Driverless Waymo’s Hitting Cali Roads; Ford & VW May Share e-Platform; Apple Pulls watchOS Update; Solar Cell-Electricity & Hydrogen Simultaneously

The application went in last spring, but yesterday, Google’s Waymo got permission from California to start testing driverless cars on public roads. 9too5google.com notes that Waymo was already operating in 25 US cities, but always with a safety driver on board. Waymo will start initial testing in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto…all near the Google and Alphabet campuses. The DMV permit allows for day/night testing on city streets, rural roads, and highways with posted speed limits of 65 mph…so pretty well anywhere in the above communities and their surroundings. Perhaps Waymo should strap in a realistic dummy to make other motorists feel more comfortable!

With the move to electric vehicles, a number of auto makers are partnering with others. Toyota has hooked up with Subaru and BMW, for example, and now Ford and Volkswagen may be teaming up. Cnet.com reports that Ford and VW may share a platform for EVs. VW had previously said it might open up its MEB platform to others. Ford and VW had announced a ‘memorandum of understanding’ about possible collaboration last summer. Ford had previously announced that it would be bringing 40 EV models to market, and that it was investing some 11 billion in electrics by 2022. As long as we don’t have a Musta-Beetle or the like, all will probably be well with the EV world!

After their big show yesterday on iPads and Macs, Apple dropped iOS 12.1 and watchOS 5.1. Now, according to zdnet.com, they have pulled the Watch update. It was apparently bricking the newest, greatest Watch Series 4 models. The Watches just stopped booting at the apple logo, and couldn’t be force quit or rebooted, even if unpaired from an iPhone. Many users attempted to take the devices into Apple Stores, but most were out of Series 4 models, and they are being shipped from overseas by 3 day air. Apple says it is a very small number that were affected.

Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a process that can turn sunlight and water into electricity AND hydrogen! Engadget.com says its an ‘artificial photosynthesis’ process, but a big step up from previous attempts…going from 6.8% to 20.2% efficient. The team is moving into experimenting with real-world applications of the tech, but both electricity and hydrogen (for fuel cells) from one source could be a giant step towards more clean energy.

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Apple Mac & iPad Rollout & More

New MacBook Air— Now gets Retina display….finally.
It has no bezel….13.3 inch display. 4x resolution compared to old Air. They have added Touch ID with the keyboard. There’s a T2 chip and secure enclave. The keyboard is improved, and there’s a Force Touch trackpad.

Stereo speakers are 25% louder and have better bass. 3 mics improve use of Siri. 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports ( yep…only 2..you’d better buy a bag full of dongles!!)

Even though it has a 13.3” screen the new Air is 17% smaller than the old air and only weighs 2.75 lbs, dropping a quarter lb. Every new Air is made of 100% recycled aluminum.

1.6GHz i5 processor, 128GB storage, 8GB Ram Starts at $1199 and available next week.
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Updated Mac Mini— All get 4 cores, with 6 cores available. They aren’t mobile chips, but regular cpu’s. The new Mini is 5X faster. The new Mini is able to support 64 Gigs of memory on SO-DIMMs. They are available with up to 2TB of SSD memory. 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, HDMI, 2 USB A ports.

Mini starts at 799 with a base config of 8GB, 3.6GHz quad-core processor. Order today and available next week.

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New iPad Mini, iPad, and Pro. The new iPads have Face ID, no home button, a thinner bezel, and a magnetically attached Apple Pencil.

The Pro has the ‘liquid retina’ display. With no bezel, it 12.9” screen, but in a smaller package. The iPads Face ID works like it does in the iPhone X, Xs, etc.

The new iPads are running the new A12X Bionic chip. There’s an 8 core CPU…7 core GPU. It’s 90% faster, and is faster than 92% of PCs sold in the last year. The new Pro will be available with 1TB of storage, and will get USB-C. You will be able to charge your iPhone from your iPad Pro, too!

The new Pencil attaches magnetically, automatically pairs, and charges wirelessly. New magnetically attachable smart keyboard folio (that also protects the iPad.)

They demoed a basketball game (NBA 2K Mobile) that looks nearly like video of an actual game. Apple claims this kind of resolution has never been done on a mobile device.

Adobe demoed actual Photoshop on the iPad Pro. Adobe also showed off their new augmented reality product, which will be out next year.

11″ starts at $799, 12.9″ starts at $999. Orders start today, arrive November 7. Current 10.5-inch remains at $649. LTE versions available.

iOS 12.1 will be available today, with Group FaceTime, eSIM support for iPhone Xs and Xs Max, 70 new emoji, and more.

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Other things are happening besides with Apple. Twitter is rumored to be considering killing the ‘Like’ button, in order to force more debate between users. CEO Jack Dorsey said so at a private Twitter event last week, according to vox.com. Also of note…increasing the character count from 140 to 280 didn’t really produce an avalanche of longer Tweets.

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The era of electric aviation is nearly upon us. easyJet says they will launch a 9 passenger electric plane next year. They are also working on a battery powered 150 seat plane for short haul trips of under 300 miles. Electrek.co reports that 30% of flights are in that range, and that Boeing and Airbus sold nearly 1000 jets for those routes last year at around $90 million a pop, so an electric model would really shake up the market.


Samsung Galaxy S10 Release & Rumors; iOS 12.1 Out Tuesday with eSim Launch; IBM Red Hat Buy-Red Saves Big Blue; Gab Down Over Synagogue Shooter

It’s looking more and more like the Samsung Galaxy S10 will be s pretty significant update. According to businessinsider.com, there will be 3 models (like a certain company out of Cupertino), ranging from 5.8 to 6.1 to 6.4 inch display sizes. One will be a less expensive model without the curved edges Samsung has favored of late. One model may support 5G networking. A big rumor has a front facing fingerprint scanner under the display, and the phones may have something like Face ID…at least on the two higher end models. A big leapfrogging over Apple….3 rear cams may come on at least two models, and two front facing cams. The 3rd back lens will be a 16MP ultra wide angle lens. Expect the S10’s in March…no pricing leak so far.

The two top phones will have ‘almost no bezel, and the front cam may be hidden under the display…no notch? Here’s an innovation if it pans out…no earpiece. The audio will be transmitted to your ear with vibrations emanating from the display!

Tomorrow…Tuesday…we are expecting freshened iPads and a replacement to the MacBook Air from Apple. Stealing from Ron Popeil of Ronco fame—’but wait…there’s more!’ We will probably see iOS 12.1 released after the show, and it will include the eSim launch for the iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and XR. 9to5mac.com reports that you will be able to add a 2nd phone line to your existing iPhone for calls and texts, and even can use different data plans on each number. The handset will answer calls from both numbers automatically. The service should be available from carriers in the US, Europe, and India. You should be able to sign up through Apple stores or some carrier apps.

That’s just for the latest iPhone users…how about everyone else in the iPhone world? There are 70 new emoji coming, too! Also in 12.1…the ability to adjust the bokeh blur in Portrait mode before shooting the pic.

IBM…Big Blue…has not had the best time of it the last few years. Now, with the acquisition of Red Hat for $34 billion, they may have bought themselves a lifeline. Techcrunch.com notes that IBM is saying that the addition will be a game changer, as it will make IBM the number one hybrid cloud provider, since Red Hat is the top supplier of Linux open source software. Linux has been successful in running big data workloads and AI workloads, which will assist IBM in expanding its healthcare software business particularly.

The site that billed itself as a ‘free speech’ alternative to Twitter used by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, Gab, is offline. Arstechnica.com says it has been dropped by a number of tech platforms including PayPal, Joyent, Medium, and GoDaddy. The site has been around a couple years, and says they have 800,000 users. Although Gab had banned explicit violence calls, they had been a hotbed of hate speech, and particularly favored by alt-right
types like Richard Spencer and KKK’s David Duke.


Apple Event October 30th


Facebook Chat Cam For TV; Netflix Roars With Q3; Tesla Buys Factory Site in China; Helm Shows Personal Private Email Server

On the heels of introducing their Portal video devices, with the cams that follow you around the room, Facebook is working on one that will live on top of your TV and make it into a giant sized Portal. Engadget.com says it’s code named ‘Ripley,’ and is expected to bow next spring.

In not-so-cool news about Facebook, they had previously announced that the Portal devices wouldn’t be collecting your data as the devices live in your house and serve you ads. Well, that may be true, BUT they will be hoovering up your data on who you call, and what apps you use, etc, and THAT data WILL be used to serve you ads on Facebook and its other platforms. Recode.net notes that this shouldn’t be a shock, since Facebook’s entire business model is based on using tons of data about you to serve you ads. Oh…and all the video views they get and how we’ve heard that video is much more important than printed content…well that was basically a big lie. Hire back writers, media…the written word still grabs lots and lots of eyeballs!

Netflix blew away Wall Street expectations, picking up 6.96 million new subscribers in the third quarter, while the Street expected 5.3 million. According to businessinsider.com, Netflix made 89 cents a share, which was 21 cents more than analysts had expected. Netflix did warn that per share earnings would be down in the final quarter…as they will have to recognize money invested in licensing and developing movies and shows, especially its ‘Originals.’

Not wanting to miss out on the big Chinese market or have sales impeded by the Trump tariffs, Tesla has bought a 210 acre site in Shanghai to build a new factory…one that will make the batteries as well as the cars. Arstechnica.com reports that it is in the so-called ‘free trade zone.’ Tesla expects that in 2 to 3 years, they can be pumping out 500,000 cars a year from the factory, and will avoid having prices increase by 60% if the tariffs continue or increase.

Now, you don’t have to be a public figure or a security wizard to rock your own private email server. Now, there’s Helm, a gadget that looks like a peaked roof on a tiny doll house or a hardcover book sitting on its edges with the spine at the top…that makes it as easy to set up a personal email server as setting up an Amazon Echo. Mashable.com notes that with your own server, your email will be physically in your home, not in the ether on some cloud server somewhere…but it’s still accessible from anywhere. The gadget has 128Gigs of built in storage and has a tray that can add up to 5 TB more. It’s $499, but you’ll need their update service (for security updates) for $99 a year, too. The Helm has a security key…actually a physical, metal key that plugs into a port on the top. Even if someone got physical access to the server, without the key, all is encrypted. There’s a back up electronic key that can live on your phone. It’s comparable with any email client that works with IMAP mail, including Apple Mail, Microsoft Outlook, and a number of others. The service will walk you through migrating cloud service mail like Gmail to the little box.


Huawei Mate 20; Apple Patents Double Fold iPhone; Lyft $299 All-Access; Bezos-Internet a Confirmation Bias Machine

Huawei’s Mate 20 smartphone pretty well runs the table when it comes to top shelf features. Theverge.com is reporting that it sports 3 rear cams, and an in-display fingerprint sensor (something both Apple and Samsung have worked on, but are yet to perfect.) The Mate 20 also has a 3D face unlock feature like the iPhone X, Xs, etc, and has a hi-resolution 6.4 inch OLED display. It’s available today for $1443 with 6 Gigs of RAM and 128 Gigs of storage.

With Samsung allegedly looking to finally come out with its fabled folding smartphone by early next year, Apple has received another patent for a folding smartphone. This one has an interesting twist…according to 9to5mac.com, the patent is for a phone that folds in two places! It appears that this would allow an iPhone sized device to unfold into something the size of an iPad Mini. Apparently, Apple has been working with LG, to minimize leaks to arch competitor Samsung…which, as noted above, is actually ahead of Apple in the folding phone game. In Apple’s patent, it appears the phone can be folded with the display on the outside OR the inside. No clues in the patent info on when Cupertino might actually come out with such a phone, of course.

Lyft has gone fully live with their subscription service. The All-Access plan is now widely available for $299 a month. Engadget.com says for that, you get 30 trips a month of up to $15 in value (you pay for anything over that). There’s also a 5% discount on additional trips. If it works for you, you can sign up today, and it should be available to all US customers by the end of the week. Lyft is offering the plan as an alternative to owning a car, and time will tell if this actually moves enough people out of ownership and into full time ride sharing.

At the Wired 25 Conference Monday, Jeff Bezos noted that the internet…in its current configuration…is basically a ‘confirmation bias machine.’ Businessinsider.com reports that Bezos expressed concern that some of the web’s tech is very useful to autocratic regimes ‘to enforce their will.’ He fears that the confirmation bias leads to more and more tribalism. On the other hand, the Amazon CEO pointed out that something similar happened with the proliferation of books, and humanity survived that. He said ‘The last thing we’d ever want to do is stop the progress of new technologies.’


Tiny Palm Micro Phone;’ Pixel App to Support External Mics; Amazon Debuts Shark Tank Retail Site; Your Public DNA

Palm is rolling out a tiny phone…and we mean tiny. It’s smaller than the original iPhone- in fact, just a bit bigger than a credit card. Theverge.com reports that the micro-phone (sorry) will run $349.00 and be exclusive to Verizon. Actually, a San Francisco startup bought the rights to the Palm name, and is making the gadget. You can add it to your verizon plan, and it shares the number with your ‘main’ smartphone. It is designed to be for use on weekends, or when you go out, or anytime you don’t want all the distractions of your larger phone. The little Palm does run a full version of Android 8.1 and all apps in the Google Play Store. As an additional incentive to buy something you can’t possibly need, there are Steph Curry designed cases…so you can strap it to your forearm during workouts and Kate Spade clutches for the diminutive handset, too!

The new Pixel 3 phones have an amazing camera, and now Google is giving people a chance to up their game in shooting video with their phones. Starting October 18th, the Pixel App will support external mics. Engadget.com reports that a bonus is that the feature will work on all pixel phones, not just the brand new 3’s that come out Wednesday! Whether you’re a video blogger, a filmmaker, or just want to get better video and audio than ever before from a phone, the Pixel will be a serious help. Apparently, all Android friendly wired external mics will work with the app.

Amazon has debuted a Shark Tank Collection on Amazon Launchpad, its platform for hardware and physical goods startups. According to techcrunch.com, Amazon will feature over 70 products that successfully got funded in seasons 1 through 9, and further new products will be added in from season 10 and beyond.

We’ve all seen the news stories lately about very old criminal cases being solved by DNA…from relatives that sent theirs in to sites. Now, wired.com says that so many people have used Ancestery or 23 and Me that 60% of Americans with European ancestors can be identified via their DNA using open genetic genealogy sites, even if they have never sent in a spit kit. The DNA of relatives can so narrow down a number of people, that most anyone can be found then using public records. Scientists say that with only 2% of adults in an ethnic population are in the database, a match can be made to at least a third cousin or closer on almost any person of interest. We’ve reached a degree of privacy invasion that even Orwell never anticipated! Big Brother doesn’t NEED to watch you…he can find you through your DNA!