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ESA tests ExoMars orbiter’s cameras and instruments

ESA also activated the orbiter's neutron detector, FREND, at various times within the same time period. FREND can detect the composition of Mars' surface layers -- whether there's water or ice underground, for instance -- depending on the speed of the neutrons upon reaching the orbiter. Finally, the probe used its imaging system to take photos of the red planet during its first close flyby on November 22nd at an altitude of around 146 miles. You can see one of the images above. It's much closer than the photos TGO's bound to capture in the future, since its final orbit will be 249 miles above the surface. However, these 11 initial images are only meant to help ESA improve the onboard camera's software and image quality.

Håkan Svedhem, TGO Project Scientist said:

"We are extremely happy and proud to see that all the instruments are working so well in the Mars environment, and this first impression gives a fantastic preview of what's to come when we start collecting data for real at the end of next year

Not only is the spacecraft itself clearly performing well, but I am delighted to see the various teams working together so effectively in order to give us this impressive insight.

We have identified areas that can be fine-tuned well in advance of the main science mission, and we look forward to seeing what this amazing science orbiter will do in the future."

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/11/30/esa-exomars-tgo-lander-test/

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London Mayor commits to greener bus fleet

London has a longer history with hydrogen-powered buses than you might think. The first trials of such vehicles started back in 2003, and they've been in regular service on the central London RV1 route since 2010. In recent years, greener, hybrid Routemasters have been introduced -- not without some questions around how efficient they really are -- as well as upwards of 50 all-electric buses.

In the longer-term, Khan wants all buses to meet London's Ultra Low Emission Zone standard in 2020. By this time, it's hoped that 300 zero-emissions buses will be added to the London fleet, on top of the 79 currently in service.

The capital's black cabs are also on the hook to go greener, and from January 2018, new taxi licences will only be issued for "zero emission capable" taxis. There is also talk of introducing a new surcharge on top of the Congestion Charge for any black cab that doesn't meet this standard but wants to operate within the Ultra Low Emission Zone, which may also be expanded significantly by that time.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/11/30/greener-london-buses/

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YouTube adds 4K support for livestreams

After countless Black Friday 4K TV deals, it seems YouTube is looking to christen a lot of shiny new 4K displays. From today YouTube users will be able to stream standard and 360-degree video content in 4K. This could have huge significance for YouTube's position in the live stream space. While popular, the video behemoth's main streaming competitor, Twitch, currently lacks the bandwidth to support 4K streaming.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/11/30/youtube-4k-livestream-support/

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‘League of Legends’ is about to change and it’s all your fault

Players have been clamoring for this feature for a while, but Riot was initially reluctant to introduce a dedicated League of Legends practice space, Street says.

"We had always resisted that, saying League is a team game and we really want, if players only have a couple hours to play, we'd rather they were playing League of Legends and not practicing League of Legends," he explains.

But players responded with a strong argument for practice mode: Riot kept saying that League of Legends was a sport, and sports have training facilities. If this were soccer, players could hit the pitch and practice dribbling; if it were basketball, they could shoot free throws at a local court until their arms were numb. If Riot ever wanted League of Legends to be taken seriously as a sport, it needed a practice space.

Street and his team eventually agreed with this logic, and on December 7th practice mode will be here to stay.

Riot learned a lot about listening to players in 2016. As the eSports industry has boomed, plenty of League of Legends professionals have become massively popular, and a handful of coaches and players have publicly expressed concern over the way Riot handles updates and splits revenue for major tournaments. For example, Riot rolled out a major patch just before the regional playoffs of this year's World Championships, drastically altering the way players had to approach the early game. Plenty of pros were upset that months of practice were now partly moot.

Street is the person in charge of changes like this one.

"And we knew that was going to cause some pain for the pros," Street says. "On the other hand, we knew that people not watching their games would also cause them a lot of pain." He says that games were simply too boring until 15 or 20 minutes in, meaning fewer viewers were tuning in to the early game. Ideally, Riot would have rolled out the update months ahead of time, Street says.

"But the finals were really good. Even the final Worlds game was really tight, so we feel like it was the right change to make," he explains. "We'd do it again -- we'd make that same decision again. Hopefully in 2017 we can detect any big, systemic changes that need to occur and make them earlier."

Riot has also learned how to better deal with real-life money issues on the professional scene. Studio co-founder Mark "Tryndamere" Merrill answered one accusation of unfair revenue sharing in August with a Reddit post that suggested the owner of TSM, one of the top North American teams, was withholding millions of dollars from his players. It didn't paint Riot in the best light, and Merrill edited the post shortly after publication.

One month later, Riot outlined new opportunities for revenue sharing among eSports teams, aimed at making the game more profitable for professional League of Legends coaches, players and owners. This represents a deeper philosophical shift for Riot. Street says that the eSports and development teams used to keep each other at arm's length, like the separation of church and state.

"More recently, we've realized that's silly and we're just hurting ourselves," Street says. "So now we coordinate much more tightly with those guys in eSports. We realized that the pros could be enormous advocates for the game, and if they're not advocating for it, if they have concerns, that's stuff we want to hear and act on."

Now Riot runs some potential new features by eSports pros. Street's team is floating around the idea of an updated ban system that would allow players to disable a total of 10 champions at the beginning of a game, rather than the current six. The development team has asked professional players and coaches for their feedback on this particular potential feature.

Even with a renewed focus on professional League of Legends, Street hasn't forgotten about everyday players. He says Riot's goal is to build a game that's fun and balanced for everyone, from casuals to professionals. With 103 million people logging on every month all across the globe, that's a tall order.

"It is a gigantic challenge," Street says. "We're kind of stupid, because we want to create a balanced environment for all of our players. It would be really easy to say, 'Look, we designed for the pro players, and the rest of the community is just going to have to keep up ...' That isn't our approach. Instead we're like, no, we want to create a good environment for all players. And to make it even harder on ourselves, we want to use the same ruleset for all players."

The 2017 patch includes a handful of major updates, including massive changes to the jungle, assassin buffs, new highlight and sharing functions, and the ability to watch post-game replays. Some of these changes are driven by professional demands, and some of them are an attempt to make the game more engaging for everyday players -- all 103 million of them. The ability to share gameplay clips, for example, has been a long time coming, Street says.

"It's a feature that literally we have been working on -- not steadily working on -- but was on our list for years," he says. "It was this long-standing player promise that we just kept punting down the road. And we felt like this was finally a time just to do it and ship it, and try to give something to players that they've been asking for for years."

Patch 6.24 isn't the end of League of Legends, of course. There are still plenty of changes to implement and new champions to introduce (the current champion total is 134, with no plans to slow down new releases anytime soon).

Riot remains interested in implementing oft-requested features -- like native voice chat, Street says.

"For Riot to take on voice and build it into League of Legends, we have to offer something that's better than Discord, better than Skype, better than Curse, better than whatever players are already using ... We definitely agree that if we're saying this is a team game, if we're saying coordination is important, then yeah, we do need to eventually provide an in-game voice system. It will happen at some point -- I don't know if it'll be this year or next year, or down the road."

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/11/30/league-of-legends-2017-season-update-greg-street-interview/

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NASA’s Antarctica balloons will study cosmic rays and neutrinos

The next two experiments are equally ambitious. The University of Hawaii's ANITA (Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna) will learn more about the reactions inside the cores of stars by studying the neutrinos they release. The University of Arizona's STO-II (Stratospheric Terahertz Observatory), meanwhile, will learn about the life cycle of the matter between stars.

Regardless of the mission, the flights will largely be the same. The balloons will circumnavigate the South Pole at an altitude 127,000 feet for nearly their entire journey, and should fly for a long time -- a typical balloon stays aloft for 20 days, NASA says. If you're wondering about their progress, you can track their locations yourself. You likely won't hear about the findings from these studies until much later, but the sheer volume of data should be worth the wait.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/11/30/nasa-launches-antarctica-balloons/

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12 gifts for tireless tinkerers

They say the best gifts are the ones you make yourself. But that doesn't necessarily mean you, the gifter, needs to be doing the assembly. Sometimes the giftee will enjoy building their own present. Over the last several years the maker movement has really taken off. And whether you're shopping for an accomplished builder or someone just looking to get their toes wet, we've got a few suggestions.

If there's someone in your life that's super into making everything themselves (and you love them enough to drop $1,000 on a gift for them) consider a 3D printer like the Replicator Mini+ from MakerBot. If a grand is a little extreme for you, consider a simple driver set, like 64-piece one from iFixIt. They'll be able to open up and (hopefully) put anything back together with it. If the creator in your life is more into coding than building, consider a tool like RPG Maker, or for the wee one in your life Ozobot's Evo is an excellent place to start teaching programming skills.

For our full list of recommendations in all categories, don't forget to stop by our main Holiday Gift Guide hub.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/11/30/12-gifts-for-tireless-tinkerers/

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Facebook shuts off Prisma’s live video support

We've asked Facebook for a comment on its decision and will let you know if there's something to add. However, the shutoff comes right as Facebook is getting its own creative livestreaming technology off the ground. Its recently acquired app MSQRD has no problem streaming face-swapped video on Facebook Live, and the company recently previewed Prisma-like live art filters. At first blush, it looks like Facebook may be repeating what it did to Snapchat, Telegram and Vine -- deny access to rivals so that Facebook's equivalent services don't face competition.

Prisma isn't about to fight to the death to reclaim the feature. "It's up to Facebook to decide which apps or devices can broadcast to Facebook. It's their policy and we respect it," Prisma's CEO tells us. The company also informs TC that live video (from other services, of course) is still part of its future. It's right about the policy -- Facebook is a private company, not the internet at large, and doesn't have an obligation to host competitors. However, the decision is a blunt reminder that internet giants (not just Facebook) can and will protect their turf, and that you base key features around their services at your own risk.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/11/30/facebook-shuts-off-prisma-live-video-access/

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Make your own Moments with Twitter’s mobile apps

To get started, all you have to do is hit the down arrow in the top right of any tweet. From the menu options, select "Add to Moment" to begin your collection of posts. After you do so, you'll be able to add your own tweets, favorites or search for material from other users to fill out the story. As far as customization goes, you can re-order tweets, crop images and select background colors for text-only posts. Set a cover and enter a title and description and you're all set.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/11/30/twitter-moments-mobile-apps-all-users/

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A first look at Nike’s self-lacing HyperAdapt sneakers

Since self-lacing sneakers are still a rarity, it's hard not to be instantly impressed. At first I was touching the shoes gently, trying not to break anything as I slid my feet into the shoes, but I was soon told I didn't have to treat them any different than my traditional kicks. Tiffany Beers, senior innovator and engineer at Nike, says HyperAdapt 1.0 was designed to be a full-on performance shoe and not simply a collector's item. What makes everything tick here is a system dubbed E.A.R.L, short for Electro Adaptive Reactive Lacing, which activates itself as soon as your heel hits the insole.

If you need to adjust the laces, there are two buttons on the shoe's upper, one for tightness and the other for looseness. I found the auto levels to be comfortable every time I put the HyperAdapts on, but that may vary depending on the shape of your foot. Either way, Nike says E.A.R.L is smart enough to know the amount of tightness it should provide when you lace up for the first time. The E.A.R.L mechanism makes a loud sound when triggered, but it's oddly satisfying to hear. It all feels reminiscent of that scene in BTTF Part II when Marty McFly says "power laces, all right."

As you would hope, the HyperAdapts are comfortable to wear and true to size. So, if like me you wear a 10.5, there's no need to go up or down from your normal size. They're shaped similar to other performance shoes, meaning they won't feel much different than what you're used to walking or running in already. The power laces are what make it a low-top on steroids, though.

You'll also notice that blue block on the bottom of the HyperAdapt. That's used to indicate how much power you have on your shoe; a blue light means you're charged up, yellow is halfway and red signals that you're running low. To charge it, you use a white magnetic puck that's included in the box. Nike says the sneaker can last up to two weeks on a full battery, though that could be longer if you don't activate the power laces too often. Beers, for example, claims she's worn them for eight to 10 weeks with a single charge. There are LEDs on the back too, which light up everytime E.A.R.L is doing its job.

Unfortunately, getting the HyperAdapt 1.0 isn't as easy as walking into a Nike store and purchasing a pair, at least not right now. While they're definitely not as rare as the 2016 Mag (89 pairs), the sportswear giant is only giving a "small group" of Nike+ app users the chance to buy them. That said, Nike says a wider release is expected later in December, along with a new silver color. There's also a white one available, but that's limited to athletes and celebrities who are part of the Nike family.

We'll have more on the HyperAdapt 1.0 in the coming weeks. For now, you need to ask yourself whether you're willing to pay $720 to own a piece of the future of footwear.

A video posted by Edgar Alvarez (@edgaralvarezb) on Nov 30, 2016 at 7:55am PST

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/11/30/nike-hyperadapt-first-look/

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The Moto Z series could get Google’s world-sensing Tango tech

"Augmented reality on a phone is a technology that's likely to stick," de Lencquesaing added later. "Of course we'll follow, or lead, the market in this area."

In case you're new to Tango, Google's work combines multiple cameras — mostly for measuring depth and motion — with additional sensors to give a phone a very fine understanding of where it is and what's in front of it. The issue so far is that Tango, or the way it's implemented in Lenovo's enormous phablet, is far from perfect. Depth-sensing is sketchy at best, the interfaces for Tango apps can be cumbersome and in general, there's still plenty of work to be done. The upside, however, is the staggering potential that becomes evident when Tango experiences work the way they're supposed to. Tango, for lack of a better word, can feel like magic.

While it's unclear if we'll ever actually see a Tango mod magnetically lashed to a Moto Z, it's no surprise it's under consideration. After all, the idea of squeezing the requisite technology into a smartphone add-on is a damned good one. Consider this: the Phab 2 Pro wound up being enormous in part because of all the Tango technology Lenovo had to fit into a relatively sleek body, and that size made the phone cumbersome to use as a daily driver.

By off-loading those extra cameras and adding an external battery, Motorola could maintain its flagship devices' trim physiques and provide the (undeniably neat) augmented reality experiences Tango is known for. And let's not forget that the Moto Z series runs cleaner, more functional versions of Android than the Phab 2 Pro does -- that means you'd get a better all-around phone with the option of dipping in to augmented reality when the mood strikes. Google has said in the past that other Tango devices are coming, and some of them are sure to pack flagship levels of power. Until device makers figure out how build Tango into phones seamlessly, though, the optional approach Motorola could deliver just seems brilliant.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/11/30/moto-z-project-tango-mod/

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