Today just about everything we use relies on electricity to operate from our smartphones and computers to our toilets in some cases. On July 23, 2012, the sun threw two gigantic clouds of plasma into space and they barely missed the Earth. In fact, had the coronal mass ejections happened only a week before, they could have devastated life on Earth according to scientists.
These storms wouldn't have killed people necessarily, but they would have likely damaged satellites and the electrical grid to the point that anything that plugs into the wall wouldn't have worked. Physicist Daniel Baker says that if those solar eruptions had hit the Earth, we would still be picking up the pieces two years later.
NASA said, "Analysts believe that a direct hit ... could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket. Most people wouldn't even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps."
"According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair."
Comixology is a digital distributor of comic books that was purchased by Amazon in April of this year. During Comic-Con international in San Diego this week, the company made an announcement that fans of digital comic books will love.
Comixology is ready to offer users a number of DRM-free comic books. With no DRMN to mess things up, buyers of the digital comics can copy and share DRM-free comic books and can store them on their devices permanently. This may seem a bit strange to fans of comics considering that Comixology was reportedly working to get the tools for stripping DRM taken off Github not long ago.
The important thing here is that this announcement doesn't mean all comics the site offers will be DRM-free. Publishers of the digital comics will have the option of making them DRM-free if they choose.
Amazon's Fire smartphone has been on the market for a short while and it has finally been granted the teardown treatment by iFixit. Once the smartphone was pried open, we were able to see what hardware the device used for the first time.
Under the skin, Amazon's Fire smartphone is using chips from Qualcomm, NXP Semiconductors NV, and Samsung Electronics. Other hardware inside the smartphone comes from Synaptics Inc and Skyworks Solutions. The main processor inside the phone is a Snapdragon 800.
One of the major features of this smartphone is the four cameras that are designed to track the user's head. The smartphone also has the ability to take a photo of just about any product and then take the user to that product on Amazon. Samsung makes the NAND storage inside the Fire smartphone and the 2GB of DRAM as well.
Google has found itself in hot water over how it is handling the right to be forgotten requests it receives in Europe. Google lost a case not too long ago that meant it has to remove links to some stories about people, if asked by the person the story is about.
Google has reportedly only granted half of all right to be forgotten requests sent in by consumers so far. Requests to have content forgotten have been coming in since May and so far 91,000 requests have been made, with only about half granted according to a source.
Google reportedly believes that the ruling on the right to be forgotten case strikes the wrong balance between the right to be forgotten and the right to know for other consumers. Google has been notifying publishers when a link to a story is removed under the right to be forgotten ruling to give the publisher a chance to fight the removal.
What better way to fund your PC upgrades than hitting Kickstarter, eh? Alex Schank is a YouTube video creator who has content on channels such as AStereotypicalGamer or BasementPresentation, but his video card just died and he has "no where else to turn".
Schank's NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 died recently, and he wants to raise $350 to buy himself a new GeForce GTX 780 Ti. Right now Schank has received absolutely no money toward his goal, with 14 days left to raise $350. He has promised that if he receives the $350, he will "be making regular videos again and streaming on Twitch.tv once more".
For those of you with an Oculus Rift, you might want to grab the just-released Oculus SDK version 0.4.0 beta. The new Rift SDK includes some great new features, starting with DK2 support obviously.
The new SDK includes an Oculus Runtime that is installed separately from the SDK itself. The runtime package includes the Oculus Config Utility, service and drivers. We also have the star of the show, an Oculus Display Driver under Windows, something that routes the rendering output directly to the Rift headset, offering up an option to mirror this display output in a window.
There's also a new Health and Safety Warning screen that will display in front of you once an application starts up. You can grab the new Oculus SDK 0.4.0 beta package from the Oculus VR developer website, which requires a login.
Apple is still reportedly preparing two next-gen iPhones, with a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch version. It looks like we could see the 4.7-inch version launched first, with the larger 5.5-inch model to be launched several months later. Why? Well, there's a good reason for that, in Apple's eyes anyway.
DigiTimes is behind the new report, citing their usual anonymous supply chain sources, where they said: "The different timetables have been set as Apple does not want to repeat the mistake it made in 2013 when it launched the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c simultaneously, said the sources". There are still conflicting rumors that Apple will launch both new iPhones at the same time, but I think we will see a staggered release.
Apple won't want to cannibalize its own sales, and it knows that releasing two new bigger iPhones at the same time will do just that. There are a lot of people who have been waiting for a 'bigger iPhone' and being torn between two models won't help. One will sell more than the other - I'm banking on the 4.7-inch version - which will allow Apple to do a Samsung. Samsung launches a Galaxy Note around six months after its flagship Galaxy S smartphone, where Apple could start doing the same thing - releasing the 4.7-inch version, waiting six months to launch the bigger 5.5-inch iPhone 6.
It was only a few days ago that the now privately-owned Dell opened up another payment option: bitcoin. Now the company has announced that its subsidiary arm, Alienware, also accepts the digital currency as payment for its custom-made goods.
Alienware took to Twitter to announce the news, with @Alienware saying: "Alienware now accepts Bitcoin! For a limited time, get up to $150 off when using this payment method! http://www.alienware.com/". As you can see, Alienware is actually offering $150 off any purchase on its goods when using bitcoin, which is a nice way of attracting some new customers.
Oculus VR has started shipping its Development Kit 2 unit of its VR headset, the Oculus Rift. Oculus VR had tens of thousands of orders of the Rift DK2 unit, with many placing their orders at around 8 AM PDT, with a first come, first serve basis being placed on shipping.
The Oculus VR developer forums are filled with many happy gamers and developers who have had their DK2 units shipped, but some aren't so happy as they ordered a little later than some others, so their DK2 units haven't been shipped yet. I personally ordered my DK2 unit at 4:06 PM PDT, and my order is still unfortunately pending, so I'm guessing I'm in the second batch of shipments, hopefully.
Oculus VR will be shipping out a huge 10,000 units this month, with over 45,000 orders on its DK2 unit being placed.
Samsung's venture into virtual reality has becoming slightly more real today, with a tease of its new Gear VR software platform. Sam Mobile is behind the latest leaked screenshots, showing off Gear VR Manager, Samsung's software that is required with its Gear VR hardware.
The Gear VR Manager includes some core apps like VR Panorama, VR Cinema and an early version of the HMT Manager. Once you've got it all paired and setup, there's a tutorial that will show you how you can slide your Galaxy smartphone into the VR headset, connecting it with Gear VR using a USB 3.0 connection. Sam Mobile has confirmed that there is a touchpad and back button being built into the Gear VR headset itself.
How will you be able to control Gear VR? Thanks to Samsung's S Voice, you'll be able to speak voice commands into Gear VR. The rumors are that Samsung will launch Gear VR sometime this year, most likely alongside the launch of its upcoming Galaxy Note 4 smartphone.