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Googler Alan Eustace breaks parachute jump record from 25 miles up


eustace_jump_01A senior vice president with Google, Alan Eustace, parachuted from about 25 miles above Earth to break the world altitude record for a parachute jump, breaking the speed of sound during his descent in the process.  The jump by Eustace differed in many ways from the successful attempt of Felix Baumgartner from 128,100 feet in 2012, not the least of which may be the relative secrecy surrounding Eustace’s attempt.

Eustace was taken aloft via a helium filled balloon that ascended at speeds up to 1,600 feet per minute. Eustace dangled below the balloon, eventually cutting himself free through the use of a couple small explosive devices. While the ascent took a little over two hours, the fall back to Earth took just 15 minutes. During his fall, Eustace’s speed peaked at 822 miles per hour, creating a sonic boom that could be heard on the ground. Eustace says he did not feel or hear the sonic boom.

After verification, the final altitude submitted to the World Air Sports Federation as the official jump height was 135,890 feet.

The previous record was set as part of a big publicity spectacle by Baumgartner who was carried to altitude in a special capsule backed by millions of dollars in sponsorship money. Eustace chose instead to embark on the three year project and the jump itself in secrecy aided only by a small group that helped design his spacesuit, life-support systems, parachutes and the balloon. Eustace even decided to forego financial support from his employer out of fear that Google may want to turn it into a PR event.

According to Eustace, “it was amazing. It was beautiful. You could see the darkness of space you could see the layers of atmosphere, which I had never seen before.” He also said it was “a wild, wild ride.” Mark Kelly, a former astronaut who viewed Eustace’s ascent, said “there is an incredible amount of risk. To do it safely is a testament to the people involved.” Although Eustace is seen as a risk-taker by his co-workers, they also indicate that he is very passionate about details.

James Hayhurst with the United States Parachute Association says attempts like Eustace’s establish “a little lookout tower at the edge of space that the common man can share.” Would you like to visit the edge of space for a fall back to Earth?

Eustace dangles from a balloon during his ascent.
Eustace lands 70 miles away after falling 25 miles in 15 minutes.

source: NY Times

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Drug stores drop Apple Pay and Google Wallet to push their own payment tech

A CVS pharmacy in San Francisco

If you’re bent on using Apple Pay or Google Wallet for your shopping, you may have to be finicky about your choice of drug stores. Both CVS and Rite Aid have shut off their support for NFC-based payments just days after Apple Pay went live. Try to tap your phone and you’ll get an error, or nothing at all. The companies haven’t publicly discussed why they’re cutting off the handy feature, but this is ultimately an attempt to stifle competition. Both pharmacies are part of the Merchant Customer Exchange, a retailer group whose its own mobile wallet system (CurrentC) reaches these stores in 2015; as a memo obtained by SlashGear suggests, they’d rather deny all NFC payments than risk building support for rivals. Suffice it to say that this will be very inconvenient if you’re a frequent customer, and you’ll currently have to visit the likes of Duane Reade and Walgreens if you want to avoid paying with old-fashioned cash or plastic.

[Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

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Source: MacRumors, SlashGear


Did the Nexus 6 already visit the FCC?


A new posting on reddit linked to an FCC filing that many people think is the new Nexus 6. Opinions are not unanimous though as there appear to be some discrepancies between the information in the FCC filing and information that Motorola and Google have published about the Nexus 6.

In favor of the device being the Nexus 6 are the dimensions shown in an antenna diagram that are very close to what has been advertised. The FCC filing lists the device as 83 x 159.4 mm in size while the Nexus 6 product page lists the Nexus 6 as 82.98 x 159.26 mm.

On the other hand, there are quite a few differences in wireless bands listed on the FCC report compared to the published bands that Google is advertising. Google lists LTE bands 3 and 29, while neither of these show in the FCC filing. However, LTE band 3 is not used in the U.S. and band 29 is a downlink only band that the FCC may not be concerned with. The FCC filing also fails to list GSM bands 900 and 1800 that Googles lists the device as having, nor do WCDMA bands 1 and 8. Finally, Google and Motorola indicate the Nexus 6 has Bluetooth 4.1 while the FCC listing indicates the device has Bluetooth 4.0.

Whatever the device is in the FCC reports, it has been approved and should be showing up soon. The Nexus 6 is scheduled to go on pre-order in the U.S. starting on October 29th, so the timing does seem to be consistent.

On a slightly related note, UK tech writer Paul O’Brien tweeted earlier this week that U.K. buyers interested in the Nexus 6 will have to wait until at least December to get the device.

source: FCC
via: Ausdroid

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FireTube app released – listen to YouTube like a music player

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 19.11.23

A while ago, you may remember rumours surfacing of an all new YouTube subscription service that would turn the video site into a more music focused orientation, allowing for offline and audio-only listening. Whilst such a service is still just a rumour, there is an interesting new app in the Google Play Store that attempts to do a similar thing.

FireTube is a new app that features a music player to listen to YouTube songs anytime, anywhere.


• Unlimited Music – Access to the largest database of music available.
• Background Play – Keep FireTube playing in the background with seamless playback.
• Discover Music – Search hot tracks to find popular music you may not have heard.
• Automatic Queue – Builds a playlist queue for you based on a song or artist.
• Sync Playlists – Syncs your playlist so you can access it from any Android device or Firefox browser.
• Import Playlists – Import your YouTube playlists to eliminate the need to create new playlists.
• Video Mode – Watch your favorite songs music video with a click of a button.

So if you’ve been looking for something to use YouTube more like a music repository and are not overly bothered about watching the videos, then check out FireTube – it’s free on the Google Play Store.


The post FireTube app released – listen to YouTube like a music player appeared first on AndroidGuys.


IRL: Keeping a journal with Day One

Trying to keep a journal has always been difficult for me. Before the age of smartphones, I tried to rely on text files or a physical notepad. If I wasn’t forgetting to write down my thoughts, I was losing the file or my handwriting was so bad it would make a doctor jealous. I did the LiveJournal thing, too, except it fostered too many passive-aggressive entries. Finally, while browsing the App Store I come across an interesting-looking piece of software called Day One. The features, design and presentation prompted me to give journaling another go. And I’m glad I did.

If you’ve never heard of Day One, here’s a quick rundown: It’s a journaling app with an emphasis on ease of use. MultiMarkdown text allows for cleaner, faster writing, and you can import location, activity, music and weather data from the apps. More recently, the app added a Publish feature that allows you to share entries with Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. Think of it as having a personal blog without every entry being public.

With the latest version, Day One made some tweaks to take advantage of some of the new features introduced in iOS 8. Previously, I would have had to go into the app to attach a link or photo. I can now share directly from any application where developers have taken advantage of Apple’s new “extensibility” feature. I can now use Touch ID to unlock my journal. Entering a PIN isn’t hard, of course, but using a fingerprint feels more secure over the standard four digits. Apple also added a widget option, allowing you to view two random picture entries as well as journaling stats for the last 50 days, all from the iOS Notification Center. For the most part, these aren’t the kind of changes that make or break the product. Instead, they’re the type of updates that help round out an already good experience.

When I first tried Day One, I had trouble making everything work. At the time I was using an Android phone, but unfortunately, the app is iOS-only. This proved to be an issue because I had no way of capturing thoughts or photos on the go. Sure, I could have taken a picture of that awesome graffiti I saw on the street and write about it when I got home, but without fail I would end up forgetting. The desktop client offers a notification option, but it’s too easy to dismiss by telling myself “I’ll do it later.” Getting an iPhone is what really made using Day One a more regular part of my routine.

Creating new entries is an easy experience. Whether I’m writing an entry or snapping a picture, the app makes it effortless. One feature I didn’t think I’d fully appreciate is MultiMarkdown. This style of text input allows me to write new entries with detailed formatting — without HTML messing up the flow. Simply wrapping a word in an asterisk can italicize it, or if I want to create a link, I can use brackets and parentheses instead of writing a full HREF statement. The app even has a swipeable bar to quickly input different Markdown tags so I’ll never forget how to bullet a list or insert a link. It seems silly to spend time discussing writing syntax, but it makes for more efficient writing.

Tagging — a pretty standard feature in any archiving service — is also present in Day One. This has always been beneficial with bookmarks, but I’m getting a lot of utility out of it with journaling, too. I use it for tracking potential medical issues as well as my hobbies. For example, I have one called “Invisalign” where I’ve been writing once a week about my experience with this alternative to traditional braces. Before my next visit, I can pull up the tag to quickly remind myself of any issues I ran into. I’m also a huge coffee fan. I enjoy trying out different roasters, but tracking the various bags can be time consuming. Using a modified Launch Center Pro action, I can quickly create an entry with pre-filled fields. Triggering the actions brings me to a series of boxes asking for roaster, origin, method, rating and tasting notes. All of this gets formatted into a clean-looking table, then auto-tagged for easy reference later.

With the help of If This Then That (IFTTT) and Launch Center Pro I can also automate some of my entries to make life a little easier. Using the two services, I can notify my phone of any photo I post to Instagram with the tag #dayone. Interacting with the alert will pre-populate a new post with the image and the text from the tagged ‘gram. I also combine them with Strava to auto-create entries for any new activities I complete. This allows me to stay on top of my training log, something I’ve tried to do numerous times over the years to little or no effect.

The downsides to Day One? As I mentioned, there’s no Android app — it’s currently only available for iOS and OS X. Unfortunately, Windows and Linux users are out of luck, too, though the team does link to a few tools for generating entries. As for Android, I’ve seen a few apps offering import/export abilities, but I personally haven’t used them so I can’t report on how well they work. Additionally, you may be turned off by the prices: $4.99 for the iOS app and $9.99 for the desktop client, or $15 total. That’s something I questioned at first since there are cheaper journal solutions, but after using Day One for a while, I’m convinced the cost is more than justified.

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Investigating the science in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’

Even the most well respected filmmakers have been known to bend the truth a bit when it comes to depicting science on the silver screen, throwing accuracy to the wind in favor of trivialities like “plot” and “drama.” We kid, of course. But how does this fall’s sci-fi epic Interstellar from director Christopher Nolan hold up under a microscope (no pun intended)? The folks at Popular Science have taken the Dark Knight helmsman’s latest to task, exploring the feasibility of traveling through wormholes, the type of spaceship we’d need for humanity to travel ’round the stars and a few other concepts explored in the film.

The research was based off of existing trailers, and more to the point, PopSci says that Interstellar‘s real-world theoretical physicist flat-out refused to speak with its writers. So, if you’re on total media blackout for fear of spoilers, this might not ruin aspects of the flick for you. Are you lucky enough to live somewhere close to a 70mm IMAX screening of the movie in a few weeks? What about a cineplex with an Oculus setup? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: Popular Science


CVS Stores Reportedly Disabling NFC to Shut Down Apple Pay and Google Wallet

cvs_logoEarlier this week, pharmacy chain Rite Aid shut down unofficial support for the Apple Pay and Google Wallet mobile payments systems, resulting in an outcry from users who have been testing out Apple’s new system since its launch on Monday. Rite Aid was not an official Apple Pay partner, but the payments system generally works with existing near field communications (NFC) payment terminals anyway, and many users had had success using Apple Pay at Rite Aid stores early in the week.

It now appears that fellow major pharmacy chain CVS is following suit and as of today is shutting down the NFC functionality of its payment terminals entirely, a move presumably intended to thwart Apple Pay. Google Wallet services are obviously also being affected by the move.

Multiple reports on Twitter and the MacRumors forums have indicated that CVS has sent an email to its stores indicating that NFC support is to be turned off. It is still relatively early in the day in the U.S., but we are now starting to see reports of NFC indeed being turned off at CVS stores.

The reason behind Rite Aid’s and CVS’s moves to disable unofficial Apple Pay support in their stores is presumably related to their participation in Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), a retailer group developing its own mobile payments system known as CurrentC. A claimed internal Rite Aid message shared with SlashGear supports this notion, instructing cashiers to explain to customers that Apple Pay is not supported but that MCX’s solution will be available next year.

cvs_apple_pay_noteRite Aid internal memo regarding Apple Pay
Rite Aid’s and CVS’s moves are also in stark contrast to competitor Walgreens, which has fully embraced Apple Pay and is one of Apple’s launch partners for the service. With over 8,000 stores around the United States, Walgreens has been one of the most popular locations for those testing out Apple Pay over the first week of availability.


Rogers activates its LTE-A service in 12 new markets


Rogers Wireless Logo

Rogers has broadened its horizons by upgrading and expanding its LTE-A connectivity services to an additional twelve new markets in Canada. The announcement was made in a press release on the carrier’s website, where it lists the benefits that new subscribers of the service are likely to receive, in addition to download speeds of up to fifteen times faster than the standard 3G network.

The newly announced locations to receive the LTE-A service starting today are as follows:

  • Vancouver
  • Edmonton
  • Calgary
  • Windsor
  • London
  • Hamilton
  • Toronto
  • Kingston
  • Moncton
  • Fredericton
  • Halifax
  • Saint John

If you’re a Rogers customer in one of the locations where you have the ability to access the LTE-A network, why give the operator a call today to upgrade to one of its very reasonable 4G plans?

Source: Rogers

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Sony wants to show you how PS4’s online game-sharing works

When next Tuesday’s 2.0 update hits for the PlayStation 4, Sony will finally turn one of the most ambitious promises it made when the console was first announced a reality. We’re talking about Share Play, of course. We know: the ability to virtually hand a controller off to a pal via the internet and have them work through a game’s tricky section for you sounds kinda like magic — the type that only Disney is capable of. But, in theory it sounds pretty simple, and the catch-up king has recently released a video that walks through the process step by step. From the looks of it, the new feature is added as an option from the DualShock 4’s Share button. Naturally. How well it all works in the wild, however, remains to be seen.

The rub of it is that every function other than screen sharing (meaning, controller passing and a virtual second player controller hand-off) requires a PlayStation Plus subscription. What’s more, these virtual sharing sessions are limited to an hour apiece. After all, Sony’s in the business of selling games — letting you stream a pal’s indefinitely probably isn’t good for the bottom line.

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Source: PlayStation Blog


LG announces ‘NUCLUN’, its first mobile processor


LG announced its own mobile chipset, dubbed the ‘NUCLUN’ which employs a quad-core 1.5 GHz ARM Cortex-A15 for heavy processing and a quadcore 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex-A7 for lighter processing. LG termed this unique octa-core architecture ‘big.LITTLE’ . It supports LTE-A Cat.6, which is only available currently in South Korea. Therefore, it is logical that the device with which this SoC debuted with, LG G3 Screen, a 5.9″ G3, with a slightly lower resolution display; Full HD screen, and slightly better speaker, is designed specifically for the South Korean market.

This will prove to be an interesting turn of events, as another powerful contender joins the likes of Qualcomm, NVIDIA, and Samsung in the relatively unsaturated market of high-end mobile processing packages.


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