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The After Math: Regulation Nation

Exciting news coming from the wild world of government rule making this week. The FDA signed off on a medical experiment designed to jumpstart your brain after it’s died. Surprisingly, no, lead-acid batteries are not involved. The FDA also made waves by denying minors the ability to buy e-cigarettes, prompting calls from the public for the agency to explain why it took so damn long to do so. The FAA relaxed its rules over drone swarms, Takata pissed off the DoT yet again and Tesla made the EPA look a little silly. Numbers, because the Feds said so.


Ben Heck’s auto-sanitizing doorknob

The Ben Heck Show - Episode 235 - Ben Heck's Automatic Sanitizing Doorknob

Ben is breaking warranties again this week as he hacks apart an ultraviolet germ sanitizer to make an auto-sanitizing doorknob. The Ben Heck Show team even goes so far as to compare samples of bacterial growth to see how effective the knob is at cleaning itself. Karen and Ben also review a piece of hardware they’ve been sent — Raspberry Pi Zero — and how it can be used in a future Fallout-inspired project. If you have an idea for Ben and the team to work on, join the element14 community, where you can find other makers and engineers, along with a library of project code.


From the Editor’s Desk: Call your mom


Today is Mother’s Day. You know, that one day out of the year in which you should treat moms as special as we should every other day of the year. That also means perhaps we should be spending the day with them, and not on the computer, reading random thoughts from some dude who writes about Android for a living.

But just in case that temptation is too much, I present some random thoughts from some dude who writes about Android for a living.

No go call your mom.

  • Last week’s Qualcomm security scare is sort of an interesting one in that it’s not something to be patched in AOSP. It’s also not known to have actually affected anyone, but ZOMG AFFECTS MILLIONS OF DEVICES. And someone either has to actually have your phone or get you to install a malicious app for it to be a thing.
  • Just be smart about things is what I’m saying. Again.
  • Another shining example of the danger of ignorance. Glad it worked out OK. But there are too many times when it hasn’t.
  • Tough blow for Uber and Lyft in Austin, Texas. I get the need for some actual regulation, but really hope these services don’t die as viable alternatives.
  • That said … in NYC it’s still easier to get a cab a lot of the time. There’s room for both.
  • Damn, that swing …
  • Speaking of baseball, I took the LG 360 CAM to a game on Friday night.
  • Can’t wait to finally try Samsung’s Gear 360. This is going to be a big, fun space, I think.
  • A good thread for folks who wear sunglasses a lot and want the HTC 10.

That’s it this week. We’ve got a lot of Google I/O prep to do and a short time to do it in. And happy Mother’s Day to my mom, my wife and the mother of my kids, her mom, your mom, and all the moms.


Inhabitat’s Week in Green: Chicago’s high-flying cable cars

When it comes to transportation, no vehicle is more futuristic than the hoverboard — and it’s getting a lot closer to reality. This week a French inventor broke a Guinness World Record by flying 7,388 feet on a hovering device. Meanwhile, Chicago is considering building a line of high-flying crystalline cable cars throughout the city. Chrysler and Google teamed up to create a self-driving minivan, while Lyft announced plans to launch self-driving electric taxis within a year. We also interviewed Lucas Toledo, who created the Gi FlyBike, a futuristic electric bicycle that folds in half in a single second.
This week the US celebrated a renewable energy milestone as it installed its one millionth solar system, and that figure is set to double in the next two years. San Diego is moving forward with ambitious plans to become the largest US city to run completely on renewable energy. Two German states managed to reach 100-percent renewable energy, and solar power is now cheaper than coal in Dubai.

The UK’s bright red telephone booths are iconic, yet seldom used. That’s about to change, as a company is transforming the booths into tiny offices complete with 25-inch screens, WiFi, printers and vending machines. In another example of adaptive reuse, two designers are transforming old Swiss ski gondolas into cool electric saunas that can pop up anywhere in the world. In other design and technology news, Aerofarms is planning to build the world’s largest indoor vertical farm just 45 minutes from Manhattan. And if you hate doing laundry, this bicycle washing machine makes the chore just a little more exciting.


Microsoft won’t bug you to upgrade to Windows 10 after July 29th

Now that Windows 10’s free upgrade period is nearly over, you’re probably wondering how soon those seemingly inescapable upgrade prompts will go away on Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs. According to Microsoft, you won’t have to wait too long. The developer tells WinBeta that it will start disabling the Get Windows 10 app after July 29th, when it’ll cost money to upgrade to Windows 10, and will eventually remove the app entirely. It’ll take time to wind things down, Microsoft says. The software could still pester you for a while, then, but you probably won’t feel quite so much pressure to upgrade after this summer.

Via: The Verge

Source: WinBeta


Best TV catch-up on Freeview Play: Peaky Blinders, MasterChef and more

Freeview Play TVs, set-top-boxes and other entertainment kit give you the option to scroll back through the electronic programme guide and catch-up on shows you might have missed the previous week.

All you have to do it click on the show and it will open in each channel’s dedicated app and play.

At present, BBC, ITV and Channel 4 programming is available to scroll back to, while Channel 5’s can also be played through the Demand 5 app on supported devices. UKTV Play shows are also coming to the platform.

Of course, with so much control and content at your fingertips the choice of what to watch can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together a handy list of the best of the last seven days for you to check out. Just navigate backwards on the Freeview Play EPG to check them out.

READ: What is Freeview Play, when is it coming to my TV and how can I get it?


Peaky Blinders

BBC Two (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Thursday 5 May

Birmingham-based gangster tale Peaky Blinders returns for a third season, with the first episode screening on Wednesday. That means you can catch-up with the explosive beginning of what is shaping up to be the most tense and exciting series yet.

It stars Hollywood heavyweights Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy and Paddy Considine, so you can be guaranteed of the acting quality.



BBC One (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Friday 6 May

The 2016 MasterChef winner was crowned this week so now’s your chance to catch up on the final of one of the most enduring reality TV shows around.

A word of warning though, you might not want to watch it while you eat a microwave meal for one. Every mouthful will taste more and more like sawdust as you see what the final contestants cook up.


The Genius of David Bowie

BBC Four (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Friday 6 May

A well timed repeat of BBC archive footage of Bowie in action, The Genius of David Bowie shows us exactly why he continues to be mourned by fans around the world.

It also features performances by artists connected to him in some way, either through songs he wrote or simply friends. These include Mott the Hoople, Lulu, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.



BBC Four (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Saturday 7 May

With a third series currently in production, BBC Four is reshowing the second and the feature length special that preceded it.

The gritty crime drama has been a big critical hit, with Welsh and English language versions being made simultaneously. It’s now on episode three, which you can catch up on this week.



ITV 1 (ITV Hub) – broadcast on Tuesday 3 May

Another reality series to reach its conclusion this week was Drive. Celebrities, including Johnny Vegas, Professor Green, Ella Eyre and Angus Dayton, raced each other across a number of different disciplines, with the grand final now available on catch-up.

If you want to see who took the gong in the final races, here’s your chance.


Pawn Stars

ITV 4 (ITV Hub) – broadcast on Monday 2 May – Wednesday 4 May

Pawn Stars can be described as a cross between Antiques Roadshow and a televised version of eBay.

Set in the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, the reality TV show mainly focuses on items brought in by customers, who are willing to part with them if the price is right. However, it also follows the lives of the Harrison family who own the store, along with employee Austin Russell.


Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

E4 (All 4) – broadcast on Sunday 1 May

E4 is the home of the series based on Marvel Comics’ S.H.I.E.L.D. organisation, which is now well into its third season.

The latest episodes air each Sunday, but as it is nearing the end of the series you might want to simply grab a taste to see if you fancy picking up a box set of previous showings.

Get catch-up and on demand TV for £0 per month with Freeview Play. Click here to find out more.


Luxembourg’s spacecraft will test its asteroid mining tech

Luxembourg is pouring some of its wealth into the development and launch of a spacecraft that could make it even richer. The tiny European country has teamed up with California-based Deep Space Industries to create Prospector-X, an experimental spacecraft designed to test some of their asteroid-mining technologies.

DSI will equip the spacecraft with its water-based propulsion and optical navigation systems. The team then plans to send the 30-centimeter (or around 12-inch) probe to low-Earth orbit “in the near future” to make sure their design works. Prospector-X will remain in LEO, but if the test is successful, its successors will be sent to mine near-Earth asteroids for gold and platinum.

Luxembourg and DSI aren’t the only ones with extraterrestrial gold and platinum dreams. Larry Page-backed Planetary Resources announced its plans to mine asteroids a few years ago and even launched its first satellite from the ISS in 2015. President Obama also signed the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act into law last year, allowing companies to keep whatever they mine from outer space.

Via: Gizmodo

Source: Deep Space Industries


Sony developing movie based on internet meme ‘Slender Man’

Sony’s said to be working on a horror film about “Slender Man,” the paranormal character who rose to internet fame in recent years. According to The New York Times, Screen Gems, a studio that’s part of Sony Pictures, is currently in talks to develop a movie based on the chilling meme. The report claims this future adaption doesn’t have a complete script yet, but there’s a chance production could start before the end of 2016.

It’ll be interesting to see how the story turns out, especially since Slender Man played a major role during a crime investigation in 2014. Back then, two 12-year-old girls were accused of stabbing a friend as part of a dark admiration for the fictional figure — an outrageous and gruesome act, to say the least. Further details on the purported movie are scant right now, but we will likely find out more over the coming months.

Via: Variety

Source: The New York Times


Uber and Lyft to shut down in Austin after failed vote

When Uber and Lyft threatened to leave Austin if a vote over ridesharing rules didn’t work in their favor, they weren’t joking around. Both companies say they’ll shut down their Austin operations on the morning of May 9th after 56 percent of voters rejected Proposition 1, which would have prevented the city from demanding fingerprint-based background checks as well as banning pickups in traffic lanes. The outfits contend that these measures are too much of a burden on both drivers (who’d have a harder time getting started) and passengers (who’d have to be picky about where they hail rides).

Mayor Steve Adler maintains that the ridesharing firms are “welcome to stay,” and has offered to keep negotiating. However, it’s doubtful that either of the companies will be so quick to come back. Both tend to play hardball when new laws make life difficult, often by threatening to end service — they give up their main bargaining chip if they don’t follow through on that threat. Sure enough, Lyft says this is taking a “stand for a long-term path forward,” while Uber feels nothing but “disappointment.”

No matter what, the outcome will be mixed. Opponents to Proposition 1 are happy that companies which do operate should have a stricter vetting process that reduces the chances of drivers committing crimes. It also pleases emergency crews worried that they’ll have to dodge around mid-street pickups. However, the withdrawal is bound to be a hassle for both customers and drivers. Austin is a very car-focused city, and going without ridesharing means either paying much more for a cab or else using a mass transit system that’s far from ideal. And of course, drivers who made significant cash through these services now have to scramble to find other work. Things aren’t set in stone yet (this is just a proposition), but Austinites could still be in for a shock.

Source: KXAN


The Public Access Weekly: Island in the sun

Hey there fantastic Public Access Weekly readers! This week we celebrated May the 4th Be With You, one of everyone’s favorite geek holidays, as well as the holiday that falls on the day after — Revenge of the 5th. We are also just days away from the very first anniversary of Public Access’ launch which we are really excited about. In order to celebrate that holiday, we’ll be planning some exclusive assignments, some highlight stories and…maybe some prizes or account upgrades. Anything could happen, and you can stay up-to-date by reading the Public Access Weekly posts every Friday.

Over on the Public Access page, members are just killing it by posting some really exceptional stories. Here is the breakdown on Public Access stats from April:

  • 74 total articles went live in April (that’s up from 57 in March, and almost double February’s total of 39!)
  • 39 different Public Access members published posts — including 20 first-timers! (March’s numbers were 27 and 12, respectively)
  • The Public Access member with the most posts published in April was a tie between Kevin Nouse and Maheshwor Bhattarai who each had 5 posts.

And the top 10 most read Public Access posts for April (not counting the Public Access Weekly posts) were:

Double Play: How sports games reach deeper into gamers’ pockets by Richard Starr
We’re shutting down our comments… See you next week by Amber Bouman
DJI Phantom 4 Markets to Novice Users: Is this safe? by Eric Lancheres
The Top 5 Favorites List: Movies Based On Video Games by Lovisa Alvin
IKEA is my favorite live action game by Kris Naudus
Q&A with Ashley Dickinson from Kinda Kind by Amber Bouman
Top 7 Search Engines That Can Help When Google Cannot by Amit Sen
Cross platform gaming: Are we getting there? by Neal Cotton
5 Things I Wish To See in FIFA 17 by Naman Nepal
Capturing the Imagination by Cultivating Trust by Ale Resnik

Here’s to you Public Access members! Keep up the good work!

Looking for something to read? Check out:

While seeing my Twitter feed fill up with offers to buy some cosmetic product from What’s-Her-Name Jenner never fails to make me roll my eyes, other folks are seeing the opportunity and cashing in big by using Instagram to resell a variety of highly in-demand items which is an interesting turn of events for the social sharing service.

Flattr Plus is a new service from the ever-popular Adblock Plus that aims to help publications monetize their content by allowing readers to donate to the sites they spend the most time reading. It’s a little bit like Spotify, but for news sites.

The dek to this story about government officials and tech knowledge says it all: At this point, it’s unacceptable to not understand how technology works… Especially if you’re creating legislation about technology.

Looking for something to write on? Mull over:

FreshTeam is a messaging app that will tell your boss where your location is (via GPS), what you’re doing and even how much battery life your phone has left (because, hey, nothing fosters trust like having someone track your every movement?). As tracking technology advances, what should workplace policies be for mobile or remote employees? Write an employees bill of technology rights to address the roll of personal technology in a workplace. Or, alternatively, write a dystopian fan fiction style story on invasive technology used to police employees.

Over in the Vatican, the ‘cool’ Pope told a crowd of young people that happiness has no price: “It cannot be bought and sold: It is not an application you download on a mobile phone.” To which many of our intrepid commenters countered with “Uh…Porn?” Other responses included ‘RAM’ and “That Daft Punk album that I downloaded made me pretty happy…” It would seem that our technology — or at least our downloads — do bring us happiness. Tell us about a tech item that you downloaded or bought that brought you sincere joy and happiness, and why.

In a Medium post that appeared last week, Uber declared that users of its ride-sharing service were not required to tip drivers: “Nothing has changed. As we’ve said for many years, being Uber means you don’t need to tip.” Readers had a lot of opinions about this — on both sides — in the comments section with some pointing out that Uber riders often don’t carry cash and others mentioning that taxi drivers are traditionally tipped. Because the question of tipping is often a hotly debated topic, weigh in and tell us what the standards should be for tipping for sharing services: Should Uber drivers receive tips? Would you tip an Airbnb host? A TaskRabbit employee? Why or why not?

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