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Monday, 15 January 2018

10 WEIRD THINGS STORED IN GIANT VAULTS

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10 Weird Things Stored in Giant Vaults
By Karl Smallwood,
Toptenz, 15 January 2018.

The world is full of valuable objects, objects their owners want to squirrel away and hide from the world lest they be stolen by ninjas, handsome men in suits, of handsome ninjas in suits. In addition to gold, jewels, and old SNES games, there are some surprising things hidden away deep underground in cartoonishly massive vaults. Things like…

10. Every LEGO set ever

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Hidden below the living Bob Ross painting that is Denmark is a large vault containing the granted wishes of every 12-year-old who wanted a LEGO Death Star and got a box of Mega Bloks instead. Simply put, the underground facility contains, according to one article, about five copies of every LEGO set ever made from the company’s inception until today.

Along with all the LEGO sets from your childhood, the vault contains copies of rare promotional material and even copies of unique LEGO sets produced for individual clients, and copies of exceptionally rare pieces that are no longer made.

Due to the fact that every single piece of LEGO ever made in the company’s history still fits together, theoretically a person with access to the vault could combine every single set to create a singular, super-creation incorporating every facet of pop-culture from the last five decades.

9. Paint made from mummies

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Tucked away in the bowels of the Harvard Art Museum is an unusual collection known as the Forbes Pigment Collection. Containing color swatches made from everything from ground up mummies to extinct species of flower, the Forbes Pigment Collection is likely the most expansive collection of colors ever created.

Along with serving as a reference for artists, the pigment collection serves a secondary function as a historical repository for unique shades of paint that can be used to authenticate art.

Sadly, the rarity of many of the paints housed in the museum means that using them is out of the question, which is a shame because it effectively kills our dream of drawing a huge dong using paint created from the crushed up remains of an ancient and powerful pharaoh.

8. Napoleon’s cologne

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If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what Napoleon’s armpits smelled like after he doused them in pre-industrial revolution era cologne, then wonder no more because the Osmothèque has you covered.

The Osmothèque, or scent archive as it’s sometimes known, is essentially a repository of every fragrance ever created, or close to it. Along with containing samples of virtually every modern perfume and cologne (largely because the Osmothèque can ask for a sample of any fragrance produced in France, regardless of whether or not its formula is supposed to be a secret), it also has historical whiffs, too.

While perusing the Osmothèque’s vault you can smell samples of perfumes worn by historical figures like Napoleon and Marie Antoinette and even fragrances created from now extinct or illegal ingredients. Illegal in this sense meaning ingredients that have since been found to cause allergic reactions and whatnot. So yes, you can know what Napoleon smelled like after he took a particularly large poop and wanted to mask the smell if you really want to.

7. Parmesan cheese

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For a lot of people, Parmesan cheese and garlic bread are life. Unfortunately, only one of them is considered so valuable they have to store it in a massive vault - and no, it’s not the garlic bread. It’s the cheese.

In short, in Italy there’s a special tier of Parmesan cheese called Parmigianino Reggiano that is considered to be so valuable that there’s a bank that makes a fortune exclusively giving out loans against it. Basically, during the curing process for the cheese, which can take upwards of three years, the bank will hold it in a special, air-conditioned vault and the owner can take out a loan against it to pay their staff or whatever. When the loan is paid off, the owner gets the cheese back and can sell it for a premium.

The cheese contained in the Parmesan vault is valued in excess of US$100 million and the bank is hardened against everything from cyber-security attacks to Ocean’s 11 style break-ins. This said, the bank has been robbed three times in the past, forcing a sheepish executive to admit that some bad men had broken in and stolen a bunch of their cheese.

6. Enough Prince music to last until the next century


Prince was an artist so prolific and talented that he frequently wrote hit songs for other artists when he was bored. The artist famously hoarded away much of the music he wrote in a secret, temperature controlled vault filled to the brim with riffs, lyrics, entire songs and even movies starring himself that he felt the world wasn’t ready to handle just yet. According to those privy to such information, the music contained in Prince’s sex-vault was amongst the best the artist ever recorded, which begs the question: will we ever hear any of it?

In short, nobody really knows because it’s not clear what the Purple One’s instructions were to his lawyers in regards to the vault’s contents. Which is a shame, because it apparently contains enough music to give us a new Prince album every year for the next century. Meaning Prince could potentially enjoy a longer career as a ghost than he did while alive.

5. Every wrestling match ever


In 2013 the WWE quietly published an article discussing the fact that the company owns hundreds of thousands of tapes containing footage of nearly every professional wrestling match ever staged. Along with footage from their own archives, the WWE also owns tapes from rival companies they’ve bought out like WCW, tapes stored in dusty old boxes they fittingly hadn’t even bothered opening after leaving them inside their giant mountain vault. Because, oh yeah - we forgot to mention, the tapes are stored inside of a mountain.

You see, most of the tapes are in the process of being digitally transcribed and are stored inside of a giant bomb-proof vault inside of a mountain in the Catskills. This vault is nuclear-hardened, meaning in the unlikely event the world is erased in a ball of nuclear fire like that dream sequence in Terminator 2, we’ll still be able to watch Steve Austin suplex people through flaming tables.

4. Every piece of Scientology-related media ever

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According to Scientologists, the human body is merely a vessel for an immortal alien spirit condemned to an eternity of floating through the cosmos thanks in part to the actions of Lord Xenu, our galactic tormentor. In keeping with the idea that our spirits can live forever, Scientologists have taken to preserving their knowledge in the New Mexico desert inside of a vault (the aerial view of which is pictured above) hardened against world-ending threats like nuclear bombs or a meteor strike.

In short, Scientologists have begun creating literal hard copies of all recorded Scientologist literature by etching it onto large, stainless steel plates. These plates are in turn stored inside of titanium capsules that are designed to outlive humanity and ensure that if everyone on Earth was killed by super-gonorrhea or something, the aliens that pick apart the wreckage of our world will be able to learn all about Scientology.

3. Michael Jackson music up the wazoo


Like Prince, Michael Jackson left behind an impressive amount of music that is stored inside of a big ol’ vault nobody was allowed to access when the singer was alive. And like with the Purple One, there’s enough music in MJ’s vault to ensure people could enjoy new music well into the 22nd century and nobody is really quite sure what’s going to happen to it.

The vault is apparently filled with both high-quality recordings of live concerts as well as “endless” amounts of unreleased album material, in addition to snippets of content like lyrics, riffs, and sick dance beats. In other words, there’s a very good chance that right now there’s more unreleased Michael Jackson material swimming around out there than there is stuff you can buy or stream on Spotify.

2. Enough seeds to start over, if we needed to

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Money, as they say, makes the world go around, but if Fallout has taught us anything, it’s that money isn’t worth all that much in a Mad Max-esque uber-apocalypse. To this end, the nations of the world have pooled their resources to create a so-called doomsday vault that contains not money or gold, but seeds. Specifically, the seeds of crops and staple foods so that we have a lasting record of the food used to feed the masses. The idea is that, if the worst should happen and a strange future-plague wipes out all the corn, we’ll have an untouched example of the seeds used to grow it to start fresh.

Located just a stone’s throw away from the North Pole on an island in Norway, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is amongst the most secure places on Earth and could survive everything from a point-blank atomic blast to a backhand from Godzilla. Even if the facility was utterly cut off from the outside world, the vault’s location would mean the seeds would remain frozen for centuries, allowing it serve, as one operator puts it, as “the ultimate insurance policy for the world’s food supply.”

1. A perfect sphere


Located in a vault just outside of Paris is a hunk of metal intrinsically tied to the world of physics. A ball of polished platinum and iridium that, for over a century, has served as the international standard for the kilogram. The problem is that the weight of ball and the 40 or so copies that exist keep changing by an almost infinitesimal amount, which isn’t good for reality - which could disintegrate if the value changes too much. We assume.

To fix this, eggheads have created the closest thing to a perfect sphere humanity is aware of to serve as the new standard. Created from a single crystal of silicon-28, the ball is so impossibly smooth that if it were scaled to the size of the Earth, it’s highest mountain would be 9-feet tall. Unlike the previous standard, the new, hyper-smooth ball (silicon sphere) has a set weight due to the fact the atoms of silicon-28 are easily calculated. However, scientists aren’t really sure whether the ball is a perfect kilogram so they’re not sure if the ball should become the new standard. Meaning somewhere out there is a vault housing a near-perfect, glistening sphere of silicon surrounded by scientific equipment.

We don’t know about you, but we think the sphere should be hidden away with everything else on this list so that if the world does end, future generations find a mysterious orb surrounded by millions of hours of footage of large sweaty men suplexing each other while being serenaded by Prince and Michael Jackson.

Top image: Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Credit: Martyn Smith/Wikimedia Commons.

[Source: Toptenz. Top image added.]

Sunday, 14 January 2018

12 WEIRDEST TECH AT THE CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW (CES) 2018

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The Weirdest Tech at CES 2018
By Michael Kan,
PCMag, 12 January 2018.

Do you want a smart saddle for your horse? How about a piece of robot luggage that'll literally follow you around?

This year's CES had a lot of tech you'll probably never need. Amid a sea of new products are smaller vendors and startups offering up gear in niche areas. Some of it can be pretty amusing; much of it is deeply weird. Here's some of the more curious gadgets we saw at the show.

1. Focus1

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Attention, teachers: are kids dozing off in your class? A company called BrainCo has designed a headband that'll monitor their attention levels. It may seem a little silly (not to mention a privacy minefield), but the product can reportedly pinpoint which kids are failing to understand a lesson using electroencephalography (EEG). BrainCo is already selling the product to a distributor in China and plans to launch the Focus1 in the US later this year.

2. Spartan Underwear

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Why is this man smiling? Because his undies are blocking radiation. Duh. In its marketing materials, Spartan does not mince words: "Protect your nuts from cellphone radiation!" Prices start at US$45.

3. E-Vone

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When a loved one takes a tumble, these smart shoes will automatically send you an alert. The shoes are built with sensors, wireless connectivity, and a battery that can notify an emergency contact with the wearer's location. It's not just for the elderly, though; E-Vone says it can also be helpful for keeping tabs on construction workers or hikers who roam alone, for example.

E-Vone plans to launch the product first in France this September, before bringing it to the US and China. The company is developing a whole catalog of shoes, each of which might be priced at 100 Euros. Customers will then pay 20 Euros a month for the alert service.

4. CX-1 Luggage

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A Chinese company called ForwardX has created a suitcase, the CX-1, that can wheel itself around - all on its own. Its camera can recognize your face, body, and clothes, which it uses, along with its four wheels, to tail you for a max speed of 7mph.

Having this product around will no doubt elicit some confused stares at the airport. But for interested buyers, the product is slated to go on sale in late March or April, first on Indiegogo. Pricing is still being determined.

5. Acute Angle PC

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One company at CES is helping consumers get into the cryptocurrency craze with a Windows 10 PC that'll mine the company's own virtual currency while you're away. Triangle Technology says the PC can mine about 30 of its Acute Angle Coins (and only Acute Angle Coins) if allowed to run for the whole day. Currently, that amounts to about US$45. The Acute Angle PC itself runs an Intel Celeron N3450 quad-core chip and has 8GB of RAM. The product will cost US$600 and starts shipping in March.

6. The Singing Machine Studio

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Too afraid to sing some karaoke? This karaoke machine is built with Auto-Tune, which will correct your pitch. Anyone who sings through it won't have to worry about sounding off key; the software inside will process your voice as you sing. It can also play HD karaoke videos and record your vocal performance. The Singing Machine Studio is slated to arrive this summer for US$199.

7. SNGL

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There's a new way to take phone calls from your phone or smartwatch. Sngl is a special wristband that'll vibrate the sound through your hand.

When a phone call comes in, simply place a finger over your ear. The wristband will vibrate the sound up your hand into your fingertip. PCMag tried it, and it does work, although the vibrated sound is a little faint.

The wristband can connect to a phone or smartwatch over Bluetooth, and comes with a microphone embedded inside so the caller can hear you. It's priced at US$249 and is launching in March.

8. iJump Saddle

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This smart saddle is designed to help competitive horse riders train. It works a bit like a fitness band; the saddle tracks the animal's locomotion, in addition to its heart rate.

To get the most out of the saddle, riders will use a smartphone app to record themselves riding the horse. They then replay the footage with the data gathered by the saddle shown underneath.

The iJump is available in France, and will arrive in the US in a few months. Horse riders can lease one for about US$150 to US$200 a month. [Video]

9. SKIIN

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Yes, there is now smart underwear. SKIIN is a line of undergarments that can track you heart rate, breathing, temperature, and more.

The apparel is built with tiny sensors and conductive yarn that feel the same as fabric. Once the wearer attaches a small low-power battery module onto the clothes, the technology will activate and begin collecting the stats.

SKIIN will be available this summer and it's catering to the health-conscious crowd. An 8-pack of undergarments will cost US$499. One battery module lasts for 24 hours.

10. Short Story Dispenser

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Print is not dead, at least according to the Short Story Dispenser. With it, you choose between reading a short piece of fiction that can be finished in one, three, or five minutes. Each dispenser will randomly select from thousands of different stories; for PCMag, it printed out an amusing romance tale.

The company behind it, Short Edition, says the product offers a "literary break" in your day. It already has 20 dispensers in the US. Mainly businesses are buying the product to give customers a bit of culture or amusement while they wait in line.

11. YaDoggie Scooper

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This smart dog food scooper is designed to tell your family when you've fed your pet, so you'll never worry about overfeeding. A green light on the scooper means go ahead, while a red light means Fido has had enough.

The product comes from dog food subscription service YaDoggie, which is developing an app to which the scooper can send alerts. It will be bundled into that subscription service at the end of the first quarter. For a 40-pound dog, the subscription service costs about US$50 a month.

12. Bellus3D Face Camera Pro

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Bellus3D was at CES to show off its 3D face-scanning device, the Face Camera Pro, which is now in production. The US$499 device can be used "for applications such as digital makeup simulations, virtual eyeglass design, facial surgery before-and-after simulation, dental orthodontics modeling, and custom face mask designs for scuba, industrial masks, and CPAP," Bellus3D says. That's great, but check out those scans. #NightmareFuel

Top image: Spartan Underwear. Credit: Video screenshot Spartan/Vimeo.

[Source: PCMag. Top image and some links added.]

INFOGRAPHIC: 8 TYPES OF CLIENTS YOU NEVER WANT TO WORK WITH

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Clients or customers are the heartbeat of all businesses. Developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with your customers is tied to the performance of your business and is therefore crucial to its success. But not all customer relationships are smooth sailing; sometimes you will come across difficult customers - those who frustrate you with unrealistic expectations, know-it-all attitude, and other undesirable or unreasonable behaviors - that you wish you never have to work with them. This infographic by Get CRM presents the types of clients that you never want to work with.

https://getcrm.com/uploads/8-Clients-you-dont-want-to-work-with-Final-Edited-2.jpg

[Source: Get CRM.]

10 BEST PRODUCTS OF THE CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW (CES) 2018

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CES 2018: The best products we saw at the show
By PC World Staff & Tech Hive Staff,
PC World, 12 January 2018.

CES 2018 is winding down, and we finally have a chance to pause and reflect on what we saw that was actually great. Products that advanced their category, or broke new ground. Things that leaped ahead of the competition, Or maybe they just looked cool.

It's easy to hit saturation at CES, but these are the products we're still talking about when everything else has blurred together. We start with the product that was so innovative, two of us raved about it.

1. Creative Super X-Fi headphone holography


Hands down, this was the best demo of CES - and it’s the product I’m most looking forward to reviewing this year. Creative’s DSP chip and software analyzes how your ears perceive sound, based on photos of each of your ears and your face. It then synthesizes this data with information about the headphones you indicate you’re using and the acoustics of the room you wish to emulate,  and builds a custom audio model for processing the sound passing through the chip.


The results simply must be heard to be believed. In my demo, I could barely tell the difference between Dolby Atmos demo tracks and movie soundtracks played through a conventional high-end home theater system and a pair of headphones, even though the headphones had just two drivers. The device also made straightforward stereo music tracks sound magical, as if you were in the room with the musicians playing live. Creative told me Super X-Fi will be available later this year in several form factors, including a US$150 USB dongle that you’ll use with your own headphones. - Michael Brown

As an audio engineer I readily claim that most ‘virtual’ surround sound applications are junk - until now. Creative Labs' Super X-Fi blew me away. The company's technology makes a stereo headset sound like a surround sound speaker set up in the room with you. This is an important technology used by professional applications, made into an easy-to-use consumer product. This demo stole the show for me, and had my colleagues floored as well! - Adam Patrick Murray

2. Intel Kaby Lake G

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Though its launch was overshadowed by Spectre/Meltdown security questions, Intel's Kaby Lake G was no less exciting. The new CPU that combines an AMD Vega M GPU and an 8th-gen quad-core Core i5 or Core i7 promises to deliver more performance in slimmer laptops. [Video]

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Image: Intel

Thus far, we've only seen two: HP's Spectre x360 15t and Dell's new XPS 15 2-in-1. Both laptops basically promise to give you the graphics performance of a laptop that would likely have been likely twice as thick before. - Gordon Mah Ung

3. Digital Storm Project Spark


We're suckers for squeezing performance into tiny boxes, but Digital Storm's Project Spark is truly something to see. Not only does it get a 6-core Core i7 and GeForce GTX 1080 into a machine smaller than a tissue box, but it does it with custom liquid cooling too.

Digital Storm does it all by building a custom chassis using a MicroSTX motherboard and an MXM module. It all adds up to a lot of performance in a stunningly tiny PC. - Gordon Mah Ung

4. Acer Predator Orion 9000


Wheels seem like such a little thing, but in this case it shows the attention to detail on Acer's Predator Orion 9000 gaming desktop. They nestle discreetly in the lower rear corner, so your rig won’t look like a kiddie wagon when you lift up a bit on one of the dual handles atop the PC and roll the entire rig into your next LAN party.

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Image: Acer

With the Predator Orion 9000, Acer is hoping to solidify its place in the burgeoning gaming PC sector. It's hard to follow an act like CES 2017's over-the-top Predator 21 X laptop, but this desktop offers a similar level of care.

It includes five fans: two on the top, two in front, and one more to help cool the available dual GeForce GTX 1080 Ti cards in SLI. The power supply has a slick Predator-branded cover and its own ventilation. There's a neat hanger for your headset that pops out of the front panel. Clearly the company knows how to make a nice, thoughtfully designed rig. - Melissa Riofrio

5. Nvidia BFGD

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Image: Nvidia

The concept for Nvidia’s BFGD must have been stupidly easy: Just make one big giant monitor. The result is the Big Format Gaming Display (BFGD).

Note that the BFGD is not, repeat, not a TV, as it has no tuner. Instead, it’s the display we might all want if we were designing our next nerd-cave. If you’re saying a US$499 Costco special large display would be “just as good,” that’s probably not true. Although no specs were released, the BFGD promises to be optimized for lower latency than you can get on a TV, as well as 120Hz G-Sync. Oh, and they’re HDR too.

The big questions are how much, and when. We don’t know, but Nvidia said Asus, Acer and HP have plans to offer the BFGD. - Gordon Mah Ung

6. Razer Project Linda


Razer loves to show off something wacky at every CES. While this year the surprise was a bit more subdued, I thought it was still an awesome prototype. I’m talking about Project Linda, which is essentially a laptop dock for the Razer Phone.

At first glance Project Linda looks like a Razer Blade Stealth sans trackpad and any sort of processing but that’s where the Phone comes into play. While using a phone as the brains of a laptop/desktop isn’t a new idea, I haven’t seen a more elegant solution than Project Linda's, where the phone becomes the trackpad, tucking neatly into the laptop's profile rather than sitting in some dock.

Even though most Razer prototypes never make it into peoples hands, Project Linda felt pretty far along. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a final version before summer. - Adam Patrick Murray

7. Asus Bezel-Free Kit


It’s the little things in life that mean the most sometimes, and nothing proves that more than the Asus Bezel-Free Kit, an entirely low-tech solution to a high-tech problem. Problem: Bezels when running a triple-monitor setup. Solution: plastic lenses and bezels to bend light around those bothersome borders.

Is it perfect? No, and it won’t magically turn three cheap panels into a pricey super-wide monitor, either. But it does work surprisingly well. Asus didn’t announce a price, but it’s expected to be well under US$100 when released. - Gordon Mah Ung

8. Hogar Controls’ Milo and Pebble

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Image: Hogar Controls/Facebook

Milo is a US$150 Google Assistant smart speaker with a built-in smart-home hub and all the wireless tech one could hope for, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, and Z-Wave Plus. It can do everything a Google Home can do, plus it can control all your smart home devices, eliminating the need to buy something like a separate SmartThings or Wink hub.

Milo has a glass touch-screen that you can tap and slide your fingers across to play music and control the on-board amplifier’s volume. You can also use this surface to summon lighting scenes and perform other commands if you won’t wish to use voice.

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Hogar will offer a second device called Pebble that offers the same touch controls as Milo, but it doesn’t have mics or a speaker. It operates on battery power, so you can easily move it from room to room. Pebble will cost US$50. Both it and Milo are expected to be available before the end of the second quarter. - Michael Brown

9. Google Assistant


Amazon humiliated Google at last year’s CES. Its Echo smart speakers and Alexa digital assistant were everywhere on the show floor and on everyone’s lips. It was almost as if the world had already forgotten about Google Assistant and Google Home.

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Image: Google

I wouldn’t say Google turned the tables this year, but the company has clearly become much more serious about the smart home. Smart devices powered by Google Assistant, including a whole new class of smart speakers with touchscreen displays, were everywhere.

Google representatives, meanwhile, uniformly dressed in white coveralls and wearing knit ski caps, were stationed in dozens of companies’ booths ready to explain how Google Assistant was being used in various products. This battle is far from won. - Michael Brown

10. D-Link AC2600 WiFi router


In a world of malware, hacking and botnets, most smart home devices represent a huge vulnerability on your network, so it's great to see D-Link's AC2600 WiFi router.

It includes a firewall from McAfee that can stop unauthorized access to devices on your network, alert you to hacking attempts or peculiar Internet traffic from gadgets. It will also scan your network to notify you of insecurities and for parents, there's also a filtering system that can block websites and restrict web time.

And best of all, you're not locked into an expensive subscription. Included in the router's US$250 price is 5 years of updates for the router's security software plus two years of McAfee protection for an unlimited number of PCs, phones and tablets. - Martyn Williams

Top image: Attendees enter the show floor at CES 2018. Credit: CES.

[Source: PC World. Some images added.]

Saturday, 13 January 2018

12 SNAZZIEST CARS OF THE CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW (CES) 2018

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The Snazziest Cars of CES 2018
By Oliver Rist,
PCMag, 11 January 2018.

Automotive tech was a hot ticket during this year's CES. From new cars to augmented reality dashboards powered by artificial intelligence, it was all on display and we managed to get our grubby hands on most of it. Overall, the three most important trends in car tech at CES were autonomous driving, cars that connect to pretty much everything, and super-smart new dashboard and infotainment centers.

The Self-Driving Ride

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Autonomous vehicles were perhaps the loudest trend at automotive CES. Several makers, including Aptiv, Ford, Toyota, and more had prototype versions of autonomous vehicles on display or even available for demo rides in controlled environments. Nissan had its intelligent driver assist technology up and running in the 2018 Leaf and was providing test drives out to see the beauty of Red Rock Canyon and its indigenous rattle snake population.

Many other makers announced autonomous vehicle projects either from their own R&D departments or in conjunction with third-party vehicle operating system makers, like Intel's Mobileye and Nvidia; these include BMW, Fiat-Chrysler, Honda, NIO, and SAIC among at least 10 others.

Overall, while none of the implementations the PCMag crew saw or test drove were 100 percent flawless, we're still hugely impressed by how far autonomous vehicles have come since just last year's show. Innovative work on intelligent sensors is being combined with some real out-of-the-car thinking on dashboards and user interface design. The blocker, however, remains mobile bandwidth.

Autonomous cars are by definition connected cars and the amount of data that needs to be moving between an autonomous car and its immediate environment, its maker's data and control centers, as well as its driver's control and infotainment resources is, in a word, huge. Not only that, many of these data transfers need to happen with little or no latency, something that's beyond today's 4G LTE networks. Car makers are pinning their hopes to future 5G mobile networks as well as proprietary wireless solutions that have yet to see the light of day. However, as cool as all these cars are, the overall message is clear: Without a very fast, near-zero latency mobile data network to connect them to the world, autonomous and connected cars will remain at the concept stage.

The Ultra-Connected Car

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Very much related to the autonomous vehicle trend is the connected car. Sure, we've been seeing our rides get more and more connected and even dependent on the interwebs for the past half-decade or so, but what car makers are talking about now, most notably Ford, is a significant step up from where we are today.

Ford was demoing vehicles sporting what's already considered "typical" connected feature fare, including hyper-accurate location information, remote locking and starting, and Wi-Fi hotspot capability. More importantly, though, the company also announced what its CEO, Jim Hackett, called during his keynote, "cellular vehicle-to-everything" technology, which Ford PR wants us to call C-V2X.

Whatever you call it, this new data network focus intends to establish faster communication with other vehicles as well as smart city infrastructure, especially road-related stuff like traffic lights, smart signs, and more. Ford even claims this technology would have the ability to communicate over short distances without requiring cell connectivity, which means it'd be able to "see" around blind corners and do a better job of responding to varying weather conditions.

Ford didn't offer too much in the way of technical detail on this new system, other than to say it was being built around special chipsets. While that could certainly have a positive effect on implementing a new kind of car data network, the overall project is still going to be dependent on a very fast cellular data network as the bedrock piping infrastructure. That means Ford, like all the other connected car makers at CES, is banking heavily on 5G mobile networks rolling out sooner rather than later.

Artificial Brains for Infotainment

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Some of the most talked about developments at the show concerned car makers using artificial intelligence to power new dashboards and infotainment systems. The big names here were Hyundai and Mercedes, each with a different take on how drivers will control the vehicle of the future. Hyundai took the wrapper off its Intelligent Personal Cockpit, which amounts to a new kind of dashboard that uses AI to dynamically display information and telematics to the drive as well as manage voice recognition and a system that'll keep track of the driver's vital signs in case of emergency.

Mercedes called its smart cockpit the MBUX, which stands for Mercedes-Benz User Experience. A little more visual than Hyundai's solution, the MBUX was shown during a presentation to have three-dimensional digital displays and also respond to voice control and a touch screen. The system would add new features via over-the-air updates. The whole thing is nicely designed with minimalist displays that Mercedes hopes will make it easier on drivers to understand their vehicle's inner workings - something the company's cars are definitely not known for today.

Other intelligent cockpit concepts were on display from many third-party makers, including Denso and Pioneer, but most are still in the early stages of concept design. Both Hyundai and Mercedes hope to have their implementations in the real world in the next year or two.

So overall, there was gobs of new car tech glittering the halls of CES 2018. After trudging through this techno maze for several days, here's a sampling of the sexiest vehicles - concept or production - to catch PCMag's eye.

1. Mercedes AMG Project ONE Hypercar

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With the AMG Project ONE, Mercedes has taken a Formula 1 car design and married it to a 1.6-liter V-6 engine and electric motor, which is the same power architecture the company uses in some of its race team vehicles.

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According to Mercedes, not only is the Project ONE fuel efficient, but it'll rev to over 10,000 RPM on the street. The company has also done serious work enhancing the basic racing powertrain to include all-wheel drive and an extended battery capacity. Price? No word yet, but if you have to ask…

2. Mercedes Concept EQA

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While still a concept car, the Concept EQA is designed with not only cutting-edge tech but with Mercedes' current body lines in mind. That means versions of this car should hit the street within the next two years, sporting Mercedes' 200kW electric drivetrain as well as the company's MBUX advanced cockpit technologies.

3. Fisker Emotion

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Though it didn't have a booth at the show, Fisker nevertheless used CES 2018 to officially launch its awesome-looking Emotion. This all-electric car not only sports a claimed 400-mile range, but Fisker also says it'll only require a 9-minute charge time. All that and looks, too. Oh, and let's not forget a roughly US$130,000 price tag.

4. Aptiv and Lyft Autonomous Taxi


At CES, PCMag Editor in Chief Dan Costa took a test ride in this driverless taxi, and witnessed some really slick solo-maneuvering capability on the Las Vegas Strip. A human driver is still necessary as backup until the laws catch up.

5. Kia Niro

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This version of Kia's existing Niro line is still just an EV concept car, but the body looks great, and Kia says its all-electric advanced battery powertrain should be cruising our streets by 2020 at the latest.

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With a claimed 370-mile range, the Kia Niro car could give serious ups to folks who are tired of dropping their hard-earned dollars down the gas tank but don't want to trade their SUVness in for a golf cart.

6. Byton SIV

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I'm not sure how I feel about Byton classifying its car as a Smart Intuitive Vehicle (SIV), but it sure is a pretty SUV to look at. It'll also sport a bundle of cutting-edge tech, including all-electric powertrain options in two- or four-wheel drive configurations and a range between 250-300 miles.

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There's also autonomous driver assist capability and a really sexy, digital cockpit that gives even the Mercedes MBUX a run for its money. All that and Byton claims it'll start at US$45,000, though we still won't see one in the US until 2020.

7. Toyota E-Palette

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Looking like a high-tech mini-bus, Toyota's E-Palette is a concept car designed to showcase the capabilities of Toyota's new Mobility Services Platform (MSPF). Basically, this is a connected car architecture platform Toyota is using to attract partners like Amazon, Didi, Pizza Hut, and Uber, and it'll be these folks that design different applications of the E-Palette to handle chores like making deliveries and running guests between a hotel and the airport.

8. Nissan Leaf

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We test drove this one and found it not only good looking, but also all-electric, equipped with ProPilot Assist and e-Pedal semi-autonomous driving tech, and able to go up to 150 miles without recharging. And something that really sets this one apart: It's actually shipping in 2018 at about US$37,000 well-equipped and that's before the US$7,500 tax credit for being a zero-emissions vehicle.

9. Electra Meccanica Solo

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Billed as "the smartest commuter car on the planet," the Solo is a single-passenger vehicle designed to get you to and from work with minimum fuss and zero gas consumption. A 16.1kW/h battery will take this thing to just under 100 miles at a top speed of up to 80mph. At just under US$20,000 this puppy doesn't have any of the smart, connected car goodies we saw elsewhere at the show; but it's definitely eye-catching will certainly save you fuel dollars.

10. 2018 Jeep Wrangler

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Another CES standout that's also shipping in the coming year is Jeep's 2018 Wrangler. The new Wrangler sports a multitude of updates; including UConnect that now handles Android and Apple pairings; remote accessibility to locks, lights, and the start button using Jeep's hardware or a new Jeep Alexa Skill; and also a Drive 'n Save feature that monitors your driving behavior and then informs your insurance company what a good boy you've been. Plus a new and updated interior and even an iOS Jeep Adventure Reality lets you configure your dream Wrangler and actually see it in your driveway using augmented reality.

11. Genovation GXE

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The GXE is an "all-electric supercar" from Maryland-based Genovation that promises more than 800 horsepower and more than 700 lb.-ft. of torque. For now, Genovation is only making 75 GXEs, which should be delivered this year.

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Inside is an LED touch screen and a custom ultra high-fidelity Harman audio system.

12. smart vision EQ fortwo

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In the future, nothing in capitalized, and we zip around in minimalist pods. This electric smart car from the Daimler Group was unveiled at last year's Frankfurt Auto Show, but got its US debut at CES this week. The idea is that these driverless vehicles, as part of Daimler subsidiary car2go's fleet, would pick up passengers and shuttle them around urban areas. That panel on the front, which reads "On my way" could be customized to display a name, a destination, or a code word so you'd know it's your ride.

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Inside, the dashboard features a 24-inch screen surrounded by two 4-inch displays, which can relay messages.

Best of CES 2018

Wondering what else you missed out on at CES? Check out PCMag's roundup of the Best Tech at CES, as well as our CES 2018 Photo Gallery.

Top image: Mercedes AMG Project ONE. Credit: Mercedes-Benz.

[Source: PCMag. Top image and some links added.]