AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by James Delahunty

AfterDawn: News

Google acquires VR dev behind 'Job Simulator', 'Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality'

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 May 2017 9:25

Google acquires VR dev behind 'Job Simulator', 'Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality' Google has added VR studio Owlchemy Labs to its portfolio, promising to continue developing engaging, immersive games on multiple platforms.

Owlchemy Labs is the developer behind the popular Jobs Simulator VR title for HTC Vive, PlayStation VR and Oculus + Touch that many considered a proof of the potential for revival of virtual reality. More recently, Owlchemy released Rick & Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, compatible with the Vive and Oculus.

Now at Google, Owlchemy promises to continue making the kind of content they are famous for.

"Owlchemy Labs makes things that are absurd, highly polished, and filled to the brim with terrible puns & jokes that we love making. We both believe that VR is the most accessible computing platform and that there's a ton of work to be done, especially with regards to natural and intuitive interactions," the acquisition announcement reads.

"Together with Google, with which we share an incredible overlap in vision, we're free to pursue raw creation and sprint toward interesting problems in these early days of VR."


AfterDawn: News

WATCH: 'The Sims' is coming to iOS, Android

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 May 2017 9:02

WATCH: 'The Sims' is coming to iOS, Android EA has announced that the popular Sims franchise is coming to the iOS and Android mobile platforms soon.

Almost two decades on since its successful debut on PC, the mega-popular social simulator is coming to mobile devices properly.

The Sims Mobile will be a port of the game for iOS and Android, whereas previous non-Desktop and non-Console releases were more limited, such as the The Sims Freeplay.

As before, you can customize and personalize your own Sims from their physical appearance to their personality traits and their goals for life.

When your Sims accomplish their career goals and retire, you'll be rewarded with Heirlooms that unlock hobbies and careers for future generations, allowing new Sims to tell deeper stories.

No details were given by EA on the cost or release date of The Sims Mobile, but here is a trailer:


AfterDawn: News

Tesla taking Solar Roof pre-orders

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 May 2017 8:59

Tesla taking Solar Roof pre-orders Tesla has begun accepting pre-orders for its Solar Roof products ahead of installations that will begin in the United States in the summer.

Solar Roof aims to keep the typical appearance of a roof from street level. It combines both solar and non-solar tiles, based on your electricity consumptions estimates. A home that also charges an electric car frequently will require more solar tiles, for example.

It will generate electricity from sunlight during the day and with an integrated Powerwall, can make the energy available at night time too.

According to Tesla, the typical homeowner can expect to pay $21.85 per square foot for Solar Roof, which is lower than an estimate of $24.50 cited by Consumer Reports to be cost competitive.

The cost of a Solar Roof can be offset when taking the prolonged reduction of electricity bills into account.

However, since there are a wide variety of circumstances to take into account, Tesla has created a Solar Roof calculator that lets homeowners estimate the upfront price of Solar Roof, as well as the value of the energy it can generate for their home.

The calculator takes roof size, the average local price of electricity, and how much sunlight a neighborhood receives annually into account.


AfterDawn: News

Sprint will launch 5G network in 2019

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 May 2017 8:57

Sprint will launch 5G network in 2019 Following announcements from its major competitors, wireless carrier Sprint has announced it will launch its own 5G services in 2019.

On Wednesday, Qualcomm Technologies, SoftBank and Sprint announced a joint agreement to develop technologies for 5G, including the 3GPP New Radio (NR) standard in Band 41 (2.5GHz) for accelerated wide-scale 5G deployments.

"The companies plan to provide commercial services and devices in late 2019," the trio said in a press statement.

Unfortunately that's as far as the details go. Given that Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have already spoken on their plans for their next generation mobile networks, Sprint wants its customers to know it's not asleep at the wheel.

Verizon is already trialling 5G technology in Ann Arbor, Michigan, while AT&T will rollout a 5G network starting in 2018. T-Mobile has a similar timeframe set.

AfterDawn: News

Music on YouTube prevents piracy, study claims

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 May 2017 8:52

Music on YouTube prevents piracy, study claims Research based on exclusive YouTube data and a survey of thousands of users in multiple countries shows that YouTube reduces music piracy.

The study itself was commissioned from RBB Economics by Google itself, as it tries to answer the question of whether YouTube is a net positive or negative for the music industry. The video sharing giant has repeatedly come under scrutiny from music companies alleging low returns to the industry from music on its service.

RBB Economics published its first paper as part of the study today, which tests the cannibalization effect of YouTube: whether or not the availability of music on YouTube cuts down use of other, potentially more lucrative, streaming services.

The researchers found that the absence of music on YouTube would instead push users to lower value music channels, including piracy websites.

"In the absence of YouTube, time spent listening to pirated content would increase by 29%, suggesting that people are going to YouTube instead of pirating music," the study finds.


AfterDawn: News

Offline viewing now easier in Chrome on Android

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 May 2017 12:33

Offline viewing now easier in Chrome on Android Google has made some improvements to the offline viewing of webpages in the Android version of its Chrome web browser.

Users of the browser already download more than 45 million webpages per week since the feature was added to the browser last year.

Now, Chrome developers are just adding some improvements to make it even easier to accomplish.

You can now long-press on any link to get the option to download it, and you can do the same for an article suggestion on the new tab page.

Once you attempt to visit a webpage and are greeted with the "You are Offline" page, there is now an option to download the page automatically as soon as it becomes reachable.

Last but not least, the New Tab page will also display previously downloaded pages tagged with a new offline badge.

Improvements like this can be helpful for users with intermittent data coverage, or when dealing with an unstable remote server.

AfterDawn: News

FCC website hit by attack following John Oliver plea

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 May 2017 12:28

FCC website hit by attack following John Oliver plea Host of HBO show had called on the public to flood the FCC with comments opposed to repealing net neutrality regulations.

Last Week Tonight host John Oliver made the plea in a segment on his weekly show on Sunday, mirroring a similar plea he had made a few years previously that led to the FCC's servers being overwhelmed with traffic.

This time, however, it doesn't appear to be concerned citizens that have caused an issue for the FCC's services. Instead, the regulator claims it was deliberately attacked on May 8.

"These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC," chief information officer Dr David Bray said.

"While the comment system remained up and running the entire time, these distributed denial of service (DDoS) events tied up the servers and prevented them from responding to people attempting to submit comments."

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said earlier this year that Net Neutrality rules would be reviewed by the regulator, adding that the rules had impacted investment, innovation and job creation.

AfterDawn: News

Windows 10 running on half a billion devices

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 May 2017 12:24

Windows 10 running on half a billion devices Microsoft has hit a milestone with the announcement that its Windows 10 consumer OS is now running on 500 million active devices.

The previous milestone was reached in September last year, when Windows 10 crossed the 400 million installed threshold. While adding 100 million additional devices in the mean-time is good news for Microsoft, it does suggest the company won't hit 1 billion devices for its flagship OS as early as intended.

Predictably, Windows 10 share growth has slowed quite a bit since the Redmond-based giant stopped offering free upgrades from older operating systems. Microsoft had hoped to reach 1 billion devices by the end of 2018, but now is targeting that milestone for some time in 2019.

Still, Microsoft did note a strong picking among businesses for the Windows 10 OS.

via: Engadget

AfterDawn: News

Microsoft pushes update for serious Windows flaw

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 May 2017 12:20

Microsoft pushes update for serious Windows flaw Microsoft has quickly patched an unmasked security vulnerability in its software that potentially allowed attackers to hijack a PC.

The remarkable thing about this particular flaw is its association with Microsoft's anti-malware tool, Windows Defender. An attacker could target a victim with a malicious e-mail, an instant message or a crafted link.

According to reports, the victim wouldn't even have had to open an e-mail as the exploit would be triggered once the anti-malware tool scanned it.

The bug in question affected Windows 8, 8.1 and Windows 10, and was patched by an out-of-cycle update released by Microsoft in advance of the so-called "Patch Tuesday" round-up.

Researchers at Google's ProjectZero discovered the flaw at the weekend and expressed delight at Microsoft's speedy response.


AfterDawn: News

WATCH: Microsoft's HoloLens utilized in spine surgery solution

Written by James Delahunty @ 06 May 2017 12:26

WATCH: Microsoft's HoloLens utilized in spine surgery solution Microsoft's HoloLens mixed reality system has been integrated into a new spine surgery solution from Scopis.

The Holographic Navigation Platform has been developed to offer greater precision and speed to surgeons, and better outcomes to patients undergoing open and minimally-invasive spinal procedures. By integrating HoloLens, surgeons can benefit from mixed reality in a number of useful ways. For example, surgeons can plan the positioning and alignment of pedicle screws during multiple vertebrae fixation surgeries.

While wearing the HoloLens glasses, the surgeon can see the planned positioning of the pedicle screws projected into view, overlaid exactly onto the patient.

"This allows the surgeon to find the screws' planned positions faster and to align surgical instruments interactively with the holographic visualization," Scopis claims in press material.

Watch Scopis' video on the Holographic Navigation Platform below:


AfterDawn: News

Uber's Greyball prompts criminal probe in U.S.

Written by James Delahunty @ 06 May 2017 12:16

Uber's Greyball prompts criminal probe in U.S. Uber's controversial use of 'Greyball' to evade regulators and law enforcement is now the subject of a criminal investigation, according to a report.

Greyball would tag certain users and show them a different version of the standard app. Tagged users would see false data about the location of nearby Uber vehicles. Using Greyball, Uber protected itself and its drivers from fraudulent activity and also to prevent drivers from potential physical harm.

However, the same system was reportedly used to thwart regulators. The system identified local officials and would make it impossible for them to hail a real Uber ride. This was allegedly done to protect drivers from fines or from having their cars impounded.

In December 2014, Uber allegedly used Greyball to evade 16 Portland Bureau of Transportation officials, denying them dozens of rides, according to the Reuters news agency.

It has now cited sources in reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into Uber's use of Greyball.

AfterDawn: News

WATCH: SpaceX rocket landing as you've never seen one before

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 May 2017 9:09

WATCH: SpaceX rocket landing as you've never seen one before SpaceX video shows the landing of the rocket booster right from stage separation to the landing zone, both from the ground and from the rocket itself.

Videos showing SpaceX landing the booster stage of its Falcon 9 rockets are not new, but this webcast is clearly their best yet. It was broadcast today, covering the NROL-76 launch. Due the classified nature of the mission, SpaceX did not broadcast video of the second stage.

This presented the rocket firm with an opportunity however, to broadcast the landing of the first stage of the rocket from stage separation back to the surface of Earth. In a split-screen broadcast, SpaceX tracked the booster as it fell at high speed toward the Earth, oriented itself and slowed itself down to land safely. It also had an onboard camera as before.

The landing was a success and the video footage, as well as the detailed narration, gives the rest of us an idea of how tricky this manoeuvre is.

Watch the NROL-76 Launch Webcast below (the launch happens around 17:50 into the video).


AfterDawn: News

VIDEO: Elon Musk's vision for avoiding traffic with tunnels

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 May 2017 5:05

VIDEO: Elon Musk's vision for avoiding traffic with tunnels Mr Musk's 'Boring Company' has shown a concept video for a subterranean network of tunnels that zips cars from place to place.

If you have spent time listening to Elon Musk opine, then you probably have heard him passionately complaining about traffic. The SpaceX & Tesla Motors CEO had tweeted last year that he was going to avoid traffic by getting a tunnel boring machine.

Apparently, it wasn't just a passing thought that Elon decided to tweet to the world, but a statement of intent. A SpaceX employee recently leaked a picture of a tunnel boring machine with a company logo for "The Boring Company" painted on. The photo was taken down but not before Business Insider grabbed and re-posted it.

Last week, 'The Boring Company' released a concept video. In the mock up, cars are seen parking on a street-level platform before being lowered into a tunnel and whisked off at high speed to a location and being elevated to the street.

Here is that video:


AfterDawn: News

PlayStation 5 could arrive in 2018?

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 May 2017 4:32

PlayStation 5 could arrive in 2018? An analyst is predicting that Sony will speed up its console refresh cycle and release the PlayStation 5 in the second half of 2018.

The gap between the original PlayStation console and the PlayStation 2 console was six years (1994, 2000). Sony then released the PlayStation 3 console six years later, in 2006. Back in late 2013, Sony dropped the PlayStation 4 onto the market, this time the gap between the debut was seven years.

However, Macquarie Capital Securities analyst Damian Thong is predicting that the next major console release from Sony will be in the second half of 2018, just five years since the original PS4. Thong had accurately predicted the release of the PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro.

There are many reasons why Thong could be proven right again. With the release of the PS4, Sony switched to x86 architecture with AMD chips, as did rivals Microsoft with the Xbox One. It is very unlikely that Sony would opt to switch to custom processors with a PS5, and so maintaining backward compatibility with the PS4 titles shouldn't be a problem.

Market forces also may speed up the refresh cycle for the iconic console. More than ever, games consoles are competing with mobile platforms, low cost devices and increasingly affordable and convenient high-quality PC gaming. In this changing market, a seven year gap between PlayStation releases is probably unlikely.

AfterDawn: News

Turkey blocks access to Wikipedia

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 May 2017 4:13

Turkey blocks access to Wikipedia The Turkish authorities have blocked access to Wikipedia, citing a 'smear campaign' against the country.

The block was announced by the BTK telecommunications watchdog, citing a law that allows it to block access to content on the Internet if it is deemed a threat to national security, or if it is obscene. has been blocked by the authorities on the grounds that it is engaged in a smear campaign against Turkey by linking the country to militant groups.

"Instead of coordinating against terrorism, it has become part of an information source which is running a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena," Anadolu, a state-controlled news organization, reported.

The ban will only be lifted if the online encyclopaedia complies with demands from the Turkish government, according to the Reuters news agency.

Censorship of this kind is likely to concern rights' campaigners who have blown the whistle on infringements on freedom of speech and other rights in Turkey in the past year.

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