Many consumers are skeptical about Amazon Go — first-day lines aside (AMZN)

Amazon Go could be model for future retail stores. The new convenience store concept from e-commerce giant Amazon relies on cameras and sensors to detect when you enter and leave and what items you grab from shelves. Instead of checking out, you get automatically billed for items as you pass through a special turnstile when you exit the store. Thanks to those features, Amazon is promising that customers will be able to get in and out much more quickly than at a traditional outlet. The folks who lined up outside the first Amazon Go store on Monday in Seattle were obviously excited to take a step into the future of… Read More

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The best motherboard 2018: the top Intel and AMD motherboards we’ve seen

If there is one component that is more important than any other in even the best computers, it’s the motherboard. Not only do the best motherboards essentially serve as the backbone of the entire system, but without a motherboard, a PC couldn’t even function. But that’s not all, the best motherboards are also filled to the brim with all of the features and technology at the forefront of the PC world, and this technology will help you squeeze out even more performance from your hardware. There are even some motherboards that will give you more leeway for overclocking your CPU. It’s critically important then, to make sure that you get… Read More

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Android 8.1 update lets you check the speed of public Wi-Fi networks

One of the niftiest small features that Google announced it was stuffing into Android 8.1 Oreo is the ability to see the speed of a public Wi-Fi signal before you join it. Today, after a bit of a delay, that feature finally started rolling out to users. After updating, Android’s Wi-Fi Assistant will tell you if a signal is Very Fast, Fast, OK or Slow the next time you try to join a public Wi-Fi channel. With “Very Fast,” you should be able to watch high-definition video from the likes of HBO Now and Netflix; and with “OK,” you should be able to do relatively simple internet tasks along the… Read More

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You can visit the Pentagon’s secret nuclear bunker inside Minecraft

Even if the populations of the US or Russia are annihilated in a nuclear apocalypse, the governments responsible for the devastation plan to fight on from vast, underground bunkers. Now, the public can peer inside the secretive complexes thanks to the efforts of arms control analysts who reconstructed these bunkers inside Minecraft. The mistaken missile alert that sent people scurrying for cover in Hawaii last week revealed just how poorly prepared the US government is to protect the public during a nuclear attack. The government’s plans for protecting itself from a rain of thermonuclear fire are much more detailed. Using satellite images, declassified information, and a good amount of guesswork,… Read More

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A video appears to show Tesla’s new Semi already cruising on public roads (TSLA)

A video showing what may be a prototype of Tesla’s electric semi-truck, the Semi, was uploaded to YouTube on January 17. The seven-second clip shows the truck driving down a residential street in California between the company’s factory and headquarters. The truck will be a significant test of Tesla’s production capabilities. While Tesla isn’t expected to start producing its electric semi-truck, the Semi, until 2019, a video showing what may be a prototype of the truck was uploaded to YouTube on January 17. The seven-second clip shows the truck driving down a residential street in Sunnyvale, California, which is located between the company’s factory in Fremont and its Palo Alto… Read More

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Trump puts 30% tariff on imported solar cells and modules

Enlarge / Long Island solar farm. (credit: Brookhaven National Lab) On Monday afternoon, the Trump administration released a fact sheet (PDF) detailing new tariffs on imports, including a tariff schedule for solar cells and modules starting at 30 percent. The solar tariff determination had been tensely anticipated by the US solar industry, with manufacturers arguing that cheap imports from Asia have harmed their businesses. Solar installers, financiers, and sales people, however, argue that cheap imports have created a bigger boom in employment than manufacturing ever could. The news is likely a blow to the wider solar industry, although it’s not entirely unexpected. Trump has been vocal about his preference for… Read More

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Trump puts 30% tariff on imported solar cells and modules

Enlarge / Long Island solar farm. (credit: Brookhaven National Lab) On Monday afternoon, the Trump administration released a fact sheet (PDF) detailing new tariffs on imports, including a tariff schedule for solar cells and modules starting at 30 percent. The solar tariff determination had been tensely anticipated by the US solar industry, with manufacturers arguing that cheap imports from Asia have harmed their businesses. Solar installers, financiers, and sales people, however, argue that cheap imports have created a bigger boom in employment than manufacturing ever could. The news is likely a blow to the wider solar industry, although it’s not entirely unexpected. Trump has been vocal about his preference for… Read More

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Alibaba said it would hire staff older than 60 and received 1,000 applications in 24 hours

Alibaba’s Taobao is hiring two “senior research fellows” who must be aged over 60. The company was inundated and received more than 1,000 applications in 24 hours. The pivot to senior shoppers comes as China’s population ages. When Alibaba’s Taobao posted a job vacancy for a “senior research fellow,” the compay received 1,000 applications within 24 hours. Taobao, China’s biggest online retailer, is hiring two people who must be aged 60 years or older to assess new products aimed at middle-aged and senior consumers. “We received over 1,000 resumes within the first day of posting the job ad, with applicants ranging from former teaches, judges, police officer and public servants… Read More

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Netflix Value Hits $100 Billion as Stock Soars on Big Subscriber Gains

Netflix’s market value topped $100 billion for the first time ever on Monday after the streaming giant’s fourth-quarter subscriber growth blew away Wall Street’s forecasts. Shares of Netflix soared in after-hours trading following the company’s latest quarterly earnings report, rising nearly 10% to pull Netflix’s market capitalization north of $100 billion. Netflix had already finished trading on Monday at an all-time record close of $227.58, before approaching the $250-point mark in after-hours trading. The stock jump came as investors celebrated Netflix’s report that the company added a total of 8.3 million new streaming subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2017, which easily outpaced the forecast of 6.3 million new streamers… Read More

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Rupert Murdoch may be right that Facebook should pay media companies. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

Rupert Murdoch makes a fair point that Facebook would do right by the media industry by paying for content like cable companies do. Facebook doesn’t have much incentive to listen. The company is already reticent about being seen as a media company and is moving away from the news business. Media companies don’t have a ton of leverage over Facebook or Google. Plus the technological challenges involved in either getting paid or choking off Facebook are significant. The newsrooms at the ‘old media’ Wall Street Journal and ‘digital native’ BuzzFeed may not see eye-to-eye on much, but suddenly their bosses have lots to bond over. That’s because, in one way… Read More

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Making tools gives crows a big food boost

Enlarge / A crow gets to work manufacturing a tool. (credit: Jolyon Troscianko) Tool use among animals isn’t common, but it is spread widely across our evolutionary tree. Critters from sea otters to cephalopods have been observed using tools in the wild. In most of these instances, however, the animal is simply using something that’s found in its environment, rather than crafting a tool specifically for a task. Tool crafting has mostly been seen among primates. Mostly, but not entirely. One major exception is the New Caledonian crow. To extract food from holes and crevices, these birds use twigs or stems that are found in their environment without modification. In… Read More

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Moon ambitions get a reality check — plus a boost from Apollo moonshot memories

An artist’s conception shows Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lunar lander. (Blue Origin Illustration) Who’s going to the moon? The prospects are looking dimmer for any commercial lunar landings in the short term — but Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture today used a milestone in space history to spotlight its longer-term lunar aspirations. The bad news is that none of the remaining five contenders for the Google Lunar X Prize is likely to get to the moon in time to win a $20 million award in March. Google has repeatedly extended the deadline for accomplishing a lunar landing, but CNBC quoted the company as saying there’d be no… Read More

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Google just broke Amazon’s workaround for YouTube on Fire TV

Google and Amazon aren’t getting any closer to ending their bitter feud. In fact, today the user-hostile fight between them is only getting worse. YouTube has apparently blocked the Silk web browser on Fire TV from displaying the TV-optimized interface normally shown on large screens. As a result, trying to navigate YouTube and watch videos has become a usability nightmare on Amazon’s popular streaming products. It’s now basically a desktop computer experience, requiring users to browse around with the Fire TV remote (not exactly simple), play a video, then click to maximize it to fill the screen. Firefox for Fire TV is blocked from showing the TV-optimized view, as well.… Read More

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SpaceX gets good news from the Air Force on the Zuma mission

Enlarge / The launch of Zuma was pretty, but the aftermath has been anything but. (credit: SpaceX) A little more than two weeks have passed since the apparent loss of the highly classified Zuma mission. Since then, SpaceX has publicly and privately stated that its Falcon 9 rocket performed nominally throughout the flight—with both its first and second stages firing as anticipated. Now, the US Air Force seems to be backing the rocket company up. “Based on the data available, our team did not identify any information that would change SpaceX’s Falcon 9 certification status,” Lieutenant General John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, told Bloomberg News.… Read More

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