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Record demand for external chargers is one manifestation of the desire for gadgets that can last for days untethered, and what a strong desire it is: in 2012, a J.D. Power and Associates survey found that battery life, more than any other feature, contributed to dissatisfaction among smartphone buyers. That’s unlikely to have changed today, when the average smartphone can only browse the Web for around 8 hours before dying … on Wi-Fi.

At first, it seems like the blame lies with smartphone manufacturers. You might assume the batteries that power the flagships from Samsung, LG, Motorola, etc are chosen by the respective engineers. The truth, though, is more nuanced: the lithium-ion batteries in almost all devices today haven’t radically changed since they came out 23 years ago. This lengthy stagnation has forced companies to compromise on smartphone size, battery life, or both. Either a device like a phone can be thin, or it can get decent battery life.

So how did we get to this point, exactly, and where are we going? Improved battery designs lie on the horizon, but will they ever hit the market? Do any new battery technologies have a real chance at ending our reliance on lithium ion, and will other solutions help make today’s batteries bearable in the meantime? We endeavored to find out.

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From one bug-ridden console game to another -- Halo: Master Chief Collection owners should check their Xbox One inbox this morning, as redemption codes for the Halo 3: ODST add-on are going out now. Arriving as an apology for problems gamers reported with the massive Halo bundle since it launched months ago, ODST is a simpler update instead of a full rebuild, with all the original bits but running at 1080p and 60fps, and without the co-op Firefight mode. There's also an update for the main bundle that adds Halo 2: Anniversary map "Remnant" to the bundle and makes a few additional tweaks.

Halo Senior Communications Manager Rob Semsey confirmed the rollout on Twitter, so if you played the game between November 11th and December 19th last year expect a message (if you didn't, but still want the add-on, it will go on sale soon for $5). The title update is about 2GB plus 8.1GB for ODST so you'll have time to think -- is this reason enough to get back on the Halo bandwagon or are you through trying with Master Chief Collection?

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Several events this week pointed to Apple's future plans, including a promotion for designer Jony Ive, comments from operations head Jeff Williams, and a takeover of augmented reality firm Metaio.

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Jony Ive becomes Apple's Chief Design Officer

On Monday Apple announced that Jony Ive was being promoted from senior VP of Design to a newly-created position, Chief Design Officer. The role will take Ive out of daily design duties and broaden his scope to include things like office and retail construction projects.

Filling in the gap will be Alan Dye, now the head of user interface design, and Richard Howarth, in charge of the industrial side. Both are long-time Apple designers, considered instrumental to projects like the Apple Watch and the iPhone.

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The Proton rocket has gone through a number of redesigns over its long life. The latest version, the Proton-M, first flew in 2001, and they kept flying the Proton-K for many years (for reasons I actually don't know). They've only done 90 flights of the Proton-M, and half of them were in that post-2010 period of "repeated failures" (although they had about as many failures for pretty much all of the 2000s as well).

I would highly expect the faulty pump to have been redesigned with the Proton-M modifications, based simply on that analysis.

IIRC, Stage III failures are responsible for a very high percentage of launch failures.

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2015-05-30 04:04:07 UTC

For this young couple, growing old together is as beautiful as they imagined.

Just a little weirder.

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Look, I probably don't have to tell you Techdirt readers this, but I'm a strange sort of cat. I could go into all the reasons why I'm odd, but whenever I try to explain to people how non-normal I am, I usually just reveal this little bit of truth: I hate chocolate. No, I don't not-love chocolate. Nor do I dislike chocolate. I fucking hate it, nearly as much as I hate how low I appeared on this ingenious bit of sleuthing a commenter did in determining which Techdirt writers swear the most (a list which I insist is fucking bullshit, by the way). That said, everyone else loves chocolate, of course, so I'm sure they and many others were thrilled to see so many well-respected publications blaring headlines recently about how chocolate can help reduce weight. I'd show you a bunch of links to those stories put forth by supposedly well-respected journalism outlets and scientific journals that make heavy claims about peer-reviews and fact-checking, but I can't because most of those stories have been pulled. Why?

Because the whole thing was a bullshit hoax put on by a journalist to make the point that, at least when it comes to studies around diet and health, the journals and the media the reports on their papers are largely full of crap. Go read that entire thing, because it's absolutely fascinating, but I'll happily give you the truncated version. John Bohannon, who has a Ph.D in molecular biology of bacteria and is also a journalist, conspired with a German reporter, Peter Onneken, to see how badly they could fool the media to create BS headlines. They did this by turning John Bohannon into Johannes Bohannon (obviously) and creating a website for The Institute of Diet and Health, which isn't actually a thing. Then they conducted a very real study with three groups: 1 group eating a low-carb diet, 1 group eating their regular diet, and 1 group eating a low-carb diet and a 1.5oz bar of dark chocolate daily. After running background on the groups, conducting blood tests to correct for disease and eating disorders, and hiring a German doctor and statistician to perform the study, away they went. The results?

Onneken then turned to his friend Alex Droste-Haars, a financial analyst, to crunch the numbers. One beer-fueled weekend later and... jackpot! Both of the treatment groups lost about 5 pounds over the course of the study, while the control group’s average body weight fluctuated up and down around zero. But the people on the low-carb diet plus chocolate? They lost weight 10 percent faster. Not only was that difference statistically significant, but the chocolate group had better cholesterol readings and higher scores on the well-being survey.
Bam, results! Not just results, but results the media would absolutely love to sink their idiotic teeth into. The problem? Well, the method for running the entire study was bullshit.
Here’s a dirty little science secret: If you measure a large number of things about a small number of people, you are almost guaranteed to get a “statistically significant” result. Our study included 18 different measurements—weight, cholesterol, sodium, blood protein levels, sleep quality, well-being, etc.—from 15 people. (One subject was dropped.) That study design is a recipe for false positives.

Think of the measurements as lottery tickets. Each one has a small chance of paying off in the form of a “significant” result that we can spin a story around and sell to the media. The more tickets you buy, the more likely you are to win. We didn’t know exactly what would pan out—the headline could have been that chocolate improves sleep or lowers blood pressure—but we knew our chances of getting at least one “statistically significant” result were pretty good.

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Posted by on in Tech Deals
$169.95
End Date: Monday Jun-1-2015 19:29:59 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $169.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
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Posted by on in PCWorld

Amid all the announcements of new technologies, one of the things that stood out about Google’s keynote address to attendees of its I/O development conference in San Francisco on Thursday was the diverse group of faces presenting there.

While the tech industry struggles to reach gender parity in its workforce, the Google executives who took the stage represented a range of nationalities and genders. Three of the company’s keynote speakers were women: Lead Product Manager Ellie Powers spoke about Google Play for Families, Vice President of Engineering Jen Fitzpatrick discussed how the company is tailoring its services for lower bandwidth connections in the developing world, and Google Now Product Director Aparna Chennapragada discussed the company’s virtual assistant.

The high profile of women speakers marked a change from 2013, when Google didn’t even have conference t-shirts tailored for women. Since then, the company has undertaken a number of initiatives to draw more women and minorities to the conference, and this year, according to Google, 23 percent of attendees were women, compared to 8 percent in 2013.

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Posted by on in RE/Code

One billion more people will be connected to the Internet in five short years than are connected today, creating a global digital middle class and lifting millions out of poverty worldwide. This is no wild guess — it’s insight drawn from Cisco’s 10th annual visual networking index. This index measures and predicts global Internet data traffic growth annually. This may very well be the swiftest uptake in technology in the history of the world.

And as more people join this digital community, 10 billion new things — digital devices like smartphones, tablets, watches and sensors — will be connected to the Internet, creating a radical shift in how we connect to each other and the world around us. Of the new devices, almost half will be things in our connected homes that will improve our comfort and safety, and some of the fastest-growing will be wearables that can improve our health and well-being, and cars that talk to each other and to us.

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The Incredible Calculations That Keep Google's Project Loon Aloft

When we last checked in on Project Loon—Google’s moonshot project to blanket the world with internet-packing weather balloons—one had just circumnavigated the globe in a very quick 22 days. I just attended a talk at Google I/O and got some more info about the challenges the team faces in making this wild-ass project happen.

First off, if you need a refresher on what Project Loon is, here ya go. You should check out our other coverage of it, too.

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swisscheese.jpgIf you've ever had questions about the holes in Swiss cheese, some scientists have an answer for you and thankfully, it has nothing to do with mice.National Cancer Institute/Renee Comet/Wikimedia

Remember in those old "Tom and Jerry" cartoons when Jerry the mouse would try to sneak a block of Swiss cheese past Tom and when the cat spotted him, Jerry would hide in one of its holes? Well, apparently, with the way that Swiss cheese holes have been shrinking, nowadays Tom would gobble up poor Jerry and send any sympathetic kids watching into therapy for life.

Yes, a Swiss agricultural research group, Agroscope, says the iconic holes in Swiss cheese are getting fewer and smaller thanks to the modernization of the cheese-making process.

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Posted by on in TechCrunch
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In a world where everything is being unbundled, allowing consumers to pick and choose from things like television shows and college courses, financial services are becoming à la carte, as well. People, particularly millennials, are moving away from single monolithic banking institutions serving the majority of their financial needs to hand picking the specialized services that work for them.

According to a recent survey of 2,450 American and Canadian millennials, 46 percent say they don’t plan to stay with their current financial services company, and 67 percent indicate they are open to using non-financial services brands.

Breaking Down the Big Bank

In the past, customers had to turn to a big bank like Chase, Wells Fargo or Bank of America to provide top-to-bottom financial services — checking accounts, home loans, insurance and wealth management. However, fintech startups like Simple, Venmo and Robinhood are allowing people to take control of every individualized aspect of their finances.

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The Always Up-to-Date Guide to Streaming Blocked Content Overseas

Regardless of which end of whatever pond you’re on, region blocked content is annoying. Whether you’re an ex-pat looking to watch reruns of The Wonder Years, or you’re hankering for a dose of Dr. Who, here’s the best (and easiest) way to get that content.

One of the big problems with streaming content overseas (or from an overzealous college campus that blocks everything) is that the landscape for doing so changes a lot. Just a few years ago you had to jump through a lot of hoops, but in most cases it’s now as simple as a using an extension or web service. First, let’s look at our favorite way of getting to the bulk of online content. Then, we’ll look at the alternatives that give you access to just about anything you want.

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Disaster-plagued cities. Hellish landscapes. Post-apocalyptic society. It’s just your average day in California. With one special exception: A 9.6 earthquake has rippled up and down the state, unleashing unimaginable devastation. That’s the plot of San Andreas—but could any of this happen in real life? Let’s ask SCIENCE.

Among the many luminaries invited to preview the film was Dr. Lucy Jones, the USGS seismologist who recently took me on a walk along the Hollywood Fault, which runs just a block from the theater where San Andreas premiered. She now works for the City of LA, which she calls “the most interesting geological place in the US”—an understatement as oversized as Dwayne Johnson’s thighs.

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Even though Google started the whole mobile payment thing years ago with Google Wallet, it never really took off with the masses. Google's newly announced Android Pay, however, might. Instead of relying on you to load the app and unlock it with a PIN, Android Pay lets you simply tap your phone on an NFC terminal to approve the purchase. In addition, Google is also allowing Android Pay to be integrated in apps like Lyft, Grubhub and Wish, so users can easily use that to pay for things. I just used Android Pay here at Google I/O, and I can say this: If it's as easy to use in real life, then I suspect mobile payments are about to be a lot more ubiquitous.

Google had set up a Coke vending machine in the press area at I/O for the Android Pay demo, along with a couple of Nexus devices that were already preloaded with the software. To buy a Coke, all I had to do was tap a Nexus 6 to the terminal, and I saw an American Express card along with a MyCoke Rewards loyalty card appear on the screen. This, a Google spokesperson tells me, is because the phone is smart enough to know that I'm using Android Pay at a Coke vending machine.

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Google officially unveiled Android M at its developer keynote in San Francisco on May 28, and it didn’t take long for the promised preview builds to make their way to the public. So, like the intrepid technology journalists we are, we quickly installed M on a spare Nexus 6 we found lying around the office and dived deep into the preview.

We quickly learned there wasn’t much to uncover, though. Google’s exceptionally brief Android announcement at I/O seems to reflect the changes, or lack thereof, present in M so far. There are definitely a few notable additions worth mentioning, a new app drawer and permissions management among them, but unlike Lollipop, M seems very much a refinement of Android rather than a reimagining.

The new app drawer declutters your collection

The first thing you’ll probably notice is the new app drawer. Unlike every major release of Android since Ice Cream Sandwich, apps scroll vertically, not horizontally, in the drawer. Open it, and you’re presented with a long list of shortcuts arranged alphabetically. Big uppercase letters on the left-hand side indicate groupings, and a search bar now resides at the top for faster access to specific apps.

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Save Our Swirled

Ben & Jerry’s are about more than paying tribute to toke-tastic classic rock icons. They’re big on helping tackle global issues with their frozen dairy deliciousness. Their latest creation: Save Our Swirled, a concoction they whipped up to help battle climate change.

Pop the lid off a pint of Save Our Swirled (Ben & Jerry’s can’t resist a good play on words), jab in a spoon, and you’ll be treated to ribbons of raspberry syrup, creamy marshmallow, and tiny little ice cream cones made out of pressed white and dark fudge. It sounds like the kind of ice cream you might find at the Kwik-E-Mart next to Jasper’s frozen body.

Apart from being delicious, the cones are apparently meant to deliver a subtle reminder about climate change: they won’t survive at room temperature. Let them sit in your bowl or on your spoon for too long and they’ll melt away before your eyes, just like ice cream does — also the Arctic ice shelf.

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In October 2013, the FBI arrested a young entrepreneur named Ross Ulbricht at the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library. It was the culmination of a two-year investigation into a vast online drug market called Silk Road. The authorities charged that Ulbricht, an idealistic 29-year-old Eagle Scout from Austin, Texas, was the kingpin of the operation. They said he’d reaped millions from the site, all transacted anonymously with Bitcoin. They said he’d devolved into a cold-blooded criminal, hiring hit men to take out those who crossed him.

Writer Joshuah Bearman spent more than a year reporting and writing a definitive account of how Ulbricht founded Silk Road, how it grew into a $1.2 billion operation, and how federal law enforcement shut it down. As he discusses in this video interview, the story turned out to be much more than a crime narrative. It’s also a gripping tale of ambition, temptation, and lost innocence.

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.
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