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28
Feb

Ducati XDiavel S throws a devilish punch


Translogic host Jonathon Buckley takes a ride on the all new XDiavel S from Ducati. With 1,262 cc of displacement, this motorcycle packs a punch, but does it live up to its ‘techno cruiser’ moniker?

“The idea here is that we have the most technologically-advanced cruiser,” said Jason Chinnock, CEO of Ducati North America. “We decided that it was important to capture kind of the raw elements of a cruiser, but then look forward to the future…in regards to technology that Ducati can bring to the table and bring to this market.”

The laundry list of technologies include keyless ignition, traction control, cornering ABS, Ducati power launch control, customizable ride modes, and other connected tech like a Bluetooth link between the rider’s helmet and the bike. Of course, Bucko had to test out wheelie control on the XDiavel S.

“You’ve got 156 horsepower and 95 ft-lbs of torque,” said Jonathon. “That basically means that I’m currently riding a cruiser that not only can do wheelies, but wants to do wheelies.”

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28
Feb

Dyson Small Ball Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


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The all-new Dyson Small Ball upright vacuum cleaner.


Chris Monroe/CNET

The new Small Ball upright vacuum by Dyson, available now on Amazon and Dyson.com for $400 — and in the UK starting at £370 — looks like pretty standard fare for the premium small appliance company.

It’s a colorful, visually appealing hunk of plastic parts, complete with the requisite cyclone technology and ball-wheel contraption designed for optimal maneuverability.

While Dyson products do tend to look cool, we haven’t always reviewed them favorably. We did like the V6, the V6 Absolute and the V6 Motorhead stick models, as well as the filter-free Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy upright vacuum, but nearly everything else we’ve tested has lost points due to questionable value. Yes, the models often performed well, but they’re extremely expensive compared with the competition and they don’t feel particularly durable.

Ry Crist noted that, “the vacuum clicks into its upright position, but it doesn’t always stick and can come crashing to the floor” in his review of the Dyson Ball Energy. That’s a pretty standard sentiment when it comes to the brand’s upright vacuums.

More vacuum news:
  • These Dyson inventions didn’t make it to market (pictures)
  • Messy results undermine Electrolux’s nicely designed stick vac
  • New Dyson, same deal-breakers

But, Dyson seems to be shaking things up a bit with the Small Ball. It weighs 12.15 pounds — the larger Ball Energy weighs 17.3 pounds for reference. The vacuum is supposed to be 30 percent quieter than previous compact models, the wand is 25 percent longer and most notably, it’s equipped with a “new magnetic lock” that’s specifically designed to keep the vacuum from falling down after you lock it into position.

This “magnetic lock” could go a long way toward changing our opinion of the overall build quality of Dyson’s upright vacuums and is something we look forward to testing soon. Stay tuned.

28
Feb

Valve has fired its ‘Dota 2’ Shanghai Major tournament host


Gabe Newell, head honcho at Valve, has abruptly (and very publicly) fired ‘Dota 2’ Shanghai Major tournament host James “2GD” Harding. Newell made the announcement via Reddit on Friday, stating “We’ve had issues with James at previous events. Some Valve people lobbied to bring him back for Shanghai, feeling that he deserved another chance. That was a mistake. James is an ass, and we won’t be working with him again.” Newell also confirmed that he’d fired the production company responsible for the tournament’s broadcast.

DOTA 2 is Valve’s most popular Steam game and the subject of four prestigious tournaments every year. The Shanghai Major alone doles out $3 million in prizes to the 16 participating teams. That’s not exactly the appropriate stage for Harding to blurt out “cunts” and make masturbation jokes, as he did earlier this week, which likely figured heavily into his dismissal. The production company, for its part, was reportedly terminated over shoddy broadcast quality. The Shanghai Major’s early matches have been beset with laggy video and out-of-sync audio.

Via: Verge

Source: Reddit

28
Feb

AI learns to predict human reactions by reading our fiction


A team of Stanford researchers have developed a novel means of teaching artificial intelligence systems how to predict a human’s response to their actions. They’ve given their knowledge base, dubbed Augur, access to online writing community Wattpad and its archive of more than 600,000 stories. This information will enable support vector machines (basically, learning algorithms) to better predict what people do in the face of various stimuli.

“Over many millions of words, these mundane patterns [of people’s reactions] are far more common than their dramatic counterparts,” the team wrote in their study. “Characters in modern fiction turn on the lights after entering rooms; they react to compliments by blushing; they do not answer their phones when they are in meetings.”

In its initial field tests, using an Augur-powered wearable camera, the system correctly identified objects and people 91 percent of the time. It correctly predicted their next move 71 percent of the time.

This isn’t the first time developers have turned to books to teach computers, mind you. Facebook just this week handed its AI a 1.96 gb stack of children’s books in hopes of teaching it a similar lesson.

Via: The Stack

Source: Arxiv

28
Feb

Runkeeper nixes its ‘DJ’ feature in favor of ‘Spotify Running’


Spotify announced on Friday that it is partnering with Runkeeper and more deeply integrating its own Spotify Running feature into the popular fitness app. Spotify and Runkeeper already offer playlist integration but now, by selecting Spotify as the app’s music source, users can leverage the streaming music service’s pace-matching algorithms as well. The new features are currently available on iOS and are coming soon to Android. You will need a Spotify Premium account to take advantage of the new integration.

Interestingly, this is basically the same functionality that Runkeeper’s own “DJ” feature used to offer. RunKeeper DJ debuted last summer, shortly after Spotify announced Running. However, Spotify integration has been “hands-down one of our most frequently asked questions over the years,” Runkeeper’s announcement post proclaimed. And in the face of overwhelming customer demand, the running app maker appears to be forgoing its in-house beat-matching service in favor of Spotify’s.

Source: Runkeeper, Spotify

28
Feb

Volvo shows off a prototype of its self-emptying trash can


Volvo’s ROAR (RObot based Autonomous Refuse handling) project has moved into prototype testing, the company announced earlier this week. The ROAR system is designed to autonomously empty trash cans from the back of a garbage truck, saving the driver from having to manually load bins into the hopper. The initial concept involved just the robot, which relied on maps of the neighborhood and likely bin locations (as well as GPS, LiDAR and accelerometers) to help it navigate. The new iteration, on the other hand, also employs an aerial drone that lifts off from the garbage truck’s roof to act as a pair of “eyes in the sky” for the ROAR, telling it where the trash cans actually are, not just where they’re supposed to be.


Volvo teamed with undergrads at three universities — Chalmers University of Technology, Mälardalen University and Penn State University — to design and construct the prototype in just four months. “We predict a future with more automation,” Per-Lage Götvall, project manager for robot development in the Volvo Group, said in a statement. “This project is intended to stimulate our imagination, to test new concepts that may shape transport solutions of the future.”

Via: SlashGear

Source: Volvo Group

28
Feb

Sony files patent for ‘Powerglove’-like controller


Sony has reportedly filed a trio of patents for a new glove-based controller system. NeoGAF user Rösti came across the filings. The system centers around a finger-tracking flex sensor, a separate contact sensor that registers when the user touches a physical object and a communications module that sends this data to a VR headset where it is incorporated into the simulated experience.

The filing describes the system as “a trackable object that is configured to be illuminated during interactivity” with “at least one inertial sensor for generating inertial sensor data” which sounds a lot like a more dextrous iteration of the PS3’s Move motion controller. With it “users collaborating may use their gloves to touch objects, move objects, interface with surfaces, press on objects, squeeze objects, toss objects, make gesture actions or motions, or the like,” the claim said of this emergent tech,” the filing states.

Now, as always, just because a company files a patent for an idea doesn’t mean that it will ever actually become a real thing. However, given the current levels of rabid interest in VR technology from both industry and consumers — not to mention Sony’s imminent release of the PSVR — this idea doesn’t sound all that far fetched.

Via: EuroGamer

Source: NeGAF

28
Feb

WhatsApp is dropping support for the BlackBerry platform


By the end of 2016, WhatsApp will no longer work on most BlackBerry devices, even those loaded with the company’s latest mobile platform. In the blog post the WhatsApp team published today, they reminisced about their launch back in 2009, when most smartphones were either a BlackBerry or a Nokia. It was a different time, and the Facebook-owned app’s developers have to cut them off, because the platforms “don’t offer the kind of capabilities [they] need to expand [their] app’s features in the future.”

Besides dropping support for BB’s OS, the app will also stop working on Nokia S40 and Symbian S60, Android 2.1 and 2.2, as well as Windows Phone 7.1 devices by the end of the year. That said, you don’t have to abandon BlackBerry completely if you’re a loyal BB and WhatsApp user. Don’t forget that the Canadian company released an Android phone called the Priv in 2015, and it plans to release at least one more device running Google’s OS.

Source: WhatsApp

28
Feb

Ask AC: Can I use a Qualcomm Quick Charger with my Nexus 6P or 5X?


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As long as you use the right cable, yes. But you can’t get quick charging without the right quick charger.

We get this question a lot. “Is it OK to use my Quick Charge 2.0/3.0 charger with my new Nexus 6P or Nexus 5X?” I completely understand why we get the question, and am happy to see people asking. With several different methods of rapid charging, new USB connectors, new USB standards (that nobody is fully using because they aren’t finished) and cables that can burn up phones and laptops, asking questions is a good idea. Nobody likes it when things go boom. Except this guy.

The short answer — as long as you’re using a good cable, your phone will charge. It will charge slower than it does with the included Nexus charger, but it doesn’t get too hot or catch on fire or pop the circuit breaker when you plug it in. But that’s a boring answer and doesn’t let me sit at my desk and play with things. Let’s take a closer look.

Warning

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Don’t use one of those USB plug-in power meters if you want to try this at home. They are a passthrough device with their own circuitry and may not be able to handle the higher load and may not be able to correctly pass it through. I love my little meter, at least as much as I can love a meter (which is a lot more than you think — my meter’s name is Charlene, Sir!). But until someone you trust says you can use a particular one with no issues, don’t use one on any USB-C equipment.

Also — the whole shitty-cable thing. There are a lot of cables out there. Some are good. Some aren’t. I’ll just say you should only ever use a cable that comes from the people who made your phone and have more lawyers than me. You can buy a USB-C to USB-C cable or a USB-A to USB-C cable from Google. I’ll take the easy way out and say that’s what you should do. If you do something differently, do some Internet reading to find out which cables are good according to whoever.

For some examples of how much juice flows from the charger to your phone, I used the Ampere app. It’s not going to be perfect down to the single milliamp, but it does read the data supplied by the charging circuitry inside your phone. For what we’re doing, it’s plenty good enough. And it’s fun to try and beat your high score.

Reference

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On the left, you see the Ampere screen when my Nexus 6P is sitting idle. The important number is the -320 mA you see in orange. My phone, doing the normal things I have in the background, settles in somewhere around -320 if I let it sit still for 15 seconds or so. That means it’s pulling 320 mA of power from the battery. That number can jump around a little, but -320 is a good average spot to use with my phone. You need to install the Ampere app and watch your phone for a few minutes to see your “sweet spot.”

On the right is the Ampere screen when my 6P (with an 80 percent charge so it’s not cheating and quick-charging) is plugged into the Nexus charger and cable that came with it. It’s a USB-C to USB-C cable, and a Huawei branded USB-C quick-charger. After a few seconds, it settles in around 2,120 mA on the Ampere screen. When you factor in the 320 mA my phone uses (remember, that’s just an average) you see that the Nexus USB-C quick charger is pushing out about 2,440 mA to the battery. The way Ampere works means you need to factor in how much juice your phone is using to get the total. And remember — this probably isn’t a true milliamp reading like you would get if you tore things apart and used a multimeter. But it’s close enough for our purposes. So — the Nexus charger and cable puts out about 2,440 mA while it’s charging on my Nexus 6P with about 80 percent battery left.

Qualcomm Quick Chargers

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From left: Aukey PA-U28 USB Turbo Charger, Tronsmart WC1T 3.0 Qualcomm Certified Charger, Aukey PA-U28 USB Turbo Charger (old QC 2.0 version)

  • The Aukey PA-U28 USB Turbo Charger: This is a certified Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 charger that is very popular — I have both the new and the old 2.0 model. It works extremely well charging QC 2.0 phones, will work with QC 3.0 phones and is pretty cheap. A lot of people have this charger and want to use it with their Nexus 6P or 5X. And you can, with no problem. Using the USB-A to USB-C cable from Google, it puts out 1,430 mA (1,110 plus 320) on average according to the Ampere app. More importantly, your phone or the charger itself doesn’t get hot and nobody dies at the end. It just charges slower than the Nexus charger.

  • The Tronsmart WC1T 3.0 Qualcomm Certified Charger: Another popular pick that’s Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 certified. This charger works great with phones like the Droid Turbo or any other QC 2.0 model, and will work with QC 3.0 phones when they arrive. Using the USB-A to USB-C cable from Google, it pushes 1,230 mA to your battery as measured by the Ampere app. Again — no overheating or sparks. It works fine, though it will charge a bit slower than the Huawei USB-C quick charger that came with my 6P. It’s also going to charge a little slower than the Aukey charger, but not enough to worry about. You can’t get “quick charging” unless you’re using the right quick-charger for your phone.

  • The old version of the Aukey PA-U28 USB Turbo Charger: This is the Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 version of the Aukey USB Turbo Charger that I had in my laptop bag. You probably can’t buy it any longer, but I figure a good many people have one and might want to use it. And I am having fun. It sends 1,250 mA to my Nexus 6P battery per the Ampere app, using that same USB-A to USB-C cable from Google. Again — this isn’t nearly as much as a proper quick charger built for the 6P, but it charges just fine and nothing dangerous happens.

What? You lost me. Nerd.

That’s OK! There are several different ways we can measure how much electricity goes from the wall to your phone battery. I’m using the Ampere app (it reads data from the charging circuit as it reports it to the system) which uses milliamps (mA) as a measurement. More milliamps = a faster charge. A lower milliamp output means your phone will charge slower.

The Nexus charger was built to quick charge the 6P and 5X as well as fill the battery after the quick-charge cycle is done, but other certified quick-chargers (Qualcomm, Samsung, Motorola etc.) aren’t. But they can still charge your new Nexus without bad things happening. We’ll see more companies building USB-C compatible quick chargers in 2016. If you are looking to buy a second one, but still have the charger from your last phone (or already bought a QC 3.0 charger), you can wait until we see who offers what.

Just be sure to use the right cable, and shy away from anything you don’t know is 100 percent compliant.

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28
Feb

Lab-grown sperm cells successfully produced fertile baby mice


It’s not easy turning embryonic stem cells into sperm cells in the lab, but a team of Chinese scientists managed to grow viable specimens using samples from mice. To prove their method works, they fertilized eggs with their dish-grown sperm cells, which successfully produced baby mice. Even better, those babies eventually made babies of their own. At least one previous study produced offspring, but the resulting mice had developmental issues that prevented them from reproducing.

Embryonic stem cells, as you might know, can differentiate into any type of cell and are widely used in medical research. In order to coax them to transform into sperm cells, though, the team had to create an environment that mimicked the inside of a mouse’s testes. They mixed the stem cells with chemicals, testicular cells and hormones that gave rise to what the scientists call “spermatid-like cells.” While they have the same genetic material as real sperm, spermatid-like cells don’t have tails. That’s why they were manually injected into the eggs that were implanted into surrogate mothers.

The researchers (who hail from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and Nanjing Medical University in China) are hoping that their study can solve infertility in men. They plan to perform further tests and replicate their results using other animals, including non-human primates, in the coming years to achieve that goal. If you’d like to read about the study’s technical details, check out the group’s paper published on Cell Stem Cell.

Via: Discover Magazine, Science, Gizmodo UK

Source: Cell Stem Cell

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