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23
Jan

Keep this $9 portable 10000mAh battery with you everywhere you go


The extra power you need to make it through the night.

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Amazon currently has Kmashi’s 10000mAh power bank on sale for just $8.99 when you enter the coupon code 9YVPU7TD during checkout. For most people, 10000mAh is more than sufficient. It charges most iPhone or Android phones up to five times per charge of the battery, which means you won’t have to worry about a dead phone during your night on the town. There are two USB ports so you can share the power with a friend, or charge two of your own devices if you need.

On the side there is a switch to turn it on or off, the micro-USB input to charge it, and a set of lights that indicate how much power is left in the power bank. Be sure to use the coupon code above to grab one for yourself or a friend at the discounted price today.

See at Amazon

23
Jan

Audiobooks now available on Google Play without a monthly subscription


You can start listening to a new title for under $10.

The Google Play Store is already Android’s one-stop-shop for apps, games, movies, TV shows, and e-books, and now the digital marketplace is officially stepping into the world of audiobooks. There was a rumor back in November that this was in the works, but now you can head to the Play Store and start listening to your favorite titles.

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Audiobooks will be offered alongside e-books within Google Play Books, and they’ll be accessible on Android, iOS, and the web. Even better, if you have a Google Home or another smart speaker that’s powered by the Google Assistant, you can just say “Ok, Google, read my book” to start listening right away.

In celebration of audiobooks hitting the Play Store, Google is offering tons of titles for $10 or less and is letting you get your very first audiobook for 50% off. Some of the discounted books include Fire & Fury, The Girl on the Train, 1984, and my personal favorite, Ready Player One.

Unlike services such as Audible, Google Play doesn’t require a monthly subscription of any kind in order to purchase and listen to audiobooks. For someone that’s been curious about trying out audiobooks but doesn’t want to worry about another bill, that’s a huge plus.

Audiobooks are available on the Play Store now in 45 countries and nine languages.

YouTube TV already has 300,000 users less than a year after launch

23
Jan

Lara Croft Go is one of the purest Tomb Raider experiences you can play


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Lara Croft Go forgoes backstory and traditional action-adventure game conventions — yet it’s still the best Tomb Raider game you’ll play.

2018 will see the release of a brand new Tomb Raider movie, which will officially be…takes a deep breath … a reboot of a movie series that’s adapted from a video game series with the source material, of course, based on the most recent video game reboot of the original Tomb Raider games. In other words, the Tomb Raider franchise proves once and for all that time is cyclical and everything will repeat itself again and again forever and ever.


Play Lara Croft Go for FreeGAMESTASH

But seemingly existing outside of the traditional franchise cycle structure is a little mobile gem called Lara Croft Go, an outstanding puzzle game that just might be the best representation of the Tomb Raider franchise.

I’m not even sure if that’s a controversial statement. If you go back and play the classic Tomb Raider games — whether you bust out the old PlayStation or download the Android version — the oldest games do not hold up 20 years later. You can still respect the trailblazing legacy and how iconic those first Tomb Raider games were… but they’re honestly not something you’d play for fun in 2018.

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Which brings me to the more recent reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise for the current generation of consoles. The new games look amazing, but the colorful and cartoonish tone of the original series has been replaced in the gritty and dark remake with a gravely serious one that is rightfully engaging in its ability to tell a story, but also isn’t really a game you’d casually throw on to relax.

That’s where Lara Croft Go fits in nicely — It bridges the gap between the fun and adventure of the original series while still bringing something completely new to the table. While you don’t have full control over Lara to explore these tombs, the Go format fits perfectly into a world of boobytrapped chambers filled with man-eating spiders and lizards. The stakes are still high, as one wrong move will send Lara to her doom, but because this is a strategy-first game, you’re able to take your time, plot your route, and then glide through each level taking out enemies and dodging traps.

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Kudos to the folks at Square Enix Montreal for really nailing the control for mobile, which has resulted in one of the best gaming experiences on Android. You swipe to move Lara around the screen with smooth, great animations as she rolls, jumps, and shoots. The game features the same type of action found in the other Tomb Raider games, except there are a few gameplay limitations that kind of force you to ignore some logic errors.

Lara Croft Go bridges the gap between the fun and adventure of the original series while still bringing something completely new to the table.

I mean, the most glaring issue is Lara’s guns. She wields her iconic dual pistols to take out spiders and snakes right up close, but only a spear can be used to kill an enemy from distance… You know, because guns are notoriously bad as long-range weapons. But ultimately, this is a minor issue that you quickly understand has more to do with keeping the game fun and entertaining than aiming for realism.

But as the main Tomb Raider franchise is remade to reflect a more gritty and realistic approach to storytelling, I think Lara Croft Go has really benefitted from being a more laid back and casual feel. There’s no real storyline here, just a clever adventure with Lara doing what she does best — raid tombs and collect ancient artifacts.

The game features over 115 levels split over seven chapters, with the majority of the game taking place in the first five sections as you try and uncover the Atlas of Beyond. Beyond just getting through the game, there is also something like 130 hidden relics to find amongst the background of each section.

Download: Lara Croft Go ($0.99)lara-croft-go-screens-05.jpg?itok=VwYYWM

23
Jan

DJI’s new Mavic Air drone blends features from Mavic Pro and Spark


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The famed drone company’s new model hits the sweet spot between its pro-level and “just for fun” siblings.

Drone-maker DJI officially announced today at an event in New York City that it’ll be launching an new mid-range hobby drone that expertly spans the gap between its $999 Mavic Pro and $499 Spark models. Called the Mavic Air, the drone is slated to cost $799 and will be released January 28.

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Like its predecessors, the Mavic Air is foldable and thus super portable, and “delivers higher performance, more intelligent features and greater creative possibilities than any other consumer drone” (according to the company’s press release). It’s also compact — about half the size and weight of the Mavic Pro — so it can be slipped into a bag or even a pocket with relative ease. Its size and shape make it perfect for explorers who want to capture their adventure at a high-quality level without having to lug around a bigger machine.

Imaging-wise, the Mavic Air leans a little more toward the capabilities of the Pro, boasting a built-in camera that can capture 4K video, 12-megapixel stills, and 32-megapixel panoramas. And, if you’re a fan of the dramatic, you can also use it to shoot 1080p slow-motion video at 120 fps. Said camera is mounted on a recessed three-axis mechanical gimbal that’s suspended from dampeners, reducing vibration that could both hurt the drone and muck up the steadiness of your shots. The Mavic Air also utilizes new HDR algorithms that preserve more highlight and low light details, allowing for crystal-clear capture no matter the weather or the time of day.

As for software, the Mavic Air features a new obstacle avoidance system that uses an increased number of sensors and optimized algorithms to construct a 3D map of its environment, helping it avoid and bypass obstacles automatically. In addition, the Mavic Air offers a handful of new shooting modes that even inexperienced drone pilots can take advantage of:

QuickShot intelligent video modes make creating professional videos fun and easy with predefined flight paths that automatically keep your subject in the frame. Use Rocket, Dronie, Circle, or Helix plus two new modes Asteroid and Boomerang, to effortlessly create videos that once required significant piloting skills and sophisticated editing software. Asteroid starts with a spherical image that zooms in as it descends toward the subject on the ground, while Boomerang circles the subject in an oval-shaped flight path with the video finishing at the start point.

The only thing about the new model that isn’t really revamped is flight time — Mavic Air can only stay up in the air for a maximum 21 minutes, which is about six minutes less than the Mavic Pro. Still impressive for a drone of its size, but nothing mind-blowing. However, its newly designed omnidirectional antenna system helps increase signal coverage as compared to older models, delivering a maximum range of up to 2.5 miles with 720p real-time video transmission when flying with the remote controller. The Mavic Air’s “Sport mode” also allows it to fly at speeds up to 42mph.

Roger Luo, President at DJI, shared his excitement for continuing the Mavic legacy with the Mavic Air in a statement:

When DJI introduced the Mavic Pro, it reinvented what a consumer drone could be: powerful, yet portable, accessible, but advanced. Today, with the introduction of Mavic Air, we have pushed these attributes to the next level to create our best consumer drone yet.

The Mavic Air will be available for $799 in three color options — Onyx Black, Arctic White and Flame Red — and will come with battery, remote controller, carrying case, two pairs of propeller guards and four pairs of propellers. For $200 more, however, you can get it in the Fly More Combo that includes the drone, three batteries, a remote controller, a travel bag, two pairs of propeller guards, six pairs of propellers, a battery to power bank adapter, and battery charging hub. If you’re interested in purchasing the Mavic Air, you can preorder it now though DJI’s website.

See at DJI

Thoughts?

What do you think of the Mavic Air? Sound off in the comments!

23
Jan

The Inpatient VR Review: A thrilling choose your own adventure for PlayStation VR


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Do you remember why you’re here?

You wake up bolted down to a chair while a man — is he a doctor? — asks if you remember why you are here. No matter what you answer, he asks you to try and remember how it came to be that you are a patient at The Blackwood Sanatorium and Hotel. You close your eyes, concentrate…and see yourself in a closet until a man throws open the door, shining a flashlight into your face. The doctor finishes with you, tells you that your treatments are going well, and injects you with something before speaking with a hooded figure in the shadows.

This is The Inpatient, and if you want to survive, you’ll need to remember how this all came to be.

See at Amazon

Choose Wisely

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While The Inpatient is a horror game, much like it’s predecessor Until Dawn, this is a story driven game. To this end, you’ll run into choices that you must make in conversation. Depending on what you decide, the story will branch and change, denoted by small blue butterflies that burst from important choices.

While the main story has a general arc, that doesn’t mean that your choices don’t matter. Big choices can result in your friends and allies kicking the bucket in new and interesting ways.

Something is up at the Sanatorium

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It’s apparent within just a few minutes that something is definitely awry at the Sanatorium, but trust me, it is so much worse than you think. From the doctor injecting you with something, and your roommate complaining about ‘voluntary treatments’ you may think you’re in a for a ride that revolves around what is going on in the here and now. Except that isn’t really quite accurate.

The first jump scare nearly had me leaping out of my skin.

You start having dreams of the people you run into haunting an eerie version of the hospital you’re staying in. By eerie I mean full on green lighting, weird mist, blood-spattered walls, and some damn good scares. The first jump scare nearly had me leaping out of my skin, while the second major spook moment was a much slower and thus creepier vibe. In both cases, I loved it and could feel my heart jump up a notch.

In the real world, things go wrong about two days in when you hear a commotion from outside your locked door, followed by alarms ringing and personnel darting all over the place. The next time you wake up it’s to bloody scratched walls and a seriously manic roomie who says it’s been two days with no sign of anyone and who isn’t looking so great herself.

During all of this, you’ll have flashbacks that trigger, transporting you into the past. You’ll need to put together what is happening in the past, and what is happening now to get through things, and even then it’s gonna be a wild ride. See, it all surrounds a mining accident. 30 men were buried alive, and only 18 rescued and those 18 came back a bit differently than they ought to have.

Controls

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Most of the controls in The Inpatient are pretty straightforward. You can play with a Dualshock 4 controller, or Move controllers, whichever strikes your fancy. You’ll be walking around, although I had a few issues with the camera angle jumping around on me at first.

For a game that is all about choice and adventure, it puts you more solidly into your environment

A great deal of your interaction with the game comes by choosing which path, or conversation choice you want to run with. It’s here that The Inpatient has added a pretty awesome new feature. You can of course just press x to select your conversational choice, or you can say the phrase out loud. That’s right, you can talk to your game and it will recognize the choice you have made.

It’s pretty limited, requiring you to essentially say out loud what you see on the screen, but it’s definitely an awesome start. For a game that is all about choice and adventure, it puts you more solidly into your environment, adding a layer of immersion that I didn’t even know was missing until I had access to it.

You interact with the environment by using R2 on a controller to pick up and manipulate items the same way you would with a Move controller. This is definitely a game that is better suited for motion controllers though, considering you need to press buttons and pick things up to inspect them properly.

A creepy walk down memory lane

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The Inpatient manages to combine a creepy atmosphere where you’re never entirely sure if you’re awake or dreaming, in the past or the present. It’s a slower burn to a horror game than many people will be used to, but fans of Until Dawn will absolutely eat it up. I managed to sink in close to two hours worth of gameplay in my first session, and only stopped so I wouldn’t give myself nightmares.

If you enjoy a good horror game, but you’re okay with a slower pace then this game may be right up your alley. You’ll still run into the jump scares and creepy elements that you know and love while exploring a deeper story and tons of options. That’s because the game changes with your choices, and there are several different endings you can come up with.

See at Amazon

23
Jan

Uber hires first chief diversity officer to further reform its culture


Last year, Susan Fowler, a former Uber employee, penned an essay detailing rampant sexual harassment and sexism at the company as well as a complete lack of interest on the part of administrators to do anything about it. That report led to an investigation, a handful of firings and eventually a new CEO. The investigation into Uber’s toxic culture, conducted by Eric Holder and Tammy Albarran and shared with the company last June, recommended the company establish a chief diversity and inclusion officer position and now Uber finally has.

As Recode reports, the new position will be filled by Bo Young Lee who is currently the global head of diversity and inclusion at professional services firm Marsh & McLennan. Uber confirmed the hire to us and said that she will be based in New York and will join the company in late March. “As I was interviewing for this role, it became very clear that Uber is taking its cultural transformation seriously and truly wants to create a culture where every single person feels proud and heard,” Lee said in a statement. “There’s much more work to be done, and I’m excited to bring my experience to the table solving tough D&I challenges in partnership with Uber employees.”

In their report, Holder and Albarran recommended that Uber’s Head of Diversity, Bernard Coleman, should be elevated to the new position and should report directly to the CEO or COO of the company. Coleman will now report to Lee and rather than reporting to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi or COO Barney Harford, Lee will report to Chief People Officer Liane Hornsey. Lee will oversee diversity hiring, employee training and will be involved with Uber’s diversity fund.

Via: Recode

23
Jan

Apple Releases New Beta Software for HomePod


Alongside this morning’s release of the new iOS 11.2.5 update, which introduces support for the HomePod, Apple has also released new beta software for HomePod.

The new software is not available through the Developer portal like a standard beta software update, but it will be downloadable by testers who have a HomePod. It is available via third-party software sites, so the general public can download it if desired.

Apple’s latest HomePod software update comes just over two weeks ahead of the official launch date of the device. Apple this morning announced plans to debut the HomePod on Friday, February 9, with initial orders to kick off on Friday, January 26.

Ahead of launch, HomePod devices are in the hands of Apple employees who are testing the smart speaker to iron out bugs before it becomes available for purchase later this week.

Apple has been beta testing the HomePod with its employees for several months now and has released several previous firmware updates.

Once the HomePod is released, it will presumably get regular software updates much like iOS devices, Macs, the Apple TV, and the Apple Watch.

Specifically, Apple has promised a future update that will bring support for multi-room playback and pairing multiple HomePod devices together for stereo sound, two features that will not be available at launch.

HomePod is Apple’s Siri-based smart speaker that focuses heavily on high-quality sound. It incorporates a 7 tweeter array, an Apple-designed 4-inch upward-facing woofer, and an A8 chip to power features like spatial awareness.

A lot of new information was shared about HomePod this morning, so make sure to check out our HomePod roundup for complete details on Apple’s smart speaker.

Related Roundup: HomePod
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23
Jan

Microsoft’s Xbox exclusives will come to Game Pass on launch day


To date, the Xbox Game Pass has been a tricky value proposition. While there have been a few recent hits, it frequently comes across as a clearinghouse for games whose best days are over. You’ll have a better reason to subscribe going forward, though: Microsoft has promised to add all of its in-house Xbox One exclusives to Game Pass the moment they’re available. Sea of Thieves will be one of the first when it launches on March 20th, and this should also include the long-delayed Crackdown 3 as well as future games in franchises like Halo and Gears of War. So long as you’re paying that monthly fee, that blockbuster title won’t cost you extra or require a months-long wait.

The company is also launching a 6-month Xbox Game Pass card through GameStop and other retailers on March 20th, when it will sell for $60. If you want to dive through a back catalog of games, you don’t have to fork over a credit card or worry about renewals.

If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Xbox One fan, the promise of launch day titles makes this tempting. Provided Microsoft releases at least one game you want each year, the service suddenly seems like a better bargain — you’re receiving the title you wanted plus a slew of extras. And of course, you can always pay for just those few months you intend to play a new game and cancel afterwards.

The catch, of course, is that it’s only Microsoft titles getting the day one treatment. This doesn’t help you at all if you’re mainly interested in third-party games, or if there are dry years when Microsoft doesn’t have something you’d want to play. It could be helpful even if you don’t subscribe, though, as Microsoft now has a stronger incentive to shore up the Xbox One’s game library — it needs those launch day games to make Game Pass as enticing as possible.

Via: The Verge

Source: Xbox Wire

23
Jan

Touring France’s EV charging network in the Renault Zoe


The Renault Zoe doesn’t grab EV headlines like the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt and Tesla’s Model 3, because it’s not sold in the US. But with a 41kWh battery that can propel it 300 km, a €23,700 ($29,000) starting price and zippy performance, it’s worth learning about the French-made car. I took it on a tour in and around Paris to check out not only the EV itself but France’s entire charging network. Cars like the Zoe and the infrastructure are going to be crucial, because the city of Paris plans to ban gas-burning cars by 2030, with the rest of the country following suit by 2040.

With all that in mind, I decided to see how useful the Zoe is on short trips, longer trips and driving in Paris. At the same time, I was able to check out the charging network in France and see how easy and time-consuming it is to make trips in the car.

Renault managed a neat feat of engineering with the 2017-18 Zoe Z.E. 40, nearly doubling the battery size from the previous 22kWh model while fitting it into the same space and adding just 15 kilograms (33 pounds) in weight. Owners of the older model can even upgrade to the 41kWh battery. “If you look at how the Zoe has evolved, going from 22kWh and, just two years later, 41 kw in the same box with just a $1,500 price increase, you can see the massive price drop and increase in density for the industry,” Renault EV director Eric Feunteun told Engadget.

The Zoe has a few things in common with its alliance-mate Nissan Leaf, which is the best-selling EV in history with more than 300,000 units sold. They don’t actually share batteries or any other components — at least, not yet — but both the 2018 models have 40kWh batteries. They also have around the same range, though Renault claims its EV can go a bit farther in real-world usage, around 186 miles (300 km) compared to 150 for the Leaf. That’s highly dependent on the weather and how fast you’re driving, though.

Out of its element on the freeway

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Charging up on the freeway

Engadget/Steve Dent

I started my trip in Paris, and drove to the countryside via the autoroute (freeway) about 93 miles away, after starting with about 80 percent battery power. It sounds simple, but this trip was quite an eye-opener about how EV range works. That 186-mile range only applies to city driving at 20 degrees C (70 F).

On the autoroute, at 81 mph (130km/h) you can only expect to go between 93-100 miles (150-160km), and fewer if it’s cold. Consequently, unless I really wanted to take a risk, I needed to recharge somewhere in between.

The Zoe is equipped with Renault’s R-Link system, which handles navigation and entertainment chores. The “Z.E. Link” function can find you a charger on your route and guide you there. I discovered, though, that you can’t really rely on it — you have to plan carefully and figure out where all the stations are if you don’t want to get stuck in the middle of the freeway.

After following the R-Link to a Renault dealer to get a charge, I discovered it was closed. I wasn’t able to activate the charger myself, so had to fall back to a “Plan B.” (I didn’t have a Plan B.).

Luckily, I had downloaded a third-party app from a site called ChargeMap, which finds chargers from all available networks, not just those directly supported by Renault. It quickly located a fast, 43 kW “Sodetrel” charger run by French power giant EDF, just a few miles away at a Shell station. It took me about a half-hour to sign up and figure out how to work it. After about 40 minutes, the battery was up to 80 percent — easily enough to get me to my destination.

After the Shell station recharge, I arrived at my destination with around 22 percent power. Once in the countryside, I was forced to use a household outlet (230 volts in France) with the supplied adapter. That takes 24 hours to get you to a full battery, but the next morning, around nine hours after plugging into a regular wall socket, I was already back up to 80 percent.

A trip into wine country, French style

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Engadget/Steve Dent

The Zoe is marketed as a smaller, second car meant for short trips and tooling around town. To that end, most buyers elect to spend €1,000 or so installing the Wallbox, Renault’s answer to Tesla’s Wall Connector. Options are available from 7.4 kW to 14 kW, the latter of which can get you charged in four to five hours. A full charge consumes around 50-60 kWh, or around 7 to 8 euros’ worth of electricity in France.

The next day, my spouse and I elected to do a trip of about 100 miles (150 km) heading to a city known for its white wine, Sancerre (yes, my spirit emoji is a glass of wine). This is a typical trip for rural French people, both for work and pleasure. My wife’s hairdresser, for example, travels to clients’ homes in an older 22kWh Zoe with half the range, then charges up at night with no stress whatsoever.

The Zoe is a hoot to take on small road trips: It’s quick off the line, maneuverable on the twisty French country roads and comfortable. The car handles bumps and corners well, though the electrically-assisted steering lacks in feel. I was able to connect my smartphone via Bluetooth and listen to and control Spotify while navigating using the R-Link system. My only complaint with the latter is that it’s laggy.

When we arrived that evening, the car had nearly 50 percent battery life, and an overnight charge-up on domestic power got me to a full battery. The entire Sancerre trip showed just how useful and stress-free the Zoe is for short weekend jaunts and daily commuting.

Back to the city

The next day, I could have made it back to Paris traveling on a two-lane highway, but it would have added an hour to my trip. Instead, I elected to again take the autoroute and charge up for a half-hour.

Renault has found that owners do 90 percent of their charging at home, so it chose not to go for rapid DC charging. All Zoe models use the same battery, but one model supports rapid AC charging up to 43kW, and the others can handle half that. Tesla EVs, by comparison, can take a 145kW DC charge.

“We have pushed for the AC charging because we consider it a strength of our car,” said Feunteun. That’s because AC chargers are five to six times cheaper than DC models, he points out, so it’s easier to persuade supermarkets, service stations and other businesses to install them. That, in turn, makes it easier for consumers to find a charger. It also jibes with the Zoe’s mission as a city runabout that can be charged from household AC power.

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Engadget/Steve Dent

On the other hand, if the Zoe supported full 150kW DC charging, you’d be able to charge it to its full 186-mile range in just 20 minutes, making it infinitely more useful on the highway.

Shell has promised to install 80 350kW chargers in Europe, and other operators are considering it, too. Tesla, Porsche and Honda are just a few of the EV makers promising to support that kind of power.

Renault has also said that it will offer DC charging in future models, though it didn’t specify which power levels it would support. The company told Auto Actu that for 2019 Zoe models, it would back the CCS Combo 2 DC standard that has been widely adopted in Europe by BMW, GM, VW and other automakers.

I left the countryside in the afternoon, and about halfway to Paris, ended up at another Sodetrel charger, just ahead of a Nissan Leaf owner who had his eye on the same one. He owns both an older Leaf and 22kWh Zoe, so we chatted for a few minutes while he charged up.

With several years of experience under his belt, the Leaf owner told me that both the Zoe and Leaf work perfectly as daily city drivers. Long trips are a lot more complicated, though, as some regions have better coverage than others.

“The Sodetrel network is good, and you can usually find fast chargers at supermarkets like Auchan, Lidl and Intermarche. However, there are zones where there’s nothing,” he said. “When I traveled in Alsace, I passed through a city where there was only one charger, at a Renault dealership. It took a good hour before I had enough power to go to the next charger.” He added that he only takes the EV on long trips when he’s alone, as it’s a pain for his wife and kids.

The Zoe hearts Paris

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Engadget/Steve Dent

I arrived back in Paris with 62 miles (100km) of range. In the city, the Zoe is once again a delight to drive, thanks to its zippy acceleration, maneuverability and much better range. That’s in large part due to the impressive regenerative braking, which can give you back the equivalent of up to 15-20 kW when you lift up on the gas pedal, depending on your speed.

We don’t have a garage in Paris (I usually take the train), but parking and charging an EV is not a big problem. Renault’s Z.E. Pass gives owners discounts at rapid charging stations from Paris network Belib and others. You can also buy a charging pass from Autolib, the city’s EV car-rental network, for €15 an year, and pay €1 an hour for the first hour, and €3 an hour that. Evening rates are capped at €6 a night. The other major network, Belib, has roughly the same rates, but charging and parking with Belib in the evenings are free.

However, some EV owners feel that Paris isn’t quite doing enough, considering its ambitious 2030 timeline to ban ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles. Autolib recently jacked up its prices and reduced the period for capped night charging, giving residents a bit less incentive to keep an EV in the city. On the other side of the coin, many Parisians feel that the city is taking things too quickly under Mayor Anne Hidalgo with its plans to eliminate ICE cars, creating a lot of cost and inconvenience to workers, residents and others.

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Engadget/Steve Dent

As for pricing, the Zoe starts at €23,700, but the Edition One model I tested was €28,300, or around $34,000. French EV buyers get a €6,000 government credit, making the top model €22,300 ($27,300).

However, that’s not the entire story of the Zoe’s price. You must also lease the battery at €69 ($80) a month with just 7,500 km (4,700 miles) of usage allowed per year. If you want unlimited kilometers, that rises to €119 ($145) monthly. With the rebates and battery rental taken into account, the Zoe is a bit cheaper than its Nissan rival, the Leaf, in France.

Feunteun admits that price sensitivity is part of the reason Renault leases the battery but adds that there are benefits. “Our experience is that if you include the battery, the customers will not pay that price for a [small] car,” he said. “And it’s much easier for the customer if there is a battery problem. We just swap it for another so they don’t have to wait for their battery to be repaired.”

The Zoe has been available since 2012, and thanks to the experience Renault has gained since then, it actually makes money — unlike other EVs. “We were not profitable at first, but what we have achieved already is to be marginally profitable,” Feunteun said. “For the second generation, we aim to reach positive profitability.”

Despite a few setbacks, I had a great experience with the Zoe, feeling that it could handle the majority of my auto needs in the city and for short trips. Long trips would be more of an adventure, requiring a lot of planning and a certain zen attitude.

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Engadget/Steve Dent

As for problems,I found Renault’s estimate of the Zoe’s range a bit optimistic. It’s probably a bit more than the Leaf because it has a slightly bigger battery and 100 kg (220 pounds) less heft. But I’d put it at more like 160-170 miles, rather than 185.

The charging network in France is the second largest in Europe, with around 15,000 public stations, compared to 16,000 in the US and 210,000 in China, for some perspective. But owning an EV requires a lot more planning than with a regular car. Until the government and private companies make it easier to find, navigate to and pay for charge-ups, regular French folks won’t go for EVs, even if the operating costs are the same or a bit less.

As for owner costs, Renault figures that it’s now on par with comparable ICE vehicles if you take everything into account (fuel versus electricity, lower maintenance on an EV, leasing the battery, etc.).

All told, I really liked the Zoe, and if I was in the market for a new car (I’m not), I’d probably buy one. If I did, I’d strongly consider getting solar panels to reduce charging costs, too, because France is also a solar-panel-friendly nation.

It’s not just because of the money — it’s become increasingly important to me to reduce my carbon footprint. Using an EV in France would help, because well over 90 percent of France’s electricity comes from carbon-free sources, mainly nuclear power. So, with the new regulations looming in France, I might as well get used to driving on electrons as soon as possible.

23
Jan

Tinder flaws could expose your swipes to prying eyes


Today, the security firm Checkmarx released troubling information about two vulnerabilities within Tinder, the popular dating app. The issues are present in both the iOS and Android app and allow a user on the same network to monitor what a person is doing on Tinder. Additionally, an attacker could control the pictures a user sees on Tinder; it’s possible to swap them out for malicious content.

It’s important to note that what a hacker could do through these flaws is relatively narrow, but it does allow a person to gain access to sensitive personal information. The issue is due to a lack of HTTPS encryption on photos; other elements of the app that do require this kind of encryption still leaked enough information to be able to monitor a user’s actions.

In order to exploit these vulnerabilities, Checkmarx built a tool called TinderDrift. Once it was connected to the same network of someone using Tinder, the team was able to intercept images sent without HTTPS. Additionally, they used information about the size of data transmitted to monitor what a person was doing on Tinder and connect it to the unencrypted image: a swipe left is 278 bytes, while a swipe right is 341 bytes. “We can simulate exactly what the user sees on his or her screen,” Erez Yalon, Checkmarx’s manager of application security research, told Wired. “You know everything: What they’re doing, what their sexual preferences are, a lot of information.”

It may seem minor, but trusting sensitive personal information to apps that don’t protect it properly is a problem that’s just getting worse. We reached out to Tinder for comment, and the company confirmed that in-app images aren’t encrypted, but it says it’s “working towards” doing so. The full statement is below:

“We take the security and privacy of our users seriously. We employ a network of tools and systems to protect the integrity of our platform. That said, it’s important to note that Tinder is a free global platform, and the images that we serve are profile images, which are available to anyone swiping on the app. Like every other technology company, we are constantly improving our defenses in the battle against malicious hackers. For example, our desktop and mobile web platforms already encrypt profile images, and we are working towards encrypting images on our app experience as well. However, we do not go into any further detail on the specific security tools we use or enhancements we may implement to avoid tipping off would-be hackers.”

Via: Wired

Source: Checkmarx

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