Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Microsoft Recalls Millions of Fire-Risk Power Cords


Microsoft Announced a Recall Related to Power Cords

Microsoft has voluntarily announced the recall after 56 reports of over two million power cords sold with Surface tablets all over the world were overheated, emitting flames. It had also received five reports from customers who had received electrical shocks. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has informed users to unplug the cords and get in touch with Microsoft for a free replacement.

The recall is related to power cords which had been sold with the Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3 tablets prior to March 2015 in Canada and the US and July 2015 beyond those countries. Though Microsoft is yet to go public on the number of Surface Pro power cords it intends to recall over fire concerns, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has conveyed that it is more than two million, stateside alone.

Microsoft claims that it received reports that cord for the first, second and third generation of the slab-book sold prior to March 15 could be defective, as exposed last month. It has informed that this could be the outcome of them being wound too tightly, twisted or pinched over an extended period of time.

Microsoft to Provide One AC Power Cord Free of Charge

Microsoft has informed that it will be providing one AC power cord free of charge and proof of damage is not essential. People with more than one Surface device would need to submit a claim for each device and it is not essential to send the old cords to them. Microsoft had sold around five million Surface devices since the launch, up to and inclusive of the first calendar quarter of last year, according to estimates from channel analyst Canalys.

Recently Apple is also said to be in the process of recalling for certain types of AC wall plug adapters which were included in some iPhone, iPad and Mac products, owing to danger of the adapters breaking and resulting in electric shock. As per the company, the recall comprise of two pronged wall plugs adapters incorporated with Mac computers and 10-watt adapters included with certain iOS devices between 2003 and 2015.

Consumers to Recycle/Dispose Defective Cords

Generally speaking, the responsibility is on the consumer for the problem which Microsoft has been addressing. If one has been rolling the power cord up in a way so as to make them more portable, one would probably damage the cord.

This could not only be the case of Microsoft cord but the cords in general. When one tends to roll up a cord against its natural shape there could be chances of fatigue wherein the complete length of the cord may tend to twist in a direction away from the length of the cord. According to Albert Cardenas, Product Manager for Consumer Audio at Monoprice, when asked for his advice explained that the stress against the natural coil could tend to twist the cord, ultimately weakening the cord to the point of irregular performance or even failure of the cord.

Microsoft has confirmed that a very small section of Surface Pro customers had reported of overheating problems with regards to their power cables. Consumers will be advised to recycle or dispose their defective cords in order to avoid the probability of future dangers.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Winning Hyperloop design revealed by MIT engineers


Hyperloop – Conceptual Transport System

A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has revealed designs for passenger pods which tend to travel through airless tubes. The Hyperloop is said to be a conceptual transport system wherein passenger of pods could be fired through vacuum tubes at more than 600 mph or 1,000 km/h.

The MIT team first came in a SpaceX competition in designing pods which could be experimented in a prototype tube and would now have the opportunity of building and testing its design in the U.S. Over 115 teams had entered the design competition with the MIT engineers making attempts for the Best Overall Design prize.

At the award ceremony in Texas recently, Mr Musk spoke of the next stage of the competition stating that the basic idea with the competition is that `they were going to try to get the highest possible speed in the 1.5 km track and then you have to stop before the end. There will be foam put towards the end so that one might recover some pieces of the pod. The purpose is to come up with something which could eventually be utilised and if one were to extend the track to hundreds of kilometres, the system would still tend to work

Spur Interest in New Forms of Transportation

What is envisioned to be done with Hyperloop was to spur interest in new forms of transportation’ and Musk is of the belief that it will happen. `It is clear that the public as well as the world would want something new’.

The MIT team beat over 100 other design teams of students from across the world, in order to win the award for the best overall design. The captain of the winning team, Phillippe Kirschen, a master’s student in aeronautics and astronautics commented that `MIT has been involved in so many technological breakthroughs in the past century and it makes sense that we could help advance what might be the future of transportation’, as reported in MIT news.

Chris Merian, chief engineer of the winning MIT team has described the pod as a levitating aluminium capsule and has said that the pod tends to focus on levitating and moving at really high speeds. Those are the two things which are seen as crucial to this being a true Hyperloop pod.As reported by BBC, the pod that tends to function on a custom designed computer system does not have space to accommodate passengers or cargo at the moment

Testing Braking System with Advanced Magnets

But the team has assimilated a fail-safe brake system in order to stop the pod in case its computer system tends to fail to operate. It is said that the MIT team together with 21 other students-led groups had the opportunity to graduate to the next level and experiment their designs on SpaceX’s mile-long test track.

The team is said to now concentrate on testing out its braking system using advanced magnets to plunge their pod at a speed of 100m per second. By mid-May, the final assembly of the design would be preferably ready for testing.

Envisioned concept of a `fifth mode of transportation’ the Hyperloop was announced by Elon Musk, the entrepreneur and tech titan in August 2013. The concept involved high speed transportation of cargo and passengers aboard a `pod’ which would travel within airless tubes.

 Though SpaceX had mentioned that it had no plans of commercialising Hyperloop, it however prefers to quicken the progress. Presently the tech company is said to be developing a mile long track in California that will be utilised in experimenting several pod designs in the forthcoming months.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Next-Gen Incandescent Bulb is a Light-Recycling Marvel


New Incandescent Light Bulb – More Efficient than LED

A new incandescent light bulb has been invented by a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology due to the breakthrough in nanotechnology which tends to be much more efficient than LEDs. The US researchers state that they have developed the technique which could considerably advance the efficiency of the traditional incandescent light bulb.

The older bulbs have been phased out in several countries since they tend to waste large amount of energy as heat. However the scientists at MIT have discovered means of recycling the waste energy and aiming to get back on the filament where it is re-produced as visible light. They are of the belief that they have developed the skill which could turn the weakness of the traditional incandescent bulb into power.

 The incandescent light bulb is a wonderful world changing invention. Its form is iconic with the light it tends to produce is matchless. The MIT team comprising of professors Marin Soljacic, John Joannopoulos and Gang Chen, have not necessarily re-invented the incandescent bulb nor have they done away with LEDs and CFLs, ushering in new era of incandescent. They have set out in solving an old problem by utilising new technology.

Two Stage Light Recycling Process

Significant to the technology on display with the next gen incandescent, is a two stage light recycling process wherein infrared radiation which is produced by conventional tungsten filaments is taken by photonic crystals based filter wrapped around the filaments. Performing as nano-mirror, the crystals made of Earth-abundant materials tend to reflect the energy back to the filament so that the radiation instead of being wasted as heat is reabsorbed and harvested producing visible light.

The discovery disclosed in the journal Nature Nanotechnology is undoubtedly impressive if a touch puzzling to those of us who do not tend to dedicate time and energy to nanophotonics. It could be simple just to think of these incandescent as self-recycling bulbs which could connect a source of waste and then transform it into a source of energy.

Applying this technology of light-recycling to commercial lighting could be a small part of a intricate puzzle as the MIT tend to investigate other application wherein this innovative thermal emission controlling process could be instantly beneficial.

Vast Challenge Faced – Global Warming/Energy Efficiency

But Soljacic had explained to BBC that he `would not exclude the probability of incandescent bulbs re-emerging in a completely more efficient form and it is not totally out of the question considering that incandescent bulbs are not outlawed. The most popular wattages have to be manufactured in order to meet the efficiency standards established in 2007’.

`Thomas Edison had not been the first one to work on the design of the light bulb, however what he had done was to find out how to mass produce it economically and keep it stable for a longer period of over 10 hours and these are the two critical criteria still.

These are questions to which they are trying to answer’. Soljacic further added that they `have a vast challenge which the world is facing presently, global warming and energy efficiency and this give one more tool in the toolbox to meet this challenge and they are excited about the potential’.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Whatsapp Reaches a Billion Monthly Users


WhatsApp – Communication Offering Low Cost Chat

As reported by Facebook, WhatsApp, mobile messaging service is being used by billions of people each month. The app owned by Facebook tends to have overtaken the social network’s own Messenger mobile app that has around 800 million monthly users.

The company has informed that 42 billion messages together with 250 million videos have been sent through WhatsApp on a daily basis. However, one analyst has stated that WhatsApp tends to trail behind local competition in some of the key markets. Jack Kent, mobile analyst at IHS, has commented that there are big markets where WhatsApp is not the leading player.

WeChat in China tends to have over 500 million users while Line is well-known in Japan and Kakao Talk is big in South Korea. However, WhatsApp seems to be certainly most successful, internationally and part of that tends to focus on communication offering low cost chat which is very trustworthy.

While other apps have focused on monetisation, stickers and games,WhatsApp has appealed that it is light on monetisation and has now dropped its annual fee entirely. In 2014, Facebook had bought the mobile messaging app in a deal worth of $19bn.

Secured/Easy Option of Staying Connected

WhatsApp, founded only seven years back has altered the way users seem to message one another and has only one focus which is a secured and easy option for anyone to stay connected with their family and friends all across the globe without the tension of cost etc. that other messaging services tend to burden on their users. Hence whether it is for sharing information during calamity or simply staying connected,

WhatsApp is always available for its users. With their ambitions to grow still further, it would not be surprising to see WhatsApp improve with new features and probably with some enhanced ways of communicating. WhatsApp, not too long ago had planned to drop the $1 yearly subscription fee and since then, WhatsApp had promised not to show ads for their own users’ sake, it leaves one wandering on how the messaging platform intends to make money.

Usage data which the platform tends to generate for Facebook could support the company in improving its targeted advertising that is its fundamental business model according to Mr Kent.

Added Feature – Voice Calling

He has mentioned further that `Facebook had started pushing people to its own standalone Messenger appwhen it had purchased WhatsApp. However, according to him, there was a risk that it could have been attained by a competitor and Facebook could lose millions of highly engaged mobile users to a rival, but WhatsApp still tends to face those challenges from local players who seem to monetise their services well and the same remains to be a competitive space.

In 2015 WhatsApp had up to 700 million monthly users and thereafter WhatsApp has added voice calling wherein users could have another option of getting in touch with their contacts. On addition of the voice calls, it has also decided to develop a web client which reflects the app from the phone and the team tends to continue making improvement with speed and reliability of the app, while ensuring it to be simple and secure.

Samsung Allows Ad-Blocking on New Mobile Web Browser


Android Phone – Install Ad-Blocker Extensions

Latest form of the default web browser on Samsung’s Android phone will now enable users to install ad-blocker extensions that were an update by Apple in September which permits ad-blockers to be installed for the Safari browser as extensions. Samsung phones blockers would have to be added in the same way and would not come as standard. It is said that the new browser would be rolled out for Android Lollipop or advanced users.

Well-known ad-blockers are already available for Samsung phone such as Adblock Fast and Crystal. Besides making web page less messy, mobile ad-blocking is considered to reduce the time of web-page loading as well as mobile data usage wherein the ad-blockers tend to improve the performance of browser by lessening to draw on phone batteries as well as data plans.

`Consumers using ad-blockers would probably use other browsers than the default one’ according to Daniel Knapp, the advertising industry analyst at IHS and `it is nonetheless important for Samsung to jump on the ad-blocking bandwagon. It wants to show customers that it is a premium brand which protects them and Apple’. He also informed BBC that there had been a `seismic change in the ad industry, wherein the marketing budgets had been increasingly moved from traditional forms of advertising, for instance, to sponsorship deals.

Eliminates Scripts in Web-Page Code

He also added that it was the most highly prized by advertisers, young as well as affluent users, who would in the first place, probably use ad-blockers. According to him it is an expression of massive consumer dissatisfaction in the way the ad industry tends to work.

 Ad-blockers tend to work by eliminating scripts in web page code which would then pull content from servers of ad networks. Around 18% of British adults online had been utilising some kind of ad-blocker in November and up 3% from June as per a report from the Internet Advertising Bureau – IAB.

In the meantime, in the annual financial filing of Facebook, the social network had announced advertising earning of $5.64bn for the fourth quarter of 2015 though cautioned that ad-blockers could affect future profits, adversely.It stated that if such technologies tend to continue to thrive especially with regards to mobile platforms, the future financial results could be affected.

Ads Delivered through Third Party Apps

However, Mr Knapp informed that companies like Facebook would be less likely than the other content publishers to get affected by mobile web ad-blockers since ads could be delivered through their third party apps. Thinking of ad-blockers being admitted to iOS 9, they were all completely focused on the in-browser environment and not for third party apps like Facebook.

Samsung had been contacted by Business Insider asking for more information on why the company had released this update. Details are awaited and will be provided on receiving from them. Ad blocking apps had come to the top of App Store charts when the iOS 9 update had been released.

 Though some Wall Street analysts had first feared a worst case scenario, this was Apple against the whole mobile publisher and advertiser ecosystem. Though ad-block apps tend to get lots of downloads, the fraction of users utilising them on regular basis seems to be quite small.