Weekly Rewind: Vinyl records worth more than your car, Prime Day prep, AI rights

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A lot can happen in a week when it comes to tech. The constant onslaught of news makes it nigh impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of this week’s top 10 tech stories, from how to make the most out of Prime Day to how we ought to feel about sex robots — it’s all here.

Microsoft’s Steven Bathiche redefined the PC, and he wants to do it again


Microsoft is on a good run. Over the past half-decade, it has released a popular new desktop operating system, built multiple award-winning PCs that’ve pushed the industry forward, and established itself as a leader in exciting new fields, including augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

It’s easy to imagine this turn-around as a victory for Windows 10, Surface, Azure, or CEO Satya Nadella, who took the reins in 2014 — and such congratulations would not be misplaced. Yet the story of Microsoft’s comeback isn’t just about stock prices and executive appointments. Equal credit can be given to the company’s tradition of innovative research — conducted by scientists like Steven Bathiche.

Read: Microsoft’s Steven Bathiche redefined the PC, and he wants to do it again

To understand America’s Jeep obsession, you’ve gotta get muddy

White Jeep Wrangler Unlimited driving through a creekbed

Nissan is about to give the all-electric Leaf a full makeover. It’s about time, too; the current, first-generation Nissan Leaf has been on the market since the end of 2010, and it’s getting a little bit long in the tooth. Its replacement won’t break cover for another few months, but the Japanese company is giving us an early look at some of its headline-grabbing tech features. Over the weekend, Nissan USA tweeted a teaser image of its new Leaf, then added a background image showing the car’s entire front end (which has since been removed). The image is our best look yet at the redesigned EV.

The next Leaf will finally usher in Nissan’s suite of semi-autonomous driving features, a sign that the once-expensive technology is trickling down to more affordable models. Named ProPilot Assist, the software relies on sensors and cameras to help control acceleration, braking, and steering. It only works on the highway, particularly in dense traffic, and its job is merely to keep the car in its lane. Don’t expect it to change lanes on its own like the systems built by Mercedes-Benz and Tesla.

Read: To understand America’s Jeep obsession, you’ve gotta get muddy

New report explores the good, the bad, and the ugly about sex robots

sex robot

“There are absolutely some benefits to the technology but, like everything else, there is a balance,” Aimee van Wynsberghe, assistant professor in ethics and technology at the Technical University of Delft and FRR co-director, said in a statement. “You have to strike a balance between lack of regulation — so we have all different uses and personifications of children and women as sexual objects — or you have overregulation and you stifle the technology. You have to find the way to balance so you really can harness the good.”

Read: New report explores the good, the bad, and the ugly about sex robots

Kirio smart homes don’t just alert you to problems, they can fix them

Kirio Smart Homes lifestyle shot of couple in their living room

A couple years ago, Franck Rougier’s kids started waking up with headaches. His family had recently moved from New York to Seattle, into one of the U.S.’s only passive homes. “It was a complicated home,” Rougier told Digital Trends. “It had a lot of tech in there.” Despite his background in mechanical engineering, Rougier hadn’t fully figured out how to properly ventilate the energy-efficient, air-tight house, and CO2 was getting trapped in the bedrooms. Instead of manually working the ventilation system, he looked for an automated solution. He struck out. “Even the builder had never lived in a passive house,” he said.

Instead, Rougier built his own, which would eventually become Kirio, a built-in home automation system that controls everything from lights to heating and cooling to the water tank. And it’s not just for passive homes.

There are countless smart-home hubs homeowners can buy, but Kirio gets installed before you buy your home, while it’s being built. It can control both what builder would put in — air conditioning, lighting, water, and so on, and the homeowner’s favorite gadgets — Nest thermostats, Alexa speakers, and smart locks, for example. “As long as something has a serial or diagnostic port, we can control it,” said Kirio’s CEO, Rob Green. The benefit is that instead of having your third-party sensor alert you there’s a leak, Kirio gets the message and sends another one out to shut off the water.

Read: Kirio smart homes don’t just alert you to problems, they can fix them

Top 5 cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb suffers major data breach

bitcoin cash becomes second most valued cryptocurrency

It’s easy to get a bit discouraged lately when it comes to securing our personal data. There are so many different methods being used by cyber criminals to get access to our data that it is tempting to just give up on the notion of keeping our information to ourselves. Cybercriminals use a variety of electronic means to break into systems, whether it is our own PCs or those maintained by the hundreds of companies with which we do business. Sometimes, it is the combination that does the trick — a breach in an individual’s PC serves as a gateway to organizational data and results in our information making its way into the wild. Such seems to be the case in an attack on the Bithumb cryptocurrency exchange.

The news comes via Hot for Security, based on information from some local reports in Seoul, Korea where the attack occurred. Apparently, a Bithumb employee’s PC was compromised and customer information including mobile phone and email addresses were stolen. The breach occurred on June 29 and around 30,000 customers were affected.

Read: Top 5 cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb suffers major data breach

Up your ‘gram game: how to get more Instagram followers

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In the digital age, the thirst for followers (and elusive likes) is very real. However, outside of our social circles, it can be difficult to add followers in order to promote our brand or simply stroke our egos. That said, there are plenty of easy ways to gain more Instagram followers. You may not garner as many likes as Selena Gomez anytime soon, but these helpful tips should bring your page to a broader audience. And don’t worry about all of these new people perusing the posts you’d like to keep private: The new Favorites feature allows you to share certain posts with only a selective group of friends. Read on to find out how to get more followers on Instagram.

Read: Up your ‘gram game: how to get more Instagram followers

I, Alexa: Should we give artificial intelligence human rights?

ai personhood ethics questions hanson robotics sophia
Douglas Adams’ second Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, tells the story of a futuristic smart elevator called the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Happy Vertical People Transporter. This artificially intelligent elevator works by predicting the future, so it can appear on the right floor to pick you up even before you know you want to get on — thereby “eliminating all the tedious chatting, relaxing, and making friends that people were previously forced to do whilst waiting for elevators.”

The ethics question, Adams explains, comes when the intelligent elevator becomes bored of going up and down all day, and instead decides to experiment with moving from side to side as a “sort of existential protest.”

Read: I, Alexa: Should we give artificial intelligence human rights?

These drool-worthy albums are among the most expensive vinyl records on Earth

most valuable vinyl records on turntable

As more and more listeners embrace the vinyl resurgence, vinyl fans around the world are increasingly on the hunt for the coolest wax to spin on their newly acquired analog hi-fis. We’d all love to find that hidden first pressing of Sgt. Peppers at the local record shop. But the rarest, most expensive vinyl records in the world aren’t for playing — unless you’re just that baller. Worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases, the world’s most sought after records aren’t just antiques or even works of art, they’re tangible time stamps of rock ‘n roll history, each with its own story to tell.

To tell those stories we’ve compiled a list of some of the most expensive and drool-worthy vinyl records on the planet. And while none of us will likely get our paws on any of these gems, a vinyl fan can dream. So follow us below for the rarest, strangest, and just plain coolest cuts ever pressed. While you’re at it, be sure to check out our vinyl tips on everything from how to buy and store your first vinyl collection, to which are the best record players and phono preamps to nab so you can build a killer turntable setup of your own.

Read: These drool-worthy albums are among the most expensive vinyl records on Earth

Prime Day starts today if you’re an Amazon Prime member and an Alexa user

prime day

Prime Day is fast approaching, and this time, Amazon really, really wants you to get in on the action. And it’s attempting to entice you with, what else, Alexa. The handy virtual assistant is not only good at helping you pay your bills, but can help you spend money, too. On Wednesday, July 5, the Seattle-based retail giant announced that Alexa has more than 100 exclusive deals available to Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Amazon Tap, Fire TV, or compatible Fire tablet owners.

And those choosing to take advantage of Prime Day (which, by the way, isn’t until July 10) will have access to certain deals two hours before everyone else. So if you’re looking for a reason to buy an Amazon Alexa-enabled device, the promise of spending even more money in the near future may be the motivation you need.

Read: Prime Day starts today if you’re an Amazon Prime member and an Alexa user

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

REI clearance sale extends discounts on Garmin, Fitbit, and GoPro devices

Beyond the things you typically expect to find at REI — like tents, skis, and jackets — there are tons of great deals on quality tech foryour outdoor adventures. From smartwatches to action cameras, here are the best tech deals.

The best new music this week: Josh Homme, Domo Genesis, and more

Are you looking for the best new music? Each week, we scour the internet to find the most compelling new releases just for you. On tap this week: Josh Homme, Domo Genesis, Eddie Palmieri, and Jacob Collier.

How to use Drop In and Announcements on Amazon’s Fire HD tablets

Amazon is giving some Fire HD tablets a big update. The tech giant released a software update that adds Drop In and Announcement modes to the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10. Here's how to enable the new features on your Fire HD tablet.

New Moment photo cases and lenses are a big plus for the OnePlus 6

Moment has announced that it is now releasing photo cases and lenses for the OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T, giving owners of those phones the ability to add on some high-quality photographic accessories.

Vivo Nex Dual Display Edition: Everything you need to know

The Vivo Nex Dual Edition is the gorgeous flagship we need to close out 2018. In addition to dual screens, the Nex Dual Edition has some other awesome features. Here's everything you need to know about the new Vivo Nex Dual Edition.

On a budget? We found the best affordable smartphones you can buy

Here are the best cheap phones for anyone working with a tight budget, whether you're a fan of stock Android or marathon battery life. Find out what you can get for under $500 or far, far less as we round up the best budget smartphones.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best wireless earbuds around.

Put down the controller and pick up the best phones for gaming on the go

Which phones are the best if all you want to do is play some mobile games? We've done the hard work and put together a list of the best gaming phones on Android and iOS, so you can keep playing and winning.
Social Media

#ThrowbackThursday is only the start: Instagram hashtags for every day of the week

Not getting your hashtag fill with #ThrowbackThursday or #ManCrushMonday? Here's a list of some of the more popular Instagram hashtags, so you can outfit your next post with the proper tag, regardless of what day it is.

Protect your new iPhone with one of our favorite iPhone XR cases

Apple's new iPhone range is the toast of 2018, with beautiful style and more power than you can shake a stick at. But beauty can often be fragile -- keep the damage to a minimum with the best iPhone XR cases.

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.

Apple's iOS 12.1.1 makes it easier to switch cameras in FaceTime

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The latest OS comes along with tons of new capabilities, from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts. Here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.

5G Coverage

Curious about 5G and what it means for you? Well here is our awesome one stop shop for all things 5g.