SpaceX Starlink ISP Promises 300 Megabits per Second

CEO of Space X Elon Musk teased tech heads with a tweet about Starklink—which is a global broadband service created by a network of satellites. Supposedly it will double customers’ internet connection speed to about 300 megabits per second. Additionally, Musk said that latency will drop to about an astonishing 20 milliseconds later this year (that is the time it takes to send data from one point to another).

The tweet seems to be in response to a particular Starlink customer who capture and posted speed tests of their Starlink connection at between 77 and 130 megabits per second.

In another tweet Elon Musk stated that Starlink will reach customers throughout “most of Earth” by the end of 2021. And that SpaceX is working on total global coverage by the end of 2022, after this the goal will be “densifying coverage.”

Preorders for the Starlink subscription service became available earlier this month at a cost of $99 per month.

 

iPhone Supposedly Working on MagSafe Battery Booster for iPhone 12

Remember the good old days when your phone was running out of juice and you could easily snap off the back cover, pull out the battery and swap in a new one?

Many of us remember owning more than one cell phone battery and when the first ran low we would just connect a fresh one and go on about our day.

For most phone users those days are gone. Now we rely and external batteries and rapid chargers. However, Apple is supposedly developing something better. The rumor is they are working on a battery booster that would attach magnetically to charge iPhones sans-wire and while you are using it.

iPhone developers have been, for the last year, working on a battery pack that would attach to new iPhone 12s with MagSafe technology. Apple has already employed MagSafe to connect their phones to wireless charging pads, among other accessories.

According to sources, Apple had planned to release the product last October when the iPhone 12 was released, however they were still working out software bugs.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

Pop Cultural Icon, the Segway PT, to Stop Production 15 July 2020

While the Segway PT will forever have a place in 21st century pop culture the vehicle never saw the widespread use required for its inventor’s society-changing hopes. And this summer the Segway PT will be put to rest.

Chinese company Ninebot, who bought Segway in 2015, will stop production on the Person Transport on July 15th this year. They will also say goodbye to twenty staff involved in the project at their Bedford, New Hampshire plant.

The Segway PT made waves when it was first revealed on Good Morning America in early December of 2001.

Dean Kamen, the Segway inventor, had said that cars would become obsolete and the personal transport revolution would begin. Kamen thought it absurd that 2-ton vehicles are used for short trips—and perhaps he is still right about that. But consumers spoke out and the Segway PT only accounted for 1.5% of Ninebot’s revenue. Costing between $6k-$10k only tour companies and police departments could afford it.

Even police departments have switched over to Ninebot’s less expensive electric scooters.

With many more options of electronic or electronic-assisted personal transport out there the Segway, perhaps sadly, will become a museum piece this July.

KFC “Trolls” Playstation and Xbox New Console Announcements

As Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox announced their newest consoles fast food chain KFC announced the launch of their own gaming console. Unfortunately, (?) it was just a gag.

The day after Sony revealed its PlayStation 5 console whose design was met with mixed initial reviews KFC posted a video of its new “KFConsole” on social media.
The KFConsole looks like a legitimate gaming console complete with power button, disc drive, lights etc.

The video also claimed that the KFConsole would have cross-platform compatibility. There was, however, one feature that gives away the KFC game system as a joke. The KFConsole has a built in BBQ grill called a “chicken chamber” to be employed when the gamer has a hankerin’ to grill up some chicken.

The KFConsole video claimed the system would be released on November 12th. Many are hoping they have a follow up planed for that date.

While this may seem an act of total absurdity on KFC’s part to some, they do have a standing relationship with the gaming community. Their KFC Gaming Twitter has 123.6k followers and their KFC Gaming Instrgram has 66.6k followers. They’ve also released an actual video game on Steam called “I Love Your Colonel Sanders Dating Simulator Game. The fast food company has also encouraged games to create KFC themed Minecraft builds and share them.

Additionally, they are no stranger to unusual marketing including items like KFC nail polish, KFC chicken scented sun screen or KFC Crocs.

The Little Light Technology Getting Loud About Sterilization

LEDs, the now ubiquitous “Light Emitting Diode,” can be found everywhere—all over your house, your car, in the flashlights your family takes camping or uses for safety and visibility while riding bikes. The are tough, tiny, bright and energy efficient making them the perfect technology for additional research and applications.

A Mr. Zollner and his colleagues have been studying LEDs that emit ultraviolet light, particularly UV-C light, which is deadly to bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus.

The goal of the project is to create LEDs that are more powerful, tougher and cheaper. They want to make them ten to twenty times more powerful.
His goal is to make those LEDs more powerful, robust and cheaper. Zollner believes the technology could be widely adopted and used to clean surfaces and other things in the event of another pandemic or even just during our typical flu season.

Currently the technology is strong enough to clean a close cabinet. But to clean a room the lights need to be about twenty times more powerful.

These lights are so powerful that they are dangerous to human eyes and skin.
However one firm has already found a use for them by creating the world’s first self-cleaning water bottle. To protect the human user the LEDs, seated in the lid, only function when the lid is securely sealed. Users must push down on the lid to turn on the lights. The creating LARQ claims their bottle will be clear of most bacteria and viruses in just 60 seconds.

Coronavirus Contact Tracing

So now we are in the middle of this pandemic. In the face of this, Google and Apple has joined forces to supply contact tracing. They will be releasing software to automatically and autonomously log all the people you have been in contact with. It uses Bluetooth to collect (encrypted) codes but it doesn’t know the identity of the person. The codes stay on your phone while you remain anonymous.

Apps can be built on the API they make that can do what needs to be done with the codes but you will have to give permissions. Contact tracing is used to try to keep coronavirus at bay. This will help find those who are positive stay quarantined during their contagious period and find those they have contacted before they were symptomatic.

Having Apple and Google on this, will ensure their respective OS systems can be ready for this. They have only built a way to collect and make alerts. It is up to healthcare/governments to build the app to handle the information.





May the Force (4th) Be With You!

Today is May 4th and many promos may say “May the 4th be with you” as play on words of a popular line from Star Wars. So where did this punny way of saying it come from?

An early use comes from an ad in the London Evening News on May 4th in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher was first elected as British Prime Minister. The ad read “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.”

It was used a second time in 1994 when Harry Cohen of the parliament made a joke in the House of Commons. In 2008, groups celebrated “Luke Skywalker Day” with the same phrase. It has been more popular since 2011 when the Star Wars Day event at the Toronto Underground Cinema.

May 4th is considered “Star Wars Day”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars_Day

Why Are People Still Using Zoom?

Since the last time we mentioned Zoom, it seems there have been alerts put out there asking people to stop using it. There are numerous problems with it. Sure, it is probably the easiest meeting software for non-technical people to use but the security is what has people up in arms.

So what is the problem? There are a few. Even last summer they found there was software used to bypass security to be able to launch it in a few clicks. This also makes it easy for hackers to start webcams and watch users without them knowing. The other bad thing is this bug remained even after the user uninstalls Zoom. Apple has removed this component by issuing a force-deployed update to every Mac in the world.

There are other things. Zoom can use your private video calls and sell ads. What if you are using Zoom to speak with your therapist? What kind of ads will they be marketing?

Another thing that was “fixed” was the fact that Zoom was sending user info to Facebook. That has since been fixed in an update.

To see more about this:
OneZero.medium.com
Tidbits.com

Here is a light-hearted parody of the Zoom security issues:

Some Ways Covid-19 has Changed the World

There are too many ways to count how this pandemic has changed the world. Here in America, it is like life has come to a stand-still. Many establishments are closed including schools, churches, libraries, dine-in restaurants, to name a few. Sometimes while we wallow in our own self-pity, we forget how it is affecting others, especially children, teenagers, and college students who are missing once in a lifetime milestones. We want to talk about how tech can be used to help.

First, the high school seniors are missing out on prom. Some have taken the initiative to try to have a virtual prom on Instagram or TikTok.

One college in Japan is holding their graduation via robots. The robots, dressed in cap and gown, have the students faces via Zoom showing their faces where the robot faces would be.

Our church has been able to bring services weekly during this crisis by keeping band members at least 6 feet apart. We were streaming every week anyway so we had everything in place for this to begin with. Our small groups have all moved to using online virtual meetings using software such as Webex or Zoom.

There are also new cautions about using Zoom. You need to make sure your settings are set up correctly as it could be hacked. Meetings are being “Zoombombed” and intruders putting in awful posts and images.

Zoom vs Skype vs Webex

We need to follow our government orders and stay at home. Many of us are fortunate enough be able to work from home, some already having been working remotely. Some of us already have some favorite tools to use. I only need a chat program but a lot of them have gone by the wayside: AIM, Googletalk, Yahoo messenger, Windows Live messenger, to name a few. ICQ is still around but who can stand “UH OH” every time a message comes in? Some messengers come with many more tools such as Slack.

Some groups or workforces need to have meetings where everyone can be in on the call. With the Covid-19 pandemic people are looking for ways to meet. Most people these days are using Zoom. ZDNet saw the trend of people using Zoom and did an informal survey to find out why people were Zooming and not Skyping.

Here is what they found out:

It seems that Zoom is easier to use, especially for non-technical people.

Next, they found people found Skype buggy, especially the apps.

Third issue was spam. Unless you have your settings locked down, you will be contacted by a lot of people you don’t know, or people trying to sell or get you to do something.

Webex, by Cisco, is a little trickier for some to use. They recently enhanced their free tier to allow up to 100 participants in each meeting instead of 50; they have allowed the meetings to be as long as you want up from 40 minute limit.

Some organizations that have regular meetings, like Bible studies or other meetings have had to find alternate ways to meet. Personally, we have tried Skype but as mentioned above, there were too many issues. We have moved to Webex ourselves.

I have not personally used Zoom but have signed up on their site and it does look very easy to use for small meetings. Zoom has up to 100 participants in a meeting, 40 minute limits but unlimited number of meetings. There are plans that cost money for each of the video conferencing software programs with added features like cloud storage, recording transcriptions, numbers of users, ways to connect, for example.

Charges are usually per host. So if you have one lead person hosting each meeting, that will be the only charge. Webex charges go from $13.50/month to $26.95/month. Zoom paid plans start at $14.99/month to $19.99/month/host minimum 10 hosts or 50 hosts for the business plan. Skype is free up to 50 people for video calls.

ZDNET article

To Track or Not to Track

Zachary McCoy, a restaurant worker in Florida, received a surprising email from Google. Google’s legal support team was letting him know that the local police department demanded some of his Google account data. Unless he tried to block it in court, they would release the data in seven days.

Not knowing what he had done, but noticing a case number, he began to search for the information. He found there was a burglary of a woman’s home within a mile of his and his roommates’ house. Knowing he had nothing to do with this, he contacted his parents who in turn hired a lawyer for him.

Their lawyer found out that they were looking for a “geofence warrant,” which just sweeps up all Google data from all GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi connections nearby.

It turns out that McCoy uses an app on his phone called RunKeeper to record his bike rides. He found he passed by the victim’s home a few times within one hour, which is actually part of his normal frequent loops he makes all the time.

Even if you are innocently using your apps with GPS that keep track of your activities, you may be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Read the full article