The Sony A9 inches the mirrorless camera market forward

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-24 15:00:01 Source: techcrunch

 Having a variety of prime, telephoto, macro, sport and the like, all with distinctive shooting characteristics is what give lenses their charm. However, Sony just took Nikon’s spot as number two in the full-frame camera industry — Canon holds pole position. Currently, only 24 full-frame E-mount lenses exist compared to the dozens that Canon has in each category. Still,…

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Scroogled no more: Gmail won’t scan e-mails for ads personalization

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-23 15:29:59 Source: arstechnica

Google has announced it will no longer scan e-mail messages for ad personalization. Previously, in the consumer version of Gmail, Google's computers would scan the contents of every e-mail message to determine a relevant ad to show. The scanning "feature" has been turned off for Google Apps for Education and GSuite accounts for some time, but now Google says that "consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change."

In its blog post, Google says, "This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products. Ads shown are based on users’ settings. Users can change those settings at any time, including disabling ads personalization." Presumably Google means Gmail will now honor the account-wide "Ads personalization" setting, which is available at https://www.google.com/settings/u/0/ads/authenticated.

Gmail's scanning has long drawn ire from the tech community. It was the subject of a lawsuit alleging the the feature violated wiretapping and privacy laws, which eventually resulted in Google turning scanning off for students. Google has also been sued by non-Gmail users over the feature. That lawsuit claims that non-users that e-mail Gmail users should not have their e-mails scanned. The feature has also been the subject of Microsoft's "Scroogled" campaign.

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Gmail will no longer scan e-mails for ad personalization

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-23 15:14:59 Source: arstechnica

Google has announced it will no longer scan e-mail messages for ad personalization. Previously, in the consumer version of Gmail, Google's computers would scan the contents of every e-mail message to determine a relevant ad to show. The scanning "feature" has been turned off for Google Apps for Education and GSuite accounts for some time, but now Google says that "consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change."

In its blog post, Google says, "This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products. Ads shown are based on users’ settings. Users can change those settings at any time, including disabling ads personalization." Presumably Google means Gmail will now honor the account-wide "Ads personalization" setting, which is available at https://www.google.com/settings/u/0/ads/authenticated.

Gmail's scanning has long drawn ire from the tech community. It was the subject of a lawsuit alleging the the feature violated wiretapping and privacy laws, which eventually resulted in Google turning scanning off for students. Google has also been sued by non-Gmail users over the feature. That lawsuit claims that non-users that e-mail Gmail users should not have their e-mails scanned. The feature has also been the subject of Microsoft's "Scroogled" campaign.

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A month with the Catalyst Fermentation System

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-23 12:15:02 Source: techcrunch

 I’ve been following the multiple “easy” brewing systems available online for a while now and have never found one that truly spoke to me. Devices like the Minibrew seem great but price and shipping problems have always kept them out of my boozy little hands. So, rather than wait for the perfect automatic system, I decided to look at the Catalyst Fermentation System, a $199…

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YouTube’s “VR180” format cuts down on VR video’s prohibitive requirements

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-23 12:15:00 Source: arstechnica

VidCon, the largest conference for online video creators, took place this week, and YouTube celebrated by announcing a new VR format.

YouTube has supported VR and 360° video for some time, but the format is really hard to do right. The camera rigs are really expensive, and for any kind of clarity, 4K resolution isn't good enough—you need at least an 8K video feed for each eye, which is really hard to record, store, and stream to viewers. 360 video is great for virtually teleporting someone to a location, but it's not an appropriate format for more traditional, structured content with a stage, lighting, and a place you're supposed to be looking at.

To help pull traditional content creators into the VR space, YouTube is launching a new "VR180" format, which is exactly what it sounds like: stereoscopic video, but only in 180 degrees. This cuts the data requirements in half—4K for each eye looks great—and the format should map a lot easier to the existing content most content creators produce, where they can just set up a camera, aim it at a (slightly wider than normal) staged area, and start filming. The new format even supports live streaming.

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YouTube’s “VR180” format makes VR video more accessible

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-23 12:00:00 Source: arstechnica

VidCon, the largest conference for online video creators, took place this week, and YouTube celebrated by announcing a new VR format.

YouTube has supported VR and 360° video for some time, but the format is really hard to do right. The camera rigs are really expensive, and for any kind of clarity, 4K resolution isn't good enough—you need at least an 8K video feed for each eye, which is really hard to record, store, and stream to viewers. 360 video is great for virtually teleporting someone to a location, but it's not an appropriate format for more traditional, structured content with a stage, lighting, and a place you're supposed to be looking at.

To help pull traditional content creators into the VR space, YouTube is launching a new "VR180" format, which is exactly what it sounds like: stereoscopic video, but only in 180 degrees. This cuts the data requirements in half—4K for each eye looks great—and the format should map a lot easier to the existing content most content creators produce, where they can just set up a camera, aim it at a (slightly wider than normal) staged area, and start filming. The new format even supports live streaming.

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Watchmaker Stephen Forsey talks about the smartwatch problem

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-23 11:45:03 Source: techcrunch

 Watchmaker Stephen Forsey, co-founder of Gruebel Forsey, isn’t worried. This plain-spoken creator of some of the most complex and beautiful watches in the world sees the Swiss Watch industry to be in turmoil but not in peril. “They made too many watches,” he said simply. And now they can’t sell them. When asked about the rise of the smartwatch, Forsey laughs. His…

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Logitech’s Slim Combo for iPad Pro really boosts your portable productivity power

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-23 09:59:58 Source: techcrunch

 Logitech has a long history of making keyboard accessories for iPad, and it has a new product out in time for the release of the latest iPad Pro 10.5 and 12.9 updates. The Slim Combo, which is available for either size device, includes a back cover case with an integrated Apple Pencil sleeve, and a keyboard that uses the iPad’s Smart Connector. The two piece approach results in a slim…

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The e-Mosquito bites you to monitor glucose levels

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-22 13:45:03 Source: techcrunch

 Researchers at the University of Calgary have released the latest version of their “Wearable Microsystem for Minimally Invasive, Pseudo-Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring,” a watch-like wearable that “bites” you every few hours to draw blood and test your glucose levels. The system uses a shape memory alloy actuator which contracts when heated and then snaps back into…

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Amazon’s Echo Show gets more practical by adding support for smart home camera feeds

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-22 10:30:04 Source: techcrunch

 Amazon today announced a notable new trick for its next-generation Echo device, the Echo Show (aka the one with the screen), which could make it a more compelling purchase: it will be able to display the live streams from a number of smart home cameras. Already, companies like Ring, Arlo, Nest, August, EZViz, Vivint, Amcrest, and IC Realtime have created Alexa Skills that will use the new…

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The Baggizmo Wiseward is more than a wallet

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-21 13:30:02 Source: techcrunch

 In a hole in your pants there lived a wallet. Not a nasty, dirty, wet wallet, filled with the receipts and cigarette papers and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, boring wallet that fit nothing and there nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a Baggizmo wallet, and that meant lots of gadgetry. It had a perfectly flat folder design, with a programmable NFC chip installed. The wallet…

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Google Glass is apparently back from the dead, starts getting software updates

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-21 12:00:00 Source: arstechnica

Remember Google Glass—Google's ultra-dorky, poorly-supported, $1500 face computer? Conventional wisdom said that the product was dead: it's not sold anymore, the website was more-or-less shut down in 2015, its Twitter and Facebook were deleted, and the OS stopped receiving updates. But someone at Google apparently still cares about this clunky little headset, and this week it's gotten both a firmware update and a companion app update.

"XE23" is the new firmware version, the first such update in nearly three years. In addition to the usual "bug fixes and performance improvements," Glass can now make use of paired Bluetooth input devices, like keyboards and mice. Android Police actually dusted off a unit and got the new firmware up and running, discovering that you'll actually get a mouse cursor on the unit if you pair a mouse.

There's also an update to the "MyGlass" app, Google Glass's Android companion app. After three years of rot and a target version of Android 4.2, the app was pretty broken in Android. It's been updated to target Android 5.1, and it now finally has a Notification Listener Service. This allows the app to sync notifications from the phone to the device, just like Android Wear. It's also been updated to prompt the user to disable the battery saving Doze mode for the app, so it can work when the phone is asleep.

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Watch former Apple engineers and Scott Forstall discuss the creation of the iPhone

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-21 10:59:58 Source: techcrunch

 Last night at the Computer History Museum, former New York Times reporter John Markoff interviewed some of the original engineers who work on the first iPhone that was unveiled in January 2007. Hugo Fiennes, Nitin Ganatra, and Scott Herz all talked about their own experience working on this incredible project. Then, Scott Forstall looked back at his time at the company when he was leading…

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More Android apps from dangerous Ztorg family sneak into Google Play

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-20 17:44:59 Source: arstechnica

For the second time this month, Google has removed Android apps from its Google Play marketplace. Google did so after a security researcher found the apps contained code that laid the groundwork for attackers to take administrative "root" control of infected devices.

"Magic Browser," as one app was called, was uploaded to Google's official Android App Bazaar on May 15 and gained more than 50,000 downloads by the time it was removed, Kaspersky Lab Senior Research Analyst Roman Unuchek said in a blog post published Tuesday. Magic Browser was disguised as a knock-off to the Chrome browser. The other app, "Noise Detector," purported to measure the decibel level of sounds, and it had been downloaded more than 10,000 times. Both apps belong to a family of Android malware known as Ztorg, which has managed to sneak past Google's automated malware checks almost 100 times since last September.

Most Ztorg apps are notable for their ability to use well-known exploits to root infected phones. This status allows the apps to have finer-grain control and makes them harder to be removed. Ztorg apps are also concerning for their large number of downloads. A Ztorg app known as Privacy Lock, for instance, received one million installations before Google removed it last month, while an infected Pokémon Go guide racked up 500,000 downloads before its removal in September.

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Swatch launches Swatch X You, a custom design system for true watchanistas

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-20 12:00:01 Source: techcrunch

 Swatch, the fashion watch for the masses, has created Swatch X You, a clever online watch “factory” that lets you pick a face, band, and extra doodads to truly customize your $65 to $85 watch. The service, available now, offers watches in two sizes 34mm and 41mm. I’ve asked the Swatch group for comment – I basically want to know who is buying Swatches these days…

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Watchmaker Robert Forsey talks about the smartwatch problem

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-20 10:59:58 Source: techcrunch

 Watchmaker Robert Forsey, co-founder of Gruebel Forsey, isn’t worried. This plain-spoken creator of some of the most complex and beautiful watches in the world sees the Swiss Watch industry to be in turmoil but not in peril. “They made too many watches,” he said simply. And now they can’t sell them. When asked about the rise of the smartwatch, Forsey laughs. His…

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Researchers train drones to use Wi-Fi to look through walls

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-19 16:30:02 Source: techcrunch

 A new system by University of California, Santa Barbara researchers Yasamin Mostofi and Chitra R. Karanam uses two drones, a massive Wi-Fi antenna, and a little interpolation to literally see through solid walls. The system is two-fold. The one drone blasts Wi-Fi through the structure and another picks up the signal. Then, working in tandem, the two drones fly around the solid structure until…

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macOS High Sierra tech preview: A quick look at the stuff you can’t see

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-19 09:29:56 Source: arstechnica

Even by the standards of recent macOS releases, this year’s High Sierra is shaping up to be a low-key release with few high-profile user-visible improvements. Apple’s highlight page covers quite a few things, but in most cases they’re iterative tweaks that would mostly belong in the “grab bag” section of an overview of, say, Leopard or even Yosemite. Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to iCloud-backed iMessages and family iCloud storage plans, but support for tables in Notes and flight status updates in Spotlight aren’t exactly life changing (not unless your life is continuously interrupted by extremely small and specific problems).

But to call High Sierra a minor release is to ignore the big under-the-covers changes it brings to the Mac, some of which have been in the works for years now. New filesystems and graphics APIs may be hard to demo to more casual users, but there’s plenty in this release that lays the foundation for more visible changes somewhere down the line.

In lieu of a traditional preview of High Sierra, we’ve browsed the dev docs and talked with Apple to get some more details of the update’s foundational changes.

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How to install Linux on a Chromebook (and why you should)

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-19 08:59:56 Source: arstechnica

Chromebooks are one of the most secure devices you can give a non-technical end user, and at a price point few can argue with, but that security comes with a privacy trade off: you have to trust Google, which is part of the NSA's Prism programme, with your data in the cloud.

Even those who put their faith in the company's rusty "don’t be evil" mantra may find Chromebook functionality limiting—if you want more than Google services, Netflix, some other Web apps, and maybe the Android app store, then you're out of luck.

Geeky users willing to engage in some entry-level hackery, however, can install Linux on their Chromebook and unleash the Power of Torvalds™.

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Elon Musk suggests L.A. Mayor open to Boring Co. tunnel network

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-06-18 17:00:02 Source: techcrunch

 Elon Musk says that he’s had “promising conversations” with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, regarding the potential of a network of tunnels underneath the city that would allow for a high-speed transit network unburdened by surface traffic. That’s the vision Musk’s recently founded Boring Company hopes to make a reality, as illustrated by a concept video debuted by Musk…

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