Battery-Free Cellphone Technology Inches Closer to Mass Market

Battery-Free Cellphone Technology Inches Closer to Mass Market

Researchers in the United States have unveiled a prototype of a battery-free mobile phone, using technology they hope will eventually come to be integrated into mass-market products.

The phone is the work of a group of researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle and works by harvesting tiny amounts of power from radio signals, known as radio frequency or ‘RF’ waves.

“Ambient RF waves are all around us so, as an example, your FM station broadcasts radio waves, your AM stations do that, your TV stations, your cellphone towers. They all are transmitting RF waves,” team member Vamsi Talla told Reuters.

The phone is a first prototype and its operation is basic – at first glance it looks little more than a circuit board with a few parts attached and the caller must wear headphones and press a button to switch between talking and listening.

But researchers say there are plans to develop further prototypes, featuring a low-power screen for texting and even a basic camera. They also plan a version of the battery-free phone that uses a tiny solar cell to provide power.

The researchers plan to release a product in eight to nine months time, though they would not give further details. One team member however, was prepared to give a glimpse of how their work will impact the future of cellphone technology.

“In the future every smartphone will come with a battery-free mode where you can at least make a voice call when your battery’s dead.”

The initiative is not the only one seeking to improve the way that mobile technology is powered. Researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Surrey in Britain, are developing supercapacitors, which they believe will eventually allow devices to charge in a period of a few minutes.

Microsoft Windows 10 S Operating System Launched for Education in Bid to Take on Google’s Chrome OS

Microsoft Windows 10 S Operating System Launched for Education in Bid to Take on Google's Chrome OS

Microsoft’s Tuesday New York event was centred on education, and the company took centre stage to introduce Windows 10 S as a simpler, more secure operating system meant for students. The Windows 10 S software is tied to the Windows Store, which means students can only run apps downloaded from the Store. All legal Windows 10 Pro machines in schools are eligible to get Windows 10 S for free.

What is Microsoft Windows 10 S?

Windows 10 S is a new Windows experience that is built from the ground up keeping in mind classrooms. As we mentioned, Windows 10 S only runs apps downloaded from the Windows Store, and for Microsoft, this means that everything is verified for both performance and safety. Students won’t be exposed to potentially dangerous apps, while every app is certified by Microsoft to ensure there is no performance drop over time.

An example of this, was the faster first-time login compared to Windows 10 Pro – just about 15 seconds – while subsequent logins will take less than 5 seconds. All Web browsers in the Windows Store will run on Windows 10 S devices, but Microsoft obviously recommends Edge that now has education-focused features like tab ordering and annotations.

Windows 10 S apps

Microsoft also announced that the Office 365 suite of apps including Teams will be coming to Windows Store, complete with an education-focused update that is meant for collaboration.

Windows 10 S brings all the features that were brought by the Creators Update to Edge and Cortana. Students and teachers can also upgrade to Windows 10 Pro – for a $49 (roughly Rs. 3,150) fee – to download an application that isn’t in the Windows Store, but then, they will not be able to come back to Windows 10 S thereafter.

Just like the Chrome OS can be managed through cloud-based device management, Windows 10 S machines will support Intune, Microsoft’s cloud-based device management system. Microsoft Intune for Education is available today for administrators worldwide. Other administrator features include the ability to use a USB key to set up a PC in seconds with the Setup My PC wizard.

Windows 10 S laptop prices and manufacturers

Microsoft has partnered with Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung, and Toshiba to offer Windows 10 S laptops starting at as low as $189 (roughly Rs. 12,100). These will become available in the summer, before the next school term.

Terry Myerson, VP at Microsoft, also confirmed that these partners will also offer premium devices in the future. All of the Windows 10 Educations PCs will come with Minecraft: Education Edition (a free one-year subscription).

Windows 10 S is a hassle-free OS made for the schools and is set to take on Chrome OS. With Chromebooks took the education market by storm, especially after Android apps were introduced last year, and we expect Windows 10 S to give it some good competition in the future. A lot still depends on the new devices that will be launched by the mentioned partners in summer.

At the event, Microsoft also announced Classroom Experiences for Teams, making it a “digital hub” for students and teachers. It is available in private preview today, and will become available worldwide this summer. A batch of education-focused updates will be released for Office 365 this fall as well. Built in ‘View Mixed Reality’ features for Windows 10 will also be released this fall for free, meant to help view 3D objects in the real world.

Facebook Messenger Now Rolling Out ‘Instant Games’ to All Users

Facebook Messenger Now Rolling Out 'Instant Games' to All Users

Facebook on Tuesday announced that the company is rolling out Instant Games on Messenger to all of its 1.2 billion users and that it is introducing the new features that the social media networking giant previewed to developers at its F8 conference last month. The updated Instant Games on Messenger will be rolling out over the next few weeks worldwide for both Android and iOS mobile platforms.

The ‘Rich gameplay features’ that have been added to the Instant Games on Messenger include turn-based gameplay, inclusion of leaderboards and tournaments, and offer more customisable messages during play, as per the company. “Game bots help re-engage players by calling out new game options and encouraging competition with updates on the leaderboards,” the company said in its news post.

Among the first games to receive the support for rich gameplay features is Zynga’s Words With Friends. The game has already been made available as a “feature-rich, turn-based game right in Messenger.” The company says turn-based gameplay has been the most requested feature by the users and finally it has introduced it to Instant Games on Messenger. On the other hand, Blackstorm’s EverWing is among the first games to introduce Game bots on the platform.

“Depending on what device you use and where you are located, there are now up to 50 games titles available on Messenger, with more being introduced almost every week. We’re also excited to be bringing the world’s number 1 pool game – Miniclip’s 8 Ball Pool – to Instant Games very soon,” Facebook said.

Facebook Rejects Claims of Gender Bias for Code in Its Engineering Department

Facebook Rejects Claims of Gender Bias for Code in Its Engineering Department
Rejecting claims that the code written by female engineers at Facebook gets rejected more often, the company has said that the analysis is “incomplete and inaccurate”.

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday reported that based on an analysis by an engineer at Facebook, it was found that code written by females at its engineering department got rejected more often than those written by men.

“As we have explained, The Wall Street Journal is relying on analysis that is incomplete and inaccurate – performed by a former Facebook engineer with an incomplete data set,” TechCrunch quoted a Facebook spokesperson as saying.

The spokesperson further added: “Any meaningful discrepancy based on the complete data is clearly attributable not to gender but to seniority of the employee.”

The earlier analysis had claimed that female engineers received 35 percent more rejections of their code than male engineers.

It also stated that women had to wait longer than men to get their code accepted, and received more comments and questions than men.

The method of analysis could not be assessed nor could it be verified, even by The WSJ that reported the gender bias at Facebook’s engineering department.

According to Facebook’s Head of Infrastructure Jay Parikh, the gap in rejection rate was not due to gender, but rank.

“So, Facebook’s argument is essentially that because there are not as many women in higher-ranked engineering roles, their code is subject to more scrutiny,” TechCrunch noted.

Women, who make up 17 percent of Facebook’s technical department are not in higher-ranking roles and that is a problematic sign.

Microsoft Surface Laptop With Windows 10 S and ‘Better Battery Life Than MacBook Air’ Launched

Microsoft Surface Laptop With Windows 10 S and 'Better Battery Life Than MacBook Air' Launched

Alongside Windows 10 S, Microsoft also launched the Surface Laptop at its New York Spring event. The durable device runs on the education-focused Windows 10 S software, and is made available in four colour options – Burgundy, Graphite Gold, Platinum, and Cobalt Blue. The Surface laptop is up pre-order right away, and will be shipped starting June 15.

Microsoft claims the Surface Laptop is durable, portable, and lightweight, and the design looks sleek with a premium finish, and the iconic Alcantra fabric keyboard seen on the Surface Pro 4, with backlighting. The Surface Laptop sports a 13.5-inch PixelSense touchscreen display with 1080p resolution, 3:2 aspect ratio, and 3.4 million pixels. Microsoft touts it as the ‘thinnest touchscreen LCD display’ on a laptop. The base model of the Surface Laptop is powered by the latest Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD storage, while users can opt for an Intel Core i7 processor and different memory and storage configurations.

The biggest highlight is that the Surface laptop is rated to offer up to 14.5 hours of battery life. Ports on board include a USB port, a mini DisplayPort, the Surface power connector, SD card slot, and the 3.5mm audio jack. The device weighs only 1.25kg, and thickness ranges from 9.9mm to 14.47mm.

Microsoft has used vapor chambers as heat pipes at the back of the laptop to help keep components cool – important, as there are no holes on the laptop that would normally have facilitated air cooling. With no holes, you may wonder where the speakers are – Microsoft has placed them below the keyboard. While the stunningly designed device with Windows Ink and Windows Hello support could lure some users, the price may dampen the excitement. Microsoft is asking for $999 (roughly Rs. 64,000) for the Surface Laptop with Core i5 processor, which is steep to say the least.

Microsoft claims the Surface Laptop’s Intel Core i7 model is faster than the current Core i7-based MacBook Pro, and also added that it has better battery life than any MacBook Air laptop on the market today.

With the laptop running on Windows 10 S, the device has serious limitations like it can only run apps from the Windows Store – though users can choose to upgrade if they wish. As mentioned, the device is up for pre-order right away, and will be shipped on June 15. Microsoft is looking to compete with Chromebooks in the education sector, and the company even took the time to show off how apps like 3D4 Medical work on the new Surface Laptop, however, at this price range, direct competition will be impossible. Notably though, there are cheaper Windows 10 S PCs coming up, with Microsoft partners such as Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung, and Toshiba all making Windows 10 Education PCs available from this summer starting $189.

Omega-6 fats may make girls lazy, up diabetes risk Previously, heart disease was linked to saturated fats — an idea that has become increasingly controversial in recent years.

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Challenging the common perception, researchers led by one of Indian origin, have found that Omega-6 (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) — referred to as the “healthy fats” — can lead to lazy behaviour, especially in women, as well as contribute to diabetes.

The findings, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, revealed that a higher consumption of Omega-6 rich in seeds and nuts, and vegetable oils such as soy oil, may significantly increase sedentary behaviour in pre-teen girls.

“Our study does present new evidence that dietary PUFA is strongly associated with sedentary behaviour among pre-teen girls and weakly associated with diabetes among adult women,” said Sanjoy Ghosh, Professor at University of British Columbia – Okanagan, Canada.

For the study, the team examined data — from 21 countries in Europe — specifically relating to pre-teen girls and blood glucose levels of adult women.

They found a significant correlation in sedentary behaviour of the 11-year-old girls and PUFA in their diets. However, the the association was not observed in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA).

“This data is extremely significant. Nobody has made this connection and it’s time for an intervention,” Ghosh noted.

Previously, heart disease was linked to saturated fats — an idea that has become increasingly controversial in recent years.

This thinking instigated the intentional removal of saturated fatty acids from most food supplies in favour of MUFA and PUFA.

Currently, all fats in our ‘convenience’ foods like potato chips, energy bars, crackers or burgers use cooking oils like corn, sunflower and soybean and margarine — are rich in MUFAs and PUFAs, Ghosh said.

“If someone is beginning an exercise program without taking a close look at the fats, especially PUFA they are consuming, or changing what they’re eating, then it might be doomed to failure,” he added.

SanDisk Extreme Go USB 3.1 review: Fast and secure

Image result for sandisk pendrive

It is tough to imagine now that the first storage I got was a 128MB SD card for my priced Canon A400. That card has cost me almost half as much as the camera, but was worth it as the latter camera with internal storage of just 16MB. Today, I hold a SanDisk Extreme Go USB 3.1 flash drive in my hand and wonder how things have changed.

SanDisk Extreme Go USB 3.1

The SanDisk Extreme Go USB 3.1 looks like any other USB drive we have seen from this Western Digital company in recent times. The design is nothing new. The USB port retracts into the drive for storage and there is a toggle to push it out when needed. When in use the drive has a blue light that glows. You can link to a keychain if needed.

The speed at which this USB drive can copy files is amazing. SanDisk claims a read speed of up to 200MB/s and write speed of 150MB/s. I copied some old photo dumbs in a jiffy, faster than I could take a screenshot. For the full speed, however, you will need at least one port that offers USB 3.1 on your laptop or PC.

The SanDisk Secure Access software offers encryption for documents you might want to keep private.

The SanDisk Secure Access software offers encryption for documents you might want to keep private. So you can put certain files, or the entire USB itself under lock and key. I used the drive on a Mac, where the Secure Access had to be installed on the drive itself. Once you have set up the access, the software is easy to use. I suggest you put all your files under password protection, except for those you might want to share with others using this drive.

The only issue I faced was when moving folders, this drive seems to take time figuring out how long it will take to complete the task.

The only issue I faced was when moving folders, this drive seems to take time figuring out how long it will take to complete the task. While the actual copying of files is fast, this is an irritant. It seems to happen when you have folder with a lot of files in it. It even got stuck a couple of times I tried on Mac.

Should you buy?

Yes, if you are one of those who need to carry around a lot of data or files securely. At the end of the day this is a pen drive and getting 64GB of fast and secure storage is a plus for a lot of professionals. For those who just need a drive for songs and photos, there are cheaper options out there.