Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Google's Nexus 5X now starts at $349


If you've been looking for an excuse to buy Google's latest entry-level smartphone, the Nexus 5X, here's your chance. Today, the search company announced a permanent price cut for the LG-made device, bringing down the cost of its 16GB and 32GB models to $349 and $399, respectively. This, of course, will make the Nexus 5X even more appealing to people, as it has received nothing but great reviews from the press -- including us, where it tallied a total of 88 in the Engadget Score.

Up until now, Google had offered the Nexus 5X starting at $379, but the recent $30 drop almost pushes it into impulse-buy territory, especially since it is unlocked and free from any carrier contracts. In comparison to rival smartphones, the OnePlus2 is $329, while the Moto X Pure Edition sells for $400 -- both also highly rated and off contract. You can get the cheaper Nexus 5X now from Google's online store.

Via: Android Central

Source: Google Store


Monday, January 11, 2016

New material can store solar energy to warm you up later


Solar projects are usually focused on generating electricity, but we could arguably save more power by storing heat. Scientists from MIT have created a new type of solid material that does exactly that. When exposed to sunlight, it assumes a "charged" state that can be maintained for long periods of time. However, when triggered with a small burst of heat, the material reverts to its original chemical composition, releasing a much larger amount of heat energy. Since the film is thin and transparent, scientists think it could be useful in the near future for defrosting your car's windshield and could one day heat your home or even your clothes.

The film can be made using a two-step process that's "very simple and very scalable," according to grad student Eugene Cho. The scientists start with materials called azobenzenes that change their chemistry when exposed to sunlight. They then modify them so that they can change states with a burst of heat, which in turn releases much more energy. The current prototype can increase the ambient temperature by 10 degrees Celsius (about 18 degrees Fahrenheit), which is enough to break ice off of a windshield, for instance. Since the material is transparent, it could be used on the front windshields of cars, saving a lot of energy over the normal defrosting process.

The team needs to change the tint of the film so that it's less yellow, and is also aiming to double the heat yield to a 20 degree Celcius boost (36 degrees Fahrenheit). However, the existing material is already good enough for defrosting and other heating applications, and could be manufactured relatively easy as-is. "The research is a major advance towards the practical application of solid-state energy-storage/heat-release materials from both a scientific and engineering point of view," says Ted Sargent, a University of Toronto professor not involved in the research.

Source: MIT


Sunday, January 10, 2016

John McAfee on his new startup and why he should be president


Perhaps the only way John McAfee could surprise us again is by doing something as pedestrian as joining another tech company. These days, he's more known for his love of guns and drugs, not to mention fleeing Belize after getting involved in a murder case. McAfee has since settled in Lexington, Tennessee, and he's diving back into the tech world with his incubator Future Tense Central.

He's also serving as the chief evangelist for the security startup Everykey, which has created a tiny dongle that can unlock just about anything in your home. We had the opportunity to chat with McAfee at the Everykey booth during CES about the startup, as well as his presidential run. The result was one of the strangest conversations I've had at a tech show.

McAfee claims Everykey is more secure than passwords, since you don't have to remember anything. You just need to have the Everykey dongle near your computer, car, or house door to unlock them with "military grade" AES 128-bit encryption. When you walk away, the devices lock back down. It's not the first authentication dongle I've seen, but it's one of the first to work wirelessly and with things outside of computers.

Still, even McAfee admits Everykey has an obvious security flaw: If someone steals your key, they'll immediately have access to everything you've integrated with it. While he says Everykey is working on that issue, fixing it will likely involve some sort of biometric authentication, which means the company needs to completely rethink its hardware. You can still remotely disable the dongle if you notice it's stolen, but that's not helpful if someone manages to swipe it secretly. Until Everykey gets this issue fixed, it's actually less secure than just relying on typical passwords and keys.

McAfee also announced yesterday that he's shifting his presidential run over to the Libertarian party, while still maintaining his focus on cybersecurity from his initial campaign. "We're facing a cyberwar," he said. "Our power grid in America is 50 years old, it's aging. The technology, the computers that are running and rationing electricity across the country are completely open and vulnerable to a 13-year-old who wants to hack from anywhere int he world. Technology I think is the biggest problem in the American government. We lack decades behind the Chinese and Russians in weaponized software."

And to be sure, McAfee was quick to point out that having offensive cyber capabilities is an important deterrent against would-be cyberattacker. "We have to have weaponized software," he said. "We have to have the capability to say, 'Look, if you press a button, we'll press a button.'"


Say hello to Panasonic's invisible TV


Often one of the biggest eyesores in an otherwise impeccable living room is the large black expanse of a TV. Panasonic could have a solution for that, however, in the form of transparent displays. The company showed off the tech at CES 2016 in a mock living room, where the screen could shift between "transparent mode," where you could see the shelving behind it, and "screen mode," where you can see the screen. And because the display is on a railing, you can move it up and down the shelf for even greater customizability.

What's even cooler though, is how you can control it. You can use a remote control of course, but Panasonic wants these displays to operate via motion gestures (think waving your hands in front of it a la Minority Report) or voice commands. Right now, the transparent displays tend to be a little dark so it needs under-shelf lighting in order to really work, but this is still in the prototype stage. Check out our video above to see all the other things the transparent display can do.


Sunday, January 03, 2016

LG's 2016 TVs include its first production 8K set


Forget all the hype about 4K at CES last year -- this year's trend is 8K. LG has revealed some of the first details about its 2016 TV lineup, and the highlight is its first production-grade 8K model, the UH9800. The Korean tech giant isn't saying much about what this 98-inch monster will offer or when it ships, but it's safe to say that this won't be an impulse purchase when Sharp's 8K screen costs about $130,000.

Don't worry if you're unwilling to take out a mortgage just to upgrade, as there are plenty of upgraded 4K TVs in the mix. The UH8500 (55 to 75 inches) and UH9500 (55 to 86 inches) series both tout Color Prime Plus, which mixes both filters and LCD phosphors to reach about 90 percent of the Digital Cinema Initiative's expanded color range. Both these and the lower-end UH7700 (49 to 65 inches) also pack greater High Dynamic Range support, a "True Black" panel that cuts glare and improves contrast and a Contrast Maximizer option that... well, does what it says. The UH9500 is your pick if you're design-conscious, since it has an extremely slim (0.22-inch) body that manages to cram in a relatively powerful Harman/Kardon audio system.

All of LG's newer sets should pack the easier-to-use webOS 3.0 for their interface. It's not yet known how much you'll pay for the 4K models, but it won't be surprising if there's at least one within your budget given rapidly falling prices. The real question is what Samsung, Sony and others have to offer. LG gets points for announcing early, but you may well see strong alternatives (even among 8K sets) before long.

Source: LG Newsroom


Friday, January 01, 2016

THE MOBILE CHECKOUT REPORT: How retailers and tech giants are pushing consumers to do more of their spending on smartphones


mobile desktop time v dollarsBI Intelligence

As millennials and younger consumers become larger parts of the key spending demographic, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are quickly becoming consumers' primary computing device. But for retailers, that poses a key challenge: Users are spending considerable time shopping on mobile, but making relatively few purchases. 

As a result, social networks, payment processors and card networks, and retailers themselves, are all developing solutions that make it easier for users who shop on mobile to begin to buy on mobile, and then channeling funds into products that incentivize users to do so.

By presenting options like on-site buy buttons, single-click checkout, financing services, and unified offline-to-online commerce experiences, various brands are beginning to convert desktop shoppers to mobile. But mobile wallets are beginning to take hold, and if they can successfully combine multiple features that ease barriers to mobile purchasing into one payment platform, they could hold the ticket to retailer success in increasing mobile purchases. 

In a new report from BI Intelligence, we predict how e-commerce will change and m-commerce will grow, explain why users are shopping, but not buying, on mobile devices, look at how stakeholders are looking to attract these users, and showing how products like mobile wallets could be game-changing in terms of mobile retail. 

Here are some key takeaways from the report: 

  • E-commerce and m-commerce are on the rise. In 2014, mobile comprised 11.6% of the US' $303 billion in e-commerce sales. BI Intelligence forecasts that by 2020, mobile will account for 45% of the $632 billion in total e-commerce sales. 
  • Users are spending the majority of their commerce-related browsing time in browsers rather than apps. In order to increase m-commerce conversion rates, retailers should be focused on browser-based solutions, which attract a wider audience than the loyal shoppers who download apps. 
  • If they move into the browser, mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Android Pay could drive an increase in m-commerce. That's because they provide a more streamlined experience to users than any of the other proposed solutions. However, it'll be hard for them to catch on fully if they remain focused solely on apps and in-store payments. 

In full, the report:

  • Forecasts the rising percentage of mobile commerce amidst an expanding e-commerce landscape.
  • Provides data showing why users are spending most of their time on mobile devices, but most of their dollars on PC.
  • Explains the barriers to mobile buying from a consumer-facing perspective.
  • Explores how stakeholders are trying to solve these problems and increase mobile purchasing.
  • Describes the role that mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Android Pay could play in increasing mobile purchasing in both the browser and the app.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store.» Purchase & Download 
  2. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. » Learn More Now



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NOW WATCH: The biggest security mistakes people make when buying things online


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The great bitcoin gold rush may already be over


A Bitcoin sign can be seen on display at a bar in central Sydney, Australia, September 29, 2015.  REUTERS/David Gray/FilesThomson Reuters

Bitcoin companies may have already hit their peak.

Venture fundraising in the bitcoin-related space has fallen sharply from the first quarter high, with big banks on Wall Street now looking to develop technology in-house rather than putting money to work in the space. 

"Unfortunately, many banks and institutions have focused on the creation of their own blockchains instead of innovating on the bitcoin blockchain," Michael Sonnenshein, director of sales and business development at Grayscale Investments, told Business Insider. 

One of the high-profile startups running into difficulty raising new capital is Blythe Masters' blockchain startup, according to a report in the New York Times. 

Digital Asset Holdings, a blockchain company providing distributed ledger and settlement services, has struggled to raise new funds, even after appointing Masters earlier this year. 

Digital Asset Holdings and Masters reportedly suffered after giving "better terms" to Masters' former employer, JPMorgan, than it is currently offering other banks like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, according to The New York Times report.

One of the difficulties facing Digital Asset, the Times reports, is that the bitcoin and blockchain industry has been flooded with numerous startups directly competing with each other. Then there are projects like R3,which is looking to develop common standards and use cases for blockchain and now has 42 banks signed up. 

Digital Asset Holdings declined to comment when contacted by Business Insider. 

Since hitting a recent peak in the beginning of 2015, investing in the bitcoin and blockchain space has experienced a drop-off in investor interest, according to data maintained and published by CB Insights

cbinsightsThomson Reuters

NOW WATCH: The infamous pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli has been arrested


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Researchers show off a working light-based processor


The year has been chock-full of scientific breakthroughs, but the University of Colorado is determined to finish 2015 with a bang. Its researchers have created what they say is the first full-fledged processor to transmit data using light instead of electricity. The design isn't entirely photonic, but its 850 optical input/output elements give it the kind of bandwidth that make electric-only chips look downright modest -- we're talking 300Gbps per square millimeter, or 10 to 50 times what you normally see. The key was finding a way to reuse existing conventional processes to put optics in places where regular circuitry would go.

The design isn't a powerhouse with a tiny size (3mm by 6mm, or 0.1in by 0.2in) and just two cores. However, it shows the potential for dramatic improvements in computing power without having to completely reinvent the wheel. You could have networking gear that copes with massive amounts of data, for example. And there's plenty of room for optimization, too, so the possibilities for this technology remain wide open.

[Image credit: Glenn Asakawa, University of Colorado]


Source: University of Colorado, Nature


The 10 best devices to turn your home into a smart home


The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

Nest thermostatAmazonThe modern “smart home” is still learning. It’s still something we have to put in quotes like that. In the tech world’s rush to make everything Internet-connected, the home seems to be the area with the most potential for change and lasting effect. There are certainly no shortage of startups and corporations trying to make it work.

But for now, only a handful of these experiments look like they’ll bring more convenience than frustration. It’s hard to say that any smart home gadget is smart enough to be essential, but if you have an appreciation for forward-looking tech and a wallet with money to burn, there are devices out there that can help your day-to-day. Give them a chance, and it might be hard to go back. Here are a few we like.

ecobee3 Smarter WiFi Thermostat

ecobee3AmazonThe Nest Learning Thermostat is the face of smart home technology for most, but depending on what your home is like, it’s not blasphemous to say the ecobee3 is superior.

Now, at their cores, both devices carry most of the same benefits. They’re both capable of learning your preferences and schedule, then adjusting the temperature accordingly. They’re both better-looking and more enjoyable to use than the basic pieces of plastic that occupy most households. Their very presence will probably make you more conscious about saving energy. They both can pay for themselves over time. And once you’re able to heat up or cool down your house from your phone, without having to get out of bed, you won’t want to go back.

If you live in a larger household, however, the ecobee3 can be much more convenient — provided you pick up a couple more remote sensors. Yes, it gets pretty pricey at that point, but having those gives you granular control over the temperature in different rooms around your house. By contrast, the Nest’s measurements are largely limited to the area in which it’s installed.

If you live in a condo or smaller place in general, that’s no big deal; the Nest itself is still very adept at taking the work of climate control off your hands. But we also like the ecobee3’s display, which isn’t as vibrant as the Nest’s, but is touch-enabled and more spacious, making it less frustrating when you want to enter a WiFi password, see weather info, access the settings, and so on.

Still, both devices are pretty great. Which one’s best just depends on whether you need a whole-home solution or a more straightforward one. For now, if it’s the former, go with the ecobee.

ecobee3 Smarter WiFi Thermostat with Remote Sensor (2nd-gen.), $245.24, available at Amazon.

Philips Hue

philips hueAmazonThe Philips Hue is just about synonymous with the “smart lighting” concept, but that’s because it works, and it’s fun. While nobody really needs a smartphone app that turns their lights blue, the Hue family of devices make it easy to adjust the mood of a room.

It doesn’t come cheap, though. If you’re curious about the idea of adjustable lighting but don’t want to drop a couple hundred on a starter kit, the Cree Connected LED Bulb might be a better fit. It requires a hub to work and isn’t as colorful, but it can still be dimmed from a phone, potentially saving you some cash along the way.

Philips Hue Starter Kit, $199.99, available at Amazon.

Nest Protect

nest protectAmazonLike the Learning Thermostat above, the Nest Protect spruces and smartens up a device most of us take for granted. The connected smoke and carbon monoxide detector looks nicer than the gray plastic chunk on your ceiling, for one, but it also does its job well, gauging potential dangers, then loudly alerting you if there’s a problem.

If you’re not home when something goes awry, it’ll send alerts to your phone. (And probably cause a few panic attacks in the process.) A handy “Pathlight” feature gives you a light if the Protect senses you walking around in the dark, too. And if you ever get a little too sloppy cooking dinner, you can turn off any non-emergency alarms right from the Nest app, rather than disconnecting the whole thing out of frustration.

Nest Protect, $99, available at Amazon.

Amazon Echo

amazon echoAmazonThe Amazon Echo is technically a Bluetooth speaker, but you wouldn’t buy one just to play music. Instead, it best serves as a Siri or Google Now for your home, a digital assistant that can tell you the weather, crawl the Web for random info, fire up some music, set alarms or calendar events, adjust a growing number of other smart home devices, and more, all upon your request.

Amazon’s done a stellar job of updating and improving the Echo since it launched late last year, and the whole thing is simple to use and operate. Like most of the devices on the list, it’s also something to gawk at. It might bring us closer to a Her-style existence, but as a friendly, hands-free bridge to the Internet, the Echo is nice to have around.

Amazon Echo, $179.99, available at Amazon.

Sonos Play:1

sonos play 1AmazonThe Sonos Play:1, meanwhile, is very much about the music. The entry-level device in the Sonos family of WiFi sound systems, the Play:1 performs well for its relatively diminutive size, and, like other Sonos devices, can easily stream music from Spotify, Google Play Music, Pandora, Amazon Prime Music, SiriusXM, and most other major players.

You need to use Sonos’ app to do that, and really this model is meant to be a gateway to hooking up and syncing with other Sonos devices, but if you’ve ever thought about building such a home audio system, this is where you want to start.

Sonos Play:1, $195, available at Amazon.

Nest Cam

nest camAmazonThe Nest Cam builds off the successes of the Dropcam Pro — the creators of which Nest bought last year — by delivering a functional, high-res, and connected wireless security camera.

It puts out a wide-angle, 1080p stream that you can watch from your phone — not a replacement for a full-on home security system, but useful if you’ve got a child that needs monitoring. It’ll send you alerts if it senses something suspicious — though that’s limited to one every half-hour — and you can also stash and access past footage through the cloud.

Nest Cam Security Camera, $183.48, available at Amazon.

Belkin WeMo Switch

belkin wemo switchAmazonBelkin’s WeMo Switch devices want to make it so you’re never anxious about leaving something plugged in once you’re out of the house. They simply plug into an existing AC outlet, connect to your WiFi network, and then allow you to turn on or off whatever’s plugged into them through a corresponding app.

That app has a reputation for being finicky from time to time, but get past that and you can find a ton of opportunities for home automation here (especially with a service like IFTTT). If you suspect a device is chewing up too much energy, for instance, you could have it automatically shut down once it hits a certain cost for the day.

Belkin WeMo Switch, $39.99, available at Amazon.

Roomba 980

roomba 980AmazonYou probably know what a Roomba is by now, and as we’ve said before, the newest model in the series of semi-autonomous robot vacuums is its smartest yet. It’s shamelessly expensive, but now you can schedule it to automatically start cleaning at specific times, regardless of whether or not you’re near it. It’s tidier at actually doing that cleaning, too, though it’ll still charmingly bash itself into a post every now and again.

iRobot Roomba 980, $899.99, available at Amazon.

August Smart Lock

august smart lockAmazonIt’s a niche device among niche devices, but the August Smart Lock lets you remotely control a door lock. Keys have never been particularly complicated, but the Smart Lock looks good (even if it’s a bit thick), isn’t too tough to install, and, unlike similar devices, goes over your deadbolt instead of replacing it entirely. If nothing else, having your door open and unlock for you without having to touch a thing is just neat.

If you pick up August’s Connect accessory or use a compatible hub (like Logitech’s Harmony Home Hub), you can also dictate the Smart Lock to allow certain people into the house, even when you’re not there. You’ll creep out the cable guy, sure, but if you can’t afford to stay home on the day of installation, this lets you let him in.

August Smart Lock, $199.99, available at Amazon.

Logitech Harmony Home Control

logitech harmony home controlAmazonLogitech has been the only real presence in the land of universal remotes for a long time now, and its Harmony Home Control is the best value it offers for anyone with a few smart home devices. The included Harmony Companion remote can connect to things like the aforementioned Nest thermostat, Philips Hue lights, or Sonos speakers, in addition to the usual suite of TVs, media streamers, cable boxes, game consoles, and so on.

Using it isn’t constantly seamless, but for something that’s controlling up to 8 things at once, it’s far from unruly. It also ditches the IR blaster in favor of an RF signal, which means you don’t have to point it directly at what you want to control in order for it to work.

While it has areas that could be a little more polished — there’s no backlight, for instance — it still breaks down many processes that’d be complicated without it. Now that it’s dropped about $40, it doesn’t charge an outrageous amount for the privilege either.

Logitech Harmony Home Control (White), $106.09, available at Amazon.



Saturday, December 19, 2015

If you take these 3 tax deductions you have a higher chance of being audited



Getting audited is many taxpayers' worst nightmare, but that shouldn't stop you from taking advantage of the tax deductions you're legally entitled to take. You should just take care to make sure you have the documentation you need to back up your deduction if the IRS decides to take a closer look at your return.

Below, you'll learn about three tax deductions that often raise red flags from would-be auditors.

1. Home office deduction
Self-employed entrepreneurs often work out of their homes, and the tax laws provide for such businesses to deduct the legitimate expenses that are connected with their home-based business. If you meet the requirements for a portion of your home that's used regularly and exclusively for business use, and is your principal place of business, you can usually prorate your overall household expenses by the fraction of your home's total area that your business takes up. In addition, you can deduct in full expenses that are directly linked to your business and aren't shared throughout the remainder of your home for personal use.

Abuse of this provision has led to increased IRS scrutiny. The most important thing to remember is that you need to be able to document the separate area and its exclusive business use, so if your business takes up a large fraction of your overall property, you'll need to prepare to prove it. In addition, ensuring that all claimed expenses are business-related is important in maintaining your credibility during an audit.

2. Charitable deductions
Donations to charity are usually tax-deductible to those who itemize their deductions, and the IRS has paid increasing amounts of attention to charitable deductions in recent years. Gifts by check are hard to falsify, but claiming large amounts for donated items like cars or used clothing has been a frequent area of abuse among taxpayers.

In judging your charitable donations, the IRS will compare your deductions with those of taxpayers in a similar financial situation based on your tax return. If you're on the high side of average, the risk of an audit will increase, and it'll be more important for you to keep good records on what you gave, when you gave it, and how you determined the appropriate value of the property. Fail at any of those tasks, and you could be left unable to support your deduction to an IRS auditor.

3. Unreimbursed business expenses
Most of the time, employees get reimbursed by their employers for any business expenses they pay for themselves. As a result, the IRS looks carefully at unreimbursed business expenses, even though they're an itemized deduction and are only deductible to the extent that they exceed 2% of adjusted gross income.

Many items are potentially deductible, including dues and license fees, subscriptions to trade journals and publications related to your work, tools and supplies, and specialty uniforms. Yet the temptation among many taxpayers is to try to deduct additional items that are only somewhat connected to their jobs. Before taking this deduction, make sure the expenses you're seeking to claim are legitimately business-related, and be prepared to explain in an audit why your employer didn't reimburse you for them.

Finally, bear in mind that any deduction could lead to an audit if it's unusually large compared to what most people report on their tax returns. If you're entitled to a big deduction for any reason, make sure you have the records to prove it in case the IRS comes knocking.

Getting audited is no fun, but as long as you have the required documentation, you should be able to stand up to IRS scrutiny with your deductions intact. Keeping good tax records with these three deductions in particular is a smart move that will keep you from paying extra tax after an audit.

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The Texas professor who lived in a dumpster started a company that's building 208-square-foot, movable apartments


There’s a lot to like about Kasita, a micro-modern-modular apartment building coming up in the heart of Texas. The units are 208 square feet in size: teeny-tiny, but these days, less is more. Especially in Austin, where the population as a whole is booming but where families with children are leaving the urban core in droves.

To help singles squeeze their lives into such small spaces, Kasita boasts tons of interior-design bells and whistles, from modular “tile” shelving to various networked-home features.

And then there’s Professor Dumpster, aka Jeff Wilson, the former dean of Huston-Tillotson University who once made his home in a 33-square-foot dumpster as a teaching exercise. He’s the brain behind Kasita, and he’s assembled a diverse team of designers and executives to build his dream in Austin and at least nine other cities. Kasita has raised at least $645,000 in private investment so far (and more is promised).

But Kasita also raises two questions. And on these points, the project risks running awry.

The first concern is, unfortunately, key to the whole Kasita concept: The prefab housing units are all ‘apodments.’ They can be moved from one city to another, presuming there is a vacancy in the destination Kasita. Think of them as modular storage drawers that you might buy from the Container Store (but much cooler looking).

Kasita Apodment Micro ApartmentKasita

It’s a solution in search of a problem. Sure, moving’s a pain in the ass. The apodment doesn’t get you out of moving, though. It just makes the process that much more difficult. A resident who lives on the third floor of Kasita is going to need a crane or a truck to get her pod down and on to the truck that will carry the pod to its next location. It’s bound to be less expensive to hire two movers for an hour—how much can it cost to pack up a 200-square-foot apartment?—or do it the old-fashioned way by paying friends for their labor with beer and pizza.

“Request a move across town or across the country with a tap on your phone,” the site reads. But who would ever do this? The tech triumphalism is off-putting. Moving is stressful because it’s important. It’s supposed to be stressful. And broadly speaking, permanent housing isn’t something that begs for branding across cities, like hotel chains or Lyft.

The second issue is the cost. Dumpster/Wilson has said that the units will rent for $600. The company has two lots in downtown Austin, where rents go for much more. Rents downtown range from around $900 to more than $2,000. Depending on where the Kasita lots are located, the median rental housing cost might be more than three times the asking rate for a Kasita unit. (I’ve emailed the Kasita team to ask about the location and will update when I get answers back.)


There’s a popular misconception that modular housing necessarily means cheaper housing. The high costs of housing aren’t driven by the manufacture of homes. They’re driven by the high price of land in places like Austin, one of the finest cities on this planet (and my former home). In a city where Millennial residents are allegedly holing up in “stealth dorms” in order to escape high rents, the queue for a $600 downtown apartment—even an utterly tiny one—would run like the endless line to Franklin’s on a sunny Saturday during SXSW. The same goes for Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and other cities where Kasita plans to expand. After all, here’s what $600 gets you in Bushwick.

“Through partnerships with local entities, Kasita will rent units at about half the market rate of a studio apartment,” the website reads. Maybe that will work. Call me skeptical.

There is a solution to high rents in Austin, though—and it’s staring us right in the face: The rendering of Kasita depicts in the background various types of housing in the Live Music Capital of the World, including tall residential towers, several of which have gone up in the city in recent years. More buildings like these, with a greater variety of unit sizes and formats—and, crucially, the zoning that allows for high-density residential construction—is just what the doctor ordered.

NOW WATCH: New York City's first micro-apartment is 302 square feet... and costs $2,750 a month


Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Mozilla launches an iOS 9 content blocker, Focus by Firefox


Even Mozilla is getting into the iOS 9 ad blocking arena with Focus by Firefox, a free content blocker for Safari on Apple's mobile OS. Just like the early batch of blockers, it can keep your mobile browsing experience free of ads, as well as web analytics and social media trackers. But Mozilla says it'll also be transparent about how it's blocking content. It's using Disconnect's open source block list, which also powers Firefox's Private Browsing on desktop platforms, and it'll inform users as it builds on Focus by Firefox. In addition to making your mobile browsing more private, the blocker can also speed up performance by blocking things like web fonts. Ironically, Focus by Firefox isn't yet compatible with Firefox on iOS, because Apple doesn't allow content blockers to work with third-party browsers.

"We want to build an Internet that respects users, puts them in control, and creates and maintains trust," Mozilla's chief business and legal officer, Denelle Dixon-Thayer, wrote in a blog post. "Too many users have lost trust and lack meaningful controls over their digital lives. This loss of trust has impacted the ecosystem -- sometimes negatively. Content blockers offer a way to rebuild that trust by empowering users."

Source: Mozilla


Friday, December 04, 2015

MicroSD Card Quality Makes a Massive Difference in Raspberry Pi Performance


MicroSD Card Quality Makes a Massive Difference in Raspberry Pi Performance

When you’re putting together your Raspberry Pi projects, you likely just grab whatever microSD card is on sale without thinking much about it. However, over on Midwestern Mac, they did speed comparison between cards, and found a big difference in performance.

Testing over a dozen cards, they found that the card’s speed drastically affected performance, with cheaper cards performing significantly slower than name brand ones. The winner, when cost is factored in, was the Samsung EVO+ Class 10 card, which typically comes in around $10. If you’re interested in the testing methods and some more details, head over to Midwestern Mac. Obviously this isn’t entirely comprehensive, but it covers the bases well enough considering how cheap microSD cards are these days. It sounds like the Samsung EVO and EVO+ cards are you best bet when you’re out shopping for a card for your Pi.

Raspberry Pi microSD card performance comparison 2015 | Midwestern Mac, LLC


Monday, November 30, 2015

Scientists show that gene editing can 'turn off' human diseases


Gene editing has already been used to fight diseases, but there's now hope that it might eliminate the diseases altgether. Researchers have shown that it's possible to eliminate facial muscular dystrophy using a newer editing technique, CRISPR (Clusters of Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) to replace the offending gene and 'turn off' the condition. The approach sends a mix of protein and RNA to bind to a gene and give it an overhaul.

Via: Huffington Post

Source: Molecular Therapy


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Raspberry Pi's latest computer costs just $5


Over the years, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has enabled universities and hobbyists to create their own DIY computing projects with its affordable boards. But that doesn't mean it's stopping there. Today, the company unveiled its latest programmable computing board, the Raspberry Pi Zero, and it costs just $5 (£4). With its Broadcom BCM2835 application processor (1GHz ARM11 core), 512MB of RAM, a microSD card slot, a mini-HDMI socket supporting 1080p (at 60 frames per second), micro-USB sockets and an identical pin layout to its larger Pi siblings, the Zero can do plenty of heavy lifting, despite its tiny size. For context: at 65mm x 30mm, it's smaller than a credit card and has 40-percent faster chip than the first ever Pi.

Via: Raspberry Pi Blog

Source: The Pi Hut (UK), Pimoroni (UK), Element 14 (UK), Adafruit (US)