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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jCGlW-KKYE

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From BGR: Honda’s new disaster robot walks like a gorilla, but could save your life

Honda’s Asimo robot was one of the first really lifelike humanoid bots to capture the public’s attention. Looking like a little mechanical astronaut, it’s capable of some pretty impressive movement, but it’s not exactly something you’d want searching for you in a disaster scenario. For that, you’d be much better of with Honda R&D’s new disaster response bot, which it just showcased for the first time after years of development.

The robot, named E2-DR, was first conceptualized in an R&D paper published by Honda back in 2015. It’s an incredibly capable robot that is designed as a stand-in for rescuers in situations where sending humans in is a no-go, such as a nuclear meltdown like the still-recent Fukushima disaster.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uat8laSf7gc

Weighing in at nearly 190lbs and standing just over five feet, five inches tall, E2-DR can adapt to scale many different types of terrain and obstacles. It can walk (obviously), crawl, climb ladders, navigate steps and traverse uneven platforms, and even stand perfectly upright, rotating its feet to either side to slip through tight gaps.

The bot’s head is absolutely packed with sensors, including infrared projectors and a trio of cameras with LED lighting. All that hardware is powered by an onboard Intel Core-i7, discrete GPU and custom cooling system.

At the moment, the robot isn’t quite ready to send into the field, as Honda still has lots of things it wants to add, test, and experiment with. The next phase of development will involve teaching the robot how to handle certain environmental threats, such as impacts and collisions.

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From BGR: The iPhone X’s Face ID feature has Senator Al Franken a little bit worried

Al Franken sure likes to write letters. Barely a day removed from Apple’s iPhone X event, the Minnesota Senator penned a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking a myriad of questions about the security protocols built into Apple’s brand new Face ID technology and any resulting privacy implications. Franken also asked how Apple tested the technology during development and if we can expect the feature to perform reliably with different groups of people across race, age and gender.

While some of the questions posed by Franken are arguably redundant insofar that we’ve already been down this road with Touch ID, there are a few intriguing questions Franken managed to sneak in. It’s worth noting that the tone of Franken’s letter is not combative as much as it is inquisitive. Laid out across three pages, Franken asked Cook to answer the following 10 questions.

Franken’s questions read:

1. Apple has stated that all faceprint data will be stored locally on an individual’s device as opposed to being sent to the cloud.
a. Is it currently possible – either remotely or through physical access to the device – for either Apple or a third party to extract and obtain usable faceprint data from the iPhone X?

b. Is there any foreseeable reason why Apple would decide to begin storing such data remotely?

2. Apple has stated that it used more than one billion images in developing the Face ID algorithm. Where did these one billion face images come from?

3. What steps did Apple take to ensure its system was trained on a diverse set of faces, in terms of race, gender, and age? How is Apple protecting against racial, gender, or age bias in Face ID?

4. In the unveiling of the iPhone X, Apple made numerous assurances about the accuracy and sophistication of Face ID. Please describe again all the steps that Apple has taken to ensure that Face ID can distinguish an individual’s face from a photograph or mask, for example

5. Apple has stated that is has no plans to allow any third party applications access to the Face ID system or its faceprint data. Can Apple assure its users that it will never share faceprint data, along with the tools or other information necessary to extract the data, with any commercial third party?

6. Can Apple confirm that it currently has no plans to use faceprint data for any purpose other than the operation of Face ID?

7. Should Apple eventually determine that there would be reason to either begin storing faceprint data remotely or use the data for a purpose other than the operation of Face ID, what steps will it take to ensure users are meaningfully informed and in control of their data?

8.  In order for Face ID to function and unlock the device, is the facial recognition system “always on/5 meaning does Face ID perpetually search for a face to recognize?

If so:

a. Will Apple retain, even if only locally, the raw photos of faces that are used to unlock (or attempt to unlock) the device?

b. Will Apple retain, even if only locally, the faceprints of individuals other than the owner of the device?

9. What safeguards has Apple implemented to prevent the unlocking of the iPhone X when an individual other than the owner of the device holds it up to the owner’s face?

10. How will Apple respond to law enforcement requests to access Apple’s faceprint data or the Face ID system itself?

Apple is under no legal obligation to respond to Franken’s inquiry, but it stands to reason that Apple will respond by the October 13th deadline Franken set.

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From BGR: This brand new case might be the cheapest way to double your iPhone’s battery life

If you have an iPhone 6 or an iPhone 6s, you know that Apple’s iPhones definitely stand the test of time. They’re still fast, still sleek, and they can still run Apple’s latest iOS software. Battery life is another matter entirely, however, and there’s no way you’re seeing battery longevity that’s anything like it was when you first got your phone. You could fix that by purchasing Apple’s $100 Smart Battery Case, or you could double your handset’s battery life for $25 with the brand new Trianium Atomic S.

Here are the highlights from the product page:

  • The powerful 3100mAh Li-polymer rechargeable battery can effectively provide 100%+ extra battery life to your iPhone 6/6S, which is equivalent to add 14 + hours talk time or 10+ hours web browsing time. (Upgraded: reinforced bumper/usb port)
  • 360° comprehensive bumper design and hard-shell backplate, the Trianium Atomic S Portable Charger protects your iPhone from scratches and other daily wear and tear, yet small and convenient enough to fit easily in your hand or in your pocket.
  • Featuring sync-through technology that you can sync your iPhone to a computer without having to take the battery case off. Simultaneously charge your iPhone and battery case together with the included microUSB cable. The case deploys microUSB input to lightning 8pin output to save you $100+ on keeping multiple apple cables.
  • The resilient design of the Trianium Atomic S iPhone Charger features LED battery level indicator that lets you know exactly how much power you have; and a softer side that safely holds your iPhone while providing easy access to all buttons and ports.
  • Trianium iPhone 6S/6 Battery Case works with iOS10 and all future updates; “LIFETIME” By Trianium ensure our products work the way you need them to.

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From BGR: There’s another star headed for our Solar System, but it won’t arrive for a while

Today, a colossal asteroid is cruising past our planet at a pretty safe distance, but if humanity is still around in some 1.3 million years, things are going to be getting pretty dicey here on planet Earth. New research spearheaded by the European Space Agency suggests that there’s a star headed towards our Solar System, and when it gets here it’s going to make life very difficult for anyone still hanging out on Earth.

The star, called Gliese 710, is headed for a close encounter with our Solar System, and we know that thanks to the ESA’s work on what it calls the Gaia Mission. The initiative sought to create an extremely accurate 3D map of the Milky Way, and in doing so, plot the trajectories of as many nearby stars as possible.

The effort has successfully plotted the paths of hundreds of thousands of stars, and in studying the ones that will come closest to our neck of the woods over the next five million years, ESA’s Coryn Bailer-Jones discovered that Gliese 710 is going to cause some serious issues down the road.

The star won’t come into direct contact with our Sun, but it will cruise within 1.4 trillion miles of it. That’s close enough to disrupt the mass of icy debris, called the Oort Cloud, which surrounds our system. When it does that, it will likely send untold numbers of comets towards the center of the Solar System, making life very dangerous for anyone living on one of the inner planets, like Earth.

It’s worth noting that, given the current situation here on Earth with climate change, overpopulation, and the nuclear threat, there’s a good chance humanity won’t make it out of this century in one piece, so we probably shouldn’t be worried about what’s going to happen 1.3 million years in the future.

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