Story TimelineDIY Fidget Spinner at home, for freeThis Bluetooth fidget spinner tracks your spins and speed Are fidget spinners the new ‘hoverboard?’ Such may be the case after one family reports that their son’s Bluetooth fidget spinner caught fire and exploded while charging, raising concerns about the quality of these battery-equipped models. Unlike ordinary fidget spinners, which operate using bearings and little else, a Bluetooth fidget spinner is a bit more modern, packing in connectivity to one’s phone…and a battery that can overheat while charging if the product is poorly made. One family in Alabama reported to local FOX affiliate WBRC that their son’s Bluetooth fidget spinner had been charging for less than 45 minutes when it burst into flames. Luckily the boy was in the room when it happened; he was able to douse it with water from a nearby sink and the only damage was a scorch mark on the carpet. Had it been charging in an empty room, the event could have been catastrophic.The name of the model isn’t known, or at least hasn’t been publicly stated; the local news station reports that the family attempted to find the company but couldn’t, with the only hints of the fidget spinner’s origins being a ‘Made in China’ stamp on the box. This isn’t unusual, particularly when buying unbranded novelty items from budget stores and online auction websites.We may know more in the future, though, as the Consumer Product Safety Commission has been notified of the incident and is investigating. In the meantime, you should avoid purchasing items like this that pack a battery but that are of questionable origin. The issue isn’t limited to just Bluetooth fidget spinners, as we’ve seen in the past — counterfeit hoverboards, headphones and more are also prone to this issue.SOURCE: FOX 6
We now know that Samsung will unveil the new Galaxy Note 8 smartphone at an event scheduled for August 23rd. But while we still have to wait to hear about rumored features such as the device’s rear dual camera and new stylus enhancements, a new report has indicated Samsung will have another surprise to unveil: a pair of Apple AirPod-like wireless headphones that include the new Bixby smart assistant. Story TimelineSamsung talks Galaxy Note 8 reveal and releaseSamsung Bixby US launch has finally started for realSamsung Bixby Speaker shelved claims reportSamsung Bixby videos show why the S8 assistant is specialNote 8: Samsung Unpacked event in August confirmedGalaxy Note 8 renders show still rounded corners According to South Korean outlet ETNews, the Bluetooth headphones will include noise canceling technology and feature useful new ways to interact with Bixby. No images of the accessory were revealed, as a Samsung executive confirmed it exists, but added that it’s still in development and may not be ready in time for the Note 8’s debut.While it was revealed earlier this week that plans for a Bixby-powered speaker have been shelved, Samsung is supposedly still deciding if the new headphones will be included with the Note 8, or strictly sold separately as Apple has done with its AirPods. There’s no doubt they’ll eventually be available individually, allowing use with the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus devices.Unfortunately, Bixby has been getting a mixed reception from users since its release earlier this month. The main issue at this point is that the assistant just isn’t that useful, and pales in comparison to the likes of Siri and Alexa. Unless Samsung releases a substantial update to Bixby, these headphones are likely to seen as useless.SOURCE ETNews
Just yesterday, we told you about a malicious prompt that was appearing on Equifax’s website when customers tried to dispute errors on their credit reports. The pop-up prompted users to download a new version of Flash player, only to install tough-to-identify adware instead. It looks like Equifax may be paying the price for that particular oversight, as the IRS has temporarily suspected a fraud prevention contract it awarded the company earlier this month. Story TimelineEquifax data breach: The shocking security just got worseFTC breaks trend to confirm it is investigating Equifax breachEquifax team accidentally sent some people to a phishing websiteEquifax update: More victims than households in the USA The IRS was the subject of a lot of derision once that no-bid contract was given to Equifax. By the time the IRS had made the decision to go with Equifax for fraud prevention, the scope and severity of the Equifax breach was already obvious, leaving many to wonder what the IRS was thinking. That contract was worth $7.2 million, and left the task of verifying the identities of people signing up for the IRS’s Secure Access program to Equifax.As of last night, however, that contract has been temporarily suspended, Politico reports. Though the IRS didn’t give a direct reason for the suspension, it’s worth noting that the decision came after those reports of bogus download prompts on the Equifax website. The IRS says that the suspension is a “precautionary” measure as it continues to investigate the security of Equifax’s systems. As a result of this suspension, new sign-ups for Secure Access are temporarily closed, but current subscribers should see no change.For what it may be worth, Equifax told Engadget that the malicious download prompts weren’t the result of another breach, but rather code from a third-party company Equifax used for site analytics. Equifax said that the code has since been removed and the affected pages taken offline, but it’s likely that the damage is done. It’s another awful mess up from a company that has handled the response to its massive security breach very poorly.From here, there’s no telling what the IRS does. It could very well determine that Equifax’s security is up to snuff, or it could (and should) look at the pile of evidence for incompetence on the part of Equifax and pull the contract. We’ll keep you updated on the matter, so stay tuned.
“MoneyGram will access and use XRP, the native digital asset of the XRP Ledger, in their payment flows through xRapid, Ripple’s on-demand liquidity product,” said a Ripple representative. The company suggested that xRapid will be able to “unlock liquidity” and access multiple corridors, each from one pre-funded account. That’s real-time FX (foreign exchange) settlement unlocked with XRP.So this could be neat, but remember: the XRP coin represents Ripple, but it’s not the same thing. There are multiple facets to this particular piping system, and you’re not necessarily going to be able to see one end from the other – so to speak.Alibaba made an announcement to buy MoneyGram back in April of 2017. They did this to establish a cross-border payment network with the United States as well as other major financial arenas. Just last week, MoneyGram announced that they would not be merging, and instead would “explore and develop initiatives” with Alibaba. AdChoices广告“The geopolitical environment has changed considerably since we first announced the proposed transaction with Ant Financial nearly a year ago,” said MoneyGram CEO Alex Holmes. “Despite our best efforts to work cooperatively with the U.S. government, it has now become clear that CFIUS [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] will not approve this merger.”As always, none of the above or indeed any cryptocurrency news here on SlashGear should be taken as financial advice. SlashGear takes no responsibility for anything any reader does before, during, or after reading this article – or any part of SlashGear for that matter. Just don’t do anything, sit there and freeze! This morning Ripple announced a partnership with MoneyGram. The two companies will team up to bring XRP technology to payment flows. This move was announced to “allows MoneyGram to solve the age-old liquidity issue most financial institutions face while saving time and money.” This announcement came on the heels of a cancellation of a MoneyGram sale to online sales giant Alibaba’s Ant Financial. Story TimelineRipple price dips as Coinbase rumor doused (XRP BTC)Ripple price drop stings (BTC XRP USD and why)Ripple price just dropped: CNBC is part of the problemRipple will not supplant Bitcoin if its price hits $7
The Galaxy S9 – and its Galaxy S9+ sibling – are shaping up to be fairly evolutionary updates of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. Outwardly, they’re expected to use the same sized displays – complete with the distinctive wraparound screen – as their predecessors, though on the back there’ll be a new camera technology which adds dual apertures for more DSLR-like photography. However, the phones internally codenamed as “star” and “star2” aren’t the only thing Samsung’s engineers have been cooking up. The team over at xda-developers went sifting through a list of devices that look likely to get Android 8.0 Oreo updates, and found quite a few unknown names. The codenames had been pulled from a framework-res in a leaked beta of Oreo intended for the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and cover a variety of devices both in the smartphone and the tablet segments. Some have been connected with the likely production device they’ll probably launch as, but others are still a mystery. For example, there’s the “astarqlte” which, it’s suggested, is the Snapdragon version of the as-yet-unannounced Samsung Galaxy S9 Active. That’s presumably a ruggedized version of the regular Galaxy S9, with a beefier design targeting those who have a habit of dropping their smartphone. The fact that it’s a Snapdragon presumably means that it’s intended for the US market, where Samsung is believed to be using Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 in the Galaxy S9 and S9+. Most other locations will get phones running Samsung’s own Exynos chipset. AdChoices广告The “crown”, meanwhile, is believed to be the codename for the new Samsung Galaxy Note 9. That revamped phablet isn’t expected to arrive until late in 2018, if Samsung follows its usual scheduling. Of course, there’s no suggestion of hardware from this list of names, though it seems likely Samsung will use the same dual-aperture camera sensors as on the Galaxy S9. Perhaps most intriguing, though, is the device codenamed “jackpot” and “jackpot2”, and which xda-developers theorizes could be Samsung’s first folding smartphone. The South Korean company recently confirmed it planned to launch a folding OLED device in 2018, though gave little indication as to what that might look like. The fact that there are two mentions in this codename list could indicate two sizes, along with both Qualcomm Snapdragon and Samsung Exynos versions. Previous reports have indicated Samsung will use the Galaxy X name for the phone.On the tablet side, it looks like we could be in for a new Galaxy Tab S4 along with a revamped Galaxy Tab A 10.1. The Galaxy Tab E is also believed to be in line for an update, again based on codename inferences. That still leaves a number of names, including some believed to refer to more affordable J Series and C Series phones. Some, though, are completely mysterious, such as “degasy18wifi,” “grandppirislte,” and “gtaxlad” and may not, even, refer to smartphones or tablets. Samsung could have Android-based home hubs in the pipeline, even devices running Bixby in response to Lenovo’s Smart Display or the Amazon Echo Show. Story TimelineSamsung’s new camera tech has big Galaxy S9 implicationsGalaxy S9 spec war gets serious for AppleSamsung Android Oreo update device list leaked All eyes may be on the Galaxy S9 right now, and its imminent debut, but Samsung’s 2018 smartphone strategy doesn’t hinge on just one flagship. The newest model in the top-end Galaxy line-up may be just weeks away from its Mobile World Congress 2018 reveal, but there are more than twenty new products across phones and tablets that Samsung is believed to have waiting in the wings.
The Lenovo Mirage Solo is making a splash landing in the virtual reality headset market, and it’s causing waves both in mobile and traditional VR. One of the small handful of truly standalone headsets, it doesn’t demand you slot in your smartphone or plug into a gaming PC. Instead, Lenovo and Google are leveraging smartphone tech and some mighty clever inside-out tracking to give the Mirage Solo its edge – and justify its $400 price tag. What’s surprised me is how much I’ve dipped into the Mirage Solo’s flavor of VR, compared to how engaged I’ve been with other systems. Personally, I seldom bother to slot my phone into a Gear VR or Daydream View headset; though I had VIVE set up at one point, the hassle of booting up a PC just to use it meant I seldom actually used it. Lenovo’s headset, in contrast, quickly resumed as soon as I put it on, making it more likely that I’d spend a few spare minutes with some casual gaming. The Mirage Solo’s battery life is in keeping with that sort of use case, too. Despite initial suggestions that it would last as long as seven hours, now Lenovo’s estimate is more like 2.5hrs. That’s fairly accurate, based on my use. VerdictThere’s a lot to like about the Mirage Solo. The physical design is good, with the strap and padding arrangement making for a headset that’s comfortable to wear for extended periods. It’s speedy, for a mobile-based VR system, and the 6DoF tracking makes a legitimate difference to how immersive virtual reality games and experiences are. All the same, it’s not a clean sweep. The $399.99 price tag makes it twice what you’d pay for an Oculus Go, and right now there simply aren’t the number of WorldSense-compatible titles you’d hope for. That’s likely to change over time, but the limited battery life and the fact that the Daydream controller lacks 6DoF support will not. Of the mobile virtual reality headsets I’ve tried, the Mirage Solo is certainly the most engaging. 6DoF, no matter how rare right now, is a huge advantage. Nonetheless, I couldn’t blame you for holding out until there are more VR titles that take advantage of WorldSense. Lenovo’s standalone Daydream checks off the convenience boxes for mobile VR; now it needs the software to catch up. That’s higher quality than the simple magnifying lenses the Gear VR relies upon, and works out to a 110-degree field of view. Lenovo also includes two microphones, a 3.5mm headphone jack – though, annoyingly, no built-in speaker like the Oculus Go offers – and a USB Type-C for charging and data. A microSD slot handles cards up to 256 GB in size. With the 4,000 mAh battery, it weighs 645 grams. That’s more than the 486 gram Oculus Go, and a Gear VR with a Galaxy S9+ installed, at 508 grams. However I prefer how the Mirage Solo actually feels on your head. The forehead rest braces much of the bulk, avoiding delivering it to your eyes, and the adjustment knob on the back of the headband makes one-handed resizing incredibly straightforward. No Velcro to mess with, or elasticated straps. A quick-release button underneath allows the whole headpiece to slide forward and backward, making it easy to fit around prescription glasses if you require them. AdChoices广告Since it’s effectively running smartphone hardware, it comes as no surprise to find WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0 included. You can use Bluetooth headsets rather than wired, if you prefer. No cellular connection, of course, and the Daydream OS – though based on Android – is restricted to VR apps only. You don’t need a smartphone in order to set it up, and the virtual keyboard is surprisingly easy to use. Google’s Daydream interface will come as no surprise if you’ve used an existing, phone-based Daydream headset. Think chunky tiles and big iconography. You get access to the VR titles in the Google Play store, along with YouTube and Google Photos. The DayDream controller is your virtual handWhile the Mirage Solo may have front-facing cameras – more on which in a moment – they’re not for hand-tracking. Instead, your primary method of interacting with the virtual world is the Daydream controller. Lenovo includes it in the box, and it charges via USB-C.It’s a small, lightweight remote. At the top there’s a trackpad which also clicks to select. Under that is the app button, a contextual control that does the equivalent of a right-click on a mouse; its function varies according to the software you’re running. Under that is the home button, while on the side there are volume keys. If you want, there’s a lanyard loop on the bottom edge, just to save you from inadvertently hurling the controller away in the heat of a VR game. Even if you put it down, though, there’s a virtual version that floats within your field of view – that makes it a lot easier to find it when you’ve put the remote down on a table as you adjust the headband. WorldSense: It’s a 6DoF thingNot all VR experiences are created equal. The Mirage Solo arrives with a fairly well-populated Google Play store of apps and virtual reality content waiting for it, but not all of them make the most of the hardware on offer. That’s because of 6DoF, or Six Degrees of Freedom. It’s easy to think of movement as being in three dimensions, but in reality it’s more granular than that. A headset like Oculus Go can track when you stand up or sit down; when you move forward or back. Mirage Solo, however, can figure out when your head is tilting, or rotating. 6DoF means you can move your head forward and back, up and down, left and right, but also yaw (turning your neck left or right), pitch (tilting your head from side to side), and roll (leaning your head forward or backward)The end result is a far more precise VR experience, and the benefits of that are twofold. On the one hand, it opens the door to more dramatic, engaging content: VR experiences you can move through more naturally. On a more mundane – though no less important – level, it helps avoid motion sickness, since the movements in VR are closer to your movements in the real world.To deliver this 6DoF tracking, Lenovo uses WorldSense. Rather than positioning itself via external beacons, as HTC VIVE does, the Mirage Solo has a pair of forward-facing cameras on the front. When you first put it on, it uses those to map the room in front of you: then, depending on how you move, it can track you within that space. It’s fair to say that 6DoF makes a huge difference – assuming your app of choice uses it. If the software you’re using tops out at 3DoF, as per Oculus Go and Google Cardboard, then you won’t get the benefit of the smarter tracking. Assuming you do have a compatible app, though, long-pressing the home button on the Daydream controller recalibrates WorldSense to the room around you. That controller, it’s worth noting, doesn’t have the same WorldSense tracking: instead, it just tracks general rotation. Another oddity is the somewhat fuzzy way the Mirage Solo warns you if you’re about to step out of the gameplay area. With VIVE, for instance, you first map your play space and then it floats mesh walls into view if you’re at risk of bumping into a physical wall or furniture. WorldSense, however, merely fades out if you start to roam too far, which is a little less reassuring. The actual space you get to roam is oddly small, too: figure leaning around and doing some enthusiastic ducking, rather than roaming freely around a VR space.Tweener VRThe combination of smartphone-level processing but 6DoF room tracking leaves the Mirage Solo in a somewhat middle ground compared to other VR headsets. There’s definitely more of a mobile-look to the graphics than you’d find, say, on a Rift or VIVE: the Snapdragon 835 simply can’t push as many pixels as a desktop-class GPU, and even if it could, the QHD resolution of the LCD remains a limiting factor. There’s minimal smear and lag, but detail still falls short compared to more expensive headsets. SlashGear uses affiliate links, and if you buy something, sometimes we’ll get a small proportion of the sale. This does not impact our editorial content. The software you’re using makes a big difference, too. There’ll be around 70 apps compatible with WorldSense when the Mirage Solo hits shelves, but that leaves plenty of titles without the 6DoF tracking. Even Daydream’s own menu system is still 3DoF-only. When you find an app that supports it, though, the Mirage Solo is definitely more immersive than rival headsets. I’ve had a surprising amount of fun playing Merry Snowballs, which allows you to duck and dodge your way around incoming ice. Blade Runner: Revelations is also made with 6DoF in mind: you can look around corners and peer through neon-soaked scenes, while trying to solve puzzles and other challenges. Hardware and DesignSo far, home virtual reality systems have generally fallen into two camps. At one extreme, there are headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC VIVE: high-resolution displays and excellent motion tracking, but tethered via a cable to a gaming PC. At the other extreme, headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Cardboard are cheaper and untethered, but rely on slotting in a smartphone to provide the display and processing power. The Mirage Solo takes a different approach. It’s completely standalone, but Lenovo has baked the smartphone hardware in: there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of LPDDR4 memory and 64 GB of storage. The display is a 5.5-inch 2560 x 1440 IPS LCD panel, running at a faster-than-typical 75 Hz refresh rate. It’s shared between your two eyes, each of which gets a fresnel-aspheric lens. Story TimelineHTC Vive standalone Daydream headset for the US canceledLenovo Mirage Solo is the last standalone Daydream headset standingLenovo announces VR classroom set with standalone Daydream headset Lenovo Mirage Solo and Mirage Camera Gallery
With this initial set of changes, Microsoft is beginning to roll out a simplified ribbon that boils down the current three-line set up into one that surfaces most of Office’s major controls. The simplified ribbon will be landing on the web version of Word initially – and only to some users at first – while some Insiders will see it go live in Outlook beginning next month.For everyone else, Microsoft is moving forward cautiously, especially when it comes to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows. “Users have a lot of ‘muscle memory’ built around these versions, so we plan on being especially careful with changes that could disrupt their work,” Microsoft wrote in today’s announcement. As a result, the simplified ribbon doesn’t have a release dates for these apps while Microsoft collects more feedback from a wider range of users. While Microsoft knows that it’s walking a fine line between streamlining things and upsetting users who prefer the traditional ribbon, this doesn’t really need to be a point of anxiety for Office 365 users. Even when simplified ribbon does roll out at some point in the future, you’ll still be able to pull up the current three-line ribbon whenever you need it.The second change Microsoft is implementing probably won’t be quite so controversial. Microsoft is launching new colors and icons in Office 365, with the new icons being launched as scalable graphs. Essentially, this ensures that icons have smooth lines and render correctly regardless of the display you view them on. You can see the new icons in the image above, and as with the simplified ribbon, we’ll see these launch in Word for Office.com this month before arriving to Insiders using Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows later in June.Finally, Microsoft is looking to make search more efficient. It’s launching a new feature it calls “zero query search,” which surfaces AI-powered recommendations as soon as you place your cursor in the search box. This feature is already available to commercial customers using Office.com, SharePoint Online, and the Outlook app, with a launch in Outlook for web scheduled for August.It sounds like these are just the first new features in a larger Office redesign. Microsoft is rolling out new features in waves so it can collect feedback and improve Office slowly, which is definitely a good idea given the reaction to some of the changes it’s previously implemented. We’ll keep you posted as more features are announced, so stay tuned. Microsoft has a new redesign coming up for Office 365 users. Also going live on the Office.com iteration of Microsoft’s productivity suite, this new redesign has three major focuses in all. While two are relatively minor and focus on visuals and efficiency, there’s one major change that even Microsoft knows it needs to tread carefully with. Story TimelineMicrosoft Office 2019 will only support Windows 10Office 365 Personal users get business-tier security toolsThe Microsoft Office 2019 preview is here
If the Fire TV Cube caught your eye, but your TV itself is due an upgrade, Amazon and Toshiba are hoping their new smart TV collaboration will fit the bill. The Toshiba 4K Ultra HD Smart TV Fire TV Edition may not have an elegant name as it begins shipping today, but as I discovered with an early play, it does a surprisingly smooth job of integrating Amazon’s set-top box at an affordable price. SlashGear uses affiliate links, and sometimes if you buy something we might get a small percentage of the sale The concept is straightforward. Rather than buying a dumb TV and then plugging in a Fire TV Stick or Fire TV 4K, the set itself has Amazon’s hardware and software integrated. Indeed, while Toshiba may be responsible for the TV set itself, Amazon is in charge of the UI. As a result it’s a familiar experience if you’ve used a recent Fire TV product. Movies and TV shows are organized into side-scrolling bars – Amazon calls them “Feature Rotunda” – with apps for popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and PlayStation Vue. However, like a regular TV, there’s also an OTA tuner. Toshiba has three models, differentiated only by screen size. Most affordable is the 43-inch, at $329.99. Then there’s a 50-inch, for $399.99. Finally, the 55-inch comes in at a still-reasonable $479.99. All three have a 4K Ultra HD 60Hz panel with Direct LED backlighting. There are two HDMI inputs and an HDMI with ARC support, an antenna input, optical SPDIF input and output, USB 2.0, ethernet, RCA audio, and a headphone jack. Toshiba has teamed up with Onkyo for the speakers. WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 are integrated too; the latter works with Amazon’s remote control. At first glance that’s what we’re used to from the standalone Fire TV boxes, but Amazon has added some very useful extra buttons this time around. Most welcome are the volume and mute keys, something the Fire TV Cube‘s remote really ought to have had. There’s also a channel guide button, and shortcuts to four streaming services: Prime Video, Netflix, PlayStation Vue, and HBO. Aa you’d expect there’s also a microphone button to use the remote to control Alexa. Alternatively, you can pair an Echo smart speaker to the TV, and control it by voice instead. There’s support for switching inputs by voice – you can name them to make it easier – as well as finding content through searches. Amazon defaults to loading any free way of watching search results first.Where the Toshiba Fire TV distinguishes itself is the addition of live content. There’s an “On Now” Feature Rotunda, which shows what’s currently being broadcast. It pulls not only from OTA channels, but live content on Hulu and SHOWTIME if you have the relevant subscriptions. There are thumbnails of the current show, which you can also pull up in a bar at the bottom of the screen while you’re watching something else, should you be feeling indecisive. Alexa can search through live content too. The “On Now” bar, meanwhile, is sorted by what you viewed recently, though Amazon tells me it’s working on other sorting options. It’d be nice to be able to pin favorites there, after all. In the program guide there’s show information along with a progress bar, indicating how far through the broadcast is. There’s a lot to like about the Toshiba Fire TV. Alexa integrates nicely, though the extra buttons on the remote mean you can still do all the basics without speaking if you prefer. Amazon tells me it plans long-term support for the software, too: you may not get the most cutting-edge features from future Fire TV boxes, based on the limits of the Toshiba’s current-gen hardware, but I’m told it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect 5-7 years of updates. Certainly, if you face a regular content overload whenever you settle down to watch something, the Toshiba Fire TV could help address that. I can’t help but wish that Alexa did more personalization, though. Right now there are suggested shows from each of your streaming provider subscriptions, based on what you’ve already watched, but Alexa can’t do the same for OTA shows. It’d be great if she could flag an upcoming broadcast of something you’re predicted to enjoy because of the theme, director, actors, or some other factors. Maybe it’s too early in the day for that. Still, Amazon has big ambitions for TVs with Fire TV baked in. There’ll be ten Fire TV Edition models released in 2018 alone, with Toshiba and Insignia two of the big names already committed. If you’re convinced, you can find the trio of new TVs in Best Buy stores and at Amazon today. Story TimelineAmazon Fire TVs aren’t a Best Buy for everyoneAmazon Fire TV Cube Review: Alexa, hide the remoteFire TV Cube available today: Here’s how its Alexa compares
The days of 3G are nearing their end. Verizon has confirmed that it will no longer activate 3G-only phones, meaning new customers or those in need of an upgrade will need to purchase a handset with 4G support. This shouldn’t come as a surprise — the carrier has been saying for years that its 3G network is on the way out, though slowly, giving everyone more than enough time to upgrade. The confirmation was given to Droid Life, which published a statement from Verizon. In it, the carrier pointed to its past statements, reminding the public that it has long planned to phase out its 3G CDMA network. The company previously said that its 3G network will be available until the end of 2019, leaving about a year and a half before it ends.The majority of smartphone users on its network are already using the 4G LTE option; a small number continue to operate on 3G, however. Verizon says that it has decided to stop activating 3G-only devices in order to “facilitate a smooth transition” to the faster network. This doesn’t mean existing 3G-only phones will stop working…for now, at least.The transition should be a simple one for most customers. Many inexpensive smartphones with 4G LTE support are now available, such as the Moto E, and Verizon already sells flip phones that support its 4G network. The biggest issue for some 3G users aren’t smartphones at all, though — they’re Internet of Things devices that utilize the slower network, as well as devices like kid-tracking wristbands.SOURCE: Droid Life
Story TimelineXiaomi Mi Laser 150in Android TV projector debuts as Walmart exclusiveWalmart taps autonomous robots with BrainOS to clean its floorsWalmart and Udelv team for self-driving grocery delivery pilot project Last summer, a report claimed that Walmart was planning to launch its own video streaming service, a product that would differ from its existing Vudu offering. Sources speaking at that time had cautioned that Walmart wasn’t final in its decision to proceed with a streaming service, and now a new report claims that Walmart has made an unexpected decision: it won’t launch the product. According to a new report citing sources with an update on the matter, Walmart has abandoned plans to launch a new streaming service. The decision was reportedly made after failing to work out a deal with media veteran Mark Greenberg, who is said to have talked with Walmart about creating a service targeting “middle America.”The sources allege that Walmart wasn’t comfortable with the idea of making a big investment in the service, particularly in light of the large number of established competitors and Walmart’s own relative lack of experience in the industry. This reluctance reportedly resulted in Walmart’s talks with Greenberg falling through and the company ultimately nixing the service plan.Instead, the report claims, Walmart will focus on its Vudu service, which offers both free ad-supported video content and digital rentals and purchases. The service currently offers existing content — blockbuster movies of both the new and old variety, plus some TV shows. Walmart has previously revealed a plan to bring original content to Vudu, though it is moving slowly in this regard. In October, the company said it will be reviving the 1980s’ comedy Mr Mom as a digital series. The story will follow baby Megan as an adult — it’ll be her husband, this time around, who takes on the parenting duties.
The V8 is hooked up to a 7-speed SSG transmission, and feeds powers to the rear wheels. McLaren uses a new version of its Proactive Chassis Control system, in addition to new suspension with independent adaptive dampers and dual wishbones. The automaker’s well-esteemed power-assisted, electro-hydraulic steering feature too.Meanwhile it’ll break from 124 mph to a dead stop in 4.6 seconds, covering 117m (383 feet) in the process. That’s courtesy of carbon ceramic disks all round, 390 mm on the front and 380 mm on the rear. If you care, McLaren says the 720S will put out 249 g/km of CO2 on the NEDC cycle; US and UK economy figures aren’t available yet. Inside, as usual McLaren makes the whole cabin itself, with plenty of leather and aluminum. The dashboard is dominated by the company’s new McLaren Driver Interface, with a folding driver display and central infotainment screen. Thanks to the new design and construction techniques, interior space is said to be improved over the McLaren 650S it replaces. McLaren’s order book for the 720S is already open, and the first cars should be arriving with dealers in May 2017. There’ll be three trim levels – Standard, Performance, and Luxury – and a range of options packs. Pricing kicks off at £208,600 in the UK, which works out to around $256k. Although you can’t mistake it for anything other than a McLaren, the design has clearly moved on from the automaker’s earlier cars. Gone are the side radiator intakes, for instance; their role has been supplanted by double-skin aerodynamics on the dihedral doors. That works to channel air to the high-temperature radiators for the mid-mounted engine. When McLaren wants to take on Ferrari and the other supercar makers it doesn’t hold back, and the new McLaren 720S is fine example of that. Revealed today at the Geneva Motor Show 2017, the new 720S is the first model of the second-generation Super Series, McLaren‘s top-tier range of cars. Initially offered as a coupe, the 720S is all about light weighting and aerodynamic efficiency. Into that lightweight frame, McLaren drops the 720S’ beating heart, a 4.0-liter twin turbocharged V8. That musters 710 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 568 lb-ft. of torque at 5,500 rpm, and delivers a 0-60 mph time of 2.8 seconds. 0-128 mph takes just 7.8 seconds, and the 720S will go on all the way to a 212 mph top speed. Meanwhile, there’s a Monocage II central and upper structure, the “tub”, around which a carbon fiber chassis is wrapped. Aluminum alloy plays a significant role in the body too, as well as for some of the 720S’ body panels. Altogether, it keeps dry curb weight down to a mere 1,283 kg, or 2,829 pounds. McLaren 720S Gallery
When suggesting we needed to do away with Net Neutrality, the FCC’s head Ajit Pai said that broadband investment would increase as a result. In February of 2018, the spin began. As noted by ArsTechnica, Pai began suggesting that broadband deployments had begun as a direct result of the axing of Net Neutrality protections. In reality, said deployments were already underway several years before the Net Neutrality vote occurred – back when Barack Obama was still president.Fast forward to this month, here in January of 2019, and the first important full year earnings report is in, and it’s from Comcast. Comcast provides high speed internet service with its brand Xfinity, and is one of the most major investors in broadband in the United States. We can see evidence of broadband investment in Comcast’s capital expenditures metric. Expenditures went up year-over-year in the fourth quarter of their financial year 2018 – which is good. But each of the preceding three quarters, and the year as a whole, y-o-y investment declined. Comcast in the United State’s biggest home internet provider. Up next we’ll see deployment of 5G mobile web network infrastructure with mobile web carriers. If I was a betting man, I’d put money on the idea that Pai will take credit for any increases in spending here, regardless of the fact that they’d have taken place with or without Net Neutrality rules in effect. Stay tuned and see! There’s good news and there’s bad news when it comes to the fallout after the FCC’s kill of Net Neutrality. We expected the worst – that internet providers would start making companies pay for fast lanes and that lower-class content would get caught behind throttled speed internet. That didn’t happen – or at least it didn’t happen to the degree to which we were worried, yet. The bad new is that none of the GOOD stuff the FCC promised has happened. Story TimelineNet neutrality officially dies in JuneThe US Senate just voted to save net neutralityCalifornia approves net neutrality bill considered the strongest in the country
Tmall is a shopping site that plan to launch a new “Automotive Vending Machine”. The vending machine let consumers to browse the cars available in the giant garage-like building on their phones, make a purchase, and then have the cars moved to ground level for delivery. This certainly isn’t the first automotive sales vending machine, We talked about a similar system offered by Carvana back in 2015. However, there are some key differences between what Carvana offers and what Tmall is rolling out.Car shoppers with a credit score of over 750 on the Sesame Credit scoring system (this is Alibaba’s own credit scoring system) are able to use the vending machine. The buyer will pay a 10% initial fee (presumably that is a down payment) and then go pick up their car. Remaining installments can be paid via Alipay until the car is paid in full. There is no sitting through long sales pitches with a finance manager. It’s unclear if there are contracts involved like a traditional car purchase, presumably there are and they are completed on the mobile device while shopping. It also sounds as if this new buying process has no method for the shopper to actually see, touch, and drive the car before the purchase is made. Anyone who has ever purchased a car knows that you will be at the dealership all day. The negotiation back and forth for trade and purchase price, waiting for financing approval, and then sitting through the closing process where the dealership tries to sell you everything under the sun from wheel replacement plans to extended warranties gets very tedious. An Alibaba Group company in China is rolling out a new system for buying cars that sounds like it is much more consumer focused that what most are used to. SOURCE: Malls.com
Story TimelineIntel buys up Mobileye to boost autonomous driving effortsConfusing autonomous cars might be worryingly easySelf-driving car tech just took a big step closer to mainstream An innovative 3D-printed sensor could dramatically reduce the cost of giving autonomous cars a 360-degree view of the world, potentially replacing radar as a key component of driverless technology. The tech, handiwork of researchers at the University of Arizona, is currently being developed for commercialization by startup Lunewave. That’s making some big claims about just how much of an improvement over the traditional sensing suite its spherical sensors might be. Currently, autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles rely on a whole range of sensors in order to operate effectively. Though no single consensus exists on what, exactly, the “right combination” involves, probably the most common are radar and cameras. To those, various additions like ultrasonic and laser-based LIDAR are often added, with each having its own strengths and weaknesses that are mollified in aggregate. That hodgepodge of sensing can get expensive, and that’s not only an issue for the future generation of fully driverless vehicles. Today’s advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping and automatic lane-changing, and traffic jam support all rely on a spray of sensors installed around the car. That has meant many of the more capable active assistance and safety technologies are limited to relatively expensive vehicles, since it’s only the buyers in that segment which will pay for the additional hardware. We’ve seen, in recent years, efforts to reduce the cost of one of the most expensive parts: the LIDAR laser array. However, Lunewave is tackling another component, arguably with even more market relevance. It’s using so-called Luneburg lenses, developed at the College of Engineering at the University of Arizona, to replace radar. There are several advantages, the teams behind the startup and the technologies claim. One of the most significant is the flexibility involved: the Luneburg lens antennas can be 3D printed, and as such can be custom-made for specific operating frequencies and bandwidths. Once designed, they can rapidly be produced using existing additive manufacturing processes. They spherical constructions are then combined with embedded electronics and/or metabolized film dielectrics. Lunewave claims that the resulting sensors, in addition to being tailor-made for their intended installation, are more efficient than traditional radar sensors, not to mention more resilient to interference from the radar operated on nearby vehicles. They also cover 360-degrees, rather than being directional, and have a range of up to 300 meters (984 feet). “Together, these two technologies may prove to be the key to allow traditionally expensive luxury car automotive safety systems to be included on much more popular and less expensive cars,” Bob Sleeper, TLA licensing manager for the College of Engineering at UA, said of the system. NOW READ Driving Audi’s Level 3 autonomous 2019 A8While driverless vehicles and ADAS are one of the most obvious implementations for the 3D printed sensors, they’re not the only possibility. “These technologies have applications in sensing and detection, autonomous cars and drones, pollution, water vapor detection, as well as wireless communication,” lead inventor and UA professor Hao Xin says. Indeed, Lunewave is already talking about using the same additive manufacturing for antennas for satellite communications and 5G. Lunewave is currently undertaking R&D for an radar sensor system for autonomous transportation, taking part in the National Science Foundation SBIR/STTR program. It’s unclear at this stage how soon it might be before the company’s sensors actually start showing up on production vehicles, however. IMAGE Tech Launch Arizona
Huawei has quietly been restored to membership of three key tech associations, having been temporarily stripped of membership after the Trump administration barred US companies from working with the Chinese firm. Huawei’s dire month started with reports that its phones would be prevented from using key Android apps after Google complied with the new trade block, and then proceeded to get steadily worse. While the core, open-source part of Android was still available for Huawei to use, the phone-maker faced the possibility of being unable to install key features like the Gmail and YouTube apps, and the Google Play store, on its devices. That’s because they require a specific license agreement with Google, one which would be banned under the terms of the trade limits. After that, the scope of Huawei’s problem continued to expand. Chip-makers were forced to cut ties, and the Chinese firm found itself on the outside of key organizations like the WiFi Alliance the Bluetooth SIG, and the SD Association. Without membership there, it seemed like future Huawei phones, tablets, and laptops – among other products – could be prevented from using vital features like memory card slots, Bluetooth, and WiFi. Now, in what must be a welcome stroke of good news, Huawei has found itself back in the alliances’ good graces. Each has quietly updated its membership roster to include the Chinese company. AdChoices广告None of the three has commented publicly on the move, either to remove Huawei in the first place, or indeed to restore it today. In its own comments on the ongoing situation, Huawei itself has focused on existing products rather than new ones. “The use of SD cards on Huawei smartphone won’t be affected,” the company said when asked about SD Association membership, for example. “Consumers can continue purchasing and using these products.”What it has been less forthcoming on is how all this might impact future devices. A ruling granted Huawei a 90 day reprieve from some of the impact of the trade ban, and it maintains that currently released products are unaffected by any of these changes. “All Huawei and Honor smartphones and tablets that are already on the market, including those that have been sold, are currently for sale, and are waiting for delivery” will be fine, it insists. Anything that may be released further down the line, though, is less certain. Android Q updates, for example, are something Huawei is only saying it will detail “in future system upgrade notifications.” The extent of commitments for products not yet launched encompasses only “those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally.”It’s not hard to imagine that Huawei itself is just as confused by the ongoing situation, and simply doesn’t have anything more concrete to tell users at this stage. After all, what was initially billed as a security concern – with the US government accusing the tech firm of allowing Chinese security services back-door access to its products, among other things – was then repositioned as a potential trade bargaining tool by President Trump. Speaking last week, the US President suggested that Huawei could well be included as part of a trade deal with China. At this stage, then, it seems likely we’ll see more strange fluctuations as all invested parties in the situation try to figure out what they need to do to remain on the right side of the law – and of their business commitments. Story TimelineHuawei ban list and timeline: Google, Microsoft, Android falloutHuawei US ban threatens to wreak havoc on Android as wellHongMeng “Ark” OS – Huawei’s Android replacement: what we know so far
The Mophie Powerstation Hub wants to go traveling with you, and it has a good argument for why you might want to save a space in your carry-on for a combination charger, battery, and Qi wireless pad. After all, keeping your phone, tablet, noise-canceling headphones, and other gadgets charged up on the move can be more frustrating than it should be. On the one hand it’s hotel rooms with one spare outlet; on the other, it’s simply the bulk of carrying multiple adapters. Story TimelineMophie powerstation PD and PD XL universal batteries offer fast chargingmophie 2019 powerstation universal batteries fully embrace USB-CMophie Powerstation Hub is a battery, Qi charger and USB-C adapter all in one Mophie’s solution isn’t quite a do-it-all adapter, but it’s close. At 3.31 inches square and 1.16 inches thick, it’s about the size of an Apple MacBook Pro charger, finished in black plastic and rubber. On one side there’s an interchangeable plug: Mophie supplies a US adapter in the box, and will offer others as extras. On the opposite side there are two USB-A ports – one Quick Charge 3.0 delivering 15W, and the other 5W – and USB-C PD port for 18W input/output. Turn the Powerstation Hub on its side, meanwhile, and it’s a Qi wireless charger. Inside, there’s a 6,100 mAh battery. Mophie says that’s enough for 20+ hours on an iPhone X, or 5-8 hours on an iPad, size-depending. Hit a button on the side and a four LED gage shows how much charge is left. You can recharge it either by plugging the Powerstation Hub into a wall outlet, or by using a USB-C charger: expect a full charge to take 2-2.5 hours. Jack of all tradesAll four charging options – three wired and one wireless – can be used simultaneously, either drawing power from the internal battery or from AC power. That’s definitely flexible, though there are some caveats to bear in mind. AdChoices广告The 18W from the USB-C PD port, for example, will be enough to get your smartphone or tablet charging relatively speedily, but it’s not going to charge a laptop. Though the Powerstation Hub may be scaled like a laptop charger, it doesn’t deliver the same wattage as one, sadly. The other big limitation is the wireless charging. That tops out at 5W, unlike 15W+ Qi-compatible pads from other manufacturers. It means that, though you won’t need a wire to top up your recent iPhone, Android phone, or wireless-enabled AirPods case, it won’t exactly be a fast process. With an iPhone XS Max, I saw about 1-percent battery added every couple of minutes. On test on the roadThe Powerstation Hub didn’t spend long on my desk, arriving just in time for an international trip. Usually my bag is a mess of chargers, cables, and adapters: with the Mophie I pulled off the folding two-prong US plug, slotted on the UK version, and packed that in instead of the cluster of adapters I’d normally be taking. With a layover in Europe, I had a choice. Typically, I’d bring a European-style charger, or an adapter, along with me, just in case I wanted to top up my phone mid-journey. With the Mophie’s integrated battery, however, I felt confident enough to leave the Euro plug behind, figuring that if I need to charge something I could dip into the Powerstation Hub’s onboard power instead. It was only when I got to my hotel that I realized one drawback to Mophie’s design. If you want to use the wireless charging pad, but also plug the Powerstation Hub in, you’ll need to find an outlet that rotates it 90 degrees. With most outlets, the charger will be upright, rather than flat for you to drop a Qi-compatible device on top. The other feature I missed from some of Mophie’s other portable batteries was an integrated cable. On some of its Powerstations, there’s a short USB or Lightning cable – or both, with an adapter – tethered to the pack, which is both convenient and neat. Sadly you’ll be plugging in regular cables (which aren’t included in the box) with this particular battery. Mophie Powerstation Hub VerdictThere are undoubtedly compromises involved in the Powerstation Hub. You’re not getting the biggest portable battery, or the most potent charger. There are wireless charging pads out there which will juice up your smartphone faster, and if you want to charge a laptop you’re out of luck. For the $99.95 price, though, I think Mophie’s decisions make sense, for the most part. 6,100 mAh is big enough to keep you going away from an outlet, and the fact that the Powerstation Hub’s battery tops up whenever it’s plugged in means that you’re more likely to have it fully charged when you need it. The ports offer a good range of options for the gadgets most people are carrying.Only the underpowered wireless charger is an annoyance, and the fact that – with most outlets – you can’t use it while the Powerstation Hub is plugged in. A swiveling plug would’ve fixed that, but then again that would’ve introduced its own compromises. Right now, for frequent travelers, Mophie’s latest checks off most of the must-have features, and that’s enough to earn a spot in my bag.
Now, it’s time for Vera to show what it can do. The automaker has partnered up with DFDS, with the ferry and logistics company set to use the self-driving truck to transport goods from one of its facilities in Gothenburg, Sweden, to an APM Terminals port. Several of the trucks will be used, all monitored by a control tower that will be responsible for the transport. Vera will be speed limited to under 25 mph, and the route will be repetitive, Volvo says. It’s unclear at this stage how far apart the two locations are, or indeed how often Vera will be running. Volvo and DFDS say that it’ll be based on “needed capacity” at the time. Volvo’s Vera electric self-driving trucks are headed to public roads with their first proper job, with the autonomous haulers set to shuttle containers to a Swedish port. Revealed in 2018, Vera is the handiwork of the Volvo Trucks division, a driverless alternative to traditional trucks for short distances of travel. Story TimelineVolvo just staked a claim on this cutting-edge driverless car techVolvo 360c concept gives autonomous cars a purpose and a voiceVolvo’s road-plane vision is beguilingly disruptive While it’s been a rapid shift from Vera being publicly revealed to this first assignment, Volvo warns that the trial isn’t quite ready to kick off yet. “The autonomous transport solution will be further developed in terms of technology, operations management and infrastructure adaptations, before it can be fully operational,” the automaker points out. “Moreover, necessary safety precautions will be taken to meet societal requirements for a safe path towards autonomous transports.”AdChoices广告Still, the potential benefits are significant. For a start, electric trucks have a clear environmental advantage over their internal combustion counterparts: not only do they avoid emissions which contribute toward climate change, they’re also significantly quieter in operation. That may eventually pave the way to more throughput without companies having to worry about disturbing residential neighborhoods nearby. “Autonomous transports with low noise levels and zero exhaust emissions have an important role to play in the future of logistics, and will benefit both business and society,” Mikael Karlsson, Vice President of Autonomous Solutions at Volvo Trucks, says. “We see this collaboration as an important start and want to drive progress in this area. Vera may have a speed limit, but we don’t. Testing has already started and we intend to implement the solution within the coming years.”Of course, not everybody is entirely enthused about the idea of autonomous trucking. One of the primary concerns is the impact vehicles like Vera could have on employment, as truck drivers face shrinking opportunities. While Volvo concedes that the technology will force traditional haulage to evolve, the automaker insists that it won’t necessarily be in a bad way. “I strongly believe that technology drives prosperity and takes society forward,” Karlsson argues. “In many factories today, some parts of the production are highly automated while some still need to be operated by people. I believe that the transport industry will evolve the same way. I foresee that there will be an increased level of automation where it makes sense, such as for repetitive tasks. This in turn will drive prosperity and increase the need for truck drivers in other applications.”Volvo Trucks already offers electric models, the drivelines of which have been carried over to Vera. Without the need for driver accommodation, however, the body of the autonomous truck can be significantly smaller. The speed limit, meanwhile, means that aerodynamics are less of a pressing issue. This pilot comes as Volvo also announces another driverless car milestone. Earlier in the week, the automaker revealed the production-ready self-driving SUV that it had built for Uber, and a version of which it plans to use for its own autonomous programs.
If one is keeping score on Samsung’s changes to the upcoming Galaxy Note 10, the phablet might already be turning out to be a disappointment at worst and an ambiguous product at best. Some things, like cameras and physical buttons, are at least not as bad as initially rumored but there are still some aspects that could disappoint long-time fans. That seems to now be even truer with the non-Pro version of the Galaxy Note 10 which is now believed to be ditching yet another “old” smartphone feature. Update: headphone jack was a fake. Samsung added a fake headphone jack to the unit to trick people. It obviously worked. Type C AKG earbuds in the box. https://t.co/B8PkUFPVCa— Max Weinbach (@mweinbachXDA) June 22, 2019 Story TimelineGalaxy Note 10 Sound on Display could be its next big featureGalaxy Note 10 release again tipped with major button changesGalaxy Note 10 Pro camera pack leak explains high price Apologies for the confusion it caused. When OEMs started throwing out ports and features, Samsung remained loyal to those. Except for the removable battery part. For the longest time, it had kept headphone jack and the microSD card expansion slot, even boasting of how you could practically achieve 1 TB of storage with 512 GB internal space and a 512 GB card.That, however, will be a thing of the past, especially for the Galaxy Note 10, the non-Pro edition. According to XDA’s Max Weinbach, that model won’t have a microSD card slot, putting an end to storage expansion. Unless there’s a massive outcry, it will most likely make its way to the Galaxy S11 next year as well.The slightly good news is that if the microSD slot is that important to you, you can grab a Galaxy Note 10 Pro. The bad news is that it will be more expensive. The worse news is that both non-Pro and Pro models will have no headphone jack. My source got to play with a Note 10 and Note 10 Pro. Here is what they said about it. 1. Both of the models he used had headphone jacks. 2. Renders are almost perfect. 3. SPen is almost the same as the Note94. Non-Pro has no micro sd card slot.— Max Weinbach (@mweinbachXDA) June 21, 2019 Weinbach’s source does at least assure Galaxy Note fans that the S Pen is largely unchanged and that renders are more or less perfect. That does suggest that physical buttons and the center punch hole are as they are depicted, for better or for worse.UPDATE: It wasn’t clear in the embedded Tweet above but Max Weinbach later tweeted how the headphone jack was “faked” by Samsung to throw off leaks.
A selection of health care stories from California, Arizona, New Jersey, Michigan, Texas and Kansas.Los Angeles Times: Unusual Partnership Offers Students Birth ControlThroughout the school year, students visit the on-campus clinic to get birth control, pregnancy tests, counseling and screening for sexually transmitted diseases. The services … are offered through a unique collaboration between Planned Parenthood and the Los Angeles Unified School District designed to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies among teenagers at the Boyle Heights high school. Although nonprofit groups frequently offer reproductive health care on school campuses around the nation, the partnership involving Planned Parenthood — long a target of antiabortion lawmakers in Washington — is the only one of its kind (Gorman, 6/5).Philadelphia Inquirer: In N.J., The County Nursing Home Is An Endangered SpeciesCounty-run nursing homes in New Jersey could be headed for extinction. Four have been sold to private operators in the last 18 months, including Buttonwood Hospital in Burlington County, and Camden County now is considering selling its facility. And some within the industry suspect that the remaining 16 aren’t far behind. With local government budgets shrinking, county-run nursing homes — the government’s traditional means of caring for seniors who lack money for a private facility — are steadily being privatized. … The main cause, industry experts say, is decreasing Medicaid subsidies (Osborne, 6/5).Los Angeles Times: Six Southern California Hospitals Fined For Health Care ViolationsState regulators have fined six Southern California hospitals for health care violations that included an emergency room nurse’s sexual assault on a patient at Chapman Medical Center in Orange. The penalties, announced Friday by the California Department of Public Health, included the eighth assessed on Southwest Healthcare System in Murrieta, which has been fined more often than any other hospital in the state since financial penalties were adopted in 2007 (Boxall, 6/5).Arizona Republic: Arizona Prisons Can Be Deadly For SickA review by The Arizona Republic of deaths in state prisons over the past two fiscal years found at least four inmates, in addition to Dix, whose medical care was delayed or potentially inadequate leading up to their deaths. The records of these cases, together with interviews of officers, medical staff and inmates point to a system in which correctional officers routinely deny inmates access to timely care, and in which treatment sometimes falls short of accepted standards (Ortega, 6/4).Detroit Free Press: Michigan Urges Collaboration, Lifestyle Changes To Combat Obesity Problem A statewide public health plan calls on schools, street planners, park districts, private businesses, insurers, restaurants and others to tackle the state’s growing obesity problem. “We have a real public health crisis on our hands,” said Olga Dazzo, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health, which released the plan this morning at an Ypsilanti senior center and park. … Nearly one-third of adults in Michigan are considered obese — a problem contributing to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, stroke and dementia. Additionally, nearly 12 percent of Michigan’s high school students are considered obese, public health officials say (Erb, 6/5).CNN (Video): Opting Out Of Vaccinations Could Get Tougher In CaliforniaThe re-emergence of some vaccine-preventable diseases has prompted the California legislature to consider a bill that would make it more difficult for parents to opt out of vaccinating their kids. The legislation would require that parents get counseling from a doctor before opting out of immunizations for their children (Roope, 6/5).Texas Tribune: Facing Accusations in CA, Hospital Company Looks to TXDespite more than a year of bad press and an apparent FBI inquiry, Prime Healthcare Services, which owns and operates more than a dozen hospitals, most of them in California, acquired ownership of South Texas’ 112-bed Harlingen Medical Center in December, then bought Pampa Regional Medical Center, a 115-bed hospital in the Panhandle, this month. Prime spokesman Edward Barrera said in a statement that the allegations — which he called a labor union’s fictitious smear campaign against the company — have prompted the company to “look outside the state for expansion” (Ramshaw, 6/5).Kansas Health Institute News: Drug Disposal Program Enrolls 32 Pharmacies In First MonthAfter its first month of operation, the Kansas Medication Disposal Program has 32 participating pharmacies statewide that can collect unneeded or unwanted prescription drugs. A map showing the locations of the pharmacies and household hazardous waste facilities was released today by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Debra Billingsley, executive secretary for the Kansas Board of Pharmacy, said the level of participation in the voluntary program so far is what officials expected when it was launched in April. There are 287 chain pharmacies and 289 independent pharmacies in Kansas (6/4).Kansas Health Institute News: Southeast Kansas Collaborative Seeks $11M Grant For Virtual Health CenterThe plan is to create a rural health network that would connect providers via computer to create a “virtual” federally qualified health center, or FQHC, serving Labette, Neosho and Wilson counties. FQHCs typically are bricks-and-mortar facilities offering primary care services in underserved communities. Led by Labette Health, the hospital in Parsons, and its Chief Executive Officer Jodi Schmidt, collaborative members hope the idea is unique enough to earn funding through the new Health Care Innovation program administered by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. They have an $11.4 million grant request pending before the agency that would allow them to develop and implement the plan (Sherry, 6/4). State Roundup: Embattled Planned Parenthood Runs School Clinic In Calif. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
First Edition: August 2, 2012 This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Today’s headlines include stories detailing the latest news on various issues involved in the health law’s implementation, as well as reports about Medicare and Medicaid. Kaiser Health News: Group Health Teams With Hospital System In Pacific NorthwestReporting for Kaiser Health News, Harris Meyer writes: “In an unusual partnership, a nonprofit health plan that employs its own doctors is joining with a major Catholic hospital system in the Pacific Northwest to provide more efficient health care services to members of all health plans in the Spokane, Wash., area” (Meyer, 8/1). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: Mitt Romney On Health Care Kaiser Health News reporters Matthew Fleming and David Schultz assembled this resource to provide details on Mitt Romney’s health policy record and positions (Fleming and Schultz, 8/1). Read the resource page.Kaiser Health News: Analysis: App-Happy Health Care Full Of Optimism, MoneyIn this Kaiser Health News analysis, Michael L. Millenson writes: “There is a corner of the health care industry where rancor is rare, the chance to banish illness beckons just a few mouse clicks away and talk revolves around venture deals, not voluminous budget deficits. Welcome to the realm of Internet-enabled health apps” (Millenson, 8/1). Read the analysis.Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Doctors Will Have to Figure Out Who Gets ‘No-Cost’ Birth ControlNow on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Colorado Public Radio’s Eric Whitney, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports on the birth control coverage mandate: “The new provision of the federal health law that waives cost sharing for women’s preventive health services may be a mandate on insurance companies, but it’s providers who are complaining about its burden” (Whitney, 8/2).Also on the blog, Julie Appleby reports on a new plan to reduce health spending: “The proposals include state spending targets; competitive bidding for medical devices, laboratory tests and other Medicare services; and a dramatic move away from the traditional way doctors and hospitals are paid” (Appleby, 8/1).In addition, Sarah Barr offers details on Israel’s health system after GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s comments about it: “Mitt Romney caused quite a stir earlier this week when he applauded Israel for spending far less on health care than the United States but neglected to mention that the Israeli system depends on the kind of government regulation he has decried at home” (Barr, 8/1). Check out what else is on the blog.The Wall Street Journal: Small Firms See Pain In Health LawRestaurants and retailers face some of the toughest changes now that the Supreme Court has kept the overhaul in place. These industries historically are among the least likely to provide insurance to workers. Many franchisees of big chains hover around the threshold at which they will be required to start insuring workers or pay the penalty. With high turnover and a large percentage of part-time and seasonal workers, restaurant and retail operators must juggle several variables in figuring out whether they will cross the threshold (Radnofsky, 8/1).The Associated Press/New York Times: Medicare Wants More Time To Study Cost Of Security FixFive years after being told to look at taking Social Security numbers off Medicare cards, Medicare officials say they need six more months to figure out how much it will cost. At a tense House hearing on Wednesday, Medicare’s chief information officer, Tony Trenkle, said that he could not offer a timetable for making the change. Congressional auditors said that an earlier estimate of $800 million to $845 million was faulty, partly because of insufficient and inconsistent data (8/1).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Gov’t Report: No Clear Way For IRS To Block Medicaid Payments To Providers Who Cheat On TaxesThousands of Medicaid health care service providers still got paid by the government even though they owed hundreds of millions of dollars in federal taxes, congressional investigators say. A legal technicality is making it harder for the IRS to collect (8/2).The Washington Post: Five Facts About The Health Law’s Contraceptive MandateRemember that part of the health reform law, that requires insurance companies to provide contraceptives at no cost to subscribers? After surviving a heated debate earlier this year, the regulation went into effect. … Here are five things to know about it (Kliff, 8/1).The Wall Street Journals’s Venture Capital Dispatch: Hospitals Investigate Start-Up Technologies For Superbug DisinfectionThe Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has said 2012 will be the year that hospitals should start paying to treat infections contracted on their premises. Many investors have the issue pegged as a janitorial concern, and not necessarily the purview of high-tech gadgets. But others see an enormous unmet need, where several small companies are vying to unseat giants like Johnson & Johnson in a potentially lucrative field. Hospitals are now turning to esoteric technologies–including robots that use xenon ultraviolet light technology–to combat the germs (Hay, 8/1).The Wall Street Journal: Maine Seeks To Make Medicaid CutsMaine moved to strip about 30,000 low-income Medicaid patients from the state-run health program Wednesday, formally challenging federal officials on a key provision of the health law (Weaver, 8/1).The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: New Law Includes Coverage For Partial MastectomyNew York’s newest laws include one that will require health insurance to cover reconstructive surgery after partial mastectomies. Health insurers in New York must already cover the cost of reconstructive surgery after a full mastectomy (8/2).Politico: Court Blocks Arizona 20-Week Abortion Ban From Taking EffectThe 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction that will block an Arizona law banning abortion after 20 weeks from going into effect this week. Responding to an emergency appeal filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU after a federal district court judge upheld the law on Monday, the circuit court Wednesday temporarily blocked the law from being implemented on Aug. 2 while the court considers the case against it (Smith, 8/1).The Associated Press/USA Today: US Appeals Court Blocks Arizona’s 20-Week Abortion BanA three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its order two days after a trial judge ruled that the ban could take effect Thursday as scheduled (Davenport, 8/1).Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.