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All posts by Hadlee Simons

  • Icelandic hot spring bread is (probably) as tasty as it is crazy

    If you had a hot spring nearby, why wouldn't you use its heat as a makeshift oven? That's what one YouTuber found out when she visited Iceland (h/t Digg). It turns out that Rúgbrauð is an Icelandic specialty, being rye bread made by burying it near a hot spring. The spring's heat takes care of the rest, making for a truly badass way to bake your bread. The bread is encased in a pot and plastic before baking, of course. Still, a little sand in your mouth beats tasting that other Icelandic specialty, Hákarl. Check out the video below.

  • Twitter to cut 8% of workforce – report

    Twitter may be considered an icon of today's internet era, but its financial status has never been shining by most accounts. Now, Bloomberg reports that the company plans to lay off 300 staff, representing a not-insignificant 8% of their workforce. The publication, citing "people familiar with the matter", said that the layoffs might be announced this week before Twitter's third-quarter earnings meeting on Thursday. It added that the number of laid off employees could still change. Twitter hasn't been a money maker by any stretch, having sought a sale instead So who would be affected by these job cuts? TechCrunch reports that sales teams are...

  • Eaze: weed-delivery startup gets $13m in funding

    Who says you have to visit a dispensary to get the Devil's Lettuce? Certainly not the people behind Eaze, which promises to get the Whacky Tobacky to your door in no time flat. Now, the company has announced US$13-million in series B funding, making Eaze "the fastest growing and most funded cannabis technology company in the world", the firm claims. "It has now raised more than $25M in total funding. Fresh VC led the round with participation from DCM Ventures, Tusk Ventures, Winklevoss Capital, Rose Capital and others," Eaze wrote in a blog post. The investment comes at a time when nine states have cannabis-related legislation on...

  • ExoMars: has NASA found ESA’s lost Mars lander?

    The ExoMars mission was in the spotlight last week after the orbiter and lander combination reached Mars. Although the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) was successfully captured in orbit around the planet, nothing was heard from the Schiaparelli lander, which separated from the TGO to actually touch down on the Red Planet. Now, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found new markings on Mars which may be the landing site and parachutes of the lander. "The new image shows a bright spot that may be Schiaparelli's parachute, and a larger dark spot interpreted as resulting from the impact of the lander itself following a much longer...

  • AT&T, Time Warner in $85bn deal – but will it happen?

    US network AT&T has agreed to acquire Time Warner in a deal worth around US$85.4-billion. The acquisition, which will take the form of stock and cash, values Time Warner shares at US$107.50 per share. So what are the two companies hoping for as a result? "The deal combines Time Warner's vast library of content and ability to create new premium content that connects with audiences around the world, with AT&T's extensive customer relationships, world’s largest pay TV subscriber base and leading scale in TV, mobile and broadband distribution," AT&T wrote in a statement. The acquisition would mean that the US network owns CNN, HBO and...

  • 10 WhatsApp tricks you should know about

    One of the world's most popular messaging platforms, WhatsApp has gone from strength to strength since its 2011 launch, eventually being swallowed by the giant known as Facebook. Whether you're a newbie or just not tech-savvy, here are a few cool tricks you should know about. How to italicise/strike through/bold words The platform introduced the ability to format text a while back, so how do you do this then? To italicise a word or sentence, you'll simply need to add an underscore (_) to either side of the word/sentence. Bolding is a similar affair, as you add an asterisk (*) on either side....

  • ExoMars: probe in Mars orbit, but what about lander?

    The joint ESA/Russian ExoMars programme took a huge step yesterday when the mission's Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) successfully conducted a manoeuvre to be captured by Mars. However, the mission's Schiaparelli lander, which separated from the orbiter a few days ago to land on Mars, hasn't made any communication yet. "TGO’s Mars orbit Insertion burn lasted from 13:05 to 15:24 GMT on 19 October, reducing the spacecraft’s speed and direction by more than 1.5 km/s," the ESA said on its website. "The ESOC teams are trying to confirm contact with the Entry, Descent & Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM), Schiaparelli, which entered the Martian atmosphere...

  • Here’s how to make GIFs on your smartphone

    There are quite a few mobile manufacturers offering the ability to make GIFs, but app stores are filled with capable tools for the job as well. And why not? The moving picture format are supported by practically every social media platform and messaging app, from WhatsApp to Twitter, to Facebook and Telegram. One of the more capable apps for making GIFs is GIF Maker -- GIF Editor for Android, allowing you to make GIFs from a locally stored clip or an online video (such as from YouTube). Making GIFs on your smartphone is pretty simple, especially with this handy guide If your friend happens to...

  • Telkom Mobile to zero-rate academic content

    Telkom has announced that it will zero-rate mobile data used to access academic content. The network said the move, set to last until the end of the academic year, was meant to help students who couldn't attend classes due to ongoing protests. "Many institutions have had to make alternative plans to continue the academic year. Many universities have made lecture and study material available online while campuses are not able to be accessed by students. This may result in further anxiety for students who may already be surviving on the smallest of stipends, and must now find additional funds to purchase...

  • Microsoft makes speech recognition more human

    Microsoft has announced a breakthrough for speech recognition, producing a system that recognises words in a conversation as fast as a human. The new speech recognition system, by Microsoft's Artificial Intelligence and Research team, makes either the same or fewer errors than transcriptionists, having a word error rate (WER) of 5.9%. "The 5.9% error rate is about equal to that of people who were asked to transcribe the same conversation, and it's the lowest ever recorded against the industry standard Switchboard speech recognition task," Microsoft explained on its blog. The US tech firm says that the breakthrough marks the first time that a...

  • ExoMars: ESA & Russia’s lander to touch down Wednesday

    Fresh from the Rosetta mission, the European Space Agency has a big day on 19 October, when it will be dropping its ExoMars lander on Mars in partnership with Russia. The ExoMars mission, launched in March 2016 and consisting of the Schiaparelli lander and the Trace Gas Orbiter, is already in the Martian neighbourhood. The two spacecraft have also separated on 16 October, ahead of Schiaparelli's touchdown. The Schiaparelli lander isn't meant to be active on the surface for long though, being a tech demonstrator with a battery life of up to eight days. However, it will endure a tough entry, as its heat shield will be...

  • Clown porn searches spike thanks to creepy clowns

    We've seen numerous reports of dodgy clowns in the news but, when combined with the proximity to Halloween, it seems like clown porn is enjoying an uptick in popularity. According to adult streaming website Pornhub, clown-related searches have grown by as much as 213% over the past few weeks. There have been over 100 000 clown-related searches in the past 30 days, Pornhub said, but added that clown porn isn't anything new. The combination of creepy clowns and Halloween makes for an uptick in clown porn searches "The most popular search is 'clown porn' followed by 'clown girl' and 'clown gangbang'," the Pornhub Insights...

  • Rwanda’s now using drones to deliver medical supplies

    Drones are all the rage these days, but they're being put to life-saving use in Rwanda, in the form of so-called Zip drones. Zipline teamed up with the Rwandan government for the project, which sees the drones able to drop blood, vaccines and other medical supplies to remote areas. "Zip is a small robot airplane designed for a high level of safety, using many of the same approaches as commercial airliners. It can carry vaccines, medicine, or blood. A fleet of Zips is able to provide for a population of millions. No roads, no problem," Zipline wrote on its website. The Zip drones...

  • Netflix, Amazon are outspending HBO on TV programming

    A new report finds that Netflix and Amazon are outspending several big traditional networks when it comes to TV programming. According to the World TV Production Report 2016 from IHS Markit, the two internet streaming firms spent a total of US$7.5-billion last year. Amazon spent US$2.67-billion last year, compared to Netflix and its impressive US$4.91-billion figure for 2015. Both streaming services outspent HBO (US$2-billion), while Netflix also shelled out more cash for TV programming than Turner Broadcasting (US$3.8-billion). Next in Netflix's sights is CBS, having spent US$5.7-billion last year, according to IHS Markit. However, the streaming service still trails Disney and NBC Universal, being pegged at US$11.8-billion and US$10.2-billion...

  • Juno: NASA’s Jupiter orbiter has an engine issue

    The Juno space probe arrived at Jupiter to much fanfare in July, having travelled almost three billion kilometres to reach the gas giant. Now, it appears that the orbiter is suffering from an engine-related problem, NASA confirmed in a statement. The issue was discovered after engineers decided to test systems ahead of a 19 October "period reduction manoeuvre" or PRM. This type of burn is meant to reduce the probe's orbital period around Jupiter from 53.4 days to just 14 days. Unfortunately, the issue means that the scheduled burn has been postponed for now. Juno has suffered an engine-related issue, but it's still gathering...