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Recent blog posts

Know how to pick light bulbs?

From how much they cost to what kind of bulbs you'll need, here’s everything you should know.

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Another cable company merger was announced today, but it won't be completed unless the government allows Comcast to buy Time Warner Cable (TWC).

Charter Communications plans to buy Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion, but the deal is contingent on Comcast's big merger. That's because Charter itself has a stake in Comcast/TWC; Charter stands to gain 1.4 million subscribers from Time Warner Cable in exchange for $7.3 billion. Comcast would also divest itself of 2.5 million subscribers with the spinoff of a new cable company called GreatLand Connections.

Further Reading

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apple-trade-in-program-uk.jpg screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Anyone looking to unload an Android or BlackBerry smartphone can now turn to Apple.

The company expanded its trade-in program on Monday to accept certain models of rival phones, including Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone handsets. Your old phone scores you store credit, which you can then use to purchase a new iPhone 5c, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, though not an Apple Watch, according to Apple news site 9to5Mac. The program is available in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany and Italy, an Apple spokesperson told CNET.

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golfofthrones.jpgPretend to be the King or Queen of the Green while sitting in this Iron Throne made of golf clubs. Direct Golf UK

Everyone could use his or her very own Iron Throne from the hit TV series "Game of Thrones." Now golf enthusiasts can build a Westerosi royal seat using 300 metal golf clubs -- instead of the swords of their defeated enemies.

Dead Beats Create and Direct Golf UK teamed up to make this sporty tribute to the show that's full of fore-play, handicaps and 18 holes (in the back of an enemy).

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The early word is out on Samsung's latest flagship smartphones, with many reviewers praising the company's design efforts — even as they acknowledge its Apple-esque form — while questioning the S6 Edge's raison d'être.

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"After years of building the smartphone equivalents of that Pontiac Aztek, the company has crafted a pair of sleek luxury sedans," Yahoo technology reporter Daniel Howley wrote in his evaluation. Unfortunately, the Galaxy S6 "isn't exactly original, as it looks like an amalgamation of the iPhone 4s and iPhone 6," he said, adding that "the majority" of people who saw his review unit agreed.

Howley did miss the MicroSD slot, removable battery, and waterproofing that were jettisoned thanks to the redesign, but stopped short of calling any of those omissions dealbreakers.

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US Patent No. 5,072,856.

A disagreement over a toy that lets kids pretend they're Spider-Man is the impetus for one of two patent cases the Supreme Court is considering this year.

The subject matter in Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises is lighthearted enough that one has to imagine some kind of mild joke will be made from the bench. But while the lawsuit doesn't have the weight of the patent cases that were considered by the high court last year, it's no small matter. The question of how far a patent license can last will affect all patent defendants, including the tech companies that face a steady drumbeat of lawsuits from patent trolls.

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Further Reading

Last fall, a judge in Charlotte, North Carolina, unsealed a multi-case set of 529 court documents that detail the use of a stingray, or cell-site simulator, by local police. After that, the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office set out to review the applications and determine which records needed to be shared with defense attorneys.

The DA's office released a statement Friday saying its review is complete, and the county’s top prosecutorial authority found that "only two cases" involved the use of stingrays "for investigative purposes," meaning defense attorneys should be notified.

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UK protests against fracking.

Following the decision last year by New York state to ban fracking for natural gas, a group of senior doctors and academics in the UK has called for a similar, nationwide moratorium on the extraction technique. This would extend the ban on "unconventional oil and gas extraction" announced by the Scottish government earlier this year to the rest of the UK. The Welsh Assembly has already passed a motion against fracking, which is a highly controversial technology in many European countries and not widely deployed there.

In a letter published by the British Medical Journal, the health professionals write: "Fracking is an inherently risky activity that produces hazardous levels of air and water pollution that can have adverse impacts on health. The heavy traffic, noise and odour that accompanies fracking, as well as the socially disruptive effects of temporary ‘boomtowns’ and the spoilage of the natural environment are additional health hazards."

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Although Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed that Apple Pay had "gotten off to the most amazing start," about two-thirds of its users are encountering problems at retail, according to a survey published this week by Phoenix Marketing International.

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The survey of about 3,000 people, obtained by Bloomberg, noted that 66 percent of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners — the only ones who can use Apple Pay at retail, until the Apple Watch ships on April 24 — have signed up for the service so far. Almost half of that group, however, is said to have visited a store listed as an Apple Pay partner but discovered that the location wasn't accepting the platform, at least at the time.

Among the problem group, 48 percent said it took too long to process a transaction, and 42 percent said the cashier wasn't familiar with the technology. Some shoppers also complained about transactions being incorrect, or run twice.

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SpaceX

On Monday afternoon, Yahoo's photo-sharing platform Flickr announced that it would add public domain and CC-Zero licensing options for users who want to share their work freely with the public. Both options allow others to reuse photos licensed in that manner in any way they wish.

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Gross margins for Apple's March quarter could surprise to the upside, according to investment firm RBC Capital Markets, which raised its price target on the iPhone maker to $142 on Tuesday.

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Analyst Amit Daryanani sees a variety of factors contributing to the margins, which he expects will hit 39.5 percent this quarter. Specifically, he cited yield efficiency, supply chain pricing, and strong sales of the iPhone 6 Plus helping to push margins higher.

In addition, Daryanani sees multiple factors on the horizon that could further improve Apple's margins, including the ramping of production of the Apple Watch in the June quarter.

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Supreme Court patent case could affect copyright issues, such as consumer rights to rip CDs.

Commil USA is an Israeli patent-holding company, which says its patent number 6,430,395 solves the problem of "how to manage 'hand-offs' between different base stations that together provide wireless coverage over a large area." Rather than using old base stations, the invention "provides a novel architecture that includes a new hardware device called a switch,'" Commil lawyers explain in their brief.

In 2007, Commil sued Cisco in the Eastern District of Texas, saying that its "Split-MAC WLAN systems" infringe the patent. Technically, though, it's Cisco's customers who were said to infringe the patent, which describes the invention in a series of "method claims." Commil lawyers said that Cisco's customers violate those claims any time they use one of an array of "Split-MAC" products that Cisco acquired when it bought a company called Airespace. The company introduced its "Split-MAC" concept in 2002, more than a year after the priority date of Commil's patent, according to Commil.

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Tokyo is famous for its obsession with technology. From talking toilets to robot restaurants and, of course, up-to-the-minute consumer gadgets, the city represents a culture that is hyper-connected yet strangely isolated. Matthew Pillsbury captures the city’s manic pace through long exposures that transform bustling pedestrians into blurs on the urban landscape.

Pillsbury first visited Tokyo 10 years ago and was overwhelmed by its scale and by the language barrier. He returned last year to document that sensation, making three trips for the project. With an assistant, Pillsbury placed his tripod in the middle of parks and other public spaces, frequently shielding his camera from jostling by pedestrians. His exposures last a few seconds to 30 minutes, soaking up the saturated beauty and frenetic pace of the city. They transform people into ghostly blurs, rushing figures juxtaposed against buildings and trees that will endure so much longer than the people who built them.

The photographer had previously shot only in black and white, but Tokyo’s vibrant hues compelled him to work in color as well. “As I was researching the places in Tokyo it became apparent to me that some of the locations had to be in color,” he says. “The cup noodle museum and the robot restaurant needed to be in color as did many of the cherry photographs.”

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Posted by on in How To's

On March 1st of this year 2015, Google implemented its new and unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google's other products. This protection was especially important because search data can reveal particularly sensitive information about you, including facts about your location, interests, age, sexual orientation, religion, health concerns, and more.

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Like the Tomb Raider franchise itself, the story of developer Core Design has its share of ups and downs.

The house that built Tomb Raider sat on top of the world in 1998. Fresh from two gang-busting chart toppers that eventually amassed roughly 15 million in sales between them, Core Design and its parent company Eidos prepared to release a third adventure for starlet Lara Croft—a video game character so immensely and immediately popular that she was a household name within a year of her introduction. Croft quickly became an icon not just of the burgeoning, maturing games industry, but also of popular culture. She was on the covers of magazines such as Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and Time. And she later found her way onto the silver screen, portrayed by Angelina Jolie in two blockbuster films. Ms. Croft seemed to be everywhere.

Tomb Raider developer Core Design appeared untouchable with Lara in tow, and it was thanks to the franchise's immense success that publisher Eidos had just been named the fastest-growing company in the world at the 1998 World Economic Forum. But the studio's creative origins clashed with the publicly traded Eidos' year-in, year-out reliance on the Tomb Raider brand as a money-making machine. By the end of 2003—the year that the disastrous, hellishly developed sixth Tomb Raider in seven years was forced out unfinished—they were laughing stocks of the entertainment world.

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Microsoft won’t say Windows RT is dead, so allow me: Windows RT is dead.

The new Surface 3, the affordable tablet/laptop hybrid just announced today, proves it. Rather than the dumbed-down version of Microsoft’s operating system that its predecessors ran, it’s been imbued with full-fledged Windows 8.1 (with a free Windows 10 upgrade coming as soon as Microsoft can release it), thanks to Intel’s new x86-based Atom X7 processor. For $499, you can get the same lovely design from the Surface Pro 3, only in a smaller, less powerful package. And you can still get up to ten hours of battery life. So why would you want—hell, why would Microsoft even make—something less?

A device like the Surface 3 simply wasn’t possible a year or two ago: there wasn’t a CPU fast enough and efficient enough to run in a fanless device for longer than about 20 minutes. Advancements from Microsoft and Intel, though, mean that’s no longer the case.

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Surface 3.

Microsoft

With Surface Pro 3, Microsoft finally had a Surface tablet that made sense. The combination of a kickstand tablet with its detachable keyboard, stylus support, x86 processor, and full version of Windows made for a lightweight PC that was a good fit for all manner of mobile workers. While still not the device for everyone, Surface Pro 3 established a niche for Microsoft's PCs.

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Research indicates that women who have experienced partner violence have a higher rate of mental illness. However, the link is more complex than it might seem, because pre-existing illnesses and other risk factors, like childhood abuse and early motherhood, can confound the analysis. It could be that women at risk for mental illness due to other factors, like child abuse, are also more at risk for experiencing partner violence.

Researchers at the University of Montreal conducted a study designed to analyze the specific link between depression and partner violence, separating it from other known risk factors. They found that, even after confounding factors were controlled for, women who had experienced partner violence were twice as likely to suffer from depression. The results were published recently in the journal Depression and Anxiety.

The participants in the study were drawn from a larger longitudinal study of English and Welsh mothers of twins. Only women with no history of depression were included, leaving a sample size of 978. The women were interviewed three times over seven years to assess their experience of partner violence as well as other risk factors for depression.

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DroneDeploy is on a mission to make drones accessible to industrial users who have a business need for conducting outdoor landscape mapping and monitoring. So, in other words, it wants drones to be put to work by people other than enthusiastic dorks with a gadget habit — doing tasks like helping farmers spot crop damage and disease.

It’s doing this by making a software as a service platform that makes controlling and managing UAVs much easier than it otherwise is — via a simplified web app interface or iOS and Android mobile apps. The DroneDeploy platform autonomously pilots the drone for the user so they don’t have to learn how to do it themselves.

As well as doing the mapping, DroneDeploy’s cloud platform also takes care of the data processing to speed up the entire operation — delivering processed data back to the user in real-time and in an easily shareable format so they can act on the drone-delivered intel, rather than having to wrangle with the tech itself.

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Posted by on in Wired

Have we hit peak Halo 5 yet? No? Well, brace up, because Microsoft seems poised to ensure its upcoming Xbox One headliner’s tsunami will crest before the game’s just-unveiled launch date, October 27.

Consider last night’s double-header bolt from the blue. Shrewdly timed to The Walking Dead‘s fifth-season finale, Microsoft surprised fans of the show (a demographic presumably simpatico with the history and plight of a certain be-helmeted space warrior) with not one but two brand new live action spots.

The hook: developer 343 studios is going all The Dark Knight Rises, pitting the series’ iconic protagonist, Master Chief, against Halo 5‘s new mystery lead, a manhunter named Spartan Locke.

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