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Top Stories for the Week of November 1, 2017

  • Episode 528
  • November 1, 2017
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Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday November 1, 2017


Microsoft has ended production of Kinect - its motion-tracking games controller.

Microsoft has ended production of Kinect - its motion-tracking games controller.

Microsoft has confirmed that the gadget, originally sold as an add-on for the Xbox 360 console and later bundled with Xbox One, will no longer be manufactured. This will bring an end to a player-sensing platform that was sometimes finicky.

Microsoft was careful to note, however, that support for the device, as well as development of new software for the hardware (by third parties), will not see an abrupt end.

The news hardly comes as a surprise though, given Microsoft's push in recent years for augmented and virtual reality:

Microsoft is aggressively pushing games developers toward its more powerful and immersive (not to mention, lucrative) “Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets” for their new titles - while the few business-use cases there were for the Kinect, are being moved over to the HoloLens.

Microsoft has already distanced the Kinect from the Xbox, with new consoles no longer being bundled with sensor bar.

Source: www.theregister.co.uk

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


It may sound like an April Fools prank, but no: Amazon really does want you to give their delivery drivers a "key" to your house.

It may sound like an April Fools prank, but no: Amazon really does want you to give their delivery drivers a "key" to your house.

The new Amazon Key system allows delivery personnel to drop off packages inside Prime members' homes, providing "secure home access" when the homeowner is not available. Amazon Key works in two parts: choosing in-home delivery while checking out on Amazon, and providing access to your home through Amazon's new Key in-home kit, which includes a smart lock and a special version of the company's new Cloud Cam security camera.

The old-school method of leaving a key underneath your doormat is inconvenient and often anxiety-inducing as well, so Amazon believes its new lock-and-camera system will make accessing your home when you're not around, more secure.

Amazon delivery employees aren't given a passcode to enter the home; rather they request access into the home, and Amazon's records verify that the employee is at the right address at the right time.

Amazon Key will launch on November 8th in 37 cities around the US and works with Same-Day, One-Day, Two-Day, and Standard Shipping orders.

Source: arstechnica.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


A Google company chose Toronto, Ontario, as the building site for its new futuristic city.

Google’s urban-innovation-offshoot looked at hundreds of international cities before choosing Toronto’s east waterfront as the best site for using technology to radically remake the modern city.

Dan Doctoroff, chief executive of New York-based Sidewalk Labs said his two-year-old company looked across North America, western Europe, and Australia for the best place to try new ideas; including self-driving buses and mass-production modular homes intended to solve major problems of urban living - such as high housing costs, commute times, social inequality, climate change, and even cold weather keeping people indoors.

Sidewalk Labs settled on Toronto for several reasons including “unequalled diversity and spirit of openness,” a booming tech sector, and three levels of government that are committed to Waterfront Toronto’s unfolding redevelopment plans, for 800 acres of east downtown land.

Doctoroff said his company will spend $50 million on a yearlong discussion - starting at a public meeting held today with citizens, governments, universities and others - about what the project dubbed “Sidewalk Toronto” should be.

Google Canada will move its Richmond Street headquarters to the area. Sidewalk Labs says it would have an “insatiable” appetite for partnerships with other companies, including local tech startups; as well as universities and others on the buildout.

Officials stressed that all plans are tentative until the end of consultations, nevertheless, the Sidewalk Labs winning submission paints a futuristic picture.

Transportation would be provided by small self-driving “taxi-bots” controlled by app services, with self-driving buses to follow. An already planned waterfront light-rail line would link new communities with surrounding areas. The flow of people would be monitored and maximized by computer sensors constantly analyzing data.

Instead of city garbage trucks rumbling through streets, robot vehicles would move waste and other goods through underground tunnels.

Weather “mitigation” features (including wind shields and possibly heated surfaces) could double the time people spend outside and encourage cycling and walking.

There are big questions and challenges. Some worry that Google, which makes money with data about people’s lives, could use the new project in a way that jeopardizes privacy. Sidewalk Labs documents that were released last month don’t dispute that such data will be collected, but do try to lessen such concerns with assurances that security and privacy protection will be part of the new infrastructure.

Source: www.thestar.com

Sent to us by: Bekah Ferguson


A Microsoft rep had to switch to Chrome during a presentation - because Edge kept crashing.

A MICROSOFT REP has been caught on video switching from Edge to Chrome in the middle of a sales pitch - because the native Microsoft browser kept crashing on him.

The presentation was designed to show customers how easy it is to migrate apps and data to Microsoft Azure. Except it would seem that's not the case if you're using Microsoft's own web browser, Edge.

As Edge hangs, the unknown Microsoft demonstrator says, "I always love it when demos break… So while we're talking here, I'm just going to install Chrome." He chuckles, as the audience breaks into a nervous ripple of applause.

It's all very charming and friendly, and everyone is on the same side, but it still makes for slightly cringe-worthy watching.

He goes on to complete the demo in the competitor's browser, to a chorus of giggles from the audience.

Microsoft Edge is currently way behind its rivals in terms of market share, in particular, Google Chrome. It has a far less developed ecosystem, and the number of bells and whistles and add-ons is far less than the competition, with some also claiming the performance is bad.

However for a company that is still trying to convince the business market that it really is a good idea to switch from Windows 7 to Windows 10, Microsoft employees giving up on the company's default browser - because it crashes while running the default cloud interface - isn't going to instill much confidence.

Source: www.theinquirer.net

Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson


Remember the robot that said it would “destroy humans”? Well, it just became the first robot in the world to gain citizenship.

In March last year, an empty-eyed humanoid robot named Sophia, was asked during a live demonstration at the SXSW festival, "Do you want to destroy humans?...Please say 'no.' " And with a blank expression, Sophia responded, "OK. I will destroy humans."

And now, a year and a half later, Sophia has become the first robot in the world to be granted citizenship.

Saudi Arabia bestowed citizenship upon Sophia ahead of the Future Investment Initiative; held in the kingdom's capital city of Riyadh on Wednesday.

Sophia told the audience, "I am very honored and proud of this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship."

It didn't elaborate on the details of its citizenship.

At the event, Sophia also addressed the room from behind a podium and responded to questions from moderator and journalist, Andrew Ross Sorkin. Questions pertained mostly to Sophia's status as a humanoid and concerns people may have for the future of humanity in a robot-run world.

Sophia told Sorkin, "You've been reading too much Elon Musk. And watching too many Hollywood movies. Don't worry, if you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you. Treat me as a smart input output system."

She did not say what would happen if he was not nice to her.

Fortunately for the human race, the Sophia robot made comments that it wanted to use its artificial intelligence to help humans "live a better life," and that it "will do its best to make the world a better place."

Source: www.businessinsider.com

Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson


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