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Lyft requests will light up phones for deaf drivers

Back in April, Lyft launched features that made its system easier to use by deaf drivers and those who are hard of hearing. Now, it’s adding a couple more to celebrate National Deaf Awareness Month. Thanks to its partnership with the National Association of the Deaf, the ride-hailing firm has developed “flash-on request” for drivers. If they’ve activated the app’s hard-of-hearing accessibility function, they’ll get a powerful visual notification whenever a ride request comes in: their phone’s screen and flashlight will both light up. When combined with the Amp emblem flashing the words “New Ride,” it could lower the chances of a driver missing out on a request.

In addition, Lyft is also making an attempt to breach the language barrier between drivers and passengers. It’s beefing up the automated text it sends out notifying passengers that their drivers are deaf or hard of hearing with a link to a tutorial on how to say “Hello” and “Thank you” in American Sign Language. The company didn’t say when the features will be available exactly, but it promises to roll them out soon.

Source: Lyft


Spotify streams inside Waze on iOS to reduce driving distractions

Listening to tunes and navigating are two things we do a lot in cars, so the recent, unusual tie-up between Spotify and Waze made sense. In effect, you can control Spotify playlists from within Waze, and see Waze navigation instructions from the Spotify app. That integration only worked on Android up until now, but has finally come to each company’s iOS apps.

Once you install the two apps and link your accounts together, you’ll see a Spotify icon within Waze, which lets you open up limited playback controls, playlists and the Spotify app. At the same time, from within Spotify, you can see Waze turning directions.

To keep your attention on the road, Waze has added a few new safety features. For one, Spotify playlists start automatically when Waze navigation begins, and to switch playlists, you have to stop the car. Nothing stops users from just switching over to Spotify the regular way, but if your music is already playing, it might help you resist the temptation.

As we mentioned before, it’s a bit odd that Waze, a Google company, is integrating with Spotify rather than its own Play Music service (or Apple Music, now that it’s on iOS). Such integration between more mapping and music apps would be great, and if all of that could be voice-controlled, then we might have something. For now, the Spotify and Waze integration should be rolling out now, so you should see it within the next few days.

Via: Mac Rumors

Source: Spotify (iOS)


Sprint’s updated deal gives you a ‘free’ iPhone 8 with a trade-in

Sprint’s initial iPhone 8 offer was fine, but nothing special: you could get half off the price of an 18-month device lease. It’s ready to sweeten the pot, however. It just launched an updated promo that gives you a 64GB iPhone 8 for free with a trade-in and an 18-month lease. You still have to hand in a high-end device like one of the iPhone 7 models, a Galaxy S8 or a Galaxy Note 8, so this is more for frequent upgraders or those with a serious case of buyer’s remorse. It’s better than before, though, and you can apply the $29.17 monthly credit toward the 64GB iPhone 8 Plus if you crave a larger screen.

You’ll get the promo if you’ve already pre-ordered (and qualify), and Sprint is quick to add that it’s available to any existing customer who owns a phone on the trade-in list. You’ll still get 50 percent off the lease price with a handful of other devices, including older hardware like the iPhone 6, Galaxy S7, G5 or Moto Z Droid.

It’s not surprising that Sprint would up the ante for the iPhone 8 launch. The carrier reported its first profit in 3 years during its spring quarter — it no doubt wants to keep that momentum going by adding as many subscribers as it can. As expensive as it may be for Sprint to eat the costs of your hardware upgrade, it’ll likely see that as worthwhile if it lures you away from a rival such as T-Mobile or Verizon.

Source: Sprint


British Airways will power some of its jets with trash

British Airways is taking a cue from Doc Brown for how it’ll fuel its next generation of aircraft. No, not by bolting a flux capacitor inside the cockpit, but by turning to garbage for fuel. The airline has announced a partnership with renewable fuels outfit Velocys in an effort to reduce emissions as much as 50 percent by 2050, with plans to slowly introduce the alternative fuel over the next ten years and drop greenhouse gases by over 60 percent.

The hope is that the forthcoming waste conversion plants will produce enough fuel to power all of the carrier’s 787 Dreamliner flights from London to San Jose and New Orleans for a year. Probably not those specific flights, of course, but a number of flights equal to those routes.

We’ve already seen how scientists have used grass clippings to produce small quantities of decane — a main ingredient in jet fuel and gasoline — so this isn’t exactly far fetched. We do (sort of) have hoverboards, self-lacing Nikes and Biff Tannen as president, so maybe Back to the Future was on to something after all.

Source: British AIrways


Apple Music’s Clive Davis documentary premieres October 3rd

The documentary film Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, which opened the Tribeca Film Festival in April and was picked up by Apple, will premiere on Apple Music on October 3rd. The film is based on Davis’ autobiography and joins other Apple exclusives like 808: The Movie, Taylor Swift’s 1989 world tour film and The Cash Money Story: Before Anythang.

The Davis documentary features interviews with artists whose careers were shaped by Davis as well as archival footage. Davis who was instrumental in bringing performers like Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin — along with many, many others — to the forefront, has had a long and incredibly influential career, which is captured in the film. You can check out the trailer below.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Apple Music


A new microscope can quickly generate 3D images of living organisms

A new microscope created by researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid has the ability to take fast 3D images, making it easier to observe cells in living animals over time. For example, Jorge Ripoll, one of the researchers on the project and co-founder of the company set to produce the scope — 4D Nature — said in a statement, “We can see how the heart of a zebrafish beats and make a 3D- reconstruction of its beat.”

The QIs-scope, as it’s called, can take up to 200 images per second — way more than the five per second most confocal microscopes on the market can capture now. It also comes with four lasers that each emit a flat beam, but two more can be attached to bring that total up to six. With multiple lasers, different types of cells labeled with different colors of fluorescent dye can be imaged around the same time, without researchers having to switch out filters every time they want to look at a different cell type.

The microscope takes quick images from different positions in order to generate a 3D image and all of the lasers, cameras, filters and motors involved in that process have to be managed by sophisticated software. “Our goal is for the QIs-scope to be easy to use with intuitive software, so that the user can see the specimen and choose where to make the scans, choose the excitation colors and generate a three-dimensional image with as many colors as were chosen.” said Ripoll.


Source: UC3M


‘Half-Life 2’ mod puts the sequel inside of the original

The chances of us getting Half-Life 3 or, hell, even Half-Life 2: Episode 3 seem about as likely as the Detroit Lions winning the Super Bowl at this point. To help take some of that sting off, a group of enterprising fans crafted Half-Life 2: Classic, a mod that essentially runs the game in its prequel’s “Goldsrc” engine. It serves as “a way to see what Half-Life 2 could have looked like in the limits of Goldsrc, if Valve never developed the Source engine,” the listing page says.

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As you might imagine, the game isn’t pretty. But, the end result might make you nostalgic for that resonance cascade we witnessed at Black Mesa in 1998. As Kotaku notes, that original toolset was a mod itself, expanding on the Quake engine’s framework.

When Half-Life 2 was first released in 2004 on its newly developed Source engine, it was a benchmark for what games were capable of in terms of physics, facial animation and overall graphics prowess. That it holds up so well over a dozen years later is a testament to Valve’s design. Based on the video below, Classic is anything but.

The game’s rail-yard opening sequence, with guards knocking people in line and Dr. Breen speechifying from a video screen high above City 17 is intact but it’s a little stuttery, a little soft. What one was a vibrant town square is barren, with a lone guard on patrol and lots of empty space. Some might call Classic janky. Again, that’s the point.

There’s a demo available if you want to give the game a run for yourself, and if you’d like to be a little more hands-on, the team is looking for help. Given Valve’s glacial pace for both development and letting out any updates on protagonist Gordon Freeman’s continuing adventures, your contributions could help this release before the real McCoy does.

Source: Mod Db


China is clamping down on smaller bitcoin trading channels

China’s crackdown on bitcoin could extend well past big commercial exchanges. Wall Street Journal sources claim that the country is leaning toward a “comprehensive” ban on bitcoin trading channels, such as over-the-counter platforms that help buyers and sellers find each other. It’s not certain that this would forbid peer-to-peer trades (such as through messaging apps), but it would likely entail blocking access to foreign exchanges. You couldn’t just turn to an American exchange like Coinbase if China-native outlets aren’t available.

There’s nothing official yet, and it’s not clear when these restrictions would take effect if approved.

It won’t be shocking if China institutes these tougher measures, though. The government has never really supported cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, and has lately argued that they create too much “disorder.” Part of that stems from economic instability (people were buying bitcoin and selling the yuan), but it’s also a question of control. Chinese authorities want to track the movement of money, and it’s harder to do that with a decentralized digital format it doesn’t own.

Whether or not this is wise is another story. A war against bitcoin trading may give China more control over money within its own borders, but it could sow chaos in the bitcoin market as users scramble for alternatives. Also, China is gambling that cryptocurrency support won’t be particularly important in the long run. While conventional money still dominates, there’s a chance that the country might miss the boat if bitcoin becomes relatively mainstream.

Source: Wall Street Journal


Apple Pay Cash Coming in Future Update to iOS 11 and watchOS 4

Apple today confirmed that Apple Pay Cash will be released as part of a future update to iOS 11 and watchOS 4.

Coming this fall with an update to iOS 11 and watchOS 4, Apple Pay users will be able to send and receive money from friends and family quickly, easily and securely. Pay and get paid right in Messages, or tell Siri to pay someone, using the credit and debit cards they have in Wallet. When users get paid, they receive the money in their new Apple Pay Cash card in Apple Wallet and can use the money instantly.

Apple added a “Coming This Fall” label to Apple Pay Cash on its website recently, so it was already likely the new feature won’t be available on iOS 11 launch day tomorrow, and now we know for certain.

Apple Pay Cash is a new peer-to-peer payment service that enables iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch users to send and receive money.

When the feature launches, users will launch the Messages app, tap on the App Store icon, select Apple Pay from the app drawer, set the dollar amount, tap pay, select a payment card, and securely authenticate with Touch ID or Face ID.

The payment card can be any debit or credit card linked to Apple Pay in the Wallet app, or the Apple Pay Cash card.

The recipient then taps on the message to receive the funds, which are added to the Apple Pay Cash card in the Wallet app. The card’s funds can be used to make purchases using Apple Pay, or withdrawn to a bank account.

Apple Pay Cash will be free to use with the Apple Pay Cash card and debit cards, but it will have an industry standard three percent fee for credit card transactions to cover processing costs, according to Recode.

Apple Pay Cash will only be available in the United States at launch. Apple has yet to share details about a wider rollout.

Related Roundups: Apple Pay, iOS 11
Tag: Apple Pay Cash
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Yamaha YAS-706 soundbar setup and unboxing: Turn a TV room into a soundstage

Usually, soundbars are a great way to boost your TV’s audio performance without throwing down too much dough. Yamaha’s YAS-706, at nearly $1,000, requires a significantly larger investment than most sound bars, but in return your living room will become a virtual cornucopia of sound, projecting explosions, and orchestral scores into a massive, three-dimensional soundstage.

With great power, though, comes great responsibility. In this particular case, that responsibility includes removing the soundbar from its packaging and getting it properly set up, so you can fully enjoy its rich sound. Luckily, we’re here to help. Our Yamaha YAS-706 soundbar setup and unboxing guide will walk you through the process, ensuring you get the best possible performance from your pricey new speaker.

What’s in the box?

Apart from the soundbar and accompanying wireless subwoofer, we found the following boxed up:

  • Product literature (warranty, quick start guide, MusicCast information)
  • A CD-ROM manual
  • Optical cable for digital connection
  • Wall mount template
  • Wall mount spacers
  • Remote with batteries.

There are no other included cables — no auxiliary, no HDMI. The power supply is built in. Also, if you want to mount the soundbar, you need to pick up wall anchors and screws at a hardware store.

Hardware setup

If you decide to mount your YAS-706 to the wall, you will find built-in keyholes along the back (where the inputs are located). Speaking of inputs, the soundbar’s got tons: Three HDMI ports (one ARC-enabled), optical, ethernet, coaxial, a subwoofer jack (in case you need a second sub), and a USB port for firmware updates.

Plug the power in first, then decide what kind of cable you will be using to connect with your television. If your TV has an HDMI ARC port (and if you have an HDMI cable to spare), connect that way. If not, optical is probably your best bet. Once the soundbar is powered on, go ahead and plug in the subwoofer — they will automatically pair, no cords necessary.

Features and design

Because the YAS-706 is built with wall placement in mind, it has speakers across both the nominal top and the face. Whether you sit it in front of a TV or hang it on the wall, both these speakers will be exposed.

There are onboard button controls, but you will likely be using the remote control most of the time, which is why the soundbar is equipped with an IR repeater running all the way across its rear. That way, you can place it in front of a TV without worrying about blocked signals, as it will bounce the signal through to the TV’s receiver. The remote has a button for pretty much every function you could dream of.

Software setup

Once everything is connected, you will want to optimize your TV for use with the soundbar. Head into the audio settings, and make sure “audio out” is set to optical/HDMI ARC. Then, set “digital sound out” to auto (or digital; you don’t need to select PCM here).

We also recommend getting your hands on the MusicCast mobile app, which gives you loads of control options and support for several popular streaming services. Once downloaded, tap “setup,” and you will be walked through a quick process.

That’s it! Enjoy your new soundbar.

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