In the tech world, a lot happens in a week. So much news goes on, in fact, that it’s almost impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of the top 10 tech stories from this week. Everything from the easiest way to order pizza to a potential encryption bill, it’s all here.
Ordering pizza is one process you shouldn’t have to think too much about. It should be simple — pick a size and topping, and your sizzling pie should be on its way. Now Domino’s is simplifying that process with Zero Click — all you need to do is open the app and your order will be placed. That’s it. It’s just another way the pizza chain is allowing you to order its food. Recently, it opened up orders to Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant, in the Echo connected speaker. And in addition to Zero Click and Amazon Echo, Domino’s has numerous other ways to order a pie, ranging from Twitter and Android Wear to a smart TV.
Not long ago, keeping in touch while traveling abroad seemed like a Herculean affair. Wi-Fi was often difficult to find, different phones had different standards, and high roaming fees ensured that photo upload to Facebook would cost you dearly. Unless you really needed it, it seemed best to turn the phone off completely. But staying connected is big business: According to a February 2015 report by Amba Hotels, travelers racked up more than $7 billion in fees when overseas, and that’s just looking at business travel. And with smartphones being incredibly handy for travel, whether it’s looking for directions or finding places to eat, it’s silly not to utilize your phone.
The abuse and overuse of prescription pain medicine is a growing problem, especially in the United States. To help reduce patients’ reliance on opiates and other powerful pain medicines, a research team from the University of Texas at Arlington has been working on an alternative method for controlling pain — electrical stimulation of the brain. The UTA researchers are not the first ones to explore electrical stimulation as a way of managing pain. There already exists an experimental class of similar wearable devices that take advantage of the technique known as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS.
Aren’t you tired of spraying celebratory champagne everywhere by keeping your thumb on the mouth of the bottle? Not to worry — the champagne gun is a gadget that helps you waste more champagne more efficiently by spraying a steady stream of bubbly in any direction you choose. The champagne gun also comes with a “champagne service” attachment, so that the next time you pour a magnum bottle around the table, you could be pouring it from a gun-inspired holder. The champagne gun itself weighs five pounds, and is made of a metal structure in a plastic shell, coated with a “high quality” metal finish.
If you live in the United States, or anywhere outside of Sweden for that matter, you may not know a whole lot about the Nordic country. If you’re willing to learn, however, Sweden now has a phone number that you can call to be connected to a random Swede and ask questions. The Swedish Tourism Board set up a phone number for to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Sweden becoming the first country to abolish censorship. In the spirit of openness, the country is opening its phone lines to strangers who are curious about the country. When you call the number, someone from Sweden who has the corresponding app on their phone will get your call.
Apple may have won a battle with the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice in the San Bernardino case, but a new encryption bill could undermine the company’s effort to protect its customers’ data. The bill comes from the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a draft has finally surfaced. The bill proposes to require companies like Apple and Google to comply with court orders when law enforcement is trying to gain access to encrypted data. That means Apple would have had to comply in the San Bernardino case. Gaining such access, law enforcement and lawmakers believe, will provide more data and insight into criminal and terrorism investigations.
You’d think the White House would have up-to-date tech, wouldn’t you? I know I did. Frank Underwood was throwing around iPhones like used napkins way back in House of Cards season one. But the real West Wing was anything but ready for the age of Facebook and Twitter, until now. In the first major technology upgrade since the 80s, White House staffers are now able to use modern computers and phones. Until recently, iPhones were scarce, computers and printers were decades old, most office phones were pre-digital (we used to call that analog), and dependable Wi-Fi wasn’t the way of life in the White House as it is in most U.S. homes and coffee shops.
The BBC has made its choice for the forthcoming television adaptation of Philip Pullman’s much-loved His Dark Materials young adult book series, tapping British TV writer Jack Thorne, as reported by Deadline. A prolific screenplay writer in his homeland, the 37-year-old Thorne has already enjoyed great success in the medium, coming off three separate BAFTA award nominations in TV categories this year alone. “It is such an honor and a privilege to be given this opportunity to delve into Philip Pullman’s world,” Thorne said. “The His Dark Materials trilogy are vast and glorious books full of beautiful characters and I’m going to work as hard as I can to try and do justice to them.”
The only group of people who don’t know how hot Tesla is at this point may be Tesla itself. After a stunning underestimation of just how popular its highly anticipated Model 3 would be, Elon Musk’s futuristic car company may have to raise more cash if it is to have any hope of sending its new electric car to buyers by the promised date, analysts say. With 180,000 reservations placed on the first day of ordering alone, Tesla certainly knows how to drum up interest — the car won’t actually appear for at least another year, and perhaps longer now that demand is so high.
Facebook is ready to help blind people ‘see’ images via artificial intelligence. The new feature, called automatic alternate text, works with existing screen reader apps used by blind and visually impaired people. The AI-generated descriptions identify objects and scenes but there is no facial recognition –although we can imagine it’s on the way. So you if you share an image with A visually impaired friend it won’t tell him or her who is in the picture or what everyone is wearing, but it might read “Image may contain: three people, smiling, birthday cake.” There are more than 246 million people around the world with severe visual impairments and 39 million who are blind, according to Facebook.
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