Saturday, November 15, 2014

Amazonâs New Kindle Fire HDX Tablet Is Light And Gorgeous â But It Has Some Serious Limitations (AMZN)



Amazon has expanded its line of Kindle tablets yet again with this year’s version of the $379 Fire HDX 8.9. The device, which is the same size as Google’s recent Nexus 9 and a bit smaller than the iPad Air, is one of the slimmest tablets you can buy.

As is the case with its previous HDX tablets, the online retail giant is pushing its new addition as an entertainment-focused device.  And with it’s gorgeous high-res display, it certainly has the hardware to pull it off.

After spending a week using Amazon’s new tablet, here's what I came away with.

The Basics

The 2014 edition of Amazon’s new tablet comes with a 2560x1600 resolution display just like its predecessor and the Nexus 9.  There’s an 8-megapixel camera on the back and 2GB of RAM, which the company claims will ensure graphics run smoothly.

In all honesty, there isn’t too much that’s different from last year’s model. The new tablet comes with Amazon’s new Firefly feature and runs on a new processor, but those are the only key differences.

How It Looks And Feels

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX is undoubtedly one of the lightest tablets you can buy. In fact, it might be the lightest tablet at just 375 grams. By comparison, the Nexus 9 weighs 425 grams, the iPad Air 2 weighs 469 grams, and Sony’s Xperia Z2 tablet weighs 439 grams. Granted, both Apple and Sony’s tablets come with a larger screen than Amazon’s Fire HDX, but it’s still impressively slim. This makes it incredibly easy to use with one hand.


The back of Amazon’s new tablet is made of a soft, slick material that’s resistant to fingerprints, which is a plus. Both Google and Sony’s table! t were q uick to pick up smudges, so the tablets would look a little dirty after just a few minutes of use.

There’s one design quirk that has always confused me when picking up an Amazon tablet. Both the power and volume buttons are located on the back, rather than along the side. I understand it probably wouldn’t be possible to make the tablet super slim and light otherwise, but it always throws me off.

Using It


Like Amazon’s other devices, the new Fire HDX runs on its Fire OS — a modified version of Android. Although it’s technically based on Android, it doesn’t look very much like the software you’d see on a Google or Samsung tablet.

The home screen consists of a carousel of app icons with a menu that sits across the top of the screen. The menu lets you browse different categories such as games, apps stored on your device, photos stored on the tablet, and more. Below the main carousel are a few icons for other options in the OS, such as Amazon’s Silk Browser, the stock email app, the tablet’s camera, calendar, and a few other choices.

The carousel layout is a refreshing — it's not the tired app grid layout you’ll find on most other mobile devices.

The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is a gorgeous, lightweight tablet, but it has its limitations. Although its an Android tablet, don’t plan on using Gmail, Google Maps, or any other Google-made application on it. There’s no access to the Google Play Store, which means if the app you’re looking for isn’t in Amazon’s AppStore, you won’t be able to use it. So, that means no YouTube, no Google Drive, and no Google Maps.

Remember, the Fire HDX 8.9 is built for entertainment. So if you frequently use Amazon Prime and love downloading movies, you’ll probably enjoy Fire OS.!


Like its predecessor, the new tablet comes with Amazon’s Mayday feature, which is a service that connects you to a member of Amazon’s support team.

Firefly is a newer Amazon feature that debuted on the Fire Phone last spring. Firefly allows you to use the device’s camera to scan barcodes on objects, business cards, and email addresses. Once the tablet recognizes the object, it’ll either provide a link to save that person’s contact information or show a listing for that item in Amazon’s online store.

Firefly works quickly and it’s incredibly accurate. Within seconds of holding a business card in front of the tablet’s camera, it pulled up that person’s phone number. The software reacted equally as fast when I held up the box for an iPhone case in front of the Fire HDX’s camera.

Still, Firefly seems better-suited for a phone than a tablet. Whipping out a large handheld to scan a business card feels awkward.

The new Fire HDX’s screen is gorgeous, too. Whether you’re doing some reading or watching Netflix, images and text really pop off the screen. It also seemed to be a bit brighter than the screen on the Nexus 9.

The Kindle Fire HDX's battery lasts quite long on a single charge. I was able to get two full days of usage out of the tablet before its battery completely drained. This included streaming a lot of Netflix, playing games like "Dead Trigger" often, and browsing the web.

Should You Buy It?


Amazon’s recently released Kindle Fire HDX is an excellent tablet for reading and entertainment, especially if you use Amazon Prime a lot. It’s super light — in fact it’s o! ne of th e lightest tablets you can buy — and the screen is gorgeous too.

But, you’ll have to be okay with giving up access to Google’s gigantic app store. Amazon has it’s own app store with more than 240,000 apps, although that’s a relative small number compared to both Apple and Google’s stores which offer about one million apps.

And, if you’re used to using an Android tablet or an iPad, the software will seem a bit different on Amazon’s Fire HDX.

If you don’t really care about apps and just want a tablet for streaming Netflix, reading, checking email, and browsing the web, you’ll be perfectly satisfied with the Fire HDX. Amazon has it’s own app store with more than 240,000 apps, although that’s a relative small number compared to both Apple and Google’s stores which offer about one million apps.

SEE ALSO: 15 Apps That Will Make Your Android Phone A Whole Lot Better

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In Germany, these servers wants to keep every home warm


Most places around the world are getting ready to bring out the blankets and coats, in preparation for the cold, cold season ahead. Knowing this, a company called Cloud & Heat has come up with a very interesting idea, one that's beneficial to both it and the parties interested in giving it a try. In exchange for heat, the Germany-based firm is offering to put a cabinet filled with servers in people's homes. As Slate points out, Cloud & Heat isn't the only company working on heat-for-server-housing program, but others aren't as advanced in the implementation stages. Unfortunately, the service isn't free for home owners, since there is a one-time (undisclosed) installation fee. The good news: Cloud & Heat takes care of the electricity and internet bills, so the deal could turn out to be more than decent.

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Via: Slate

Source: Cloud & Heat


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Secret U.S. Spy Program Targeted Cell Phones, Wall Street Journal Reports


Secret U.S. Spy Program Targeted Cell Phones, Wall Street Journal Reports

A secret U.S. spy program used fake cell phone towers attached to airplanes to scan citizens' cell phones and collect their data, the Wall Street Journal reports.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

GoPro-ready Ghost drone touts easy tilt control and auto-follow mode


As a recent South Park episode suggests, Parrot and DJI are the two most recognizable names in the consumer drone market right now, but they are about to face a new contender. Merely three months ago, we met Ehang who showed off its heavy-duty hexacopter at TechCrunch Beijing; and now, the Chinese company is also pushing its more affordable Ghost quadcopter onto Indiegogo. While said drone has been seeded to select e-tailers since April, Ehang co-founder Derrick Xiong said the latest offering is no longer a "beta version," but rather a retail-ready package aimed at the Western market. Most interestingly, the starting price is now just $375 -- a steal when compared to the $679 DJI Phantom 2 with similar specs.

The Ghost isn't just about pricing. First and foremost, this machine claims to be "the world's easiest drone to fly" on its website, and this is done so by replacing the traditional remote controller with a seemingly -- and perhaps overly -- straightforward smartphone interface (Android first; iOS compatibility due in March): There are buttons for taking off, landing, returning and hovering; you can tap on the map to guide the drone; there are sliding bars for adjusting the drone's orientation and altitude plus the optional camera's tilt and orientation. Thankfully, the app has a micro control pad -- surrounded by a handy compass -- to manually move the drone in its horizontal plane.

The link between the smartphone and the drone is handled by the bundled "G-Box" transmitter, which gives a 0.6-mile or 966-meter radius range. To satisfy the more capable drone users, Ehang is already developing a proprietary 8-channel remote controller for the Ghost. Yes, "proprietary" in the sense that the drone won't work with existing controllers, in order "to enhance steering safety and smooth manual control."

In addition to the above, Xiong highlighted two "breakthrough" features on the Ghost: smartphone-tilt control and an auto-follow mode that's starting to become the norm. The former is very much what it says on the tin: Once the Ghost is in the air, you can rotate and tilt your phone as if you're doing the same to the drone.

As for the auto-follow mode, don't expect the drone to follow you while you're climbing up a cliff; it can only travel horizontally so use with caution. That said, Xiong hasn't ruled out the possibility of adding auto-altitude control as more phones come with a built-in barometer. Unlike the Plexidrone due in April, the Ghost doesn't do obstacle avoidance which is no surprise given its price point, but as you can see in the above video, there's work being done on a LIDAR module that may one day allow this drone to detect its surroundings. Until then, the auto-follow feature is best used in a clear area.

Now that we've gotten the features out of the way, we can take a closer look at the drone itself. The Ghost can travel at up to 21.9 m/s, though it's capped at 4.47 m/s by default for safety reasons (for the record, the DJI Phantom 2 does 15 m/s max). Ehang claims that its machine can even fly in winds at up to 21 knots (about 11 m/s) without losing too much video quality, and it can also resist light rain. The interchangeable 5,400 mAh battery can last up to 20 minutes with the optional 2-D gimbal plus a GoPro camera installed, or up to 30 minutes without them (the Phantom 2 does 25 minutes).

As we mentioned earlier, the basic pre-assembled Ghost is up for grabs for a mere $375, and you also get four propeller guards in the box. If you want it with a 2-D gimbal to go with your own GoPro Hero3 or Hero4 camera, it'll cost you $599; or pay an extra $380 ($100 off for early birds) to have a Hero4 Silver (normally $400) bundled with the package, making it a total of $979. These will all be shipped in as early as mid-December and no later than end of January -- unless you opt for a color other than black or white, should the Indiegogo campaign reach its $150,000 stretch goal.

For the last option, there's actually no harm in considering the Phantom 2 Vision which is now only $799 (or $899 with an extra battery) and also has a two-axis camera, a traditional controller plus video stream capability to your smartphone. On the other hand, if you want to go beyond 1080p video capture while also having the option to reuse the Hero4 Silver on your next drone, then the Ghost would be a safer bet.

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Source: Indiegogo


This Woman's Futuristic Startup Could Change 900,000 Surgeries A Year



If you've ever broken a bone, you know the process to recovery is slow and painful.

Now imagine neither splint nor surgery were enough to seal the fracture. Instead, your doctor says you need a bone graft, a procedure that involves taking bone from elsewhere to fill the gap created by your injury.

You have a choice: Allow a surgeon to cut bone from another place in your body or get some new bone from a dead person. Both are risky: Bone from another body can carry disease, so doctors have to be careful about screening donors. Grafts from your own body can still be rejected and cause a painful infection or in more serious cases lead to nerve damage.

Nina Tandon wants to do away with both of these options. Instead, she wants to help you grow your own bone. From your own cells. In the exact shape and size you need.

Her company, called EpiBone, is close to making this reality. Using stem cells and a special type of incubator, she and her team have grown durable, living bones.

But the road ahead will be challenging. So far, only a few trials of bones grown in a lab have been tested in people, and few comprehensive studies of their longterm effects have been done. The field of regenerative medicine itself is only a little over a decade old.

Putting Things Back Together

nina tandon in lab

Before she ever saw the inside of a lab, seven-year-old Tandon made a hobby out of taking apart her parents' tube TV, learning how each piece functioned and fit together, and putting it back together again.

With EpiBone, 34-year-old Tandon has made a career out of putting things back together. But this time, ins! tead of cathodes and wires, she uses body parts.

Tandon began building human tissues as a biomedical engineering student at Columbia University. She started with the strips of muscle that line the heart, and moved on to the delicate layers of skin that protect our bodies from outside elements. In 2013, she used neonatal heart cells and a bit of electrical stimulation to build a 5mm by 5mm piece of engineered cardiac tissue capable of beating.

Now she's using stem cells to build personalized bones.

"I see this as being a part of a bigger story that’s integrating biology into part of the supply chain," Tandon says. "We're starting to see biology as a technological partner way beyond just making medicines."

How It Works
finished epibone

Every year, some 900,000 Americans undergo bone-related surgery. For people who've experienced severe trauma, lost bone to cancer, or were born with congenital defects, the EpiBone process could dramatically change how they experience surgery and how they recover.

First, Tandon and her team do a CT scan of the bone defect to get a complete picture of its exact size and shape. Then, using a procedure similar to liposuction, they take stem cells from the patient's fat cells. The cells EpiBone uses are called multipotent stem cells, meaning they are capable of developing into many different tissues, including bone.

One of the major strengths of EpiBone is that its materials come from the body's own cells, meaning it's far less likely they'll get rejected compared to foreign bone or synthetic materials.


Once harvested, the stem cells are placed inside a sort of incubator, or bioreactor, where they can grow along a delicate frame of animal bone and cartilage. The bioreactor is "like a fancy fish tank," says Tandon, that "gives cells all the nutrients they need to make a perfect product." Inside, the cells develop into a living, custom-built implant in three to four weeks.

Because each EpiBone graft is custom-built, it can be made to fit precisely in the desired location — a huge plus compared to a bulky chunk of synthetic bone or bone cut from elsewhere in your own body. That snug fit could help shorten surgery and recovery times, says Tandon.

The Challenges

Biomedical engineer Warren Grayson, who leads his own laboratory working on tissue engineering at Johns Hopkins University and is a shareholder in EpiBone, led the first study showing that bone grafts made from stem cells and grown in a bioreactor could work inside a living body. His team successfully grew a human jaw bone using stem cells from fat tissue. While Grayson clearly supports the technology, he says he sees "some challenges making it work in patients."

The first challenge is getting federal approval. While Tandon has shown her technology works in animals, she hasn't yet tested it on people. The Food and Drug Administration typically requires years of lengthy trials before rubber-stamping any drug. Because EpiBone is a living technology, the barrier for getting the federal go-ahead will likely be set far higher, says Case Western Reserve University professor of biomedical engineering Steven Eppell, who's patented a different approach that doesn't require the use of living materials.

Next is cost. Because each EpiBone graft would have to be custom-built with a patient's own stem cells, it will likely be expensive. One 2012 study pegged the cost of lab-grown bones at somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000, or about three to four times the cost of a traditional procedure.

"If you're asking if I'd put my money in it, I don't think I would," says Eppell, who is likely banking on his own approach to the same problem. "But if you're asking if I think this is the technology of the future, yes, it definitely is."

What's Next

Tandon's technology could be implemented in people as early as sometime in the next 5-10 years, she says. But there's a lot that would need to be shown between now and then.

So far, EpiBone has yet to test its specific process in humans, but the technique of using stem cells to grow bones has been demonstrated in humans in seven clinical studies. Still, because of the variety of techniques and studies used to test the technology in the past, it's been difficult for scientists to determine how well the technology works and if it's ready for broader applications.

Most of the studies have been small, for example, and the researchers didn't always compare the patients who participated in them with control patients who received traditional surgery or no surgery at all. For some of the earliest studies, researchers didn't maintain contact with patients long enough to perform longterm follow-ups of their procedures. And some of the surgeries involved using stem cells from bone marrow rather than fat tissue, which is the technique Tandon uses.

Tandon's team plans to test their product in human patients for the first time within 18 months. In the meantime, they must demonstrate that the technology can work. The company hired its first employees this month and are still in the process of moving into a bigger, newer space in New York City. Once they're settle! d, they' ll be spending the next year and a half doing more tests and trying to build larger, more complex bones.

"The time of building with living cells has arrived," Tandon says.

DON'T MISS: 10 Ideas That Are About To Change Medicine Forever

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Schools in the US love Google Chromebooks


When it comes to the Chromebook, Google isn't shy about its beliefs that it is the perfect computing device for education sectors around the world. And here in the US, schools and students have started to feel the same way. In a blog post, where it highlights different ways in which educational institutions in California are using Chromebooks, Google pointed out that recent IDC numbers have its line of computers as being the best-selling device in K-12 education. The report takes into consideration laptops and tablets, so this is a notable achievement for the technology company.

Some school districts like Montgomery County, MD, for example, are using over 50,000 Chromebooks, and that's after only beginning adoption earlier this year. But Google isn't quite satisfied, as it wants Chromebook to keep reaching even more students and schools -- especially outside its home soil, where resources are particularly limited.

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Source: Google


​Sony's waterproof SmartWatch 3 is on sale now for $250


Maybe third time's the charm. Sony's first Android Wear device is smartwatch number three, and it's gone on sale today, priced at $250. There's no circular screen, but there is a healthy does of IP68 waterproofing and a built-in GPS. Features like this could make the SmartWatch 3 arguably the most outdoors-friendly of the Wear crowd, even if its relatively meek design doesn't turn that many heads.

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Source: Google Play


Monday, November 10, 2014

Mozilla Is Helping Tor Get Bigger and Better


Mozilla Is Helping Tor Get Bigger and Better

Mozilla knows what's up. The non-profit is aware that the vast majority of its users think that privacy on the internet is falling apart, so it's launching a new strategic privacy initiative called Polaris. And you'll never guess who's on board. Just kidding, it's totally obvious: the Tor Project.



This Gold-Plated iPhone 6 Costs $7,300 And Features An Apple Logo Encrusted With Diamonds


Ademov gold-plated iPhone 6

If Apple's gold-tinted iPhone 6 isn't enough for you, now you can upgrade to the real thing.

For $7,300, luxury electronics store Ademov will sell you an iPhone 6 plated in 24-carat gold. Even the Apple logo is given special treatment, plated with 18-carat gold and encrusted with VS1 white diamonds.

To protect the gold surface, Ademov applies polish and a clear coat so you can handle the phone.

The $7,300 price tag also includes a custom wooden box, maintenance kit, and you can add engraving to the iPhone's gold surface for an additional cost.

In addition to its gold iPhone 6, Ademov also offers a gold-plated MacBook Air and other iMacs and Macbook Pros with colored plates and eye-popping anondized aluminum colors.

You can check out the gallery of pictures below, or head on over to Ademov if you're interested in placing an order.

ademov MacBook Pro space grey

ademov gold-plated iPhone 6

ademov blue imac

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Government AIDS Websites Leaked User Info For Years


Government AIDS Websites Leaked User Info For Years

There is a reason for doctor-patient confidentiality. Our health is a private matter, which is why the news that and another major government website directing people to AIDS-related treatments have left user data exposed is so disturbing.



Arduino sensors let ballerinas 'paint' with their pointes


Electronic Traces

What if you could paint with your shoes? Electronic Traces is a pair ballet pointe shoes that sends a dancer's movements to a nearby smartphone. Using Lilypad Arduinos, they record pressure and movement whenever they touch the ground. This data can then be visualized by an accompanying app, allowing dancers to view their performances after the fact, or compare them to others'.

Lilypad Ardunio pointe shoes

Electronic Traces is the degree project of Lesia Trubat, a designer who graduated from Barcelona's prestigious ELISAVA design school. Turbot has high hopes for the shoes, hoping the methods applied can be of use to other dance disciplines, and that they can aid in dance classes. Additionally, they could be used to bring an additional visual layer to dance performances, as demonstrated in the video below.

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Via: Prosthetic Knowledge, Make

Source: Lesia Trubat


Raspberry Pi's new computer is somehow even smaller and cheaper


Raspberry Pi Model A+

Everyone's favorite mini-computer has just gotten even smaller. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is today introducing the Model A+, a revamped version of its low-end Model A board priced at just $20 (£20 in the UK). While the processor and RAM -- a Broadcom BCM2835 SoC and 256MB, to be specific -- remain the same as its predecessor, the new model is far smaller at just 65mm (2.6 inches) in length versus the old model's 86mm (3.4 inches). It also draws less power and has improved audio circuitry.

The two other changes are directly taken from the higher-end Model B+. The Model A+ replaces the A's SD Card storage with MicroSD, and adds another 14 GPIO (General-purpose input-output) pins, bringing the total up to 40. This increase facilitates compatibility with the add-on boards introduced back in July. The Model A+ is available immediately in both the US and the UK, and while the Pi might not necessarily need to be any smaller, cutting down on size and price will definitely help get the foundation's work into more peoples' hands.


Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation blog