Battery-Free Bluetooth Sensor

This is odd.

This tiny Bluetooth chip doesn’t need a battery because it harvests energy from the air

The Verge – By: Jon Porter – “The Internet of Things promises to connect billions of otherwise ordinary devices to the internet, but when each one needs to have its own battery, there’s a limit to how small or cheap they can become. A new paper-thin Bluetooth chip that’s able to operate entirely without a battery could be about to solve this problem. The postage stamp-sized chip from Wiliot is able to harvest energy from the ambient radio frequencies around us, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular signals, and use them to power a Bluetooth-equipped ARM processor that can be connected to a variety of sensors.

Wiliot says that the size of the Bluetooth chip, combined with the lack of any battery, means it can be produced cheaply and mounted on almost anything. The company gives several potential use cases for the technology. For example, it could be embedded in consumer products to provide easy access to a digital manual when the original paper version is long lost, or it could be put on a clothing label and used to communicate the optimal settings to a washing machine.

However, the fact that it can also be combined with sensors raises more interesting possibilities. In addition to tracking items through a supply chain, a temperature sensor could also report when items get either too hot or too cold. Elsewhere, a pressure sensor could detect when a food container is empty and automatically order a replacement, thereby making so-called smart fridges truly smart.

Although a recent $30 million financing round means that Wiliot now counts on both Amazon and Samsung as investors, it will still be another year before its sensor tags are widely available. Wiliot says that it hopes to offer them as part of a limited release in 2019 before making then widely available in 2020.”

New Microphone Coming Soon!

Rode NT-1 MicAs you know, I am always looking for technical improvements for the netcast. This year, I am concentrating on the audio! So, after MUCH research, I have chosen the Rode NT-1 Microphone with the AI-1 pre-amp!

The NT1 is a revolutionary new 1″ diaphragm condenser microphone from RØDE.

Although the body of the new NT1 closely resembles the NT1-A, the microphone has been completely redesigned from the ground up, with the only shared component being the mesh grille.

RØDE’s design engineers approached the NT1 as a marriage of innovation and tradition, starting with the capsule which is a completely new design. Codenamed the HF6, it is the perfect example of RØDE’s fusion of artistic design approaches and cutting-edge manufacturing techniques, and features a sound signature reminiscent of the famous microphones of old while at the same time exhibiting extremely low noise.

It has been developed with a focus on detailed midrange response, coupled with silky smooth high frequencies, and warm, round, bass reproduction to make the NT1 an absolute standout in its class.

In another world-first for RØDE, the transducer itself is suspended inside the microphone using Rycote’s industry-leading Lyre system, minimizing external vibrations at the capsule level. The capsule is then married to high-grade electronics that have been designed to provide the lowest noise level of any studio microphone available. The NT1 is an incredibly quiet microphone, measuring only 4.5dBA of self-noise.

Its body is machined from 6061 aluminium and then nickel plated for resistance against corrosion. Finally it is coated in a durable, military-grade ceramic layer, using advanced electrostatic application techniques developed by RØDE to ensure an extremely hard wearing finish that is resistant to scratches or marks.

The NT1 is supplied with the revolutionary new RØDE SMR shock mount. Featuring a unique double-Lyre suspension system, the SMR enhances the existing superior vibration cancellation of Rycote’s Lyre system by using a smaller inner Lyre to act as a tensioning element. This maintains each Lyre in the neutral position where it is most efficient at cancelling vibration. The SMR’s removable all-metal pop filter is as effective as it is visually striking, providing an integrated solution for plosive protection that is easily washable and designed to last as long as the shock mount and microphone.

The NT1 is designed and made in Australia, and is covered by RØDE’s industry-leading 10 year warranty.

Here is a review by audio geek, Bandrew, on his “Podcastage” show:

I will have it in soon! I am jazzed! (Oh, and of course, I didn’t pay anywhere near full price!)

China Lands a Craft on the Moon’s Far Side!

Far Side of the MoonThis gives a whole new meaning to the “Far Side of the Moon” memes!

In a world first, China lands a spacecraft gently on the Moon’s far side

The Verge – By: Loren Grush – “This evening, China became the first nation to land a spacecraft gently on the far side of the Moon, according to China Global Television Network America. A Chinese robotic lander and rover, which launched from China in early December, descended into a crater on the side of the Moon that’s always facing away from Earth. The touchdown marks a significant technological feat for the country, and puts China in an elite category of spaceflight achievement all its own.

The landing is part of China’s Chang’e-4 mission — one of a series of planned missions to explore the lunar surface. Prior to this program, China sent a lander and a rover to the Moon, making it the third country to ever softly land on the lunar surface. That lander, part of the Chang’e-3 mission, went to the Moon’s near side, the one we see at all times.

No one has ever been able to pull off a far side landing before, because it’s so difficult to communicate with robots on the side of the Moon we cannot see. Without a direct line of sight with Earth, there’s no simple way to get radio signals to spacecraft on the lunar far side. But China was prepared for that. The country launched a lunar satellite in May, one that will sit in space near the Moon and provide a communications relay between the Chang’e-4 spacecraft and Earth.

While on the Moon, China will get a premium view of its landing spot, the South Pole-Aitken basin. This is a region of the lunar surface that many planetary scientists have been eager to explore. The basin, which is roughly 1,550 miles wide, is theorized to be a super old crater, created when a huge rock slammed into the Moon billions of years ago. Figuring out the exact age of the basin could help us learn more about when this impact event occurred, providing clues about what the Solar System environment was like back then.

Chang’e-4 may not be able to figure out the exact age of the South Pole-Aitken basin, but it is equipped with numerous science instruments that will tell us more about this mysterious part of the Moon. The lander will soon deploy its rover, which will learn more about the composition and the structure of the rocks in this area. The lander, meanwhile, will focus on the sky, collecting data for astronomers here on Earth, who are eager to take advantage of the spacecraft’s unique position on the distant side of the Moon. At night, when the bulk of the Moon shields that area from both the Sun and radio signals from Earth, the lander should get an unparalleled view of the stars.”

Chromecast Hack Promotes a YouTube Channel

Chromecast HackThis is embarrassing for Google! It’s Chromecast is being taken over in a hack that permits hackers to display content on user’s TVs!

From Slashdot: “In what is being referred to as CastHack, hackers j3ws3r and HackerGiraffe are promoting Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg by forcing TVs to display a message encouraging people to subscribe to his YouTube channel. ‘The hack takes advantage of a router setting that makes smart devices, like Chromecasts and Google Homes, publicly viewable on the internet,’ reports The Verge. ‘The attackers are then able to gain control of the devices and broadcast videos on a connected TV.’ From the report:

A website for the attack claims to count the number of TVs forced to show the PewDiePie message and currently says more than 3,000 have been affected. While it’s not clear that this is an accurate number (it has reset several times), a number of people posted on Reddit that the video had appeared on their TV. Google tells The Verge it has received reports from people who had ‘an unauthorized video played on their TVs via a Chromecast device,’ but said the issue was the result of router settings. Both HackerGiraffe and Google told The Verge the best way for affected users to fix the issue is to turn off Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) on their routers.

The two hackers said they were behind a hack in November that forced printers around the world to print out sheets of paper telling people to subscribe to PewDiePie.”

Don’t Get Caught in a Roku Activation Scam!

Roku LogoRoku boxes don’t require “activation!” Don’t let anyone tell you they do! This gets worse when people get them as Christmas presents! Here’s a head’s up from Cord Cutters News:

‘When my friend upgraded from a Roku streaming stick to a Roku Ultra, she had to pay an activation fee. Is this now required for all Rokus?’

Streaming boxes and sticks like Roku are likely to be popular gifts this holiday season. Unfortunately as the popularity of cord cutting increases, so have the number of scams seeking to target less savvy consumers.

Starting in mid-2017 we began to hear reports directly from Tablo customers and other sources in the cord-cutting community saying an official-looking website required them to fork over credit card information to activate their Roku.

Roku does not nor has ever required users to pay fees for setup, activation, or tech support.

Once you purchase your Roku you can use it right out of the box with no additional payments required – unless you’re wanting to hook up subscription-based streaming services like Netflix. And in that case, you’d be paying Netflix, not Roku.

If you want to avoid these ‘scam’ websites, it’s best to contact the manufacturer of your cord cutting device directly or visit an official corporate website for help. Both pieces of information should be on the device’s box or in the documentation that comes with it.”

Super IPVanish VPN Deal!

IPVanishFrom December 21 through January 1, any new customer to IPVanish can sign up for just $3.74/month — billed $89.99 every two years!

That’s TWO YEARS for only $89.99 – lifetime price! (Meaning, when you renew after two years, you still get the deal price!)

IPVanish is the only true Top Tier VPN service in the world. This means we deliver the best VPN speeds, the most secure connections and the most competitive pricing anywhere. Our VPN network spans 40,000+ IPs on 1,100+ servers in 60+ countries, giving you the ability to surf anonymously and access the unrestricted Internet every corner of the globe.

Use this link: https://DrBill.TV/VPN

Chrome Extensions Will Work on the New Edge

Chrome ExtensionsEven the Chrome Extensions will work on the new Edge. Wow! Microsoft really has made the conversion!

Microsoft confirms that Chrome extensions will run on new Edge browser

ZDNet – By: Liam Tung – “Microsoft didn’t reveal many details about Edge’s transition to Chromium, announced last week, but company officials have now confirmed it’s aiming for Edge to support Chrome extensions.

A dearth of extensions for Microsoft Edge has become one of the many obstacles to Windows 10 users adopting Microsoft’s modern answer to Internet Explorer.

But following Microsoft’s announcement that Edge will move to Chromium, the company has revealed it may address the add-on gap by supporting the much larger population of existing Chrome extensions.

‘It’s our intention to support existing Chrome extensions,’ Kyle Pflug, a Microsoft Edge project manager, wrote on Reddit in response to users and developers seeking answers about the switch.

Pflug didn’t clarify how Microsoft envisages extensions being installed. As Ed Bott noted, Microsoft is believed to be aiming to allow all existing Chrome extensions to work unmodified on the new Edge browser, but developers will still need to package the extensions for the Microsoft Store.

Pflug also responded to Windows application developers looking for answers about what the switch would mean for Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) if Microsoft ditched the EdgeHTML browser engine.

Both app categories depend on EdgeHTML and may need overhauling if Microsoft completely abandoned them.

Pflug said existing UWP and PWA apps in the Microsoft Store will continue to use EdgeHTML and Microsoft’s Chakra JavaScript engine ‘without interruption’. Microsoft isn’t planning on adding an interpretation layer for existing apps to run on the new rendering engine.

However, Microsoft does ‘expect to offer a new WebView that apps can choose to use based on the new rendering engine’, according to Pflug.

Microsoft is also aiming to enable PWAs to be installed on Edge from the web, rather than restricting installs to the Microsoft Store as it currently does for PWAs. This move would be in line with Google’s current approach for Chrome.

‘We expect to provide support for PWAs to be installed directly from the browser (much like with Chrome) in addition to the current Store approach. We’re not ready to go into all the details yet but PWAs behaving like native apps is still an important principle for us so we’ll be looking into the right system integrations to get that right,’ wrote Pflug.

Pflug also said Microsoft is in the early stages of bringing the next version of edge to ‘all Microsoft devices’, meaning it will come to Xbox One and possibly also to Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset.”

Chrome Wins! Microsoft to Kill Edge!

Chrome Wins!The big news is… Edge and IE are dead… long live Chromium! (Chromium is the free, Open Source basis of Google Chrome.)

Microsoft Putting Edge on Chromium Will Fundamentally Change the Web

Motherboard – By: Owen Williams – “Owen Williams is a freelance writer and developer thinking about new ways to get the news. He created Charged (https://char.gd ) an, independent technology newsletter and blog that helps people keep up with the news that matters.

After more than 20 years of fighting for relevance on the web, Microsoft is planning to scrap the underlying architecture of its internet browser in favor of Chromium.

That alone is monumental, and the internet responded with both jubilation and hesitance as you’d expect: Internet Explorer’s legacy is finally dead!

But, we just learned the full picture, with Microsoft announcing the move on GitHub Thursday, and it’s even bigger than we could have possibly dreamed of. Not only will Edge use Chromium as its rendering engine, but Microsoft is actively investing in developing the open-source engine further, to best optimize it for every device it touches.

A rendering engine is the software your browser uses to display web pages. Different rendering engines have different quirks and features, maintained by their own parent companies, with the largest in use today owned by Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, and Apple.

Here’s a bit from the company’s long, detailed post about why it’s making this change:

‘We will evolve the Microsoft Edge app architecture, enabling distribution to all supported versions of Windows including Windows 7 and Windows 8, as well as Windows 10. We will also bring Microsoft Edge to other desktop platforms, such as macOS. Improving the web experience for end users (better compatibility) and developers (less fragmentation) requires a consistent web-platform as widely available as possible. To accomplish this, we will use Chromium’s cross-platform app-technology along with a change in our distribution model, so that the Microsoft Edge experience and web-platform become available across all supported operating systems.’

Yes, that’s right: not only will Microsoft shift to Chromium as its rendering engine, it’ll begin shipping Edge across all supported desktop devices on the planet, and it’ll start building it into the web platform within Windows.

This is huge news for the industry across the board, and is poised to propel the web to a first-class experience on par with native application development, as well as making it a much better experience for a broad swathe of internet users who might not have power over what browser they’re using.

The web has already swallowed native application development whole, but it’s about to get a lot better. Here’s a few reasons this news is exciting, and it’s going to open up the next chapter for the web:

Web browsers as first-class citizens

One of the biggest problems today is that despite Chromium’s popularity, it’s really not very good on the resource front: it drains battery, hogs system resources and generally doesn’t play nice. This, largely, has been because Google and Chromium don’t own their own operating system (outside of ChromeOS), and don’t get exclusive access to low-level system APIs that Safari and Edge have enjoyed.

Because Microsoft and Apple have historically had their own first-party browsers, Chromium was always destined to be worse: the project simply doesn’t have the platform resources that these giants had, and was always building a layer further away than the official browsers of each platform.

This move changes everything about that equation. Microsoft can bake Chromium into Windows and the Edge browser at the core, which means it’ll be possible to embed a first-class experience in any app with a native Windows-Chromium view, and it’s porting it to MacOS:

‘Outside the Microsoft Edge browser, users of other browsers on Windows PCs sometimes face inconsistent feature-sets and performance/battery-life across device types. Some browsers have had slower-progress to embrace new Windows capabilities like touch and ARM processors. As you know, we’ve recently started making contributions that provide these types of hardware support to Chromium-based browsers, and we believe that this approach can be generalized.’

Microsoft is, in essence, declaring that it’ll deliver a top-end browser experience, regardless of the platform you’re developing for, with the exact same engine on every device. Not only does it plan to optimize Windows for Chromium, but it’ll be sharing that work as well, porting it to ARM-based devices like the iPhone and ensuring that it’s resource-efficient at the absolute core: the OS level.

But what really matters is what comes as a result of all of this work: the absolute best way to build cross-platform apps, on a scale we’ve never seen before.

The web as a desktop platform

If you’re a business of any size and you’re looking to build an app for desktop or laptop users, frankly, the best choice out there today is Electron. It is no coincidence that Microsoft acquired GitHub, which happens to come with a little project called Electron as a part of that acquisition.

Electron is a framework that allows developers to wrap web code (JavaScript, HTML, and other bits) in a native coating, giving them access to system-level APIs like notifications, file system, and so on, making it simple to deploy on Windows, macOS, Linux and anything else with one language.

Many popular apps leverage Electron under the hood, including Slack, Visual Studio Code, WhatsApp desktop and many others, largely because it’s so easy to target multiple system types with a single, common language underneath.

Electron today, however, comes with a sizable disadvantage: it’s based on the Chromium browser, which means it’s bundled with an entire instance for each application that uses it on your machine. Having Slack and Chrome open, for example, spawns two isolated Chromium instances, both consuming resources to do much the same thing.

With this shift, it’s easy to imagine a single shared thread for Chromium on top of Windows, which can be accessed by any Electron-based instance. Such a change would allow Electron apps to be more efficient, stable, and friendlier on system resources (particularly memory and battery.)

Not only that, but because Microsoft is providing technical resources to every Chromium-based browser, Electron-based apps will gain a killer touch-friendly experience to boot, setting the stage for convertible devices to truly replace laptops.

If Electron was already overwhelmingly the platform of choice despite its massive constraints, this is going to open a new tidal wave of web-based apps on the desktop. Why would you build in any other language at this point, if you can write once and run everywhere?

Web technology is ready for this

Microsoft has made many attempts over the years to build frameworks for developers to use, which failed miserably. There was Silverlight, XAML, WPF, Metro, whatever else you can think of, but largely each technology has struggled to attract developers at a scale that mattered.

Recently, however, Microsoft went all-in on progressive web apps as its next platform. PWAs are one of the more exciting developments on the web in years, allowing web-based applications to access many native capabilities without the need for a wrapper like Electron. They work offline, can send notifications, cache data, and so on, and many app developers, like Twitter, have built compelling first-class PWA experiences that work on Windows too.

The ultimate power move in all of this is Microsoft showing how committed it is to the web as a platform for the future of apps. It wanted developers to build PWAs for the Microsoft Store, but now it’s putting the weight of its resources behind making those apps at home on the OS, expending massive amounts of resources to make them a great experience regardless of if you’re using one in Chrome or an Electron-wrapper.

Not only is this the most constructive outcome of all of this, it’s key to opening up the desktop environment to the next-generation of web-enabled tools. Writing an application to custom-target every device out there is going to disappear, and Microsoft wants to own that as its bet for the future.

The strategy differences here are very different to that of Apple, which has largely ignored any feature of the open web that might threaten its own dominance. There’s no web-based notifications in Safari on iOS, or the ability to execute tasks or caching in the background, and so on. Marzipan, Apple’s next-generation cross-platform app development framework, essentially has iOS apps back-ported to work on Mac-based hardware.

Microsoft is throwing all of that platform-owning nonsense out of the window, saying that it just wants to provide a great, consistent way for developers to build apps that work wherever, written once. Sounds good to me, and this changes the game after years of bickering over which native platform was best to write for.

As it turns out, it was the web all along. I believe that in the long-haul, this is the right horse to bet on, particularly as web tooling continues to improve so rapidly despite its age.

This is just the beginning

It’s still early days, and Microsoft’s plans aren’t even fully baked yet, but I’m excited that we’re shifting into a new gear where web-based technology is treated as a first-party citizen by the operating system vendors.

To be clear, there are drawbacks to this change: the web as a platform is narrowing into a duopoly of rendering engines, with just Chromium, Webkit (which is a Chromium variant) and Gecko, which powers Firefox, left standing. Less choice hurts all of us, as Mozilla’s CEO pointed out in a post about the news that didn’t mince words:

‘Google is so close to almost complete control of the infrastructure of our online lives that it may not be profitable to continue to fight this. […] From a social, civic and individual empowerment perspective ceding control of fundamental online infrastructure to a single company is terrible.’

What’s astounding is that it feels like this is the right thing to be happening, even with Microsoft’s long history in web browsers. It wasn’t that long ago that Microsoft was being punished under antitrust law for forcing Internet Explorer on users, but the Microsoft of today has shown repeatedly that it wants to turn over a new leaf.

It’s true that less choice is bad and may even hurt alternate browsers like Firefox, but it’s difficult to justify Microsoft continuing down the path of building a dedicated browser that nobody really wanted to use.

This time is different because Chromium is an open source project, with multiple contributors already, so Microsoft throwing its weight behind the standard may actually encourage better collaboration on the project rather than leaving it to Google alone.

If you can’t beat them, join them, and it seems like Microsoft is betting on the web for the long haul.”

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