iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max Pre-Orders Now Preparing to Ship
The first iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max orders placed on the online Apple Store have shifted to “Preparing to Ship” ahead of an expected Friday, September 21 delivery date.
Many orders in both the United States and other countries have changed status and should be shipping out soon. Apple Watch Series 4 orders are not yet preparing to ship in the U.S., but that could change over the course of the next day or two.
Apple began accepting pre-orders for the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max on Friday, September 14 at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time. By the time a half hour had passed, many iPhone XS Max models had sold out and were no longer available for launch day delivery.
As of today, new iPhone XS Max orders will not ship out until October, but some models are still available for in-store pickup on September 21 in select stores. Retail stores are also expected to have supplies available for walk-in purchases on launch day.
Supplies of the smaller 5.8-inch iPhone XS are plentiful and that device remains available for Friday delivery.
After orders began shipping, Apple’s shipment status information may not be updated right away. Over the course of the next few days, some customers in the United States may be able to track their shipments using track by reference features on the UPS and FedEx websites.
Orders that have shifted to “Preparing for Shipment” can no longer be modified or canceled.
Related Roundup: iPhone XS
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Have We Become Over-Reliant on Internet Technology?
Internet technology has made a dramatic difference to our lives and to the world in general over the years. This technology has altered the way in which we do everything from our shopping habits and methods through to the way in which we work, enjoy entertainment, socialize with friends and family, and more. By and large, there is little doubt that internet technology has made a huge positive difference to our lives but there are also concerns that we have become over-reliant on internet technology.
These days, we use the internet on a daily basis for all sorts of purposes. Most people go online when they are at work as part of their duties while others spend time online during the day via their smartphones and tablets. When we get home, many of us log onto social media sites online or go online for other purposes. Many also go online to enjoy entertainment such as gaming or streaming movies and shows. We also go online to access specialist sites ranging from government websites, travel sites, and shopping sites through to niche sites such as Peoplefinders.
Moderating the time you spend online
Naturally, in today’s digital age it is essential for most people to go online for one reason or another. This could be as part of their work or to do research for studies. Some people are self-employed and work solely online so there is no doubt that the internet is something that benefits most of us hugely. However, it is important to ensure you do not spend all of your time online as this is what many people these days do. This not only has an effect on health but also means that you lose touch with interpersonal interaction, which can essentially affect your social life.
While there is little that can be done about having to spend long periods of time online for work, you can control the time you spend online for leisure. There is, of course, nothing wrong with going online to enjoy entertainment, message or find friends, browse, and shop. However, it is also important to ensure you live life normally as well rather than spending all of your time online. With this in mind, it is a good idea to set time limits on the amount of time you go online each day other than the time you have to spend online for work or studies. If you have children, this is even more beneficial, as it will help to teach them good habits when it comes to internet usage.
By making sure you moderate the amount of time you spend online, you can strike a balance between your online and offline life far more easily. Many people these days feel uncomfortable when it comes to personal interaction and this is because they have been brought up living their lives online. Making a change and moderating your internet use means you can enjoy the benefits of the internet while also enjoying living your normal life.
Can a bracelet really let you control your dreams?
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We cover crowdfunding projects all the time at Digital Trends. Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have given us outstanding products like the Formlabs 3D printer, Biolite campstove, and Onewheel electric skateboard thing.
But there’s no shortage of failed campaigns and outright scams that stem from these platforms as well. Triton Gills, a device that would supposedly allow users to breathe underwater, raised (and later returned) nearly $900,000 when backers realized it wouldn’t work as advertised. And then there was the bizarre campaign for Kobe beef jerky that raised a jaw-dropping $120,000 despite providing about as much product information as you’d find on the back of a Slim Jim. Luckily, Kickstarter itself stepped in to shut the campaign down.
With that in mind, a campaign for a wearable called the Instadreamer recently caught our attention. Like many tech products that emerge on crowdfunding platforms, Instadreamer is at once imaginative, intriguing, and somewhat suspect. The bracelet’s creators say their device will let you “take control of your dreams” by inducing vivid, lucid dreaming episodes. That’s a bold promise. But is the device less Inception and more deception? Let’s take a closer look.
Making (lucid) dreams a reality
Lucid dreaming is, in short, conscious dreaming. It’s knowing you’re dreaming when you’re dreaming, which may come with the added bonus of becoming the architect of the events and environments around you. The possibilities are endless, say lucid dreaming practitioners, limited only by your alarm clock.
Though lucid dreaming comes naturally to some, it’s known to be triggered and manipulated through habitual “reality checks” meant to help differentiate the real world from the dream world. That’s where the Instadreamer comes in.
“The most effective ways to create lucid dreams are to perform regular reality checks,” Jean Rausis, the Instadreamer’s inventor, tells Digital Trends. “Basically you have to make sure that you are in reality all day long, as much as possible. Hopefully that starts to become a habit, and as soon as it becomes a habit you start doing it in your dreams.”
There are a variety of reality checks to choose from, including checking the time on a clock (which should sporadically change in dreams) to checking your reflection in a mirror (which may appear distorted in the dream world).
“The most effective ways to create lucid dreams are to perform regular reality checks.”
Based on Pavlovian conditioning — the same kind that makes dogs slobber when they hear their food bowl rattle — Instadreamer serves as a sort of reminder designed to habituate these reality checks. The device vibrates at various times throughout the day, encouraging the wearer to perform a check. At night, the bracelet picks up on biometric signals, including a person’s pulse and temperature, to detect when they’re experiencing rapid eye movement (REM), the phase of sleep when dreams are most vivid. If the bracelet has sufficiently integrated itself into the wearer’s reality, its nighttime vibrations will put them into a state of conscious dreaming.
“Everyone knows how annoying and difficult it is to build a new habit,” Rausis says. “The difference with the Instadreamer is that it reminds you to reality check but also binds it with these vibrations, so you basically condition your brain to have an automatic response. Every time your wrist vibrates, you perform a reality check.”
Alarm bells ringing
Lucid dreams have been studied scientifically since the 60s. In the 80s, a psychophysiologist named Stephen LaBerge introduced a technique for induced lucid dreams that tracked eye movement to determine when someone was in REM and used a low tone or a red blinking light to signal to the sleeping participant that they were dreaming. Both the light and sound stimuli had a tendency to wake subjects up, according to Deirdre Barrett, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School who specializes in dream research, but also triggered lucidity at rates higher than chance.
For Barrett, the Instadreamer offers a compelling path towards lucid dreaming, but she’s not without her suspicions.
For one thing, Rausis and his team haven’t published study results indicating that the Instadreamer actually works: “I would assume if they already had data on the wrist REM detector working well and the vibration device getting a dreamer’s attention without awakening them, they’d say that.”
And while the bracelet breaks from previous stimuli like sound and red light, which had issues with awakening, it “also could prove to be worse yet than the sound stimulus worked in similar devices.
“It seems like an idea worth testing that might potentially increase lucid dreams,” she adds. “But the content of the pitch…is talking as if they’re sure it works and works better than other approaches, and I don’t see any evidence of that.”
Leap of faith
Rausis says he and his team ran trials on 19 people, 14 of whom reported lucid dreams within the first three nights of using Instadreamer. He acknowledges that these participants were prepped for the experience, and thus may have been more prone to lucid dreaming, but says the tips and tricks they were given to maximize their chances of lucidity will also be available to Instadreamer customers.
And while he can’t produce any data showing that the bracelet accurately detects REM sleep, Rausis is unfazed by the burden of proof.
“The pitch talks as if they’re sure it works and I don’t see any evidence of that.”
“What’s important for us is that it’s successfully inducing lucid dreams,” he says. “If it’s more or less accurate [at recognizing REM] than a given smartwatch…I don’t really care.”
Despite the lack of published evidence, Instadreamer has had a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising nearly $112,500 from more than 550 backers. Individual Instadreamers were available for around $200 and will retail for about $240. After the campaign, Rausis and his team will now take the device to Indeigogo Indemand with the goal to deliver a finished product early in 2019.
Backers take a leap of faith every time they pledge to a crowdfunding campaign. Sure, there are ways to limit your exposure — for example, by following our five-step checklist to avoid getting burned — but there’s also something to be said about putting your money behind a compelling idea, whether there’s a wealth of evidence to support the product of not.
What you do with your money is, of course, up to you, your family, and maybe the IRS — but we’d personally wait before shelling out a couple hundred dollars on the Instadreamer. If the product works as promised, a bunch of raving reviews should support its claims after its launch.
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Using Google services on a Chromebox vs. Samsung DeX
The best thing about Google’s services is they truly work anywhere. I don’t have to use a specific operating system — or even a specific web browser. If I have an Internet connection, I can get to my documents and be productive. This extend to my phone’s screen — typing on a six-inch phone takes longer than it does on a proper laptop, but it’s better than nothing.
Samsung’s DeX mode is a great way to have a desktop with you wherever you go, with nothing more than an HDMI cable. Desktop modes have been done on other smartphones, but Samsung’s is seeing more traction simply because Samsung outsells almost every other smartphone manufacturer. And if you use Google Drive, Docs, and other productivity services, they work perfectly on your big screen with DeX.
Chromebooks and Chromeboxes are also a compelling option if you’re all in on Google services: after all, it’s just like running the Chrome browser on other operating systems. They experience is the exact same as it would be on a Windows or macOS computer, so it makes being productive that much easier than a smartphone app on DeX.
What Chromeboxes do better
Once you factor in the cost of the DeX hub, a monitor, keyboard and mouse, getting a desktop computer isn’t that much more expensive if you just a basic system for browsing the web and writing documents. Sure, if you’re already buying a Galaxy smartphone DeX comes included, but Asus’s latest Chromebox starts at only $230. Refurbished and older models may be even cheaper, but that’s a great price for a full computer.
Asus Chromebox 3 at Amazon
And being a full computer is the main difference here. Most apps used in DeX still look like they’re sized for your smartphone display, though some do let you expand the application window to fill the whole monitor. But at the end of the day, this is still a smartphone app, and whatever limitations the app has on the small screen come over the large one.
In practical terms, this means you can only have one Google Doc open at a time, even if there’s plenty of room on your monitor for multiple documents. Same goes for presentations in Google Slides or spreadsheets in Google Sheets. The app thinks it’s running on a smartphone — because it is — and you get the smartphone experience.
The same happens when you try to use a web browser in DeX. The Chrome browser doesn’t offer any add-ons or plugins, since this isn’t the desktop version of Chrome. You also have much more limited control over how you place different tabs and windows, since the phone app wasn’t designed for that.
A Chromebox is a desktop, so the OS and websites behave just like they would on any other desktop. You can grab a tab and move it to its own window. You can pin a window to one side of the screen. You can run an ad-blocker or other extensions from the Chrome Web Store. And if you buy a newer Chromebox, you can also use nearly every Android app from the Google Play Store.
Juggling multiple documents is the key difference here. I regularly have more than two Docs open when I’m working: one working document and one template or style guide. Doing that on DeX means going back and forth between the documents, which eats up a lot of time and attention. Simply put, if your living depends on getting document, slides or spreadsheets written, a Chromebox or Chromebook is well worth the investment over DeX.
What DeX does better
Despite the downsides, DeX does have some merits. A monitor and HDMI cable are less investment than a monitor, HDMI cable, keyboard, mouse and desktop. And if you’re a company that already purchases Galaxies to issues to employees, having a couple DeX stations is less expensive than having a Chromebox in those same cubicles.
Connectivity is another key point. I went without Internet for a couple days because I was moving, and while it wouldn’t have been hard to tether my desktop or Chromebook to my phone’s connection, using DeX meant I didn’t have to worry about background processes on those other devices eating up more of my monthly data allotment. This is definitely niche — it didn’t even occur to me until the move happened. But it’s nice to have that option in case of emergencies.
If you already work from your phone — or your workflow isn’t hampered with the limitations of mobile apps — using DeX is a great way to be more productive.
Which is better for you?
Can you be productive with DeX, or do you need a full desktop interface? Let us know down below!
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How to run a free background check
Everyone has skeletons in the closet. Whether it’s Facebook photos of underage drinking in college or the complete criminal record of your sister’s new boyfriend, the internet is a treasure trove of background information. And while there are many fee-based services, it’s possible to learn quite a bit about someone from public records or through content found on online social networks.
While your initial impulse might be to run a check on somebody else, perhaps you should scan your own background first. The information you find could be preventing you from landing a good job or even buying a car or home. You’ll be able to check your credit report and insurance information for inaccuracies. You’ll also see what potential landlords, employers, or anyone else can find out about you if they decide to do a little detective work of their own.
Either way, here’s how to run a comprehensive background check with dropping a dime.
Using search engines
The first place you should start is a web search. Google can easily pull up a ton of information, assuming you know your target’s name or any relevant information pertaining to him or her. The results can function as a starting point from which to branch out.
Isolate search terms by putting the name in quotation marks in the search bar. Searching “John Smith” will yield the first and last name in that order and filter out any results that don’t match your exact specifications. Keep in mind that searching for a person’s name will bring up results for anyone with that name, so use additional terms to limit your results, such as a city of residence, a job, or any education info you know. The more specific the search terms, the more relevant your search will be.
Using social networks
Social networks offer an entirely different breed of data. While search engines may find information someone else published online about your target, social networks provide content that is controlled and voluntarily shared by the user. They may not always offer the most concrete information, but they can provide insight on your target nonetheless. Here are the basic places to start.
Facebook is your best bet when it comes to digging up dirt. If a given profile is public, you can search for it by name and affiliated email address, and further home in using your target’s location, education, and workplace. If a Facebook profile is set to private, however, it will not appear in search results. Varying levels of privacy for different Facebook features means that some information may be public while some will be hidden.
If you’re frustrated by Facebook’s search interface, you can also use Google to search within Facebook’s web domain. Typing “site:Facebook.com ‘John Smith’“ will pull up content from John Smith across Facebook, even from private profiles if they’ve posted to a public Facebook group.
Boasting around 450 million users and counting, LinkedIn is a fantastic source for professional networking and background checks, assuming users provide accurate information about themselves. In terms of a background check, this will only help you learn about your target’s work history — it won’t provide much in the way of personal information since that’s rarely how people use LinkedIn.
Twitter is not quite as refined as some of the other social networking sites when it comes to revealing background information, but it’s potentially useful all the same. You can search by username or tweets, but the site lacks the more in-depth filtering mechanisms that make Facebook a standout. Twitter is also generally more useful for discovering your target’s personal tastes and interests as opposed to the basics, such as his or her contact information. Again, using the domain search option in Google as we previously suggested for Facebook could help you to uncover some useful information.
Instagram is the place to look at someone’s life through photos. If you type in their name to the search engine you will be able to find their profile. If the profile is public you’re in, but if it’s private there isn’t much more you can learn from the person. In a public profile, you can look at their photos and photos that they are tagged in. You can also see who they follow and who follows them. It doesn’t give too much actual information, but you can definitely infer things from what you are seeing in their pictures.
Discovering contact information
Profile pictures — especially those in which someone holds their camera up to a mirror and snaps a picture — may abound, but they likely aren’t what you’re looking for. Sometimes a simple phone number or street address is a more helpful data point. These websites are definitely worth a look, even if they do sometimes have a price tag associated with them.
We’re not going to lie, this service can get a little creepy. It can dig up what streets you’ve lived on for most of your life, the high school you attended, your job, your social media accounts, and quite a bit more, all for free. The site also presents a Google-like list of links to articles or pages that might relate to you, along with pictures of you from other sites that you didn’t even realize were on the internet.
When it comes to contact information, the official White Pages website is hit-or-miss. The site gives you the option to search listed people by name, address, or phone number, but the information is often out-of-date or requires a minimal fee to view through an associated website like Spokeo. You also can’t view financial background, work history, and the like without paying a fee. You can view their address, around what age they are, and close relatives.
Similar to WhitePages, ZabaSearch offers a fairly good index of people. View address history, relatives, past and present places of work, and schools attended. ZabaSearch might be a good alternative if WhitePages doesn’t have the person you’re looking for.
Family Tree Now
Though this website is made for creating family trees, the free information that they offer can give you an insight into the person you are researching. The site offers billions of historical records including census records, birth records, death records, marriage and divorce records, living people records, and military records. They also show current and past addresses, phone numbers, and possible relatives. If you are looking for a person’s contact information, this is the place to go.
Using criminal databases
Criminal background searches are often some of the most revealing and most warranted. You may not care about the financial background of a middle-school janitor, but you probably do care about his criminal background. The same goes for that babysitter you just hired for the weekends and that electrician working in your home. Thankfully, CriminalSearches allows you to perform criminal background checks online.
The service may cost you a bit of money to view the results, but it’s easy to navigate and allows you to look up criminal offenders by name, location, age, birthdate, and an assortment of other metrics. It’s also fairly extensive, outlining everything from violent crimes and sex-related offensives to behavioral issues and minor traffic violations.
Family Watch Dog
Family Watch Dog is a free website that helps located registered sex offenders in your area. You can type in your address, city/state, or zip code and the site will pull up a map of the nearby offenders. The website gives information about the offender including their basic information, addresses, charges, markings, and aliases.
Using public records
Needless to say, the internet has made access to public records a lot easier. While some information is still kept confidential for one reason or another, there are many organizations and government websites that compile and make public records readily available.
Searchsystems.net serves as an impressive and reliable starting point if you’re looking for background information in the realm of national or international public records. With access to more than 55,000 public records databases, the site allows you to search for different types of public information, such as birth and campaign finance records, before directing you to the appropriate website that contains the records. The site is free and easy to use but merely serves as a gateway to other public records sites.
NETROnline.com is more difficult to navigate than SearchSystems, but provides a bit more control when it comes to obtaining public records. The site serves as a direct portal to official county and state record databases and even carries out criminal background checks for a small fee.
Viewing financial history
We all know your credit can make or break your financial desires. Most credit report websites offer reports for a small fee, or even free depending on your situation.
Innovis is one of the more trustworthy credit report sites. And it offers one free credit report per year if you meet certain requirements. Otherwise, the cost to view the report varies between $3 and $11.50 depending on where you live.
Annual Credit Report
You are legally entitled to receive one free credit report every 12 months from each of the large, nationwide consumer reporting companies, including TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax — though maybe you should avoid this. Some people are even entitled to more if they qualify under state law.
Looking up web domains or IP addresses
It’s easier than you might think to figure out who owns a domain because the bulk domain registration data is publicly available — you guessed it — online. Whether you’re trying to purchase a domain name from someone else or simply trying to satisfy your own curiosity, there is a website to make your job easier.
Domaintools Whois (as well as every major registrar) allows you to type in a domain name or IP address in the search bar and find out who owns that domain. What’s nice about this service is that in the search results for any particular domain, Domaintools will also help you figure out what other domains a particular person or organization might be associated with. Keep in mind that some domain information is private — after all, some hosting companies offer this service to their customers — so you may not be able to see all domain facets, and might be presented with contact info for a third-party intermediary.
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Photos of the BMW Vision iNEXT Concept leak onto the web despite embargo
Earlier this week, journalists from around the world, including yours truly, were invited to preview BMW’s all-new Vision iNEXT Concept as it travels around the world to various cities to be showcased. Although we were all under an embargo, the photos of the concept somehow leaked onto the web before it lifted.
So while we can now see it in the full via some pictures, you’ll have to sit tight for us to spill the beans on the specific details.
Regardless, this is it, BMW’s anticipated Vision iNEXT concept:
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According to CarAdvice in Australia, a user on Bimmerpost leaked low-resolution photos, showcasing the concept in full.
Just by looking at it, you can tell the design is quite bold and certainly inherits the sort of design cues you’d expect from BMW and its i-brand, the same one that gave us the i3 and the i8. You can also obviously tell that this is nowhere near production ready.
Unlike the i3 or the i8, however, the Vision iNEXT Concept is more of a crossover sport utility vehicle, whereas the i3 is a tiny city car, and the i8 is a mid-engine luxury sports coupe.
From the leaked photos, the Vision iNEXT’s size and profile put it nearly in the realm of a midsize crossover, with plenty of ground clearance and an upright shoulder profile, but with a low roofline.
Overall, the cabin also appears rather airy, with large windows and a windscreen that meets a panoramic glass roof on top. Upfront, the signature kidney grille grows to the size that we were expecting based on the previous video teaser that was released not too long ago.
From previous reports, we know BMW is on a big electrification effort to expand its electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) options. The German automaker wants to push outside the envelope and become a leader via innovation as a mass-market automobile manufacturer.
This means we can expect a huge range of new powertrain and platform technologies and an influx of new models. The Vision iNEXT concept itself is a result of these efforts.
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Amazon Prime members can grab a Fire TV Cube for just $80 right now
“Alexa, it’s movie night.”
Update: This deal, along with the discount on the Fire TV Stick, is set to last only through September 17, so make sure to place your order while it’s active!
Right now, Amazon Prime members can score a Fire TV Cube for just $79.99. Though we did see a coupon last week dropping its price to $70, that offer was only available to select Amazon accounts, whereas this deal is open to anyone who has a Prime membership. This is its next lowest price ever too. During its pre-order phase, it was available for $90, but since then it has mainly sold for $120.
CordCutters did a full review of the Fire TV Cube. Essentially, imagine the way you use an Echo Dot now to control all the wirelessly connected appliances around your home. Then imagine that control plugged into your TV so you can control everything plugged in there with your voice as well. That’s what you get with this new device. It’s a way to turn on the TV, play your favorite DVD, adjust the volume on your home audio system, dim the lights, and get your microwave to cook some popcorn all without moving from the best spot on the couch.
See at Amazon
Amazon’s Fire TV Stick is down to just $25 right now for Prime members
Streaming made affordable.
Update: This deal, along with the discount on the Fire TV Cube, is set to last only through September 17, so make sure to place your order while it’s active!
Right now, Prime members can pick up an Amazon Fire TV Stick for just $24.99, which is $15 less than it normally sells for. The Fire TV Stick is Amazon’s most affordable streaming hardware that provides quick and easy access to popular services like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, and more. It has an Alexa-enabled voice remote, which means that you can speak to it and get your favorite shows played without having to search for them manually.
If you’re looking for something more robust, the Fire TV Cube is also on sale, which adds the best of Amazon’s Alexa as well. This one lets you turn your TV on, change apps, and more with just your voice. You can’t go wrong with either, but you’ll want to make sure you grab one now, before the discounts are gone.
See at Amazon
Lexus digitizes side-view mirrors with cameras for Japan’s 2019 ES sedan
It seems Lexus is fed up with having to look at a piece of reflective glass and plastic to know what’s in your side rearview. That’s so 2017. So the company decided to introduce a new way to look behind you and to the sides with the 2019 Lexus ES sedan.
The automaker announced that new digital side-view monitors will replace the traditional side-view mirror on the new ES when it launches in Japan next month. The monitors basically replace the old, analog reflective surface in favor of a compact high-definition camera. The camera then projects what it sees through two additional LCD screens the size of your average portable satellite navigation, mounted at the A-pillar of the ES sedan.
As if cars already don’t come with enough screens… And honestly, we’re not quite sure what’s wrong with the traditional side-view mirror? Sometimes old tech is simply the best tech.
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Lexus claims this arrangement as the world’s first application of “digital side-view monitors” on a mass-produced vehicle. The purpose is to offer a far more expanded and detailed view of what’s behind and to the sides of the car while traveling, to avoid collisions with other vehicles.
Lexus also boasts it increases forward side visibility while reducing the size of the blind spot caused by the traditional side-vide mirror, thanks to a smaller shape. And because of the units’ smaller sizes, there is less wind noise as well.
Further, with the digitization of the side-view comes unique software. The system also displays visual overlays on the screen whenever it senses a vehicle in one of the rear-three-quarter areas, highlighting the other vehicle and notifying the driver.
Lexus says the system will debut on the new ES in Japan when it launches in October. The system is only for the Japanese market, where legislators approved its use earlier this year. As you expect, such tech advancements are not yet available in the U.S. due to the snail pace in policy making with U.S. Department of Transportation safety standards — which also explains why we can’t get some of the cool headlight technology available on some German automobiles.
This is also not the first time an automaker replaced traditional mirrors with a digital camera and screen for rear views: Cadillac introduced a digital center rearview display to replace the usual rearview mirror on some of its models in 2016.
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Giant NASA space laser satellite will gauge climate change’s impact on ice sheets
No, it’s not the villainous plan of a James Bond antagonist — although we’d totally understand if you thought it might be. On Saturday, September 15, NASA is set to launch its most advanced space laser of all time as part of a $1 billion mission aimed at revealing the extent to which climate change has affected Earth’s ice sheet surface elevation.
Called ICESat-2, the half-ton satellite will blast off at around 5:46 a.m. PT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It is the follow-up to a previous five-year mission, ICESat, which concluded in 2009. The first ICESat helped demonstrate the way that ice cover has disappeared from coastal parts of Greenland and Antarctica. It also made clear that the sea ice is thinning. As its successor, ICESat-2 will fill in more detail about the bigger picture by examining how ice cover changes over the course of one year. The mission follows four of the hottest years in recent times, spanning 2014 to 2017. The hope is that this data will help scientists to better forecast the rise of the sea level, as well as provide a better understanding of climate change and its effects.
Richard Slonaker, ICESat-2 program executive at NASA, told reporters ahead of the launch that this mission is, “exceptionally important for science.”
ICESat-2 boasts a fearsome pair of lasers (the second is a backup), which will fire at a rate of 10,000 times per second. While these won’t produce enough heat to do any damage to the ice, they will enable the satellite to take incredibly detailed measurements. These measurements will be taken approximately every 2.3 feet along the path of the satellite. They will be used to check the slope and height of the ice, not just the area that it covers.
“The mission will gather enough data to estimate the annual elevation change in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, even if it’s as slight as four millimeters — the width of a No. 2 pencil,” NASA said in a statement.
The ICESat-2 mission is expected to run for three years. But there is enough fuel on board to let it continue for up to a decade should mission control decide it is important.
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