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Neil Young’s huge online music archive opens to the public

Neil Young has been talking up his giant online archive for ages, but he’s finally ready to deliver on his promises. The veteran Canadian rocker has launched the simply-titled Neil Young Archives, a website that includes all the media he has produced to date. And we do mean everything — every song Young has made is available to stream for free (until June 30th 2018) through his Xstream Music service, including unreleased tracks.

Young naturally makes a big deal out of the audio quality, which improves the stronger your connection gets. He even devotes his introductory message to a long diatribe about Apple’s music quality choices on top of explaining how the archive works. Young would prefer that you listen on a computer, and even has a guide to help set up access on your home stereo.

Overkill? You bet. And ultimately, it’s serving as a sales pitch for Xstream. However, it’s still miles above the typical musician page offering the occasional freebie and a few music videos. This is an insight into Young’s entire history as an artist, not just a promotion for his latest album.

Via: Pitchfork, Billboard

Source: Neil Young Archives


Ben Heck’s Atari ‘Dragster’ speed run test rig


Even computer games have their own world records, and one of the oldest uncontested ones is the fastest time for Atari Dragster, at 5.51 seconds. But how legitimate is this speed? Ben is tasked with using RAM analysis and a microcontroller to check not only whether 5.51 seconds is possible, but whether this record can be broken. Have you broken or set any electronics or gaming world records? Let us know over on the element14 Community.


Tim Cook Touts Apple’s Contribution to Chinese Economy at State-Run Web Summit

Chinese developers have earned more selling apps on Apple’s iOS platform than devs from any other country, Apple CEO Tim Cook said on Sunday (via Bloomberg). His comments were made in a keynote speech given at China’s annual state-run World Internet Conference, which aims to develop the digital economy, while operating under the rubric of respecting the right of sovereign nations to regulate and control public internet access.

Cook said developers on its iOS platform number 1.8 million in China, collectively earning a total of $16.9 billion, which is roughly a quarter of total global App Store earnings. Apple said earlier this year that the global developer community has earned over $70 billion since the App Store launched in 2008.

Tim Cook delivers a speech at the Fourth World Internet Conference (Photo: IC)

“The theme of this conference – developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits – is a vision we at Apple share,” Cook said. “We are proud to have worked alongside many of our partners in China to help build a community that will join a common future in cyberspace.”

China’s cyber regulation has stepped up in the last year, with new rules coming into force that require companies to store data locally and make data available for surveillance measures. Apple was the first foreign tech firm to announce amendments to its data storage arrangements in China, when the cybersecurity laws came into effect in June.

“Much has been said of the potential downsides of AI, but I don’t worry about machines thinking like humans. I worry about people thinking like machines,” he said. “We all have to work to infuse technology with humanity, with our values.”

Technology of the future should have openness, creativity and safeguards to protect users while providing privacy and decency, he added.

Cook’s words appeared carefully chosen so as not to upset his Chinese hosts, who routinely curtail access to online services seen as a potential threat to the country’s internal cohesion. Facebook and Instagram have been blocked by China’s Cyberspace Administration since 2009 and 2014, respectively. Encrypted messaging service Telegram was also blocked inside China after it became popular with the country’s human rights lawyers, while several VPN apps – which are commonly used to evade censorship and access services abroad – were recently pulled from China’s App Store in compliance with stricter state rules.

The Wuzhen-based conference was opened earlier on Sunday with comments from Chinese president Xi Junping, read by the head of the government’s publicity department, in which Xi advocated for “cyber sovereignty”, the idea that states should be permitted to manage and contain their own internet without external interference.

“Developments online are raising many new challenges to sovereignty and security, and China is willing to work with the international community to respect cyberspace sovereignty and promote partnerships,” said Xi in the note. “The development of China’s cyberspace is entering a fast lane… China’s doors will only become more and more open.”

China remains the world’s biggest smartphone market, one which historically Apple has struggled to penetrate. The company shipped an estimated 11 million iPhones in China last quarter, up 40 percent from the year-ago quarter, despite six consecutive quarters of declining iPhone sales in the region.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: A clip for your dip and a toilet for your cat

At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there — alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the fidget spinners and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Catolet — fully automatic litter box

Automatic litter boxes are nothing new at this point, but as far as we can tell, there still isn’t one that’s fully automatic. No matter how smart your box might be, you still have to carry your cat’s poop to the garbage can when the collector bin gets full — but the brains behind Catolet want to change that.

“There are many automatic trays on the market, but they have a number of problems: some of them require a filler, they are large in size, and usually of high cost,” Tatyana Bayramova, creator of the Catolet, told Digital Trends’ Luke Dormehl in an interview. “Together with cat breeders, we decided to create a tray without those pitfalls. Our target market are cats and small dogs owners who like technology devices and gadgets. We want to offer them a modern device that will help them in their pet caring routine.”

Rather than asking Fluffy or Fido to sit on a toilet seat, the Catolet is based around a smart porous conveyor belt system. Urine passes through the belt, while solid waste is conveyed into the main basin after built-in motion sensors determine that your four-legged friend has concluded its business. The leavings are then run through a shredder, and dispatched into the sewer (yes, you have to connect it to your plumbing system). So in other words, once you have it installed, you never have to fiddle with the litter box ever again!

Sitpack Zen — ultraportable monopod seat

A few years back, a little startup called Mono+Mono released a clever device called the Sitpack. When folded up, it was an unassuming cylinder roughly the same dimensions as a can of soda. When unfolded, however, the cylinder became a seat. Two halves of the cylinder split and swung upward to create a seat, while a telescoping monopod extended down to the floor, effectively forming a sitting platform that could be collapsed or expanded in the blink of an eye. It was a clever idea, but Mono+Mono isn’t stopping there. Now, the company is back with a new and improved version.

The Sitpack Zen, as it’s called, isn’t just a refresh of the original design — it’s a complete overhaul. While it retains many of the same design elements in a broad sense, nearly every element of the Zen is a streamlined version of what you’ll find in the first generation Sitpack. Take the seat platform, for example. In the new device, users sit on a flexible Kevlar strap instead of a hard (and uncomfortable) plastic platform. The Zen is also made from materials that are both stronger and more lightweight than its predecessor, making it easier and more convenient to take along to concerts, conventions, and any other place where you might need a seat.

Flectr 3D — omnidirectional reflector

If you ride your bike (or anything else that isn’t a car) at night, you know how important is to stay visible. In places where the roads don’t have wide shoulders, or where there aren’t enough streetlights, or where people just drive like maniacs; good reflectors and bright lights can be the difference between getting home safely and getting scraped off the pavement by a roadkill cleanup crew. But despite the fact that hi-visibility clothing is readily available and affordable these days, most reflective gear suffers from the same drawback — it only reflects light when hit at a certain angle.

The stuff you’ll find on most hi-vis gear is retroreflective — meaning it bounces light back directly where it came from. Most surfaces reflect light by diffusing or scattering it in all directions, but retroreflective material is specially designed to reflect light back at the exact same angle as it arrived from. That’s a problem though, since it’s only visible when the light source hits you directly. Flectr 3D changes that. Thanks to their clever design, these suckers bounce light in 360 degrees — thereby making you visible from all angles.

MyOeno — digital wine identifier

Ever sipped a glass of good wine and wondered where it came from, why it tastes so good, and how its different than other varietals? Probably not. But if you have, and you also wished there was an electronic device that could answer all those questions for you, then we have good news for you. That gizmo is here, and it’s called MyOeno.  Stick this sucker into your glass, and it’ll analyze your wine and send the details to your smartphone. It can detect such characteristics as strength, tannins, acidity, evolution, and more. You can then add your own preferences to this information in the form of tags, so that over time, you build up a more personalized database of your likes and dislikes, which will help you avoid wasting money on a bottle that you’re unlikely to enjoy.

The technology that makes it work based on near-infrared spectroscopy. Specific wavelengths are emitted by the device and, based on the absorption of each wavelength by the wine, MyOeno’s algorithms can discern particular characteristics. Note that there are already sophisticated analytical tools, such as mass spectrometers, available on the market and aimed at wine-making professionals. But these tools are costly, laboratory-based, and often require damaging the sample.

DipClip — dipping sauce holder

Normally, we include stuff in this list because it’s innovative, clever, or might have a positive impact on the world. DipClip made this week’s list for none of those reasons. We’re putting it in Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet simply because it’s too absurd (and successful) to ignore. It’s essentially a bracket that you can clip onto your car’s AC vents, and use to hold dipping sauce packets from all major fast food chains. This presumably makes it easier and more convenient to dunk chicken nuggets in honey mustard (or whateverthehell you like to dip your nugs in) while you’re in your car. That’s it. That’s all it does.

But that’s not what’s amazing about the DipClip. What’s really blowing my mind right now is that, at time of writing, this project has gathered up more than $40,000 from nearly 2,000 backers. That’s nuts. If you don’t already have faith in the power of crowdfunding platforms like Kicktarter and Indiegogo, then DipClip should make you a believer. If you have an idea — no matter how seemingly stupid, inconsequential, or unnecessary it may be — rest assured that there’s a group of people on the internet who will support you and help bring that idea to life. You just have to find them!

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Netflix cancels YouTube star Miranda Sings’ show after two seasons

YouTube stardom is no guarantee of success on other streaming services, it appears. Netflix has dropped Miranda Sings’ Haters Back Off after two seasons, marking a short run for the first YouTuber to land a scripted series. It’s not certain exactly why Netflix ditched the show, but it’s reasonable to say that lukewarm reviews played a part. Colleen Ballinger’s over-the-top performance as Sings made her a hit on YouTube, where short off-the-cuff videos thrive, but critics have argued that it didn’t work so well when stretched out to TV-length episodes with the scripting to match.

Haters has fared better than some Netflix shows, so this definitely wasn’t a disaster — arguably, the series did well considering the doubts many had. Between this and PewDiePie’s self-inflicted trouble, though, YouTube hasn’t really had a breakout star in the paid video realm. We wouldn’t rule out the possibility of that happening in the future, but studios and YouTube personas dreaming of crossover success may have to be patient.

Source: Variety


This Star Wars OnePlus 5T can make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs

At the Bengaluru Comic Con festival in India, OnePlus teased an upcoming limited-edition Star Wars version of its flagship OnePlus 5T. Although no real details were provided, and the reveal consisted solely of the “Coming Soon” image, it’s sure to be a must-have for any dedicated Star Wars fan.

No release date was announced, although the tie-in with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which hits theaters in just two weeks, is obvious. The new design features a white finish on the rear of the device, along with a Star Wars logo and the OnePlus graphic beneath the fingerprint sensor. The front still has the same black finish, although the volume and power buttons provide a nice contrast against the white background. Some themes and wallpaper are expected to be included, as well as various sound effects, likely related to the latest film.

Rumors of a Star Wars-themed edition have been swirling around the internet for a month or so, after a poster at the XDA Developers site noticed some unusual strings were found in the APKs for Launcher, Settings and System UI. That particular post has since been deleted, but 9to5 Google notes that the “accent_star_wars” string information also included the hex code #ff2837, which is a dark red color similar to that found on The Last Jedi posters.

No price was announced for the limited edition, although the regular OnePlus 5T starts at $499. Tech PP is reporting that it will go on sale December 16, and availability will be limited to India. The4ir sources also indicate that as few as 15,000 will be available, and more will be revealed at a launch event in Mumbai on December 16.

The OnePlus 5T has a six-inch 18:9 AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, and either 6GB or 8GB of RAM. The 5T is powered by a 3,300 mAh battery with Dash Charge, and includes Bluetooth 5.0 and USB Type-C. The cameras included are 16 MP (front) and 20MP (rear).

In our review of the OnePlus 5T, we gave it high marks for its gorgeous look, fast performance, and competitive price. We also tried out a side-by-side comparison against a couple of competing Android phones, and in addition, we’ve got a few tips and tricks to get you started.

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Deal: Get Netflix free for 6 months with a Samsung Chromebook or Pixelbook

Google and Netflix have teamed up for a great deal.

Freebies are always nice, especially when they are included with an expensive product. Chromebooks have long had offers for free Google Drive storage or Google Play Music, but Google and Netflix are partnering for an even sweeter deal.


ChromeUnboxed reports that buyers of the Samsung Chromebook Pro, Chromebook Plus or Google Pixelbook can redeem six months worth of free Netflix streaming. The offer unlocks $65.94 worth of credit for Netflix, which is equivalent to six months of the $10.99, two-screen plan. Users can also still subscribe to the other tiers and have the credit applied to those.

The offer is good until December 31, so don’t fret if you haven’t purchased one of these devices yet. And with the Netflix Android app, you’ll be able to download your shows and movies to your Chromebook for offline playback. The offer can be redeemed for the Chromebook offers page.

See Samsung Chromebook Plus at AmazonSee Google Pixelbook at Best Buy

Are you going to use the six months of free Netflix? Let us know down below!


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Ex-NSA worker pleads guilty to taking data involved in Russian hack

The NSA hasn’t been having the best week when it comes to security, but it’s getting at least some closure. A former employee, now known as Nghia Pho, has pleaded guilty to bringing home classified data that was later stolen in a hack linked to Russian intelligence. Pho is expected to face prison time when he’s sentenced on April 6th, but prosecutors have capped the maximum penalty to 8 years (versus the typical 10) and are open to calls for a lighter sentence given the non-malicious nature of the case.

Pho took a mix of digital and physical info home between 2010 and 2015. According to New York Times sources, he was using it to rewrite his resume — this was intentional, but not spiteful. The Russian hackers reportedly exploited the Kaspersky antivirus software on his PC to take data, but it’s not clear that Kaspersky was aware of what happened. The company previously acknowledged that it briefly held some NSA data, but there’s no word on whether or not it held that data.

The plea is only going to help so much when the NSA has bigger fish to fry, such as the Shadow Brokers leaks (there’s no indication that Pho is connected). It does show that the agency is racing to crack down on the multiple leaks it has suffered over recent months and years, however. The effort might also serve as a warning shot to NSA staff that may be tempted to leave with data, even if it’s for innocuous reasons.

Via: New York Times

Source: Department of Justice


California axes self-driving car rule limiting liability for crashes

California has been happy to tweak the rules to get more self-driving cars on the road, but it still has its limits. The state’s DMV has eliminated a planned rule (suggested by GM) that would have let companies avoid liability for an autonomous vehicle crash if the machine hadn’t been maintained to manufacturer specs. In other words, they could have been let off the hook if your car’s sensors were muddy, even if an accident was really due to bad code.

The DMV ditched the idea after reading comments objecting to the potential rule. The comment period ends December 15th, and the completed regulations should take effect sometime in early 2018.

California’s change of heart doesn’t amount to a sudden crackdown on self-driving cars, but it does reflect an evolving approach where it’s not quite so willing to give brands everything they want. This might also help settle the ongoing questions about liability in driverless car crashes. If owners are less likely to be blamed for accidents, automakers may be more cautious with development in order to avoid paying for costly mistakes.

Source: Associated Press


After 37 years, NASA fires up engines on the Voyager 1 space explorer

Voyager 1 is the only man-made object that has crossed the border of our solar system into interstellar space. Launched in 1977, it carries greetings from the planet Earth and some information about our little blue marble. Over the past four decades, as it flew past Jupiter and Saturn and eventually out into the vast reaches of space, it’s been using tiny thrusters to position its antenna so it can communicate with Earth.

Since 2014, engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) had noticed that the craft’s regular engines, known as altitude control thrusters, were deteriorating after all this time and had become less effective.

The engineers began exploring the possibility of using the secondary engines, called trajectory control maneuver thrusters, which are located at the back on the probe. They are identical to the primary control thrusters, but the problem was that they hadn’t been used since 1980, when the spacecraft flew past Saturn.

“The Voyager flight team dug up decades-old data and examined the software that was coded in an outdated assembler language, to make sure we could safely test the thrusters,” said Chris Jones of JPL.

Voyager 1 is some 13 billion miles away, and radio signals take about 10 hours to travel between the spacecraft and the Deep Space Network here on its home planet. On November 28, the team sent out instructions to the far away spacecraft to fire up the secondary thrusters. 19 hours and 35 minutes later, they got their answer.

The secondary thrusters worked perfectly, orienting the probe just as the scientists had hoped. “The Voyager team got more excited each time with each milestone in the thruster test,” said Todd Barber of JPL. “The mood was one of relief, joy and incredulity after witnessing these well-rested thrusters pick up the baton as if no time had passed at all.”

Unfortunately, the secondary thrusters require power to provide heat to operate — a limited resource on the tiny probe. When there’s no longer enough power to supply heat, the spacecraft will switch back to its primary thrusters. Voyager Project Manager Suzanne Dodd said the new workaround would extend the life of the Voyager 1 project by two or three years.

The engineers plan to use a similar test on Voyager 2, which was launched earlier than its twin, but is still within the realm of our solar system. It’s expected to enter deep space within the next few years.

It will still be quite some time before either probe gets anywhere close to another star, however. In the year 40,272, Voyager 1 will get within two light years of a star in the Little Dipper constellation, and Voyager 2 will reach a similar distance from a star in the Andromeda constellation.

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