HughPickens.com writes: Take a look back at a popular TV programs from the mid-1960s like “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and what do you see? Like today, middle-class Americans typically had washing machines, air-conditioning, telephones, and cars. The Internet and video games were not yet invented but life, over all, did not look that much different from today. Now flash back 50 years earlier to 1910 and less than half the population lived in cities, Model T’s were just starting to roll off the assembly line, most homes weren’t wired for electricity, indoor plumbing was a luxury, and average life expectancy was only 53. Now Eduardo Porter writes in the NYT that although Americans like to think they live in an era of rapid and unprecedented change, the truth is that the most momentous changes of the 20th century arose between 1920 and 1970 and according to Robert J. Gordon, author of “The Rise and Fall of American Growth," despite the burst of progress of the Internet era, total factor productivity has risen in the last fifty years at only about one-third the pace of the previous five decades. “This book,” Gordon writes in the introduction, “ends by doubting that the standard of living of today’s youths will double that of their parents, unlike the standard of living of each previous generation of Americans back to the late 19th century.”
But that's not the worst part of the story. According to Gordon, the labor force will continue to decline, as aging baby boomers leave the work force and women’s labor supply plateaus and gains in education, an important driver of productivity that expanded sharply in the 20th century, will contribute little. Moreover, the growing concentration of income means that whatever the growth rate, most of the population will barely share in its fruits. Altogether, Professor Gordon argues, the disposable income of the bottom 99 percent of the population, which has expanded about 2 percent per year since the late 19th century, will expand over the next few decades at a rate little above zero. Gordon says that the explosion of innovation and prosperity from 1920 through 1970 was a one-time phenomenon. From now on, progress will continue at the more gradual pace of both the last 40 years and the period before 1920. "If you think about the productivity effects of the computer revolution, they started way back in the 1960s, with the first computer-produced telephone bills and bank statements and went on in the 1970s with airline reservation systems. In the early 80s there was the invention of the personal computer, the ATM cash machine and barcode scanning which greatly increased productivity in retail. And so much of the impact of computers in replacing human labor had already occurred at the time the internet was introduced in the late 1990s. And actually, depending on which part of the internet you are looking at, it was introduced before then. Most of us were doing email by the early 90s. Amazon was founded in 1994, so we’re 20 years now into the age of e-commerce," says Gordon. “There is plenty of room in my forecast for evolutionary change. What is lacking is sharp, discrete change.”
HughPickens.com writes: Greg Milner writes in the NYT that an American tourist in Iceland directed the GPS unit in his rental car to guide him from Keflavik International Airport to a hotel in nearby Reykjavik, and ended up 250 icy miles away in Siglufjordur, a fishing village on the outskirts of the Arctic Circle. Mr. Santillan apparently explained that he was very tired after his flight and had “put his faith in the GPS.” In another incident, a woman in Belgium asked GPS to take her to a destination less than two hours away and two days later, she turned up in Croatia. Finally disastrous incidents involving drivers following disused roads and disappearing into remote areas of Death Valley in California have became so common that park rangers gave them a name: “death by GPS.” "If we’re being honest, it’s not that hard to imagine doing something similar ourselves" says Milner. "Most of us use GPS as a crutch while driving through unfamiliar terrain, tuning out and letting that soothing voice do the dirty work of navigating."
Could society’s embrace of GPS be eroding our cognitive maps? Julia Frankenstein, a psychologist at the University of Freiburg’s Center for Cognitive Science, says the danger of GPS is that “we are not forced to remember or process the information — as it is permanently ‘at hand,’ we need not think or decide for ourselves.” "Next time you’re in a new place, forget the GPS device. Study a map to get your bearings, then try to focus on your memory of it to find your way around. City maps do not tell you each step, but they provide a wealth of abstract survey knowledge. Fill in these memories with your own navigational experience, and give your brain the chance to live up to its abilities."
MojoKid writes: AMD is long overdue for a major architecture update, though one is coming later this year. Featuring the codename "Zen," AMD's already provided a few details, such as that it will be built using a 14nm FinFET process. In time, AMD will reveal all there is to know but Zen, but we now have a few additional details to share thanks to a computer engineer at CERN. CERN engineer Liviu Valsan recently gave a presentation on technology and market trends for the data center. At around 2 minutes into the discussion, he brought up AMD's Zen architecture with a slide that contained some previously undisclosed details. One of the more interesting revelations was that upcoming x86 processors based on Zen will feature of up to 32 physical cores. To achieve a 32-core design, Valsan says AMD will use two 16-core CPUs on a single die with a next-generation interconnect. It has also been previously reported that Zen will offer up to a 40 percent improvement in IPC compared to its current processors.
MojoKid writes: To look at the Dell Precision 15 5510, you wouldn't know that it sits in the middle of Dell's workstation lineup. The laptop is thinner and sleeker than you might expect a workstation-class laptop to be and the premium carbon fiber palm rest gives the system a decidedly high-end vibe. Not to mention, like the XPS 15, Dell equipped this machine with its 4K IGZO Infinity Edge display that has almost no bezel on three of its sides. However, the Precision 15 5510 is actually Dell's mid-range mobile workstation that also supports Intel Xeon E3 processors and NVIDIA's Quadro M1000 series GPUs. It's essentially a mobile workstation version of Dell's XPS 15 line but along with an NVMe PCIe Solid State Drive, delivers professional grade performance and the pro app certifications that go with it. Compared to Lenovo's ThinkPad W550 line, the Precision 15 is a more sleek, stylish machine and in testing it packs more punch as well. Lenovo may already have their Skylake Xeon refresh in the works for the ThinkPad W series, however.
MojoKid writes: Intel's latest generation of processors built on the Skylake architecture are efficient as well as seriously fast. The flagship, Core i7-6700K, is an interesting chip as it's clocked at a base 4GHz, and can peak at 4.2GHz with Turbo Boost. Of course, as fast as the 6700K is, overclocking can always help take things to the next level, or at least temporarily explore future potential. In Chi-Kui Lam's case, he did just that, and managed to break a world record for Intel processors along the way. Equipped with an ASRock motherboard, G.SKILL memory, and a beefy 1.3KW Antec power supply — not to mention liquid nitrogen — Lam managed to break through the 7GHz barrier to settle in at 7025.66MHz. A CPU-Z screenshot shows us that all cores but one were disabled — something traditionally done to improve the chances of reaching such high clock speeds.
MojoKid writes: Not long after Apple unveiled its Siri personal assistant to the world, it took very little time before people began asking her outrageous questions, sometimes inappropriate or just humorous, if for no other reason than they just could. When creating Cortana, Microsoft was well-aware of what its digital assistant was going to have to deal with, so, believe it or not, it was designed in such a way to handle abuse in a specific manner. According to Microsoft's Deborah Harrison, who is one of eight writers for Cortana, a chunk of the earliest queries were about Cortana's sex life. A specific goal was to make sure Cortana wasn't treated as a subservient. If she's insulted, she doesn't apologize or back down. She handles it with tact, so as to reduce the chance of further abuse.
MojoKid writes: Bethesda and id Software are in the process rebooting the Doom franchise and it seems like it's been in development for ages. When we last visited the upcoming Doom remake, Bethesda had posted a giblet-filled trailer which showed some pretty impressive gameplay visuals, killer hand-to-hand combat and plenty of head stomping. However, Bethesda just clued gamers in on something that Doom fans have been anticipating for years, an actual release date. Mark your calendars for May 13th, because that's when Doom will be available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and of course, the PC platform. Bethesda also dropped a new campaign trailer for you to ogle.
MojoKid writes: SwiftKey has been one of the more popular predictive keyboard offerings in the mobile space since it was first released in beta form on the Android market back in 2010. What made SwiftKey so appealing was its intelligent predictive texting technology. SwiftKey isn't a simple keyboard replacement. Rather, the software uses a combination of artificial intelligence technologies that give it the ability to learn usage patterns and predict the next word the user most likely intends to type. SwiftKey refines its predictions, learning over time by analyzing data from SMS, Facebook, and Twitter messages, then offering predictions based on the text being entered at the time. It is estimated that SwiftKey is installed on upwards of 500 million mobile devices. According to reports, Microsoft is apparently buying the UK-based company for a cool $250 Million. What Microsoft intends to do with SwiftKey is not clear just yet, but the company has been purchasing mobile apps at a good clip as of late.
MojoKid writes: AMD apparently wasn't done making announcements back at CES 2016. Today the company has shared news of new APUs, processors, fansink coolers, and motherboard updates. The company has been working with motherboard makers to enable a new wave of socket AM3+ and FM2+ motherboards with support for technologies like USB 3.1 (some with type-C and M.2 solid state drives (SSDs). Many of the updated motherboards are already available. AMD also has a trio of new APUs / processors coming down the pipe --the A10-7860K, the A6-7470K, and the Athlon X4 845. The Athlon X4 845 is a quad-core part, featuring four Excavator-class cores clocked at up to 3.8GHz. The processor has 2MB of L2 cache, 8 PCIe 3.0 lanes, and a TDP of 65W, but no built-in graphics. The A6-7470K is a dual Steamroller-core APU (clocked at up to 4GHz), with 8 GPU cores (at up to 800MHz), 1MB of L2 cache, 16 PCIe lanes, and a 65W TDP. The A10-7860K is a little beefier with four Steamroller cores (clocked up to 4GHz), with 8 GPU cores (clocked up to 757MHz), 1MB of L2 cache, 16 PCIe lanes, and a 65W TDP. Both the 7860K and 7470K are unlocked for more flexible overclocking. Finally, the FX-8370 bundled with AMD's new Wraith cooler will be arriving today at the same price point as the previous edition. According to AMD, the Wraith cooler offers 24% more surface area than the previous PIB cooler and the fan pushes 34% more air.
MojoKid writes: In advance of what's sure to be a barrage of VR-related product hitting the market over the next couple of months, a VR-focused conference took place last week in Los Angeles, called VRLA. It also included presentations from notable people in the industry, including AMD VP of Alliances Roy Taylor. Back in December, we learned that AMD is holding off on the release of its dual-GPU Radeon R9 Fury X2 to make a bigger impact on VR. At VRLA, Taylor let it slip that the card will boast performance of 12 TFLOPs, single precision. Whether this is impressive or not depends on how you slice up the performance projections from there. The Fury X, AMD's current top-end card, is spec'd at 8.6 TFLOPs, which means that the Fury X2 will be roughly 40% faster (at least on paper). Potential pricing aside, 12 TFLOPs is a lot of horsepower. NVIDIA's GeForce TITAN X, for example, is just half that, at 6.1 TFLOPs. It's safe to say that the Fury X2, whenever it does get here, is going to be powerful and likely rather pricey.
whoever57 writes: A former employee of Yahoo is challenging Yahoo's performance review and termination process. The ranking system was introduced to by Ms. Mayer on the recommendation of management consultants McKinsey & Co.. Gregory Anderson, an editor who oversaw Yahoo’s autos, homes, shopping, small business and travel sites in Sunnyvale, Calif. is claiming that the ranking and termination process was flawed to the extent that the terminations were not based on performance and hence constitute mass layoffs, which require notice periods under both California and Federal law. He is also alleging gender discrimination, under which women were given preferential treatment over men in the hiring, promotions and layoff processes.
Qbertino writes: Heise.de (German TFA) reports that the Dutch police is training raptor birds — bald eagles too — to take down drones. There's a video (narrated and interviewed in dutch) linked in TFA. It's a test phase and not yet determined if this is going real — concernes of the birds getting injured are amoung the counter-arguments against this course of action. This all is conducted by a company called "Guard from above" designing systems to prevent smugling via drones. TFA also mentions MTUs net-shooting quadcopter concept of a drone-predator.
MojoKid writes: ASUS recently revamped their ZenBook UX305 family of ultralight notebooks with Intel's 6th generation Skylake Core m series, which brings with it not only improved graphics performance but also native support for PCI Express NVMe M.2 Solid State Drives. The platform is turning out to be fairly strong for this category of notebooks and the low cost ZenBook ($699 as tested) is a good example of what Skylake Core m capable of in a balanced configuration. Tested here, the machine is configured with a 256GB M.2 SSD, 8GB of RAM and a 2.2GHz Core m3-6Y30 dual-core CPU. Along with a 13.3-inch 1080p FHD display and 802.11ac wireless connectivity, the ZenBook UX305 is setup nicely and it puts up solid performance numbers in both standard compute tasks and graphics. It also offers some of the best battery life numbers in an ultralight yet, lasting over 10 hours on a charge in real world connected web testing.
MojoKid writes: Sometimes a video comes along that is so majestic that it defies explanation. Such was the case when David Hasselhoff kung fu kicked his way through the music video "True Survivor." And here we are again, this time with actor Paul Rudd gearing up to go against the great Steven Hawking in a game of Quantum Chess. You would have never before thought that those two names would be uttered in the same sentence — Hawking and degrasse Tyson, sure. But Hawking and Rudd? And for the icing on the cake, the match is marvelously narrated by none other than Keanu Reeves, aka Neo, back from the future. Rudd ends up taking a crash course on quantum mechanics to bring himself up to par with the intellectually superior Hawking. The results are as predictable as Schrodinger's cat.
MojoKid writes: Intel's leadership in chip manufacturing technology has put the company on a steady tick-tock cadence when it comes to major processor releases. The company usually releases a new fabrication process with a "tick" and follows that up with "tock" microarchitecture improvements but based on the same process. The first major hiccup in this strategy will rear its head this year with the introduction of Kaby Lake, a second "semi-tock" so to speak. Kaby Lake will soldier on on a 14nm process, making it the third major Intel processor architecture to do so (following Broadwell and Skylake). It has now started circulating that Intel will once again go with three major processor families manufactured on the same process node. In this case, however, Intel will reportedly settle in on the 10nm process node first with Cannonlake, which reportedly will launch during the second half of 2017. Cannonlake will be followed by Icelake one year later in H2 2018. The final product family built on the 10nm process node will be Tigerlake, which is claimed to be earmarked for a H2 2019 debut. Intel's new three and done strategy means that we won't see its first 7nm processors chip until the second half of 2020. Although no one knows for sure if Intel's move to three products per process node is here to stay, sources seem to indicate that Intel is adamant about getting back to it regular tick-tock cadence.