Saturday, September 12, 2015
"Google is evidently expanding its manufacturing efforts for its prototype autonomous cars, planning to build "a few hundred" of the vehicles this year, as opposed to the 100 that were originally proposed. This, according to Google X policy head Sarah Hunter, will allow members of the car team to gain an even better understanding of how to build a self-driving from scratch.
Hunter, speaking at the California Public Utilities Commission, also detailed some of Google's thoughts on how they might sell the vehicles, should they actually come to market.
"A model where we manufacture cars for sale will require the same sort of electric vehicle charging that exists today," she told an audience of regulators and politicians. "Our prototype vehicles are fully electric. That's not to say the eventual vehicle we mass manufacture won't be a hybrid."
Hunter also offered some more details about how the existing prototype cars work.
Hunter also shared new details about how the existing driverless prototypes work. "All [the car] has is a 'go' button, a 'please slow down and stop' button and a 'stop pretty quickly' button," she said. "The intention is that the passenger gets in the vehicle, says into microphone, take me to Safeway, and the car does the entire journey."
"Apple already has three portable 12- to 13-inch laptop computers in its lineup.
I write these thoughts on an iPad Air 2 -- which, until the big-screen iPad Pro is released in November, is the current top-of-the-line tablet from Apple -- on a plane. I'm using it instead of a laptop. I'm typing on the screen.
Why am I not using the 11-inch MacBook Air I have in the overhead bin, 10 feet from me? Because the iPad slides in my seat pocket. It's my book; my movies; my games. And if I need it to be, my quick writing tool.
It's not perfect. It's not perfect for writing on, or for editing. But it's always felt more evolutionary. Apple's taken things forward another step with the iPad Pro, in ways that seem to have grown with the processing power. Now it's as powerful as a laptop. And, it's gotten bigger -- a 12.9-inch screen -- because it can. I'd been looking forward to a more laptop-like iPad for years.
So why am I uncertain that the iPad Pro is the answer I've been looking for?
What do we do with the existing MacBooks? Apple has created a weird set of parallel universes here. MacBooks are for work -- the "trucks" of the computing world, as Steve Jobs said years ago. In that metaphor, the then-new iPads were the cars -- smaller, sexier and more consumer-friendly. But now iPads are turning into trucks. Trucks which are sitting next to the other trucks.
Which truck do you buy? That's the problem. With the specs I'd want (128GB, Wi-Fi-only) and the accessories I'd like (yes on the Smart Keyboard, no the Apple Pencil for now), the iPad Pro will cost $1,118 (UK and Australian pricing has not yet been announced, but directly converted it would be about £725 and AU$1,578.).
The new 256GB 12-inch MacBook is $1,299, £1,049, AU$1,799. The MacBook Air I'd buy would be the 13-inch, 256GB model: $1,199, £899, AU$1,549. And the 256GB 13-inch Retina Pro I like? $1,499, £1,199 or AU$2,099.
This is no rhetorical exercise, either. I actually went through this process while buying a laptop a few months ago. It was a surprisingly hard process, even though we actually review these laptops; especially since each model has its tradeoffs. I picked the 512GB 13-inch Retina Pro. I paid up for the storage because I'm consolidating lots of photo libraries. I wanted the better screen. I needed a new home computer that could handle whatever I needed.
The new iPad Pro.James Martin/CNET
If I was buying a second computer, I'd choose differently -- maybe something light. Would it be a 12-inch MacBook, or an iPad Pro? I'm still not sure.
The iPad Pro is large enough, and light enough, to make itself your main portable/secondary computer. But that's exactly what the new MacBook wants to be, too. And is that even a problem? There's a whole wide zoo of Windows computers, after all, and they start at prices as low as $199.
But in the case of iPad vs. MacBook, these devices don't share exactly the same apps. Or the same app store. They're increasingly similar, with Apple's pre-installed apps and iCloud forming a connective bond. But they still live on different planes. iPads and Macs can connect and work together better than ever before, but continue to be different enough to demand different use cases.
I don't want to have to choose which side to live on. I'd prefer one clear path. I've wanted iOS and OS X to merge for years, but I've started to think it may never happen.
For now, the iPad Pro seems like a bigger step into iPad as serious computer than anything we've ever seen. But I want to do everything I need on it. I want my Web tools to work; I want to be able to cover events seamlessly while using the software I need and never feel a problem pop up.
Are we there? Not yet, not entirely. But maybe when the iPad Pro arrives in November, we will be, just a bit closer.
And iOS can and will continue to evolve. It will blossom into the future PC, in all its power. And the MacBook, as that happens, will follow alongside. Getting less important over the years. Shrinking, like the iPod, until one day it's no longer there -- 10 years from now, maybe. When the last stragglers are few, and less significant.
Microsoft has already forced its evolution by putting Windows 10 on everything, while Apple's Macs and iOS devices continue to lead parallel lives, nearly touching but not quite there.
I don't necessarily want an iPad or a MacBook, I want both. And Apple seems to be happy to take things one year at a time.
Friday, September 11, 2015
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Wednesday, September 09, 2015
"HONG KONG — As President Xi Jinping of China prepares for his first state visit to the United States this month, Washington has warned that it could hit Chinese companies with sanctions over digital attacks for trade secrets. Beijing is now pushing back in an unorthodox way: by organizing a technology forum to demonstrate its own sway over the American tech industry.
The meeting, which is set to take place Sept. 23 in Seattle, is planned to feature China’s Internet czar, Lu Wei, the overseer of China’s restrictions on foreign technology companies.
A number of Chinese tech executives, including Robin Li of Baidu and Jack Ma of Alibaba, along with executives from top American tech companies including Apple, Facebook, IBM, Google and Uber, have been invited, according to people familiar with the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the meeting.
Some invitees, including Apple’s chief, Timothy D. Cook, plan to attend, according to one person. The forum is being co-hosted by Microsoft, said another person with knowledge of the matter."
Tuesday, September 08, 2015
Verizon to be first to field-test crazy-fast 5G wireless - CNET
"WASHINGTON — In an investigation involving guns and drugs, the Justice Department obtained a court order this summer demanding that Apple turn over, in real time, text messages between suspects using iPhones.
Apple’s response: Its iMessage system was encrypted and the company could not comply.
Government officials had warned for months that this type of standoff was inevitable as technology companies like Apple and Google embraced tougher encryption. The case, coming after several others in which similar requests were rebuffed, prompted some senior Justice Department and F.B.I. officials to advocate taking Apple to court, several current and former law enforcement officials said."
Monday, September 07, 2015
Sunday, September 06, 2015
"How much have Ashley Madison customers been blackmailed for since their personal data was leaked last month? One cybersecurity firm thinks it might have the answer.
In a 1st September blog post from network security firm CloudMark, software engineer and research analyst Toshiro Nishimura suggested that as much as $6,400 may have been extracted from those seeking to buy the silence of the blackmailer.
CoinDesk reported last month that customers Ashley Madison, a website that advertised itself as a platform for infidelity, were receiving blackmail threats by email that contained personal information derived from the cache of released information."