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Homemade ‘Iron Man’ suit requires a special kind of crazy

Remember the, insane record-shattering flight of a jet-powered hoverboard? UK inventor Richard Browning thought that riding on top of a jet pack wasn’t crazy enough, so he strapped six kerosene-powered microjets to his arms. That transformed him into a bargain store Iron Man, helping him get off the ground in what looks like the most dangerous way ever.

Each motor produces about 22kg (46 pounds) of force, so six are more than enough to heft Browning aloft. The device cost him £40,000 ($50,000) to build, but some of that cost was offset thanks to investors and partners like Red Bull.

“I can just strap this on and go flying at a moment’s notice,” Browning told Techcrunch, adding that a mountain bike was more dangerous. Judging by the footage of his early trials, however, his rig “Daedelus” looks insane on multiple levels. Powered by kerosene jet fuel, it looks like the fiery explosion would kill you if the crash or fall didn’t, judging by the videos detailing his training (below).

However, Browning downplayed the danger, saying it’s designed to go low and slow (walking speed and no more than 6-10 feet above ground), and uses a dead-man’s switch that stops everything when not pressed. As for the kerosene, he says it’s really not explosive or flammable in the relatively small quantities he uses. “If I fell in some unimaginably bad way and somehow burst my robust fuel system, I would just leak it very slowly on the floor,” he says. There are also at least two people on hand with fire extinguishers during each test flight, and he wears a fire-proof suit.

After trying the suit with the rockets on both his legs and arms, he switched to an arms-only approach. That works well for him as an ex-Royal Marine and fitness enthusiast, but it would probably tire the average person’s arms rather quickly.

In comparison with Franky Zapata’s Guiness World Record-setting mile-and-a-half flight, the video flights (below) are pretty disappointing. Browning does eventually fly near the ground in a warehouse, as shown in the Red Bull video below. He controls the flight just by pointing his arms, in a process he equates to riding a bike. “If you let go, your brain does the rest.”

Browning recently added a Sony-built heads-up display that can show fuel levels. Prior to that, he had to ask family members to feel the back-mounted tank “and judge by their facial expression” how much was left, he told Wired. The aim is to eventually build a device that could be used by rescue or military personnel, but for now Browning is just doing exhibitions, perfecting the device and hopefully staying in one piece while doing so.

Browning’s even building a miniature, drone-powered model for his kids, too. As such, he really should rethink the name of his jet-powered craft — Daedelus is the mythic Greek father of the original flying man and famous crash-and-burn victim, Icarus.

Via: Techcrunch



Amazon’s NFL series goes inside the huddle for a second season

Amazon debuted its All or Nothing NFL series back in 2016 with a look at the Arizona Cardinals’ 2015 season. Now the online retailer is bringing back the original for a second act. The company announced that it greenlit the second season of the show, and this year it will chronicle the Los Angeles Rams. From the team’s relocation back to LA to hiring a new coach and gearing up to hit the field this fall, the show will offer an in-depth look at the Rams’ busy 2016 season.

The first season of All or Nothing earned a Sports Emmy nomination for Outstanding Serialized Sports Documentary. As you might expect, the show is available to stream with a Prime membership via Amazon’s video apps that are available on a range of devices. If you’re streaming with a Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Fire tablet or a compatible Android device, you’ll get to see behind-the-scenes clips thanks to Amazon’s X-Ray feature that overlays info and more on top of the video you’re watching.

There’s no premiere date just yet, but when the time comes, season 2 of All or Nothing will be available to Prime members in Austria, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico and the UK in addition to viewers in the US.

Source: Amazon (Business Wire)


Apple’s ‘we’re sorry we took away your ports’ dongle sale ends today

When Apple rolled out its controversial new MacBook Pro last fall, potential buyers were a bit miffed at the need to buy a host of expensive dongles to make the computer work with their old devices. Apple quickly responded by cutting prices on a host of USB-C cables and accessories, as well as the new LG 4K and 5K displays that are compatible with the MacBook and MacBook Pro. Originally, those discount prices were set to expire at the end of 2016, but Apple extended the deal until the end of March. Well, that day of reckoning is here — the discount on cables, accessories and monitors is set to expire today, March 31st.

So if you’ve been considering buying one of those LG monitors, today is definitely the day to do it. The 21.5-inch 4K display currently sells for $524, down from $700. The 27-inch 5K screen is priced at $924, a pretty notable discount from the $1,300 it will cost tomorrow.

You’re not going to save nearly as much cash on cables and adapters, but Apple is still offering pretty steep discounts. The super-helpful USB-C to USB dongle is $9 right now, down from $19, while you can save $5 on USB-C to Lightning cables for your iPhone or iPad. More expensive multiport adapters for outputting video to external displays are $49 instead of $69. All third-party USB-C accessories are 25 percent off, as well. If you’ve been thinking about buying a new MacBook Pro (or already have one) and have been dragging your feet on getting the cables you need, now’s a good day to go get them.

Source: Apple Store


The best portable document scanner

By Amadou Diallo

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After putting in more than 100 hours for research and hands-on testing since 2013, we think the Epson ES-300W is the best portable document scanner for digitizing documents without taking up half of a desktop. It combines scan speeds usually found on full-size scanners with extremely accurate text recognition. And thanks to its built-in Wi-Fi and battery, you can use it almost anywhere—even with a phone or tablet.

Who this is for

The reason for buying a portable document scanner is fairly straightforward. If you have stacks of documents and receipts filling up filing cabinets or cluttering your desk, converting them to digital documents not only frees up physical space, it makes your information much easier to find. On both Windows computers and Macs you can do word searches that include the contents of searchable PDF files, instead of having to recall a PDF’s obscure filename.

Search capability aside, another benefit of digitizing your documents is simply that they won’t get lost or inadvertently thrown away in a flurry of spring cleaning. Warranties and receipts for appliances can be crucial if they ever need to be repaired. And remember that the IRS requires you to keep tax records for a full seven years after the filing date.

Even if you start out with a big backlog of documents to scan, chances are you won’t always need to scan on a daily basis. What makes portable scanners attractive is that they’re designed to fold down into an even more compact form when not in use.

How we picked and tested

Our latest round of scanner testing included the Epson ES-300W, ES-200, FastFoto FF-640, and Fujitsu S1300i. Photo: Amadou Diallo

The must-have feature of any document scanner is the ability to save scans as searchable PDFs. To do this, scanners rely on OCR software to “read” the document and convert its text so you can search and copy/paste just as you would with any other PDF file. Whether the scanner maker uses its own OCR engine or licenses one from a third party, a high accuracy rate is crucial. Speed is also important so you can quickly process your documents. And unless you’ll use a scanner every day, it’s nice to have a unit that folds down into a more compact form when not in use.

After searching sites of major retailers, we found over 100 scanners. We winnowed this list by eliminating bulky desktop models, simplex scanners, those without an automatic document feeder, and models that work only on Windows machines. You can read more about what we tested and what didn’t make the cut in our full guide.

For our in-house comparisons we focused on text accuracy, speed, and software usability. We ran dozens of test pages, business documents, tax forms, receipts, business cards, and photographs through the scanners to see how they measured up. For our full testing procedures, see our full guide.

Our pick

Photo: Michael Hession

The Epson ES-300W offers just about everything we could want in a portable document scanner, making it an easy recommendation as the best choice for digitizing your analog paper trail. In our tests it (along with its sister model, the ES-200) delivered the fastest scans we’ve seen from a portable unit, with flawless text recognition with fonts as small as 6 points when using the bundled ABBYY software. Scan speeds were virtually identical under both USB and AC power, making the included power brick largely unnecessary unless you have an older laptop fitted with USB 2 ports (USB 3 is required for supplying power). Even more impressively, there was no speed penalty when scanning over Wi-Fi versus a USB connection on computers, phones, and tablets (paired with a free iOS or Android app). This makes it more future-proof as mobile-only workflows gain popularity, and as computer makers transition from USB 3 to USB-C while reducing the overall quantity and variety of ports in general. The Wi-Fi connection worked without any issues, save an installation snafu we talk about in our full guide. The ES-300W isn’t the lightest portable unit we tested (due to its battery) but is still small enough to easily fit in a shoulder bag or carry-on.


Photo: Michael Hession

If you’re always able to connect to a computer via USB, Wi-Fi and battery power will be of little use. If that’s the case, you can save yourself about $50 (at the time of this writing) and buy the Epson ES-200. It lacks a battery and Wi-Fi, but is otherwise identical in both features and performance to our top pick. The units are so similar that they even share the same user manual. The ES-200’s lack of a battery does make it lighter by half a pound and shorter by half an inch than our top pick, a consideration if packable size is your number-one priority.

For photo scanning

Photo: Michael Hession

If you’re looking for a document scanner that can also accept photos without bending and crumpling them while scanning, we recommend the Epson FastFoto FF-640. In addition to being a competent document scanner, it can accurately scan photos without damaging them thanks to a reconfigured scan head and roller design that doesn’t bend documents as they pass through the scanner. With a maximum resolution of 600 dpi, it can convert a 4-by-6 photograph into a roughly 8.5-megapixel JPEG in 3 to 4 seconds. It’s a welcome alternative if you have shoeboxes of family photos taking up space in your closet or collecting dust under your bed and you don’t want to send them out to be scanned professionally. However, it costs more and is significantly larger than any document-only portable scanner.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.


Twitter eggs are bad news so the company got rid of them

The day before April Fools isn’t the best time to make big announcements, but that’s not stopping Twitter from dropping some big news. The social network revealed its new default profile picture today, an icon that looks more like a real person and gets rid of the egg. Originally, the idea was that new Twitter users would hatch into birds before sending tweets. Of course, the egg took on a negative meaning associated with trolling and other sorts of not-so-great activity.

The company detailed the change in a blog post where it explains the rationale for switching up the icon to something that resembles a person. However, there’s some interesting rationale at work here.

“Regardless, people have come to associate the circle head with masculinity, and because of this association, we felt that it was important to explore alternate head shapes,” the post explains. “We reviewed many variations of our figure, altering both the head and shoulders to feel more inclusive to all genders.” Twitter says it settled on a more neutral gray color scheme to give less prominence to account with a default photo. They’re less like to stand out in your timeline than those colorful eggs. Of course, if you really wanted to use the old profile pics, there’s not anything anyone can do about it — except mute or block you.

Yesterday the service announced it was removing @replies from the 140-character limit — a change users are still getting used to. Earlier this month, Twitter started allowing users to mute any accounts with the default avatar so you can still keep those folks out of your feed should the need arise. For now, we’re off to sort out our new profile pics.


— Mathew (@thatmatsmith) March 31, 2017

it me

— darth™ (@darth) March 31, 2017

Source: Twitter


Apple invests in Indian developers with a new app accelerator

In a bid to take advantage of India’s growing developer community, Apple opened the doors to an App Accelerator in Bangalore today. True to its name, it’ll serve as a place to speed up app development with weekly training, guidance and one-on-one app reviews. Apple opened similar accelerators in Naples and Brazil, but those were more focused on courting students as new developers. While the new Indian location will also try to win over students, it’s more interested in honing the country’s ready strong developer community, Apple marketing head Phil Schiller told NDTV.

“I think what we hope from this accelerator is that we can help the local market create apps for customers in India that better meet the needs of our growing customer base here,” Schiller said. “We also think we can help developers here at the accelerator to make apps that reach further around the world, because there’s an entire world that wants their software too, and having that opportunity is something that’s of benefit to them and now people here can help them learn more about that and take better advantage of it.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook first announced the accelerator last May, so it’s a bit surprising it took almost a year to make it a reality. The company is likely keeping its eye closely on India as a growth market following slowing sales in China. The accelerator won’t do much to combat Android’s foothold in India, but it could be a way for Apple to court developers who are looking to branch out from Google’s ecosystem.

Source: Apple


‘Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ patch improves docked Switch performance

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a near-perfect game, but its performance on the Nintendo Switch is far less so. While it plays smoothly in handheld mode, it’s not unusual to see lower frame rates when you dock the console. Mostly, that’s because the Switch is pumping out a higher resolution when it’s connected to your TV, which puts a strain on the console’s mobile hardware. But with its latest patch for Breath of the Wild, Nintendo has apparently solved that slowdown dilemma, Polygon reports.

According to Nintendo’s official support page for Breath of the Wild, “adjustments have been made to make for a more pleasant gaming experience” in the 1.1.1 patch. That’s pretty vague, but the video below shows that performance has definitely been improved in some environments.

Via: Polygon

Source: Nintendo


All Three 2017 iPhones Said to Feature True Tone Displays

Apple’s widely expected trio of new iPhone models will all feature True Tone displays, according to investment bank Barclays.

True Tone display technology is currently exclusive to the 9.7-inch iPad Pro
Barclays said the tentatively named iPhone 7s, iPhone 7s Plus, and iPhone 8 with an OLED display will each include a “full spectral sensing” ambient light sensor for the purpose of a “True Color” screen. The sensors are expected to be supplied by Austrian semiconductor manufacturer AMS.

An excerpt from the research note obtained by MacRumors:

For the expected iPhone 7S models, as well as the iPhone 8, we think ams’s content increases due to the inclusion of its full spectral sensing ambient light sensor, as already seen in the iPad Pro for that device’s True Color screen functionality. We estimate this to be a material step-up in content from the $0.60 range to $1.00.

Apple’s only existing device with a True Tone display is the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which uses advanced four-channel ambient light sensors to automatically adapt the color and intensity of the display to match the color temperature of the light in its surrounding environment, whether indoors or outdoors.

If you are standing in a dimly lit room with incandescent light bulbs, for example, the display would appear warmer and yellower. If you are standing outside on a cloudy day, meanwhile, the display would appear cooler and bluer.

In some ways, a True Tone display is similar to Night Shift, a newer feature on the iPhone and Mac that, when enabled, shifts the display to a warmer and yellower temperature. The feature is based on research that shows exposure to blue light during the evening hours can disrupt or delay a person’s sleep.

The inclusion of a True Tone display is not a rumor we have heard previously for the 2017 iPhone lineup, expected to be announced in September, but it is certainly a plausible one. Most display rumors to date have focused on the high-end iPhone model switching to an edge-to-edge OLED display.

Last year, a few reports incorrectly said the iPhone 7 would feature a True Tone display, citing a prediction by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

The confusion may have stemmed from the fact that Kuo said the iPhone 7 would “copy the panel features of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.” However, Kuo never specifically mentioned True Tone, but rather the adoption of a wide color display based on the DCI-P3 color gamut, a prediction that turned out to be accurate.

Today’s research note was compiled by Barclays analysts Andrew Gardiner, Hiral Patel, Joseph Wolf, Blayne Curtis, and Mark Moskowitz.

The second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro is also rumored to feature a True Tone display.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tags: Barclays, True Tone display
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Today’s the Last Day to Get USB-C Accessories and LG Displays at a Discounted Price From Apple

Since early November, Apple has been offering a significant discount on all of its USB-C adapters and accessories, including the 4K and 5K LG UltraFine displays, to ease the transition from USB-A to USB-C for new MacBook Pro owners.

Apple’s discount is set to expire at the end of March, meaning today, March 31, is the last day to make a purchase before prices go back up.

At the current time, all accessories and LG displays are discounted by upwards of 25 percent, which is a major price drop. On the 5K LG UltraFine Display, for example, that cuts the regular $1,299.95 price down to $974. For the 4K display, the price drops from $699.95 to $524.

All of Apple’s own USB-C accessories are available at a discount through the end of the day, with prices listed below:

– USB-C to USB Adapter – Was $19, now $9
– Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter – Was $49, now $29
– USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter – Was $69, now $49
– USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter – Was $69, now $49
– USB-C to Lightning Cable (1m) – Was $25, now $19
– USB-C to Lightning Cable (2m) – Was $35, now $29

Non-Apple USB-C accessories are also discounted, with price drops on hard drives, SSDs, adapter cables, and more.

Apple’s sale was originally set to expire on December 31, 2016, but after availability issues with the 5K LG UltraFine Display, it was extended until March 31, 2017. Apple could potentially extend the sale again, but it’s best to make purchases now if you’ve been holding off on getting a monitor or a new USB-C accessory.

Related Roundups: Displays, Apple Deals
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Twitter Replaces Default Egg Profile Photo

Twitter today announced that it is doing away with the egg profile photo that was used for any Twitter account that did not upload its own profile picture.

Over time, the egg, which has been around for many years, has come to be associated with accounts created to harass others, giving the egg a negative connotation that Twitter wanted to do away with.

Instead of the egg, Twitter is introducing a new default photo profile that’s designed to encourage people to upload their own photos “for more personal expression.” Twitter aimed to create something that was generic, universal, serious, unbranded, temporary, and inclusive, and which felt more like a placeholder than the egg.

The company went through many profile photo iterations before landing on a simple gender neutral line-based figure in a generic shade of gray.

Twitter’s new default profile photo has already rolled out and people should be seeing the figure instead of an egg on any account without a user-uploaded profile picture.

Twitter can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tag: Twitter
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