Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Free Weekend with Xbox Live Gold



All Xbox Live Gold members can enjoy Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – The Ultimate Evil Edition for free as part of Xbox Live Gold Free Play Days. In order to take advantage of this offer, you must be an Xbox Live Gold member.

It’s being called a “Free Weekend”, but the offer actually lasts a total of 5 days. It started on Thursday, July 27, 2017, and will continue through Monday, July 31, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. PST.

Xbox Live Gold members on Xbox One markets will get a special opportunity to fight back against the hordes of evil. During this time you can also purchase Diablo III: Eternal Collection, the latest version of Diablo III that includes the new Necromancer class and all content from Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition, from the Xbox Store at 35% off to continue playing after Xbox Live Gold’s Free Play Days concludes.

If you give the game a try, and later decide to come back to it, your saved progress and earned achievements will remain. In other words, you won’t lose the progress you made.

The Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition contains both Diablo III and the Reaper of Souls expansion set, together in one volume. You can choose to play as a Crusader, Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter, Monk or Wizard. You can download Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition by clicking on the Gold Member area on the home dashboard or downloading directly from the Xbox Store.


TSA New Inspections #1215



The TSA is now going to be requiring you to empty more of your computer back out as it introduced new inspection techniques. So those of you that do not have TSA Pre you’re going to be standing in line longer and grabbing more empty bins. I am back in the normal show groove tonight and even go a little long, this one is packed full of tech goodness. Consider becoming a GNC Insider your contribution goes a long way.

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Implant Invasion? #1214



So what if your workplace offered up an implant that would get you into your computer and check out at lunch. Ready for the Implant Invasion? Lots to share tonight on a late starting show.

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Microsoft Paint is Here to Stay!



Microsoft released a list of “features that are removed or deprecated in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.” The one that seems to be getting the most attention is a little program called Microsoft Paint, which Microsoft was intending to deprecate.

The “Removed” designation means that the product has been removed from the current release of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. “Deprecated” means that the product is not in active development and might be removed in future releases.

I haven’t used Microsoft Paint in a really long time (mostly because I switched from PC to Mac several years ago). I was feeling nostalgic about Microsoft Paint after learning that it may be deprecated. Back in the 1990’s I was working on obtaining a Bachelor’s of Science in Education, and Microsoft Paint helped me achieve that goal.

At the time, the majority of elementary schools lacked computer labs. Some teachers were fortunate enough to have one computer in their classroom. During my experience as a student teacher, I created a lesson plan for the many Kindergarten classes I was working with. It focused on Microsoft Paint.

Each kid got a few seconds of class time to contribute to a collaborative, class-wide, piece of digital art. I gave each kindergartener the choice of adding a shape, drawing a line, or filling in a color on the artwork. The kids seemed to think this was the coolest thing ever, which is understandable.

I remember having to bring a bunch of 3.5” floppy disks to the classrooms so I could save the artwork each class had created and print it out for my professors to see. To my surprise, my professors thought that my Microsoft Paint lesson plan was innovative and exciting. Today, the same lesson plan would be considered uninspiring (and perhaps a bit lazy.)

Good news for those of you who, like me, feel nostalgic about MS Paint. Microsoft says: “MS Paint is here to stay, it will just have a new home soon, in the Windows Store where it will be available for free.”


Swedish Man Builds Whimsical Flying Machine



Borg MachineWho hasn’t dreamed of building their very own flying machine? Imagine being able to climb aboard a ship you put together with your own two hands and then piloting that contraption into the deep blue yonder, looking for adventure!

I’m not sure if that was exactly the inspiration for Swedish engineer Axel Borg when he began building his chAIR multi-rotor flying craft. But, he was successful in designing and constructing his own DIY flying machine. Borg took the chAIR craft on its maiden flight last month. He kept the contraption relatively low to the ground, but chAIR turned out to be pretty stable, and may be capable of higher reaches.

It’s fair to describe the chAIR craft as a whimsical thing. If it weren’t for the craft’s very loud set of rotors that allow chAIR to take flight, it seems like something that could’ve fallen out of a Miyazaki film.

chAIR’s first flight lasted eight minutes, which used 57% of the craft’s battery power. So, it’s doubtful we’ll be seeing swarms of chAIRs taking to the sky in place of other transportation options. Regardless, the craft is a true achievement in DIY engineering.

chAIR’s designer, Axel Borg, isn’t a novice to this kind of endeavor. According to his website, he’s already produced ebooks on projects like building an electric skateboard or creating a 3-D printed jet engine.

Check out Borg’s YouTube channel for more videos of the chAIR as well as Borg’s other projects.


Japan Operating First-Ever Space Drone



Japan DroneIf you’re like me, you were probably hoping that the first news about a Japanese space robot would come complete with footage of a giant humanoid mecha that shoots laser beams from its eyes. Unfortunately, that day hasn’t yet arrived. But the first stepping stone to an intergalactic robot army might just be here in the adorable form of Japan’s new ball-shaped space drone.

The drone, known as Int-Ball (sorry, Japan, but Tranzor Z would’ve been a way cooler name), was designed by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to monitor the activities of astronauts on the International Space Station. Int-Ball is controlled by ground crews, who can use the drone’s camera to get a better view of astronauts as they work on daily tasks.

Some Int-Ball features:

  • The drone can move autonomously in space and record still and moving images under remote control by the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center
  • Recorded images and videos can be checked in real time by flight controllers and researchers on the ground, and then be fed back to the onboard crew
  • Int-Ball was adapted from existing drone technology, and all of its parts can be 3-D printed

At first pass, it might seem like Int-Ball was created to spy on astronauts and make sure they aren’t slacking off on the job. But it turns out astronauts spend a lot of time using cameras to document their work. Int-Ball removes the need for astronauts to do this, and it’s estimated that the drone could give astronauts a 10% productivity bump. These types of improvements are welcome in an environment like the space station, where maximizing mission time is crucial.


Google Now to Be Replaced with Google ‘News Feed’ on Some Platforms



There’s nothing more confusing than trying to unpack a new(ish?) Google feature about so-called “news feeds,” as over the years Google has provided products with names like: Google News, Google Now, Google Plus, and Google Reader. But this next tweak to Google’s system doesn’t have much (if anything) to do with those services.

In an upcoming change to Google’s iOS and Android apps, the search engine giant will be replacing its Google Now service with a “news feed” that’s created based on your own web browsing behavior:

The feed, which includes items drawn from your search history and topics you choose to follow, is designed to turn Google’s app into a destination for browsing as well as search. Google is hoping you’ll begin opening its app the way you do Facebook or Twitter, checking it reflexively throughout the day for quick hits of news and information.

This “news feed” concept sounds an awful lot like the experience provided by monolithic social networking site Facebook. And I guess it makes sense for Google to want to try and siphon off some screen time from Facebook’s massive user base. But doesn’t Google already have a social network of its own?

OK, I get it. This new Google feed thing isn’t really a social network itself. It’s just sorta borrowing the news feed concept made famous by Facebook. When this new feature lands in Google’s mobile apps, it’ll take the place of Google Now, which is described as, “The company’s predictive search feature, which displayed personalized weather, traffic, sports scores, and other information.”

I guess this could be a useful new feature from Google, as the company already knows a lot about its users’ browsing histories. But I doubt many people are going to be giving up the Facebook habit for Google’s news feed.

Especially if there’s no Like button.


Legendary Pokémon GO Bonus Unlocked at Pokémon GO Fest



The Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago is over. Players at the event, and around the world, worked together and have successfully unlocked in-game bonuses for the entire Pokémon GO community.

As a result, the following rewards will last through Monday, July 24, at 5:00 PM PDT:

  • Double Stardust
  • Double Candy
  • Double XP
  • Increased Pokémon encounters
  • Reduced hatching distance
  • Reduced buddy distance

There are three teams in Pokémon GO: Instinct, Mystic, and Valor. The number of Pokémon that each team caught during the Fest was tallied up. The winner was Team Mystic. As a result, the first Legendary Pokémon to “enter the real world” is Lugia. Articuno, another Legendary Pokémon, will join Lugia in Raid Battles.

If you want to obtain a Lugia, or an Articuno, you need to do some Raid Battles. Look for Legendary Pokémon Eggs appearing at Gyms near you. I haven’t personally tried to do this yet, but it appears to be a difficult thing to do. Kotaku reported that some Pokémon GO players are having trouble trying to catch these two newly released Legendary Pokémon.

Niantic says that it will release more Legendary Pokémon “soon”. They will release Zapdos and Moltres, which are Pokémon that relate to Team Instinct and Team Valor.


Hooked by iClever Bluetooth Headphones



With the new BTH20, iClever‘s improved both the fit and audio quality for its next generation of Bluetooth wireless earphones. These headphones are a good match for my ears and the soft silicon rubber hooks keep them in place during the most vigorous exercise, so I like them. Let’s take a look a closer look and see what iClever’s done; we might even listen to them too.

Starting with the fit, the new headphones achieve better comfort by maximising the contact surface. Additionally, by using an offset for the inwards leaning hook, it lines up better with the ear folds. The outer part of the earbud is a small cylinder that is half covered in silicon rubber and fills out the ear a little bit more than usual. The thin hook comes out from the far end of the cylinder and the narrowness lets it get into the folds and creases. In my humble opinion, these are the best earbuds at staying in place but obviously people’s ears vary a good deal so YMMV, as they say.

Both the earbud itself and the ear hook part can be switched for different sizes – the BTH20 comes with three of each, say, small, medium and large, meaning that there are nine possible combinations for the best aural fit. The headphones are very light too at only 13g (says the spec sheet). Fitness fans will be pleased to hear that the ‘phones are sweat resistant. Give them a wipe down after a session but don’t dunk them in the sink.

The left and right earphones are connected via a round cable with an inline control close to the right ear. The three buttons on the control manage volume, music and phone calls, though some of button combinations can be challenging to get right. Additionally, the control houses the microUSB port for charging and there’s a very small status LED which can be orange or white depending on activity. There’s a short tangle-free USB to microUSB cable for charging in the box. Battery life is quoted at 8 hours, which seems about right based on the couple of afternoons I listened on the earphones without recharging.

Pairing the headphones with a smartphone was straightforward (as it should be) and I did notice that the BTH20 were quick to establish a connection when turned on. For telephone calls, callers came through to me clear and I didn’t have any complaints from them about hearing me, which you’d expect with noise-cancelling phones. I still always find it a little disconcerting to hear people in both ears….

Finally, let’s take a listen. It’s time for the summer hits and without a doubt, Despacito is the summer hit of 2017, sitting at #1 in the UK and breaking the YouTube streaming record. And it sounds good on the BTH20, which really suits the big summer hits – there’s plenty of bass without overwhelming the vocals and well-defined treble keeps the hi-hats crisp. The BTH20 really delivers on those by-the-pool numbers – One Dance, Cheerleader, Get Lucky – they all sound fantastic.

Finally, the price. It’s GB£19.99 from Amazon.co.uk and US$19.99 from Amazon.com which I think is very good value. Yes, there are cheaper Bluetooth headphones out there but the combination of fit and sound quality is hard to beat.

Any improvements?….colour other than black would be cool as these deserve to be noticed. Apparently there is a silver version but it’s currently unavailable.

Wrapping up, the iClever BTH20 Bluetooth headphones are currently my favourite headphones for “out and about”. The sound is good, the fit is great (for me) and the price is right. Perfect for the summer holidays! Put them in your bag.

Thanks to iClever for providing the BTH20 for review. Unboxing video below.

 


Hyper Loop & Elon Musk #1213



If Elon Musk has his way the Hyper Loop will be shooting us between big cities at 700 miles per hour. Where can I sign up just to beat the Honolulu traffic I just need to move. Great line up of topics on today’s show.

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