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NASA’s Orion crew capsule will have over 100 3D printed parts

It’s not just revolutionary start-ups like Rocket Lab that are using 3D printing to create their rockets and spaceships. NASA’s new crew capsule Orion will have over 100 3D printed parts specially developed by prime contractor Lockheed Martin, in cooperation with 3D printing experts Stratasys and the engineering firm PADT.

According to Stratasys, these parts will be made of entirely new materials that are specially designed to withstand the rigors of deep space. “In space, for instance, materials will build up a charge,” the Vice President of Manufacturing Solutions at Stratasys, Scott Sevcik, said to Reuters. “If that was to shock the electronics on a space craft there could be significant damage.”

This type of on-demand part printing provides a more economical method of building a complicated spaceship. And, according to Sevcik, it means that the designers can be a bit freer with the design, as they aren’t constrain by existing parts and specifications. The companies are hoping to apply what they learn from this 3D printing endeavor to other aerospace industries, such as building satellites and robotic spacecraft.

It’s not clear when Orion’s next test flight will be. The first, EFT-1, occurred at the end of 2014. The next test will be EM-1, the first flight of NASA’s massive SLS rocket, and it will be uncrewed. The capsule will spend roughly 3 weeks in space and will orbit the Moon to test its spaceworthiness. While this flight is currently being targeted for the end of 2019, delays mean that it wouldn’t be surprising if the flight slips into 2020.

Source: Reuters


Twitch will stream NBA 2K League events starting May 1st

The NBA 2K League has been picking up steam ahead of its May debut, but it wasn’t clear where the basketball franchise’s eSports organization would broadcast games. Today, it announced that Twitch will stream the inaugural game on May 1st with many to follow, as the platform and league signed a multiyear partnership.

Fans will be able to watch livestreams of the first season’s 199 games exclusively on Twitch, though each will be available to purchase on-demand after they air. In addition to weekly games, this includes three mid-season tournaments, playoffs and the finals. The platform will also bring custom overlays themed to the league for anyone who wants to really get in the mood.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone who watched the league’s player draft earlier this month: In addition to NBA TV, it was streamed on Twitch. But that could be a clue that the NBA 2K League is looking for other broadcast options, as it called the partnership with the streaming platform its first media rights deal in a press release.

But since the partnership also brings Twitch on as a founding member of the league, it’s yet another investment in eSports for the platform: Back in January, reports surfaced that the company paid Blizzard $90 million for a two-year deal to livestream The Overwatch League.


Puerto Rico is experiencing an island-wide blackout

Seven months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, the power grid is still unstable. But progress was being made; according to CBS, less than 10 percent of the island was without power as of a month ago. But now, the Associated Press reports that the island is undergoing yet another full blackout. The power company is still investigating the cause and estimates it will take 24 to 36 hours for power to be restored.

The saga of Puerto Rico’s power grid has been an unhappy one. The US territory was already facing a financial crisis before the hurricane hit. The island only has one electric company, and prior to Maria, it was $9 billion in debt and utilizing outdated infrastructure and equipment.

After the hurricane hit, the island was devastated. One proposed solution was to privatize the power grid. Elon Musk and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello had a meeting about rebuilding the island’s power grid with batteries and solar systems, and Tesla began pitching in to the effort late last year.

It’s a frustrating situation, to say the least. This is US territory, and yet the island is still in dire straits over half a year after Hurricane Maria. It’s hard to imagine what the population is experiencing, and this latest setback has to be incredibly harmful to what little morale there is left.

Source: Associated Press


VW’s fast EV charging network is headed to Walmart parking lots

Walmart probably isn’t the first place you’d go to charge an electric car, but you may have to rethink that belief before long. VW’s Electrify America is installing (PDF) EV chargers at more than 100 Walmart stores across 34 states, with the rollout finishing by June 2019. And these won’t be frugal installations, either — they’re some of the first 150-350kW DC fast chargers built to handle next-generation EVs. They should be three to seven times faster than the 50kW chargers you typically see today, so you may come back to a completely recharged car if your shopping trip is long enough.

The initiative promises to “more than double” the number of chargers at Walmart stores in the US, Electrify America said. That’s still a drop in the bucket when there are over 5,000 Walmart locations in total. Electrify America by itself expects to have installed or started work on 2,000-plus stations in the US by the end of 2019.

However, this is still an important step toward bringing EVs into the mainstream. You’re more likely to buy an EV if there are easy-to-find charging locations, and it doesn’t get much easier than a big-box retail store. Just as many larger retailers have gas stations either attached or nearby, you might see EV chargers become a regular staple of any store with a giant parking lot.

Source: Electrify America (PDF download)


Facebook lets creators turn video premieres into live events

If you watch enough Twitch channels, you may have seen a Premiere — a pre-recorded video that debuts as a live stream. It lets broadcasters recreate the thrill you’d expect from a TV show premiere, just in an online format. Sound like a good idea? Facebook agrees. It’s testing Premieres, an option that lets creators launch canned videos as Facebook Live moments, complete with real-time chats. You can check out a movie trailer or Watch show at the same time as everyone else, rather than racing to watch them on your own before your friends spoil everything.

The initial testers include an unspecified mix of creators, publishers and shows, but the feature should be available “more broadly” in the near future.

While Premieres isn’t exactly original, it makes eminent sense given Facebook’s increasing emphasis on Watch originals and the nature of many videos you find on Facebook. It helps producers build hype by giving viewers a specific time to visit their pages, complete with the pop-up notifications you don’t get with regular video posts. And just like a TV premiere, it could create virtual watercooler talk that leads others to wonder what the buzz was about and check out a video themselves. It might also spur the growth of Facebook Live. The format is already successful with over 2 billion streams to date, and that’s from truly live events — it could get yet another boost from recorded clips.

Source: Facebook


GoPro’s latest trade-in program will take any digital camera

GoPro really needs you to buy its action cameras, and it’s trying an uncommon take on a familiar strategy to make that happen. The company has introduced a TradeUp program in the US that gives you a discount of $50 on a Hero 6 Black or $100 on a Fusion if you trade in your old digital camera… no matter who made it. So long as the camera was worth at least $99.99 when new, you’ll get that same discount. You’ll clearly get more value out of this by trading in a point-and-shoot or early GoPro instead of a DSLR, but it’s a good way to get rid of a device that would otherwise gather dust in the closet.

This is more comprehensive than GoPro’s 2017 trade-in effort, which limited you to existing cameras. And importantly, there’s no end date on this one. So long as GoPro thinks the program is viable, you can send in your old gear. The company will recycle old cams through zero-landfill methods.

The campaign makes the most sense if you were already inclined to get a Hero 6 or Fusion. There are far more affordable action cams if you don’t want 4K or VR video, including GoPro’s entry-level Hero. Still, the discount is just enough that it might prompt a purchase if you’ve been waiting for a guaranteed deal.

Source: GoPro


Alexa can help improve your ‘Call of Duty: WWII’ K/D ratio

Amazon has been adding some pretty mainstream entertainment skills, like recapping NBA and NHL scores. But now you can ask the voice assistant how you did in your last Call of Duty: WWII match, too. The new skill, available in beta, will use AI and machine learning to give personalized tips to improve your play in, of course, a soldier-sounding voice.

According to a press release, the skill considers several factors like accuracy, movement, engagement distance, relationship distance and the all-important K/D to make custom recommendations. Users can ask for them in the middle of a match or after for a retrospective performance summary for something like an on-command coach experience.

You can also bug Alexa to see if your friends are currently playing and to compare your stats and achievements with theirs. The skill can also rattle off the latest in-game news, like events and game updates, which could be handy if you don’t have time to scan patch notes for balance changes. All in all, it’s a free plug-in on any Alexa device, which could be the harbinger of other AI game coaches…assuming the skill’s advice lives up to the hype.


‘Star Wars: Jedi Challenges’ iOS App Updates With ARKit Support for Holochess Mode

When Apple first announced its ARKit developer platform, one of the examples it gave was an image that showed someone playing Dejarik, a holographic board game from the Star Wars universe. The game has been available in an augmented reality experience on the iOS “Star Wars: Jedi Challenges” app [Direct Link], but it required pieces of hardware — namely the Lenovo Mirage AR headset — that currently costs $149.99.

This week Disney updated the Jedi Challenges app with ARKit support, removing the requirement of a Lenovo Mirage AR headset and letting anyone with an iPhone or iPad running iOS 11 play Dejarik Holochess for free (via Gizmodo UK). ARKit users are able to access the full Holochess game mode, with 18 levels taking place across six planets and including eight unlockable creatures with unique abilities. Lenovo says that Holochess mode includes around two to three hours of gameplay.

Star Wars: Jedi Challenges adds ARKit compatibility with this update. Users with an Apple device running iOS 11 can now experience the magic of augmented reality directly from their mobile device. Access the full Holochess game mode from Star Wars: Jedi Challenges including 18 levels across 6 planets and 8 unlockable creatures with unique special abilities.

Last month, Sensor Tower reported that iPhone and iPad owners worldwide have downloaded more than 13 million ARKit-only apps since the platform launched in September 2017. Games remain the dominant category for ARKit-only apps — defined as “expressly using” Apple’s framework, unlike Jedi Challenges — having grown from representing 35 percent of downloads one month after iOS 11’s launch, to 47 percent today.

Back in January, Apptopia claimed that developer use of ARKit had slowed down since it debuted in September, with growth steadily declining since the official launch. Apptopia’s numbers suggested that 300 ARKit-related apps launched in September, around 200 came out in October, and 156 were released in November. The number climbed above 160 for December, but developers are said to still be figuring out the best use cases for augmented reality in general, with many ARKit-enabled apps designated as either games with AR modes attached onto them, entertainment and photo apps, or utilities.

Although ARKit has removed the need for a headset in Holochess mode, anyone who wants to partake in Star Wars: Jedi Challenge’s Lightsaber Battles and Strategic Combat games will still need the Mirage headset. While Jedi Challenges is also available for Android smartphones, support for Google’s ARCore has not yet been announced.

Tags: Star Wars, ARKit
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Apple Releases Safari Technology Preview 54 With Bug Fixes and Feature Improvements

Apple today released a new update for Safari Technology Preview, the experimental browser Apple first introduced more than two years ago in March of 2016. Apple designed the Safari Technology Preview to test features that may be introduced into future release versions of Safari.

Safari Technology Preview release 54 includes bug fixes and feature improvements for Clipboard API, Beacon API, Web API, WebRTC, and Web Inspector.

The Safari Technology Preview update is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store to anyone who has downloaded the browser. Full release notes for the update are available on the Safari Technology Preview website.

Apple’s aim with Safari Technology Preview is to gather feedback from developers and users on its browser development process. Safari Technology Preview can run side-by-side with the existing Safari browser and while designed for developers, it does not require a developer account to download.

Tag: Safari Technology Preview
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Popular YouTuber Says Apple Won’t Fix His iMac Pro, But Disassembly Violated Apple’s Repair Policy

Linus Sebastian, who runs the popular YouTube channel Linus Tech Tips, recently shared a video in which he claimed Apple and an Apple Authorized Service Provider denied to service his damaged iMac Pro.

For background, Sebastian and his team fully disassembled the iMac Pro in January for their video review, which shows components like the main logic board and memory modules laid out individually. The real-time footage of the damage occurring in the new video appears to be a reenactment with visual effects.

The damage resulted when they dropped the display while attempting to reattach it to the aluminum chassis. Towards the end of the video, Sebastian also says the iMac Pro requires a new logic board and power supply unit, suggesting there may have been a short circuit that caused damage to internal components as well.

Sebastian contacted Apple to inquire about repair options, and visited the Genius Bar at an Apple Store, but the company ultimately declined to service the iMac Pro. In an email, an Apple support advisor placed blame on limited availability of replacement parts, but the actual reason is likely rooted in policy.

As has long been the case, Apple’s terms and conditions for repairs stipulates that the company will not service products that have failed due to “unauthorized modification,” including “faulty installation, repair, or maintenance by anyone other than Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider.”

Apple’s limited one-year warranty is also void if a product has “damage caused by service, including upgrades and expansions, performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider.”

In his defense, Sebastian confirms he is aware of those policies, but his argument is that Apple should still be obligated to repair the iMac Pro if he pays out-of-warranty fees. In the video’s comments section, reaction is mixed, with some people agreeing with him and others siding with Apple.

iMac Pro is a non-user-upgradeable, all-in-one workstation by design, so it’s easy to see why Apple may not be interested in servicing one that was fully disassembled. While the team at Linus Tech Tips may be more tech savvy than some, a lot can go wrong when an average customer tampers with internals.

After the repair was declined by Apple, Sebastian and his team contacted an Apple Authorized Service Provider in Canada, where they are located. The repair shop also declined the repair, but their reason was allegedly that Apple has yet to offer the required certification courses to service the iMac Pro.

However, Apple’s internal iMac Pro Service Readiness Guide obtained by MacRumors states that ATLAS online training and learning resources for servicing the iMac Pro have been available in English since December. We also spoke to multiple sources who completed the course and received certification months ago.

The guide adds that iMac Pro service parts availability began in early to mid January, with replacement logic boards, flash storage, and memory available by late February. Multiple sources at Apple Authorized Service Providers also confirmed that iMac Pro displays are available with two-week-or-less delivery estimates.

MacRumors contacted a reliable source who confirmed that Apple Authorized Service Providers are permitted to deny service for any product that has been opened or modified by a customer, regardless of warranty, both for safety reasons and to avoid responsibility if the machine cannot be fixed.

In the end, Apple has to draw a line somewhere, and not everyone will agree with it. MacRumors contacted Apple, but a spokesperson declined to comment. We’ve also contacted Linus Tech Tips for comment.

Related Roundup: iMac ProBuyer’s Guide: iMac Pro (Buy Now)
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