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After Math: Let’s get nasty

It’s been quite the week for everything going to hell in a handbasket. This viscous election cycle is seriously stressing out half of Americans. Videogame voice actors are on strike, the cops are growing their facial recognition databases of US citizens, Twitter hired and fired a manager after discovering evidence of his past asshattery. And worst of all, it looks like we’re going to have a Cubs-Indians World Series, which can only be explained as a sign of the imminent apocalypse. Numbers, because how else will we measure how far we’ve fallen?


Ben Heck’s PlayStation 4 Slim teardown

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Voiding warranties is what we do best here on The Ben Heck Show, and a new game console gives us the perfect opportunity. Join Ben as he tears down the Sony PlayStation 4 Slim to find out what makes it tick, and how it compares to Microsoft’s Xbox One Slim. From creating their own Blu-ray solution (you know, just because they can) to questioning the build quality, Ben guides us through the design decisions Sony made when building the PS4 Slim. The real question you might be wondering, though, is: Can Ben turn it into a portable console? Probably yes, but more importantly, what would you like to see us do with it? let us know at the element14 Community.


Here’s a great read about embedded AOSP to get your geek juices flowing


A start to finish primer on embedded Android from people who do it professionally is a must read for anyone who likes to roll up their sleeves and dig into things.

Android was designed for mobile devices, but it’s pretty scalable and actually not very difficult to get it to run on a long list of mobile and non-mobile embedded things. Of course, the difficulty is relative so you’ll need to be familiar with a few things. That’s where this great document from the folks at Stanfy comes into the picture.

Stanfy is a group of mobile software developers. They build and design software for iOS and Android, but the also develop custom Android firmware. Mixed in amongst their showcase of apps for phones and wearables, they’ve built a really nice document about embedded Android. They explain what it is, what it isn’t, how it can be used and how to get started. They even go the extra mile and have a tutorial for building AOSP from start to finish.

The guide does a great job of breaking down some pretty technical lingo into language for most everyone. If you’re a complete novice you’ll need to use the power of Google a time or two to understand everything, but if you’re familiar with it all you’ll still be able to learn something. I’ve been monkeying around with the Android source code since 2009 and I still got a lot out of it. I’m a step closer to bringing my Nexus Q back to life!

It’s a great Sunday read, so go have a look.

Stanfy’s Embeded Android Guide


Tesla’s self-driving future, and more in the week that was

Tesla is making several big announcements this month, and Elon Musk just delivered the first: From now on, all new Tesla cars will be self-driving. The electric automaker also teamed up with Panasonic to build solar panels for its Powerwall home battery, which it’s set to update next week. Hyperloop One is forging ahead on its futuristic transportation system by raising $50 million and hiring Uber’s former CFO as an advisor. It looks like Apple has scrapped plans to build a self-driving car, and BMW showcased plans for a next-gen smart motorcycle that will never crash or tip over.

In energy news, scientists accidentally discovered a cheap, simple way to transform CO2 into ethanol fuel. A new study shows that wind power could supply 20 percent of the world’s electricity by 2030, and Germany is preparing to build the first wind/hydro turbines, which can produce energy even without a breeze. A new type of solar panel is able to pull clean drinking water from thin air, and Dyaqua has developed “invisible” photovoltaics that look just like stone, concrete and wood.

Target is taking fresh, local produce to the next level — by actually growing fruits and veggies in its stores. The chain is planning to install vertical indoor gardens starting next spring. In other technology and design news, Biodome Systems launched a line of geodesic dome homes that can withstand major earthquakes, and we spotted an algae-powered oxygen bar that sucks CO2 out of the air. Yves Behar launched the world’s first smart crib to help parents get more sleep, while Fend invented a packable bike helmet that collapses down to one third of its original size. And we rounded up eight inexpensive homes made from earth that almost anyone can afford.


Cisco says it can cut live pirate video streams

It’s relatively easy for content providers to take down pirated videos when they’re uploaded to the web, but stopping live streams is another matter. Just ask anyone who has watched a bootleg stream for a pay-per-view boxing match or the Super Bowl — new streams usually pop up faster than the copyright holders can take them down. The party might soon be over, however. Cisco has created a new technology, Streaming Piracy Prevention, that promises to automatically cut off illegal live feeds.

The approach uses a forensic watermark to identify the sessions and subscriptions being used to leak the video (say, an HBO or UFC account), and shuts down those sources in real time. Companies wouldn’t have to send legal warnings and hope that offending streams go down before the event is over. They could take action as soon as they get wind of a feed, without any go-betweens slowing things down.

While clever, Cisco’s technique might raise concerns even if you have no qualms paying to watch big sporting events. Just because a company can circumvent the usual notice-and-takedown routine doesn’t mean that it should. What happens if there’s an error, or local laws require notices? While the likelihood of a mistake isn’t high, it’s possible that copyright holders could create trouble while clamping down on unofficial streams.

Via: TorrentFreak, Consumerist

Source: Cisco Blogs


Doctors relax rules on letting babies watch screens

Ever since 1999, many pediatricians have clung to one main recommendation about kids and gadgets: you shouldn’t show screens to any child under 2 years old. However, they’ve just loosened that once-firm policy. The American Academy of Pediatrics has softened its guidelines to permit screens for the under-2 crowd in the right circumstances. If your little ones are 18 months or older, they can watch “high-quality programming” (think PBS and Sesame Workshop) so long as you’re there to help your kids understand. Any younger than that and you should limit them to video chat, the AAP says.

The new advice also comes with tips for older kids. Those between 2 and 5 years old shouldn’t use screens for more than an hour per day, and then only for carefully-screened programming. And if they’re older, it’s still important to both set “consistent limits” and make sure that device time doesn’t affect physical activity, play or sleep.

The AAP is quick to acknowledge that it’s keeping up with the times. The media world is “constantly changing,” it says. The trick is balancing technology with babies’ developmental needs. A tablet can help your children expand their budding vocabularies or learn new concepts, but they still need to be old enough to process what they’re seeing.

Via: NPR

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics


White House initiative pushes for more tiny satellites

Miniature satellites are increasingly a big deal, and for good reasons: they’re not only less expensive and easier to deploy than the giant satellites of old, but can cover wider areas. And the White House wants to give them a helping hand. It’s launching an initiative that will foster small satellites with the resources they need to flourish. To start, NASA is not only proposing as much as $30 million toward purchasing data from these tiny vessels, but creating a Small Spacecraft Virtual Institute that will offer know-how to organizations. A more direct effort has the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency awarding Planet a $20 million contract for a fleet of small satellites that can capture images of “at least” 85 percent of the planet every 15 days.

Other plans? The Department of Commerce is elevating the importance of the Office of Space Commerce, whose director can now advise the Commerce Secretary on private spaceflight and help federal outfits take advantage of mini satellites. NGA, meanwhile, is teaming with the General Services Administration to create a single portal for finding and buying satellite data. And the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is offering satellite info as part of a challenge to develop breakthroughs in both 3D mapping as well as identifying building functions from space.

If all goes well, the effort will give private outfits a stronger incentive to build small satellites. They’ll have customers (both public and private) ready and waiting to buy the fruits of their labor. However, the US has broader ambitions. This could help bring Moore’s Law to space, the White House says — satellites could get ever smaller while accomplishing more than their monolithic ancestors.

Source: White House


Facebook censored a cartoon breast cancer awareness campaign

Facebook still has a thing or two to learn about what’s considered acceptable in your timeline. The social network is catching flak after it briefly took down an ad for Cancerfonden’s breast cancer awareness campaign that included cartoon representations of breasts — and very abstract ones at that (they were just pink circles). The company has since restored the post and apologized, but only after Cancerfonden unsuccessfully tried using a ‘safe’ blurry image and posted an open letter that blasted Facebook’s stance. You’d need square breasts to make Facebook happy, the organization argued.

In apologizing for the move, Facebook said that it examines “millions” of ad images each week and sometimes bans them by mistake. There’s no denying that the internet giant has a lot on its plate, and that it would be difficult to completely avoid slip-ups. However, this is just the latest in a string of incidents where Facebook has been overly aggressive with takedowns, only to backtrack after a public uproar. And this time, it can’t pin the removal on ambiguities in its existing policy — it acknowledged that the original image was fine in its mea culpa. Clearly, the company has yet to reach that point where it can reliably tell the difference between potentially offensive content and something that’s merely testing boundaries.

Via: Vocativ

Source: Cancerfonden (1), (2)


AT&T buys Time Warner’s media group for $85.4 billion


AT&T Time Warner merger deal is reached, $85.4 billion in cash and stock will change hands if approved.

AT&T’s proposal to buy Time Warner, Inc’s media division for $85.4 billion is now final. Announced on the company’s press site, the deal settled at $107.50 per share and was half cash and half stock. This will give AT&T possession of cable networks such as CNN, TNT, and HBO as well as Warner Bros. film and TV studio. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson will continue to head the company and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes will remain for an interim period then depart.

This puts AT&T/Time Warner alongside Comcast/NBC Universal as companies who control large cable or telecom pipes and content house to produce media to distribute on them. According to the Wall Street Journal, many regulators have expressed misgivings about the approval of the Comcast-NBC U deal and a “rigorous regulatory review” is expected. The deal, if approved, isn’t likely to close until late 2017.

This shouldn’t have any effect on AT&T’s mobile business, outside of any content distribution they may choose to offer.


Facebook’s Messenger app for Windows 10 now does calls

Facebook has quietly upgraded its Messenger app for Windows 10 with the ability to make voice and video calls, VentureBeat has discovered. No more leaving the app to ring up a friend through a browser. If that new-but-familiar phone or camera icon that you’re probably used to seeing on iOS and Android has that green bubble up, your friend’s online — just tap either to start a call.

In case you don’t have the feature yet, you’ll likely get it soon: a Facebook spokesperson told the publication that it only started rolling out last week. When the feature does go live for you, you’ll get call notifications if someone rings you up and be able to leave voicemails in your friends’ inboxes. VentureBeat says you’ll also be able to choose which camera to use, record your video calls and do group voice — not video, unfortunately — calls if the whole squad wants to chat.

Facebook has also updated WhatsApp for Windows Phone with video calling capability, a Spanish website has reported. However, it’s an experimental release exclusively for select beta users, so you’ll have to be really lucky to be able to test it out before everyone else.

Source: VentureBeat

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