Google May Change Google Home to Nest Home and I’m Annoyed

Google May Change Google Home to Nest Home and I’m Annoyed


At Google I/O this year, Google officially switched the Google Home Hub to the Nest Hub. It was a bit confusing at first, but if you just remember that basically all smart home products from Google that feature a display are now labeled as Nest products, it’s not that bad.

According to a spotted listing on the Google Store, first stumbled upon by 9to5 Google, a change to the Nest brand may be in store for all Google Home products.

Boo.

As shown in the listing, the swappable bases for the Google Home are referred to as Nest Home Bases. This reference to Nest Home units isn’t mentioned anywhere else currently and we’re waiting to see if Google makes this change official.

Even though the change isn’t official, I can still be annoyed. I thought Google had something good in the Google Home branding, as many folks I … Read the rest

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A tale of two cities: Why ransomware will just get worse

A tale of two cities: Why ransomware will just get worse

Enlarge / Baltimore, Maryland; Riviera Beach, Florida. Both got ransomware, and the outcomes were… the worst of times, and the worst of times.

Earlier this week, the city of Riviera Beach, Florida, faced a $600,000 demand from ransomware operators in order to regain access to the city’s data. The ransom was an order of magnitude larger than the ransom demanded by the attackers that struck Baltimore’s city government in May. Against the advice of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, however, the Riviera Beach city council voted to pay the ransom—more than $300,000 of it covered by the city’s insurance policy.

Baltimore had refused to pay $76,000 worth of Bitcoin despite facing an estimated ransomware cost of more than $18 million, of which $8 million was from lost or deferred revenue. Baltimore lacked cyber insurance to cover those costs.

Riviera Beach is much smaller than Baltimore—with an IT department of

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We’re one step closer to atomic radio

We’re one step closer to atomic radio

Enlarge / Physicist C.J. Holloway in his atomic recording studio at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland. (credit: J. Burras/NIST)

Scientists at the National Institute for Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, have brought us one step closer to “atomic radio” by using an atom-based receiver to make a stereo recording of music streamed into the laboratory—namely, Queen’s “Under Pressure.” They described their work in a new paper in AIP Advances.

So-called “Rydberg atoms” are atoms that are in an especially excited state well above their ground (lowest-energy) state. This makes them extra-sensitive to passing electric fields, like the alternating fields of radio waves. All you need is a means of detecting those interactions to turn them into quantum sensors—like a laser. That means, in principle, that Rydberg atoms could receive and play back radio signals.

This isn’t the first time Rydberg

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This Icon Pack is Hot: PixBit

This Icon Pack is Hot: PixBit


It’s been a while since we last showcased a hot icon pack, so let’s change that. Today, I stumbled across PixBit on Google Play, an icon pack priced at $1.49. Typically, I prefer my icon packs for the price of free, but when a pack looks really good, I don’t mind paying a little bit.

Inside, the pack contains 1900+ pixelated icons for a number of apps, appearing to include most of the popular apps and games that I use on the regular. Everything from Spotify, Amazon, to Alto’s Adventure are included. A nice built-in feature is the Icon Request page, which shows every app you have installed on your phone. If your desired app isn’t already done up in gorgeous pixels, select which app you’d like to see pixelated, and then if you’re lucky, you may see it in a future update.

Also in the app are a few … Read the rest

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Friday Phone Deals: Galaxy S10 at $300 Off, Pixel 3 XL Up to $220 Off

Friday Phone Deals: Galaxy S10 at $300 Off, Pixel 3 XL Up to $220 Off


This weekend’s best smartphones deals feature Samsung and Google’s latest.

Friday’s are always a good day to buy smartphones. For one, you probably just got paid, and two, we see a fresh batch of weekend deals arrive.

For this week, the best smartphone deals around are on the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Pixel 3 families of phones. Most can be had with straight discounts of $200 off. And when I say “straight discount,” that means there aren’t any extra hoops to jump through or contracts to sign. Instead, you just get cheaper prices and the option to use these phones on any carrier.

There are other deals too, like $300 price drops on Galaxy S10 phones, though those do require contracts in most situations. The Pixel 3a is also $100 off, but again, requires activation with a carrier.

$300 off Galaxy S10, S10+ carrier models

The overall biggest price drop … Read the rest

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Wizards Unite is a bloated, slow, Harry Potter-ified Pokémon Go

Wizards Unite is a bloated, slow, Harry Potter-ified Pokémon Go

Three years ago, Nintendo and Niantic released Pokémon Go, and the resulting game became an instant cultural phenomenon on hundreds of millions of mobile phones. In retrospect, the formula seems simple enough: combine a beloved children’s series with a wander-and-collect-with-your-phone gameplay hook, and everyone will fall in love, right?

This week, Niantic returns with an entirely new game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and it proves that the above formula isn’t necessarily an instant winner.

Wizards Unite tries to expand the Pokémon Go formula with a few new features and a completely new visual and gameplay theme. But its barrage of timers, currencies, missions, and screens full of text does something interesting: it proves in its failures how much more elegant and focused Pokémon Go really was. Getting this particular AR gaming formula right isn’t as simple

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Poll: Full Gestures, Buttons, or a Combo Approach?

Poll: Full Gestures, Buttons, or a Combo Approach?


The smartphone industry likes to change sh*t for the sake of changing sh*t far too often. The people who make the tech we use get bored, decide they are smarter than all other humans, and then use that boredom to introduce or take things away. A good example would be the death of the headphone jack, which was removed for reasons that have now been proven to be lies or misleading at the very least.

Another of those changes that might not be as sinister as the removal of a key feature, like the headphone jack, has to do with phone navigation. I’m talking about gesture controls. I’m not about to say that gesture controls are the worst thing, I’m just not sure they are the best thing either and I’d love to hear your thoughts on them.

Before that, let’s dive into how we got here and then rant … Read the rest

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Physics indicates some of Earth’s earliest animals helped each other feed

Physics indicates some of Earth’s earliest animals helped each other feed

Enlarge / The result of a fluid mechanics simulation with multiple Erniettas. (credit: Dave Mazierski)

What drove the evolution of the earliest animal life? In modern animals, it’s easy to infer a lot about an organism’s lifestyle based on its anatomy. Even back in the Cambrian, with its large collection of bizarre looking creatures, these inferences are possible. Anomalocaris may have had a freakish, disk-shaped mouth, but it clearly was a mouth.

Go back to Earth’s earliest animals in the Ediacaran, however, and things get much, much harder. There’s only one species known so far that appears to have the right body plan to act as a predator of sorts. Beyond that, it’s all a collection of soft-looking fronds and segments that are difficult to ascribe any obvious function to. Faced with a lot of questions without obvious answers, biologists turned to an unlikely source of help: physicists and

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New Stranger Things S3 trailer teases: What if the Mind Flayer never left?

New Stranger Things S3 trailer teases: What if the Mind Flayer never left?

The plucky teens from Hawkins, Indiana are back in Netflix’s hotly anticipated Stranger Things season 3.

You know that annoying houseguest who overstays their welcome and just won’t leave? It looks like the interdimensional monster known as the Mind Flayer, from Stranger Things, may be one of those guests. That’s the big takeaway from the latest trailer for season 3 of the popular Netflix series.

(Some spoilers for the first two seasons below.)

Stranger Things was an instant hit when it debuted on Netflix in the summer of 2016. Set in the town of Hawkins, Indiana, in the early 1980s, it was a refreshing love letter to a bygone era, when kid-centric films like The Goonies, Ghostbusters, and E.T. led the box office. But all was not normal in this sleepy little town: an accident at a secret government lab opened an inter-dimensional portal and unleashed a

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Manufacturing memory means scribing silicon in a sea of sensors

Manufacturing memory means scribing silicon in a sea of sensors

Enlarge / How it’s made: silicon wafers! (credit: Micron)

At Micron’s memory chip fabrication facility in the Washington, DC, suburb of Manassas, Virginia, the entire manufacturing area is blanketed in electronic detectors in all their various forms. But the primary purpose isn’t to keep intruders out or anything so prosaic. “A lot of them are microphones,” a spokesman for Micron said. “They listen to the robots.”

It turns out that there are thousands of microphones throughout the facility, or “fab,” as silicon manufacturing plants are commonly known. There are microphones inside the giant $70 million cameras that imprint the component layout on the silicon surface of a memory chip. There are microphones lining the tracks of the robot controlled railways that carry colorful plastic FOUPs (front opening universal pods) along the ceiling throughout the plant. There are microphones near essentially every moving part in the facility.

All those

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