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EFF Launches Write-to-Congress Tool
July 17, 2015
Email has made communicating with elected officials easy, but a new tool from the Electronic Frontier Foundation is going to make it easier yet. Democracy.io allows you to send an electronic missive to your U.S. representative and senators with a minimum of clicks. Typically, you'd have to go to your legislators' websites separately to make your views known.
Pluto Pix Push Interest in Space Exploration
July 17, 2015
Photos transmitted from 4 billion miles away by NASA's New Horizons Pluto space probe have sparked fresh interest in space exploration. New Horizons traveled more than 3 billion miles over a nine-and-a-half year stretch to reach the Pluto system. A close-up image of a region near Pluto's equator shows mountains reaching 11,000 feet in height. The lack of craters suggests they're relatively new.
Feds Deliver Darkode's Doomsday
July 16, 2015
United States law enforcement agencies and their counterparts in 19 countries on Wednesday announced they had dismantled the Darkode hackers' forum. Charges, arrests and searches were launched against 70 Darkode members and associates around the world, and 12 people associated with the forum were indicted in the U.S. The agencies also served several search warrants in the U.S.
Google Photos Backup Keeps Collecting Until You Make It Stop
July 15, 2015
Uninstalling Google's Photos app doesn't turn off backup sync, meaning photos taken with Android devices could be saved to the company's cloud storage, even if the user doesn't intend to store them there, Google acknowledged on Tuesday. The issue came to light last week, when a BizJournals editor reported finding hundreds of family photos he had deleted from his phone stored in Google Photos.
Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata Leaves Legacy of Charm
July 14, 2015
After more than a decade of shaping fan-forward Nintendo philosophies, President Satoru Iwata died Saturday at 55. Iwata had been struggling with cancer for about a year. The one-time programmer and long-time video game enthusiast worked his way through the Nintendo ranks. He succeeded Hiroshi Yamauchi in 2002, becoming the first Nintendo president who wasn't a member of the Yamauchi family.
Tech Tools to Make Your Next Move Less Painful
July 13, 2015
My wife and I just completed a move from California to Oregon, and it was far less painful than it could have been, thanks to technology. It used to be incredibly painful to move. While a lot of the pain is still there, technology has advanced a lot since we last moved -- about 18 years ago -- and at least some parts of the process now are far easier.
'Pac-Man' Satellite to Munch on Space Junk
July 11, 2015
There are more than 300,000 pieces of debris larger than 1 cm circulating less than 2,000km above Earth, and EPFL is working on a solution to the problem. Its CleanSpace One satellite project has passed a milestone toward its goal of launching a cleanup satellite to capture and destroy its SwissCube, which has been orbiting Earth for more than five years.
Gadget Ogling: Unobtrusive Audio, Connected Flora, and a Water Jet Cleaner
July 11, 2015
Dot is billing itself as the world's smallest Bluetooth headset. That might be mere marketing claptrap, but there's no doubt it's an impressive piece of kit. It runs for six hours of playback and nine hours of call time before it needs to recharge, and it has an 80-hour standby time. When Dot does need more power, you can simply plug it into the protective case.
IBM-Led Team Pulls Off Major Chip Feat
July 9, 2015
IBM Research on Thursday announced that an alliance it leads has produced the first 7nm node test chips with functioning transistors. Big Blue's partners are GlobalFoundries, Samsung and the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute's Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, or SUNY Poly CNSE. The alliance sought to develop industry-first innovations.
Gunpoder Malware Masquerades as Lesser Evil
July 9, 2015
Palo Alto Networks' Unit 42 team on Tuesday published a report on Gunpoder, a family of Android malware that can evade detection scans by pretending to be adware. Cong Zheng and Zhi Xu authored the report. The team discovered the new Android malware last November. Its new report aims to spur cooperation within the security community to mount defenses against the threat.
Gentlemen, Start Your 3D Printers!
July 9, 2015
Local Motors this week unveiled designs for what it hopes will be the first consumer-ready 3D-printed electric cars. The company plans to build two versions of the Reload Redacted vehicle, based on a design by engineer Kevin Lo, who took first place in the Project [REDACTED] competition. Local Motors earlier this year demonstrated a concept vehicle at the Detroit Auto Show.
Apple Watch Sales Sink
July 8, 2015
After a glorious first week of sales following its introduction in April, sales have slid rapidly for the Apple Watch, according to Slice Intelligence. Sales have plummeted to fewer than 20,000 units a day, down from an average of 200,000 a day during its launch week, when it sold 1.5 million units, reported Slice, which measures online purchasing activity through an app used by consumers.
Artificial Intelligence Dreamtime
July 8, 2015
Google researchers last month reported progress in advancing the image classification and speech recognition capabilities of artificial neural networks. Image classification and speech recognition tools are based on well-known mathematical methods, but why certain models work while others don't has been hazy. To help unravel the mystery, the team developed a process dubbed "inceptionism."
GoPro Whittles Down Hero4 Action Cam
July 6, 2015
GoPro's latest action cam features something the company's fans haven't seen for eight years: a product redesign. The Hero4 Session is a 1-inch cube video camera that weighs just 2.6 ounces -- less than half the heft of an iPhone. Unlike previous GoPro models, you won't need a case to protect it from getting wet. It's designed to withstand a soaking in up to 10 meters of water.
Musk Donates $10 Million to Keep AI From Going Rogue
July 6, 2015
The Future of Life Institute on Monday announced 37 winners of grant funding provided by Elon Musk and the Open Philanthropy Project. Musk contributed $10 million toward the effort. A total of $7 million will be awarded to fund the research teams for up to three years, most starting in September. Another $4 million is available to support research grants for areas that emerge as most promising.
Rick Perry and the Texas vs. California Tech War
July 6, 2015
A couple of weeks ago, I was waiting to do a CNBC slot on what to expect from the Apple Watch in Asia -- the entire smartwatch class is having a lot of issues for a variety of reason -- and I ran into Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, as he was coming out of the same studio I was about to enter. For some reason, I thought he was going to be a typical entitled stuck-up jerk, but he wasn't.
Microsoft Anchors Minecraft Strategy to Education
July 5, 2015
Microsoft wants to find ways to assist the pioneering teachers who have taught pupils through the sandbox construction game Minecraft. The company earlier this week launched its Minecraft in Education initiative to turn the pioneers into pillars. There was puzzlement over Microsoft's end game last September, when it purchased Mojang, the studio behind the multiplatform hit.
The Tour de France's Tech Transformation
July 3, 2015
The 102nd running of the longest sporting event in the world, the Tour de France, begins Saturday. The race first took place in 1903, and it has continued every year since, except during WWI and WWII. In the 112 years since that first race, the technology utilized by the riders has changed dramatically. Today, the racers ride bikes with frames made of advanced carbon fiber.
Faster, Cheaper Fiber Could Rev Up Internet
June 30, 2015
Researchers have found a way to significantly improve the performance of fiber networks, which could lead to benefits for both consumers and Internet service providers. Information in fiber optic cables degrades with the distance it travels. When you try to increase the speed at which the data is traveling by boosting the power in the network, degradation gets worse.
Microsoft Is Looking More Like the House Nadella Built
June 30, 2015
Some aspects of CEO Satya Nadella's vision for Microsoft are becoming more clear. For one thing, the company's interest in advertising is seriously on the wane. Microsoft reportedly has handed off most of its digital advertising sales business to AOL. Microsoft will retain control of its search advertising sales, however, and Bing will replace Google as the engine powering AOL's consumer searches.
Yelp Study Blasts Google for Screwing With Search
June 30, 2015
Google has been tampering with the responses its search engine gives to queries and, as a result, has been hurting social welfare, alleges a survey conducted by Michael Luca, a Harvard Business School economist, and Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and former FTC advisor. Yelp sponsored the research. The team last week sent a paper reporting the results to the European Commission.
ISS Cargo Lost in SpaceX Falcon Flameout
June 29, 2015
The SpaceX CRS-7 rocket failed minutes after Sunday's launch, blowing up in mid-air. Just after T+2 minutes, when the craft's altitude was 32 km, its speed was 1 km/second, and its downrange distance was 30 km, its flight path apparently began curving downward. Three explosions then occurred. "There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted.
Uncle Sam Wants a Hoverbike
June 29, 2015
The United States Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has commissioned two companies to develop hoverbike technology. The Army intends to operate the hoverbike as a new class of tactical reconnaissance vehicle. "This isn't for jungles or mountains, but could be ideal for patrols over deserts, swamps, or other open areas with mixed terrain," suggested tech analyst Rob Enderle.
The Encryption Software Scuffle
June 29, 2015
In the face of encryption that could block brute force attempts for years, law enforcement agencies at every level have been calling for keys that allow investigators to crack open smartphones and court cases alike. Some of the world's leading tech companies and privacy advocates have called for the White House to stand against any proposal to weaken the security software on consumer products.

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