Posted: December 7th, 2016, 9:02pm EST
A few days ago, Amazon unveiled the retail store of the future. You walk in with your smartphone, get the items you wanted, and walk out. In Amazon Go shops there won’t be a cash register or lines. Amazon’s advanced artificial intelligence will handle everything that’s related to the payment and checkout experiences of shopping. It will replace cashiers with something more efficient, but this advanced tech is also slightly creepy. DON’T MISS: Amazon's 12 best daily deals: Black Friday returns for one 4K TV, deep Apple Watch discounts, more In order for Amazon to actually know what you picked up from a shelf, how many items you got, and what things you put back, it needs to monitor you. To do that, it’ll track you in a variety of ways, from interacting with your phone, to simply following you around in the store with its cameras and advanced face and product recognition software. Amazon has not really explained how everything works, other than telling us that everything works. But, as FastCoDesign explains, Amazon will mix the special Amazon Go smartphone app with “some combination of machine learning, computer vision, and sensors,” to keep track of your shopping. The idea is brilliant and should make traditional shopping obsolete. At the same time, it’s also a little creepy. To work, you’ll likely need to accept Amazon’s tracking every time you go into a store. The app on your phone will likely trigger tracking features once you step inside the store. Cameras will monitor your face to link you to your Amazon account that you’ll use for paying, and other cameras will track your interaction with products on the shelves. Again, Amazon won’t say exactly how it does it. But the scenario above is plausible considering what’s possible with sophisticated technology today. How will Amazon protect the data it collects? Will Amazon store that data to build better profiles about its customers? Will it share data with law enforcement if asked to? These are all questions that Amazon has not addressed. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth trading some of your privacy for the seamless shopping experience Amazon wants to offer. And something tells me that Amazon will not be the only company deploying such technology in retail stores in the future.
Posted: December 7th, 2016, 8:31pm EST
NASA's Cassini-Huygens orbiter has been on mission for nearly two decades and it's still delivering glimpses of Saturn that leave us in awe. The spacecraft, which is approaching its final phase, just sent back some glorious photos of Saturn's northern pole, and it's some of the most impressive space photography yet. The photos show the massive swirling storm at Saturn's north pole, which has formed a hexagonal shape, though scientists don't know precisely why. NASA notes that each side of the hexagon is roughly as wide as the entirety of Earth, just to give you an idea of the scale. MUST SEE: Apple responds to claims that multiple older iPhones have gone up in flames http://media.zenfs.com/en_US/News/BGR_News/pia21053-1045.jpg?itok=d1cMx4S2 The photos were taken at a distance of 400,000 miles from the surface of the planet, and originally have a resolution of just 256 by 256 pixels — space camera technology just wasn't all that great back in 1997. Resolution aside, Cassini's camera is capable capturing its photos through several different filters, each of which is particularly sensitive to certain wavelengths. The resulting photos show the layers of cloud cover that make up the gas giant's exterior. http://media.zenfs.com/en_US/News/BGR_News/pia21052-1045.jpg?itok=JMRm7iR3 Cassini captured the photos just before diving through Saturn's outer ring, which it will do over a dozen more times as the final act in its decades-long mission. These "Ring-Grazing Orbits" will number 20 in total, and will hopefully produce many more images of the planet and its rings that NASA has never had a chance to glimpse. "This is it, the beginning of the end of our historic exploration of Saturn," Cassini imaging team lead Carolyn Porco said in a release. "Let these images — and those to come — remind you that we’ve lived a bold and daring adventure around the solar system’s most magnificent planet."
Posted: December 7th, 2016, 8:00pm EST
Netflix a few days ago rolled out a feature that makes binging even better. Offline movie downloads let you watch your favorite shows on an iPhone or Android device even when there’s no internet. You only have to download them to your device and go about your day. But what if you could also download everything else on your mobile device, to consume without worrying about internet connectivity or data caps? Google’s got you covered if you’re on Android. The company will let you download videos, music, and entire web pages for offline viewing. You’ll be able to view your downloads and even share them without ever leaving the mobile browser. According to Android Central , the offline download features were available in the unstable version of Chrome (Chrome Canary) for a while now, but it’s finally ready to make the move over to the stable version of Chrome for Android. To download media content or web pages, you’ll have to press a download button from the menu bar when you’re on a web page or viewing videos. The downloaded content is stored in a Downloads section (see screenshots below). Other features included in the upcoming Chrome for Android version (55.0.2883.84) include text autocorrecting features and improvements to the contextual search user interface. The update should roll out over the coming days, so don’t panic if you still didn’t get it.
Posted: December 7th, 2016, 7:21pm EST
For Apple, the great thing about making the hardware and software that go into its computers is complete control over every aspect of the customer experience. The bad part is that when something goes wrong, you can't just blame Windows. The new Touch Bar MacBook Pro has been suffering from a bunch of weird graphics glitches . According to reports from forums and users, the glitches mostly look like tearing and distortion in certain apps. That's not a scandal-level problem that means we need to append -Gate onto the end of it, but it's also not the kind of thing you want when you spend $2,500 on a laptop. Luckily, it looks like a fix should be out soon. In an email sent to a MacRumors forum member , Apple's senior VP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said that the problem is software-based, and should be fixed in the latest beta version of macOS. Graphics problems are reasonably common with brand-new hardware, as any PC gamer knows well. The first couple weeks after a new graphics card comes out is normally a hellscape of crashes, frame drops and blue screens of death. So, some problems were to be expected with the 15-inch Pro, which has to hand off between the integrated Intel graphics and the AMD discrete GPU. But still, you'd think that with the two-year wait to update the Pro, someone could have spent a little time debugging the graphics driver first.
Posted: December 7th, 2016, 7:08pm EST
The Pizzagate gunman, who this past Sunday walked into Washington, DC pizza parlor Comet Ping Ping and fired off a rifle, is a everyday dad who fed on one too many fringe conspiracy theories, according to an interview with The New York Times. Edgar Maddison Welch, a 28-year-old father of two from Salisbury, New York, said he recently gained access to the internet at his home, and that he used his newfound connection to dive deep into the dark corners of the web. Already predisposed to conspiracy theories, Welch had recently become convinced that Comet Ping Pong was the center of a child trafficking ring led by Hillary Clinton and members of her campaign staff — otherwise known as the Pizzagate conspiracy.
Posted: December 7th, 2016, 7:00pm EST
With Windows 10's View Your Network Properties feature and the Network Reset command, troubleshooting has gotten a bit easier.
Posted: December 7th, 2016, 6:58pm EST
The latest iPhone rumor making the rounds might have you seeing red — and not just because that's the color Apple is reportedly planning to add to next year's lineup. Instead, what's noteworthy about this rumor is that it suggests the new color will be about the only change Apple has planned for next year. It could mean that Apple is planning multiple updates to its smartphone lineup that include modest changes to its existing phones alongside an entirely redesigned iPhone.
Posted: December 7th, 2016, 6:54pm EST
At present, over half the states in the country have legalized marijuana either for medical use or recreationally. That clears the way for plenty of small shops to sell the stuff, but growing your own plants at home is still a challenging endeavor for anyone not well-versed in soil, lighting schedules, nutrients, and all the nuances of raising the perfect pot plant. A startup called Leaf thinks it can make you a marijuana maestro with almost zero effort on your part, thanks to its new smart grow box. MUST SEE: Niantic will share details about new Pokemon coming to Pokemon Go next week The Leaf — yes, the startup is named Leaf and the box itself is also called Leaf, stay with me here — stands just over five feet tall, and about two feet wide, and contains everything a marijuana plant needs to reach its full potential. It controls the humidity and temperature, watering schedule, nutrient dosing, and of course lighting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TDPnTglJsk Leaf's magic box syncs with its app, available on iOS and Android, and lets you monitor how things are going in the box or even get a glimpse inside with the Leaf's built-in HD camera. The idea here is that the plant can remain enclosed at all times until it's fully matured. At that point, the buds can be harvested and you can use the Leaf's drying mode to air them out without making your house or apartment smell like a Cheech & Chong movie set. Leaf suggests you don't need any prior growing experience in order to use the box, and that each plant will yield four ounces of final product on average. That's a pretty decent haul, but there's still the matter of actually waiting for the plant to grow. Even under ideal conditions, and even with the fastest-growing strain of plant, you're still looking at a couple of months from plant to harvest, and some strains will take considerably longer. However, depending on how much you actually need — for medical purposes or just for fun — four ounces every few months might be more than enough to sustain you indefinitely, which would make the Leaf's $2,990 price tag a bit easier to swallow. The company is currently taking pre-orders with a $300 deposit .
Posted: December 7th, 2016, 6:53pm EST
Digital Asset Holdings, a blockchain startup backed by some of the world’s largest banks, said on Wednesday it had developed a platform to allow traders to use blockchain technology without giving out confidential information on their trades. The new platform provides a solution to confidentiality issues holding back adoption of the nascent technology in financial markets, according to a report issued by the company, which is led by former JPMorgan banker Blythe Masters. Blockchain, which first emerged as the software underpinning cryptocurrency bitcoin, is a shared record of transactions and asset ownership that is maintained by a network of computers on the internet.
Posted: December 7th, 2016, 6:07pm EST
December has arrived, which means Ubisoft has one more game to give away before the year comes to an end. The French video game publisher has already given away six classic titles in 2016, from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon . On Wednesday, Assassin's Creed III was added to that list . DON'T MISS: Ubisoft celebrates the holidays with 30 Days of Giveaways While the third entry in the Assassin's Creed franchise wasn't as impressive a leap forward as the second, it was still well-received by gamers and the press alike. In spite of its technical issues, fans appreciated new direction of the story and the drastic shift from the Italian Renaissance to the American Revolution. And because I'll use any excuse to share one of Ubisoft's fantastic cinematic trailers for the Assassin's Creed series, here's the trailer from E3 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nL6chDa7T8Q Before you grab your free copy of Assassin's Creed III , you need to either log in to or create a Uplay account. It's also worth noting that, like previous Ubisoft Club games, Assassin's Creed III will no longer be free to download a month from now. So if you want to get it for free, sign up for an account and download today . In addition to the free game of the month, Ubisoft is also in the middle of its 30 Days of Giveaways promotion. All you need to do to participate is log in to that account you created to get your hands on free games, wallpapers and discounts.