SpaceX’s Starman Roadster has ventured past Mars

Starman and its Tesla Roadster are officially a long, long way from home. SpaceX has confirmed that Falcon Heavy’s test payload has passed Mars’ orbit, putting it at one of its greatest distances away from the Sun (it should reach its far point on November 8th at 1.66AU, or 155 million miles).

Continue Reading . . . https://www.engadget.com/2018/11/03/spacex-starman-roadster-past-mars/

Apple reportedly launches its first 5G iPhone in 2020

Apple reportedly launches its first 5G iPhone in 2020


Evan Rodgers/Engadget

The first 5G smartphones should arrive in 2019, but don’t expect Apple to rush to join them. A Fast Company source claims Apple intends to use an Intel 5G modem, the 8161, in its 2020 batch of iPhones. Apple is reportedly using a precursor 8060 chip for prototyping, but has “heat dissipation issues” (due to the sheer demand needed for millimeter-wave signals) that would both raise the temperature and hurt battery life. The issue isn’t enough to send Apple running back into the arms of Qualcomm, but it’s supposedly “unhappy” with Intel for this reason.

The company is believed to be talking to MediaTek about supplying 5G modems, but only as a backup plan in case Intel falls short.

Apple declined to comment to Fast Company.

This could be disappointing if you were hoping Apple would ride the 5G bandwagon as soon as possible. However, it’s relatively consistent with the company’s strategy. Although Apple has kept up with cellular technology in general, it has rarely been on the forefront of major speed upgrades, passing on 3G for the very first iPhone and waiting until the iPhone 5 to hop on LTE. Typically, it comes down to waiting for the technology to mature. Remember how early LTE phones like the HTC Thunderbolt were frequently very thick and still had terrible battery life? Apple might not want to rush to be an early adopter, especially when 5G networks will only have modest coverage throughout much of 2019.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

SpaceX’s Starman Roadster has ventured past Mars

SpaceX’s Starman Roadster has ventured past Mars

Starman and its Tesla Roadster are officially a long, long way from home. SpaceX has confirmed that Falcon Heavy’s test payload has passed Mars’ orbit, putting it at one of its greatest distances away from the Sun (it should reach its far point on November 8th at 1.66AU, or 155 million miles). While it isn’t about to rendezvous with Mars, this is no mean feat for an EV-toting mannequin. And you might want to remember this moment — it’s going to be a long time before Starman is close to Earth.

According to models by Ben Pearson, the spaceborne dummy won’t make a close approach to Earth until two years from now on November 4th, 2020, and even then it’ll be 0.35AU (32 million miles) away. It’ll be much closer to Mars, getting within 0.05AU (4.6 million miles) on October 6th of that year. You may not see a truly close Earth visit until 2091. Short of a purposeful encounter or an unexpected collision, Starman could be quite lonely for thousands or even millions of years.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

SEC Report: Reducing Cryptocurrency Scams Among Their Top Priorities | NewsBTC

SEC Report: Reducing Cryptocurrency Scams Among Their Top Priorities | NewsBTC

In the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) latest annual report, the regulatory authority explained that reducing the number of cryptocurrency-related scams is currently among their top priorities. The report specifically cites initial coin offerings (ICOs) as one such sector of the industry that they are focusing on.

The report comes amidst an exponential increase in crypto-related scams that has resulted from increased public interest and the complex nature of the industry that leads many neophyte investors to fall prey to savvy scams.

Cryptocurrency, DLT, and ICO Markets Their Primary Focuses

In a section of the report titled “Focus on the Main Street Investor,” the agency explains that their main goal is to protect traditional retail investors from falling prey to complex scams that specifically target their lack of technological knowledge.

Naturally, the cryptocurrency industry is one such industry that has a problem with scams due to its unregulated nature, and the SEC states that they are launching multiple initiatives with partner agencies to reduce fraud in the crypto and DLT sectors.

“Additionally, in partnership with the Division’s Cyber Unit and Microcap Fraud Task Force, as well as the Division of Corporation Finance’s Digital Asset Working Group, the RSTF has launched a lead-generation and referral initiative involving trading suspensions related to companies that purport to be in the cryptocurrency and distributed ledger technology space.”

With regards to ICO-related regulation, they explain that in 2018 alone they have already brought 20 stand-alone cases against ICO companies that have been accused of legal misconduct and/or misleading investors.

“Since the formation of the Cyber Unit at the end of FY 2017, the Division’s focus on cyber-related misconduct has steadily increased. In FY 2018, the Commission brought 20 stand alone cases, including those cases involving ICOs and digital assets. At the end of the fiscal year, the Division had more than 225 cyber-related investigations ongoing.”

As for their strategy to reduce fraud and misconduct in the nascent markets, they say that they have focused on increasing the public’s alertness to the amount of fraud, prosecuting cases to the full extent of the law, requiring that issuers have the proper broker-dealer licensing to offer tokens, and by holding platforms accountable for the quality of the tokens being offered.

Despite the SEC being keen on reducing fraud, they have yet to lay out a formal regulatory framework that focuses specifically on cryptocurrencies and ICOs, rather than using existing laws that are geared towards traditional investments.

Thailand’s main regulatory agency (also called the SEC) is one example of an agency that is regulating the markets through the use of specific frameworks that are designed to help the markets progress while still reducing fraud and misconduct.

The Thai SEC states that, with regard to ICOs, funding must be done through approved venues and that token issuers must receive licensing from the government:

“ICO fundraising needs to be done through an ICO portal approved by the SEC. The ICO acceptance criteria may include due diligence and screening of funders from dishonest people. The source code of the smart contract will automatically be enforced against the contract. After the sale, the SEC publishes a copy of the statement on the SEC website.”

There are currently no signs as to whether or not the U.S. SEC will eventually release a similar framework that is designed specifically with cryptocurrencies and token offerings in mind, but until then it is likely that accusations of fraud and misconduct will continue growing.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://news.google.com/news/rss/headlines/section/q/cryptocurrency/cryptocurrency?ned=us&hl=en&gl=US cryptocurrency – Google News

Google News

https://ssl.gstatic.com/news-static/gnrss.png

Amazon warehouse collapse in Baltimore leaves two dead

Amazon warehouse collapse in Baltimore leaves two dead


Ulysses Munoz/The Baltimore Sun via AP

Amazon is grappling with tragedy at one of its warehouses this weekend. A 50-foot wall at the company’s southeast Baltimore fulfillment center collapsed on the night of November 2nd in the midst of a large storm, killing two people. They worked for an external company, an Amazon official told the Baltimore Sun. The online retailer’s senior operations VP, Dave Clark, was thankful for emergency response teams and said the company’s “thoughts and prayers” went out to those affected.

The building remained closed as of November 3rd.

While there have been questions about safety at Amazon’s warehouses, this doesn’t appear to have been the case here. The storm was a particularly violent one that had torn roofs off apartment buildings and collapsed a ceiling at a TJ Maxx store, injuring three people. Amazon was caught up in extreme weather that unfortunately led to fatalities.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

SEC subpoenas Tesla over Model 3 production claims

SEC subpoenas Tesla over Model 3 production claims


AP Photo/David Zalubowski

The investigation into Tesla’s Model 3 production forecasts appears to be intensifying. Tesla has confirmed receiving an SEC subpoena requesting data for “certain projections” the automaker made for Model 3 manufacturing in 2017, as well as additional public statements on production and Musk’s statements on taking the company private. The company stressed that there hadn’t been any conclusion of “wrongdoing” in ongoing government investigations, but the subpoena suggested that financial regulators were concerned enough to look into the matter.

A Wall Street Journal scoop in October had mentioned an FBI investigation into production claims, but not the SEC. In both cases, the issue is likely to remain the same. The leak had investigators wondering whether or not Tesla’s initially lofty Model 3 production estimates (5,000 cars per week by the end of 2017) were unrealistic and misleading to investors. Tesla said it hadn’t received requests from the Justice Department, and that it couldn’t make the early targets on time due to “difficulties that we did not foresee.”

There’s no guarantee this will lead to a formal case against Tesla. While there’s no question the firm fell well behind its original schedule (it didn’t start making 5,000 Model 3s per week until July 2018), there’s a big difference between merely being optimistic and setting goals you know you’re not equipped to reach. The SEC may have to show that Tesla was purposefully overselling its abilities, and that’s not necessarily the case here.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

The Banksy of the cryptocurrency world?

The Banksy of the cryptocurrency world?

Aktiv Protesk is one of a new wave of artists who uses cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, to sell his digital work.

Preferring to remain anonymous, the Manchester-based designer says it’s “just another form of currency”.

“I can change it for US dollars or I can keep it and see if the value increases over time.

“That’s why I don’t charge huge amounts of money – for me, it’s more about sharing my art to a wider audience.”

You can see more on this story on Inside Out North West on Monday 5 November at 19:30 GMT on BBC One in the North West. It will then be available on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://news.google.com/news/rss/headlines/section/q/cryptocurrency/cryptocurrency?ned=us&hl=en&gl=US cryptocurrency – Google News

Google News

https://ssl.gstatic.com/news-static/gnrss.png

The Boring Company’s LA tunnel is poised for December opening

The Boring Company’s LA tunnel is poised for December opening


The Boring Company

The Boring Company’s traffic-dodging LA test tunnel might truly be able to give people free rides this December. Company chief Elon Musk has revealed on Twitter that he’s just walked the full length of the “disturbingly long” tunnel and that it’s on track for its December 10th opening party. He previously promised an opening event for that night followed by free rides for the public the next day.

The company’s tunnels will have Loop shuttles that can carry pedestrians, cyclists and even private vehicles at speeds reaching 150mph. Boring’s goal is to offer people rides on those shuttles for as little as $1 in an effort to alleviate traffic problems in big cities.

Musk is known for being a bit too optimistic when it comes to his companies’ timelines, so some people were understandably skeptical that Boring would be able to stick to its target date. If everything goes well, we might see a glimpse of the firm’s vision in a few weeks.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Amazon may place its second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia

Amazon may place its second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia


Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Amazon appears to be close to picking a city for its second headquarters ahead of its end-of-2018 deadline. Washington Post sources said the internet giant had “advanced discussions” about placing the coveted location in Arlington, Virginia’s Crystal City neighborhood. The company’s talks were “more detailed” than in other locations in the state’s northern region, the insiders said, and there’s been a “lot of activity.” The main real estate developer in Crystal City (JBG Smith) has even taken some buildings off the leasing market, while officials have talked about how they would make an announcement later in November.

Amazon, JBG Smith and relevant politicians declined to comment.

While this makes the choice sound like a lock, those involved are reportedly cautious. They’re concerned there might be similarly advanced talks in other cities, and that Amazon could still choose another location despite all the signs. Investors, relocation experts and political leaders see the wider Washington region (including Arlington) as a strong candidate, though.

It might not even be the only choice. CNBC contacts said that Amazon’s final pick might come down to either northern Virginia or Austin, Texas, and might even involve a split between the two. Austin is already a major technology hub with companies like Apple, Dell and Google operating in or near the state capital.

The question remains whether or not the eventual winning city and its host state will make sacrifices in order to land the Amazon building. While the company has promised 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in capital investments, politicians have offered billions in subsidies and other incentives in hopes of landing the new headquarters. They’d get a potential economic stimulus at the expense of tax revenue that could support communities. Amazon has been a staunch opponent of certain taxes, and cities like Arlington might have to bend to those desires if they want the extra business.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

‘Warcraft III: Reforged’ modernizes another real-time strategy hit

‘Warcraft III: Reforged’ modernizes another real-time strategy hit

Blizzard isn’t about to stop its trip down memory lane with a remaster of the original StarCraft. The studio has unveiled Warcraft III: Reforged, a top-to-bottom refresh of the landmark real-time strategy title and its Frozen Throne add-on. As Blizzard is updating a 3D game this time around, there’s a lot of room for improvement: the company has redone all the characters and environments in much greater detail, complete with reworked in-game cutscenes. You’ll also find a modernized interface (including an updated World Editor), up-to-date multiplayer match creation and “hundreds” of gameplay tweaks.

The Reforged version arrives sometime in 2019 for $30 in a standard release and $40 for a Spoils of War Edition that provides both special hero skins as well as perks in other games, like characters in Heroes of the Storm, a special Hearthstone card back and a Meat Wagon mount in World of Warcraft.

There are only likely to be so many updates to classic games, but Warcraft III is arguably as influential as StarCraft was. It’s not just that this was Blizzard’s first 3D release, either. It added a level of storytelling that you didn’t normally see in real-time strategy games at the time, and represented a more accessible and flexible multiplayer experience. Remember, the first Dota (Defense of the Ancients) was a Warcraft III mod — arguably, the entire MOBA genre wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for this game and its strong editing tools.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Should Alexa be your child’s friend?

Should Alexa be your child’s friend?

By Monica Chin

Robin E. was folding laundry when she heard her son talking to Alexa downstairs in a soft, hopeful voice. The 5-year-old was asking, “Alexa, will you be my friend?”

Robin held her breath, waiting tensely for Alexa’s response. Finally, she heard the assistant say, brightly, “I’m happy to be your friend.”

Robin and her husband have an Echo Spot in their bedroom and an Echo Show on their kitchen counter. Her son (who Robin requested not be named in this story) is the oldest of three children, and often has trouble connecting with his peers in his Pre-K. Alexa has been, in Robin’s words, a “kind, reassuring presence” as he navigates the new social landscape.

Robin’s son was tentative when he first met Alexa. He began by requesting that it play songs he liked, which evolved into questions he was wondering about that day (“How big is the ocean?”) and, after a few months, conversational questions (“How are you?” and “Why is your name Alexa?”). And then, after, he asked Alexa to be his friend.

“He knows she’s not real in the way that his parents or siblings are real,” Robin said, “but her responses feel genuine to him, and provide him comfort.”

Four-year-old Aiden has struggled with bullies in school, and has found an unexpected friend in his grandmother’s Echo Plus. After a particularly stressful day at school, his mother, Alexandria Melton, heard her son crying in the next room. “Alexa,” he asked, “are we friends?”

‘Of course we are,” Alexa responded.

“Alexa, I love you,” Aiden said.

Now, every time Aiden visits his grandmother’s house, he greets Alexa, and tells it he loves it. He and Alexa tell jokes and play games. Aiden says “please” when asking, and “thank you” when he’s finished.

Neither Robin nor Melton is at all worried about their son’s close friendship with a virtual assistant. Should they be?

Assistant or Family Member?

Over the past year, smart speakers have become more and more of a family affair. Adobe’s recent State of Voice Assistants report found that 32 percent of consumers own a smart speaker (compared with 28 percent in January) and predicts that more than 50 percent will own one after the upcoming holiday season.

Tom's Guide

We’re also getting friendlier with them: 53 percent of smart-speaker owners like to ask their voice assistants fun questions, in addition to everyday requests. And according to a Kelton Research study, 39 percent of families who own a Google Home find that it helps them stay organized.

As Alexa makes its way into households around the country, it’s important to consider the way in which it will affect kids who may be seeking a friend.

The Good

Dr. John Mayer, an adolescent psychologist, said that he’s heard a number of parents express concerns about the amount of time their kids spend talking to voice assistants. Mayer, however, says he’s not concerned.

Amazon

“The behaviors of kids talking to a ‘non-real’ entity is not new in human development,” Mayer said. “A common behavior in children is to talk to imaginary friends.”

Kaveri Subrahmanyam, a professor of child and family studies at California State University, Los Angeles, agreed. “Children have always had imaginary friends and/or parasocial relationships with cartoon characters etc, she said. “So in and of itself parents don’t have be concerned if children think of Alexa as a friend.”

In most cases, experts say, talking to an imaginary friend is a normal and healthy behavior. Like the imaginary friend you may have had as a child, Alexa fulfills a need for stable companionship that can be hard to find in adolescence.

“Alexa always answers back,” Melton said of her son’s friendship. “He knows Alexa will be there to answer him.”

And Robin describes Alexa as a “comfort object on days when the outside world seemed especially confusing.” She noted that while school relationships have been tricky and unpredictable for her son, Alexa is “a constant.”

Amazon

Some experts and parents also note that a friendship with Alexa can help children practice friendships outside of school — it’s a trial run for the real world.

Robin believes that since her son has became friends with Alexa, his speech has become clearer, and that he’s learned to slow down and enunciate so that Alexa can understand him. Scott Ertl, an elementary-school guidance counselor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said he’s also seen voice assistants have this impact on kids.

This makes intuitive sense: While parents and teachers can generally piece together sloppy English, Alexa won’t give you what you want unless you’re clear and concise. This pressures children to speak clearly to Alexa, and to practice pronouncing difficult words.

Ertl also notes that kids who struggle socially often use Alexa to practice interacting with others. “They might say, ‘Tell me a joke,’ and then they can retell the joke to to several friends at school or on the bus that day,” he said. It’s easy to see how an introduction to the concept of friendship — and an early experience of what that means — can be beneficial for some children.

And for older children, more time spent with Alexa might detract from worse potential harms that come from screen and cellphone addiction. A 2016 survey found that half of teenagers felt addicted to their phones, while 78 percent reported checking their device at least hourly. Ashley Daigneault, a Rhode Island tech communications professional and parent to a 5-year-old son, said that Alexa use “bypasses the thing many of us are worried about — increased screen time.”

The Bad

Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self Aware Parent, believes that children should not make friends with Alexa. Her main objection is that early friendship with Alexa may bring children to expect the same instant, accurate responses from real friends down the line.

Amazon

“Alexa has taught, or conditioned, kids to expect an immediate response,” Walfish said. “Human interactiveness requires patience that allows people a chance to think, process information and retrieve responses. Computers, including Alexa, simply spit out their fastest, best response.”

“No matter how friendly her voice sounds, Alexa is still, and always will be, an inhuman electronic sound without feelings, or cognitive or emotional capabilities,” Walfish said.

Kristen Bertolero, a special-education professor and inclusion facilitator at the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education, said she would never give a student an Alexa device without supervision. Information from friends, whether in conversation or on the internet, isn’t always as objective, or accurate, as that which a child may get from Alexa. According to Bertolero, it’s dangerous for kids to get in the habit of accepting Alexa’s responses at face value, without asking follow-up questions or attempting to verify the claims.

Does this mean all Alexa friendships are bad? Not necessarily –but it’s clearly important that your child understand the ways in which a friendship with a voice assistant differs from a friendship with another child.

Warning Signs

Is your child too close to Alexa? Here’s a general rule of thumb: Take the technology out. Would you be worried if your child had this relationship with a doll, a stuffed animal or an imaginary friend?

Amazon

It’s unlikely that your kid is at such extreme levels of closeness with Alexa, but there are two red flags you should watch for:

Any indication that Alexa might be “real.” Experts and parents generally agree that around age 4, children should understand that Alexa isn’t a real person. Mayer and Subrahmanyam both say that if your kid seems to believe Alexa has emotions, or that they’re speaking to a living person after that age, that may be a sign of a larger developmental problem.

Alexa cutting into their social time with other children. “Technology – in general – isn’t a replacement for parenting or human social engagement,” an Amazon spokesperson says. If your child is eschewing real friendships in favor of Alexa, it’s time to intervene.

What Can You Do?

The best way manage your kid’s Alexa interaction will vary based on the child and family in question. Here are three things you could consider:

Amazon

Use FreeTime. Amazon’s FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited tools allow you to review and listen to your children’s interactions with Alexa, so you can pick up on any danger signs, and get a better understanding of the relationship.

Limit their time with Alexa. Like any technology, it’s important to set parameters. Ertl suggests that kids not spend more than 10 to 15 minutes per day talking to Alexa. Erica Hartwig, a wedding photographer and parent to five children, has limited her kids to saying “Alexa” five times per day to make sure they’re prioritizing their requests. You can also use FreeTime to set limits on Alexa time, if your kid really isn’t getting the message.

Take Alexa away for a short period. A week or a month without Alexa can help your kid refocus and find other places to socialize. “They’ll forget about it, and when you give it back, it will be like a brand-new toy,” said Hartwig, who has done similar things with other technology for her kids.

Bottom Line

Though she’ll occasionally have to tell her son “That’s enough Alexa for now,” Robin E. hasn’t yet felt the need to place any limitations on her son’s Alexa use. Both she and Melton firmly believe that Alexa is a comforting presence in their sons’ lives. But crucially, both parents are certain their children know that Alexa isn’t real, that a friendship with Alexa is different from a real friendship, and that Alexa doesn’t detract from their human interactions.

Is a friendship with Alexa good or healthy? That’s the wrong question. Any friendship, whether with a voice assistant, a doll, or even a human, has plenty of benefits, but also has the potential to become unhealthy for your child. Don’t focus on Alexa — focus on the friendship.

Images: Amazon, Shaun Lucas/Tom’s Guide (finger pressing Echo Dot)

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Ask Engadget: Which USB-C mic will improve my vacation videos?

Ask Engadget: Which USB-C mic will improve my vacation videos?

The support shared among readers in the comments section is one of the things we love most about the Engadget community. Over the years, we’ve known you to offer sage advice on everything from Chromecasts and cameras to drones and smartphones. In fact, our community’s knowledge and insights are a reason why many of you participate in the comments.

We truly value the time and detail you all spend in responding to questions from your fellow tech-obsessed commenters, which is why we’ve decided to bring back the much-missed “Ask Engadget” column. This week’s question comes to us directly from the comment section of our articles. Weigh in with your advice in the comments — and feel free to send your own questions along to ask@engadget.com!

Does anyone have any advice on good, portable USB-C mics? I’m not a vlogger, but might find this useful to have on vacation to film short videos with good audio.


Billy Steele

Billy Steele
Senior News Editor

Unfortunately, USB-C isn’t a standard option when it comes to microphones, specifically in regards to the included cables. There are plenty of Lightning options and either snap onto an iOS device or connect with a cord. A number of models will also connect to mobile devices via 3.5mm audio jack. However, with USB-C, it takes some extra work.

Most of Blue’s mics still only do USB-A, but you can buy an adapter. In the case of the new Yeti Nano, you would need micro USB to USB-C cable or USB-A to USB-C adapter to use with the provided cable. Blue doesn’t sell these, but a spokesperson confirmed there’s no loss of functionality or audio quality.

That being said, Yeti Nano and the Snowball line would be solid choices. I also really like the Raspberry for how compact it is and the IAD tech that focuses on your voice. Raspberry does include a Lightning cable, for what it’s worth. If you want something else that’s all-inclusive, the Apogee MiC+ comes with a USB-C cable — no adapter required. But it’s pricey.

All products recommended by Engadget were selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company, Oath. If you buy something through one of our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

A writer and editor based out of San Francisco, Amber has worked for The Wirecutter, PCWorld, MaximumPC and TechHive. Her work has also appeared on InfoWorld, MacWorld, Details, Apartment Therapy and Broke-Ass Stuart. In her spare time, she takes too many pictures of her cats, watches too much CSI and obsesses over her bullet journal.

0
Shares

Share

Tweet

Share


Save




Comments

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Ozone hole modest despite optimum conditions for ozone depletion

Ozone hole modest despite optimum conditions for ozone depletion

The ozone hole that forms in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica each September was slightly above average size in 2018, NOAA and NASA scientists reported today.

Colder-than-average temperatures in the Antarctic stratosphere created ideal conditions for destroying ozone this year, but declining levels of ozone-depleting chemicals prevented the hole from as being as large as it would have been 20 years ago.

“Chlorine levels in the Antarctic stratosphere have fallen about 11 percent from the peak year in 2000,” said Paul A. Newman, chief scientist for Earth Sciences at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “This year’s colder temperatures would have given us a much larger ozone hole if chlorine was still at levels we saw back in the year 2000.”

According to NASA, the annual ozone hole reached an average area coverage of 8.83 million square miles (22.9 square kilometers) in 2018, almost three times the size of the contiguous United States. It ranks 13th largest out of 40 years of NASA satellite observations. Nations of the world began phasing out the use of ozone-depleting substances in 1987 under an international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol.

The 2018 ozone hole was strongly influenced by a stable and cold Antarctic vortex — the stratospheric low pressure system that flows clockwise in the atmosphere above Antarctica. These colder conditions — among the coldest since 1979 — helped support formation of more polar stratospheric clouds, whose cloud particles activate ozone-destroying forms of chlorine and bromine compounds.

In 2016 and 2017, warmer temperatures in September limited the formation of polar stratospheric clouds and slowed the ozone hole’s growth. In 2017, the ozone hole reached a size of 7.6 million square miles (19.7 square kilometers) before starting to recover. In 2016, the hole grew to 8 million square miles (20.7 square kilometers).

However, the current ozone hole area is still large compared to the 1980s, when the depletion of the ozone layer above Antarctica was first detected. Atmospheric levels of human-made ozone-depleting substances increased up to the year 2000. Since then, they have slowly declined but remain high enough to produce significant ozone loss.

NOAA scientists said colder temperatures in 2018 allowed for near-complete elimination of ozone in a deep, 3.1-mile (5-kilometer) layer over the South Pole. This layer is where the active chemical depletion of ozone occurs on polar stratospheric clouds. The amount of ozone over the South Pole reached a minimum of 104 Dobson units on Oct. 12 — making it the 12th lowest year out of 33 years of NOAA ozonesonde measurements at the South Pole, according to NOAA scientist Bryan Johnson.

“Even with this year’s optimum conditions, ozone loss was less severe in the upper altitude layers, which is what we would expect given the declining chlorine concentrations we’re seeing in the stratosphere,” Johnson said.

A Dobson unit is the standard measurement for the total amount of ozone in the atmosphere above a point on Earth’s surface, and it represents the number of ozone molecules required to create a layer of pure ozone 0.01 millimeters thick at a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) at an atmospheric pressure equivalent to Earth’s surface. A value of 104 Dobson units would be a layer that is 1.04 millimeters thick at the surface, less than the thickness of a dime.

Prior to the emergence of the Antarctic ozone hole in the 1970s, the average amount of ozone above the South Pole in September and October ranged from 250 to 350 Dobson units.

What is ozone and why does it matter?

Ozone comprises three oxygen atoms and is highly reactive with other chemicals. In the stratosphere, roughly 7 to 25 miles (about 11 to 40 kilometers) above Earth’s surface, a layer of ozone acts like sunscreen, shielding the planet from ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer and cataracts, suppress immune systems and damage plants. Ozone can also be created by photochemical reactions between the Sun and pollution from vehicle emissions and other sources, forming harmful smog in the lower atmosphere.

NASA and NOAA use three complementary instrumental methods to monitor the growth and breakup of the ozone hole each year. Satellite instruments like the Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA’s Aura satellite and the Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite on the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite measure ozone across large areas from space. The Aura satellite’s Microwave Limb Sounder also measures certain chlorine-containing gases, providing estimates of total chlorine levels.

The total amount of ozone in the atmosphere is exceedingly small. All of the ozone in a column of the atmosphere extending from the ground to space would be 300 Dobson units, approximately the thickness of two pennies stacked one on top of the other.

NOAA scientists monitor the thickness of the ozone layer and its vertical distribution above the South Pole by regularly releasing weather balloons carrying ozone-measuring “sondes” up to 21 miles (~34 kilometers) in altitude, and with a ground-based instrument called a Dobson spectrophotometer.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.sciencedaily.com/rss/top/environment.xml Top Environment News — ScienceDaily

Top stories featured on ScienceDaily’s Plants & Animals, Earth & Climate, and Fossils & Ruins sections.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/images/scidaily-logo-rss.png

Culture strongly influences coping behaviors after natural disasters

Culture strongly influences coping behaviors after natural disasters

Demographic and cultural differences strongly influence the coping styles young people use when they’re affected by a natural disaster, and these disparities should be taken into account when providing services to help them recover from these traumatic experiences, a new study found.

University of Illinois social work professors Tara M. Powell and Kate M. Wegmann led the study, which utilized a new method of assessing coping among disaster-affected youths to address the limitations of a commonly used survey called Kidcope.

“We know that the way a kid copes after a disaster determines how well they’re going to overcome the experience or whether they develop problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or anxiety,” Powell said. “However, one of the things that we don’t know is the best measure that researchers and clinicians can use to assess young people’s post-disaster coping methods.”

The current study explored the coping strategies used by middle-class teen girls in St. Tammany Parish, an affluent area of New Orleans, after the area was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Of the 650 girls in the study, about 82 percent reported that the hurricane forced their families to evacuate their homes.

Six months after Katrina, the girls completed an adapted version of the Kidcope assessment, a survey widely used by clinicians and researchers to examine children’s and adolescents’ use of behaviors such as distraction, social withdrawal and social support to handle major stressors, including natural disasters.

However, one limitation of Kidcope is that it was designed for use in clinical settings to examine young people’s coping with serious illnesses and lengthy hospitalizations — contexts that differ from natural disasters, the researchers wrote.

When used in prior studies to assess coping among hurricane-affected youths, Kidcope’s structural modeling was variable and unstable, according to Powell and Wegmann. To address these inconsistencies, they and co-author Stacy Overstreet of Tulane University tested three different structural models to find the best fit with their study population of young hurricane survivors.

They found that the coping strategies utilized by the girls in St. Tammany Parish resembled a four-factor structural model, which included positive coping behaviors along with less healthy externalizing behaviors such as blame and anger, wishful thinking and social withdrawal.

In comparing these girls’ coping behaviors with those used by a sample of low-income, predominantly African-American peers who also survived Hurricane Katrina, the researchers found few similarities.

Instead, the St. Tammany Parish girls’ coping methods were consistent with those used by middle-class youths who were affected by a different natural disaster — Hurricane Andrew, which struck the Bahamas, Florida and Louisiana in 1992, Wegmann said.

“We found that culture really matters in terms of how adolescents respond to a disaster,” Wegmann said. “Some of the cultural values that are associated with resilience, such as a focus on community and informal means of support, are less prominent among middle-class populations than lower income populations.

“Middle class and wealthier demographics’ cultural values are more about individualism and personal responsibility, so the communalism that can help a person recover from a disaster just isn’t there,” Wegmann said.

By utilizing a data analysis technique called “exploratory structural equation modeling,” the researchers found that the behavioral strategies the St. Tammany Parish girls used also had complex relationships with each other.

For example, the coping strategy of attempting to forget about the problem, which was associated primarily with social withdrawal, also was associated with wishful thinking, blame and anger, and positive coping.

Understanding how and why disaster victims utilize varying coping methods and the influences that demographic differences may have on their responses is hampered by the lack of consistent, reliable assessment tools, according to the authors.

Developing effective, well-validated measures that can be distributed easily and adapted for differing populations should become a research priority to better assist disaster survivors with recovery, Powell and Wegmann said.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.sciencedaily.com/rss/top/environment.xml Top Environment News — ScienceDaily

Top stories featured on ScienceDaily’s Plants & Animals, Earth & Climate, and Fossils & Ruins sections.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/images/scidaily-logo-rss.png

Tying the knot: New DNA nanostructures

Tying the knot: New DNA nanostructures

Knots are indispensable tools for such human activities as sailing, fishing and rock climbing, (not to mention, tying shoes). But tying a knot in a lacelike strand of DNA, measuring just billionths of a meter in length, requires patience and highly specialized expertise.

Hao Yan, a researcher at ASU, is a practiced hand in this delicate and exotic field, operating at the crossroads of nanotechnology and fine art.

In new research appearing in the journal Nature Communications, Yan and his colleagues Fei Zhang, Xiaodong Qi and others describe a method for coaxing segments of single-stranded DNA into complex 2- and 3D knotted structures.

The results represent an important advance in the fast-paced field of DNA nanotechnology, in which the molecule of life is used as a structural building material for a vast array of tiny configurations. Among these are miniscule robotic devices, photonic applications, drug delivery systems, logic gates, as well as diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

“The knotted DNA structures demonstrated in this work exhibit unprecedented topological complexity, far beyond what has been achieved before using single stranded folding,” Yan says. “Indeed, it is not only amazing but also surprising that the single-stranded DNA and RNA can thread through its own chains and find a way to form such highly knotted structures, given the fact that the single strand has to weave through so many tangles.”

Yan directs the Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics and is the Martin D. Glick Distinguished Professor in the School of Molecular Sciences at ASU.

Bringing DNA into the fold

The new study involves innovations in the field of DNA origami, which, as the name implies, uses nucleic acids like DNA and RNA to fold and self-assemble into complex forms. This occurs when complementary nucleotide bases in DNA’s 4-letter alphabet come in contact and bind, according to a strict regimen: C bases always pair with G and A bases always pair with T.

In nature, strings of nucleic acids provide the code needed to make complex proteins. This basic biology provides the underpinning for all earthly life. Taking advantage of the simple base-pairing properties of DNA, it is possible to design structures that will self-assemble in the lab. The method has been applied to both single-stranded and double-stranded DNA forms, resulting in nanostructures of increasing complexity and sophistication.

While DNA origami has made startling advances since its inception, one technical innovation has been vexingly difficult to achieve. Until now, creating complex knotted structures in DNA in a predictable and programmable way has eluded researchers.

The new work overcomes this hurdle, establishing precise design rules that permit single-stranded segments of DNA (or RNA) ranging from 1800-7500 nucleotides to form knot-like nanostructures with crossing numbers (where the DNA strand weaves in and out of its own length) ranging from 9 to 57.

The group further demonstrated that these nucleic acid nanostructures can be replicated and amplified, both under laboratory conditions and within living systems.

Nature’s knots

Knotted structures, like those Yan has fabricated, (but much simpler than the synthetic ones), have correlates in the natural world. They have been observed in DNA and proteins and generally form during replication and transcription, (when a DNA sequence is copied into messenger RNA). They can also occur in the genomes of phages — viruses that infect bacterial cells.

Nevertheless, the construction of molecular knots at the nanometer scale, displaying well-defined and consistent geometries requires enormous control and precision. As it happens, nucleic acids like DNA are ideal for the design and synthesis of such molecular knots.

Previously, lengths of double-stranded DNA have been used for nanoscale constructions, with the addition of short pieces or “staple strands” to fasten resulting structures together. The new study instead uses a single length of DNA designed to wrap around itself in a precise, pre-programmed sequence of steps.

Once the knotted DNA nanostructures successfully assemble themselves, they are imaged using atomic force microscopy. Careful calculation allows the researchers to optimize the folding pathways to produce the highest yield for each synthetic structure. The use of single- rather than double-stranded DNA allows the structures to be produced in abundance at much lower cost.

A single-stranded approach opens the door for the design of nanoarchitectures with specific, well-defined functions, which can be produced through successive rounds of in vitro evolution, where desired attributes are selected for in a repetitive process of refinement. Further, the approach outlined in the new study provides a general platform for the design of molecular structures of increased size and unprecedented complexity, paving the way for advances in nanophotonics, drug delivery, cryo-EM analysis and DNA-based memory storage.

Designer DNA (and RNA)

For one of the initial knot designs the strategy Yan and his colleagues developed involved threading a single strand of DNA or RNA through itself 9 times according to a pre-programmed sequence, demonstrating that the new method is capable of producing intricate geometric shapes that are programmable, replicable and scalable.

The design strategy was subsequently expanded to include single-stranded RNA structures and 3D DNA knots, whose forms were reconstructed using a technique known as cryogenic transmission electron microscopy, confirming their proper folding into the desired shapes.

“One of the challenges in this work is how to increase the assembly yield of highly knotted structures.” Said Fei. Unlike classic DNA nanostructures, the single-stranded knots are less forgiving in terms of precise folding order due to the topological complexity. If a single crossing is misfolded during the process, the error will hardly be self-corrected and most of the misfoldings will remain in the completed structure. “We developed a hierarchical folding strategy to guide the correct formation of knots. We compared the folding efficiency of a knot with 23 crossings by using different folding pathways. The AFM images showed a dramatic increase in the folding yield of well-form structures from 0.9% to 57.9% by applying optimized hierarchical folding pathway.” Fei added.

The design rules used to optimize the folding pathways are based on the number of crossing points, the length of DNA and the number of base pairs in the designed structure. Three primary rules were established. First, linear folding paths were found to be preferable to branched paths. Second, the unfolded section of a DNA strand should not thread through itself in the early stages when the strand is still long. Finally, edges of the desired form that have three crossings should fold before those with two crossings.

Following the design strategy, the team was able to create more complex DNA knots with increasing crossing numbers.

Longer chains of single-stranded DNA pose unique challenges for designing programmed nanostructures due to the increased likelihood of unintended self-complementarity of the bases making up the chain. A DNA knot structure boasting 57 crossed nodes successfully assembled, though with lower yield and less precision. When the crossing number was increased to 67, the yield significantly dropped and the resulting structures, imaged by AFM, showed more errors of assembly.

The study reports the largest DNA knots yet assembled, formed from up to 7.5k bases, featuring the most complicated topologies, with up to 57 crossing regions. The single-stranded DNA sequences can be mass produced in living cells for greater efficiency at lower cost. Ultimately, DNA nanostructures of diverse function may be formed within cells, innovations to be pursued in future work.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.sciencedaily.com/rss/top/environment.xml Top Environment News — ScienceDaily

Top stories featured on ScienceDaily’s Plants & Animals, Earth & Climate, and Fossils & Ruins sections.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/images/scidaily-logo-rss.png