Quadcopter Upgrade To Hubsan X4

A little while ago I mentioned that I had dipped my toe into the remote control quadcopter waters. That was an awkward metaphor, but let's move on regardless. The quadcopter I originally purchased was a Cheerson CX-10, and my only real issue with it was that it comes with a very small controller.

I have since upgraded to the slightly larger Hubsan X4, which comes with a more man-sized remote controller - which makes a BIG difference. Just the little bit of extra mass in the Hubsan also allows it to fly better outside, and the controller is SO much more comfortable for me to use.

The little X4 in my meaty paw

If anyone out there is looking to investigate the quadcopter hobby, I would definitely recommend the Hubsan X4 (H107L) as a starter machine, at around $35 it's hard to beat, and is "ready to fly" as they say.

It has most of what you would want or need for learning; inexpensive replaceable parts, a decent controller that allows both mode 1 and mode 2 usage, and two flying modes, a normal/beginner mode and an expert mode, where the quad is MUCH more "twitchy" and responsive.


I Don't Quite Get The Delivery Drone Use Case

Delivery drones seem to be catching people's imaginations, and various companies, including UPS, have been making preliminary tests. I have recently become interested in drones (specifically quadcopters) myself, and I honestly find my at a bit of a loss understanding where drone deliveries would fit into the scheme of things.

EFF Offers Sensible Advice, Will Probably Be Ignored

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) is trying to bring more sense and circumspection to the practice of using an IP address as the sole evidence for filing subpoenas and search warrants. They have released a white paper titled: Unreliable Informants: IP Addresses, Digital Tips and Police Raids.
At minimum, police should stop representing IP addresses as sufficiently similar to a physical street addresses or license plates to justify a warrant, since they are neither.
In today's environment, I doubt it will will make much difference - but well done for bringing it up.

PrivateInternet Access


How About An 80mpg, 2-Seater Car For Less Than $8,000?

Elio Motors 3-wheeler car costs less than $8,000 and is designed as cheap basic transportation for those of us who otherwise might be stuck with driving around in a "beater". Been there, done that. It has a manual transmission and a 55 HP 3-cylinder gasoline engine.

It's an interesting concept, and I have no idea if it will actually catch on - it may, as it's odd enough to be "quirky" or "hip", while still remaining somewhat practical. It looks a bit like a covered (and much less expensive) version of one of those motor trike contraptions - which I dislike intensely, for no logical reason I can think of.

I don't know if the 3-wheeler aspect will freak people out here in the US. Being from the UK myself, I am a little more familiar with seeing 3-wheeled cars running around (sporty Morgans, the ghastly Reliant Robin, and the old, trippy "Bubble Cars"). 


Drone Racing League On The ESPN Fall Schedule

The frantic and colorful drone racing league is heading to ESPN and ESPN 2 this Fall. The DRL is where "racing drones" are put through their paces in tracks that are reminiscent of the "Tron" movies. ESPN is airing ten 1 hour episodes leading up to the DRL World Championship this November 20th.

The pilots/racers fly these drones in so-called "FPV mode"'; they wear special headsets that allow them to see a First Person View from the drone itself (typically a small quadcopter), so they feel like they are sitting in the craft as it zips and zooms through the courses.

It can be high adrenaline stuff, and I'm sure that's what ESPN is hoping for. We get darts and poker, why not racing drones? The video below is from earlier this year, before the official word came out that ESPN was bringing this new event to TV. It's a good, short overview of what to expect.


Oops, Another Overseas Tax Bill For Apple

Whatever Apple thinks they are doing with the various tax codes around the world, they may not be doing it quite right. I know zero about corporate taxation, legal loopholes and the like - and if recent history in any indication, neither do Apple's legal eagles.

This time, Japan has been paid back taxes on iTunes profits to the tune of $120 million, peanuts compared to the recent EU claim, but still a chunk of change.
A report from national broadcaster NHK World claims that the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau has told Apple to cough up $120m (12.3bn Yen) to cover back taxes that the Cupertino giant failed to pay.

Kuwait's Massive DNA Database

Kuwait - or Gattaca Land, as we may well refer to it in the future - is intent on gathering DNA data on everyone in that county, and everyone who ever visits that country. It's a huge, expensive undertaking with some very troubling ramifications (see the Gattaca reference above), and the justification for all this is, predictably, fighting crime and terrorism.
Kuwait's government says the database could be used to fight terrorism and crime. The proposal was adopted last July, just a week after a suicide bombing in a Shiite mosque in Kuwait City killed 27 people and wounded many more.
I'm not exactly sure how that would be effective against terrorism in particular, but then again, I am not currently living directly amid a scourge of suicide bombings, and I suppose the government is desperate to at least be seen to be doing something in response, like our Patriot Act here in the USA.


Self-Drive Cars Set To Clobber Jobs

In a nod to the days when the introduction of the automobile rapidly made horse-drawn vehicles and their handlers largely obsolete, self-drive cars appear poised to wreak similar havoc in certain areas.
When the self-driving-car revolution firmly takes hold, there will be carnage, according to Wolf Richter of the Wolf Street blog. Not the car-crash kind — though that is a prevalent fear — but on the employment front.
“The magnitude of this problem is breathtaking,” he wrote. Citing government figures, he says that 4.1 million jobs (the stat of the day in our “Need to Know” column) are at risk, including chauffeurs and drivers of trucks, cabs and ride-share vehicles.


pCloud Cloud Storage On Linux

As a cheapskate user of the Dropbox free plan, I was looking to see if there was another provider that offered a little more free storage than the 2GB from Dropbox (I actually have 2.5GB, due to a couple of bonus offers).

After a bit of research, I came up with Swiss-based pCloud: it has a client for Linux, as well as Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. The free tier offers 10GB of Cloud storage with no file size limits, which is fantastic for my (pretty basic) needs. You can set up your account first from the pCloud website, or during the client install process.


Justice Department Paying Attention To IoT Device Security

In my humble (non-security professional) opinion, the Internet of Things is a disaster waiting to happen - and by disaster I mean the gamut, from monetary loss, identity theft and even actual physical harm.

Now, the US Justice Department is looking into the gamut of "connected" things  - cars, medical devices, security system and on and on. It seems to be a low-key initial investigation, but hopefully it will result in some helpful suggestions that can be implemented.

Suggestions like; "IoT manufacturers - get your sh*t together!!"
The impetus for the team, which has been informally active for about six months, was an understanding that the Internet is vulnerable to cyber attacks partly because it was not designed with security in mind, Carlin told Reuters, after announcing the group on Thursday at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance conference in Washington.  

Elementary OS Latest Stable Release Is Out

Elementary OS Loki now has a stable release available for download. This Linux distribution in based upon Ubuntu, and is available only in 64-bit versions (a definite trend these days, sad to say for those of us with older 32-bit boxes still laying around).

I have used Elementary OS before, and liked it quite a bit. It's pretty lean and sparse, but if you are simply using your PC for everyday tasks and like an uncluttered, somewhat Mac-like interface, this may be the Linux distro for you.

As with most Linux distributions, Elementary is available as a free download although it's perhaps not immediately obvious on their home page. Please donate if you feel the project has value to you. You can download for free by selecting a "custom" donation amount and entering zero.

Click to enlarge


New iPhone Time! Come Get Your iPhone 7!

The new iPhone 7 comes with triple-thrust vectromats, double overhead underhangs, hybrid peanut butter and jelly dispenser, with a hardened unobtanium case.

That made no sense, but I bet a lot of you would still go out and grab your new iPhone regardless, such is the power of Apple's brand. Apart from looking swanky, the iPhone 7 has features like water resistance, dual cameras on the Plus version, and a new A10 Fusion 64-bit processor.

And yes, the 3.5mm audio jack is indeed gone.

The iPhone 7 should start shipping to major markets in mid-September.


Even More Duke Nukem 3D - Who Wants Some?

Duke Nukem 3D, the irreverent first person shooter PC game that just refused to die, is coming back again this October from maker Gearbox. The title is expected to be "Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour".
It is set to feature new episodes along with eight different levels in several locations like Amsterdam, Paris, the Colosseum in Rome and Hollywood.
All episodes were believed to be designed by the original game artists Richard "Levelord" Gray and Allen Blum III.
And we should all be relieved to learn that Jon St. John is back voicing Duke Nukem himself.



No More Windows 7/8 Support With Forthcoming AMD And Intel CPUs

From this point on (sounds ominous, doesn't it) new CPUs from both Intel and AMD will not offer support for Windows 8 or earlier. Technology moves at a fast pace these days anyway, and things become obsolete more quickly, but it's interesting to get a sort of official notification from the big two chip makers. Any new chips are being made with Windows 10 in mind. Period.
Installing these operating systems on newer hardware should work for a long time, but certain capabilities won’t function. Things might be slightly easier on AMD’s side of the fence, since GPU drivers are typically a major component that quits working between operating systems, and AMD will continue to provide discrete graphics drivers for Windows 7 and 8.


Electric Vehicles Can Get The Job Done, Make A Difference

In common with probably many of my generation, I am not especially "green". Oh, I understand the desire and even the need to re-use and recycle when common sense dictates (and I do), but I don't feel very comfortable when some start demanding substantial human depopulation and ditching all petroleum based product in a few years.

Anyway, it's essentially their world now, not mine, so I roll with it. 

A new years-long study has shown that almost 90% of current personal vehicle usage could be replaced by electric vehicles, and that doing so would put a good sized dent in our carbon footprint. This is assuming they run on "decarbonized" electricity - a new phrase to me, but I'm sure one that will come up again.
By working out formulas to integrate the different sets of information and thereby track one-second-resolution drive cycles, the MIT researchers were able to demonstrate that the daily energy requirements of some 90 percent of personal cars on the road in the U.S. could be met by today's EVs, with their current ranges, at an overall cost to their owners -- including both purchase and operating costs -- that would be no greater than that of conventional internal-combustion vehicles.


An AI Trailer For An AI Movie Thriller - Thanks, Watson

Now this is a good use for artificial intelligence - IBM's Watson came up with the perfect movie trailer. Never mind all that medical research stuff, this is where the clicks are at, baby!
For the film "Morgan," which is due out in theaters on September 2, IBM's Watson made the first movie trailer ever edited by artificial intelligence.
To make the film, an IBM blog post explains, Watson analyzed the trailers of over 100 horror and thriller film trailers to understand what sounds, scenes, and emotions to incorporate. The system looked at musical scores, the emotions in certain scenes (indicated by people's faces, color grading, and the objects shown), and the traditional order and composition of scenes in movie trailers.
Business Insider