Engineers helping create the next generation of US rockets plan to incorporate escape systems so crew members will have a chance to reach safety. The unmanned Orbital Sciences Antares rocket exploded shortly after liftoff earlier this week, giving viewers around the world another brutal reminder that space launches remain extremely dangerous.
NASA considered some form of escape system for the retired space shuttle fleet, but believed the aircraft were significantly safer, and the explosion of the Challenger shuttle in 1986 brought the world back to reality. However, the Launch Abort System is able to activate in just a few milliseconds, sending the crew 1.6 kilometers in altitude in a few seconds after activation.
"Under the original plan we were, as of now, about two years away from conducting the first launch of Antares with the second-generation propulsion system... I certainly think we can short that interval, but at this point I don't know by how much," said David Thompson, Orbital Sciences President and CEO.
HDD capacity increases weren't that common in recent years, but recently we have begun to see higher capacity HDD's enter the picture with more frequency. Today Toshiba joins the party with a release of 4TB and 5TB drives for the consumer market. Toshiba's new products will carry a three-year warranty.
Specifics are scant, but we know that they are 7,200 RPM drives based on the tried-and-true PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) technology. These SATA drives come in the typical 3.5" form factor, and have an MSRP of $299.00 and $399.00, respectively. There are further big capacity increases coming in the near future as new technologies, such as HAMR (Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording) make their debut.
The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo suffered a "serious anomaly" during a test flight in California over the Mojave desert, with one pilot killed in the incident. The other pilot suffered serious injuries and is being transported to the hospital, according to the company.
"The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely," said Virgin Galactic after the incident. "We will work closely with relevant authorities to determine the cause of this accident and provide updates ASAP."
The SpaceShipTwo is designed to be carried on a mother ship and then can be released to ignite its rocket to head into suborbit, and can return to Earth by gliding back. A flight starts at $250,000 and passengers undergo three days of pre-flight preparation to verify they are physically and mentally prepared for the trip.
Chinese company Shanda hopes its Geak Watch 2 will win over consumers with at least one week of battery time up to 18 days on a single charge. The smartwatch can switch from a "high definition" color LCD to a "standby" E-Ink display to help conserve energy, which is a rather nice twist on most current battery-busting smartwatches.
The Geak Watch 2 can last up to six days on a single charge and costs $327, while the Geak Watch 2 Pro is $409 and can last up to 18 days in standby mode.
Here is what Ben Wood, CCS Insight spokesperson said: "One of the big challenges that smartwatch manufacturers have had is that people stop using the devices, and one of the reasons they do so is that they have to be charged on a regular basis, whereby they are being taken off constantly. Anything that enhances the battery life is a big win. That's why we've seen people who have Pebble devices typically using them longer than some of the rivals with daily charging requirements."
Sony has announced there are 7.9 million paid subscribers to the PlayStation Plus service, while not confirming how many of the estimated 13.5 million PS4 owners currently subscribe. PlayStation Plus memberships cost $10 per month, $18 for three-month bundle, or $50 per year - providing at least $36.34 million per month and up to $79 million sales per month, depending on subscription plans.
PS4 gamers use PS Plus to unlock online multiplayer, and provides free games, game discounts, cloud storage, and other perks to subscribers.
Sony CEO Kaz Hirai said in last May that half of PS4 owners subscribed to PS Plus, and the Japanese electronics company will hope to add to that momentum in the future. Serving as the No. 1 game console in the world, easily outpacing the Microsoft Xbox One, Sony has great potential to continue to ride a wave of success into the Christmas holiday shopping season.
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is now the No. 3 smartphone manufacturer in the world, trailing behind only Apple and Samsung. Described as "China's Apple," it continues to be an impressive run for Xiaomi, which has surpassed Lenovo and LG, after manufacturing smartphones for just three years.
Here is what IDC noted about Xiaomi: "Xiaomi jumped into the top 5 list for the first time at the number 3 position thanks to its focus on China and adjacent markets, which resulted in triple-digit year-over-year growth. Key to its success was the launch of its Mi4 smartphone in August, which was positioned as a high-end alternative to the status quo. What remains to be seen is how quickly can move beyond its home territories to drive volumes higher."
It seems inevitable that Xiaomi will try to invade the United States and Western Europe in the future - but with Apple and Samsung having so much success in these markets - Xiaomi will invest additional time to ensure a stranglehold in China and other parts of Asia first.
PAX AU 2014 - The 1-hour chat with Chris Roberts at PAX AU 2014's first day, for 'A Chat With Chris Roberts, The Original Wing Commander'. Chris went over a vast range of his history with Wing Commander, Freelancer and his most recent, super ambitious Star Citizen. Catch the two-part video below.
After the talk, we caught up with Chris and had a 15-minute chat, where he said that he "doesn't care about consoles" which is refreshing to hear. He's not constrained by marketing teams and massive publishers, which means he's developing the game that he, and the PC gamers of the world want. It's super refreshing, exciting and inspiring to hear him talk - even more so when you realize just how down to Earth he is.
Sony Pictures Steve Jobs movie has been bubbling away for a few years, based off Jobs 2012 biography written by Walter Isaacson. While stagnant for some time, Sony have moved to reinvigorate the project in recent weeks by hiring Danny Boyle to direct, replacing original pick David Fincher and casting Christian Bale as Jobs.
Now, according to industry bible Variety, the studio have also cast their Steve Wozniak, to be played by comedian Seth Rogen.
The poorly rated 2013 movie 'Jobs' starred Ashton Kutcher as Jobs and Josh Gad as Wozniak.
The as yet untitled film is to be produced by Scott Rudin and written by Aaron Sorkin, and is said to be aiming for a late 2015 release.
PAX AU 2014 - Tt eSports was one of the first companies we stopped by at PAX AU this year, with the company showing off the usual slew of gaming peripherals, power supplies, cooling products, LUXA2 devices and more.
The company had a delicious custom-built PC on show, powered by MSI's Radeon R9 290X Lightning Edition GPU, and more. The entire Tt eSports booth was styled in the beautiful black and red scheme, with the always happy to see you Chris Smith showing us what they had on offer. The custom PC was definitely a sight to behold, with some competitive gaming going on at the Tt eSports booth at PAX AU 2014 - with people jumping in, and jumping off the PCs battling each other.
The other PC, with a really slick color scheme.
PAX AU 2014 - I have just stepped back into my hotel room after a hectic first day at PAX Australia 2014, which was held in the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, with the highlight of the day being the 'A Chat With Chris Roberts, The Original Wing Commander', the guy behind Star Citizen, which has raised close to $60 million through crowdfunding so far, with no signs of stopping.
Chris had some great things to say during the speech, with that 1-hour chat available right here. But, we organized a chat with the man himself after the talk with the PAX AU crowd, where he had some interesting things to say. We talked about the state of PC gaming, where we have people like Alex Hutchinson, the Creative Director of Far Cry 4 saying that resolution in games is "not something" he "cares about". Roberts on the other hand, had the total opposite to say.
He said that the team is working on 4K and 8K textures, pushing the boundaries of the APIs in DirectX 11 and Mantle, where he said that Mantle and DX12 are going to provide some performance improvements to Star Citizen. This is because the game is quite CPU bound, something that DX12 should help out with when it launches next year. He finished the chat with a few great quotes, where he said: "I don't care about consoles" as he is really gunning for a true PC exclusive game in Star Citizen, something that pushes the entire PC gaming world forward in leaps and bounds.