After Math: Come undone
It’s been a hell of a week, folks. American intelligence confirmed that Russia conspired to hack of our election, Uber unleashed a pack of poorly trained autonomous automobiles upon the streets of San Francisco, Snapchat’s Spectacles went all medicinal and Super Mario Run debuted on iOS. Numbers, because how else are you going to know how many fingers are feeding you magic?
Ben Heck’s essentials series: Wireless communications
Karen is really wired, and this time we don’t just mean hyperactive. Ben, Karen and Felix get together to talk about the essentials of wireless technology. There are many different ways for electronics to communicate information, including WiFi, xBee, Bluetooth, mobile networks, RFID and NFC — and in this episode the team discusses them all. The gang appraises each technology, assessing the pros and cons, with an insight into their radio frequencies, as well as the bandwidth they use per FCC regulations. What projects or hardware do you wish were wireless? Or do you have an interest in Software Defined Radio or Amateur Ham? Let The Ben Heck Show team know over on the element14 Community.
Thermomix TM5 review – CNET
The Good The $1,300 Thermomix TM5 is a countertop multicooker that knows its way around a dozen common kitchen tasks, from cooking tomato soup to kneading bread dough. You can connect a magnetic dish to it to access a cookbook’s worth of easy-to-follow, adaptable recipes.
The Bad It costs $1,300. The mixing bowl where the action takes place doesn’t have a pour spout. Dough and other food bits get easily caught in the multicooker’s blades. And, once again, it’s $1,300.
The Bottom Line The Thermomix TM5 is a luxury kitchen gadget worth pining for.
The Thermomix TM5 became available in the US in September, but has been on the international market for more than 40 years.
The Thermomix TM5 is a new addition to the American appliance scene that claims to tackle a dozen common kitchen tasks. The price of this souped-up blender/food processor/cooker/mixer is as lofty as its promises: $1,300 (it’s available in the UK for £925 and Australia for about AU$2,090). The Thermomix’s high cost and bold goals made me skeptical. Then I began to test it.
I used the Thermomix to whip egg whites, knead bread, steam vegetables, boil pasta, blend smoothies, and more. The gadget completed all of these tasks at a proficient level or above. The Thermomix was also easy to use, thanks in large part to an accompanying cookbook chip that you connect to the machine. And the hard copy of that cookbook outlines how to adapt your own recipes for the Thermomix.
I have a few qualms with the Thermomix’s design. The mixing bowl in which you put your food doesn’t have a pour spout. Dough and other gooey ingredients get caught in the Thermomix’s blades. And the Thermomix could make better use of its turn-wheel control.
Overall, the Thermomix lives up to its promises and exceeds expectations. But the price makes it an aspirational product in the same vein as a KitchenAid stand mixer or Viking range. You don’t need any of these products, and a lot of folks certainly can’t afford them. Yet the Thermomix, like other expensive appliances that have become status symbols, is worthy of a spot on your wishlists and Pinterest boards.
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Take a closer look at this German import
A German company called Vorwerk began to sell the Thermomix in France in 1971, and the product eventually spread worldwide. Vorwerk released the TM5 model in 2014, and the company began to make it available in the US in September. Picking up a Thermomix is more complicated than visiting a Target or ordering online, though. You have to contact a Thermomix consultant for an at-home or online demonstration of the appliance before you order it (similar to a Pampered Chef situation, but with only one product).
3 perfect apps for editing photos on the go
These are the apps to use for a quick photo edit.
Whether you’re showing off your trip abroad to friends on social media or sharing photos with family members in a shared Google Photos album, you’ll want to make sure the pictures you’re sending off are dressed for success. You can doll them up, crop them, tweak them, and give them new life with these easy-to-use apps for editing photos on the go.
Pixlr – Free Photo Editor
Developed by Autodesk, this is one of the easiest photo editing apps available for Android. The app features over two million combinations of effects, overlays, and filters. You can use it to quickly crop a photo, do minor editing, and add a little sparkle to an otherwise dull pose. Pixlr is always updated with themed frames, too, in case you forgot to send out holiday cards and you’re desperate for a way to send a quick email.
Pixlr – Free Photo Editor (Free)
VSCO is what I use when I want to fit in with everyone else on Instagram — which is always, clearly, because I pretty much use this app exclusively for turning my boring social snaps into dynamic pieces of the past. TAG IT ALL THE THINGS.
In all seriousness, VSCO is good for adding some character to your photo and making your cheap phone look like it produces some artful masterpieces. Seriously, did you guys even notice I was shooting with a Moto G half the time? I used VSCO before posting to make it seem like the low-resolution quality was intentional. You can download and purchase a variety of punchy filter packs, or tweak the photo in your own manner with a plethora granular controls. When you’re finished, you can upload to VSCO’s own social network or save to share elsewhere.
As an added bonus, filter purchases are tied to your Google Play account, so you can easily switch devices without worry of losing your investment.
For when Google Photos just isn’t enough, there’s Google’s own Snapseed. The app features a ton of essential tools you’d find on a desktop photo editing app, like an on-screen histogram, lens corrector, healing brush — which works remarkably well — and an HDR tuner. There are also real, grown up frames and filters you can use to show off your smartphone photo-taking prowess. And if you’re really on the go — like, say, in transit to your next destination — Snapseed has both JPEG and RAW support so you can make major edits to your big camera photography. Just be sure to bring a mobile card reader with you on your trip.
Got an app you like to use to edit your photos before sharing them online? Let us know!
Apple’s new solar-powered campus, and more in the week that was
As the founder of Tesla, Elon Musk is a proponent of clean technology and renewable energy. That’s why it’s so surprising that Donald Trump has selected Musk to serve as a strategic advisor — here’s hoping Musk can convince the President-elect to take climate change seriously. In other news, Chevrolet just delivered its first batch of Bolt EVs to customers in the San Francisco Bay Area, beating Tesla’s Model 3 to the punch. Steven Hawking is working with NASA to launch a self-healing starship that will search for habitable planets in Alpha Centauri. And Japan Airlines has developed a way to transform old clothing into jet fuel.
The fight against climate change is in jeopardy as Donald Trump’s cabinet picks roll in, but Bill Gates is stepping up to the task by launching a $1 billion clean energy fund. Meanwhile, America’s first offshore wind farm just switched online for the first time, and it’s producing enough energy to power 17,000 homes. Denmark is well ahead of the clean energy game — it currently sources over half of its electricity from renewable sources, and that figure is set to rise to 100 percent by 2035. And researchers invented a new solar sidewalk made from recycled plastic that snaps together like LEGO bricks.
One of the world’s most anticipated buildings is nearly finished: Drone footage shows that Apple’s massive solar-powered “spaceship” campus is set to be completed by the end of the year. In other design and technology news, Carlo Ratti Associati launched plans for a floating gym that uses people power to cruise through Paris. Japan successfully launched an orbiting satellite that will trap space junk with a giant net. And the world’s best dad created an incredible Star Wars AT-ACT playhouse just in time for the debut of Rogue One.
VW to pour $200 million more into an anti-pollution fund
Believe it or not, Volkswagen still isn’t done paying for its diesel emissions scandal. Reuters understands that the car maker has agreed to pay over $200 million extra into a US Environmental Protection Agency fund devoted to reducing pollution created by VW’s diesel emissions cheating. The company had already agreed to spend $2.7 billion over three years, but the extra money will cover the 80,000 3-liter diesels that violated emissions limits — previously, it was only accounting for 2-liter vehicles. Barring surprises, the deal could be made official as soon as the 19th.
It’s not certain what will happen to the cars themselves, although a judge has given a December 19th deadline. VW may end up buying back 20,000 of the 3-liter cars and fixing the emissions of the remaining 60,000.
These vehicles (which include Audi and Porsche models) don’t violate American emissions laws quite so egregiously as the 2-liter models. They “only” exceed the limits by up to nine times versus 40 times on the 2-liter machines. However, it’s clear that regulators want to account for every instance of emissions abuse, not just the most obvious examples.
OLED iPhone 8 to Feature Curved Display and New Touch-Sensitive Technology
Apple’s high-end OLED iPhone 8 will use a curved display rather than a flat panel and could potentially feature new touch-sensitive technology, according to a report published on Sunday.
Multiple sources have claimed Apple is planning a 5.5-inch “premium” version of its 2017 iPhone with an OLED screen alongside new models with traditional LCD displays, but today’s report underlines Apple’s intention to use a curved screen similar to that found in Samsung’s Galaxy S7, which has been described as having the best smartphone display on the market.
“The OLED version of the new iPhone will all be curved as Apple ordered all plastic OLED — not glass — from Samsung Display. Samsung is capable of supplying a little less than 100 million units of curved OLED displays to Apple,” a source familiar with the matter told The Korea Herald.
Previous rumors outlining Apple’s intention to launch multiple iPhone models have been dogged by suggestions that it could delay adoption of OLED technology entirely due to supply constraints. Samsung is Apple’s sole supplier of OLED displays in 2017, with LG and Sharp among the companies tapped to ramp up production for 2018, but the latest report indicates that limited supply may indeed shape differentiation in next year’s 10th anniversary iPhone line-up.
According to the Herald, Samsung’s curved OLED capacity for Apple is estimated at around 70 million to 100 million units. That’s in line with previous estimates, but it’s less than half of Apple’s annual sales of the iPhone series, which stand at around 200 million units a year.
The paper’s source goes on to state that next year’s iPhone won’t be foldable, but in order to set it apart from Samsung’s phones it could feature new sensing technology which “enables the phone to respond when users touch any side of the device”. No further details are forthcoming, but the source notes that Apple may ultimately choose not to adopt the technology.
Other rumors suggest Apple’s major iPhone redesign could include wireless charging and a glass body, no physical Home button, and an edge-to-edge, bezel-free display with embedded Touch ID fingerprint sensor and camera.
Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
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‘Gears of War 4’ marks the holidays with snowball fights
Destiny and Overwatch don’t have a lock on over-the-top holiday gaming modes. Gears of War 4 just got a 99-cent Gearsmas Pack that adds some cheer to a mostly grim and dark game. The centerpiece is a special multiplayer event, Snowball Fight, where you have to fling snowballs at rivals using a custom Snowshot weapon. Akin to a real fight, you can’t just reload — you have to scoop up more snow ammo once you’ve run out of what little you have. There are also three ugly sweater-clad characters (JD, Kait and a Swarm Drone) and 24 holiday-themed weapon skins. Gearsmas lasts until January 4th, so you’ll want to act soon if you’re going to show off.
Microsoft and The Coalition are sweetening the pot, too. They’re currently running a sale on GoW4 that slashes 35 percent off the game ($39 in the US) through December 28th, and there’s a UIR Gear Pack coming later in the month. You should see an Easter Egg in the game on Christmas Day, as well. This isn’t as thorough as what you get in a title like Overwatch (where there’s a snowball fight and 100-plus cosmetic add-ons), but it’s bound to make the game feel festive.
Source: Xbox Wire, Microsoft Store
Facebook is testing group voice calls on desktop
It looks like Facebook is considering the possibility of making group voice calling available on desktop. According to TechCrunch, the social network has given a small number of users access to the feature to test it out — if you want to know if you’ve been chosen, open one of your group chats and look for a phone icon near the top right of the messaging box. You only need to click that icon if you want to invite your friends to a multi-person call.
Facebook officially launched the feature for its Messenger apps back in April, but making it available on computers will make it less likely to leave out some friends in your group convos. While there’s Skype and other apps with the feature, it will be easier to coordinate large calls with family and friends on a platform a lot of people already use. Since this is just an experimental feature, we can’t say if you’ll be able to organize 50-person call parties like you can on Messenger, or if it’ll ever make its way to your account.
[Image credit: TechCrunch]