Deploying police body cameras could help avoid high-profile incidents

Michael Hatamoto | Wearable Computing & Fashion | Nov 26, 2014 6:18 PM CST

The unfortunate incident between officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown, which left Brown dead and many people rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, has become a prominent platform in the promotion of body cameras. A growing number of police agencies are deploying wearable cameras, typically clipped to an officer's uniform, as a method to record officer interactions with members of the community - and a way to help provide insight into deadly encounters.

"The findings suggest more than a 50 percent reduction in the total number of incidents of use-of-force compared to control-conditions, and nearly 10 times more citizens' complaints in the 12-months prior to the experiment," according to a Police Foundation-commissioned study.

Department of Justice officials and other law enforcement experts share similar findings - and believe the use of body cameras could help prevent future incidents like in Ferguson. Civil liberty groups say the videos would help prevent officers from abusing their authority, while law enforcement groups mention citizens would be less likely to falsely accuse officers of wrongdoing.

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3DHead CEO's exclusive interview rebutting Reddit user claims

Chris Smith | Displays & Projectors | Nov 26, 2014 5:55 PM CST

Just yesterday we published an article on 3DHead's apparent disappearance from the market, after promising to provide an "Oculus Killer" as mentioned through their wacky marketing video.

In updated news, billionaire founder and CEO Alki David has provided us with an exclusive statement and interview regarding the topic - rebutting claims and providing his own evidence against Reddit user crazy_goat's findings and theories published on the 25th of November.

David first mentioned the claims made regarding his 'FilmOn X' company, set to provide streamed broadcast TV to subscribers mobile phones, stating: "I've attached an article from Litigation daily that reviews the position of FilmOn X in the USA. Please note that FilmOn X is the company that was called Aereokiller not FilmOn TV.

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Experts still claim Edward Snowden data leaks cost lives

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Nov 26, 2014 5:43 PM CST

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was disgusted by NSA and GCHQ mass surveillance activities, and disclosed the questionable actions of both agencies. However, multiple lawmakers and politicians have spoken out against his actions, saying he has put military personnel and intelligence agents at risk.

British lawmakers hope to push the Communications Data Bill, which would force ISPs and mobile service carriers to keep Internet browsing activity, social media, email correspondence, voice calls, Internet gaming activity, texting, and other records on file for a minimum of 12 months. Phone and email contact data is already retained due to the Data Retention Regulations 2014 bill.

"Consequently there are people dying who actually would now be alive," said Lord West, a former UK security minister and Navy admiral. "It is now critical that we move forward the Communications Data Bill that was paused so unreasonably because there is a very real danger that unless we do this, I think it is not exaggerating to say that people will die in this country who would have been safe if that had been in place."

Continue reading: Experts still claim Edward Snowden data leaks cost lives (full post)

Researchers boost solar cell efficiency 21.8% with Blu-ray technology

Paul Alcorn | Storage | Nov 26, 2014 3:08 PM CST

Data storage affects every aspect of modern life, but it turns out the technology developed for Blu-ray data storage can also have other uses. Solar cells work by trapping light, and it turns out that the same patterns used on the surface of Blu-Ray disks can absorb 21.8% more light than other textures. Solar cell efficiency is measured by how many photons they can absorb, and current designs utilize quasi-random nanostructures to boost efficiency. The pits and grooves present on a Blu-ray are between 150 and 525 nanometers, which is coincidentally the perfect size for trapping photons.

Researchers at Northwestern University began by testing with the patterns from a blank Blu-ray, but interestingly enough they found that greater efficiency is achieved when data is present. Researchers tested with different types of video on the Blu-ray, such as Jackie Chan's "Supercop", episodes of "Family Guy", and black and white movies. The efficiency of the solar cells increased no matter what type of video was present. The 21.8% increase in efficiency equates to a 12% improvement in conversion efficiency, which will result in more efficient solar panels and other applications.

The findings will be published in the journal Nature Communications under the title "Repurposing Blu-ray Movie Discs as Quasi-random Nanoimprinting Templates for Photon Management." Perhaps there is a use for those old dusty Blu-rays on the shelf after all.

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Vodafone admits it accidentally sent too much information to police

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Nov 26, 2014 2:59 PM CST

The British government requested data on one journalist as part of Operation Elveden, focused on alleged bribes made to public officials for information, and "accidentally" received data on 1,000 News UK staff. Vodafone said there was some type of human error that led to the extra data being supplied, while police officials said they returned the information.

Police wanted information focused on one journalists that worked for News UK from 2005 to 2007, and used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to receive the data - and the information was returned back to Vodafone after about four months.

"Unfortunately, there was a human error during the processing of this information - which was drawn manually from a legacy system - as a consequence of which the Met Police were supplied with a corrupted dataset containing a significantly higher volume of metadata than had been the focus of the warrant received by Vodafone. The metadata in question relates to call logs and other information, such as pricing data, not the content or location of any communications."

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Samsung unleashes free Far Cry 4 gaming bundle with 840 EVO purchase

Paul Alcorn | Storage | Nov 26, 2014 1:47 PM CST

Starting on Black Friday, and only available while supplies last, Samsung is offering a free Far Cry 4 download with any purchase of an 840 EVO SSD. The offer is only available from participating retailers, most notably Best Buy, Amazon, Newegg, Microcenter, Fry's, and Tiger Direct. Users will be able to download the game at a Samsung-hosted web address (Samsung.com/fc4) until September 1.

The 840 EVO is a value SSD that delivers tremendous performance. Our resident SSD expert, Chris Ramseyer, recently took a look at the 840 EVO in his Samsung 840 EVO 500GB SSD Review - An SSD with a Good Price and Performance article. Chris found the 840 EVO to offer a great mixture of price and performance, and the EVO won the TweakTown Editor's Choice award. The 840 EVO is currently selling at roughly 45 cents per gigabyte, and adding in the free Far Cry 4 game is the cherry on top.

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4K TV shipments soar as Black Friday shopping approaches

Paul Alcorn | Displays & Projectors | Nov 26, 2014 1:03 PM CST

The 4K TV market is finally expanding rapidly as we enter the holiday shopping season. The total sales figures for retail 4K TV's year-to-date weighs in at 6.4 million units, but over 3 million of those TV's shipped in the last quarter alone. Retailers are obviously stocking up for huge Black Friday sales, and the continued price reductions for ultra-high definition TV's are obviously fueling the healthy sales figures.

Surprisingly, China has led demand and has consumed 60% of the shipments thus far. Samsung occupies the leadership position, but low-cost panels from relatively unknown manufactures, such as Hisense and Changchong, are creating more competition in this space. Plasma TV's aren't faring as well, and several companies have ceased manufacturing them entirely. The overall TV market has been somewhat sluggish and only grew at a 4% rate last year. The growth is fed largely by 1080p LCD panels, but most consumers have already upgraded to 1080p at this point, and the catalyst for future growth will likely be yet another transition period as we move to 4K televisions.

Aside from excessive price, another significant reason many have forgone the move to 4K televisions is the lack of 4K media and players. Many of the early adopters are videophiles with impressive home theater systems, and the emergence of sensibly priced 4K-capable receivers is finally a reality. As the ecosystem of 4K capable devices continues to develop we expect a rapid increase.

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Demand for drone pilots increasing, with salaries starting at $100K

Michael Hatamoto | Drones | Nov 26, 2014 10:37 AM CST

Do you want to be a drone pilot? There is increasing need for private drone pilots, with salaries often starting at $100,000 per year - and the demand for these specially-trained workers is only increasing. The market is expected to create around 100,000 new jobs over the first 10 years, with a growing number of drones entering private US airspace.

Even with potential Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) problems, Amazon, Facebook, and other companies are interested in utilizing drones for various reasons. Some companies are already paying $50 per hour, and salaries will only increase even further above $100,000 per year, according to Al Palmer, University of North Dakota Unmanned Aircraft Systems director.

Expect more university programs dedicated to helping groom the next generation of drone pilots.

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Microsoft adds native support for FLAC audio files in Windows 10

Paul Alcorn | Audio, Sound & Speakers | Nov 26, 2014 10:25 AM CST

Audiophiles, rejoice! Windows 10 Project Manager Gabriel Aul has announced via Twitter that Microsoft will offer native FLAC support in their latest operating system. FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is a commonly used lossless audio format that provides a more accurate reproduction of recordings. In other words, it sounds better than other formats, such as MP3, which compress recordings down to a more manageable size but lose quality in the process.

FLAC audio files are very large, but the audio quality is superb. Windows has long forced users to turn to downloadable third-party audio codec packs to support FLAC, along with several other codecs. Microsoft has finally seen the light and is integrating FLAC directly into Windows Media Player 12 and the music app. Microsoft has also pleased the world at large by finally supporting MKV as well, so perhaps there will be less third-party codec downloads with insidious bloatware installers in our future.

Discerning ears want to know what took Microsoft so long to support the popular FLAC codec, but in some ways it makes sense. MP3, while of inferior quality, creates files that are small and can be flung out to mobile devices which have limited capacity. MP3 also produces 'good enough' quality for the majority of users. FLAC files are absolutely huge, as anyone who has downloaded them (legally, of course) is well aware of. As new dense storage technologies are working their way to market, such as 3D NAND, we will begin to see portable devices with enough capacity to easily store our precious FLAC files. In the interim, storage on PC's is plentiful and cheap. Prices are hovering around 2.5c per GB, and users can easily store tens of thousands of recordings relatively cheaply.

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HDD manufacturing rebounds and prices near $25 per TB for holidays

Paul Alcorn | Storage | Nov 26, 2014 8:40 AM CST

The floods in Thailand in 2011 sent a tidal wave of high prices through the HDD market. The ripples of the flood are just receding and HDD prices are finally rebounding. Black Friday sales are going to feature HDDs for roughly $25 a terabyte, and expect many of these great deals to come without the normal mail in rebate programs. External drives are also going to be exceptionally low priced and feature speedy USB 3.0 interfaces.

After years of declining sales the PC market is also finally improving. Storage devices are somewhat of a litmus test for the PC market. When sales of PC are bad the HDD market declines. Users seem to be turning back to their home computers. Sales of tablets, which helped eviscerate the PC space, are also starting to decline. The personal storage category has rebounded with a 4.8% increase in overall units shipped last quarter, according to IDC.

More units means lower prices and better deals as we hunt for Black Friday deals. Most consumer HDDs are somewhat similar in performance if they feature the same speed, and nearly all feature the same warranty period. If you are looking for the best hard drive price should be a major factor, as there is little to separate drives of the same speed.

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