August 23, 2019

Amazon will no longer use drivers’ tips to cover their base pay

Amazon has pledged to be more transparent and to tell its its Flex delivery drivers how much they actually earn, according to an email sent to contractors as seen by the LA Times. Perhaps more importantly, the e-commerce giant will no longer d...
August 23, 2019

YouTube pulls hundreds of channels tied to Hong Kong influence campaign

On Monday, both Twitter and Facebook announced they'd blocked accounts from China that were involved in disinformation attempts around protests in Hong Kong. Now YouTube revealed it has disabled 210 channels this week that "behaved in a coordinated m...
August 23, 2019

Russia launches test of new rocket booster, sends humanoid robot into space

All eyes were on the International Space Station yesterday as NASA astronauts performed a spacewalk to install a new docking port that will allow commercial vehicles to latch onto the orbiting laboratory. Meanwhile, Russia was preparing for some serious work of its own, carrying out a crucial test of its new rocket booster which is expected to replace the stalwart Soyuz-FG rocket sometime in 2020. That mission kicked off at 8:38 a.m. local time from Russia's launchpad in Kazakhstan, successfully sending an uncrewed Soyuz capsule skyward on a path toward the International Space Station. The vehicle was empty of any human travelers, but it did have one inhabitant: a humanoid robot strapped into the commander's seat. The robot is called Fedor, which is actually short for 'Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, and it's carrying a tiny Russian flag as it cruises toward its final destination. The robot will only be staying aboard the ISS for a little over a week, but it has plenty of work to do once it arrives. In the future, robots could play a major role in human exploration of the cosmos, and Fedor is one small step toward that future. The robot is a prototype that has been tested in a number of different applications, including firing guns during a demonstration in Russia. This space-worthy variant of the robot won't be wielding any weapons during its stay aboard the ISS, but it will be put to the test in other ways. It's designed specifically to exist aboard the delicate ISS without breaking anything, and researchers are eager to learn about how the robot deals with microgravity. Once its brief testing period has wrapped, the robot will be loaded back onto the Soyuz capsule and will return to Earth in early September.
August 23, 2019

Barack and Michelle Obama’s first Netflix project is getting rave reviews

Netflix debuted a new documentary on Wednesday that presents a deeply moving portrait of the ground-level workers at a new factory in post-industrial Ohio. It's a factory reopened by a Chinese billionaire amid the ruins of a shuttered General Motors plant whose closing hammered the Ohio town around it -- as well as the thousands of workers laid-off as a result. What this new documentary American Factory offers is a look at the lives of 2,000 of those blue-collar workers who take jobs at the new factory under the Chinese owner. The owner brings in some of his Chinese employees to work side-by-side with the Americans, and you see what happens when high-tech, uber-efficient Chinese productivity clashes with working-class America. My favorite scene is one with a Chinese supervisor explaining to the Chinese workers who've temporarily re-located to Ohio how Americans think. They're all consumerist and love to drive big cars, he explains, and Americans don't like nuance or complexity -- they tell you to your face exactly what they think. You can even make fun of the president and no one will arrest you, he continues, adding that America is a place where self-expression is celebrated, so "let your personality run free." Trust us, it's a surprisingly engrossing film that's also garnered rave reviews so far. As of the time of this writing, it's also got a 98% Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes -- and we haven't even mentioned the most noteworthy aspect of the film yet. This is also the first project to result from the production deal President Obama and the former First Lady signed with Netflix last year that will see the couple, through their production company Higher Ground, produce a mix of series and films for the streamer. The Obamas' company scooped up American Factory after its Sundance debut earlier this year -- and what's also interesting about both the movie and what the Obamas are planning for the rest of their Netflix productions is that it's content that is devoid of a political message (at least an overt political message). As we mentioned, American Factory is streaming now on Netflix. Watch the Obamas below as they sit down with filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar to talk about the documentary -- and why the Obamas wanted to put the weight of their production company Higher Ground behind it:
August 22, 2019

Experts say wisdom teeth removal is leading to opioid addition

If you've ever had your wisdom teeth removed you know how painful the days immediately following the surgery can be. Over-the-counter painkillers are often not powerful enough to offset the intense aching, and for decades, dentists have prescribed opioid painkillers to keep wisdom teeth patients comfortable during the brief recovery process. Now, as America's opioid crisis continues to claim lives, experts are warning that dentists who dole out the powerful drugs to their patients may be doing far more harm than good. As CBS reports, the American Dental Association is trying to reel in doctors who are too eager to trust their patients with opioid painkillers, and are urging medical professionals to explain the risks of the drugs to any patients who truly do need them. A CBS News report on the issue highlights the danger by telling the story of a 22-year-old mother who, upon being prescribed powerful painkillers following her wisdom teeth surgery, found herself dependent on the drugs. Multiple rehab attempts failed to curb her addiction, and she began to use heroin after she was unable to get additional prescription opioids. She died of an overdose just 15 months after her wisdom teeth were removed. The ADA has changed its guidelines in recent years to emphasize alternative pain management options for dentists and patients, but even as the overall number of opioid prescriptions dropped by half a million in 2017, it barely made a dent in the overall figures. That year, over 18 million prescriptions for the drugs were issued. Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that a staggering 130 people die every day in the United States from overdoses of opioids, and up to  29 percent of patients who receive legitimate prescriptions for the drugs end up misusing them. Health officials are still struggling with the problem, and while the government and various professional organizations are urging doctors to cut back on prescribing the drugs, more and more people become addicted to opioids every day. Meanwhile, the death toll continues to rise.
August 22, 2019

Intel’s new chips just fixed the worst thing about ultrathin laptops

It was only a few months ago that Intel unveiled a series of brand new 10th-gen processors that can deliver more powerful graphics performance to super slim laptops. The chipmaker isn't done updating its product line, and we now have a few extra additions to its 10th-gen chip line. This time around, the focus isn't so much on graphics performance, but on CPU power and RAM improvements. The new Comet Lake series of chips will join Ice Lake under Intel's broad 10th-gen Core chips mantle. The Comet Lake models come in two variations: Comet Lake-U and Comet Lake-Y. The U models are the more powerful ones, shipping in configurations of up to six cores, which is a significant upgrade for processors that have to operate at 15W TDP. The Y series are also getting a bump in clock speed, with models featuring up to four cores and a TDP of 7W. Unlike Ice Lake, which are built on Intel's 10nm process, the Comet Lake processors are all 14nm chips. But Intel says they'll deliver 16% performance gains and 41% better productivity and multitasking on Office 365 than the previous generation chips, without harming battery life in the process. Performance increases and energy efficiency aren't the only highlights of the Comet Lake series. Intel has backed in a few welcome surprises for these processors that will power the bulk of affordable ultra-thin laptops in the coming months. Support for faster LPPDR4x RAM means vendors will be able to equip Comet Lake-U notebooks with more than 16GB of RAM. Comet Lake-Y chips, however, will be restricted to LPDDR3 memory. Still, Intel just fixed one of the most annoying things about super-slim laptops, allowing OEMs to offer buyers the RAM upgrades they've been asking for without cutting battery life. Also impressive is the built-in Wi-Fi 6 support, which means the wireless experience is going to get a massive upgrade, but only as long as your home or office connection can deliver those internet speeds. Support for Thunderbolt 3, Intel UHD Graphics, and Intel Optane memory is also included. Plus, the processors support Intel Adaptix Technology, which promises faster wake times and support for multiple voice assistants. The first products to incorporate the new Comet Lake chips will arrive later this fall, including models that will meet Intel's Project Athena requirements. Intel, however, hasn't revealed any actual product names that will support the new Comet Lake chips. To put things in perspective, however, it's worth noting that Apple's 2019 MacBook Pro and Air upgrades still rock 8th-gen Intel Core processors and LPDDR3 RAM, so these are the kind of devices that could benefit from Intel's 10th-gen family of processors.
August 21, 2019

Google’s next Nest Mini speaker could be wall-mountable

Google's Home Mini may receive a sizeable upgrade when its Nest-branded sequel arrives. Sources for 9to5Google claim an upcoming Nest Mini will represent a "substantial" improvement. For one, it wouldn't be confined to desks and tables -- it would...
August 21, 2019

Microsoft tests more control for apps that restart with Windows 10

As much as PCs have changed in recent years, at least one thing has stayed the same: at some point, you'll need to restart your computer. With that in mind, the first of next year's two big Windows 10 updates could offer a subtle but helpful tweak to...
August 20, 2019

Mars was once warm and rainy before turning frigid, study finds

Scientists have learned a lot about Mars in recent years, and based on observations from the fancy hardware NASA has sent to the Red Planet we know that it once held far more water than we see today. But knowing there was lots of water (or at least abundant ice) on Mars long ago doesn't necessarily tell us what the climate was like. Without a time machine, we can't know exactly what ancient Mars looked like, but researchers have come up with a pretty solid guess. Using data from NASA's CRISM spectrometer and the Curiosity rover, scientists have a good idea of what kinds of minerals are present in the Martian soil. Using various areas of Earth as analogs, they can observe the conditions that caused similar mineral deposition patterns on our planet and assume that similar climates were responsible for their formation on Mars as well. At the Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference in Barcelona this week, Purdue University professor Briony Horgan announced the findings of a new research effort that draws comparisons between the climate of present-day Earth with that of ancient Mars. "Our study of weathering in radically different climate conditions such as the Oregon Cascades, Hawaii, Iceland, and other places on Earth, can show us how climate affects pattern of mineral deposition, like we see on Mars," Horgan said. "This leads us to believe that on Mars 3 to 4 billion years ago, we had a general slow trend from warm to cold, with periods of thawing and freezing." The study dives deep into the nuances of various mineral deposits such as silica, which the scientists believe hints at melting ice. This suggests that the planet had some ups and downs with regard to temperature, with warm periods characterized by occasional rains and then colder periods where everything was frozen. Mars today is frigid compared to Earth, and that's largely owed to the fact that the planet's atmosphere has been almost entirely stripped away. Billions of years ago, the planet is thought to have had a much more robust atmosphere which would have aided in it retaining heat. A temperate climate with rain and flowing water certainly sounds like a recipe for life as we know it, but we may have to wait and see what the Mars 2020 rover has to say about that once it arrives in early 2021.
August 20, 2019

Don’t get Apple’s $79 AirPods wireless charging case when this $16 case is just as good

Being able to wirelessly charge your AirPods is awesome. What’s more, Apple’s wireless charging case for AirPods works with any Qi wireless charger, so it’s not like the Apple Watch where you need a special charger. The problem, of course, is that Apple’s special AirPods wireless charging case costs $79. After you’ve already spent $159 on AirPods, that’s a pretty tall order. Here’s another option: pick up a NeotrixQI A5-W Wireless Charging Case Cover for Apple AirPods on Amazon right now for only $15.99 and you can wirelessly charge your AirPods for a fraction of the cost.

Here’s the key details from the product page:

  • 【WIRELESS CHARGING】: Enjoy Wireless Charging for your AirPods! Place your AirPods into wireless charging case and put it on Qi wireless charger for wireless charging experience. It prepares your AirPods for Apple AirPower wireless charger.
  • 【FULL PROTECTION】: The AirPods original case perfectly fits into the wireless charging case. It can be used as protective case and protects your AirPods from scratch and dirt. Hard plastic made not like silicon material and it doesn't collect dust and lint.
  • 【COMPATIBILITY】: The case and AirPods will continue to work just like normal. You’ll still have access to the sync button. Works with all Qi standard wireless chargers. It can share with the same wireless charger for your iPhone8/X.
  • 【SAFE CHARGING】: Eliminate safety concerns with overvoltage protection, temperature control, and more, by using highly efficient components and an advanced chipset.
  • 【WARRANTY】: 12 months defective warranty, 30-days replacement guarantee and friendly customer service.