Flash, ‎Google's Anthony LaForge said.
Apple Invests $1B in Chinese Uber Competitor Didi Chuxing
May 16, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook on Monday met with executives from Didi Chuxing, just days after the company announced that it had received a US$1 billion investment from Apple. After arriving in Beijing, Cook tweeted out photos of himself taking a taxi with Jean Liu, the president of Didi Chuxing, and of her showing him the mobile app. Apple hosted a panel of iOS developers at the Apple Store in Beijing.
Could the Next Disruptive Consumer Product Be a Flip Phone?
May 16, 2016
Smartphones appear to be losing their luster, and the king of smartphones -- Apple -- clearly is not having a good year. Suddenly, I'm hearing that there is an upswing in flip phones, making this feel a bit like a Game of Thrones episode, when a believed-dead king returns to seize the throne by surprise. Clearly, the market is looking for the next big thing.
Walmart Tests 2-Day Subscription Shipping
May 14, 2016
Walmart on Thursday began testing a two-day unlimited shipping service priced at $49 a year. Subscribers will get more than a million items, including the most commonly purchased items on Walmart.com, delivered to their door in two days or fewer, Walmart spokesperson Bao Nguyen said. "Customers will continue to enjoy their two favorite features -- no minimum order requirements."
Google's Chirp May Try to Drown Out Amazon's Echo
May 13, 2016
The device, which might resemble the OnHub router, would incorporate its Google Now voice assistant technology. Google likely will launch the product later this year, although it's expected to preview it at I/O. The Echo, one of Amazon's biggest product launches in years, combines a speaker with the Alexa personal digital assistant -- voice recognition software that performs numerous functions.
Battlefield 1 Balances Gaming Fun With WW1 Realism
May 13, 2016
The latest title in the long-running Battlefield series made its debut last week. Instead of another near-future setting with the latest high-tech body armor and assault weapons, DICE and Electronic Arts are putting players in the trenches of the First World War and outfitting them with bolt-action rifles, horses and gas masks. The series launched in 2001 with the World War 2-themed Battlefield 1942.
Google Boots Ads for Predatory Payday Lenders
May 12, 2016
Google on Wednesday announced that it would ban advertising for payday loans in its ad systems. Starting July 13, the company will prohibit ads for payday loans and related products where funds are due within 60 days of the date of issue, as well as ads for loans with an APR of 36 percent, said David Graff, Google's director of global product policy.
Defense IT Contract Rekindles Pricing Complaints
May 12, 2016
What's not to like about the U.S. government offering IT vendors $17.5 billion for products and services? The opportunity is attractive, and many vendors have expressed interest in a Department of Defense contract that covers the acquisition of a broad range of IT capabilities. A request for proposals for the Encore III contract was issued in March. Bids were accepted through late April.
iPhone 7 Rumors Blunt Anticipation
May 11, 2016
It appears there won't be a lot of design changes in the next iPhone, according to a schematic photo published online Monday. It shows what's purported to be Apple's upcoming iPhone 7 to be the same size as the 6s. "They've done a lot with the design already. They're keeping multiple design languages to keep their customer base happy," said analyst Kevin Krewell.
IBM to Drill Watson in Cybersecurity
May 11, 2016
IBM on Tuesday announced Watson for Cyber Security, a cloud-based version of its AI technology, trained in cybersecurity as part of a year-long research project. IBM will collaborate with eight universities with renowned cybersecurity programs, including MIT and the University of Waterloo in Canada. The universities' students will provide the data for Watson.
Ford, Microsoft Pour Cash Into Pivotal
May 10, 2016
Pivotal last week announced a $253 million round of Series C financing. Led by new investor Ford, together with Microsoft and previous investors GE, EMC and VMware, the deal is expected to close this month. Pivotal's customers include seven of the top 10 U.S. banks and three global automakers. Its agile-based approach lets enterprises build and operate software rapidly, the company said.
Google, Fiat Chrysler Team on Self-Driving Minivans
May 10, 2016
Google's Self-Driving Car Project and Fiat Chrysler last week announced that they would integrate autonomous vehicle technology into 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans as part of Google's testing program. It is the first time Google has worked directly with a carmaker to integrate its self-driving technology into a passenger vehicle. It will add 100 Pacifica Hybrids to its test program.
Air Cargo Deal Gives Amazon More Control Over Deliveries
May 10, 2016
Amazon has entered a 10-year lease agreement with Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, the aircraft company announced last week. Under the agreement, Amazon has the right to buy up to 30 percent of Atlas Air. Amazon will lease a fleet of 20 Boeing 767-300 converted freighters -- including crew, maintenance and insurance -- for seven years, with extensions to 10 years.
IBM Extends Open Invitation to Play With Its Quantum Computer
May 10, 2016
IBM last week announced that it would allow researchers and scientists to run experiments using its quantum processor. The IBM Quantum Experience runs on the IBM Cloud. Users will be able to run algorithms and experiments on the quantum processor; work with individual quantum bits, or qubits; and explore tutorials and simulations on the possibilities opened up by quantum computing.
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Google just announced Home, a voice-activated speaker similar to Amazon's Echo. What do you think of these devices?
I have an Echo and I love it.
I have an Echo but rarely use it.
I plan to buy an Echo or Home.
Google's Home will be much better than Echo.
They're expensive novelties.
They're intrusive and creepy.