New FAA Regulations Bring Drone Delivery for Amazon, UPS et. al. One Step Closer to Reality

Many large companies like UPS, Amazon and perhaps less well-known Alphabet (Google’s parent company) hope to deliver many of their goods by drone. With new adjustment to government regulation that dream is coming closer to reality.

The Federal Aviation Administration completed a new set rules governing small, remote drones. These new regulations could make way for increased commercial uses of drones. This includes delivery.

Some of these changes included allowing small, commercial drones to fly short distances over people and at night with out a special waiver. These same classifications of drones will also be permitted to fly over moving vehicles under some limited conditions.

Another change is that drone operators must have their remote pilot certificates on their person for display in the case they were challenged by authorities. The rules apply to drone operators who use their drones for work or business under FAA Part 107 regulation.

 

The FAA says some 1.7 million drones and 203,000 drone pilots have been registered under their department.

 

 

 

KFC Makes Good on Gaming Console Tease

Kentucky Fried Chicken, known lately as much for the Colonel’s Secret Recipe as for their off-the-wall marketing, has seemingly made good on some previous marketing that suggested they may create a special edition video game console.

The fast-food chain will now be offering a Intel-based gaming console that has a special “chicken chamber” to keep your snacks warm.

The “KFConsole” is part of a duo that includes computer hardware manufacturer Cooler Master. “The Bargain Bucket-shaped machine features the world’s first built in chicken chamber, which is kitted out to keep its contents hot, ready for consumption during intense gaming sessions,” said KFC.

Your chicken or other hot snacks will be kept warm by means of a cooling system—the chicken chamber will use the redirected heat of the computer components to keep your snacks at a yummy temperature.

The specs include an Intel Nuc 9 Extreme Comptue Element and for storage two two Seagate® BarraCuda® 1TB SSD drives. The console will handle virtual reality games and should offer smooth imagery at 240 frames per second and 4k compatibility. All of this according to Cooler Master.

The console can handle virtual reality games and offers smooth gameplay thanks to 240 frames per second frame rate and 4K display compatibility, according to details published by Cooler Master.

 

In-line with their new marketing tact, KFC also made the statement that, “If Sony or Microsoft want any tips on how to engineer a chicken chamber for their efforts next time, they’d be welcome to get in touch.”

 

Sony Pulls Cyberpunk 2077 From PlayStation Digital Store, Offers Refunds

The most anticipated multi-platform game in 2020, Cyberpunk 2077, has been pulled by Sony from its PlayStation store and is offering refunds to customers.

In a tweet by Sony Interactive Entertainment they explained, “strives to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction, and we will begin to offer full refund for all gamers who have purchased Cyberpunk 2077 via PlayStation Store and want a refund.

Cyberpunk 2077 turned out to be incredibly and unplayable for some PlayStation users.  Created by Polish developer CD Projekt Red, has been widely criticized with many users reporting both bugs and crashes, especially on older gaming consoles. CD Projekt Red has also offered refunds.

The companies decided to continue sales of physical copies of the game and made it clear anyone who decides to keep the game will continue to receive support software updates.

The game had already experienced delays as it was meant to be released in April. Gamers can explore the vast Night City as one of three character classes.

Four New Google Maps Features

Google Maps has rolled out some new features on its app that are focus on community engagement. This is all intended as part of Maps evolution from how-get-there app to a question-and-answer engine for businesses and customers.

Firs they’ve added a live feed that will so users recent reviews, photos and posts added to maps by people they follow and Goolge selected “experts.” Kind of like Yelp, but all inside Maps.

Messaging for Maps is the next new feature which will allow customers and businesses to contact each other directly inside of maps instead of relying on second-party messaging or a phone call.

Maps will now provide performance insights for businesses. While limited in scope, the feature will measure what kinds of interactions the business is getting inside the Maps app with customers and provide that data to the business.

As a final update users can now add their own street view images from their phones.

The app version of Google Maps was released in 2005.

Top 10 Most Used Bad Passwords 2020

If nothing else is certain about human beings, we don’t like change and find comfort in habit. Having said that, you may still be shocked to learn that according to new research many people are still using easily-hackable passwords like “12345”.

According to research on the 200 worst passwords “123456” is most commonly used in 2020. With well over 2 million people choosing it. Even with lots of reminders from cybersecurity experts it was found that when comparing terrible passwords from 2020 to those in 2019 there is very little difference.

A company named NordPass looked at a database with over 275 million passwords to find a list of top ten worst passwords used in 2020. Two new ones made the list this year “picture1” and “senha” (meaning password in Portuguese).

2020’s list is as follows:

  1. 123456
  2. 123456789
  3. picture1
  4. password
  5. 12345678
  6. 111111
  7. 123123
  8. 12345
  9. 1234567890
  10. senha

 

How to Keep Amazon Gifts a Surprise

Many of us will be doing even more online shopping for Christmas this year and a lot of that will be through Amazon. So, with linked and shared accounts and packages coming to the door in just days how do you keep Santa’s secrets when ordering from Amazon.

The online shopping giant as several solutions to this holiday problem. They suggest tracking your packages enroute to your home. Try consolidating deliveries so can plan to be home when all the Christmas gifts arrive.

Users can also archive orders online so the order details won’t be obvious to other account users. They also recommend deleting search history if you have some serious holiday gift snoopers in your home.

Amazon now gives users the ability to track the delivery live, in real time on the way to their home so they can send friends or family members to get packages just as they are delivered. Additionally, Amazon is giving delivery estimates down to 2- or 4-hour windows. Users also now receive photos to confirm their packages have safely been delivered.

Finally, users can use Amazon Key to allow packages to be safely placed in their garage.

 

Zoom Announces Lifting of 40 Minute Limit for Thanksgiving

As the holidays near now-household known tech/communication company Zoom is already feeling the giving spirit as they announced they are doing away with the meeting time limit of its free meetings for Thanksgiving so virtual family gatherings won’t be interrupted.

On Thanksgiving day, Nov. 26 2020, the 40-minute limit on its free minutes will be lifted globally.

Without the pandemic Zoom probably would remain in the realm of business-only instead of being not only a household name, but a tool that everyday people are using to connect with friends and family.

The platform wasn’t being particularly stingy with it’s 40 minute limit on free meetings as users could simply and quickly just start up another meeting at no cost. Between this and ease of use Zoom is the popular choice among students, teachers and families for group video conferencing.

Paid annual plans are in the $150-$200 range for unlimited meeting minutes making it even more affordable than many cellphone plans (assuming on already has an internet connection and a Zoom capable device).

Without speculating on the duration of the pandemic, many believe that Zoom style education, family interaction and business will remain in the popular domain even after life gets back to normal.

 

 

Why is Valve Billionaire Gabe Newell Sending a Titanium Gnome Into Space?

Gabe Newell, Valve gaming company president and billionaire. He will be thanking New Zealand for its hospitality during the pandemic in a strange way—by sending a 3D-printed gnome into space. Yep, like one of those little guys from your grandmother’s flower bed.

Valve makes and publishes video games as well as the PC gaming store Steam. While the company is in Bellevue, Washington. Newell went to the Weta Workshop in New Zealand and got stuck in the country during the pandemic. The titanium gnome was designed by Weta of Avatar, Mulan and Lord of the Rings Fame.

The gnome will be given a lift into space via a Rocket Lab rocket.

Newell is dedicated to donating a dollar for every viewer that watches the live stream of the launch or the recording within the first 24 hours of the launch. The dollars will be given to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland, NZ.

The 6-inch gnome, based on the item “Gnome Chompski” from one of Valve’s famously successful game franchises “Half-Life,” will be released from the rocket 31 miles into space and will burn up upon re-entry into the atmosphere.

 

Amazon In Court Over Prime Video Service Policy

Amazon recently claimed, due to a pending lawsuit, that Prime Video users do not actually own any media they purchase through the Prime streaming service.

The tech superstar is claiming that Prime Video users are not paying to own the media but rather are buying what they call an “on-demand viewing over an indefinite period of time.”

Amanda Caudel, from Fairfield California, brought the case against Amazon for “unfair competition and false advertising” in April. Caudel alleges that the company is secretly reserving a right to discontinue a user’s access to the video content they’ve purchased at any time. Further more that they have done this to customers on more than one occasion.

Additionally, Caudel claims the company has defrauded and misled customers by charging almost three times as much to own content as to rent it. On average Amazon charges $14.99 to own a movie and about $5,99 to rent the same media.

Amazon clais their policy is stated clearly in the streaming service’s terms of use.

Allstate Insurance Drop-Tests New iPhone 12s

Insurance company Allstate tested the new iPhone 112 ceramic shield screen and found that it is the strongest they’ve tested but it is not invincible.

Allstate tested the new iPhone’s breaking point through a series of drop tests that includes a massive six-foot drop onto concrete. Apple had claimed the new ceramic shield is 4 times stronger than previous technologies. The new phones were dropped on the screen, sides and back.

When it came to glass damage the iPhone 12 Pro did far worse than the iPhone 12. Allstate found dropping the Pro on its back its screen would shatter, this was not the case with the iPhone 12 which suffered little damage. For face down drops the 12 Pro cracked its screen while the iPhone 12 only received small cracks.

Neither model seemed to suffer any functional damage despite screen damage. Both faired much better than an iPhone 11 model.

 

 

 

Amazon to Add 100,000 Holiday Jobs Amid Possible Online Holiday Shopping Frenzy

Preparing for the coming shopping frenzy of the holidays, Amazing is hiring one hundred thousand seasonal workers. Jobs vary across skill levels and type, full-time and part-time.

Amazon has had to make similar moves earlier in the year like in March when they added 175,000 temp jobs to help with demand caused by the pandemic. Amazon had claimed they would keep 70% of those hires. Last year they hired twice as many, 200,000, temp workers for the holidays.

Some experts believe that holiday, online shopping will increase anywhere from 25-35% this year over last year.

But even Amazon’s massive in-house delivery service could struggle to handle additional online shopping demands this season. Many experts believe that if people don’t order early even Amazon won’t be able to promise to deliver holiday items on time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avoiding Identity Theft

Here are some simple steps to protect yourself from identity theft.

Do not let mail sit in your box too long – remove it quickly.

Take mail to the post office instead of leaving it in your mailbox.

Don’t put more information than needed on the outside of outgoing mail and packages.

If you receive an email that warns you that an account of yours are going to be pack up unless you reconfirm your billing information, don’t reply on the link within the email. Instead, contact the corporate by employing a telephone number on the web site that you simply know to be genuine.

Avoid emailing personal and financial information. Before submitting information via an internet site , search for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar. It signals that your information is secure during transmission.

Review card and bank statements as soon as you receive them to work out whether there are any unauthorized charges. If your statement is late, call your card company or bank to verify .

Amazon Prime Day Announced Oct. 13th to Oct. 14th

Amidst weeks of silence from Amazon and frenzied speculation among supplicants Amazon has officially announced that their Prime Day will take place from October 13th-14th.

The shopping event exclusive to Amazon normally takes place in July but was postponed due to the pandemic. During the event Amazon has promised 1 million deals across the globe all from top brands.

In a statement Jeff Wilke, Amazon CEO Worldwide Consumer, said “In the midst of an unprecedented year, we’re committed to making this the most successful Prime Day ever for our small businesses and excited for Prime members worldwide to discover new ways to support local entrepreneurs and save big on everything they need and love,”

He continued “This year’s Prime Day is the perfect opportunity for Prime members to get their holiday shopping done early from the comfort of their homes – and to have more time to spend with their families and friends throughout the season.”

As always, many Amazon branded products will be on sale include a bunch of their newest devices. Some of the highly anticipated deals are:

  • Two Echo Dot devices for $39.98
  • Fire TV Recast for $129.99
  • Four months of Amazon Music for $0.99
  • Toshiba 32-inch Smart HD Fire TV Edition TV for $119.99
  • Insignia 43-inch Smart 4K UHD Fire TV Edition TV for $199.99

The company is also offering customers a $10 coupon to spend with select small businesses who sell through Amazon. This is intended to support small businesses affected by the pandemic.

 

Paramedics Navigate Trick Terrain Using Jet Packs

In the UK paramedics are testing a jet suit for use in the popular, but difficult and hilly landscape of the Lake District.

The 1050 horsepower jet suit allowed one paramedic to make a flight that took just 90 seconds. The hike would have been 25 minutes due to the terrain.

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) is testing the suit along side its maker Gravity Industries.

The area is popular with hikers, but the ground is treacherous and filled with dangers terrain features. GNAAS believes they could get to injured hikers much more quickly with the jet pack. It would not only help lessen the suffering of some patients but be the difference between life and death.

The heritage area is protected by UNSESCO and contains some of the UKs highest peaks. The data shows there are dozens of patients a month, but the terrain makes them difficult to reach quickly.

While neither GNAAS or Gravity Industries was sure the jet pack would be an appropriate solution the test flights have left both parties certain the jet packed paramedics are the wave of the future in difficult terrain.

New Reality Show Promises Trip Into Space as Grand Prize

An in-the-works reality show says it will gift the winner of its competition what they are calling the best prize on Earth: a 10-day stay on the International Space Station.

The show is called “Space Hero” and its winning competitor could hit the ISS as soon as 2023, this according to the production company behind the series.

The production company, also named Space Hero, claimed in a press release that anyone from any background can win the chance to become the first “globally-elected space explorer.”

The production company says they are currently searching for global brand and primary distribution partners. They say the application process for contestants will start in the first half of the new year and broadcasting should begin in 2022.

Space Hero says their price is worth approximately $65 million.

 

Google Quietly Adds Features to Popular “Maps” App

Google has added new functionality to its Maps app, it now displays an icon when there is a traffic light at an intersection. This is available only for some US cities.

Without fanfare Google Maps added a highly requested feature last month; users can now see intersections that have traffic lights. Though the feature is only available for some US cities.

According to Google the change was mode “to help people stay better informed on the road.” The icons appear at intersections inside the app on some US cities. The feature is present on both iOS and Android platforms.

This came along with a color mapping algorithm that helps users see different terrain types like beaches and forest. The updated also included better coloration of sidewalks and pedestrian islands.

Google stated that the traffic light/intersection view had been available in Japan for years and was a top requested feature in the United States for some time.

Google started testing the feature earlier this year in a few US cities.

 

 

Apple vs. Epic Games in Epic Battle Over App Store Agreement

 

In a statement Apple has said it terminated the account of app developer Epic Games, the account which they use to publish and update App Store games.

This means the Epic games like, such as its Battle Breakers mobile RPG, won’t be available for download or updates any longer at the iOS App Store. These games sharing the same result Fortnite has faced for some weeks now. Like with defunct titles such as Infinity Blade the games cannot be redownloaded nor can users make sure of previously available in-app purchases.

Updates to Epic’s iOS apps has also ended. This means iOS Fortnite players cannot access the recent Marvel Comics themed content that Epic recently added to Fornite. Players of Fornite also cannot access crossplay, a feature that allowed them to play across phone platforms.

In there statement Apple again cited their complaint that Epic Games attempted to bisect the standard iOS payment platform in Fortnite and this is why they have terminated their account.

Apple’s decision to end Epic Game’s App Store account theoretically shouldn’t affect the development of their Unreal Engine for iOS. It is under development by Epic International and is separate account governed by a separate agreement. The account was also protected by a federal judge’s restraining order in anticipation of Apple’s “retaliation” against Epic Games.

 

Apple’s New Singapore Location “Floats”

Apple is planning to open a new Singapore store that appears to float on the water.

Located in a giant orb that looks like it is from the future (it lights up at night), the new store will be located on the waterfront of the city-state. The new store will be called Apple Marina Bay Sands—its name sake coming from the hotel complex it will be included in.

Apple hasn’t provided any official information except a brief marketing copy on its website. No opening date, no groundbreaking, no square footage info. Apple has two stores in Singapore already. One in Changi Airport another on Orchard Road.

Apple totes hundreds of stores worldwide where devotees buy and trouble shoot the companies wildly popular products: iPhone; iPad; Apple Watches; Mac computers and others.

Recently Apple became the first company from the United States to reach a $2 trillion valuation. Despite the pandemic their most recent quarterly report boasts an 11% increase.

 

BlackBerry Will Be Back in 2021

When we thought fully-touch screen phones had killed the popular BlackBerry it turned around and surprised us all as it is coming back.

BlackBerry, after ending its collaboration with TCL, has said they are parting with OnwardMobililty and FIH Mobile Limited to create a new smartphone with a physical keypad like the classic BlackBerry had.

In the first of 2021 we should start to see these new BlackBerry phones. Specific names and dates were not confirmed by anyone. OnwardMobility stated that along with the physical keypad the new BlackBerry smartphones will be 5G ready. They will also continue to run on Android.

They will come first to the North American and European markets. No word on whether the company will bring them to the ever-growing Indian tech market, however, all previous models have eventually made their way to India.

The upcoming BlackBerry smartphones are supposed to be “secure” and provide productivity without disabling the user experience they are known for.

38 Year Old “Microsoft Flight Simulator” Gets New Update

After almost a decade and a half Microsoft is releasing a new version of its video game title “Flight Simulator. It includes new features like traffic, live weather and a incredible world map.

The game lets players become a pilot and fly anywhere in the world, checking out cool sights during the journey.

For those who don’t know the game is very much a real-life simulation—players start by selecting a flight route, taking off, flying and landing all while balancing speed and momentum as a real pilot would have to. While players can skip or fast forward parts of the game, the journey and sight seeing is part of the purpose.

“Microsoft Flight Simulator—or “Flight Sim” as die hard fans call it—is 38 years old and predates both Windows and Word. Over the years it has found a very loyal fan base.

The update starts $59.99 but players can purchase new planes and new airports. It will be available for Xbox and Windows. The update also includes live weather which spices up the journey as pilots have to navigate different kinds of weather. And when Microsoft says live, they mean “LIVE.” A recent storm that passed by the US’s East Coast was visible in the game.

 

 

 

Possible Solar Flares and Their Effects on Our Technology

The sunspot labeled AR2770 could be cause for some concern as it is expected to grow in size according to spaceweather.com. Some minor solar flares have been emitted by this sunspot already. Though this has caused no reason for alarm.

However, if this sunspot, which can be up to 50k kilometers in diameter, may release a huge amount of energy in the form of solar flares. The phenomenon called Coronal Mass Ejection can cause solar storms and flares whose energy can reach all the way to earth and have a major effect on radio communication, GPS, satellites and even power girds.

NOAA stated that CMEs can cause changes in electrical currents in space which varies the Earth’s magnetic field. CMEs can also cause auroras.

A sunspot is a dark part of the sun that appears cooler than the other parts and contains electrically charged gases which in turn can generate great magnetic forces. Solar flares are the result of changes in the magnetic fields in the sunspots which cause huge explosions—the flares’ radition can disrupt many different types of technology on earth. One solar flare can be as powerful as one “Little Boy” atomic bomb like the ones dropped on Japan in 1945 by the United States.

 

Sanitizing Your Cellphone With UV Light?

Demand for high-tech solutions to sanitizing our devices completely and in a way that is safe for our devices has increased greatly. One company, PhoneSoap, has developed a device intended to completely sanitize your cellphone along with other person items like keys and credit cards.

The PhoneSoap 3 device allows one to disinfect your phone and other small personal items with ultra-violet light. The PhoneSoap 3 cost $80.

It also employs reflective technology on the inside of the device to make sure all surfaces of the cellphone and other items are being sanitized on all sides.

While this might sound like science fiction to some, UV rays are being used not just for techy people’s smart phones. Hospitals are now using UV light to sanitize facemasks worn by nurses and doctors to help extend the useful lifespan of masks that may be in short supply.

UV light attacks viruses and bacteria at their core—their DNA—and kills them. This allows medical staff to get three uses out of a mask which are typically single use. It also now allows you to safely sterilize your hand held personal items w/o gunking them up with disinfectants or having to remember to carry alcohol swabs with you.

EBay Sells eBay Classifieds for $9.2 Billion

EBay’s classified ads business, one of the oldest businesses on the internet, just sold to Adevinta (Norway) for $9.2 billion in order for them to create the largest online classifieds company.

Today classifieds online aren’t a huge business. Only about 3% of the $125 billion online advertising market (2019 according to Interactive Advertising Bureau).

However, in their day Craigslist and what became eBay Classifieds were some of the largest on the web.

EBay Classifieds Group was started 25 years ago as the AuctionWeb. EBay’s classifieds business was once known as DBA which was a popular, Danish all-classifieds newspaper that started publishing in the 1970s far before the idea that everyone would have a network connected computer in their home was commonplace. It decided to give the web a go in 1995.

EBay bought DBA along with lots of other similar businesses in 2008 to form the eBay Classifieds Group. However, classifieds weren’t ever at the center of eBay’s profit ambitions and in the first quarter of 2020 accounted for just 10% of the company’s total revenue.

Now, among a growing group of other non-central businesses like Skype, PayPal and StubHub, eBay decided to dump another branch of its business as it struggles to keep up with its primary and much larger rival Amazon.

 

Apple News, News+ Adding Audio and More

Apple has announced that will being to create its own daily news overview podcats, Apple News Today. Former WNYC hosts Durate Geraldino and Shumita Basu have been hired been hired as co-hosts. Apple News Today will run Mondays-Fridays in the morning and will be filed in Apple’s News and Podcast apps. The 10-minute podcast will attempt to brief listeners on the day’s news.

The company is also going to be creating audio versions of print stories. These will be available in Apple News+, Apple’s subscription service that gives users access to top magazines and newspapers.

Apple’s writers and editors will create about 20 audio stories a week, according to Apple. These will be narrated by professional voice actors, though there is no word on them hiring “names you would know.” This service will only be available through the Apple News+ subscription.

Apple will also add an Audio tab to its News app. This is where users will find the Apple News Today podcast and the new audio stories. Apple’s new audio features will also be available on their CarPlay system.

Apple also announced that users will have more access to local news through both Apple News and News+. The areas will include Houston, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

News+ subscribers will also have access to seven local papers: The Idaho Statesman, The Kansas City Star, The Charlotte Observer, the Miami Herald, The News & Observer, the State and The Sacramento Bee.

New Research Finds Potential Security Risk in Internet Based Home Monitoring Cameras

A new study found that some popular home security cameras could alert a tech savvy burglar whether you are home or not. The researchers claim they could tell not only if someone was home but perhaps even what they are doing by looking just at the data uploaded by the camera and not even the actual footage.

The study was conducted by Queen Mary University of London and the Chinese Academy of Science. They used data provided by a large Chinese manufacturer of IP security cameras. Consumers use the cameras to remotely monitor their homes via a video feed over the internet.

The study found that the unencrypted data upload increased when a camera was recording movement. And that they could even tell by the data—and not the video feed itself—if someone was sitting or running for example.

While researchers were quick to note it would take a fairly technically savvy criminal to passively monitor this data it isn’t out of the question that someone could create and sell a software program that takes away the need for technical know-how.

The researchers also noted that they found no evidence that this was happening regularly or at all but it is a potential loop-hole in internet based home monitoring cameras. Someone could potentially collect and compare data to decide when someone is least likely to be home. Researchers suggested companies might want to inject random data into the stream to make it more difficult to make the data useful to criminals.

As of know these cameras aren’t very “smart” (to keep costs down) and record everything. In the future cameras might be able to decide when to record or when not to. For example, pet owners would probably want to set their cameras to ignore their pets’ movements.