Steam is No Longer Supporting Bitcoin



Steam announced that it will no longer support Bitcoin as a payment method. This news is going to affect players who were purchasing Steam games with Bitcoin, but doesn’t appear to change things for those using other methods of payment.

Steam says it will no longer support Bitcoin as a payment method on their platform due to high fees and volatility in the value of Bitcoin. In the announcement, Steam points out: “Historically, the value of Bitcoin has been volatile, but the degree of volatility has become extreme in the last few months, losing as much as 25% in value over a period of days.”

This creates a problem for customers trying to purchase games with Bitcoin. When checking out on Steam, a customer will transfer x amount of Bitcoin for the cost of the game, plus y amount of Bitcoin to cover the transaction fee charged by the Bitcoin network. The value of Bitcoin is only guaranteed for a certain period of time, so if the transaction doesn’t complete within that window of time, then the amount of Bitcoin needed to cover the transaction can change. The amount it can change has been increasing recently to a point where it can be significantly different.

Steam points out that when that situation happens, they either have to refund original payment to the user to or ask the user to transfer more funds to cover the remaining balance. The user gets hit with a Bitcoin transaction fee either way. As a result, Steam says it has become untenable to support Bitcoin as a payment option.


50 More Pokémon will be Added to Pokémon GO



Starting later this week, 50 more Pokémon will be added to Pokémon GO. In addition, the game is going to have new weather features added. Players might see certain Pokémon more often based on what the real-world weather is.

The new Pokémon include Treeko, Torchic, Mudkip, and others that were originally discovered in the Hoenn region in the Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire video games. Those three Pokémon will be the first to appear, and more from the Hoenn region will be added over the next several weeks.

The Pokémon GO map in-game will be updated with weather effects. This includes new visuals that change based on the weather where you are. For example, if it is raining outside where you are, the in-game map will show a dark, cloudy, sky and rain falling down.

Soon, the weather in the real-world where you are playing Pokémon GO will have an effect on the Pokémon that you see in Pokémon GO. Players odds of discovering Mudkip will greatly improve on rainy days. That’s just one example. Some other Pokémon will be more commonly found during various weather conditions. The real-world weather will also cause some Pokémon’s attacks to be more effective than usual.


Overwatch League In-Game Skins Require Special Currency



Overwatch League has twelve teams, each with their own logos and colors. Sports teams have uniforms that are unique to their team, with variations that are used for either home or away games. As such, Overwatch League has in-game uniforms that are designed for each esports team. Players will be able to purchase the in-game uniforms of their choice with special currency.

Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer revealed in a video details about how Overwatch League home-team uniforms will be made available in-game in early 2018. All 12 home skins for the teams will be added to Overwatch.

The Overwatch League skins can be purchased with special currency called League Tokens. Players will need to spend real-world currency in order to obtain League Tokens. This system is being used as a way to provide monetary support for the various regional teams.

Purchase the home skin of your favorite Overwatch League team, and some of that money will go to support them. In short, Blizzard found a way to share a portion of the home skin purchases with the teams that they are based on. The League Tokens can only be used to buy Overwatch League in-game content.

In the video, Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer announced that, for the first month after the League Token system is launched globally, Blizzard will provide players who log in to Overwatch on PC, Playstation IV, or Xbox One, with enough League Tokens to purchase their first Overwatch League skin.


DJI Introduces Voluntary Flight Identification Options for Drone Pilots



DJI is introducing new features to the DJI AeroScope remote identification system that functions as an “electronic license plate” for drones. The new features allow drone pilots to voluntarily identify their flight operations to authorities while still protecting their privacy.

AeroScope is a system that remotely identifies and tracks airborne drones, allowing law enforcement and aviation safety officials to respond to safety and security concerns about drones. DJI drones locally broadcast their location, speed, heading, and serial numbers to AeroScope receivers used by authorities at sensitive locations or in response to complaints. However, they do not broadcast personally identifiable information.

Recent updates to the DJI GO 4 app and DJI drone firmware, made available first for the DJI Mavic Pro last week, will allow pilots to choose whether or not to broadcast additional information about their flight operations, if they believe it will be helpful to ease any concerns about their flights. Professional pilots and pilots who fly near sensitive locations may choose to do this routinely.

AeroScope addresses the needs of authorities who know that most drone flights are harmless, but who are concerned and must be vigilant about tracking risky or illegal drone activity near airport runways, prisons and other sensitive locations. AeroScope also provides authorities with a tool to respond to complaints about individual drone usages and to investigate further.

Because AeroScope relies on drones directly broadcasting their information to local receivers, not on transmitting data to an internet-based service, it ensures most drone flights will not be automatically recorded in government databases, protecting the privacy interests of people and businesses that use drones. This approach also avoids substantial costs and complexity that would be involved in creating such databases and connecting drones to network systems.


Best Audience in the Universe #1245



Big news on the show today. You all are the best audience in the universe. Sadly since the switch to the 1GB connection with Spectrum, my Internet service has been worse. They were not ready for this in prime time here in Oahu. It’s beyond frustrating the livestream failed tonight and I never had stream failures on the previous slower connection. It really makes no sense. There is no recourse at this point so I will just have to tough it out till Hawaiian Telcom brings 1gb to my area in Q1 2018

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Brainwavz B200 Earphones Review



Headphones are packing in more and more features – Bluetooth connectivity, in-line remotes, microphones, even digital assistants like Alexa and Google. But sometimes you just want to strip it all back and focus on the sound. You want to listen to the music, not just hear it, and that’s what Brainwavz are serving up with the B200 earphones. Sitting in the mid-to-upper end of their audiophile B series, the B200s promise “a balanced and accurate sound signature, with little to no colouring in the mids and a slight focus on the upper mids sound…delivering an overall sound the artist would have intended when producing the song.” That’s a big promise so let’s hear if the B200 earphones deliver.

Based in Hong Kong, Brainwavz have been around since 2008 and have built a range that includes earphones, headphones, Bluetooth ‘phones and accessories including stands. Prices go from US$20 for basic earbuds to $180 for the top of the range B400 earphones

The B200s arrive in an understated black box with red-highlights. Opening it, inside is a zipped pill-shaped travel case, with matching red highlights. Unzipping reveals the earphones neatly wrapped in a velcro band, a shirt clip, and a selection of ear tips. There’s one set of red Comply memory foam tips, plus 10 silicone rubber tips in S, M, L (two pairs of each size in total). It’s a satisfactory package.

Unwrapping the earphones and looking closer, there’s a gold-plated 3.5mm audio jack with the cable coming out at about 30 degrees. The main cable feels like it’s braided and then covered in a soft-touch rubber. The cable then splits to the left and right ears with a cinch slider to keep the wires under control, and suit audiophiles, they’re of equal length. Unlike many earphones, the wires go up and over the back of the ear. The wires have a thin moulding on them to hold the over ear shape. The earphones themselves have almost a coffee-bean shape to them, with slightly curved facets. It’s all plastic, so aficionados of bare metal need look elsewhere. It’s all very understated.

The B200s are very comfortable to wear, even for extended periods. I’m not sure what makes them comfortable because the eartips look like every other eartip. It might be that the wire goes upwards over the ear rather than down. Who knows? There’s a little bit of a knack to getting the buds in and the wire looped over but helpfully L and R are stamped on the inside of the earphone. Sound isolation is good too with very little of the outside world leaking in.

Getting the heart of the matter, what are the B200s like to listen to? Frankly, they’re pretty good and give the listener a lovely balanced sound with excellent clarity and what I feel is just about the right level of bass. They’re particularly rewarding if you can get away from Spotify et al and listen to a uncompressed source – remember those CD things? I’ve been listening to John Legend’s Darkness and Light and it’s just glorious.  No question, Brainwavz deliver on their promise and who needs an inline control when it sounds this good? Less is more.

Taking a quick look at the tech specs…
Drivers : Dual Balanced Armature
Rated Impedance : 30 Ω
Frequency Range : 12 Hz ~ 22 kHz
Sensitivity : 110 dB at 1 mW
Cable : 1.3 m Y-Cord, Over the ear, OFC Copper
Plug : 3.5 mm, Gold plated

Wrapping up, the Brainwavz B200 earphones sound great and will complement almost any music genre. They’re very understated – no-one’s going to be recognised the brand from across the street. tThe B200s were announced for the UK market back in June, but since then Brainwavz have updated the B200 model to version two which includes detachable audio cables and a transparent body. As a result, the pictures of the B200 earphones on the Brainwavz website look different to the ones shown here but I’m sure they sound just as good. The B200s v2 are priced at GB£90 / US$120 and if you get in quick you’ll find a few Christmas discount codes. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Video review below.

Thanks to Brainwavz for supplying the B200 earphones for review.


Coinbase and CryptoCurrency with IRS Scrutiny #1244



Coinbase has come under the extreme scrutiny of the IRS and 15,000 US cryptocurrency traders are about to get a rude awakening. Uncle Sam is going to get his fair share. I also talk about my 1GB Internet woes with Spectrum in Hawaii and how the service is not living up to my expectations. The top speed achieved to date is 560/34. With the upload being shared with the neighbors the impression is less than stellar.

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Facebook Suicide Prevention #1243



Facebook is stepping up suicide prevention this is a worthy cause. I talk a lot to tonight about assisted intelligence which most of these devices we have in the home and how they are being manipulated by the manufactures. Also for some reason, my Rhomba decided to vacuum the house tonight while I was doing the show it drove me crazy. I suspect my son used it to vacum his room which was fine but not during the show.

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A.I. Might Not Be All Bad



Much as the steam engine ushered in the Industrial Revolution, A.I. and intelligent machines will bring unimaginable change to the latter part of the  21st Century. Visionaries suggest that A.I. is more Pandora’s Box than Prometheus’ stolen fire, with many jobs likely to be consigned to the history books and it’s already clear that the transport industry is going to require far fewer people.

It’s not all doom-and-gloom though. Pushing back against the “A.I. equals job losses” trend, a recent study by Oneserve, a field service management company, suggests that UK-based manufacturing industries that take advantage of A.I. could boost productivity by the equivalent of nearly 7 days production per annum. That might not sound like much – it’s an increase of 2.5% – but when dealing with companies that turnover millions, it’s a healthy extra margin.

It’s still early days, though. The survey asked the management of manufacturing companies about A.I. and their responses were interesting.  Of the senior business leaders consulted, 93% said their workforce would be more productive as a direct result of moving towards A.I.-enabled systems….but the research also found there is a concerning lack of understanding around A.I. in the industry. Seven out of ten (72%) senior decision makers who took part said A.I. is important to the future of manufacturing, yet 67% also said the benefits are not clear.

Ideally, there’s opportunities for A.I. to reduce machine downtime, manage resources efficiently, and improve customer relations, all based on historical data analysis rather than guesstimates. The attached infographic (courtesy Oneserve) shows the impact of machine downtime in manufacturing and while the infographic is an oversimplification of the impact, the problem is still significant. Let’s hope A.I. can help keep the machines running, increase productivity and keep people in jobs.


One Size Fits All with Ohyo 2Bag



Back in 2016 I interviewed Guy Jeremiah from Ohyo at The Gadget Show, where he was demonstrating a flexible use bag. Designed by Felix Conran, the bag could be arranged into four different configurations; a tablet bag, messenger bag, a back-pack and a grocery bag.

Returning to 2017, the team’s back together with the Ohyo 2Bag, a re-imagining which focuses on daily life. The 2Bag converts between a messenger bag and a larger carry-all, so imagine starting the day with a laptop in the 2Bag but then being able to buy some groceries on the way home. Inside, the 2Bag has two zipped compartments and as the smaller is waterproof, any leakages from the shopping won’t destroy the electronics.

Designed again by Felix Conran, the grandson of Sir Terence Conran, the 2Bag has additional pockets for keys and phones, plus a ring to hold a collapsible Ohyo bottle. Focussing on the re-usability of the 2Bag, Felix says, “I think we have a huge amount of responsibility as designers. It’s our job to consider everything and that includes where the product ends up… we don’t want to be designing landfill. I want to make objects that have a longer life-cycle than is expected of them because if you only need to buy something once, this is the ultimate in sustainability.

And it’s way more stylish when shopping than a bunch of tatty plastic bags.

To get the 2Bag off the ground, Ohyo has a Kickstarter campaign with early birds getting in at GB£49 (about US$65). The campaign needs a little help, as it’s just under 50% funded with only a week to go, so don’t delay if you want one. Delivery is expected in December 2017 so it could make a good Christmas present.

Ohyo has a good track record on Kickstarter with two successful campaigns for the earlier Ohyo bag but as with all things Kickstarter, just be aware of the risk.

The Kickstarter campaign video is below.