Effective Diverging Intersection Traffic Design

Posted by Kirhat | Tuesday, June 28, 2016 | | 0 comments »

Diverging Intersection Traffic
For those who has ever made a left turn in a busy intersection and understands that it can be a stressful maneuver, there's a relief coming your way. There should now be no waiting time for a break in the stream of cars coming the opposite direction, holding up a line of traffic, and even getting into a possible collision if other drivers aren't following the rules of the road.

According to Dana Varinsky of Tech Insider, there is an intersection design that could save drivers all that trouble.

The "diverging diamond interchange" creates designated ramps that gradually direct cars to veer left or right, without ever requiring them to cross in front of ongoing traffic.

Though it might look complicated, it is actually a simple concept. Say, for example, that a commuter driving from west to east. As they come to the intersection, a red light may stop them as they let cars going the other way pass. (This is the only time streams of traffic cross each other.) If they want to turn right, a lane peels off and merges with the road carrying southbound cars. If they want to turn left, they just follow the ramp that veers to the north.

DivergingDiamond
Since 2009, this diamond design has been implemented in 62 intersections across 22 US states, according to Wired. And it appears to be working.

In a recent study comparing crash data from before and after a series of intersections were converted to the new design, researchers found that overall crashes were reduced by 33 percent, while crashes that result in injury were reduced by 41 percent.

The diverging diamond was popularized in the US by Gilbert Chlewicki, the founder of Advanced Transportation Solutions, a transportation planning and design firm. Chlewicki wrote a term paper about the concept as a graduate student in 2000, and has devoted much of his life's work to promoting the design ever since. He has published several papers about it and has presented at conferences throughout the United States and Canada.

The first diamond interchange in the US was built in Springfield, Missouri in 2009 (France has had a few since the 1970s) and Chlewicki attended the ribbon cutting. In a survey conducted there later, 95 percent of drivers surveyed said there has been less traffic congestion since the new intersection opened, and 97 percent said they felt safer.

According to a map on Chlewicki’s official website for the design, many more such intersections are currently being planned and constructed, mostly in Midwestern states. The rest of the country's commuters will have to continue suffering through regular left turns until the trend catches on elsewhere.


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Is Apple Poised to Upgrade Its Thunderbolt Display?

Posted by Kirhat | Monday, June 27, 2016 | | 0 comments »

Thunderbolt Display
What everyone knows is that Apple's Thunderbolt Display is almost five years old now, having been announced in July 2011 but not shipping until two months later. Apple display updates have always been very hard to predict due to their erratic update cycle, and while Apple's 2013 Mac Pro launch seemed like an opportune time for Apple to launch an upgraded standalone display, there were no such move recently.

There are no concrete display rumors that have hinted at Apple's plans for the Thunderbolt Display, but there are a couple of different upgrade paths that Apple could go with should it choose to introduce a new display product.

Apple's displays generally share the same screen as its line of iMacs, so it's possible Apple is working towards introducing a 27-inch Retina Thunderbolt display that offers four times as many pixels as the current Apple Thunderbolt Display, coming in at the same 5120 x 2880 pixels seen on the 27-inch Retina 5K iMac. A display at this size would be able to offer the same amount of screen real estate as the current display but with a much sharper appearance, using the same technology as in the Retina MacBook Pro.

Unfortunately, there are technology constraints that would prevent a 5K Retina Thunderbolt display from being an entirely feasible option until 2017 when Intel releases its Cannonlake processors.

An alternative goal would be "4K" resolution of either 4096 or 3840 x 2160 pixels. Apple has touted its 2013 Mac Pro as being able to drive three such displays simultaneously, leading to speculation that the company is planning to launch its own 4K display at some point. A 4K 27-inch display would, however, require Apple to source displays that are separate from its iMac displays, a move the company may not want to make in favor of holding out for 5K support.

Over the years, 4K and 5K displays have become increasingly more affordable as the technology has become more widely adopted by consumers, so there is less of a price barrier preventing Apple from introducing a 4K or 5K Thunderbolt display. Though prices have steadily fallen since 2013 when the first 4K Macs were growing in popularity, Apple has still opted to hold off on offering a refreshed display.

A July 2014 rumor suggested that Apple had a 4K desktop in the works, which was said to be a new iMac, a new 4K display, or both. The 4K desktop was said to be slated for a late fall release to highlight OS X Yosemite, but did not materialize.

Another rumor suggested Apple could release a new 5K ultra-high definition 27-inch monitor later in 2014, with a resolution of 5120 x 2880, but that also did not happen.

Ahead of the 2016 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2016, Thunderbolt Displays are out of stock at some Apple retail locations, sparking speculation that a refresh is in the works. It is, however, unclear as of yet why Thunderbolt Display stock is fluctuating in some places, and there have not yet been any rumors to confirm that an update is planned for WWDC.

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Siri is Now More Responsive and Expansive

Posted by Kirhat | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | | 0 comments »

Siri at MacOS
Apple's virtual assistant Siri is getting the most number of updates at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). This could be the most opportune time for an overhaul since Siri was launched almost four years ago.

The most popular and advertised headline is that Apple will open Siri up to third-party developers. The Siri software development kit brings access to applications and third-party content to Siri. For example, iOS users can send a WeChat message to their friends, by asking Siri to send a specific message in the app, and Siri will show them their message before it sends. Furthermore, iOS users can ask Siri to search for photos in Shutterfly and Pinterest, set workouts through RunKeeper and Runtastic, or book car rides with Lyft, Uber, and Didi.

What everyone is not aware of is that the newly open Siri won't be limited to iOS. The nee version will also work with CarPlay and on Mac OS.

In addition to opening up Siri to developers, Apple will also port Siri’s brains to the keyboard. For example, through the use of "deep learning," iOS 10's keyboard will bring up relevant calendar information and look through the user's messages to pre-fill calendar information. Through Siri, the keyboard will offer other suggestions, such as multilingual typing, current location, and recent addresses.

To allay fears that Apple would be storing all of the information garnered from this "deep learning," the company confirmed that, similar to Apple Pay, it will take place on the device, so user's info stays secure. "When it comes to performing analysis of your data, we're doing it all on your devices, keeping your personal data under your control," said Apple's Craig Federighi.

It may seem like Apple is playing catch-up with the enhanced Siri, especially when one considers the smarts of competitors like Google Now and Cortana, but these are big improvements.

The revamped Siri will be part of iOS 10, which will be available as a developer preview download on 13 June and widely available sometime during the fall.

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How EMV Ruined Apple Pay

Posted by Kirhat | Friday, June 24, 2016 | | 0 comments »

Apple Pay and EMV
Everyone who experienced transactions through the Apple Pay knew that the process was fairly simple and elegant. There are no network connection needed. No need to find an app, launch an app or log in.

Customers need only to hold their phone at the end of the transaction, place their fingers ever so briefly on the button for a split second, and a comforting "Done" icon says they are finished. Everything took only a few minutes to finish until a few days ago, when several major chains in the United Sates made their official EMV move.

EMV is a technical standard for smart payment cards and for payment terminals and automated teller machines that can accept them. EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) cards are smart cards (also called chip cards or IC cards) which store their data on integrated circuits rather than magnetic stripes, although many EMV cards also have stripes for backward compatibility.

Trader Joe's and Whole Foods were among the major retailers that switched on EMV, which instantly made the quick Apple Pay experience decidedly less so. Instead of the shopper being done when Apple Pay confirmed all that it needed to confirm (which is pretty much the purchase amount and that their fingerprint matches the one they are supposed to have), a series of new messages pop out on the POS screen.

The first message displays — again — the amount of the purchase and asks that the shopper confirm acceptance of that amount. The problem is that the shopper already saw that amount before paying with Apple Pay. Ah, but EMV rules require confirmation of the amount, not mere knowledge of it. One could argue that the fact that the shopper offered a payment device after seeing the amount was a pretty good indication of acceptance.

The second message insists on a signature. Note that this shopper has already provided a finger scan — which is a few billion orders of magnitude more secure than a signature — so it's a rather pointless request.

Why is this all happening? The answer lies deep inside the details of how retail payment transactions work. The problem here is that although POS systems know that an NFC transaction is contactless, those systems often do not know much or even anything beyond that. The POS has no idea if a biometric authentication was completed, so it needs to ask for the signature. The POS has no idea whether the shopper was shown an amount — and certainly not whether the shopper really thought about it — so it must show it again and demand a confirmation.

Unfortunately, those explanations are quite irrelevant. The only relevant detail here is that Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay and other secure NFC payment wallets are going to have their customer experiences seriously degraded because of EMV rules and visibility limits within today's payments systems.

It's entirely possible that future versions of NFC wallets may be able to do a better job at shouting at POS systems what they are and what they are doing, but that doesn't help shoppers (or retailers) today.

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Apple Should Innovate with iPhone Some More

Posted by Kirhat | Thursday, June 23, 2016 | | 0 comments »

iPhone Innovation
Everyone was ecstatic when Apple released the first iPhone way back in 2007. It was considered an innovative and disruptive product primary because it had no physical keyboard. Instead, the iPhone was built from the ground up to be driven by a finger. It featured a design that would be copied, ripped off, and emulated by all the players in the smartphone market.

However, according to Adrian Kingsley-Hughes of ZDNet, the iPhone is also a classic example of how a market leader can afford to take its time when it comes to releasing new features. He added that "the history of the iPhone is one of gradual improvements punctuated by short bursts of innovation and reinvention."

Most of the tech consumers nowadays cannot deny the fact that Apple's innovations have dramatically shaped the smartphone industry, giving the market touchscreen devices, multitouch displays, FaceTime, Siri, app stores, apps, retina displays, an expectation of regular updates, and fingerprint scanners that transformed the way everyone secure their devices.

The smartphone industry also seen some reinvention, specifically relating to the user interface, software, and display size. The march of progress has at times been glacially slow (remember how long it took for Apple to bring cut/copy/paste to the iPhone?), but it has been sustained.

But it's also impossible to deny that Apple has also peddled a lot of lame gimmicks over the years. It's taken its obsession with making products thinner and lighter to crazy extremes (to the detriment of other, more useful features such as increased battery life and durability). Plus different colors (specifically the iPhone 5c), and features such as 3D Touch and Live Photos are little more than consumer eye candy.

Apple has also played the yearly "performance improvements" card, flaunting the benefits of Moore's law about like it's something new. But "faster" is an old card, and one that stopped working for the PC industry well over a decade ago, and one that's of little interest to smartphone buyers.

While the iPhone was going through a period of robust growth, Apple could afford to keep the pace of innovation steady. It didn't need to come out with an "ultimate" iPhone; all it needed to do was stay one step ahead of the competition. And that's something that Apple has been very successful in doing (partly that's been down to the fact that the competition have been more interested in copying Apple than innovating).

But now Apple is facing a challenge that it's not previously faced with the iPhone, and that is that sales have plateaued. While this is by no means a problem that's unique to Apple, the Cupertino giant is in a unique - and particularly vulnerable - position because two-thirds of the company's revenue is generated by the iPhone.

Bottom line, this means that Apple needs to work at making the iPhone more compelling, and that means more innovation and more reinvention, because it is this that gets people queuing up to be the first to buy a new iPhone. Apple thrust smartphones into the mainstream by making people realize that they could be useful in a myriad of different and divergent ways. It achieved something with a portable gadget that hadn't happened since the wristwatch - it made the smartphone indispensable.

Ten years ago did anybody think that they could unlock their front door, turn on the lights, control their thermostat, order pizza, keep an eye on how many steps to take, plan their route to somewhere they have never been, and have a video conversation with a friend or loved one all using a handheld device?

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No More AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule from Apple

Posted by Kirhat | Wednesday, June 22, 2016 | | 0 comments »

AirPort Extreme
It appears that Apple is no longer selling the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule in U.S. retail stores, according to a new report. As first noted by MacRumors, shoppers at several Apple Stores have reported that the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule are out of stock, and at least one support representative has confirmed that Apple pulled all stock from U.S. Stores.

One person who visited an outlet in Beverly Hills was told that Apple has recalled units from every location. A support representative contacted by MacRumors echoed this, claiming that the Time Capsule has been pulled as well.

Apple has also reportedly removed Personal Pickup as an option for online orders. AppleInsider can confirm that the option has disappeared from cities as diverse as Austin, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and New York City.

Oddly, the products are still said to be available in many stores in Australia, Canada, and Europe, though Apple is sometimes slow to propagate changes outside the United States.

This discrepancy could lend credence to the idea that these stockouts are related compliance with a 2 June 2016 deadline set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This is the date at which routers approved under an older set of rules can't be sold unless they meet newer security regulations which have been phased in since 2014.

Apple could also be planning to refresh both devices at next month's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The products have sat unchanged since 2013, even as Wi-Fi and storage technologies have improved. The AirPort Express — still on sale — is yet more outdated, lacking 802.11ac support.

Another possibility is that Apple will simply discontinue the products entirely, although that would leave the company without a first-party option for connecting Macs and iOS devices to Wi-Fi.

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