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EU pushes in a law for a common smartphone charging standard

The European Union is pushing for a new voluntary adoption of a smartphone charging standard years ago, but is now much closer to that goal. The European Parliament has voted in favor of a draft law requiring that smartphones work with a common charger.

 

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Now the EU needs the Council of Ministers approval, where European Union countries will have until 2016 to get it into their local laws, and smartphone makers have a year more to change their hardware. Most phone makers already support the concept, but there will be some companies who don't want to change, or need a little push to fall into line.

First curved coins from USMint unveiled, commemorate Baseball HoF

Traditionally coins minted in the US have a very distinctive round and flat shape, but a new release from the US Mint has all but shattered that pattern. A new commemorative design will soon roll out that honors the National Baseball Hall of Fame's 75th birthday in the form of the country's first curved coin. The round coin takes the profile of a baseball and is featured in both gold and silver mintings.

 

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The coins profile and design are loosely based on the curved shape of the International Year of Astronomy coins minted by France back in 2009, as well as Australia's Southern Cross coins. Designed by California Artist, Cassie McFarland, the coins feature a baseball on the front and a catchers mitt on the reverse. Her winning "Hand full of Gold" design was chosen from a pool of 178 entries and was based off of a baseball glove she used as a kid.

Continue reading 'First curved coins from USMint unveiled, commemorate Baseball HoF' (full post)

Google Maps explores Colorado River with Street View

Google Street View is a cool service that shows you what streets and landmarks look like at the level you would see in a car or on foot. Back in 2012, Google took a tour of the Grand Canyon with a Trekker backpack that let you virtually explore trails around the canyon.

 

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Google has now strapped one of those Trekker systems into a raft and explored the Colorado River. The footage is very cool and makes you feel like you are right on the water. The footage required two Trekker cameras attached to rafts shooting images every 2.5 seconds.

 

The journey down the Colorado River was made in partnership with American Rivers organization that tries to protect endangered rivers. Google worked with Arizona River Runners for the actual journey. Google started at Lee's Ferry and ended at Pearce Ferry.

Continue reading 'Google Maps explores Colorado River with Street View' (full post)

Paypal adjust policies to fix issues surrounding crowdfunding

When it comes to crowdfunding, Paypal is not the most popular of choices when it comes to transaction processing. This is because the company has withheld funds in the past when taking crowdfunding donations on behalf of project creators. This is a problem because the whole idea of crowdfunding is to generate the funding needed to move forward with a project. Paypal is looking to change its image with the crowdfunding crowd by altering its policies on the subject.

 

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PayPal's Chief Risk Officer, Tomer Barel, says that his company now contacts campaign owners early in the crowdfunding process in an effort to better understand the projects goals. Different government regulations apply based on if the campaign is fundraising or simply offering pre-order sales. PayPal also has varying policies based on this as well and says it will not put limits on the account if the campaign is strictly fundraising. Restrictions will apply however if the capaign is strictly a pre-order type project. "We enable their campaigns without interrupting payments under the condition that the campaign owner is explicit and transparent to their contributors that there is no guarantee of delivery regarding the rewards being offered upon contribution," Barel says.

AT&T acquisition of Leap Wireless gets FCC approval

AT&T has been working on an acquisition of Leap Wireless for a while. Leap is a pre paid carrier favored by mobile users that don't like contracts. AT&T's purchase will cost it $1.2 billion and the FCC gave the deal the green light this week.

 

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Leap Wireless is also the owner of the Cricket brand of devices and service. The deal was first announced in July 2013 and no objections were raised by the DOJ against the deal. That meant all that AT&T needed was FCC approval.

 

The FCC had initially said that the deal raised concerns about competition in the marketplace. However, the FCC later decided that any concerns about reduced competition were offset by AT&T's plans to roll out LTE services on spectrum that Leap is currently using.

Continue reading 'AT&T acquisition of Leap Wireless gets FCC approval' (full post)

Overstock chokes patent trolls into submission

I've never purchased anything online from Overstock.com, but I like the fact that the company doesn't just whip out the checkbook when it comes to dealing with patent trolls. Overstock has a history of spending whatever it takes to fight patent trolls to the end.

 

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Back in 2011, Overstock was able to defeat Alcatel-Lucent at trial and even had one of the patents Alcatel accused it of infringing on ruled invalid. That is as big a defeat as a patent troll can be handed. Overstock has now announced that it has defeated two more patent trolls and paid out no money to them.

 

According to the company, Execware LLC and Eclipse IP LLC have each dropped their respective cases accusing Overstock of patent infringement. Overstock's SVP and general counsel Mark Griffin said that the company prefers to spend its legal budget litigating rather than paying.

Continue reading 'Overstock chokes patent trolls into submission' (full post)

Oculus VR and EA team up to form the Immersive Technology Alliance

Days before the Game Developers Conference (GDC) kicks off in San Francisco, news has hit the wire that a collective of companies working on virtual reality (VR) technology is rebranding itself.

 

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The Stereoscopic 3D Gaming Alliance is now known as the Immersive Technology Alliance (ITA), and will continue to "foster a vibrant and diverse industry that content makers can support on a wide scale." The ITA has under its wings: EA, Panasonic Epson, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and smaller companies like Technical Illusions, Gameface Labs and Oculus VR.

Singapore regulates Bitcoin exchanges in effort to prevent laundering

Today, the Central Bank of Singapore announced that it will now regulate all virtual currency intermediaries that operate and do business within the country's borders. The country says that this move will address concerns over money laundering, and terrorism funding. Starting today, Bitcoin Exchanges, virtual currency ATM's and vending machines that accept Bitcoins or other virtual currencies will have to verify the identity of its customers and report all transactions that seem suspicious in nature.

 

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This aligns Singapore with US efforts to bring regulation to the wild west that is cryptocurrency, but this regulation does not mean that there will be any form of safeguards extended to investors like their are in traditional investments made with analog money. This means that while regulators wish to control the currency, they do not wish to protect its investors against collapse, theft, or loss due to natural disasters.

Study finds online mood can spread to others

I think most of us know if you hang out with someone that is in a bad mood, you are more likely to get that bad mood for yourself. A new study has been published that looked at if the same holds true for online moods via status updates.

 

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The study was conducted by Facebook, Yale, and the University of California San Diego. The results of the study found that your online mood could spread to others just as your offline mood can. The researchers looked at 100 million Facebook users in the US.

 

They also studied more than a billion posts. Using an algorithm they created, they were able to filter the posts based on a positive or negative mood. The results found that the mood of one user could affect the moods of their online friends. The researchers say that they knew moods were contagions, but this is the first study to look at how the process works online.

Continue reading 'Study finds online mood can spread to others' (full post)

LuMini Bluetooth enabled LED smart bulb hits Kickstarter

Tabu is a company that makes some very interesting LED light bulbs that are controlled via an app on your smartphone and Bluetooth. The Bulb is green since it uses LEDs that consume less power. The coolest part about the bulb is that you can use the smartphone app to control the color of the light.

 

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With RGB LEDs inside and a fourth white LED, the original Lumen smart bulb can make any color you can think of. Tabu has announced a new project that is on Kickstarter right now. This project is for a smaller version of the original Lumen called the LuMini.

 

The goal with this smaller light bulb is to be able to fit it inside a lamp or other small fixture where the original couldn't go. Other than the size and the lack of a white LED inside, the LuMini is the same as the original.

Continue reading 'LuMini Bluetooth enabled LED smart bulb hits Kickstarter' (full post)

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