Top Stories for the Week of January 25, 2017

  • From Category5 Technology TV S10E19
  • January 25, 2017
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Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday January 25, 2017

Samsung has clarified what was causing Note 7's to catch fire.

During a press conference Sunday, Samsung said two separate battery defects caused both the original batch of Galaxy Note 7 phones and the replacement units to overheat.

The first battery, it said, suffered from a design flaw. The battery's external casing was too small for the components inside, causing it to short-circuit and ignite.

The second battery, which came from another supplier, didn't have the same flaw. Rather, in the rush to pump out enough batteries for the replacement units, the supplier introduced a manufacturing defect that led to the same result,

The explanation puts to rest the mystery behind the exploding Note 7, but it kicks off a new challenge for the embattled company: winning back your trust after a disastrous several months that included two recalls and the decision to kill the critically acclaimed phone. The Sunday press conference marked the start of a Samsung campaign to rebuild company credibility, which will include the upcoming launch of the flagship Galaxy S8 phone, as well as another Note later in the year.

Having not one, but two batteries from different suppliers fail -- for different reasons -- is a bizarre coincidence that may surprise and frustrate some who were looking for a single, clean explanation.

Three independent testing firms reached the same conclusion as Samsung -- that it was the battery, and not the phone's design or Samsung's manufacturing process, that cause the Note 7 battery issues.


Sent to us by: Jeff Weston

A dad found a really creative use for 360 video, giving his daughter a first-person Virtual Reality view of her doll house.

Because the technology is so new to mainstream users, the benefits of virtual reality are still being discovered. But we're increasingly finding that VR can bring families together in new ways.

The latest example comes from an HTC Vive user who decided to give his daughter a tour of her dollhouse in a way that's never been possible before.

Using a Ricoh Theta SC 360-degree camera, Toby Newman captured all the rooms in his daughter's dollhouse and then gave her the unique opportunity to stroll around alongside her dolls inside the tiny structure.

Newman also posted a series of 360 photos to give everyone an idea of what his daughter can see when looking through the VR headset.

And while the set-up is an amazingly clever use of VR technology, parents thinking of duplicating the effort should be aware of the age restrictions around VR headset use.

Although the HTC Vive doesn't list a specific age limit, its site does state that, "The product was not designed to be used by children." Similarly, the Oculus Rift advises that, "this product should not be used by children under the age of 13," and the PlayStation VR suggests that its VR headset should be used by those, "age 12 and up."


Sent to us by: Jeff Weston

The Star Trek fan film, Axanar, has settled out of court with CBS and Paramount.

Over a year after Star Trek's copyright holders engaged in a legal war with the sci-fi series' own fans over a crowdfunded, unofficial prequel film, the two sides in the infringement lawsuit announced Friday their battle will not head to a courtroom after agreeing upon a settlement.

In December 2015, Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against producer Alec Peters over his planned film Axanar and its prequel Prelude to Axanar, which they claimed "used innumerable copyrighted elements of Star Trek, including its settings, characters, species, and themes."

However, the end of the yearlong legal battle ended Friday with a joint statement (via The Hollywood Reporter), "Paramount Pictures Corporation, CBS Studios Inc., Axanar Productions, Inc. and Alec Peters are pleased to announce that the litigation regarding Axanar's film Prelude to Axanar and its proposed film Axanar has been resolved. Axanar and Mr. Peters acknowledge that both films were not approved by Paramount or CBS, and that both works crossed boundaries acceptable to CBS and Paramount relating to copyright law."

It's unclear if Peters had to compensate CBS and Paramount over Axanar. If the lawsuit had gone to trial, Peters faced damages ranging anywhere from $1.4 million – the amount his grassroots campaign raised produce the film – to upwards of $100 million, or $150,000 for every setting, character, theme or piece of wardrobe that a jury found violated Star Trek's copyright.

Peters initially argued that Axanar was created under "fair use" production of copyrighted material. However, the judge overseeing the case struck down the fair use argument in a January summary judgment ruling, steering the way towards Friday's settlement.

As part of their settlement, Peters agreed to "make substantial changes to Axanar to resolve this litigation." Peters also promised, in the future, to adhere to the fan film guidelines that CBS and Paramount created in June 2016 after Trekkies expressed their dismay concerning the litigation against Axanar and the effort to squash fan films.


A robot can write news articles in just one second.

Newspaper reporters beware of Xiao Nan, the first Chinese robot journalist, who wrote an article in just a second!

For the first time, a robot journalist, named Xiao Nan, made its debut in a Chinese daily newspaper on Thursday. The robot wrote a 300-word article in just a second.

The article by the robot was published in China, and was about the travel rush during Chinese New Year, also known as the 'Spring Festival'.

Nan's lead developer said, "When compared with the staff reporters, Xiao Nan has a stronger data analysis capacity and is quicker at writing stories."

The staff of the state run media outlet were rather uneasy with the experiment as they feared they ran the risk of losing their jobs to the robot.

This experiment proved that presently robots are still unable to carry out face-to-face interviews as they can't map spontaneous reactions nor come up with follow-up questions.

Also, they are not intelligent enough to choose a significant news angle based on a conversation or interview, like humans.

But he claims robots will be able to act as a supplement, helping newspapers and related media, as well as editors and reporters.


Sent to us by: Jeff Weston

Car makers are using soy-based products under the hood, and it's causing all kinds of issues as rodents find it delicious.

In the cold winter months it's not unusual for rodents to sneak their way into car engines to warm themselves up. But an eco-friendly soy-based insulation being used by automakers may be tempting these critters too much.

One vehicle owner had rodents chew out the wiring in his Honda CRV, causing hundreds of dollars in damage.

They had nibbled through the insulation and exposed the bare wires, which cased them to short circuit causing things to go haywire.

Mechanic Max Chang believes the issue is becoming even more common as automakers like Honda, Toyota and Subaru turn to soy-based insulation.

He says, “They love it. It’s delicious for them."

Some car owners are fighting back, launching two class-action lawsuits against Toyota and Honda in the U.S.

Brian Kabatek, the attorney representing a Toyota Tundra owner said, "You don't make the wires out of something that's edible."

The suits claim the automakers are aware of the problem, but have refused to cover repairs under warranty. But the plaintiffs claim it's a defect and should be covered.


Sent to us by: Eco Alkalines


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