A Japanese firm wants to build a space elevator by 2050:
The elevator is being designed to take researchers 96,000 kilogram (km), or 59,652 miles, into space. Robotic cars would be used to carry humans and cargo to a new space station, and they would be powered by magnetic linear motors, which are used in Europe and Asia’s high-speed rail lines.
“The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable so it’s possible,” Yoji Ishikawa, research and development manager at Obayashi, said in reference to the use of carbon nanotechnology. “Right now we can’t make the cable long enough. We can only make 3-centimeter-long nanotubes but we need much more.”
Last I’d read, nanotube lengths were measured in microns, so three centimeters is a big deal. And is there any cheaper way to get into space, even just on a drawing board somewhere?
As promised, I installed iOS 8 on an older iOS device to see if it bogged down, lost functionality, or just became a pain to use. Actually, I installed it on two devices — an iPhone 4s and a first-gen iPad with Retina Display. Both devices use an Apple A5 processor, except that the iPad’s is up-armored with a better graphic coprocessor.
I didn’t do any sort of extensive testing, deciding instead it would be more useful just to mess around with them like I would in normal day-to-day use for most of a week.
The short version? Go ahead and upgrade your iPhone 4S. Mine (my four-year-old’s, really) runs just fine. If load times take longer, they didn’t take noticeably longer. Nate still plays Angry Birds just fine.
Results were less clear on that old iPad, however.
iOS 8 feels like it’s ramped up multitouch sensitivity, which in and of itself is no bad thing. And the touchscreen doesn’t have any problems handling the increased sensitivity. But the display itself does sometimes have trouble keeping up — on occasion I get very un-iOS-like hesitations, instead of the instantaneous reactions I’m used to getting. As a result, I sometimes try the same action twice, only to have initiated a second action instead.
It’s not a huge deal, and I don’t know for sure if iOS 8 really does increase touch sensitivity. But that’s how it feels, and the A5X CPU is just a little too old and slow to pump 2 million pixels as quickly as iOS 8 demands.
If that’s a concern to you, don’t upgrade — and I’ll post on this again when the inevitable 8.1 release comes out.
Will radar technology advances render stealth jets obsolete, as one Russian military expert claims? Probably not, but it does add another element to a constantly-changing equation. Joe Trevithick has the story:
It’s not for no reason that the U.S. Navy is taking its time acquiring stealth fighters, and is instead focusing on building more and better EA-18G electronic-warfare jets that can jam enemy radars instead of avoiding them.
Likewise, consider Washington’s renewed interest in extremely long-range, fast-flying hypersonic weapons. These super-fast weapons could help make up for the decreasing effectiveness of stealth. An attacking warplane wouldn’t need to fly so close to enemy radars if it could simply attack from long range with a weapon that’s really, really hard to intercept.
Even aging and portly B-52 bombers—which are anything but stealthy—could lob hypersonic projectiles at targets from hundreds or thousands of miles away. The speedy missiles could zip right through enemy defenses.
In theory. In reality, the Americans—as well as everyone else—have struggled to get hypersonics to work. Just like it’s hard getting stealth to work. And just like better sensors also require intensive development and investment over many decades.
Perhaps most importantly, Moore’s Law—the idea that computing power doubles every two years or so—has never been repealed, so to speak. The fact is, stealth like any advanced technology was always bound to face challenges from any number of other technologies, particularly those that hinge on improvements in computer processing.
But future plane designs will still incorporate stealth features, even if those features don’t represent a major advantage. Stealth might not be a panacea, but having no stealth at all just might be aerial suicide. New sensors work even better again non-stealthy jets than they do against stealthy ones. [Emphasis in original]
I’m reminded of what almost killed Volvo as a make of automobile. While most carmakers sold models based on horsepower and performance, or luxury and status, and later gas mileage and economy. Volvo took a different tack, selling cars to consumers concerned about safety. “Boring but safe” was for years Volvo’s brand.
But then seatbelts were mandated, followed by airbags. And a host of other safety features like crumple zones and anti-lock brakes became standard features on just about every car made. “Safe” became the lowest common denominator of every new car sold, leaving Volvo with nothing but “boring.” The brand nearly died as a result.
Stealth is now the “safety” of modern jet fighters, and increasingly of bombers, too — you’ve got to have it just to have a chance at all. What’s telling is how difficult it’s proving for anyone but American aerospace companies to develop fully-stealthy fighters. China is trying with the Chengdu J-20, but development is slow going. Further hindering the effort might be that China still doesn’t even have a fully homegrown fourth-generation fighter, much less a stealthy fifth-gen. Russia has upgraded their aging fourth-gen designs with much-improved avionics and some stealth-type features, but also has floundered trying to develop a true fifth-gen fighter. The Europeans and the Brits are kinda-sorta trying, but their tiny defense budgets probably can’t handle the strain.
But stealth-defeating radars and missiles are a helluva lot easier to develop than fleets of fighter aircraft. And even if they don’t totally obsolete our F-22s and F-35s, advanced detection certainly complicates things for us.
So we’d best find the money to stay a step ahead of the game, or risk going where not even Volvo has gone before.
Vets in Colorado Springs will have the chance to get free pot this Saturday, courtesy of Operation Grow4Vets:
The organization’s goal is to help veterans suffering from emotional and physical pain. They hosted their largest-ever cannabis giveaway event in Denver Saturday. KDVR reported about 500 people–mostly veterans–attended that event. Each veteran at Saturday’s event got $200 worth of cannabis products for free, according to KDVR. The bag included a week’s supply of tincture, a cannabis chocolate, and eight marijuana seeds to grow.
I’d rather see MDMA legalized for this kind of purpose, as it’s been shown time and again to have real and lasting benefits to helping people cope with PTSD.
I’m sorry, Dave, Apple can’t do that:
Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user information.
It will be difficult for Google and Microsoft not to follow suit, which is good news for consumers everywhere.
WKRP in Cincinnati was one of my favorite shows growing up, but it never got a proper VHS release, much less DVD or Blu-Ray. The reason was the music rights, and the popular music of the time was integral to the show. WKRP was shot on video, which at the time was the cheaper medium for acquiring music rights — but they also expired more quickly. The result was that in order to make the show available for sale to consumers, the producers would have to pay a lot of money to a lot of bands.
The result was butchered episodes using generic music instead of the real thing.
A new DVD box set popped up in my Amazon recommendations for pre-order not long ago, but the official description didn’t settle my only question: Would it have the original music?
On Oct. 28, Shout! Factory will release the first complete series-spanning WKRP DVD set, with its original soundtrack gloriously restored. (Orders through the Shout! Factory site get early delivery on Sept. 23.) The 13-disc set will include not only new bonus features (including a 2014 panel discussion with members of the cast and crew), but actual songs by a staggeringly broad range of artists including Captain Beefheart, Elvis Costello, the Rolling Stones, Luther Vandross, Ray Charles, the Sir Douglas Quintet, and Huey Lewis & the News. Somewhere in sitcom heaven Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap are exchanging cool ’70s-hipster handshakes.
All right my children. This is WKRP in Cincinnati with more music and Les Nessman.
AND ANOTHER THING: There’s no “Mary Ann or Ginger” debate between Jennifer and Bailey. It’s Bailey, all the way.
That is the question for iPhone 4S owners, and opinions differ on whether it can properly handle the load of iOS 8:
So yes, it’s entirely possible for you to download the brand new iOS on your brand-old iPhone. And by doing so you’ll get a lot of goodies like more keyboard options (finally) and fun widgets. Ars ultimately concludes that it’s a trade-off you should go ahead and make.
But to us, cramming that shiny new software into the 4S’s cozy yet slightly musty house is a tight fit that will leave phone and user alike groaning. New features like widgets and alternate keyboards are nice, but not at the cost of so much screen space and speed.
Another report shows however that the increased load times aren’t exactly intolerable, with the worst offender (Safari) jumping from 1.25 seconds to 2.16 seconds. The other apps tested measured increases of just small fractions of a second — and the inevitable 8.01 or 8.1 update might tweak those times down a bit.
My boys, ages 4 and 8, are plenty happy running iOS 7 on Melissa and my old 4S phones, but I’m curious to see how well the new iOS really does work. It’s a risk though, since you can’t roll back to the previous version.
So I’m going to be a naughty dad and install iOS 8 on the younger boy’s phone and hope he doesn’t notice if it sucks. He doesn’t use it much, anyway, preferring the big screen on my ancient iPad 1. I’ll report the results back to you in the next few days.
I love love love love love this:
The Returning Soldier Initiative matches the experience and training of our returning military veterans with the nose of a search and rescue dog. SAR dog teams volunteer in your community to save lives. Together with Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States our returning soldiers are given prospective search dogs that are then trained to look for lost and missing people. Many of our returning veterans are former military dog handlers that are wanting to continue to work with dogs as they transition back into civilian life. These special men and women still want to find a way to serve our communities.
We need your help to fund the launch of this project. Crowdsourcing works when many give as little as $30. Help us put a puppy in the hands of a soldier, help us train them to find missing people and help us support our soldiers as they come home.
I’m kicking in just as soon as I’m done writing this post, and I hope you’ll consider doing the same.
If you need a reminder about how important programs like this are, check out this 2012 piece about a wounded Marine and his dog.
“Demand for the new iPhones exceeds the initial pre-order supply and while a significant amount will be delivered to customers beginning on Friday and throughout September, many iPhone pre-orders are scheduled to be delivered in October,” the company added.
On Monday, Apple said it had received a record 4-million pre-orders of the iPhone 6 in the first 24 hours, exceeding expectations in what the company described as an “incredible” response.
One report estimates Apple is on track to sell a record 60 million iPhone 6 models in the December quarter for yet another sales record for any phonemaker.
I won’t be joining the party, however. There’s still a year left on my perfectly fine iPhone 5S, and the bigger phones just aren’t my thing. Judging by sales though, people love big phones.
A lot of robots in development are able to perform amazing feats in a laboratory setting when they’ve got plenty of tethers and cables keeping them perpetually powered and safe. The real test of their capabilities is when they’re forced to explore and interact in a real-world environment, like the robot cheetah that researchers at MIT are developing, which recently took its first untethered steps outside.
The developers admit the current version is limited to 10MPH, but that they aren’t far off from developing a high-speed robot cheetah.
I smell a Hollywood blockbuster.
Apple’s HealthKit — coming this week to iOS 8 for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and next year to Apple Watch — is becoming much more than a simple fitness tracker:
Stanford University Hospital doctors said they are working with Apple to let physicians track blood sugar levels for children with diabetes. Duke University is developing a pilot to track blood pressure, weight and other measurements for patients with cancer or heart disease.
The goal is to improve the accuracy and speed of reporting data, which often is done by phone and fax now. Potentially doctors would be able to warn patients of an impending problem. The pilot programs will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
Apple last week mentioned the trials in a news release announcing the latest version of its operating system for phones and tablets, iOS 8, but this is the first time any details have been made public. Apple declined to comment for this article.
Apple almost never comments. The company’s former PR chief, Katie Cotton, elevated not saying anything to an art form. But that’s another story.
Mu question after reading this story is, just how many sensors are they packing into Apple Watch, and what do they plan to pack into future iterations?
Coffee has a total of 23 NMT genes, which arose primarily via a series of gene duplication events. The collection of duplicated genes is distinct from the ones found in tea and cacao, two other caffeine-producing plants that are more closely related to each other. That suggests that these two lineages evolved the ability to give humans a jolt separately.
Coffee’s NMTs also exhibited evidence of positive evolutionary selection, indicating that caffeine biosynthesis may serve an adaptive purpose only in coffee. The function of its convergent evolution in the other drinks was not explored.
Obviously God, nature, the Universe or somebody wants us to be happy in the morning.
The science is settled, so go on and have another cup.
My second TiVo was the first model they produced capable of recording and capturing full 1080p video. It could store up to 30 or 40 hours worth, if memory serves, with a large-for-the-time 250gb hard drive. They’ve gone and topped that, if only very slightly:
The TiVo Mega, slated to ship early next year, will pack 24TB of hard disk space—eight times the storage on the TiVo Roamio Pro, the current top-of-the-line model. Put another way, that’s enough to stash more than three year’s worth of standard-definition television on one DVR.
That’s a little too late for recording that just-completed Simpsons marathon of every episode ever, but what can you do?
The cost of all this storage? The Mega’s exact price hasn’t been announced, but TiVo officials put the price tag around $5000. The super-sized DVR is expected to ship in the first half of 2015.
TiVo says it will store about 4,000 hours of HD video.
I put together a 6TB Drobo with an EyeTV unit plugged into a spare Mac to act as my DVR for significantly less. Still, it’s more work to maintain than TiVo, and I miss those green and red Thumbs-Up/Thumbs-Down buttons on that iconic and lovely TiVo remote control.
There’s a market for this product. It’s niche, but that niche will crave the Mega.
You probably already saw yesterday’s Washington Times report that welfare recipients can use EBT cards to buy pot. If not, here’s the gist:
Welfare recipients can’t use their EBT cards at liquor stores but they can at marijuana dispensaries in states such as Colorado that have legalized pot, Sen. Jeff Sessions revealed Tuesday.
The Alabama Republican announced that he was drafting legislation to close the welfare-for-weed loophole after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed to him that marijuana shops were not off limits to EBT cards, which replaced food stamps, or other federal benefits.
I know there’s a proper moral attitude of “They shouldn’t be allowed to use welfare money to buy [junk food/booze/cigarettes/pot/lap dances]!” But money being fungible, the most you can do is put up easily-scalable barriers to people doing what they will with other people’s money.
But leave it to Berkeley to take an uncomfortable situation and make it comically awful:
The Berkeley City Council has passed a law requiring medical marijuana dispensaries to distribute 2 percent of their stashes to people making less than $32,000 per year or $46,000 per family.
Under the new ordinance, which was approved unanimously this summer, only city residents will be eligible and they must have a prescription.
‘Basically, the city council wants to make sure that low-income, homeless, indigent folks have access to their medical marijuana, their medicine,” Councilman Darryl Moore told CBS San Francisco.
Everybody knows that in California, “medical marijuana” was just stealth legalization, so let’s not pretend this is about helping low-income grandma afford her glaucoma relief. This is just Berkeley being Berkeley, and if there’s a way they can glean a bit of smug moral superiority by giving away other people’s stuff, they will.
But don’t quit your job and empty your bank account just yet. Such a black hole could take trillions of years to topple the universe, and scientists don’t yet have a particle accelerator large enough to create the conditions necessary for such a doomsday.
“A particle accelerator that reaches 100bn GeV [the required giga-electron-volts] would be larger than Earth, and is unlikely to be funded in the present economic climate,” Hawking added, according to the report.
I admire Hawking as much for his dry sense of humor — and in the face of such personal adversity — as I do for how far he’s advanced (and explained) physics. Something tells me I’m far from alone in that.
The e-commerce giant said Monday it’s now offering the 32-gigabyte version of its first smartphone, which went on sale just two months ago, for 99 cents with a two-year contract, down from $200. One year of Amazon’s Prime service is still included as a short-term promotion. A year of Prime, which offers free two-day shipping and streaming music and video libraries, usually costs $99.
Amazon also slashed the price of its 64GB Fire Phone to $100 with a two-year contract, down from $300.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that sticking a confusing UI on top of somebody else’s OS inside last year’s hardware at this year’s prices wasn’t exactly the smartest thing Jeff Bezos ever did.
We always seem to be doing something interesting with X-planes, but this one raises the bar — then hovers over it:
Pentagon wants a plane that can attain incredibly fast speeds while also possessing the ability to hover. The experimental Phantom Swift X-Plane will fulfill that role, and now Boeing has secured a $9 million to continue work it started roughly one year ago.
The idea for the aircraft, which resulted from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) VTOL X-Plane competition in 2013, will eventually be powered by an all-electric drive and measure 13 meters nose to tail and 15 meters from wingtip to wingtip, the military blog Defense Tech reported Aug. 28. The finished product is also expected to weight between 10,000 to 12,000 pounds.
You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?
But there’s video at the link if you feel you must.
QUERY: Is Denver Woman the new Florida Man?
From CBS Denver:
When voters approved recreational marijuana sales the state predicted it would pull in more than $33 million in new taxes in the first six months. The actual revenue came up more than $21 million short.
The problem is that buying pot is less expensive on the streets where people don’t have to pay taxes or fees.
Medical marijuana is also less expensive than recreational pot, so those with medical cards are sticking to buying that way.
Don’t confuse legal pot with a free market for it. Supplies are constrained by a maze of legal restrictions on what is a weed that can grow most anywhere. Yes, the high-quality stuff is more expensive to produce, but not that much more expensive. Denver lawmakers very smartly put together a pot growers cartel, to which Denver holds the strings. And of course pot shops are similarly restricted. What we need is a modern Bill W. to found Rent Seekers Anonymous.
There might be something else going on here as well. It may well be that recreational pot just isn’t as popular as many people expected it to be. I suspect that most non-smokers didn’t imbibe because we had better things to do, and not because the stuff was illegal. I know for certain that I never met a smoker who was ever more than delayed by prohibition. Deterred? Only when a cop was actually present.
Mounting evidence suggests Neanderthals were not the brutes they were characterised as decades ago.
But art, a high expression of abstract thought, was long considered to be the exclusive preserve of our own species.
The scattered candidates for artistic expression by Neanderthals have not met with universal acceptance.
However, the geometric pattern identified in Gibraltar, on the southern tip of Europe, was uncovered beneath undisturbed sediments that have also yielded Neanderthal tools.
Details of the discovery by an international team of researchers has been published in the journal PNAS.
There is now ample evidence that Neanderthal intellectual abilities may have been underestimated. Recent finds suggest they intentionally buried their dead, adorned themselves with feathers, painted their bodies with black and red pigments, and consumed a more varied diet than had previously been supposed.
One of the study’s authors, Prof Clive Finlayson, director of the Gibraltar Museum, said the latest find “brings the Neanderthals closer to us, yet again”.
I get the feeling we made the Neanderthals out to be such brutes to A) Make us feel better about ourselves, and B) Make us feel less bad about having wiped them out.
You could argue that if the Amazon Fire Phone under-indexes, it probably isn’t by much; you could multiply the number by 25%, based on the average of the Samsung and HTC figures. That takes you up to about 33,000 devices.
Therefore even allowing for margins of error, it seems unlikely – based on Chitika’s data and the ComScore data – that there were more than about 35,000 Fire Phones in use after those 20 days.
Amazon had not responded to a request for comment on the calculation by the time of publication.
Although I can’t say I’m surprised. The phone is phugly, and by nearly every account, the user interface is an unusable and clumsy mess. And it’s priced the same as an iPhone or a top-tier Android device, when clearly it’s neither.
Still, it’s comforting to know that not even Amazon’s marketing muscle — and I say this as a happy and devoted customer of theirs — isn’t enough to push people into buying overpriced craptaculence.
That is, there’s another app for hijacking your phone:
You are guilty of child porn, child abuse, zoophilia or sending out bulk spam. You are a criminal. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has locked you out of your phone and the only way to regain access to all your data is to pay a few hundred dollars.
That message — or variations of it — has popped up on hundreds of thousands of people’s Android devices in just the last month. The message claims to be from the F.B.I., or cybersecurity firms, but is in fact the work of Eastern European hackers who are hijacking Android devices with a particularly pernicious form of malware, dubbed “ransomware” because it holds its victims’ devices hostage until they pay a ransom.
Ransomware is not new. Five years ago, criminals in Eastern Europe began holding PC users’ devices hostage with similar tools. The scheme was so successful that security experts say many cybercriminals have abandoned spam and fake antivirus frauds to take up ransomware full time. By 2012, security experts had identified more than 16 gangs extorting millions from ransomware victims around the world.
Now those same criminals are taking their scheme mobile, successfully infecting Android devices at disturbing rates. In just the last 30 days, roughly 900,000 people were targeted with a form of ransomware called “ScarePackage,” according to Lookout, a San Francisco-based mobile security firm.
900,000 isn’t a whole lot of mobile phone users in a global market of billions — but it’s enough to generate the profits necessary to keep these illicit activities growing.