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Biggest US total solar eclipse in decades happens next year

Lunar eclipses are pretty amazing, but statistically speaking, they aren’t really all that rare. Catching a full solar eclipse, on the other hand? That’s hard. The moon blocks our planet’s view of the sun about ever year and a half — but these eclipses can typically only be seen from extremely remote locations. Next year, things will be different. On August 21st 2017, a total solar eclipse will be viewable from 14 US States in North America — marking the first time Americans have been able to see the phenomenon since 1979. If you’re reading this from the USA, that means you’re only one year and a short road trip from seeing an exclusive celestial ballet.

As the first eclipse to pass over the lower 48 US states since 1918, the event is being billed as the “Great American Total Solar Eclipse.” It won’t technically be be visible from every US state, but the eclipse will follow a diagonal path from northern Oregon, over Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee in the nation’s center and head back out to sea through South Carolina. According to, that puts over 220 million people within a one-day drive of the totality zone — directly passing over 12 states and catching the edge of an additional two.

Even if you do make the trek out, the phenomenon won’t last long — at best, the full eclipse will only last two minutes and forty seconds. Still, if you’re looking for an excuse to plan a road trip next year, a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse is a pretty good one.

Source: Space


Microsoft will fix Surface Pro 3 battery issues through software

Microsoft was right about its hunch that Surface Pro 3 battery degradation was a software problem. The company reports that it has ruled out hardware as a cause for the shrinking battery capacity, and that it’s working on a patch that should bring your Windows tablet back to normal. You’ll get the fix as soon as it passes testing, Microsoft says. In the meantime, it’s advising against asking for a hardware replacement.

The news isn’t pleasing everyone. Surface Pro 3 owners have complained of paying steep replacement fees ($450 or more) to get new models that they’re now learning aren’t necessary. Also, some are worried that their slate’s battery will be all but useless before the patch is ready, forcing them to pay for a replacement. Will these users get compensation for their troubles? We’ve asked Microsoft what it will do, and we’ll let you know what it has to say.

Via: Panos Panay (Twitter)

Source: Microsoft Community


Six futuristic data storage technologies

By Cat DiStasio

Digital technology is taking over the world, and scientists are hard at work finding better ways to store data — lots of it and for long periods of time. Scientists are exploring new materials for data storage as well as new methods for printing data on their chosen medium. While some companies are storing data on the ocean floor, other imagineers look upward, dreaming of giant storage skyscrapers. With so many different innovations happening in such a short period of time, the race is on to unlock the keys to near-limitless data storage potential.

5D Glass Data Disc

Data storage in five dimensions, embedded in nanostructures within glass discs, could inspire the next wave in record-keeping. A research team at the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Center (ORC) created a prototype the size of a quarter that can hold 360 terabytes of data and withstand extreme heat up to 190°C (374°F). The team believes their invention could be used to store data for up to 13.8 billion years (the age of the universe, FTW) because, unlike CDs and DVDs which hold their data on the surface and are prone to scratches, the 5D glass discs protect that information within their structure, safe from bumps and scrapes.

Underwater data centers

It’s no surprise that Microsoft has tons of data to keep secure, and last year the tech giant started experimenting with putting the “cloud” deep under water. Project Natick enclosed data servers in a huge watertight capsule and sunk them beneath the waves in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Washington. After a two-month test period, the 38,000-pound steel container was brought back to the surface, where its contents — a data center with the computing power of 300 desktop PCs — were nice and dry. Learning that the concept works may lead Microsoft to someday install more underwater data centers, but for now it has no firm plans.

Iceland’s proposed data skyscraper

Still in the concept phase, this epic data-storing skyscraper was designed to be located in Iceland. The building would act as a giant cylindrical motherboard with a hollow center, allowing for plenty of natural air flow to keep the data servers cool — which shouldn’t be too big of a problem in a chilly place like Iceland. The country’s renewable energy infrastructure also means the tower could be powered by 100 percent clean energy. The design concept won third place in the 2016 eVolo Skyscraper competition, although there’s no telling if it will ever become a reality.

Hitachi’s Quartz Glass Disc

Electronics leader Hitachi produced another version of 5D glass data storage in 2012. Using binary code, researchers packed 40 megabytes of data into a one-square-inch piece of quartz glass (the type beakers are made from). At barely two millimeters thick, each square can hold the same amount of data as a CD and endure temps up to 1,832°F as well as run-ins with chemicals and water. The data can be retrieved with an optical microscope and, just like the glass panes we are all accustomed to, is perfectly transparent no matter how much data is etched into it.

Floating cantilever for low-energy devices

An international research team based in South Korea and Scotland developed a proof of concept for a new type of data storage that relies on a floating cantilever for small gadgets like cell phones and MP3 players. The self-propelled cantilever reacts to electrical currents within the device to convert this electrical information into binary code, and it’s both faster and more energy-efficient than existing technologies. Although the tech hasn’t made its way into consumer electronics yet, there’s still potential for the breakthrough to lead to more efficient data storage down the road.

Abandoned mines as data centers

While many researchers are hard at work developing new data storage devices, others are looking for better locations to put servers. Some say the answer is right beneath our feet, so to speak. Abandoned limestone mines across the country could be retrofitted into the perfect locations for underground data centers. An efficient data storage center will have a consistent cool temperature and humidity level — two requirements that lead to massive energy use above the ground. Deep inside a mine, however, the conditions are just right. At least one architectural firm, Callison, has already converted a former mine site to an underground data center somewhere in the Northeast United States, but the exact location is top secret. Talk about secure data storage.


Lyft reportedly tried to sell to Apple, Uber and others

Apparently General Motors wasn’t the only potential buyer for Lyft’s ride-sharing business. According to the New York Times, the San Francisco-based company has been trying to sell itself to everyone from Apple and Google to Amazon, Uber and Didi Chuxing — albeit without any luck. While the Times notes the company is currently sitting on $1.4 billion in cash and isn’t in any danger of shutting down, the fact that Lyft couldn’t find a buyer at it’s unicorn valuation of $5.5 billion speaks to some of the volatility left in the ride-sharing industry.

Specifically, Uber and Lyft both take anywhere from a 20 to 25 percent cut of each ride, but once you factor in marketing costs or the never-ending stream of free promotions and discounted fares, some of those rides actually net out to zero dollars in revenue for the company. Still, the Times’ sources reiterate that Lyft’s stockpile of cash is a good indicator that it’s not actually in danger of disappearing anytime soon. In May, Lyft also announced plans to test a self-driving fleet sometime in the next year, but Uber is already looking to beat it to the punch.

Source: New York Times


Oracle funds a group trying to tarnish Google’s image

It won’t shock you to hear that Oracle is nursing a grudge after it lost its big copyright case against Google. It’s pushing for a new trial, for one thing. However, the software giant is also trying to undermine its rival in roundabout ways. Oracle has confirmed to Fortune that it’s funding Campaign for Accountability, a non-profit advocacy group with a decidedly anti-Google bent. While it promotes some common causes, such as fighting “big oil” and promoting LGBT rights, it also has a Google Transparency Project that aims to “track the company’s influence” on government and personal lives. And not surprisingly, most of it is critical — the project is obsessed with the possible ethical implications of Google’s White House meetings.

Ironically, CfA isn’t very transparent about its own membership. Microsoft has explicitly denied funding the group, however, so it’s not necessarily a haven for tech giants with an axe to grind. The big concern is that Oracle will use CfA as an astroturfing (fake grassroots) weapon to undermine Google, particularly among politicians who might not either see the Oracle connection or are willing to turn a blind eye to it.

Source: Fortune, Campaign for Accountability


Motorola MBP36S Remote Wireless Video Baby Monitor review – CNET

The Good The Motorola baby monitor works fast out of the box. It is easy to use, and one of the most affordable camera/monitor combinations out there.

The Bad The third-party app is basically broken, and some of the features weren’t even testable as a result. Even on the monitor at short range, connection issues are intermittent.

The Bottom Line It’s a fine basic device if you’re just going to use it in the house, without the app. Even then, though, the connection issues would make me wary of relying on it.

When I first unpacked the Motorola Baby Monitor and powered it on, I was surprised to see the base station screen on which you watch your baby immediately sync with the camera’s view. Talk about a quick setup. The next week of testing it out, however, slowly chipped away at that first impression, and left me with an overall negative opinion of the product.

For $180, the Motorola Baby Monitor should feel like a solid mid-range video monitor. Sadly, half of the features listed for the device barely function thanks to a terrible app and a consistently low-performing connection.

Motorola’s greatest strength is its out-of-the-box usability. Like the comparable VTech Monitor, it’s perfect if you want to use the monitor mostly in-home. Leave the camera pointing at your child, run to the next room to do a little work, and you’ve got a screen right there with two-way audio and night vision. You can even pan and tilt the camera using the base station, albeit with noticeable latency.

You start running into problems when you download the third-party app that allows for monitoring via your mobile phone. In theory, this should add all sorts of features, like push notifications, motion and audio sensing, and video recording for later viewing. And Motorola would be one of the only companies offering both a base station and app. The problem is, the app’s connection is so intermittent, I could barely even try out those features, let alone use them with any sort of consistency.

Despite the features the company boasts on its box, the Motorola Baby Monitor boils down to a very basic product. Despite the problems with the app, I could’ve recommend the monitor if the connection between the camera and base station were perfect. But even that connection suffers often, which leaves the product with almost no viable audience.


Panasonic Wireless Home Baby Monitor Kit KX-HN6001W review – CNET

The Good Panasonic’s baby monitor has a great app and includes a hub for further build-outs… if users want to make that long-term investment.

The Bad The camera has no pan/tilt control, and the app can’t make up for the lack of a standalone monitor.

The Bottom Line Although the camera performs admirably, Panasonic’s device simply doesn’t have basic design features that make other monitors so convenient — whether that’s a standalone monitor or pan/tilt control.

What makes a smart baby monitor “smart?” Some devices are wearable, measuring heart rates and oxygen levels. Some are app connected. The Wireless Home Baby Monitoring Kit from Panasonic, shows off its smarts by integrating with a larger system — the Panasonic Home Network.

At $180, Panasonic’s video baby monitor is more affordable than much of the competition. Part of the way it cuts that cost is by excluding a standalone base station monitor. Instead, users can pull up the app on their phones to live stream their sleeping child. Like competitor iBaby, Panasonic maintains an impressive app and reliable connection.

The problem is, when you just use the monitor around the house, your phone gets tied up with the app, which can be frustrating if you’re hoping to multitask with it.

Panasonic’s Kit also includes a hub that can connect with devices like door/window sensors, motion sensors, and more — all for a more integrated and secure nursery environment. Without those additional purchases, the hub really only functions as an audio alarm when the camera senses motion. But for customers interested in setting up a DIY monitoring system for their child, the hub adds a lot of potential.

Panasonic’s device has a few major drawbacks. Most notably, the camera is one of the few in its price range without pan/tilt controls. In other words, once the camera is pointed in a direction, that’s where it stays until you physically move it. The second issue is the lack of sensitivity personalization when it comes to motion and sound alerts. Under the default settings, I was able to walk across the whole field of view for the camera. As long as I went slowly, the alarm never went off.

The final problem with Panasonic was actually my first impression. Setting up the hub and the camera, connecting them on my Wi-Fi, and installing the multiple firmware updates required — the whole process took over an hour (yes, you read that right). I’m glad to see Panasonic updating the firmware on these devices, as it shows at least some level of ongoing support. But setup for a baby monitor shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, let alone 60.

Panasonic’s baby monitor isn’t the best device for its price. But for parents with an interest in DIY setups and large monitoring systems, it could be a good foundation for future investments.


Summer Infant In View Digital Color Video Baby Monitor review – CNET

The Good The Summer Infant Video Baby Monitor is affordable, and the basics work well for the most part. You can have it up and running in under a minute.

The Bad Reliable night vision is notably absent from the features, the resolution is low and there are some minor connection problems.

The Bottom Line The Summer Infant Monitor is a solid product if you’re on a tighter budget, but some missing features mean it won’t work in every situation.

With so many video baby monitors and smart cams that cost between $200 and $300, finding a product with both a camera and base station monitor for $130 seems like a steal. And that’s exactly how much the Summer Infant In View Digital Color Video Baby Monitor will set you back.

Of course, for a lower price, you’ll also get fewer features. That means no app connection, no pan/tilt control, and most notably, no night vision. The device still works, but the missing features definitely limit the use cases.

For instance, you can really only use Summer Infant to monitor your child from another room, because there’s no remote viewing via an app. Again, most people use monitors when they’re just a room away, but I like having app connection, so you can check in with your child when you’ve left them with a sitter.

The Summer Infant also won’t monitor a whole nursery very well, because you can’t move the view to follow your child around a room. Finally, the room must always be at least somewhat well-lit. Otherwise, you can’t see anything.

All these limits mean Summer Infant is best suited for monitoring your napping kiddo from a room or two away — and only if that room has some light. In that capacity, it works well. I especially like one design feature: a small LED strip along the top of the base station monitor. The strip lights up as the camera senses sound, so you don’t necessarily need to keep the monitor volume up — you can just keep an eye on the lights.

Besides the lacking features, Summer Infant works pretty reliably. Its streaming resolution is too low to see if your child’s eyes are open or closed from a short distance, but you can see major movements and hear sounds. Similarly, the connection between the monitor and camera sometimes cuts out, but in my time with the device, such cuts were rare and brief.

Overall, Summer Infant’s Monitor is basic, but reliable. You’ll need to make sure the crib has some light around it at night, so you can still see the baby, but getting a camera and base station monitor for $130 isn’t a bad deal.


How did Microsoft fare at Gamescom this year?

Microsoft has a ton of Xbox exclusives in the pipeline. Gears of War 4, ReCore, Dead Rising 4, Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizon 3 — the list goes on. Here at Gamescom, we’ve been speaking to the developers behind each title, listening to their pitches and, in some instances, going hands-on. So what impressed us and what didn’t? I took 10 minutes with Engadget Senior Editor Aaron Souppouris to break it all down. (Hint: I really liked Scalebound…)

We’re live all week from Cologne, Germany for Gamescom 2016. Click here to catch up on all the news from the show.


Grab the Honor 5X for an ultra-low $160 today from Newegg

Honor is a growing brand in North America — the Huawei sub-brand just announced that its latest flagship, the Honor 8, is coming to the U.S. at the end of the month — but it made its debut last year with a 5X.


With a 5.5-inch 1080p display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 13MP camera, and a 3,000mAh battery, the Honor 5X has the hardware — and if you can deal with Huawei’s Emotion UI 3.1 software (which is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow), it’s a pretty nice phone.

Right now, you can get it from Newegg for $160 including shipping using the coupon code ESCEMGE24EDU, which brings it down from its current price of $189.99. That’s a pretty great price for a decent phone, so get on it!

See at Newegg

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