Category Archives: Tech

Spay and neuter your pets — and then bank their stem cells

Being man's best friend has a number of perks, one of which is that dogs get access to all the latest medical science, including, as it turns out, stem cell therapy. A company called Gallant is launching a new bank for canines nationwide (not called…

SpaceX hopes to offer satellite internet to customers by mid-2020

SpaceX has Starlink internet satellites in orbit, but when is it going to offer honest-to-goodness service? You may have to wait a little while. Company President Gwynne Shotwell told a media roundtable that SpaceX hoped to offer Starlink broadband…

‘NBA Now’ game offers a quick basketball fix on your phone

If you're a big enough basketball game fan that you can't wait to get home before shooting hoops, there might be a solution in sight. Gamevil has released NBA Now, a game for Android and iOS that's designed to be played with one hand. Rather than t…

Microsoft’s DreamWalker VR turns your daily commute into a totally different one

A user traverses a park while wearing a DreamWalker kit.

Enlarge / A user traverses a park while wearing a DreamWalker kit. (credit: Microsoft)

Researchers at Microsoft have developed new VR technologies that they claim allow users to remain fully immersed in a virtual world even while traversing public places in the real world on foot.

Microsoft describes the project, titled DreamWalker, as “a method for allowing people to safely navigate a given route in real-world environments, such as a daily walk to work, while seeing themselves strolling a different VR world, such as a city of their choosing.” It was developed by researchers Jackie Yang, Eyal Ofek, Andy Wilson, and Christian Holz.

The company’s research division published a blog post about the new research yesterday, and researchers will present the method at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology tomorrow.

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Google Home update leaves some speakers unusable

Smart speakers' frequent under-the-radar updates are usually convenient, but they're creating a lot of headaches for some Google device owners. Google has confirmed that it's fixing a problem with firmware updates that have bricked Home and Home Min…

BYU researchers extend WiFi range by 200 feet with a software upgrade

As we fill our homes with connected devices, we'll need WiFi to reach around every corner. One solution is hardware like Amazon's Eero routers and Google's Nest WiFi, physical devices that give your primary WiFi signal a boost. But researchers think…

Apple TV+ adaptation of ‘Foundation’ will star Jared Harris and Lee Pace

Apple isn't cutting corners with its TV+ version of Isaac Asimov's Foundation. The tech giant has cast its first two stars for the show, choosing Chernobyl's Jared Harris (above) to play math genius Hari Seldon and Halt and Catch Fire's Lee Pace as…

Facebook must face $35B facial-recognition lawsuit following court ruling

The Facebook app displayed on the screen of an iPhone.

Enlarge / The Facebook app displayed on the screen of an iPhone. (credit: Fabian Sommer | picture alliance | Getty Images)

Facebook’s most recent attempt to extricate itself from a potentially landmark lawsuit has come to a dead end, as a federal court declined to hear another appeal to stop the $35 billion class action.

In San Francisco last week, the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit denied Facebook’s petition for an en banc hearing in the case. Usually, appeals cases are heard by a panel of three judges out of all the judges who work in a given circuit. An en banc hearing is a kind of appeal in which a much larger group of judges hears a case. In the 9th Circuit, 11 of the 29 judges sit on en banc cases.

Facebook had requested an en banc hearing to appeal the 9th’s Circuit’s August ruling, in which the court determined that the plaintiffs had standing to sue, even though Facebook’s alleged actions did not cause them any quantifiable financial harm. The class-action suit can now move forward.

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After court loss, Ajit Pai complains about states regulating broadband

Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai seen arriving at a conference.

Enlarge / Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai at the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 23, 2018, in National Harbor, Maryland. (credit: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla )

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai may have belatedly concluded that federal regulation of broadband would be better for businesses than letting all 50 US states regulate Internet access.

Speaking at the WSJ Tech Live conference yesterday, Pai said that “a uniform, well-established set of regulations” is preferable to states regulating broadband individually. “[Pai] said allowing states and local governments to pass their own laws regulating Internet services, which inherently cross state lines, creates market uncertainty,” according to CNET.

The CNET article included this direct quote from Pai:

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Study casts doubt on value of WHO’s “gaming disorder” diagnoses

Stock photo of angry young men playing video games.

Enlarge / Two gamers with obvious unmet psychological needs. (credit: Philip Sowels/​Future Publishing/​Shutterstock)

Since the World Health Organization proposed new diagnoses for “hazardous gaming” and “gaming disorder” last year, there’s been an ongoing scientific debate about which way the causation for these issues really goes. Does an excessive or addictive relationship with gaming actually cause psychological problems, or are people with existing psychological problems simply more likely to have an unhealthy relationship with gaming?

A recent study by Oxford’s Internet Institute, published in the open access journal Clinical Psychological Science, lends some support to the latter explanation. But it also highlights just how many of the game industry’s most devoted players may also be driven by some unmet psychological needs.

Getting at the problem

To study how so-called “dysfunctional gaming” relates to psychological needs and behaviors, the Oxford researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,004 UK adolescents and their caregivers. They asked the caregivers to evaluate their adolescents’ levels of “psychosocial functioning:” how well the adolescents are able to internalize or externalize problems in their lives as evidenced by their behavior.

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