Top Stories for the Week of January 5, 2016

  • Episode 433
  • January 5, 2016
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Here are the stories we're following for the week of Tuesday January 5, 2016


Perhaps unsurprisingly, Facebook's "Free" Internet service has come under fire, and Mark Zuckerberg isn't happy about it.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Facebook's "Free" Internet service has come under fire, and Mark Zuckerberg isn't happy about it.

Mark Zuckerberg is feeling the force of critics who believe his effort to provide Indians with free access to a limited number of internet services hurts India's democracy and violates net neutrality.

In an unusually pugnacious appeal in the mass-circulation Times of India, the Facebook founder forcefully defended introducing his Free Basics service, "a set of basic internet services for education, healthcare, jobs and communication that people can use without paying for data".

Facebook, Mr Zuckerberg says, has already launched the service in partnership with more than 35 mobile operators in more than 30 countries.

He says more than 15 million people have already come online because of the service. "The data is clear," he says. "Free Basics is a bridge to the full internet and digital equality."

So - in a tone which many say mocks critics - Mr Zuckerberg asks: "Who could possibly be against this?

"Surprisingly, over the last year there's been a big debate about this in India."

According to the BBC, many believe Mr Zuckerberg possibly expected a cakewalk with Free Basics, and is now irate at being stonewalled by critics who are not convinced about his motives.

Yesterday, he lashed out against his critics for continuing to "spread false claims".

He wrote, "Instead of recognising the fact that Free Basics is opening up the whole internet, they continue to claim - falsely - that this will make the internet more like a walled garden".

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


10% of web access to Google's services are done through IPv6 connections, marking a milestone in the migration from IPv4. You might be surprised to learn who's the number one country making the switch. I'll give you a hint: it's not the US.

IPv6 has reached the 10% milestone

Efforts to convert net users to a new addressing scheme have hit a key milestone.

The novel scheme is needed to help the net support more users and many more smart devices and gadgets.

Now more than 10% of net users are visiting websites using the new system, statistics suggest.

Called IPv6, the protocol replaces an the older version whose pool of addresses is almost depleted.

The figures were gathered by search giant Google, which monitors how people reach its services.

The adoption of IPv6 around the world is patchy, as some nations have deployed it widely while others have ignored it.

Belgium tops the table of most enthusiastic IPv6 adopters, as 44.3% of people in that country can use it to get at Google and other IPv6 sites. Adoption in the US is 25.6% and the UK 2.95%.

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Think you're going to add a VR headset to your gaming rig this year? Nvidia claims that 'Less than 1%' of PCs can actually run virtual reality.

Think you're going to add a VR headset to your gaming rig this year? Nvidia claims that 'Less than 1%' of PCs can actually run virtual reality.

Nvidia says less than 1% of of the PCs expected to be in use globally in 2016 will be powerful enough to run the best virtual reality technology.

It estimated just 13 million would have the required graphics capabilities in 2016, rising to 100 million by 2020.

Consumers can access VR on smartphones and consoles, but need PCs to use high-end headsets such as the Oculus Rift.

Some forecasts have suggested 2016 could be the year VR finally takes off, and VR companies feature prominently at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show which opened in Las Vegas yesterday.

VR headsets create immersive 3D environments wearers can interact with and explore. But despite growing excitement about their potential, they have yet to reach a wider consumer audience.

However, providers such as Facebook's Oculus and HTC are preparing to ship their first headsets by spring.

Nvidia warns however that "Immersive VR requires seven times the graphics processing power compared to traditional 3D applications and games."

So, if you plan to add a VR headset to your gaming rig, pay special attention to the specs of your hardware. You may need to upgrade your graphics card or other peripherals to achieve silky-smooth gameplay.

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Google’s ‘Project Sunroof’ tells homeowners if solar panels are cost-effective.

Google’s ‘Project Sunroof’ tells homeowners if solar panels are cost-effective.

The company that lets you compare air fares and translate foreign languages online wants to make it easier to weigh the costs and benefits of installing solar panels on household rooftops.

Google is rolling out a new online service that quickly tallies up considerations of going solar and whether homeowners should consider buying or leasing solar panels costing thousands of dollars. Google’s Project Sunroof combines the eye-in-the-sky images behind Google Earth with calculations on how much shade trees cast over a rooftop, data on local weather patterns, industry pricing and available subsidies to arrive at its bottom line.

Carl Elkin, the senior software engineer behind the service says, “We at Google believe in solar energy. The solar industry needs our help”.

The service expanded in December to analyze properties in the Raleigh area, as well as 15 other metro areas in Arizona, Nevada, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Colorado.

Source: www.theglobeandmail.com

Sent to us by: Jeff Weston


New research into biological 3D printing may lead to body parts being printed and grown from human cells in only a couple months.

New research into biological 3D printing may lead to body parts being printed and grown from human cells in only a couple months.

Patients needing surgery to reconstruct body parts such as noses and ears could soon have treatment using cartilage which has been grown in a lab.

The process involves growing someone's cells in an incubator and then mixing them with a liquid which is 3D printed into the jelly-like shape needed.

It is then put back in an incubator to grow again until it is ready.

Researchers in Swansea hope to be among the first in the world to start using it on humans within three years.

The researchers say, "We're trying to print biological structures using human cells, and provide the right environment and the right timing so it can grow into tissue that we can eventually put into a human.

"It would be to reconstruct lost body parts such as part of the nose or the ear and ultimately large body parts including bone, muscle and vessels."

The team of surgeons are working with scientists and engineers who have built a 3D printer specifically for this work.

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


The US military has shelved Google's robot dog plans because it's just too darn loud!

The US military has shelved Google's robot dog plans because it's just too darn loud!

The US army says it has mothballed plans to deploy a robot developed in conjunction with Google because it is "too loud".

The Legged Squad Support System - referred to by some as "the big dog" - is capable of carrying 400lbs (181.4kg) of equipment over rugged terrain.

But the US Marines now say its petrol-powered engine is too noisy for them to use in battle.

The LS3 was developed by Boston Dynamics - a robotics firm acquired by Google in 2013.

The robot can follow troops on foot through rugged terrain, carrying their gear. It can also interpret verbal and visual commands.

However, after a major field trial in 2014, flaws in the robot also became apparent. The military took it as it was: a loud robot that's going to give away their position.

The machine, which has a gas-powered engine, is said to emit a lawnmower-like noise that would be unviable in combat situations.

It is also difficult to repair, making it less than ideal for field use.

Google said as far back as 2013 that it planned to move away from its military contracts, which it inherited as part of its acquisition of the company.

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


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