Weekly Digest - 2021.28


Next step in Space Tourism

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned about the race between SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic. Last time, Bezos' Blue Origin supposed to be the first civilian company to sent the civilian into space, but last Sunday, Richard Branson stole the show. His Virgin Galactic successfully sent him, and five other crewmates to the edge of the Space and back. Although, the crew experienced the Space for brief moment, Branson called it "an experience of a lifetime".

Branson plans to open the Space for masses next year. The ticket costs around $250k, and Virgin Galactic already sold 600 of them. If you don't have such money, you can try to win 2 tickets with Omaze.

The remaining competitors still plan to launch later this year. Blue Origin on July 20th, and SpaceX, with their Inspiration4 Mission, on September 15th.

Windows in the cloud

Microsoft announced the Windows 365 service, which puts Windows in the cloud. Windows 365 will let users access Windows 10 or Windows 11 from a web browser.

There will be two editions of Windows 365: Business and Enterprise. Both are powered by virtual machines in 12 configurations. Business will be able to choose from a single CPU, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage, up to eight CPUs, 32GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage.

The service will be available on August 2nd. Unfortunately, the pricing is still unknown.

Steam Deck

Valve announced SteamDeck - a handheld gaming console.  

It will be powered by AMD's quad-core Zen 2 CPU with eight threads and eight compute units. It will have 16GB of RAM and three storage options: 64GB eMMC, 256GB NVMe SSD, and 512GB of high-speed NVME SSD. The storage is also expendable thanks to the high-speed microSD card slot.

On the front there is a 7-inch 1280 x 800 touchscreen for 720p gameplay.

In term of controls, there are two thumbsticks, two small trackpads, ABXY buttons, and a D-pad. The device also has a gyroscope for motion controls.

According to Valve, the device should allow to 7-8 hours of gameplay on a single charge.

Device will be available in December, starting at $399.


Image credits: Virgin Glactic

Weekly Digest - 2021.26


Another Space Race?

The SpaceX has won the races for launch of the first reusable rocket and first manned mission on privately built rocket. But apparently the space race continues. SpaceX,  Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic try to fly a civilian into space.

At the moment, it looks like Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin has the high ground. They plan to launch on the July 20th. Bezos will be joined by his brother, as well as Wally Funk - one of the “Mercury 13” veterans. There is one other passenger but we still don't know who that is.

While the Blue Origin is preparing for launch, Richard Branson apparently will try to fly into space before the Bezos. On July 11th, he will be on board of the fourth crew test flight of the Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spaceplane.

If they succeed they will be first, so it's either super clever or crazy. But, who knows maybe you need to be a little bit crazy to achieve something.

SpaceX tries to keep away from this scramble, and stick to their original plan. The "Inspiration4" mission will launch  4 civilians to orbit on September 15th.

Although SpaceX might be last in this race, their mission will provide the best Space experience. The mission will last for a couple of days and will be in low Earth's orbit. Where Blue Origin and Virgin's mission are only to the edge of the space, to give passengers a few minutes of weightlessness.


Image credits: Marek Piwnicki

Weekly Digest - 2021.16


Apple Spring Event

Apple held an online Spring Event and announced a couple of new products.

Purple iPhone 12

Apple added a new purple color option to the iPhone 12 lineup. There is nothing special about the phones themselves, they are just purple.

Apple TV 4K

The Apple TV 4k has been refreshed with the A12 Bionic chip. It should be more than enough to play 4K movies or play simple games. The new chip is a nice upgrade, but the biggest change was a new Siri remote. Apple has ditched the previous design with the trackpad. Now, we have good old  click wheel and the power button for a TV. It is good to see that Apple is abandoning bad designs and go back to things that people loved.

AirTags

Afters years of rumors, Apple finally  showed the AirTags. The AirTag is a tracking tile. You put it on something and you can locate it using the Find My app. It is not a GPS tracker, and it cannot be used for live tracking people or objects, but it allows to locate a lost items.

The AirTag uses BLE to communicate with surrounding iPhones to sent tag's approximated location to the tag's owner. If someone finds an AirTag, they can contact the owner using Find My app or by using the NFC. AirTags will also alert other people if the tag seems to follow them.

I almost forgot, but AirTag has a replaceable battery, that should last for a year.

The biggest surprise is a price. Everyone expected it to be around $50, but Apple is selling them for $29 for 1-pack or $99 for a 4-pack.

iMacs

The iMac lineup has been finally refreshed. It not only got the new M1 chip, but also has been redesigned. Now, iMac is much thiner and comes in different colors. I have mixed feelings about the front of the computer, but Apple thinks this is what people want. Another big change affected the ports. iMac has only 2 or 4 (depending on the configuration) USB-C ports. The ethernet port has been moved to the power brick. Speaking of the power brick, it connects to the iMac with braided MagSafe cable. Yup, you read it right the MagSafe is back! Or rather it has been introduced to the desktop computers.

There is no iMac Pro, but it probably will be introduced together with MacBook Pro later this year.

iPad Pro

The new iPad Pro is a beast: Apple put the fricking M1 chip from Macs inside the tablet. But that's not all. The 12.9-inch version has a mini-LED display. All versions up to 2TB of storage, have the Thunderbolt connector. The cellular model supports 5G. Of course the cameras have been updated. And usually I don't really care about cameras, but the new iPad has a feature called Center Stage that can automatically follow a person or adjust itself to present all talking people during a video call.

The pricing starts from $799 for 11-inch model, and $1099 for 12.9-inch model.

SpaceX Crew-2 mission

Space X has launched second operational Crew Dragon with 4 astronauts on board. This was the 3rd SpaceX crew mission that transported people to the International Space Station. This also is the first crew mission with parts used in previous missions. The Dragon capsule was used in Crew Demo mission, and rocket booster was used in Crew-1 mission.

The astronauts will stay on ISS for about a month a go back to Earth. The next mission is the Inspiration4 and is planned for September. And this will be the first mission with all-civilian crew.


Image credits: Apple

Weekly Digest - 2021.07


Perseverance landed

NASA's probe Perseverance survived the Mars atmosphere and successfully landed on the surface. The landing sequence was an engineering masterpiece. At first, the probe free-fallen through the Mars atmosphere. Then, deployed parachutes to decelerate. When the spacecraft was close to the surface, it fired onboard thrusters to slow itself down and hovered above the ground. Then the Perseverance was lowered down on cables to the surface.

Now, when the rover is on Mars, it can start its primary mission:

  • studying Mars' Habitability,
  • seeking Signs of Past Microbial Life,
  • collecting and Caching Samples,
  • preparing for Future Human Missions.

Also, during this mission, NASA will test a drone called Mars Helicopter. If it works, it will be the first time we will be flying (not just falling) on Mars.

New iPhones rumors

It's this time of year when we start getting rumors about upcoming tech. This time it's about iPhones. Let's start with iPhone 13:

  • Always-On Display With 120Hz ProMotion,
  • Touch ID integrated into a screen,
  • Stronger MagSafe,
  • Support for astrophotography,
  • Grippier phone's back.

There are also rumors that foldable iPhone will have 7-inch display and will be released in 2023.


Image credits: NASA

Weekly Digest - 2021.06


CD Project Red hacked

CD Project Red has fallen victim to a ransomware attack. Hackers got access to the company's internal network and stolen some data. In the end, they encrypted everything. The hackers are threatening to release or sell the data if their demands are not met. If that happened, it would be a big blow to CDP Red. The stolen data contains source codes of the games (including the unreleased Witcher game), alongside internal legal, HR, and financial documents.CDP Red has confirmed the attack and stated that they will not negotiate or give in to the hacker's demands. Hearing that, Hackers haven't waited long and sold the stolen data on the Dark Web.

Earth's "invasion" of Mars begun

The two probes successfully reached Mars's orbit within 24 hours. The first one - Hope - is from the United Arab Emirates. The second one - Tianwen-1 - is from China. Both countries reached Red Planet for the first time. Now we are waiting for the Perseverance probe, which should reach its destination later this month.

Disney+ gains subscribers

A couple of weeks ago I reported that Netflix has 200M subscribers. I also mentioned fast-growing competitors like Disney+. This week Disney has confirmed my words, as Disney+ gained 95M subscribers in 14 months. This growth is unprecedented, even Disney thought they would achieve the 90M mark by 2024. If Disney keeps this momentum, it might become the most popular streaming service even this year.