Monthly Archives: July 2015

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Thundercat on How ‘Them Changes’ Became a Funk Song On the Song Exploder podcast, host Hrishikesh Hirway talks to musicians who take apart their songs and, piece by piece, tell the stories of how they were made. Listen below. Thundercat is the alter-ego of bassist and singer-songwriter Stephen Bruner. He’s played bass for both Suicidal Tendencies and Erykah Badu and went on to help shape Kendrick Lamar’s epic hip-hop album To Pimp a Butterfly. In this episode, Thundercat breaks down the song “Them Changes” off his new mini-album, The Beyond/Where Giants Roam. Thundercat co-produced the track with long-time collaborator Flying Lotus, with Kamasi Washington on saxophone. EPISODE 45: THUNDERCAT [Download this episode on iTunes] Buy “Them Changes” on iTunes

How the OnePlus 2 Plans to Be More Than a One-Hit Wonder Imagine being Dexy’s Midnight Runners, circa 1982. “Come On Eileen” just came out of nowhere and is blowing up. It’s on every radio station, and playing at every party. Nobody had ever heard of you; now you’re everywhere. It’s awesome, you’re famous, drugs are probably involved—but there’s something in the back of your head saying “how the hell are you going to top this?” That’s what it’s like to be OnePlus right now. The upstart smartphone manufacturer launched out of total obscurity a little over a year ago, and immediately won the hearts of Android enthusiasts. The company’s first device, the OnePlus One, was a geek’s dream: It ran CyanogenMod, it had killer specs, and at $299 unlocked it almost seemed too good to be true.Today, OnePlus is launching its second device, the OnePlus 2. It’s an upgrade on […]

TomTom Is Alive, and It’s Getting Into Self-Driving Cars Bosch You might think the smartphone killed TomTom, the Dutch provider of handy navigation units you stuck on your dashboard so Homer Simpson, John Cleese or Mr. T could tell you how to get to that cool new Thai place. As delightful as it might be to be pitied as a fool when you’ve missed a turn, who needs a hunk of hardware when you’ve got something in your pocket that can do the same thing? After all, simply driving from here to there doesn’t require much info: where to go, where to turn, where the traffic might be bad and whether you’ll have to pay a toll should cover it. Even Apple Maps can handle that. But you, dear human, won’t be driving that much longer, and that is why TomTom remains relevant. The self-driving car is coming, and it […]

 How do SSDs work? Here at Shadonj , we’ve often discussed the difference between different types of NAND structures — vertical NAND versus planar, or multi-level cell (MLC) versus triple-level cells (TLC). What we haven’t done is sit down and talk about the more basic relevant question: How do SSDs work in the first place? To understand how and why SSDs are different from spinning discs, we need to talk a little bit about hard drives. A hard drive stores data on a series of spinning magnetic disks, called platters. There’s an actuator arm with read/write heads attached to it. This arm positions the read-write heads over the correct area of the drive to read or write information. Because the drive heads must align over an area of the disk in order to read or write data (and the disk is constantly spinning), there’s a non-zero wait time before data can be […]

Maybe Time Travelers Are Stealing Our Stuff If time travel is possible, why haven’t we been visited by tourists from the future? One possibility is that time travelers keep a low profile in order to avoid changing the past. But if they can’t change history, why would they even want to come here? Well, maybe they’re stealing our stuff. It’s an idea Wesley Chu explores in his new novel Time Salvager—currently being adapted into a film by Michael Bay—about time travelers who visit the scenes of famous disasters and salvage materials that are destined to be destroyed anyway. “The number one rule for time travel should be that you don’t change the timeline,” Chu says in Episode 160 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “But if you jump to moments before a disaster, you can cover your tracks.” If it’s actually possible to make money from time travel, […]

Two Charts Show How the Drug War Drives US Domestic Spying Click to enlarge.  There’s a reason the television show The Wire wasn’t just called “The Cops vs. Drug Dealers Show.” Law enforcement’s surveillance in America—and particularly its ever-increasing use of wiretaps—have been primarily driven for the last 25 years by drug cases. And as the chart above shows, that’s now truer than ever before. Earlier this month the US court system released its annual report of every wiretap over the last year for which it granted law enforcement a warrant. And of those 3,554 wiretaps in 2014, fully 89 percent were for narcotics cases. That’s the highest percentage of wiretaps focused on drugs in the report’s history, and it continues a steady increase in the proportion of drug-focused spying. Twenty-five years ago, just 62 percent of wiretaps were for drug cases. In fact, that constant swell in drug-focused wiretaps […]

It’s Been a Busy Week of Explosive Eruptions in Mexico Raung in Indonesia, captured by Landsat 8 on July 11, 2015. Notice the dark lava filling in the summit caldera. NASA Earth Observatory Catching up with some volcano news:MexicoColima is no stranger to eruptions, but this past week has seen especially vigorous activity at the Mexican volcano. Last weekend, Colima had one of its largest explosive eruptions in years, sending pyroclastic flows down the slopes of the volcano after the summit lava dome collapsed. The ash plume that was created by this collapse reached 7.6 kilometers (~25,000 feet) and noticeable ash fell as far as 88 kilometers (54 miles) from Colima. Since then, smaller explosions have continued and views of the volcano at night show incandescent blocks of lava cascading down. However, with the destruction of the summit down, volcanologists in Mexico think that the explosive activity should begin to wane. Without […]

You Need to Speak Up For Internet Security. Right Now. An Ethiopian journalist living in the U.S. was spied on by his own government. A pro-democracy activist in Dubai was beaten repeatedly by thugs after his computer was infected with surveillance software. An American who criticized the Turkish government was monitored by officials there.They are among thousands of people whose computers and mobile devices were infected with “surveillance software” made and sold to governments and law enforcement agencies by the recently-hacked Hacking Team. Such targeted surveillance can lead to beatings, imprisonment, torture and often death. It can also bring harm to the victim’s family and friends, and anyone who communicated with the victim online or over the phone. About Katie Moussouris is the Chief Policy Officer for HackerOne, a platform provider for coordinated vulnerability response and structured bounty programs. She is a visiting scholar with MIT Sloan School and a […]

The White House Is Giving Free Internet to Thousands President Barack Obama visits with students in a classroom at Clarence Tinker Elementary School at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., on September 17, 2014. Pete Souza/The White House Schools today are more focused than ever on using the power of the Internet to educate our children. That’s why they spend millions of dollars on technology to help connect them in the classroom. But too often, once the school bell rings, those same children have no access to the Internet at home. In fact, according to a report by the Council of Economic Advisers released today, about half of low-income kids in the US have no Web access at home.This phenomenon has often been referred to as the “homework gap.” Now, thanks to a partnership between Google, The White House, and other tech industry leaders, that gap may start to […]

Like Google and Facebook, Twitter Designs Its Own Computer Servers Then One/WIRED Twitter is a reflection of Google. At least in one very big way. You just can’t see it.Yes, Twitter offers a social network that delivers an endless stream of mini-messages, while Google offers, well, all sorts of online services, from an internet search engine to an online email service to a digital map of the earth. But in expanding its social network to more than 300 million people across the globe, juggling more than 50 million tweets a day, Twitter has rebuilt its foundational infrastructure in the image of Google, which runs atop a network of data centers that provide an unprecedented collection of computing power. Twitter juggles and analyzes data using sweeping software systems based on tools originally developed at Google. It meticulously spreads computing tasks across thousands of machines using a clone of a Google system […]

Five reasons to ditch the spreadsheet in favor of an accounting app If the term “accounting software” doesn’t immediately excite you, it’s perfectly understandable. Luckily, cloud-based accounting apps are breathing new life into doing business in the digital space. Once upon a time, you had to make a trip to the local “big box” retailer to pick up an accounting application. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case because it’s all in the cloud. Off-the-shelf accounting applications are quickly going the way of the dodo. They are readily being replaced by software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, which use the power of cloud computing to provide easily accessible accounting tools with on-demand consistency. What’s more, financial reporting apps offer the benefit of automatically updating with click-free ease. If you’ve been using a legacy accounting application, or worse, an Excel spreadsheet, to manage your finances, it’s time to consider switching your financial reporting to a […]

California Forces Uber and Its Rivals to Bolster Insurance Traffic makes its way along Interstate 80 on July 1, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Justin Starting today, California’s strict new insurance rules for Uber and its ride-hailing rivals take effect. The law, passed close to a year ago, aims to clear up the ambiguity around when drivers are truly on the roads working versus just driving around in their private cars, and whose insurance kicks in as a result. That may sound wonky, but it’s much more than legalese: as the tragic case that helped spur the legislation shows, it’s a genuine matter of life and death.On New Year’s Eve 2013, a driver for UberX—the company’s lower-priced service in which drivers use their own private vehicles—ran into a family in a San Francisco crosswalk, killing a 6-year-old girl and seriously injuring her mother and brother. Uber said at the time […]

One Way Google Could Really Take on Amazon: Buy PayPal Then One Jeff Jordan thinks Google should buy PayPal.Jordan is a venture capitalist, a partner with the big-name firm Andreessen Horowitz. But he knows a thing or two about acquiring PayPal. As the general manager of eBay North America, he helped the online auction house buy the online payments company back in 2002. Then he ran PayPal for a time. When Google was building its Checkout service years ago, he told the company’s leaders—Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin—that it would make more sense for them to partner with PayPal, which offered an entrenched payment system, rather than trying to build their own.Google decided to go it alone and has flailed in the payments markets ever since. Checkout no longer exists. It just rebooted again with a service called Android Pay. But with PayPal, Jordan believes, Google could add […]