English Chinese (Traditional) French German Italian Japanese Russian Spanish
Recent blog posts


The amazing VP AC7200 Action Camera Sport Outdoor Camcorder DV (Digital Video) is truly a great outdoor sports waterproof camera and I can think of 5 outdoor sports that this could be used for right now. Jogging, swimming, hiking, skiing, bicycling. This little gem is on sale right now at Newegg for $59.99 which is $20.00 off of the original price.

Last modified on

Oculus promises this will be in consumers' hands by the end of next March.

As of this writing, it has been over 1,000 days since Oculus launched its very successful Kickstarter for the Rift virtual reality headset, and even longer since the company first made a splash at E3 2012. Back then the creators said a consumer release was "still a ways down the road," and they've been equally vague about an actual release target for the nearly three years since.

Today, the company is finally ready to at least give a solid seasonal target for that first consumer headset. The Rift will be available to consumers in "Q1 2016," Oculus announced this morning.

Last modified on

Oculus is ready to sell virtual reality to the public, almost 3 years after it Kickstarted its first developer kit. Today Oculus announced that “the Oculus Rift will be shipping to consumers in Q1 2016, with pre-orders later this year.”

The vaguely worded announcement from the Facebook-owned company raises big questions, including whether Oculus Rift will come with everything users need be able to power the VR system, and whether Oculus is making its own games. I’ll have more answers and details later this morning when I speak onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt NY with Oculus co-founder and VP of Product Nate Mitchell.


Last modified on

Posted by on in Gizmodo

What Gives a Decaying Body Its Distinctive Odor?

Dead bodies give off a distinctive, sickly-sweet odour that’s immediately recognisable and hard to forget. The smell of death can consist of more than 400 volatile organic compounds in a complex mixture. These compounds are produced by the actions of bacteria, which break down the tissues in the body into gases and salts.

The exact composition of the gas mixture changes as decomposition progresses. It also varies slightly according to the exact composition of the bacterial population in and around the body and the interactions between them, the climate of the habitat, and (to a lesser extent) the genetic make-up and diet of the deceased.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Gizmodo

Wikipedia Makes Life Way Less Fun

And it curtails the best bar arguments that used to ramble on for hours, too. [XKCD]

Last modified on
Hits: 86 Comments

Snapchat's curated selection of news stories called Discover is reportedly in trouble, with traffic dropping significantly since its debut back in January. That's probably why the company has introduced a new function that lets you share articles and videos straight from the portal to your friends. Whenever you find something worth showing to other people, just press the screen and wait for the new tools to pop out. You can type a caption and/or write on the snapshot of the page with a digital marker, then you can send it out to pals you choose as you would any other "snap." In addition to Discover's new sharing function, you can now also take zoomed in videos by dragging your finger across the screen while recording. We took Discover's new tools for a spin and embedded some samples below the fold, but you can try them out yourself after downloading the latest app refresh from iTunes or Google Play.

Last modified on
Hits: 67 Comments

Luxury Swiss watch maker IWC Schaffhausen has revealed a few details about it’s answer to the growing popularity of fitness trackers and smartwatches. It’s called IWC Connect, and it’s a fitness tracker that also works as a remote control for as-yet unnamed smart home devices. It’ll be built into the straps on its super swish Big Pilot watches in the near future. Cool, right? Well, no, not really. The trouble is, it looks like a big, ugly pimple on the side of what is a normally fine looking timepiece.

Exactly what the IWC Connect will do when it’s released isn’t very clear yet either. Apparently, it’ll provide “fully fledged activity tracking,” so expect steps, calories, and distance covered to be included, plus sleep tracking potentially added for good measure. The slightly unusual addition of smart home controls is even more hazy, and all we know for now is it’ll, “give wearers control over certain devices connected to the Internet of Things.” Not much to go on there, but at least it got a funky buzzword into its press release.

Related: Read our review of the Apple Watch

Last modified on

Unless you live in China, you may not know Tencent Holdings. For the uninitiated, it’s a huge Internet company which among other things, owns China’s largest social network QQ, and the most widely used messaging app, WeChat. Earlier this year it challenged Android’s supremacy on smartphones with the launch of Tencent Operating System (TOS); now it’s back with TOS+, designed to take on Android in the wearables market, VR, and the Internet of Things.

Updated on 05-06-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in pictures of TOS+ running on a smartwatch, along with a few more feature details.

Tencent has based TOS and TOS+ on Android, and developers are free to use the platform provided a revenue share agreement is reached. TOS+ is destined to be used on the hardware which is only just starting to capture people’s attention, from smartwatches to VR headsets. These, along with smart televisions, are all ideal platforms for pushing Tencent’s huge catalog of gaming apps, along with its social and entertainment services. The company also has a mobile payments system, which could operate on a TOS+ smartwatch via a TOS smartphone.

Last modified on

Here on Techdirt we've written many times about the problematic nature of drug patents. They are harmful both directly, in terms of the price distortions they cause and seek to spread to new markets, and indirectly, through the lobbying that the pharma industry deploys to strengthen and extend them, notably in trade agreements such as TPP and TAFTA/TTIP.

The standard justification for these patents is that they are needed to provide incentives for costly research and development of new drugs, something that Techdirt has been questioning for many years. A fascinating new paper entitled "Patent Monopolies and the Costs of Mismarketing Drugs" (pdf), by Ravi Katari and Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, explores yet another problem with pharma patents: in the case of prescription drugs, there are also major costs associated with the enormous asymmetry between the knowledge available to drug companies and the knowledge available to patients and their doctors. As a result of this asymmetry of knowledge, drug companies will often be in a situation to earn large patent rents by concealing information that show their drugs are less effective than they claimed or possibly even harmful.

One way in which drug companies take advantage of this asymmetry is with "off-label" promotion of their drugs. An off-label use of a drug is one which has not been approved by the FDA. While doctors are free to prescribe drugs for off-label uses, drug companies are prohibited from promoting their drugs for off-label uses. If they want to get a drug approved for additional uses then they have to clear a path by seeking FDA approval. However, they routinely avoid this independent assessment by finding ways to promote their drugs for unapproved uses. Promotion of drugs for off-label uses is harmful to the public because it diminishes drug safety regulation, discourages companies from conducting or revealing internal safety studies, and incentivizes them to seek FDA approval for narrow "label use" that is easier to push through the approval process. The bulk of the paper is concerned with quantifying those costs by looking at five high-profile cases of mismarketing. Here's the final result: The cumulative costs associated with the increased morbidity and mortality associated with these drugs was $382.4 billion over the 14-year period from 1994–2008. This comes to just over $27 billion a year, an amount that is comparable to what the pharmaceutical industry claims to have been spending on research at the time. As the paper's authors emphasize, this is only a rough figure, and is likely to underestimate the total negative consequences of this kind of rent-seeking behavior, since it is based on only a small subset of drugs, and uses conservative estimates for key quantities. More important than the specific figure are the policy implications. For example, the deliberate mismarketing is only possible because data is kept secret: If, for example, this research was all in the public domain and carried through by researchers who had no direct financial interest in the sales of a drug, it is unlikely that they would go to elaborate lengths to misrepresent or conceal research findings, or that they would be successful if they tried. In other words, the costs documented here are the result of the incentives provided by patent monopolies in the same way that the research itself is motivated by patent monopolies. At the very least, that's an argument for requiring that all research data and clinical trial information should be made freely available for others to analyze. The paper also points out that there are implications for TPP and TAFTA/TTIP: One of the major goals of the United States in these and other trade pacts currently being negotiated is to strengthen patent and related protections for prescription drugs. The justification is that increased patent rents will provide a greater incentive to the pharmaceutical industry, leading to more innovation. But as the present study shows, strengthening those protections is likely to encourage more rent-seeking behavior, increased mismarketing, and thus unnecessary deaths and greater costs to society -- hardly something to promote through trade agreements. Finally, the new research adds further weight to the argument that we need to find better ways of funding research into new drugs: The fact that incentives from patent rents lead firms to promote drugs in ways that impose large costs on patients and society should raise additional questions about the desirability of patent protection as a mechanism for financing research. Other mechanisms for financing research have been proposed, such as a prize system or direct public funding. Of course the U.S. government already spends $30.9 billion annually funding biomedical research through grants administered by the National Institutes of Health, so direct public funding is already an integral part of the drug development process. The proposal is to expand this funding and have NIH’s mission extend to the development and testing of drugs. By having all research in the public domain and taking away the patent rents associated with marketed drugs, direct funding would both remove the incentive and hugely lessen the ability to misrepresent research in order to promote drugs for uses that may not be appropriate. When so many lives and so much money are at stake, it's surely time to look at this idea more closely.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Engadget
DNA on an iPhone screen

Now that Apple has launched a platform for medical research, it's apparently ready to expand what that platform can do. MIT's sources understand that the Cupertino crew is working with academics on ResearchKit apps that let iPhone users get DNA tests. Apple wouldn't directly scoop up DNA, as you might imagine -- rather, it would make it easier for you to collect genes and share them with scholars. You could see some findings within the app, too, so you might know whether or not a condition is genetic.

The company isn't commenting on the claims. However, you may see these DNA apps sooner than you think. Apple has reportedly lined up app-based studies from both New York's Mount Sinai Hospital as well as UC San Francisco, and it's hoping that they'll be ready in time for the Worldwide Developer Conference in early June. Whether or not they are, the rumor suggests that the folks at 1 Infinite Loop want to be more than just passive observers in the medical world.

Last modified on
Hits: 96 Comments

Posted by on in CNET

cloud.jpgImage by Evan Blaser, CC BY 2.0

Everyone knows what lightning sounds like, but now for the first time, scientists at the Southwest Research Institute in Antonio, Texas have turned the accompanying thunderclap into an image.

For many centuries, humanity believed that lightning was caused by the collision of clouds in the sky. In a way that's sort of true -- if you think of it as the collision of the elements inside clouds. When clouds are at a certain altitude, some of the water particles inside freeze. This leads to a mix of frozen ice crystals and a heavier mix of water and slushy ice called graupel.

Last modified on

freightlinerinspirationtruck-548.jpg Antuan Goodwin/CNET

LAS VEGAS -- Freightliner's newest commercial big rig can steer and drive itself, while the driver relaxes and enjoys the ride. No, I'm not talking about Autobot Ultra Magnus. It's the Freightliner Inspiration Truck, the first ever self-driving commercial truck to receive a road license plate for autonomous operation on public highways.

"Ninety-percent of commercial truck accidents are due to driver error and 1 in 8 of those are due to driver fatigue," states Freightliner head of Trucks and Buses, Wolfgang Bernhard at an unveiling today at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Autonomous technology, the automaker went on to claim, can help curb long-haul fatigue by allowing a computer to handle the dull, but long stretches of straight highway miles.

Last modified on

Uber Technologies has ceased operations in Kansas after state legislators overruled a veto by the governor on a bill that aims to tighten insurance requirements and background checks for drivers operating in app-based transportation networks.

The ride-hailing company said it had stopped operations throughout Kansas immediately after the vote on Tuesday. “Drivers who opened the app to make a living, and riders who opened it to get a ride, were both denied the freedom to do so,” Uber said. It launched in Kansas about a year ago.

The Kansas Transportation Network Company Services Act was vetoed last month by the state’s Governor Sam Brownback who warned against overregulating or improperly regulating an emerging industry. He pointed out in a statement the ride-hailing industry’s concern that the “background requirement as currently written, weakens rather than strengthens, the level of scrutiny placed on its potential drivers.”

Last modified on
An anonymous reader writes: I just published an article and thought it might be of interest to Slashdot readers. It's about a collection visualizations I created based on public voting data from The Public Whip project, which collects and normalizes voting data from the UK House of Commons. The visualizations show relationships between MPs, with a focus on agreement rates, and more interestingly — rebellion.
Last modified on
Hits: 79 Comments

It is not often a telecommunications merger gets much attention — but customer concern over the bidding war to acquire the Perth-based Internet service provider (ISP), iiNet, has made the potential deal one of the most high profile in Australia in recent years.

To recap the story so far: Two Australian Internet companies are vying to buy iiNet — TPG Telecom and M2 Group. In an indication of how much it wants the company, TPG put A$1.4 billion cash on the table. M2 Group, in an attempt to outbid TPG, laid down a share-based offer of A$1.6 billion (on Tuesday evening, this had decreased to $1.57 billion due to fluctuations in the share price).

The iiNet board were content with M2's bid, but allowed TPG a counter offer. On May 6, iiNet announced the revised TPG offer — which took the deal to a value of A$1.56 billion — was more favourable than M2's. Whether the underdog will come back to the table is yet to be seen.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Slashdot

Using taxis for everything because the lower classes take the train is a lifestyle choice.

That's still a lot more efficient than what most other Americans do, which is drive 30-60 minutes each way on their daily commute, using their own car. The NYers who do take cabs tend to take them short distances (since everything is closer together there), and they're sharing the same vehicles, instead of all having their own, and then needing giant parking lots for them all.

Yes, it'd be better if everyone just took

Last modified on
Hits: 77 Comments

Three months after Lenovo was called out for installing dangerous software onto its computers, the world's largest PC manufacturer has once again been accused of lax security measures. Security firm IOActive reports that it discovered major vulnerabilities in Lenovo's update system that could allow hackers to bypass validation checks, replace legitimate Lenovo programs with malicious software, and run commands from afar.

The vulnerabilities were found in February

Through one of the vulnerabilities, IOActive researchers explained that attackers could create a fake certificate authority to sign executables, allowing malicious software to masquerade as official Lenovo software. Should a Lenovo owner update their machine in a coffee shop, another individual could conceivably use the security hole to swap Lenovo's programs with their own — what the researchers call the "classic coffee shop attack." The security hole, along with others described by IOActive, are present in Lenovo System Update and earlier versions.

Last modified on

2015-05-06 04:07:32 UTC

The game of fetch has seen little innovation since a person first threw a ball at a dog.

Sure, balls got bouncier and easier for humans to throw, but what dogs really needed was an RC car to chase after.

Last modified on

The Department of Justice is looking to help equip more law enforcement officers with body cameras.

The Obama administration is spending $20 million on police body cameras, amid rising tension over police violence.

The announcement from the Justice Department on Friday would create a new pilot program to equip police in dozens of cities with the devices, as the first step in a $75 million three-year effort that President Obama requested from Congress in December.

“This body-worn camera pilot program is a vital part of the Justice Department’s comprehensive efforts to equip law enforcement agencies throughout the country with the tools, support and training they need to tackle the 21st century challenges we face,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement shared with media outlets. “Body-worn cameras hold tremendous promise for enhancing transparency, promoting accountability and advancing public safety for law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.”

Last modified on
Last night at the Hoover Dam, Freightliner unveiled the Inspiration Truck — a partially autonomous big rig that could save lives, mitigate driver fatigue and stress, and reduce CO2 emissions up to 5 percent. Daimler, which owns Freightliner, says it has done more than 10,000 miles of testing on the truck. And now it's street-legal, having been officially granted one of Nevada's "Autonomous Vehicle" license plates (the first for a commercial truck) by Nevada governor Brian Sandoval at a media event before the unveiling.
The Inspiration Truck and Daimler's underlying "Highway Pilot" technology isn't meant to replace truck drivers completely. Instead, it's meant to solve the problem of fatigued driving, something that plagues truck drivers who have to pull long shifts. According to Daimler, 90 percent of truck crashes result from driver error, and in one out of every eight of those cases driver fatigue plays a role. Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Daimler AG's truck boss, says that the Inspiration Truck mitigates that problem significantly. At a media event before the unveiling, he spoke about how taking control away from drivers positively impacts their ability to focus for long periods of time. "We measured brain activity with or without autonomous function, and it clearly shows that driver drowsiness decreases by about 25 percent when the truck is operating in autonomous mode," he said.

Freightliner self-driving big rig in photos Freightliner self-driving big rig in photos

"Level 3" on NHTSA's automation scale

Daimler and Freightliner chose Nevada as the venue for the unveiling because the state was the first in the nation to put regulations in place that allow the testing of autonomous vehicles. (Three others and the District of Columbia have since followed.) Nevada is also home to some of the first university curriculums dealing with autonomous vehicles, like the Nevada Advanced Autonomous Innovations Center found at the University of Nevada, Reno.

The Inspiration Truck is considered "level 3" on NHTSA's automation scale. That's the second-highest level of automation — the same that Google's self-driving cars currently operate on. It means that the vehicle is advanced enough to enable the driver to cede full control in certain traffic or environmental conditions. The driver can interrupt and regain control, but the vehicle should allow a "comfortable transition time."

Last modified on