Tag: Technology

Gadgets Can Get An ‘Infinite’ Lifespan Without Any Batteries In New Power System

Image via Northwestern University

Rapid developments in the industry bring cutting-edge capabilities to devices today, but a zero-percent battery remains the simple factor in rendering once-powerful technologies to a dead cluster of material.

Computer engineers from the Northwestern University and the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) came up with a battery-free Game Boy last year to test out the potential future of battery-free electronic devices.

A combination of solar energy and kinetic energy from the user’s gameplay allowed for the device to run pretty much unlimited for the indefinite future.

Now, further developments mean that the same team has devised a new platform utilizing the same technology. This is said to allow makers, hobbyists and novice programmers to build their own devices that run on the same source of power.

Combine this with MIT’s recent toolkit to allow creators to design and make their own wearables, and who knows what’ll happen.

“Makers all over the internet are asking how to extend their devices’ battery life,” says Josiah Hester, who co-leads the team. “They are asking the wrong question. We want them to forget about the battery and instead think about more sustainable ways to generate energy.”

The system is called BFree, and uses the energy-harvesting hardware BFree Shield alongside a version of Python said to be power-failure-resistant. Only a basic understanding of the programming language is required in order to transform a simple device into one that won’t need to rely on batteries anymore.

“With this technology, novice programmers can now turn their DIY battery-powered motion sensor, for example, into a solar-powered sensor with an infinite lifetime,” explains Northwestern University in the press release.

But what happens to solar energy when the sun isn’t around on a rainy November evening? The team has already thought this through: running the devices intermittently.

This will mean that a gadget will still run “perpetually” due to the way it pauses its calculations when power is interrupted. But when the power returns, the device will automatically resume from where it stopped. This can all be done without some long list of calculations and commands.

Besides saving energy and ensuring that the device won’t get caught out too much, the technology is more intuitive for the user. Conventional programs lose all their memory of what happened immediately before power failure, and this won’t.

Apart from having pretty cool bragging rights for a device that will literally never die so long as you’re using it, the technology will also be much better for the earth since there won’t be any batteries to discard.

The reason the system was designed in the first place was to tackle the problem of growing e-waste, which amounts to around 50 million tons worldwide in a single year.

“Many people predict that we’re going to have a trillion devices in this Internet of Things [IoT],” Hester explains. “That means a trillion dead batteries or 100 million people replacing a dead battery every few minutes. That presents a terrible ecological cost to the environment.”

With the release of this energy-harvesting method to the public, the team hopes to democratize the process for the creators of DIY electronic devices.

“What we’re doing… is truly giving power to the people. We want everyone to be able to effortlessly program devices in a more sustainable way.”

[via Interesting Engineering, image via Northwestern University] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415895/Gadgets-Can-Get-An-Infinite-Lifespan-Without-Any-Batteries-In-New-Power-System/

How to share your screen on FaceTime in iOS 15

THE latest major update to the iPhone operating system is finally here, bringing a host of handy new features to Apple mobiles worldwide. One useful …

How to share your screen on FaceTime in iOS 15

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

SpaceX’s Starlink Internet To Be Available To The Public In Mere Weeks

Image via Starlink

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has just announced that Starlink, the company’s foray into providing internet connection from space, will be finally out of beta come October.

Almost one year ago, SpaceX began to invite its customers to trial Starlink on public beta. Ever since then, the company has faced no small number of setbacks, even if they’re slightly wackily laser-related.

“During beta,” the company explains in its FAQ, “users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s and latency from 20ms to 40ms in most locations over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system.”

Next month

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 17, 2021

There may also be brief periods of no connectivity, but SpaceX says that it’s working on it by launching more satellites and installing more ground stations.

Presumably, this has somewhat come to fruition, and Starlink will soon be able to confidently promise an internet connection like no other.

Its satellites are more than 60 times closer to Earth than the traditional satellite, Starlink’s website claims. This results in lower latency, or the time taken to send data from point A to B, and could lead to the invention of new services that require high speeds such as these.

This will also benefit users who might run into difficulty accessing the internet otherwise, according to the company. It’s thanks to the way it’s “unbounded by traditional ground infrastructure,” and will ensure users will be able to receive high-speed internet no matter which corner of the world they’re located in.

Last month, Starlinks were deployed to the Wise County Public School District in rural Virginia, where ~40% of students and teachers did not have internet access at home, helping to broaden connectivity in the area

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 1, 2021

Currently, the company has stated that there are more than 100,000 users receiving service from upward of 1,700 satellites. These are regularly launched to space by SpaceX, and they’re documented on its Twitter page.

Pricing stands at a one-time fee of US$499 for the user terminal, mounting tripod, and router, as reported by Ars Technica. Then, a monthly fee of US$99 for service will continue to be paid.

As with most new technologies, Musk has warned that Starlink may run into teething problems when the userbase broaches a million and more. However, that’s not to say the company hasn’t begun troubleshooting already.

Only limitation is high density of users in urban areas. Most likely, all of the initial 500k will receive service. More of a challenge when we get into the several million user range.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 4, 2021

[via Ars Technica, image via Starlink] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415810/SpaceX-s-Starlink-Internet-To-Be-Available-To-The-Public-In-Mere-Weeks/

Fitbit Introduces Snore Detection So You’ll Know If You’re The Noisy Sleeper

Image via Fitbit

Ever wondered if your partner’s claims of deafening snoring in the middle of the night are true?

Well, with Fitbit’s new Snore & Noise Detect feature rolling out to wearables, you’ll soon find out if you’re indeed the culprit of a bad night’s sleep.

According to SlashGear, the new feature is meant to help users learn about the various noise disturbances at night, which could be affecting their sleep quality. The function will only be available on the Versa 3 and Sense models, for users with a premium subscription.

With Snore & Noise Detect, Fitbit users will see a new “check for snoring” option in their app, under the Sleep category. This will allow the smartwatch to listen to, and analyze, any noise that may occur during a user’s sleep cycle. This means that there’s a chance it’ll detect your partner’s the one snoring after all, too.

However, as the noise detection takes place every few seconds, it’ll undoubtedly wear on the watch’s battery life. Fitbit advises users to charge their trackers to at least 40% before heading to bed, so you’ll be able to get the full report in the morning.

If you’d rather not know who’s snoring, you can also choose to disable the new feature. Users will also be able to delete any data stored.

Ready to wager on who’s the noisier sleeper at night?

[via SlashGear, cover image via Fitbit] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415772/Fitbit-Introduces-Snore-Detection-So-You-ll-Know-If-You-re-The-Noisy-Sleeper/

Stolen PayPal Accounts Have Skyrocketed In Value During The Pandemic

Image via Ink Drop / Shutterstock.com

If you haven’t enabled two-factor authentication on your PayPal account yet, buyers on the dark web are going to love you for it. It appears that hacked PayPal accounts have nearly tripled in value during the pandemic, while criminals have been paying lower prices to access credit cards.

This is according to researchers at cybersecurity product review site Comparitech, who have scoured 13 marketplaces on the dark web and found that buyers are spending 9.2 cents per dollar in a stolen PayPal account’s balance, up from 3.13 cents per dollar just eight months ago. That’s about 294% of how much PayPal accounts were worth back then.

On average, criminals are now forking out an average of US$196.50 per account or balance transfer on PayPal, while the average account balance is US$2,133.61.

The account type matters, too. For individual accounts, buyers are apparently spending an average of US$161.59 on them; Premier accounts cost US$186.31 on average; and business accounts are priced at an average of US$246.

These are far more significant than how much thieves are spilling on stolen credit cards—about US$17,36 per card, or US$0.0033 per dollar of credit limit. That’s 27% lower than the amount buyers paid eight months ago.

Cloned physical cards are actually more expensive, costing about US$171 on average, since they have to be manufactured and shipped.

At the same time, the price for a stolen credit card fell by 27%. Compared to pre-pandemic times, the cost of a stolen PayPal account rose by 297%.

No matter the value, remember to keep your accounts secure. You didn’t sign up to be a charity for the dark web.

[via TechRadar and IT PRO, cover image via Ink Drop / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415671/Stolen-PayPal-Accounts-Have-Skyrocketed-In-Value-During-The-Pandemic/

T-Mobile Confirms Huge Data Leak Affects Over 47 Million Users So Far

Image via T-Mobile

After an investigation into the T-Mobile database breach last week, the mobile company has confirmed the effects of the leak, which includes its users’ highly personal information.

According to the press release, the data accessed by the hackers included first and last names, birthdays, social security numbers, and driver’s license/ID information. The affected group of users comprise former and current postpay customers, and prospective T-Mobile users.

The company states that its analysis shows that around 7.8 million current T-Mobile postpaid customer accounts’ information were contained in the stolen files. Additionally, a little more than 40 million records of former or prospective customers who applied for credit with the company were also included.

Pre-paid customers saw 850,000 members’ names, numbers, and account PINs exposed in the leak. The PINs have been reset, and customers have been notified. However, in all the categories, no payment or other financial information was accessed.

This isn’t the first time a data leak has affected T-Mobile users; in 2019, a similar hack left over a million users’ data vulnerable.

In compensation efforts, T-Mobile is offering affected customers two years of McAfee’s ID Theft Protection Service and recommends that users change the PINs on their accounts for additional safety. Users can also access a new website published by the company dedicated to cybersecurity.

I want to assure you that our @TMobile team is doing their best to get answers to your questions about our recent cyberattack. As our investigation continues, we've launched a website dedicated to providing you more information and details on how we're working to protect you.

— Mike Sievert (@MikeSievert) August 18, 2021

[via Engadget, image via T-Mobile] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415319/T-Mobile-Confirms-Huge-Data-Leak-Affects-Over-47-Million-Users-So-Far/

Clubhouse Latest Update News – Changes to Clubhouse Clubs

Clubhouse update release date – Tues, Aug 17

Clubhouse Update News:

Hi all — Happy Tuesday!

Here’s what’s new in this week’s clubhouse update release: ♣️

We’re making some one-time changes to clubs — to simplify how they work and make them easier for you to manage.

We’ve been talking about this for a while at Town Hall and on our blog, so hopefully you know the details, but if not, here is a reminder! We’re simplifying things by eliminating club “Followers,” so there is a single relationship you can have to a club: “Membership.”If you’re the Admin of a club, you can choose to make your membership “Open” (meaning anyone can join as a Member) or “By Approval” (meaning you individually approve all Members).

We’re creating a new role called “Leaders” to help club Admins make their clubs successful. Leaders can start rooms and schedule events that all club members can see, but can’t edit club settings, edit the club name, or add/remove members. Admins can choose which trusted club members to designate as Leaders.When people visit your profile, they’ll see the clubs in which you’re an Admin, Leader, or Member. We’re committed to making this a smooth transition for all of the club Admins out there, so we put together an FAQ to answer your questions and help you get migrated!

🟢 See who’s online — and start a room with them — directly from the Backchannel. Now you can see a green dot when people you’re chatting with are online, and a new button you can tap to start an audio room with them, without leaving your message threads. This feature is available in both 1:1 and group chats.

📥 Archive messages. This has been one of our most requested features ever since we launched the Backchannel. From your inbox, just swipe left on any message to archive it! This works in both your main Chats tabs and your Requests tab. You can access your archived messages anytime by tapping the “…” at the top of the full-screen inbox view

🔔 Fewer, better notifications. We rolled out some improvements that will result in us sending you 18% fewer notifications, without impacting room visits for creators. This mean 44% fewer notifications than a month ago, with more improvements to come. 🙂

That’s all for this week. As always, thank you for being part of Clubhouse! 🙏🏽

The Clubhouse Updates News post was posted by Clubhouse member @

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Hackers Have Learned To Bypass Two-Factor Security—What Now?

Image via Shutterstock

While most people in the know have activated two-factor authentication (2FA) on their apps and devices, hackers have stepped up their game, too.

While it was previously believed that 2FA security was able to block 99.9% of attacks, it appears hackers can now bypass 2FA through the one-time codes sent to users’ smartphones.

Microsoft has cautioned against solutions that make use of text messages or voice calls, as these channels are known for having poor protection, and are left open to a wide array of attacks.

For example, according to TNW, hackers can leverage the method of SIM swapping to circumvent the 2FA codes.

The intruder could convince a victim’s mobile carrier that they themselves are the victim, and request for the victim’s phone number to be switched to their device. This allows them to gain access to the one-time SMS and phone call codes companies send.

There are also reverse proxies, such as Modlishka, that intercept the messages between the mobile carrier and a victim. It allows hackers to track and record the victim’s interactions with the service provider, including 2FA codes or login credentials.

TNW reporters have also recently discovered another loophole. By exploiting the auto-download feature on the Google Play Store to a victim’s device, a hacker can install any app onto the smartphone if they manage to log into the Google account through a laptop. This will enable them to download a particular app that remotely accesses a victim’s messages, giving them the 2FA security codes.

As it’s probable that a victim uses the same login credentials on multiple sites, hackers who access a list of breached usernames and passwords can try to get into the same user’s Google account.

While this all sounds pretty frightening, there are ways to take precautions and lower your chances of being hacked. The first step is to ensure your existing passwords haven’t been compromised, with a variety of sites allowing you to check. Even if they haven’t, it’s best to use a password generator to ensure you’ve set a strong password for your user accounts.

There are also dedicated hardware devices, such as YubiKey, that plug directly into the device as part of the 2FA security. However, as most people aren’t privy to such methods, the onus is also on service providers and developers to come up with safer authentication methods in the near future.

Who knows; in a few years, we might even go from two-factor authentication to five-factor instead!

[via TNW, cover image via Shutterstock] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415290/Hackers-Have-Learned-To-Bypass-Two-Factor-Security-What-Now/

Wikipedia Was Vandalized With Swastikas, And Volunteers Jumped In To Save It

Image via Alexey Boldin / Shutterstock.com

At the start of the week, users on Wikipedia chanced upon images of large swastikas while looking up information. Thankfully, volunteers were on hand to get rid of the upsetting pictures quickly, though it’s unknown how many pages were affected.

The swastikas, which were shown on red backgrounds, were only on the site for about five minutes. Wikipedia told Input that the pictures appeared after a hacker marred one of the site’s templates for page functionality. The site said it also blocked the account responsible for the breach.

“This type of behavior is unacceptable on Wikipedia and violates a number of Wikipedia’s policies. Volunteer administrators have already fixed the vandalism, blocked the account responsible, and will further evaluate the situation to see if additional recourse is needed,” a spokesperson told the site.

As per a spokesperson for Wikipedia, the site has also made changes to the template to prevent any additional breaches in the future. The platform noted that this was a rare move, as it usually advocates for open editing. However, after such an incident, it was decided that the template would be locked going forward.

Despite the unfortunate incident, it’s commendable that volunteers on Wikipedia reacted so swiftly to control the damage, so other users wouldn’t have to experience the hack too.

A few Twitter users who saw the hack took to social media to share the strange happening. Take a look below.

Is Wikipedia hacked? Getting this pop up. #wikipedia #hack pic.twitter.com/pMaFs1R0qt

— Sivakumar S (@sivasskumar) August 16, 2021

Wow – go to Wikipedia now! Looks like it's been hacked. pic.twitter.com/wVKCriERjD

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) August 16, 2021

[via Input, cover image via Alexey Boldin / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415280/Wikipedia-Was-Vandalized-With-Swastikas-And-Volunteers-Jumped-In-To-Save-It/

T-Mobile Investigates Huge Data Breach That Could Affect Up To 100M People

Image via ID 41745522 © Danny Raustadt | Dreamstime.com

If you’re signed up to the T-Mobile network, there’s bad news. The carrier has told Motherboard that it is investigating claims in an “underground forum” about a possible breach of over 100 million customers’ details.

According to the report, the person selling the data claims they have obtained customers’ personal information, including social security numbers and device IMEI numbers (a 15-digit code unique to each smartphone). While it’s still unclear if the rumored number of 100 million is true, the site said it had verified some of the data put up for sale.

The hacker had listed 30 million customers’ data for the equivalent of US$270,000 in Bitcoin. As per Engadget, the rest of the data is allegedly being sold through private channels instead of via the same forum.

As of now, it hasn’t been determined how the hacker got hold of the information. Though T-Mobile had supposedly kicked them out of its servers, it could’ve been after the intruder had possibly downloaded and backed up the content.

This isn’t the first time the network has fallen victim to data breaches. Back in 2020, hackers managed to get hold of limited data from 200,000 users. However, if the current claims are true, it would undoubtedly be the largest breach in the carrier’s history.

[via Engadget and Motherboard, cover image via ID 41745522 © Danny Raustadt | Dreamstime.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415249/T-Mobile-Investigates-Huge-Data-Breach-That-Could-Affect-Up-To-100M-People/

Here’s Why You Received A Nationwide Alert From FEMA

Image via WA Emergency Management

If you received an emergency alert on your smartphone, don’t fret. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was just running a nationwide test for the first time since COVID-19 hit.

The agency tested two systems: the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which broadcasts a message on televisions and radios; and the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA), which sends the notification directly to your smartphone.

This is the first time FEMA has tested the WEA for smartphone users who opted in. The message, which was sent out at 2:20pm ET, read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

For the first time ever, FEMA also sent the same notification in Spanish to smartphones that had the language as their default setting. Additionally, the agency said it had improved WEA to be able to send longer, more detailed messages to smartphones nationwide. The new update has also allowed it to include links, such as web addresses.

According to TechCrunch, despite the simple message that smartphone users all over the US received, testing the system isn’t an easy task. There are many technological hurdles when it comes to alerting hundreds of millions of people at the same time, which also requires the agency to work closely with carriers and broadcast networks.

Overall, the WEA system was designed for local and state authorities to notify Americans of potential public safety threats, severe weather, or incidents such as missing children.

FEMA had also rolled out “presidential alerts,” which are messages that will be sent to every phone in the US in the event of a national emergency. Unlike other notifications, “presidential alerts” are issued by the president, and can’t be opted out of.

If you didn’t receive a message, it’s possible you’ve yet to opt-in to the system. For step-by-step instructions on how to sign up for the WEA, head here.

Did you get the Wireless Emergency Alert System test? There is a survey available for you to fill out now! If you opted in and didn’t get it, @FCC & @fema want to know that, too!

Remember, this is a test you had to OPT INTO getting. https://t.co/IcnXBrQc9o pic.twitter.com/VFglQxlA0C

— WA Emergency Management (@waEMD) August 11, 2021

[via TechCrunch, cover image via WA Emergency Management] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415198/Here-s-Why-You-Received-A-Nationwide-Alert-From-FEMA/

Amazon Could Pay You $1,000 In Claims If A Purchase Harms You Or Your Property

Image via Tada Images / Shutterstock.com

Amazon’s A-to-Z Guarantee was launched around two decades ago with the aim to allow for an easy return process on goods sold by third-party sellers on the platform. Now, a further expansion of the program sees the company covering damages caused by a faulty product bought on the online shopping giant’s website.

In a press release detailing the announcement, the company explains how the scheme will work. If a defective product causes damage to property or harm to a user, Amazon will directly pay customers for up to US$1,000, which the company states “account for more than 80% of cases.”

This comes at no extra cost to the seller. Higher amounts may also be made exception for, in cases where the seller is unresponsive or rejects the claim.

The company is aware that the scheme may be taken advantage of, and has come prepared. “When a customer files a claim,” it writes, “Amazon will combine our advanced fraud and abuse detection systems with external, independent insurance fraud experts to analyze the claim.” Those found to be valid will be presented to the seller and those fraudulent will be denied instantly.

This streamlines the process for the seller, who doesn’t need to investigate every single claim on their own, and gives the customer more peace of mind that a source outside of the seller will review their case. And, it will probably save Amazon thousands on false claims, too.

An Insurance Accelerator is also being launched by the company, in hopes to assist sellers in buying insurance at competitive rates. “Most of our sellers are small and medium-sized businesses and they’ve created over two million jobs and opportunities in their communities,” the company states, adding that it’s “proud to continue supporting their growth” through programs like these.

More information about the expanded guarantee or making a claim can be found on Amazon’s website.

[via Input, cover image via Tada Images / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415183/Amazon-Could-Pay-You-1-000-In-Claims-If-A-Purchase-Harms-You-Or-Your-Property/

Razer Opens Its High-Tech N95 Smart Mask For Testing By The Public

[Click here to view the video in this article]

Image via Razer

Earlier this year, Razer revealed its plans for ‘Project Hazel’ at CES 2021, aiming to revolutionize the face mask, which looks like it’ll still be around for at least the near future. Now, it has been officially announced that the mask is accepting signups for its community beta testing phase.

Now renamed the ‘Razer Zephyr’, the mask retains most of its previously reported features: air filtration, a mic and amplifier, signature Chroma customizable RGB lights to match your PC setup, and is rechargeable inside its own sterilizing case.

Image via Razer

Claimed to be much sturdier and durable than a typical N95, the Zephyr is made of recycled plastic, which make it waterproof and scratch-resistant. Plus, it allows for replaceable filters and rechargeable ventilators. Its transparent design allows for clearer communication rather than the muffled, unclear voices that seem constantly trapped behind a regular mask.

And, perhaps the thing to set it apart from every single other mask out there: it lights up in the dark with customizable RGB lights. What’s not to love?

The mask is a design that’s “the most intelligent mask ever created,” and touted by Razer to “ensure the highest degree of safety with the best quality of life enhancements.”

Users interested in the mask and beta testing can find more information and sign up on the Zephyr microsite.

Masks are here to stay, and it is important that they provide the highest degree of safety. Lab-tested for 99% BFE, the Project Hazel wearable air purifier features N95 Grade filters for reliable particulate filtration while maintaining breathing ease: https://t.co/NC6ZwFCt68 pic.twitter.com/FOJZaVoXOE

— R Λ Z Ξ R (@Razer) August 4, 2021

[via Hypebeast, images via Razer] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415143/Razer-Opens-Its-High-Tech-N95-Smart-Mask-For-Testing-By-The-Public/

Amazon Is Paying You For Your Palm Print, Supposedly Worth $10

ID 72679549 © Jonathan Weiss | Dreamstime.com

Many of us are aware that most apps we use track our data. Be it our shopping habits or user demographics, companies sift through the information we allow them to access, even selling it on to third parties after. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that companies are interested in a new frontier of data: biometrics.

Now, Amazon is offering US$10 in credits to customers who register their palm prints in its checkout-free stores. Your palm prints will then be linked directly to your Amazon account.

As per TechCrunch, the retail giant had first introduced biometric palm print scanners last year, allowing customers to pay for goods simply by waving their hands.

Its palm-scanning hardware “captures the minute characteristics of your palm – both surface-area details like lines and ridges as well as subcutaneous features such as vein patterns – to create your palm signature.” The data is then stored in the Amazon cloud and can be used to confirm your identity when you’re shopping in-store.

While it’s unclear what exactly the company plans to do with your palm print data, it said it will use an unspecified “subset” of anonymous palm print data to improve the technology. By linking it to your existing Amazon account, it will be part of data such as your shopping habits and in-store purchases that the company uses to target you with advertisements and promotions.

A word of caution: your palm print data will be stored indefinitely, unless you choose to delete it manually, or if you don’t use the feature for over two years.

While it may seem like a fuss-free way to check out of stores when you’re in a hurry, it still remains to be seen how companies are planning to use customers’ biometric data, which is still very much of an ethical gray area.

Image via Amazon One

[via TechCrunch, images from various sources] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415080/Amazon-Is-Paying-You-For-Your-Palm-Print-Supposedly-Worth-10/

Your Credit Card Number Isn’t Random—Here’s How To Decipher It

[Click here to view the video in this article]

Photo 151657816 © Apichon Pechnun | Dreamstime.com

Do you, like most people, have trouble remembering your credit card number? One key method for retention is to give it meaning. Luckily for you, those cryptic numbers actually represent something, and this new video by the Half as Interesting channel breaks them down.

First and foremost, your primary credit card number—the 16 digits that make up the front—is actually split into three sections. That’s interesting to know, but let’s dive deeper.

The first six to eight digits identify the issuer of the card, with the first digit itself indicating the nature of business (one or two for airlines, three for travel, four to six for banking, and so on). There’s also specific identification for Visa, MasterCard, and American Express cardholders.

And the last digit, called the ‘Check Digit’, is the outcome of a formula between all the other numbers. Machines use it to verify that the credit card number is valid; enter any of the digits wrongly, and they would automatically know it is invalid without running it by a database.

Discover more geeky trivia about your credit card in the video below.

[via Boing Boing, cover image 151657816 © Apichon Pechnun | Dreamstime.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415076/Your-Credit-Card-Number-Isn-t-Random-Here-s-How-To-Decipher-It/

Dubai Induces Its Own Downpours With Drones, As It Has Had Enough Of Heat

Image via Wirestock | Dreamstime

This summer has brought brutal heatwaves to multiple corners of the world, affecting the US, India, even Siberia. Dubai, UAE, has also suffered its share of unrelenting warmth, with temperatures reaching up to 122ºF.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, it seems, as the UAE’s National Center of Meteorology (NCM) decided to take matters into its own hands and create rain where rain wouldn’t fall. In 2017, the UAE invested all of US$15 million into nine rain-inducing projects.

The average precipitation in the country is only 4 inches, reports MSN. But thanks to drone-powered cloud seeding technology, a downpour hit, relieving the area of stifling heat.

However, after struggling for rain in the first place, the subsequent rainfall reported was torrential; so heavy that waterfalls began to appear in Ail Ain and made driving conditions hazardous.

Cloud seeding usually refers to manned aircraft firing chemicals into clouds to trigger precipitation. However, the system trialled in the UAE this time round involved drones firing electrical charge instead. When an electrical pulse is received, the water drops merge together to fall as rain. This is generally favored since it doesn’t use chemicals in the process.

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A post shared by المركز الوطني للأرصاد (@officialuaeweather)

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A post shared by المركز الوطني للأرصاد (@officialuaeweather)

منطقة النصلة #رأس_الخيمة #المركز_الوطني_للأرصاد #أمطار_الخير #أصدقاء_المركز_الوطني_للأرصاد #حالة_الطقس #حالة_جوية #هواة_الطقس #جمعة_القايدي #عواصف_الشمال pic.twitter.com/ZmoveP4OA7

— المركز الوطني للأرصاد (@NCMS_media) July 20, 2021

[via Boing Boing, cover image via Wirestock | Dreamstime] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414875/Dubai-Induces-Its-Own-Downpours-With-Drones-As-It-Has-Had-Enough-Of-Heat/

MAGACOIN Launches For Trump Fans, Has Private Info Exposed After Just A Week

Image via MAGACOIN

Just last week, a new digital currency named MAGACOIN launched, created by “America First Conservatives.”

Approximately 75 million MAGACOINs were first issued to symbolically represent the number of US citizens who voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

The cryptocurrency makers have said 10 million MAGACOINs have already been donated to the ‘MAGACOIN Victory Fund’, which will be used to fund various MAGA candidates in the next round of elections. Though, of course, how much they’ll be able to cash out is dependent on how high the price of the coin soars.

“The greater the value of each MAGACOIN, the more resources the MAGACOIN Victory Fund will have to support and elect MAGA candidates nationwide,” the company said.

However, as per Input, just a week after its launch, MAGACOIN has faced a setback with details of its initial 1,000 or so backers breached.

According to The Guardian, “a website associated with MAGACOIN exposed the email addresses, passwords, cryptocurrency wallet addresses, and IP addresses of users who have bought in.”

In the exposé, the data revealed most of the cryptocurrency has gone to MAGACOIN’s creator, who is said to be “a pro-Trump consultant who owns an LLC associated with the cryptocurrency, and a Super Pac associated with the same consultant.”

Aside from its creator, MAGACOIN has also started an “Ambassador Program” of sorts, with chosen ambassadors being entitled to 1,000 free MAGACOINs from the get-go. The Guardian uncovered that current ambassadors include a talk radio host in Denver, and a person associated with a College Republican group called the Youth Federalist Initiative, so make of that what you will.

With the cryptocurrency marketplace gaining steam, it isn’t surprising that even MAGA campaigners have created a coin for themselves. Though, perhaps, it would be best to invest in better security measures before a wider launch.

[via Input, cover image via MAGACOIN] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414877/MAGACOIN-Launches-For-Trump-Fans-Has-Private-Info-Exposed-After-Just-A-Week/

Why Thousands Of Websites Like Amazon, McDonald’s, Airbnb Went Down Globally

Image via Mykhailo Polenok | Dreamstime.com

In one fell swoop at about 10am ET on Thursday, several websites, apps, and services were taken offline due to a glitch suffered by cloud company Akamai Technologies Inc. Reuters notes that this is the second major outage related to the firm in about a month.

DownDetector documented dozens of outages for popular websites like Amazon, Airbnb, Delta Air Lines, McDonald’s, American Express, Oracle, Home Depot, HBO Max, FedEx, Costco Wholesale Corp, and PlayStation Network, according to reports by BGR and Reuters. It is believed that over 32,000 websites were affected.

Oracle and Amazon both said that several of their offerings, including their cloud services, were impacted globally due to the disruption.

Thankfully, services resumed an hour later. Akamai confirmed that the blackout was the result of a bug in a software update for its domain name system (DNS), and that it had rolled out a fix. The company also stressed that the error was not caused by a cyberattack.

DNS allows users to access websites through a domain name, which serves as a gateway to a cloud network where content can be loaded.

“We are reviewing our software update process to prevent future disruptions,” said Akamai.

DownDetector is a bloodbath thanks to this Akamai outage. https://t.co/HQmXQ66nmm pic.twitter.com/MDPMnKUATE

— Duane Sibilly, Bit Plumber (@valthonis) July 22, 2021

Akamai Summarizes Service Disruption (RESOLVED)

At 15:46 UTC today, a software configuration update triggered a bug in the DNS system, the system that directs browsers to websites. This caused a disruption impacting availability of some customer websites. (1/3)

— Akamai Technologies (@Akamai) July 22, 2021

We apologize for the inconvenience that resulted. We are reviewing our software update process to prevent future disruptions. (3/3)

— Akamai Technologies (@Akamai) July 22, 2021

[via BGR and Reuters, cover image via Mykhailo Polenok | Dreamstime.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414871/Why-Thousands-Of-Websites-Like-Amazon-McDonald-s-Airbnb-Went-Down-Globally/

Amazon Gives Alexa A ‘Male’ Counterpart And His Name Is Ziggy

[Click here to view the video in this article]

Image via Anete Lusina / Pexels (CC0)

For years, tech behemoths have been criticized for perpetuating subservient female stereotypes into voice assistants. “Masculine” options were later added by Google and Apple, with Amazon now being the latest to catch up.

Joining the Echo family unannounced is ‘Ziggy’, the Adam to Alexa’s Eve. The “male” voice option was first uncovered by The Ambient, and appears to have been added alongside celebrity voices like Melissa McCarthy and Shaquille O’Neal.

Users can get Alexa to switch genders by saying, “Alexa, change your voice,” or by heading to the settings section via the Alexa app. The feature is device-specific, so users would have to manually activate the voice if they own more than one Alexa gadget.

Ziggy is now one of the voice assistant’s wake words, meaning that users can activate the device by calling the new name.

For now, Ziggy lives in devices based in the US, though there’s a chance Amazon will roll out the voice in other parts of the world.

[via Tech Times and The Ambient, cover image via Anete Lusina / Pexels (CC0)] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414849/Amazon-Gives-Alexa-A-Male-Counterpart-And-His-Name-Is-Ziggy/

China Unveils Futuristic 373mph Maglev Train, ‘Fastest’ Ground Vehicle Globally

Image via CRRC

Revealed yesterday in Qingdao, Shandong, China’s new maglev train can travel up to 600kph (372.8 mph). This makes it currently the titleholder of “fastest ground vehicle in the world,” per Reuters.

Using electro-magnetic force, the maglev train runs with no contact between itself and the train track. In a sense, it floats between destinations. Instead of taking three hours by plane or five and a half by high speed rail, commuters can now reach Shanghai from Beijing in just two and a half hours. Considering that the journey is more than 620 miles, that’s pretty impressive.

Developing a high-speed transport network helps to achieve China’s aim to put “three-hour transportation circles” between major cities, an initiative first put forward in 2019, Lu Huapu (Director of the Transportation Research Institute of Tsinghua University) told the Global Times.

The train itself has low noise pollution, small vibration, and the capacity to carry a large number of passengers at once. It also needs less maintenance than older trains. At its speed, it’s also situated nicely in the gap between high speed rail at its fastest (217mph) and aircraft at cruising speed (500mph), describes Liang Jianying, deputy general manager and chief engineer of the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC).

Although the train is complete, it doesn’t yet have any tracks. However, research is being done into incorporating the lightning fast technology in inter-city and inter-province travel. Regions interested include Shanghai–Hangzhou, and Chengdu–Chongqing.

The world's first 600 km/h high-speed maglev transportation system, the fastest ground transportation vehicle at present, will be launched in Qingdao, China on July 20, 2021. pic.twitter.com/XDU7PxIoFc

— CRRC Corporation Ltd (@CRRC_global) July 18, 2021

On July 20, 2021, the 600 km/h high-speed maglev transportation system is successfully launched in Qingdao, China. This is another important milestone after the successful test run of the 600 km/h high-speed maglev prototype car on June 21, 2020. pic.twitter.com/5L4bOftujJ

— CRRC Corporation Ltd (@CRRC_global) July 21, 2021

[via Reuters, images via CRRC] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414824/China-Unveils-Futuristic-373mph-Maglev-Train-Fastest-Ground-Vehicle-Globally/

Axe Body Spray Is Giving Out Dogecoin Mists ‘With A Dank Musk’ For Free

Image via Axe

On Doge Day, April 20, Axe promised to make a “crypto-scented” body spray should Dogecoin hit US$1. While the cryptocurrency has yet to reach that milestone, Axe has made good on its promised, launching the ‘Dogecan’ – a “48-hour crypto scent with a dank musk.”

The Dogecans will be available for free, but only in limited quantities. Interested customers will have to register their interest on this website starting July 20 at 10am.

According to Fortune, Axe had sent out cans to various organizations to test, including a statement that read: “We’re going to the moon. In this can, you’ll find the crypto-confidence you need to get there. This isn’t a scent to stop and celebrate how far the Doge Army has come. It’s the scent to rocket all the way there. So strap in.”

The packaging itself appears in a mix of navy and black, with the infamous Doge meme printed in front of a huge moon and starlit sky. With Dogecoin highly favored by Tesla founder Elon Musk and his legion of fans, Dogecans are expected to sell out within minutes.

We’re Going To The Moon!!!!@AXE #DogeCan 👃🏽

Thanks For The Gift @AXE #DogecoinRise 🐕🪙🚀 pic.twitter.com/a3aIyWe31w

— Dogecoin Rise 🐕🪙📈🚀🌕 (@DogecoinRise) July 19, 2021

[via Fortune, cover image via Axe] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414809/Axe-Body-Spray-Is-Giving-Out-Dogecoin-Mists-With-A-Dank-Musk-For-Free/

Peloton Is Going Into Video Gaming For Exercise Bikes To Give Your HP A Boost

Image via Peloton

Peloton, the manufacturer of premium exercise equipment, is working on integrating video games into its exercise bikes that could motivate riders to push even harder during a workout. The firm has just released the name of its upcoming gamified experience: Lanebreak.

Lanebreak appears similar to the hit video game Guitar Hero, in which players attempt to match and sustain their resistance and cadence according to cues seen on a virtual track.

In Peloton’s version, riders have to dodge obstacles by turning the bike’s resistance knob to switch lanes. According to Input, the app’s existing guided classes already have a built-in leaderboard feature, which could allow riders to compete against each other in the upcoming game, too.

According to a blog post, Peloton said users would be able choose from a number of different levels based on specific playlists, workout types and lengths, with each level having difficulties ranging from beginner to expert.

The company has revealed it will first be testing out Lanebreak with a select number of customers, before gathering feedback on a larger scale. Peloton said it had experimented with different motivators, ranging from social cooperation to competition.

It’s hardly a surprise the brand is looking for new ways to hook riders, so as to differentiate from competitors and encourage riders to continue paying US$39 per month for its subscription fee.

Will more exercise equipment turning to gamification to draw users in and make them commit to monthly subscription plans? Well, if competing against your friends for the highest score on Guitar Hero used to motivate you to train for hours a day, this might just be the perfect motivator to get back on the exercise bandwagon.

[via Input, cover image via Peloton] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414804/Peloton-Is-Going-Into-Video-Gaming-For-Exercise-Bikes-To-Give-Your-HP-A-Boost/

SoftBank’s Robot Has Been Failing At Its Job, Won’t Come For Yours Soon

Image via SoftBank Robotics

Back in 2014, Japanese firm SoftBank launched ‘Pepper’, a humanoid robot. However, despite the fanfare and media attention Pepper received upon its introduction, the robot has since failed at many of the simple tasks it has been given.

According to The Wall Street Journal, various organizations have given the humanoid robot a shot, allowing it to entertain elderly residents in nursing homes or greet guests in bank lobbies.

Unfortunately, it has not lived up to its hype, causing some companies to decline renewing their contracts with SoftBank. It’s also been reported that people are selling off their used Peppers online for a few hundred dollars each.

Pepper has been said to be prone to mechanical errors and breakdowns, and has also failed to recognize customers it’s met before. One company had tried to train the robot to recite scriptures at funeral services, but it kept breaking down during practice sessions.

A robotics expert told the Journal that SoftBank might have inadvertently raised customers’ standards by making the robot resemble a human, thus disappointing them further with the final result.

As per Inc., a single Pepper sells for approximately US$2,000 with an additional US$550 subscription fee per month, making it a rather steep purchase. Many experts have weighed in to say that the robot’s functions could be executed at a lower cost by smart speakers or even smartphone assistants, such as Siri and Alexa.

The company has also released another version of a robot assistant: NAO, though it’s unclear if this model is performing significantly better than its predecessor Pepper.

For a robot that promised to revolutionize the world and sold out of its first batch of 1,000 in just a single minute, it sure doesn’t seem SoftBank’s robots will be coming for your job anytime soon.

[via INC, cover image via SoftBank Robotics] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414803/SoftBank-s-Robot-Has-Been-Failing-At-Its-Job-Won-t-Come-For-Yours-Soon/

Ukraine PS4 ‘Cryptomine’ Was Actually Mining ‘FIFA’ Game Currency Instead

Image via latest 2022 edition.

These FIFA coins are used to buy in-game packs in the soccer game’s FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) mode, which are available for purchase either with FIFA Coins or real-world money. Players can also be traded on the in-game auction house using these tokens.

Turns out, the numerous consoles weren’t busy mining cryptocurrency, but were instead using the PS4s to play the game at once, increasing the number of FIFA Coins they earned.

According to NME, there are several “black-market” sites for the selling and purchasing of FIFA Coins, with some users even selling entire accounts for real-world fees.

Chances are, this “FIFA Farm” was mining in-game coins to sell for actual cash on illegal websites, instead of the usual digital currencies.

[via NME, cover image via http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414795/Ukraine-PS4-Cryptomine-Was-Actually-Mining-FIFA-Game-Currency-Instead/

Watch: Malaysian Authorities Steamroll Over 1,000 Crypto Mining Rigs

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Image via Leroy Evans / Unsplash

In Sarawak, Malaysia, authorities recently destroyed 1,069 cryptocurrency mining rigs at once by crushing them with a steamroller, reported VICE.

According to Malaysian publication Dayak Daily, these rigs were confiscated between February and April this year. Its owners were accused by the province’s electric utility company, Sarawak Energy Berhad, of stealing electricity for their mining activities. The utility firm alleged the miners stole over RM8.4 million (US$2 million) worth of energy.

Sarawak Police Chief Hakemal Hawari told Dayak Daily that energy theft has become rampant due to these mining operations, causing three houses to catch on fire and burn down due to unsafe electric connections.

As per Engadget, cryptocurrency miners often use PCs built especially for mining, and the process consumes a large amount of electricity. Theft is common where miners operate, such as in Ukraine where the Security Service recently raided a mining operation using PS4 Pros to steal electricity from the country’s power grid.

To dispose of the illegal mining rigs it confiscated, Malaysian authorities used a steamroller to crush all RM5.3 million (US$1.26 million) worth of hardware at once. Watch the clip below to see it for yourself.

[via Engadget, cover image via Leroy Evans / Unsplash] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414784/Watch-Malaysian-Authorities-Steamroll-Over-1-000-Crypto-Mining-Rigs/