Oliver Dyer

Oliver Dyer

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Following 17
US
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Researchers at Oregon State University have designed and fabricated the world's smallest electro-optic modulator, which could mean major reductions in energy used by data centers and supercomputers.An electro-optic modulator plays the key role in fiber optic networks.Just as a transistor is a switch for electronic signals, an electro-optic modulator is a switch for optical signals.The new modulator is 10 times smaller and can potentially be 100 times more energy efficient than the best previous devices.It is roughly the size of a bacterium, measuring 0.6 by 8 microns."This is by far the most exciting research I have ever done because of the impact the device will bring and because of the challenge it was for design and fabrication," said Alan Wang, associate professor of electrical engineering in the OSU College of Engineering.
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UK
Did you buy Nokia’s (formerly Withings’) most expensive smart scale, the Body Cardio?Unfortunately, Pulse Wave Velocity, one of its highlight features that tracks the speed of your blood flow, is being unceremoniously deactivated on January 24.According to Nokia, which sent out a notice to N users and posted on its website, the feature is being switched off due to it requiring a “different level of regulatory approval” – in layman’s terms, Nokia could find itself in legal trouble if it kept the PWV function up and running.In this age, it’s a blessing and a curse that products can be updated post-release.Sure, most companies use this as a benefit, adding onto products with pro-consumer updates.But in the case of Nokia, those who paid good money ($80 more than the next cheapest scale) have found themselves in an unfortunate situation.
UK
A patent filed by LG shows a folding phone concept in which the handset forms a tablet when unfolded.According to the patent’s details, this model — should it ever be put into production — wouldn’t feature two separate displays like the ZTE Axon M, but rather a single flexible display that can be folded in half.The result is a smartphone that functions as a tablet.The patent was filed with intellectual property agencies and was spotted by the Dutch website GSMinfo.The document contains numerous illustrations of the folding phone, including several folded arrangements, a view of the top and bottom of the phone when it is folded, and expanded views that resemble a tablet (below).Sadly, this particular filing is focused on design, not technical details, so we have to speculate about LG’s plans based on what it has visually provided.
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China
Editor’s note: This was contributed by Jamie Manley, a former Program Associate at the Paulson Institute, a think-and-do tank focused on strengthening US-China relations and advancing sustainable economic growth in both countries.Perhaps the most interesting entrants are Chinese tech companies and auto manufacturers such as Baidu, Didi, BYD, and Tencent.These companies are not only planning to compete in the Chinese market but are using the transition to autonomous and electric vehicles as a chance to finally penetrate foreign auto markets.The geopolitical implications of China’s international autonomous vehicle ambitions have received little attention, especially when compared to the potential effects autonomous vehicles could have on employment, road safety, and the automotive industry itself.But unlike other industries where Chinese companies have achieved international dominance, such as solar panels, autonomous vehicles could pose serious privacy and security issues.Baidu is also coordinating international autonomous vehicle stakeholders with its Apollo platform, which includes a data sharing facility, an autonomous driving simulator, and an equity investment fund.
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US
Tweeting during a game while watching it at the same time isn’t necessarily going to make you less engaged with the game.In fact, a new study commissioned by the Twitter suggests mid-game tweets may actually improve the experience.A study by Neuro-Insight, shared on January 18, says tweets during a game increases engagement with both tweets and ads on the platform.The study was prompted by data from an analytics firm, ComScore, which showed Twitter’s live user count jumping around 4 percent during a game or other live entertainment.Twitter says the data also shows that other social media platforms didn’t see the same increases.During big games, the number of users online rises even more, with the 2017 Super Bowl bringing a 19 percent jump over the network’s usual Sunday users.
US
Most people believe that a carb-heavy diet — particularly in the evening — is bad for you.A small study done on a group of "healthy volunteers" revealed a clear winner between morning vs. evening carbs — and it proved the theory wrong.However, when Dr Michael Mosley, author of the popular "5:2 Diet" and "The Blood Sugar Diet," put the theory to the test as part of a new BBC show, the results suggested this might not be true."[I]f you eat lots of carbohydrates and sugars, particularly the sort without fibre that get quickly absorbed, they will rapidly push up your blood glucose (sugar) levels," Mosley wrote in a BBC article.If this glucose doesn’t get burned off by some form of activity, the pancreas responds by releasing insulin into the bloodstream to bring the levels down again, he explained, and this is done by storing the excess sugar as fat."Too much stored fat, particularly visceral fat (inside the abdomen) can lead to serious health problems such as type-2 diabetes," he added.
US
Sequoia Capital, the top-tier venture firm, has just closed on a $180 million new fund called Sequoia Scout III that’s focused exclusively on seed-stage opportunities.It’s a development startup founders will be watching closely, no doubt, which is why we caught up yesterday with Bryan Schreier, a Sequoia partner who sits on the boards of Dropbox, Thumbtack and Qualtrics among others, to ask how the vehicle works exactly.More from our conversation with Schreier follows, edited lightly for length.TC: This new fund is an interesting hybrid.Sequoia will also be incorporating investments that are being brought to the firm by so-called “scouts.” Is that correct?BS: Yes, we have a long-standing seed practice at Sequoia, going back to the very beginning, and this new fund just represents the consolidation of our seed program into a single fund.
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UK
Teaching yourself to play piano can be pretty daunting.It uses guide lights to tell you which notes to play when learning a new piece.The device is basically a long strip of LED lights designed to fit any standard 88-key piano, slotting in between the black keys while leaving you enough room to play unimpeded.It uses lasers to detect when the keys have been pressed, and can connect to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth or a cable.It also has the bonus functionality of adding MIDI capabilities to a traditional piano, though it’s not clear if this includes velocity sensitivity.Once attached and connected to the company’s app, you can choose from a selection of sheet music, lessons, games, or Synthesia videos to learn to play new songs.
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US
We are amid a customer experience revolution.With today’s customers being much more demanding and much less brand-loyal than they once were, companies across industries are beginning to recognize CX as a key competitive differentiator and are making sweeping changes to keep up.In many cases “old school” customer service set foundational practices that are proving difficult to change — explaining why consumers sometimes still opt for a phone call rather than leveraging newer forms of communication.Methods of engagement have certainly evolved over time, but at its core, good customer service is all about being where your customers are, engaging how and when they want to engage.And this is where many digital-first companies fall down.It shows customers that a brand is listening to them — which builds trust and goes a long way when introducing new ways to communicate, whether that be with a chatbot, a new mobile app or, a virtual dressing room.
UK
The worlds of traditional professional sports leagues and esports just got a bit more overlap.Major League Soccer (MLS) has announced a new partnership with EA Sports to create its own esports league, dubbed eMLS, which will be tied to the worldwide competition for FIFA 18. eMLS will feature 19 of MLS’s 23 clubs, with each real-world team selecting a professional gamer to represent them in competition.eMLS players will face-off in the eMLS Cup at the PAX East event in April.The winner will then have a guaranteed playoff spot in the FIFA 18 Global Series tournament, with a chance to move on to the FIFA eWorld Cup.While all this may sound exciting to soccer and esports fans, there’s still a lot unknowns.For instance, the MLS clubs can only pick one gamer to represent them in eMLS events, rather than multiple players, making it unclear what happens if a representative can’t attend a competition for some reason.
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US
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, Exhibit 5,768: the current golden age of TV has clearly inspired a golden age of TV writing.And if you follow today’s TV criticism at all, chances are a handful of names immediately come to mind (people like Emily Nussbaum at The New Yorker or James Poniewozik at The New York Times, for instance).But time and time again, stories on the rise of this format in recent years end up pointing to one writer—Uproxx’s Alan Sepinwall—as the dean of modern TV criticism.While landmark TV writing sites like TV Without Pity (1998) wouldn’t come along until the Internet matured, Sepinwall was on the Web back when “Lynx and Mosaic were the only two browsers and you had to drive uphill through the snow both ways to get to the Yahoo!I tried tracking him down once to thank him for inspiration, to no avail,” Sepinwall tweeted when reflecting on his 20 years as a critic in 2016.I read that column and I said ‘I know him.’ He found me a few years ago when someone was doing a feature on him, and he ended up sending me a signed copy of his book.”
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US
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stepped a bit deeper into politics Friday by announcing that he and his wife are donating $33 million to a scholarship fund for "dreamers," or immigrants brought into the US illegally as children.Bezos -- the wealthiest person in the world -- and his wife, MacKenzie, are donating the money to TheDream.US scholarship program.The grant, the biggest since the organization's 2014 launch, will go to 1,000 high school graduates with DACA status.Bezos, who also founded Blue Origin and owns The Washington Post, reflected on his father's immigrant story in a statement announcing the donation as his way of giving back."My dad came to the US when he was 16 as part of Operation Pedro Pan," he said.With a lot of grit and determination -- and the help of some remarkable organizations in Delaware -- my dad became an outstanding citizen, and he continues to give back to the country that he feels blessed him in so many ways."
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It’s Day Two of CES 2018 and we have another full day of live video coverage ahead.A number of guests will be swinging by the Digital Trends CES booth, including a few of the biggest companies out there.One industry that we don’t often see at CES is the weed industry.Sure, Marijuana is only recreationally legal in some U.S. states, and still illegal in many, but the weed industry is rapidly growing and one ripe for innovative technology.We will be speaking with one company, Cloudious 9, which is reinventing vaporizer and liquid filtration tech.Anker, best known for creating handy mobile accessories like phone cases and USB power packs, will also be stopping by.
US
For the online Chinese populous, the convenience of getting a lift via an online service is too good to miss, according to new eMarketer data.According to the research firm, one third (31.5%) used an apps like Didi Chuxing and Dida Pinche, or Uber for anyone outside China, in 2017.This number will rise to 38% by 2019, or 290.3 million people.Despite these businesses only really launching in China three years ago, they now claim a large proportion of internet users.Emarketer puts this down to the low cost and ease of the services.However, tighter regulation from the Chinese government may see this growth tapering off, according to the research.
UK
With awards season now in full swing following last weekend’s Golden Globes, the bosses of the National Television Awards have unveiled this year’s shortlist of nominees.And with 2017 being a particularly strong one for British TV, competition is set to be tough at the event, which is being held on Wednesday 24 January.Ahead of the event, we’ve been through the nominations with a fine tooth comb to decide who is most deserving in each of the 14 categories, as well as predicting who is most likely to triumph.Nominees: ‘I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!’, ‘Love Island’, ‘MasterChef’ and ‘The Great British Bake Off’Who should win: ‘Love Island’ became a cultural phenomenon last year, helping it to set ratings records for ITV2.Nominees: ‘Call The Midwife’, ‘Casualty’, ‘Doctor Foster’, ‘Game Of Thrones’ and ‘Liar’
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Microsoft has suspended delivering the latest Windows update to certain systems with AMD processors after reports that the update was causing the machines to crash with a blue screen of death when booting.The update contains countermeasures against both the Meltdown and Spectre attacks; although AMD systems are not affected by Meltdown, they're vulnerable to Spectre.Withdrawing or suspending delivery of Windows Updates is not uncommon; while there is some testing done by Microsoft, releasing things to a wider audience does from time to time unearth incompatibilities or bugs within the update.What is uncommon is that Microsoft is not merely suspending this update; the company has also outlined why.After investigating, Microsoft has determined that some AMD chipsets do not conform to the documentation previously provided to Microsoft to develop the Windows operating system mitigations to protect against the chipset vulnerabilities known as Spectre and Meltdown.This is an unusual act of buck-passing.
UK
Two powerful Apple shareholders want the company to better protect children from the dangers of its addictive gadgets.But their motives may not be purely altruistic.In an open letter to Apple published Monday, investment group Jana Partners, alongside the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, outlined a long list of concerns about smartphone addiction among children and teens.Citing a broad range of adolescent research from UCLA, the American Psychological Association, and Harvard Medical School, among others, the letter highlights findings that link teens’ overuse of smart devices and social media with depression, poor self-image, and a lack of empathy.“It would defy common sense to argue that this level of usage, by children whose brains are still developing, is not having at least some impact, or that the maker of such a powerful product has no role to play in helping parents to ensure it is being used optimally,” the letter reads.The letter proposes “initial steps” for Apple, including creating a committee of child development specialists to study how smart devices may impact growth, spending more resources on informing parents of potential dangers, and most interestingly, adding a new overlay of parental controls for Apple’s devices to ensure that children are “not being handed the same phone as a 40-year-old.”
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For years, we’ve been hearing about the importance of responsive design and mobile-friendly features.Many small business etailers remained unconvinced of the power of mobile users as buyers.This made some sense, as data often showed that most users were using mobile devices (i.e., smartphones) primarily for research, and then finalizing purchases on tablets or desktop computers.On Cyber Monday 2017, mobile saw its first $2 billion day, claiming just under a third of the money spent online.Consider the screenshot below for analytics of an actual small-business ecommerce site.Smartphones will soon dominate online conversions.
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During a press conference at CES, Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon announced a number of new partnerships and products around the automobile industry, mobile, voice assistants and 5G.At the end of the event, though, he was also asked about his reaction to the Spectre/Meltdown security flaws that are haunting the chip industry.According to Amon, the impact on the mobile industry will probably not be very high because the fixes are already available and won’t have any major impact on performance.Amon noted that the mobile ecosystem is unique and that Qualcomm and its partners released their first patches in December.“There are a few things that are unique about the mobile ecosystem,” he said about mobile security in general.“Users download from an app store.
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On Monday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied a rule proposed by Energy Secretary Rick Perry earlier this year (PDF) to compensate coal and nuclear generation facilities over and above the compensation they currently receive if they kept 90 days' worth of fuel on site.Perry's rule was written to be fuel agnostic at face value, but its details would have bolstered coal and nuclear plants in the energy market because natural gas- and oil-fed generators generally can't keep 90 days' worth of fuel onsite (they receive their fuel via pipeline), and renewable energy generation is variable.One of President Trump's key campaign promises has been to revive the coal industry, which has suffered in the shadow of plentiful, cheap natural gas.In Monday's notice, FERC wrote that the proposed rule never met the threshold requirement of showing that grid managers are currently offering "unjust and unreasonable" compensation to existing coal and nuclear plants.[W]e note that the Proposed Rule would allow all eligible resources to receive a cost-of-service rate regardless of need or cost to the system...For example, the Proposed Rule’s on-site 90-day fuel supply requirement would appear to permit only certain resources to be eligible for the rate, thereby excluding other resources that may have resilience attributes.
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