Google Chromecast, Apple TV For Sale Once Again On Amazon

Amazon has backed down from its stance of selling devices that compete with its own offerings.

The eCommerce king, for the past two years, has refused to sell Google’s Chromecast streaming device or the Apple TV, both of which competes with Amazon’s own Fire TV.

“I can confirm that we are assorting Apple TV and Chromecast,” an Amazon spokesperson told CNet.

The fight with Apple ended earlier this month when Amazon released a Prime Video app for the Apple TV.

With Google, however, it took the threat of pulling its popular video service, YouTube, from all Amazon devices come the New Year to make Amazon change its mind about selling Google devices.

Google gave Amazon until Jan. 1 to change its tune, or YouTube, it said would cease to be available on the Fire TV, the Echo Show and other Amazon devices.

“Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV,” Google said in a statement to the media earlier this month.

Google has not said, as yet, if it would scrap its removal of YouTube plans.

Another Solar System Like Earth’s Found

A solar system with as many planets as our own has been discovered with the help of NASA’s Kepler space telescope and artificial intelligence, the US space agency said Thursday.

“Our solar system now is tied for most number of planets around a single star,” NASA said in a statement.

However, none of the planets is expected to be hospitable to life.

The eight-planet system — the largest known outside of ours — orbits a star called Kepler 90 some 2,545 light-years away.

“The Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of our solar system,” said Andrew Vanderburg, an astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin.

“You have small planets inside and big planets outside, but everything is scrunched in much closer.”

The newly identified planet, Kepler-90i, is a rocky planet like Earth, but orbits its star once every 14.4 days, meaning a full year there is the same as two weeks on Earth.

“About 30 percent larger than Earth, Kepler-90i is so close to its star that its average surface temperature is believed to exceed 800 degrees Fahrenheit, on par with Mercury.”

Scientists found it by using machine learning from Google, which teaches a computer to scan a trove of 35,000 possibly planetary signals collected from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope for search for signs of planetary transits.

Transits are the dimming of light when planets pass in front of a star.

Astronomers have already confirmed the existence of some 2,500 far-away worlds using Kepler data, which captures transits.

“Machine learning really shines in situations where there is so much data that humans can’t search it for themselves,” said Christopher Shallue, a senior software engineer with Google’s research team who thought of using artificial intelligence to find distant planets.

More planets are expected to be found. Researchers plan to apply their neural network to Kepler’s full set of more than 150,000 stars.

One day, it might even be used to search for more Earth-like planets.

The findings are published in The Astronomical Journal

Hurricane Irma, Matt Lauer Top Google Search In 2017

A hurricane and sexual misconduct dominated Google search globally this year.

Google released its annual Year in Search stats this week to reveal Hurricane Irma was the most-searched term in 2017, followed by iPhone 8, iPhone X, Matt Lauer and Meghan Markle to round out the top five. In sixth place was the web television series 13 Reasons Why, followed by recently deceased rock star Tom Petty, fidget spinners, Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington (who committed suicide in July) and the India National Cricket team.

Matt Lauer, the former Today Show host who was fired over sexual misconduct charges, and Suits actress Meghan Markle, who recently became engaged to Prince Harry, also topped the trending People searches globally, followed by disgraced Italian television reporter Nadia Toffman. Movie producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey, both of whom became embroiled in sexual misconduct scandals this year, were next on the list followed by Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot, U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, boxer Floyd Mayweather, fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Brazilian soccer star Philippe Coutinho.

The top global news searched were Hurrican Irma, Bitcoin, the Las Vegas Shooting, North Korea and the solar eclipse, followed by Hurrican Harvey, Manchester, Hurricane Jose, Hurricane Maria and April the giraffe.

The top how-to search was how to make slime followed by how to make solar eclipse glasses, how to buy Bitcoin, how to watch Mayweather versus McGregor and how to make a fidget spinner. The second half of the top 10 was kicked off by how to watch the solar eclipse followed by how to freeze your credit, how to play Powerball, how to screen record and how to lose belly fat fast.

To see the top searches for the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K., click on the provided links

Apple’s iMAC Pro Available For Purchase Thursday

Apple’s all-new iMac Pro hit store shelves today

In its usual cryptic style, Apple has updated its website to announce iMac Pro would go on sale this Thursday, but did not release any pricing info, although media reports indicate the computer will start at $4,999.

Not meant for the average user, this device gives creative professionals the power they need to take on a variety of tasks editing 4K video, for instance.

“Pros love iMac. So when they asked us to build them a killer iMac, we went all in,” Apple said on its iMac Pro webpage. “And then we went way, way beyond, creating an iMac packed with the most staggeringly powerful collection of workstation-class graphics, processors, storage, memory, and I/O of any Mac ever. And we did it without adding a millimeter to its iconic all-in-one design. So everyone from video editors to 3D animators to musicians to software developers to scientists can do what they do like they’ve never done before.”

The device, which Apple first announced back in June at its annual worldwide developers’ conference, will boast a 27-inch, 5K Retina display with 5120‑by‑2880 resolution. The machine has eight-, 10- and 18-core Xeon processor options, 128GB of memory and 1TB of storage, configurable to 2T or 4TB SSD.

So far, the machine is getting rave reviews from early testers.


Twitter Officially Launches Threads

Twitter has officially debuted its new thread feature to enable users of the microblogging site to post a series of connected tweets that are easier to post and find.

“Hundreds of thousands of threads are Tweeted every day,” Twitter product manager Sasank Reddy said in a blog post. “But this method of Tweeting, while effective and popular, can be tricky for some to create and it’s often tough to read or discover all the Tweets in a thread.”

Threads are still necessary and relevant, despite Twitter’s newly expanded character limit up from 140 to 280  for tweets, Reddy said.

“We know people also may want to serialize a longer story or thought, or provide ongoing commentary on an event or topic,” he added. “That’s where this update to threads comes in! You’ve been using threads in creative ways like these for years – the ways and reasons to thread your Tweets are limited only by your imagination.”

To create a thread, simply add a plus button in the composer to connect your tweets. This allows you to publish the threaded tweets at the same time. The ‘Add another Tweet’ button allows you to add more to the thread at any time.

It is also easier to find a thread thanks to Twitter’s new ‘Show this thread’ label.

The new functionality is rolling out to everyone on iOS, Android, and in the coming weeks.

Google To Yank Youtube From Amazon Devices

Google will pull its popular video service, YouTube, from all Amazon devices come the New Year unless Amazon backs down from its refusal to sell Google products that compete with its own tech offerings.

Currently, Amazon has refused to sell Google’s Chromecast streaming device, which competes with its own Fire TV, on its eCommerce site. You also will not find Google Home, the company’s voice-controlled, AI-powered assistant, on Amazon. That is because it directly competes with the Amazon Echo line.

Google has given Amazon until Jan. 1 to change its tune, or YouTube will cease to be available on Fire TV, the Echo Show and other Amazon devices.

“Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV,” Google said in a statement to the media.

According to a report from the CBC, YouTube was supposed to stop working on the Echo Show Tuesday. Amazon, however, has apparently discovered a way to make unauthorized versions of YouTube play on the device.

Amazon has yet to comment on the matter.

Only time will tell if the eCommerce king will allow Google devices entry on its site or if Amazon customers will simply have to live without YouTube on their devices.

Apple Apologises, Fixes Security Flaw

Apple has pushed out an update to fix a major security hole in its Mac operating system, admitting it “stumbled” with its latest software.

The flaw, revealed on Tuesday, made it possible to access a Mac without a password, and also have access to powerful administrator rights.

The latest version of MacOS will automatically download the update.

"We greatly regret this error and we apologise to all Mac users,” the firm said.

"When our security engineers became aware of the issue Tuesday afternoon, we immediately began working on an update that closes the security hole.

"This morning, as of 8am PT, the update is available for download, and starting later today it will be automatically installed on all systems running the latest version (10.13.1) of MacOS High Sierra.”

It is only second time Apple has forcibly updated users’ machines and comes in response to widespread concern that millions of Mac computers were at risk.

Users running older versions of MacOS will see a notification prompting an upgrade.

"Security is a top priority for every Apple product,” the company said.

“And regrettably we stumbled with this release of MacOS.”

It added: "Our customers deserve better. We are auditing our development processes to help prevent this from happening again.”

Tesla Electric Truck Test Operation With DHL Order

Deutsche Post AG’s (DPWGn.DE) DHL and Fortigo Freight Services Inc, one of Canada’s largest fleet management companies, said on Tuesday they had pre-ordered Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) electric truck unveiled earlier this month to test on limited routes.


High-profile logistics and transportation customers like fleet operator J.B. Hunt (JBHT.O) and retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) announced orders for the Tesla Semi after it was unveiled on Nov. 16.

The Semi, scheduled for rollout in 2019, is Tesla’s next step to move the economy away from fossil fuels through electric cars, solar roofs and power storage.

DHL Supply Chain, which provides transportation, warehousing and distribution services for U.S. manufacturers and retailers, ordered 10 trucks to test at customer facilities in major U.S. cities, the company said in a statement.

“The trucks will be used for shuttle runs and same-day customer deliveries, and will be tested for fuel efficiency on longer runs from major markets to other DHL operations across the country,” the company said.

Fortigo, based in Etobicoke, Ontario, ordered one Tesla Semi with a down payment of about 26,000 Canadian dollars (U.S. $20,290), with a balance due of under U.S. $181,000 when the Tesla is delivered, Chief Executive Elias Demangos said by email on Tuesday.

“We’ll be running it in a pilot program to ensure it meets our business objectives,” Demangos said.

Tesla will not provide a tally of orders it has received for the truck, company spokesman Dave Arnold said in an email.

The limited early orders reflect uncertainty about the market for electric commercial vehicles. The 500-mile (800 km) range between charges for the Tesla Semi is about half the range between fill-ups of a diesel Class 8 truck. Heavy batteries cut payload and add cost, potential deal killers for fleet buyers focused on operating cost per mile.

However, Tesla, and truck makers such as Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE), Navistar International Corp (NAV.N) and its partner Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) are investing in electric models in a bet that the market will shift over the next decade.

(Reuters/The Reflector)

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