Must Read Bits & Bytes

Ford R&D Palo Alto puts driverless cars in pole position

Ford R&D Palo Alto puts driverless cars in pole position

Ford CEO Mark Fields may have been critical of the auto industry’s attempts to over-hype driverless cars, but that doesn’t mean the company isn’t working on its own model at its new Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, California. The car firm has snagged a former Apple engineer, Dragos Maciuca, to lead its innovation efforts, heading projects like autonomous and remotely-piloted vehicles, integrating the dashboard with the smart home - including hooking up with the Google-owned Nest thermostat - and leveraging GPU acceleration for things like swifter speech recognition.

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Here come the drug drones

Here come the drug drones

This week a quadcopter drone landed - rather badly - in a Mexican supermarket parking lot carrying more than its average payload. Instead of carrying just a camera and its propellers, this particular drone was carrying meth. A whopping 6-pounds of methamphetamine, in fact, with intent to distribute. Tijuana police are investigating the drone's origin and destination, but currently have no significant (public, anyway) leads on how this situation came to be. This may, in fact, be the point at which drones begin breaking bad.

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Here’s how you get Microsoft HoloLens

Here’s how you get Microsoft HoloLens

You can't just go out and buy Microsoft Hololens to experience Windows Holographic for Windows 10. Not yet, at least. There's no solid launch window - nothing extremely specific, that is - as of yet, but we do have a few clues jump off from. One is word from JPL Labs at NASA at the California Institute of Technology - they suggest they'll be getting HoloLens units in July of 2015. Does this mean we'll be seeing developer units inside this year? Very possibly. What's not so likely is the idea that we'll get consumer units in 2015.

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Windows Holographic: Windows 10’s augmented reality

Windows Holographic: Windows 10’s augmented reality

Forget what you know about Virtual Reality and the way Windows is generally used to make it happen. This week Microsoft have revealed Windows Holographic, a system which will place Windows all around your environment, over everything. "A few years ago we started asking ourselves - could we make things simple so technology would just disappear?" said Microsoft's Alex Kipman, "Until now we've immersed ourselves in the world of technology, but what if we could take technology and bring it into our world?"

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Windows 10 Xbox One desktop app demoed with Steam

Windows 10 Xbox One desktop app demoed with Steam

Phil Spencer, Microsoft's head of Xbox and gaming chief stepped onstage today to speak about the Windows 10 Xbox app. This app includes several columns, each with information about your Xbox One experience. You'll see Recently Played games, your Activity Feed, and Friends included. On the far right of the screen, you'll find your user icon and connections to Messages, Notifications, "My Games", Achievements, Game DVR, Editorial content, and the Xbox store. Below that, you'll find basic Settings and a Connection option.

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Windows 10 update free (for the first year)

Windows 10 update free (for the first year)

After one year of the Windows 10 platform being released to the general market, you'll have to start paying for it - if you've not already upgraded, that is to say. Just so long as you've got Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 now, or at the time at which you'd like to upgrade your machine to Windows 10, you'll be able to do so for free. It'll be a one-time update and you'll never have to pay for it beyond that.

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What to expect from tomorrow’s Windows 10 event

What to expect from tomorrow’s Windows 10 event

In a few short months, we’ve seen Microsoft go in a new direction with Windows. Possibly in an attempt to distance themselves from the aspirational (but ultimately confusing and misguided) Windows 8, we’re now getting Windows 10. Though Microsoft probably isn’t quite ready to bring Windows 10 to the consumer space, tomorrow will likely give us a better idea of what they’ve been working on since last time we heard from them. We won’t expect anything huge, but there’s still reason to be excited.

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Was 2014 really the hottest year on record?

Was 2014 really the hottest year on record?

Is climate change real, has the Earth got warmer, and was 2014 truly the hottest year on record? NASA waded into the heated argument over heat with unequivocal claims that we can't ignore rising temperatures, citing not only its own numbers but those of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and concluding the environment is getting hammered by greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. However, while the claims may be bold, other researchers are less convinced that the results are so clean-cut, arguing that the sheer complexity of taking an average of the world's temperature leaves certainties far from reach.

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Project Ara has a lot to prove

Project Ara has a lot to prove

The geek within me loves Project Ara. Interchangeable modules that snick into a brushed aluminum frame and turn your smartphone into a pseudo-DSLR or a Tricorder: what's not to like? Google's ATAP team demonstrated the latest prototype - and detailed its flaws and future improvements - at Ara's second developer event yesterday, inviting module-minded partners on stage to discuss exactly what the flexible phone could become with a little imagination. Ambitious, certainly, but while many (myself included) left the event impressed by Regina Dugan and her intriguing handset, that enthusiasm was tempered with concern over whether the real-world would be so welcoming.

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Traveling? Here are 5 ways to stay connected (anywhere!)

Traveling? Here are 5 ways to stay connected (anywhere!)

When you’re traveling, connectivity can be important. When you least expect it, a data connection becomes crucial, often leaving you teetering on what happens next on your trip. Everything from directions to planning — even work — can depend on access to the Internet. But how will you know if you can get Internet? Where is it offered? Rather than fly blind when you’re in a strange locale, we’ve got some handy tips for making sure you’re connected every time you leave home, regardless of where you go.

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