Top Stories for the Week Of July 18, 2018

  • Episode 565
  • July 18, 2018
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Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday July 18, 2018

Engine maker Rolls-Royce has designed a propulsion system for a flying taxi which it says could take to the skies as soon as early next decade.

Engine maker Rolls-Royce has designed a propulsion system for a flying taxi which it says could take to the skies as soon as early next decade.

The British firm said it had drawn up plans for an "electric vertical take-off and landing" vehicle, which could carry four to five people.

They claim the vehicle could travel at speeds of up to 250 mph for approximately 500 miles.

Rolls joins a variety of other firms in seeking to develop flying vehicles.

Speaking ahead of this week's Farnborough Airshow, Rob Watson, head of the company's electrical team, said: "We are well placed to play a leading role in the emerging world of personal air mobility and will also look to work in collaboration with a range of partners."

Airbus, Uber and a range of start-ups, including one called Kitty Hawk, which is backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, have all announced projects.


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

Shoppers in the US and elsewhere struggled to access Amazon's website as one of its biggest annual sales, Prime Day, went underway Monday.

It seems even Amazon can't quite handle its own success: Shoppers in the US and elsewhere struggled to access Amazon's website as one of its biggest annual sales, Prime Day, went underway Monday.

Many frustrated users took to social media to report the e-commerce platform had crashed and was showing them only an error message that read: "Sorry, something went wrong on our end."

The issues were centred on the US but affected users up here in Canada and overseas too., which tracks outages, said the problems began shortly after the sale kicked off at 3:00pm in the US.

In a tweet, Amazon said it was working to resolve the issues.

Remarkably, users even reported experiencing problems with Amazon's video streaming services and its virtual assistant Alexa during the first few hours of the sale as well.

Amazon launched Prime Day in 2015 and by 2017 it was its second biggest shopping day; topped only by Cyber Monday.

Some warned the glitches could make it hard to achieve the expected numbers.

GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders said at the time, "The outage is especially problematic as many of Amazon's Prime deals are promoted for a set window of time - something that could cause a great deal of frustration for potential customers."

Prime Day ran for 36 hours, and this year saw the largest number of people hitting the site all at once in the history of the sale.


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

A solar plane which can stay aloft for weeks at a time is to be manufactured by Airbus in the UK.

If you can't beat 'em, join them! It would appear Facebook's claim that they will no longer be building an Internet-toting drone may have been in the wording. They're working with Airbus, and Airbus will build it.

Facebook recently retired project Aquila, and it turns out they have been collaborating with Airbus.

According to Janna Rosenmann, head of unmanned aerial systems at Airbus, the two companies "have a joint goal to try to bring internet connectivity... to connect the unconnected."

The unmanned craft flies high in the atmosphere to avoid commercial air traffic and adverse weather.

Known as the Zephyr, its remote-sensing potential has already seen the UK MoD invest, but Airbus also hopes to develop the craft as a communications platform.

Powered by solar energy during the day, and solar-charged batteries by night, the Zephyr holds the absolute endurance record for un-refuelled aeroplanes: 336 hours, 22 minutes and eight seconds in the air.

The latest model, the Zephyr S, is currently aloft above the skies of Arizona in the US, where Airbus aims to fly it for 30 days, breaking the vehicle's own 14-day record set in 2010.

The Zephyr will immediately begin industrial production in Farnborough, following several years of testing.

Its inauguration was announced at the 2018 Farnborough Air Show.


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

The Atari VCS Console runs a custom Linux distro called “AtariOS”

The Atari VCS Console runs a custom Linux distro called “AtariOS.”

If you backed the successful Atari VCS crowdfunding campaign last month you might be pleased to hear that you’re going to get more bang for your buck.

Following criticism of its mediocre internal makeup, the Ataris VCS console will now ship with 8 gigabytes of RAM by default, up from the 4 gigabytes proposed during the funding push.

It’s a decent increase in memory that should help the system cope better with more intensive indie games.

The RAM bump is just one of several bits of new information revealed through a Q&A blog post from team newcomer Rob Wyatt (best known as the brains behind the original Xbox system).

His more direct approach helps to wave away some of the vagueness and uncertainty that continues to surround the system.

With close to three million raised in its IndieGoGo campaign the Atari VCS is now entering the difficult part: delivering a viable product and not just hype and promotion.

For every faux pas the project makes—shelved launch dates, device demos running on Windows, and foolish rebuffs to journalists—the central sell of a Linux games console backed by decades worth of gaming heritage remains both unique and compelling.

As previously announced, the Atari VCS will run a custom Linux-based OS and will provide the ability for users to install a regular Linux distro on the machine.

Wyatt expands on this capability further in his Q&A, explaining:

“Our core architecture consists of the Atari Secure Hypervisor and a heavily modified linux kernel called the AtariOS. All of this is in flash memory and before the AtariOS loads, any external storage device is checked, and if a bootable device is found, the OtherOS on that device is loaded instead. We don’t have a typical OS loader like UBoot or GRUB, and because the CPU is already in 64 bit protected mode from our boot code, the OtherOS will need its typical startup code changing.”

Although Wyatt stresses that the “changes are minimal” the company plans to offer example code to show users how to configure and boot a regular distro like Ubuntu on the VCS.


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


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