Category Archives: Internet and Computer

Vehicle Could One Day Be Your Uber

With every passing year, we grow more disappointed by the fact that science fiction hasn’t come true, and we still aren’t riding around in flying cars. But maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what a flying car would actually look like.

German startup Volocopter (formerly E-Volo) has been developing drone-like VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) vehicles for the better part of a decade, and this week at CES, the electric-powered Volocopter 200VC took its first autonomous flight in North America at CES in Las Vegas. During Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s keynote address, Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter joined him onstage to announce a partnership between the two companies and kick off the flight demonstration.

Last year, automotive corporation Daimler invested $30 million in Volocopter after a succesful test flight in Dubai and the launch of an autonomous air taxi testing program with the city.

The partnership with Intel serves to bolster Volocopter’s safety and data processing.

Volocopter is not the only air taxi at CES. Workhorse Group is also showcasing its SureFly “octocopter” at the show, and Bell Helicopter unveiled an “air taxi” in partnership with Uber.

Some Surprising Facts About Wikipedia

While bosses and teachers might dub it as an unreliable website, Wikipedia’s popularity is undeniable. Today, Wikipedia has 299 different language versions, more than 32.5 million active editors and an average 600 new articles a day just on the English Wikipedia site. It’s safe to say, since its launch in January 2001 by tech entrepreneurs Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, Wikipedia has shaken up the internet.

Quickly rising to prominence, Wikipedia was one of the first user-generated online encyclopedias where people from the general public could become editors and contribute content.

From Wikipedia theme songs to celebrations, here are 15 facts about Wikipedia that you probably didn’t know.

“I’ve seen robots do much more complicated things than these ones are doing now,” a tech worker named Adam told The Daily Beast. “So I’m a little underwhelmed. You look at stuff on YouTube, I mean robots can operate on your brain and do really precise things now. These are a little too mechanical.”

That’s a good thing. After all, stripping is one of the few industries that hasn’t been impacted by automation.

Robot Strippers for CES

Let’s just get this out of the way: most women do not want to go to a strip club, especially during a business conference.

But, that’s the intent behind Sapphire Las Vegas’s introduction of — we’re really in the future now — robot strippers to its stage during this year’s CES.

“We were looking for something creative to do during CES that would sort of match what was happening in town,” Sapphire Managing Partner Peter Feinstein told The Daily Beast in an article with the excellent headline, “Do Androids Cry After Stripping in Vegas for CES?”

He continued, “If you’re six people from a company and there’s two women and four guys, you can still [come] here and have some fun and see the robots and not feel like you have to be part of a strip club.”

It’s clear Sapphire doesn’t take the whole thing too seriously. The club placed buckets for tips near the robots that read “MIT bound” and “Need money for batteries.”

Of course, launching a stunt such as this around an expo is usually a surefire way to get media attention. But, it’s also a smart strategy to come up with new things to appeal to potential new customers. CES attendees are in town to check out the latest technology, and may not want to spend the time gawking at scantily dressed women. This is giving customers what they want.

That is, if what they want are female-figured robots with security cameras for heads shaking their robutts. (The robots were created by an artist named Giles Walker as a statement on voyeurism.)

The plan seems to have been on target. After all, people weren’t offended. Instead, they wanted more advanced stripper robots.

“I’ve seen robots do much more complicated things than these ones are doing now,” a tech worker named Adam told The Daily Beast. “So I’m a little underwhelmed. You look at stuff on YouTube, I mean robots can operate on your brain and do really precise things now. These are a little too mechanical.”

That’s a good thing. After all, stripping is one of the few industries that hasn’t been impacted by automation.

We Found 8 Awesome Solutions to Boost Your Productivity This Year

Mindset shifts, goal-setting techniques and leather-bound planners will only go so far in helping you get more done this year. For many, data is playing a bigger role in productivity.

Today, when we need to remember something, rest or keep moving, we can now monitor how we’re faring in our environments and adjust them accordingly. And when we need to access our work quickly, connectivity and increased security can help us be productive from nearly anywhere. For instance, we have an idea of how desk height and lighting affect output, but technological and financial barriers have previously limited most people for having concrete proof of what works best for them.

To see what is on the horizon in terms of data being used to boost productivity, we checked out a range of new devices on display at CES this year to help you focus, de-stress, sleep and manage life’s little details.

Click through the slideshow to see how tech can help us accomplish more than ever thought possible with some simple-to-use tools that reduce the complexities of everyday life.

The Major Flaws Affecting PCs and Smartphones

Over the next few weeks there’s a very good chance your PC or laptop will take a significant performance hit, possibly up to 30 percent slower. Worse is the fact you can do nothing about it, as the slowdown is a side effect of fixing a major design flaw in Intel processors.

If your computer uses an Intel processor produced in the last decade, it probably contains the design flaw. Intel has not yet released a list of affected chips; it’s keeping the details under lock and key until operating system patches have been released for Linux, Windows and macOS.

As The Register reports, the flaw is thought to allow user programs to gain access to protected kernel memory areas. The kernel is the core of an operating system and controls anything and everything running on it. It is therefore extremely important the kernel memory remains secure due to the sensitive information it can contain.

Although nobody outside of Intel knows the specifics, the flaw is thought to be so serious it could allow any software, even a bit of JavaScript running in a web browser, to access and steal data stored in the protected kernel memory. So that includes your passwords, login keys or any files that happen to be cached when unauthorized access occurs.

The vulnerability alone is bad enough, but the fix makes the situation even worse. Closing the security hole will result in a significant performance hit to each system. Current estimates suggest that hit could be as high as 30 percent. You read that right, once your system is patched it may run 30 percent slower for certain tasks.

There is no way around this if your system uses an Intel chip. Some newer processor models are thought to be immune, or at least better able to work around the flaw, but until Intel releases specifics we can’t confirm which ones. If you are running an AMD processor, you’re fine. AMD confirmed its processors are not vulnerable.

Linux kernel patches are already available, with Microsoft expected to roll out the Windows patch with next week’s Patch Tuesday. Also keep in mind this flaw will impact all of Intel’s major corporate customers. Imagine how many Intel chips are running inside Amazon’s or Facebook’s datacenters, for example, and what a performance hit will mean for them.

“Contrary to some reports, any performance impacts are workload-dependent, and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time,” the company insisted.

The chip maker didn’t go into detail about the exact problem, but suggested Intel products aren’t the only ones affected. “Based on the analysis to date, many types of computing devices — with many different vendors’ processors and operating systems — are susceptible to these exploits,” it said.

Furthermore, “Intel believes these exploits do not have the potential to corrupt, modify or delete data.”

The company originally decided to disclose the bug next week, but opted to release a statement on Wednesday to address what it considered to be inaccurate media reports. It’s now delivering the software and firmware fixes to its partners.

“Check with your operating system vendor or system manufacturer and apply any available updates as soon as they are available,” Intel said.

Tech That Will Probably Die

The tech world operates just like the natural one: weeding out the chaff through cold, unsentimental natural selection. Buying habits, user behavior, societal trends, and the forward march of technological innovation always leave a heap of failed or outdated products, companies, and trends in the dust. Whether it’s a veteran device struck by the hammer of obsolescence or a new glorious entry into the Museum of Failure, for some tech it’s simply time to die.

We love predicting what tech will meet its demise in the coming year, but we don’t always get it right. In 2016, we made 11 death pool predictions. Let’s take a look at how we did:

1. GoPro. Not quite. GoPro is still releasing new action cams like the Hero 6, but its stock continues to tank as the company enters what seems like a long, slow death spiral.

2. Android Wear. Nope! Android Wear may have a murky future, but it’s not dead.

3. Windows Phones. RIP.

4. Twitter, Inc. Hell no, baby! Twitter still loses gobs of money and can barely run itself competently, but thanks to our Tweeter-in-Chief, Twitter has become an addictive dumpster fire we can’t help stare at while slow-roasting our poor souls.

5. The Galaxy Note Brand. Wrong again. Samsung somehow bounced back from its fiery phone fiasco to release a pretty great Galaxy Note 8 ($929.99 at Samsung).

6. The Barnes & Noble Nook. Somehow, Amazon’s Kindle line hasn’t quite put the final nail in Nook’s coffin. B&N announced new $50 tablets earlier in the year and began selling a new line of Nook GlowLight 3s this holiday season.

7. YouTube Red. Nope, still kickin’.

8. Google Cardboard. Kind of. Google’s DIY augmented reality headset is still available, but Google is more focused on the Daydream View ($89.90 at Amazon) as the mixed reality space grows crowded with a bevy of Windows partner headsets.

9. Marissa Mayer’s Tenure as CEO. This one was a gimme.

10. Internet Explorer. We’re going to give ourselves this one. IE still technically exists, but Microsoft Edge is the default Windows browser now and, by the way, it rocks.

11. Elon Musk. I don’t know why we keep putting Elon on here, but it stops now. ‘Ol Musky has too many irons in the fire — Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company, Hyperloop, Neuralink, SolarCity — for his tech to die anytime soon (or ever, if he colonizes Mars). Let the man have his lavish product reveals and pretend to be Tony Stark. He’s got too many horcruxes to be defeated.
I don’t want to throw our previous tech Nostradamus under the bus (because I’ll probably be just as wrong a year from now), but technically we only went 3/11 last year. Oof, nowhere to go but up. Please, noble commenters, don’t be shy with your opinions on this year’s picks and those technologies you don’t think will survive to see 2018. Now, on to this year’s predictions.

Structures to Improve Your Presentations

Giving presentations, whether during meetings with co-workers or to potential new clients, can often seem intimidating. But luckily, there are tried and true ways to organize your information so that it is both easy to present and clear to your audience.

In his book, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, Christopher Booker explains how and why all stories boil down to one of seven plot structures, and how these can act as outlines for effectively presenting all sorts of information. By organizing presentations to follow these story structures, your audience will recognize the familiar flow, and find it easy to understand you and your content.

From overcoming a monster to rags to riches, check out this QuidCorner infographic to see how these familiar storylines can help your next PowerPoint leave a lasting impression.

Bitcoin is only eight and a half years old, but it’s the oldest and most highly valued cryptocurrency out there. In such a short time, it’s had a rocky and controversial history, but it’s also attracted a fair share of high-profile supporters. Click through to read 11 bits about Bitcoin that will make you at least sound like you know what you’re talking about next time it inevitably comes up.

Things You Need to Know About Bitcoin

Even the most tech savvy among us have a hard time wrapping their heads around Bitcoin. It’s a hot topic and a frequent point of discussion among investors, entrepreneurs and stock traders, so you should want to know all about it.

For starters, here’s an overly simplified explanation of Bitcoin: It’s a digital currency (there are more than 800 now) that isn’t controlled by a central authority such as a government or bank. It’s created by “miners,” who use computers and specialized hardware to process transactions, secure the currency’s network and collect bitcoins in exchange. Supporters say it allows for more secure transactions over the internet. That’s in part due to blockchain, a technology that records cryptocurrency transactions chronologically in a public digital ledger.

Bitcoin is only eight and a half years old, but it’s the oldest and most highly valued cryptocurrency out there. In such a short time, it’s had a rocky and controversial history, but it’s also attracted a fair share of high-profile supporters. Click through to read 11 bits about Bitcoin that will make you at least sound like you know what you’re talking about next time it inevitably comes up.

Always Be King of the Mountain

The highest point for any tech company isn’t when it launches its first product, or closes a big round of funding. It’s the moment when the company name makes that magical transition from noun to verb.

Think about when “Have you heard of Uber?” became “I’m Ubering home.”
Or, when “Look it up on Google” became “Google it.” That is true success.

It’s easy to assume that companies that have completed the transition from noun to verb are untouchable — that they will never be toppled from their position of market dominance. But this isn’t always the case. Uber’s market share has shrunk by nearly 20 percent since 2014 — a fall that can be attributed more to corporate scandals and declining public opinion than any flaw in its product.

Companies that enjoy near-monopolistic power over their market become vulnerable when their reputation begins to decline. This is precisely why the search engine market is poised for disruption. Google — which today enjoys a cool 75 percent share of the search engine market — has seen its reputation shaken over the past year by a series of issues. And this should not be a surprise: Search is not a solved problem; there’s still plenty of room for innovation and disruption.

Here are three reasons why the search industry is ripe for disruption.

Filter bubbles
Filter bubbles are the byproduct of social algorithms utilized by Google and most other search platforms. When a user enters a term into a search engine, the engine’s algorithms take into account what they know about that user’s preferences and interests based on his or her online activity. The algorithms then prioritize search results that are tailored to that particular user’s preferences.

The result? Conservatives are fed conservative content, liberals are fed liberal content, millennials are fed millennial content and, in general, everyone lives in a personalized bubble where his or her own ideas and prejudices are continually reinforced and never challenged.

The term “filter bubble” was coined back in 2011 by Eli Pariser, chief executive of Upworthy and board president of MoveOn.org. “Even if you’re logged out,” said Pariser in his now-famous TED Talk, “there are 57 signals that Google looks at — everything from what kind of computer you’re on to what kind of browser you’re using, to where you’re located — that it uses to personally tailor your query results.”

Moreover, the relevance of these “filter bubbles” has increased over the past 12 months as their dangers have begun to manifest more seriously in public life. Leading figures like Bill Gates and Angela Merkel have spoken up about the problem, which has been blamed for increasing political polarization and for harming civic conversation in democratic countries.

Reasons Brick and Mortars Will Always Succeed

Technology has made it so you can start a new business without even paying for a lease. Simply using your laptop and smartphone, you can create an ecommerce site and have customers buying items from you with minimal expense.

But technology solutions aren’t always as helpful and convenient as they’re cracked up to be. A brick-and-mortar store is still a huge plus for many types of businesses, especially if you sell products that people want to try out.

Demand for commercial real estate is expected to remain strong, with vacancy rates among retail spaces forecast to be on a downward trend next year and into 2019, according to the National Association of Realtors®. When searching for a physical store for your business, it helps to direct that search through a Realtor®, a member of the National Association of Realtors®, who works hard to stay aware of trends and often have insights and access to resources a non-member real estate professional doesn’t have.

Here are five of the benefits to a physical storefront that are worth considering.

1. They allow customer sampling.
Despite the popularity of online shopping, customers still prefer to try your products in person. Many shoppers research online before leaving the house. Some customers even head to the physical storefront first to try a product, intending to buy online, and end up making the purchase while at the location.

As International Council of Shopping Centers president Tom McGee said, more than 90 percent of sales still happen in a store. Many retailers have even experimented with in-store product demos, with the intention of engaging customers beyond store shelves.

2. They establish community membership.
As easy as shopping online is, a surprising number of people still prefer to “shop local.” Almost 75 percent of customers prioritize a product’s origin when making a buying decision. Having a physical location means a business can establish itself as a proud member of the community, which offers an edge when winning those “buy local” customers.

For best results, your business should participate in community events including Chamber of Commerce luncheons and local festivals.

3. They make returns and pickups easy.
For customers, one of the major downsides to buying online is the headache and cost associated with shipping returns. Retailers will lose money if you let customers ship items back at your own cost, but you won’t keep shoppers long if you require them to pay shipping fees themselves. Allowing in-store returns helps alleviate that hardship, while getting the customer back through your doors.

Another growing trend is the “buy online, pick up in store” concept. Home Depot estimates that 40 percent of all its online orders leverage its physical stores in one way or another.

Some customers will opt to pick up their online purchases in-store to avoid paying extra shipping fees. Many others, however, will opt in because the store’s location is convenient or they are planning to stop in anyway. Retailers might consider offering discounts to customers who pick up their purchases in-store. After all, a customer in the door is an opportunity to make another sale.