From BGR: Boeing introduces ‘Son of Blackbird’, a new concept design for a Mach 5 spy plane

Boeing a few days ago introduced an incredible concept design for a spy plane that may ultimately replace the iconic and legendary SR-71 spy plane. Dubbed the Son of BlackBird, Boeing’s creation is a hypersonic beast capable of traveling at five times the speed of sound, or 3,863 MPH to be more specific. As a point of contrast, the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet has a maximum speed of 1,200 mph.

Though just a concept for the time being, the design is based on more than 20 years of knowledge gleaned from projects such as NASA’s experimental X-43 hypersonic aircraft, which, interestingly enough, currently holds the record for being the fastest aircraft in history after reaching a speed of Mach 9.6, or 7,310 MPH.

At this point, there’s no telling if and when the Son of BlackBird will ever see the light of day. In a best case scenario, the concept design will become an actual aircraft sometime in the late 2020s. All the same, Boeing does have some competition as Lockheed is currently working on its own concept designs for a hypersonic aircraft.

All that aside, the technology and testing required to make a plane as fast as the Son of Blackbird a reality is immense, to say the least.

“It’s a really hard problem to develop an aircraft that takes off and accelerates through Mach 1 all the way to Mach 5 and beyond,” Boeing chief scientist for hypersonics told Aerospace Daily & Defense Report a few days ago. “The specific impulse of an air breathing engine goes down with increasing velocity, so you have to make the engine bigger to get to Mach 5. But doing that means a bigger inlet and a bigger nozzle, and trying to get that through Mach 1 is harder.â€�

A scale model of the design can be seen below.

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From BGR: Early reviews of Tesla’s Model 3 are finally starting to roll in

At long last, it’s starting to look as if Tesla is finally starting to ramp up production on the Model 3 in a meaningful way. Though the Model 3 is reportedly much easier to manufacture than the Model S and Model X that came before it, Tesla didn’t come anywhere close to reaching its initial goal of manufacturing 20,000 Model 3 units per month by December of 2017. Indeed, Tesla during the third quarter of 2017 only managed to deliver 220 vehicles.

More recently, though, deliveries have ramped up significantly and we’re now starting to see Model 3 units arrive at the doorsteps of folks with no affiliation to Tesla. As a quick refresher, the first Model 3 deliveries were earmarked for Tesla employees and early reservation holders with substantive connections to the company. That being the case, thorough Model 3 reviews have been few and far in between over the past few months.

Not to worry, we’re starting to see an uptick in Model 3 reviews as Tesla continues to ramp up production and and improve delivery times. Most recently, Jalopnik posted their ‘First Drive’ review of Tesla’s mass market EV and had mostly positive things to say about the Model 3.

In fact the Model 3’s exceptional visibility in every direction would make for a uniquely immersive driving experience, if the driving experience itself weren’t so distinctively unremarkable.

The car accelerates competently, and a 30 mph to 50 mph passing-sprint feels downright rapid, but there’s almost no sensation of speed or drama of any kind. This nearly goes without saying, but while quick, you get none of the crushing acceleration you’d find on, say, a P100D Model S. But as I mentioned, the quoted zero to 60 mph time is still around five seconds flat, so nobody’s gonna call it slow.

For a more exhaustive review, you’ll definitely want to check out Jameson Down’s review over at Electrek. Whereas Jalopnik’s editors had to borrow a Model 3 for a few hours, Down actually received delivery of a Model 3 last week. In turn, he’s had much more time with the car and has a number of interesting observations.

As to the fit and finish of the car, long a weak spot for Tesla, Down writes:

After seeing my car and three other “first batch to the public� cars up close in the last couple days, I can report that the cars by and large do not seem to have significant issues with panel gaps.

Early Model S had a lot of issues with inconsistent panel gaps, but as Tesla built more and more of them, this problem has been disappearing. Many thought that the same would happen with Model 3 – that early cars would have issues, and later cars wouldn’t. The fact that these “first-batch� cars to the public do not have these issues shows that Tesla is not just getting better at making the Model S, but better at making cars in general.

As for how the car handles, Down observes:

On to the driving. The first thing I noticed is that the handling is superb. The car feels very “pointy� – it’s extremely responsive on turn-in, and feels much more nimble than a Model S due to its ~1,000lb lower weight. There is virtually no body roll due to the low center of gravity. The steering in sport mode feels perfect and responsive, though there are comfort and standard modes as well if you prefer lighter weight on the steering wheel. Keep in mind here my daily driver is a Roadster.

I need to underline that whole paragraph. This car’s handling is really great. I love it. I really really love it. It’s my favorite thing about the car so far.

You can check out Down’s full review over here.

And in case you missed it the first time, a Model 3 owner posted an insanely detailed and lengthy Model 3 review on YouTube about two months ago. You can check that over here with corresponding timestamps below.

Video Timestamps

Headlights @2:34
Aero Ducts @3:15
Roof Rack Attach Points @3:36
Wipers Detail @4:26
Exterior Door Handles @5:02
Windows, Doors & Trim @5:45
Trunk Details @9:26
Front Trunk Details @16:17
Front License Plate @18:45
Charge Port @19:27
Wheels Detail @20:02
Underside Details @20:45
Interior Tour @21:43
Center Console @26:27
The Dashboard @28:38
Speakers @29:45
Dashcam Mounting @30:12
Overhead Console & Sun Visors @30:42
HVAC Demo @31:54
Screen Tour @33:32
Windshield Wipers @51:39
Control Stalks @53:48
Unlocking Model 3 @54:38
Keycard & Phone App @55:06
Phone App @55:31
Sundry Items @56:45
New UMC @57:27
The Drive @59:28
Closing Thoughts @1:07:14

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From ExtremeTechExtremeTech: The 3 Car Types That Demand Winter Tires

Virtually every car in the upper half of the US benefits from tires suited to cold, snowy weather. Buy four or none, not two winter tires. Don’t bother with studs.
The post The 3 Car Types That Demand Winter Tires appeared first on ExtremeTech.

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From BGR: This is going to be Samsung’s biggest problem next year

Among all the manufacturers who make Android phones, Samsung is unique: it’s the only company that makes good money selling flagship ($600+) phones. Sure, LG and HTC make great devices, but they mostly serve as a figurehead for those companies to sell cheaper devices to people who don’t want to take out a loan to pay for a device. Try as they might, the rest of the Android industry has never had success in the most profitable part of the phone world.

So for Samsung, the absolute worst thing that could happen — barring another NoteGate, of course — is a serious contender emerging at the top of the Android ladder. No, I don’t mean a well-intentioned but under-resourced startup like Essential; I’m talking about the huge Chinese companies, Huawei and Xiaomi. They’ve sold flagship devices in the US before, but it’s always been restricted to online or big-box sales, which make up a small percentage of the total smartphone sales.

To sell a serious number of expensive phones in the United States, there’s one thing a phone company needs to do: Get into carrier stores. Not only do the big four phone companies have a huge number of physical retail stores nationwide, they also offering convenient 24-month installment plans or leases, which spread the high cost of expensive phones over two years, rather than pushing it into an immediate lump sum. For a lot of Americans, that’s a deal-breaker.

So that’s why a new report from The Information, which says that Huawei will sell its new Mate 10 phone through AT&T, is terrible news for Samsung. On paper, the Mate 10 could be a big challenger to the Galaxy S9, especially if the S9 sports a familiar/boring design that customers have seen before. The Mate 10 has features that have been a big selling points for Samsung in the past — like a physical headphone jack and front-mounted fingerprint sensor — while also adding things that the Galaxy S9 is rumored to lack, like a Leica-branded dual-lens camera setup.

The Information reports that Huawei is lining up a $100 million advertising drive to go along with the US launch of the Mate 10, and reports from Bloomberg also say that the company is in negotiations with Verizon to also bring the Mate 10 to that network. If Huawei can sell a Galaxy S9-rivaling phone through the two biggest networks, and make a big advertising push at the same time, it could cannibalize part of Samsung’s so-far-unassailable market share, and mark the first real competition in the Android world for years.


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From BGR: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ review: This is not going to go the way you think

When we last left our intrepid, intergalactic heroes, they were battered and bruised, but victorious. The Starkiller Base had been destroyed and there was a spark of hope once again in a galaxy far, far away. Finn was recovering from his injuries, Leia was coping with the loss of her husband and Rey had landed on tiny island on a distant planet, face to face with the legendary Jedi Master — and hero of the Rebel Alliance — Luke Skywalker.

The Last Jedi picks up shortly after The Force Awakens with the dwindling Resistance, led fearlessly by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), locked in a lopsided struggle with the First Order. This battle serves as one of two threads that director Rian Johnson’s film follows for the two and a half hour run time, which flies by in an instant.

The other thread is one that Star Wars fans have waited decades to see: the return of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). But so broken up over his failure is Luke, that he’s reluctant to take on another student. More than reluctant, he has lost virtually everything that made him such a compelling hero in the original series.

And that’s where Johnson’s vision for the middle chapter in this new trilogy begins to seep through.

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) says repeatedly throughout the film that the past has to die. He believes that the only way he can make a path for himself is to leave everything he ever thought he knew behind, and that’s exactly what The Last Jedi accomplishes by the time the credits roll. If The Force Awakens was a celebration of the original trilogy, The Last Jedi is an explosive farewell, one in which more heroes have to fall for new ones to take their place.

But Johnson does it with such style and grace, that it feels less like we’re losing a cultural touchstone and more like we’re finally turning the page. The back-and-forth between Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (previously Ben Solo) is as emotionally resonant as any relationship in the film, and the climax of that conflict results in one of the most visually impressive, surprisingly brutal and altogether satisfying lightsaber battles in series history.

Then there’s the dynamic between maintenance worker Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) and Finn (John Boyega), who bounce off of each other nearly as well as Rey and Finn did in The Force Awakens. And despite the glut of characters, Poe (Oscar Isaac) actually gets enough screen time to make an impact and feel like more than an afterthought.

All in all, The Last Jedi feels more focused than its predecessor, with enough action, humor and drama to keep you engaged without ever leaving you feeling overwhelmed. And speaking of humor, it’s impossible to talk about The Last Jedi without acknowledging the outsized impact of humor on the script. Not only is the movie funny, but you never can tell where the levity is going to come from next. It might be from the adorable (and only slightly grating) Porgs or the wisecracking Finn, it might be from Luke, or it might come at the expense of a terrifying villain.

It was occasionally hard to reconcile the punchlines with the ever-growing body count as the war between the First Order and the Resistance raged on, but Johnson mostly manages to walk the line without stepping over it.

And though Rian Johnson has made his name with tight, compact movies and TV show episodes that contain bursts of action, he handles the paintbrush surprisingly well when given a limitless canvas to work with. The Last Jedi isn’t quite as “big” as its prequel in terms of scope and scale, but there are plenty of battles, both big and small, that punctuate the movie and raise the stakes of the journeys that the main characters have embarked on.

There are also a few singular moments — which I wouldn’t even dream of spoiling — that use the rules of the Star Wars universe to incredible effect, blowing the collective mind of the audience. Near the end of the film, I managed to piece together what was about to happen seconds before it took place, and yet rather than being bummed out that I’d spoiled the magic trick, I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what it would actually look like on the screen. It turned out to be somehow even more dazzling than anything I could have imagined.

But what stands out most about The Last Jedi — in both its most serious and dour moments and its lightest, silliest interactions — is the reverential abandon with which Johnson treats the Star Wars universe. It sometimes feels like Disney gave Johnson the keys to the car, and he immediately drove it into a brick wall.

That might sound like a barb, but I think it’s exactly what the series needed. We’re never going to get another original Star Wars trilogy, so Johnson gives all the loyal fans the answers and fan service they crave while tearing away at the fabric of a story that the architects of this fictional universe have been building for over 40 years. Although Johnson is about to begin work on a new trilogy of his own in this universe, The Last Jedi feels like a new chapter as well.

But it isn’t the end. And for as many questions as The Last Jedi answers, the most important ones still remain for the third and final movie in this sequel trilogy. Our heroes once again have their work cut out for them, but in the final moments of The Last Jedi, we see a glimpse of the hope that will define their future. The board is set, the pieces are moving — the only question now is how J.J. Abrams will top his first Star Wars movie. Luckily for him, Rian Johnson has left him with everything he needs to bring it home.

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From BGR: Monoprice’s Black Friday 2017 deals: 20% (or more) off everything

Most Black Friday 2017 deals are complicated. There’s doorbusters, select limited-stock deals on certain items, blackout windows, and 30-page ads to wade through to get the handful of deals that are actually relevant.

But Monoprice has decided to make the whole thing a lot simpler. The cheap-and-cheerful gadget retailer’s Black Friday 2017 deals have been announced, and it’s all sales, zero fluff.

The headline deal is that (nearly) everything on Monoprice’s website will be 20% off on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With just a handful of limitations on a few items, virtually everything the company sells is on sale. Want to stock up on charging cables, rewire your house, or buy cheap cooking gadgets? Now’s a good time. (Cooking gadgets also make good Christmas gifts, FYI.)

In addition to the site-wide sale, there’s also a few deeper discounts on some select products:

·       27in 4K ActiveHDR Desktop Monitor with Aluminum Bezel – $299.99

·       25 Watt Stereo Hybrid Tube Amplifier with Bluetooth – $99.99 + FS

·       Premium 5.1-Ch. Home Theater System with Subwoofer– $139.99 + FS

·       Monoprice Wireless Charger, 1A – $8.49 + FS

·       CanSolo Bluetooth Speakers – $39.99 + FS

·       Monolith 2×200 Watts Per Channel Two Channel Home Theater Stereo Power Amplifier – $799.99

·       Monolith 5×200 Watts Per Channel Multi-Channel Home Theater Power Amplifier – $1,099

·       Monolith 3×200 Watts Per Channel Multi-Channel Home Theater Power Amplifier – $899

·       5 PAIRS Of High-Quality Gold Plated Speaker Banana Plugs, Closed Screw Type – $4.57

·       MP Intelligent High Suction, Self-Docking, Self-Charging Robotic Vacuum Cleaner with Drop-Sensing Technology and HEPA Style Filter for Pet Fur and Allergens, Hard Floor / Carpet – $99.99

·       Monolith M1060 Planar Headphones – $249.99 + FS

The deals go live at midnight, Wednesday 22nd November. For obvious reasons, this is an online-only sale.

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From BGR: Microsoft has a secret weapon in its fight to save the 3.5mm headphone jack

Apple was not the first one to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack from a phone, but the iPhone maker was the only one to receive unrelenting backlash as a result. Meanwhile, Google explained a few weeks ago why you can’t have a headphone jack on an all-screen smartphone, and that’s why it removed it from the Pixel 2 phones — so the company can prepare for the all-screen Pixel 3 handsets coming next year.

Microsoft, meanwhile, does not make smartphones of its own any longer, but the company patented technology that will allow it to use a headphone jack in spaces that are so tiny that they won’t actually fit the jack.

A patent found by MSPowerUser apparently details means of keeping the aging headphone jack in place on devices that are supposed to get thinner designs.

Let’s not forget that Microsoft still makes Surface laptops and tablets that are quite popular with buyers. This patent seems to indicate that future Surface designs may offer thinner profiles, and Microsoft is looking at ways of preserving the headphone jack even if it won’t really fit the new Surface devices. That sounds like a bad idea, regardless of how much you want to hang on to those old headphones.

As you can see in the image below, Microsoft is considering various contraptions that will have moving parts to accommodate the insertion of a headphone plug.

That can’t look good on a device that’s supposed to be super thin. And I bet those moving parts may run into some issues the more you use them. Oh, and did I mention the whole contraption will look hideous? Bad idea, Microsoft!

The full patent, awarded to Microsoft on October 17th, is available at this link.

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From BGR: With Amazon shares soaring, Jeff Bezos is now the world’s richest man

Amazon yesterday released its third-quarter earnings results and completely blew away even the most optimistic of analyst expectations. When the dust settled, Amazon posted revenue of $43.7 billion, a cool $1 billion more than the $42.1 billion analysts on Wall St. expecting. Profit wise, Amazon continued to demonstrate that it can generate a profit, however small. For the quarter gone by, Amazon posted earnings per share of 52 cents, a solid figure relative to EPS expectations of 3 cents. All told, Amazon posted $256 million in profits.

In the wake of Amazon’s earnings report, shares of the company began climbing in after-hours trading. When trading opened up on Friday morning, the upward trajectory continued. By mid-afternoon, shares of Amazon were up 127 points, with the stock breaking the $1,1000 threshold for the first time. And with shares of Amazon going through the roof, CEO Jeff Bezos has since become the wealthiest person on the planet.

With Amazon’s stock climbing to the stratosphere, CNBC reports that Bezos is now worth approximately $90 billion.

This isn’t Bezos’ first time as numero uno. He became the richest man for the first time in July – but his reign only lasted a day. On July 27, Amazon’s share price topped $1,050 and Bezos’ paper fortune soared past $90 billion. But after Amazon’s share price slipped, Bezos fell back to second place behind Gates.

With shares of Amazon showing no signs of falling significantly, it stands to reason that Bezos will be able to enjoy his status as the world’s richest man for much longer than his first go-around this past summer. As for other tech icons who can be found on the list of world’s richest people, Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Ellison both crack the top 10.

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From BGR: New documents shed light on Steve Jobs’ interesting connection to the Clinton administration

As the CEO of Apple, not to mention a widely revered tech luminary, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was no stranger to rubbing elbows with the political elite. Especially towards the last few years of his life, and coinciding with the ever-increasing relevance of technology in our day-to-day lives, Jobs became discernibly more visible on the political scene. As a quick example, Jobs in 2012 famously told then-President Barack Obama that the manufacturing jobs responsible for making the iPhone a reality “aren’t coming back” to the United States. You might also recall that Jobs even gave Clinton advice during the Monica Lewisnky scandal of 1998.

With that in mind, a recently granted Freedom of Information Act request put forth by Gizmodo sheds some interesting light on Jobs’ connection to the Clinton administration. The request sought access to any and all materials involving Jobs and, as a result, a wide variety of interesting information was brought to light.

One of the more intriguing pieces of information involves a congratulatory letter Jobs sent to Clinton after winning the 1996 Presidential election.  Included in the letter were two self-described “crazy suggestions” Jobs wanted Clinton to consider for cabinet positions, namely Dean Ornish for Surgeon General and former Intel CEO Andy Grove for Secretary of Defense.


“Please excuse my presumption in making these suggestions,” the letter notes at the end. “I just wanted to make sure that these folks didn’t escape your attention as you make these critical decisions.”

Jobs further championed Grove in a follow-up letter:

Andy is at the center of the exploding information revolution, and he could bring many of these perspectives to defense strategy and its current uses of information technology (command & control, intelligence,…). He could be a secret weapon to change our perspectives and thinking about defense as our nation faces new world roles and fiscal limitations. I have never met a better manager and leader in my life (including Dave Packard and Bob Noyce). Andy has no public policy experience, but he is one of the smartest and fastest learners I have ever met. He was born in Hungary and is a US citizen.

Also interesting is that Clinton sent a handwritten letter to Jobs after he returned to Apple in early 1997 and even another one congratulating Jobs for appearing in a 2000 edition of the New York Times crossword puzzle.

The entire treasure trove of information is well worth checking out. While there’s nothing groundbreaking, it does provide us with some interesting background information on the relationship between Jobs and Clinton.

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From BGR: Everything new coming to Netflix in November

What better way to counter the Monday blues than with a new schedule of licensed and original content from Netflix? The streaming service shared its November slate on Monday — an eclectic collection of shows, movies and specials that should keep us all occupied as the temperature continues to drop throughout the fall.

Some of the highlights include Marvel’s The Punisher, two solid Will Smith movies: Men in Black and The Pursuit of Happyness, a new stand-up special from Brian Regan and a documentary about the filming of Man on the Moon, a film in which Jim Carrey portrayed the legendary and controversial comedian Andy Kaufman.

Available November 1st

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Check back soon for a full list of the movies, shows and specials being removed from Netflix next month. In the meantime, watch a short video featuring some of the highlights coming in November below:

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