Scientists Astounded as Four Legged Fossil Snake Turns up In Museum

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A unique species of early cretaceous snake – unique in that it apparently had four functioning limbs – has been discovered in the Bürgermeister Müller Museum in Solnhofen, Germany this month.

The discovery was made by Dr. David Martill of the University of Portsmouth, who was showing a group of students through the museum’s collection when he noticed the specimen’s remarkable attributes.

The snake, which measured about 15 centimetres from nose to tail, is thought to have been a carnivore (a fact borne out by the bones of smaller animals preserved in its stomach) and probably hunted via constriction, like many of today’s snakes. Experts believe that it may even have used its limbs to aid in the process.

Built for burrowing (an activity which likely would not have included its limbs in any significant way), this new discovery lends credence to the scientists who argue for snake evolution occurring on land, as opposed to in the sea.

Fossil snakes with stunted hind limbs are known to palaeontologists – and even today’s boas and pythons have a small pair of spurs where their hind limbs are thought to have once been. However, no snake, extinct or extant, has ever been discovered with four limbs.

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Appropriately enough, Dr. Martill named the creature Tetrapodophis, meaning ‘four-legged snake’.

However, some experts are not convinced. In our vibrant, ecologically diverse world, there are a great many species of legless lizards that are not true snakes. European slow worms, for example, are snake-like in aspect, but they are lizards, not snakes. Another example would be the Mexican Bipedidae family, which are serpentine in appearance, but which retain a pair of fully functioning forelimbs.

“Is it even a snake? I honestly don’t think so,” said the University of Alberta’s Dr. Michael Caldwell, an expert in snake evolution, to National Geographic.com’s Ed Yong. According to Caldwell and a growing number of other critics, Tetrapodophis lacks certain distinctive features in the spine and the skull that would label it a snake. The fact that this is the only known specimen in the world and that the skull is only partially preserved will probably see the debate continue until such time as a complete specimen is unearthed.

But Dr. Martill is insistent that his discovery is a snake. Speaking to National Geographic, he pointed out the specimen’s backwards-pointing teeth, single row of belly scales, the connections between the vertebrae and the shortness of the animal’s tail after the hip – all of which suggest snake to the educated observer. Of course, many legless lizards also feature these traits, but none has all of them. This means that even if the animal has been mis-identified, it is still totally unique to science.

Even more mysterious are the origins of the fossil itself, which contains the rather distinctive characteristics indicative of the Crato formation in Brazil. Discounting for a second that this is quite possibly the earliest fossil snake known to have emerged from South America, question marks have been raised regarding how the specimen could have made it to Germany when the trade of such artefacts is illegal under Brazilian law.

Since 1942, it has been illegal for any unlicensed person to dig for fossils in Brazil without first gaining permission from the Brazilian National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM). Last year, a number of people were prosecuted (where they faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison) for the illegal export of Brazilian fossils to museums in Germany and Great Britain. Odds are that Brazilian authorities, as well as the scientific community in general, will be looking into the origins of such an important find with great interest.

The Best Styles of Bluetooth Earpieces

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Bluetooth technology has been designed for many different purposes and situations. Consequently, when people want to buy a bluetooth ear piece for a specific situation, there are some things that they will need to consider. Specifically, based on their specific situation and circumstances, they will need to review the best style of bluetooth earpiece that is available on the market today. Since there are different styles that have been made for for one or more reasons, it’s important for each individual to do their research to see which style can accommodate their needs. It is also important to note that the kind the person purchases must be comfortable so that they can wear them for an extended period of time and they fit the devices that they will be used for. Listed below are three of the bluetooth styles that’s currently offered by manufactures all over the United States and abroad.

Bluetooth ear pieces for Mobile Phones

Most people take their mobile phones wherever they go. To work, school, church, parties and all kinds of other events that they may attend. Because these phones have become commonplace in many environments, people have a need to handle them and talk to others when their hands are free. This is also a great reason for individuals who work in certain settings to make sure that they are buying the right style that will best fit their needs.

One specific style that some people may choose is the ear cradle style of headphone. In fact, this kind of bluetooth earpiece is idea for people who want to spend their time working out and performing all kinds of other extracurricular activities. People are also encouraged to buy this kind of style because they may be driving when they receive a telephone call from a family member. Or, they may be working at the job typing a memo or walking around taking care of wide hosts of other kinds of activities that are not conducive to holding a mobile phone by hand to the ear. Whatever the situation, this style of bluetooth earpiece technology is great for many different situations and purposes.

Bluetooth ear pieces and Headsets for Music Lovers

In addition to the cradle style for mobile phones, people should also review other styles as well. One specific style that is also functional in many different settings is the DJ over the head headphones. This style has been designed for the serious music lovers, especially those who can appreciate making distinctions in sounds and beats that come from specific musical instruments like the bass, violin, trumpet and other popular instruments. For those who like and prefer this kind, they will also find that this is one of the best styles for keeping out outside noises that normally interfere with a person’s overall entertainment experience. Also, because they are wireless, they are great for people who like to stay mobile during the day instead of remaining in a sedentary position.

Bluetooth Ear Pieces for IPODs

In some situations, people may want to use bluetooth technology with their IPODs. Therefore, they should consider buying an additional popular style bluetooth earpiece technology. This style is known to be very popular, specifically because it is similar to an actual earbud. An ear bud is also another excellent choice for people who want to remain both active and hassle free. Though this is a great choice for people who like to remain mobile in a wide variety of different situations, one of its main draw backs is that they tend to fall out of the individuals ear. Which means, they can also be lost since it lacks additional support to keep them stabilized inside the ear.

Sepura Releases New SC20 Portable Radios

Sepura are masters of the tetra market, they have produced radios for many years for the emergency services. police and airport security, a forward runner for the digital systems we now see all around the UK. The SC20 is the new generation of Sepura radios ready for the modern day work force. We found this article on this website and thought that our readers would find it useful.

First orders of Sepura’s new flagship hand-portable radios, the SC20 series, will be shipped in February.

Shaped by user feedback, SC20 series hand-portable radios are resilient, intelligent and durable, providing intuitive operation and outstanding performance, even in the toughest conditions.

Broadband-ready, the SC2020 (380MHz-430MHz) and the SC2040 (403MHz-470MHz) combine the mission-critical security and advanced performance of TETRA with an optional second high-speed data bearer capability.

A new, powerful Class 3 TETRA engine is paired with a new receiver that surpasses the ETSI specification, a unique combination, extending operational range and stretching coverage into areas where it was not possible before.

The radios’ powerful 2W audio capability, enhanced by unique water-porting technology, allows for uncompromised audio clarity, even in continuous heavy rain. Uniquely, the SC20 series boasts IP66, 67 and 68 environmental protection rating, meaning that it is completely dustproof, submersible to a depth of two metres for one hour and impervious to jets of water. Its design also enables it to be easily cleaned by simply rinsing dust and dirt off under the tap.

Additionally, the radios’ high-resolution screen, the largest on the market today, is specifically designed to provide a richer user experience. The larger screen enables the display of more comprehensive data, suitable for future applications via high-speed data; it is also viewable in all light conditions, including direct sunlight.

“The SC20 has been designed to deliver the highest levels of robustness, endurance, audio clarity and power. It is designed to place and receive calls where it simply was not possible before,” commented Mark Barnby, Sepura’s head of product management – devices.

“This is the first product on our brand new technology platform. It is designed to meet the needs of mission-critical users today, whilst allowing high-speed data to be added in the future.”

Steve Barber, VP group strategy for Sepura, commented: “The SC20 confirms our vision for the future and demonstrates our ability to adapt to the fast-moving markets in which we operate.

“We continue to provide our global customer base with products that address their ever-evolving communication needs and the operational challenges they face every day. The SC20 provides undisputable proof that Sepura is going further in critical communications.”

Some Thoughts On… The Sony TV & HiFi Over-Ear Wireless Headphones

I don’t care who knows it; I still think wireless headphones are cool. Like bowties, or fezzes in that respect. Oh sure, there are drawbacks, sacrifices that must be made, but its still a total novelty to take a conference call whilst standing up and wandering around.

I don’t know about you, but I think better on my feet. That’s why I’m crap at job interviews, because I appear far more nervous than I actually am, due to all the squirming I do. In reality, if I could just stand up and pace around the room at will, well, you’d probably be reading this article as-written by someone with far greater knowledge and experience.

And get this, the Sony Over-Ear headphones have a 100m listening range. That means that it should be entirely possible for you to get up and make yourself a cup of tea whilst still listening to…Whatever it was you were listening to that was so riveting that it made you crave caffeine in the first place. Feasibly, you could even venture outside to yell at the local kids, or pick up the paper.

Also, with these headphones, you’ll get 28 hours out of a AAA battery, now you really can’t say fairer than that, can you? Especially if you charge it up when you’re not using it.

They are big though. Like, really big. Instead of being built for regular, Human-size heads, they appear to have been sculpted with Red Dwarf’s resident mechanoid Kryten in mind (two BBC Sci-Fi references in one article? Bonza!), the sheer size is ridiculous. They are adjustable, of course, but you might still have every cause to wish these headphones were smaller.

Another negative is the sound quality. I don’t want to say that it is bad (of course, there’s a ‘but’ coming…), but there is a low hiss that seems to permeate everything that you hear, as well as a loud cut-off noise if the signal is broken in any way. From a design perspective, this second feature makes a lot of sense, you don’t want to be outside, waffling away to your mate and not notice that the signal has dropped out (as happens so often with mobiles), but still, there simply has to be a better way, doesn’t there? The noise is loud, intrusive and actually rather scary at times.

However, apart from those minor, nagging problems, these headphones are actually quite nice. They sound OK, the wireless function works beautifully and the price is alright as well. Nice one, Sony.

Hytera Offers Digital Two-way Radio Solution to 62nd Macau Grand Prix

The 4-day 62nd Macau Grand Prix was rounded off at Macau Guia Circuit on November 22nd with over 80,000 audiences entering into the circuit to experience the fast and furious brought by the world top drivers and cars. Since tentative collaboration with the event committee in 2013 and 2014, Hytera was finally chosen as the official radio supplier this year to replace the legacy system and terminals with up-to-date communication equipments which helps the event committee organize and manage the global renowned sporting event in Macau.

The Macau Grand Prix is a historical street racing and known as one of the most demanding circuits in the world due to the challenging nature of the track, which consists of fast straights, tight corners and uncompromising crash barriers. Accidents happen almost in every racing competition. This year is not an exception.

Considering the potential circumstances would happen during the race, a tailor-made DMR two-way radio solution to fulfill multiple synchronized calls were proposed by Hytera and adopted by the event committee and all the supporting staff scattered along the circuit. “I have to praise all the supporting staff this year, they have done a very good job in handling the emergencies on the track with really high efficiency,” the live broadcast presenter commented. The radio communication between committee and the execution teams has made indispensable contribution for the high efficiency.

“The adoption by Macau Grand Prix is a significant breakthrough and a great recognition for Hytera,” said Sam Cheung, the Sales Engineer of Unicom Technology, regional partner of Hytera in Hong Kong and Macau.

In addition to the massive use on the track, the Hytera radios can be also found in the pit lane by several racing teams which includes the one FIA F3 defending champion Felix Rosenqvist drives. The Swedish driver successfully retained his championship title in the Suncity Group Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix – FIA F3 Intercontinental Cup this year. “The Hytera PD788 portable radios used by the racing teams are not part of the agreement but brought by the teams themselves,” said Kuan Weng Fai, the owner of Shun Tat Electronic Engineering, local partner of Hytera in Macau.

Besides the official collaboration with Grand Prix Macau, Hytera also facilitated Macau International Marathon for the first time; in addition, Hytera completed projects for Top 3 bus services operators in Macau including Transportes Urbanos de Macau, Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos de Macau and Macau Nova Era De Autocarros Publicos, which marks big breakthrough in the field of mass transit segment; in the meantime, Hytera also fulfilled a number of commercial projects such as FBC Centre, Macau Golf Country Club, Suncity Group and Galaxy Macau Phase II and Broadway Macau, a new landmark destination launched in May this year for Macau. “It is our honor to have the recognition from customers, we will carry on our work to satisfy more and more customers in Macau,” said Wilson Hu, Sales Director of Hytera.

The Macau Grand Prix is a motor racing event, surprisingly held in Macau, China. So it’s not a surprise that the biggest two way radio communication company, based in china, are suppliers of the communications. It’s known as a street circuit race for cars and bikes, the only one in the world. Held in November with one of the highlights a Formula 3 race with the winner being awarded the FIA Formula 3 Intercontinental Cup. We sourced this article from here 

ETRI presents a blueprint of the 5G Future

We will see a huge change in the way we access the the internet in the future when 5G is here, at speeds that only big businesses and high level internet companies see at the moment, we will have this to hand on our smart phones and tablets. When 5G is hundreds of times faster than any of the UK’s broadbands, households will be looking to the mobile phone companies to supply their home broadband.

A 5G future is no longer a distant one, but an upcoming reality. High quality videos of more than 10Mbps can be served simultaneously to 100 users even in a train running at up to 500km/h. People can experience data rates that are 100 times faster than currently available technologies.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) of Korea will hold a “5G technology demonstration” on the 18th December, 2015. It will demonstrate future SNS (social network service) and several 5G core technologies such as “millimeter wave”, “Mobile Hot-spot Network”, “in-band full duplex” and so on.

5G is the next generation wireless technology that would provide even faster data rates, even lower delays, and even more devices connected than 4G. Accordingly, distinct and differentiated applications are expected in 5G.

ETRI’s “future SNS” is a kind of trial service model to apply 5G technologies that provides dynamic user-centric connection to neighboring people, things and spaces. It is characterized by instant content-sharing between users, communication with neighboring things, and Giga-bps(Gbps)-grade video applications in vehicles.

5G core technologies demonstrated by ETRI include the following:

— MHN (Mobile Hot-spot Network) is a mobile backhaul technology that provides high-speed Internet access of Gbps in vehicles at speeds of up to 500 km/h (e.g. KTX in Korea). Almost 100 passengers can watch videos of high quality simultaneously.

— ZING is a near-field communication technology that enables mass data to be transmitted with 3.5 Gbps data rate between neighboring devices within the radius of 10cm.

— Single-RF-Chain compact MIMO technology enables a single antenna to simulate the effect of multiple antenna. It can reduce antenna volume and cancel inter-antenna interference in a multi-antenna system.

— Millimeter wave (mmWave) beam switching technology provides fast switching of radio beams to mobile users, and therefore allows seamless Gbps-grade service in mobile environments.

— Mobile Edge Platform (MEP) is a mobile edge cloud server on vehicles that enables passengers to enjoy customized Gbps-grade content and connects them with neighbors, things and spaces. It provides user-centric services.

— In-band Full Duplex technology can transmit and receive signals simultaneously over the same frequency band. It can increase spectral efficiency by up to two times.

— Small cell SW technology is designed for AP(Access Point)-sized small cell base stations that can reduce communication dead zones and improve data rates per user in a hot-spot area.

“With this demonstration event, we are officially introducing our R&D results on 5G. We will continue to lead the development of 5G technologies. Also, we are trying to develop commercialization technologies needed by businesses, and to construct a 5G ecosystem.” said Dr. Hyun Kyu Chung, vice president of ETRI Communication & Internet Lab.

In January, 2016, ETRI will demonstrate Giga internet service and future SNS in a Seoul subway train installed with MHN and ZING kiosks. ETRI will also introduce hand-over technology on a millimeter wave mobile communication system and 5G radio access technology that satisfies 1 millisecond radio latency.

About ETRI

Established in 1976, ETRI is a non-profit Korean government-funded research organization that has been at the forefront of technological excellence for about 40 years. In the 1980s, ETRI developed TDX (Time Division Exchange) and 4M DRAM. In the 1990s, ETRI commercialized CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) for the first time in the world. In the 2000s, ETRI developed Terrestrial DMB, WiBro, and LTE-A, which became the foundation of mobile communications.

Recently, as a global ICT leader, ETRI has been advancing communication and convergence by developing Ship Area Network technology, Genie Talk (world class portable automatic interpretation; Korean-English/Japanese/Chinese), and automated valet parking technology. As of 2015, ETRI has about 2,000 employees where about 1,800 of them are researchers.

Do You Know What The Term 2 Way Radio Mean?

Basically, the name two-way radio means that the radio in question can both transmit and receive signals. The two-way part of the name refers to the sending and receiving of said messages.

Some radios, such as the AM or FM radio you might listen to in your car, can only receive incoming signals, whilst other radios can only transmit signals. A two-way radio, however, can both intercept incoming messages and relay outgoing messages, because of this; two-way radios are a type of transceiver.

At its most basic, a two-way radio is a device that receives radio waves through the air and transmits a return signal.

How it does this is actually rather ingenious. Let’s say a user receives a message on her radio. The antenna on the top of the radio houses a group of electrons, these electrons will respond to messages received on specific channels (different groups of electrons respond to different channels). The electrons will then translate the radio waves into electrical impulses, which are then fed to a small processor. The processor, in turn, converts the electrical impulses into a signal, which the radio’s speakers can then play aloud.

The process is reversed if our hypothetical user is replying to her message, in this instance, the vibrations that constitute her voice will rattle a small membrane inside the microphone. These vibrations are fed into the processor, which converts them into an electrical signal. The electrical signal is pushed out to the electrons in the antenna and the signal is broadcast to our other user.

So you see, the process is clearly working on a two-way basis, hence the name. Two radios, when set to the same channel, should never have any problem connecting with one another (even if they are manufactured by different brands). The communication is pretty much instant, which is a big reason why radios play such an integral part in many areas of our lives, such as travel, security, commerce, public safety and trade.

It is important to note, however, that a radio set to receive VHF (Very High Frequency) signals will be unable to communicate with a radio set to UHF (Ultra High Frequency) mode. There is virtually nothing at all that can be done about this.

Of course, the other name used for handheld transceivers in walkie-talkie, but we reckon that one’s pretty self-explanatory…

Motorola Solutions to buy UK’s Airwave for $1.24 billion

As this article shows, Motorola move closer to sealing the deal to supply the emergency services for the whole of the UK, this move seems to prove what we have been saying, as Airwave have a working relationship with the emergency services and a good majority of the equipment they use are Motorolas’ own products they are in an excellent position now.

Walkie-talkie and radio systems maker Motorola Solutions Inc said it would buy UK-based communications company Airwave Solutions Ltd for 817.5 million pounds ($1.24 billion) to beef up its services business.

Shares of Schaumburg, Illinois-based Motorola were up 3.4 percent in extended trading on Thursday.

Airwave, owned by a fund of Australia’s Macquarie Group Ltd, provides voice and data communications to more than 300 emergency and public service agencies in Great Britain.

Motorola’s sales have slipped as its major customers, which include police and fire departments as well as other government agencies, curtail budgets.

The company is trying to strengthen its services business – which provides communication services to governments, businesses and public safety agencies – to drive growth.

Activist investor ValueAct, Motorola’s largest shareholder, said last month the company’s shares were undervalued and that it would talk to its board about ways to enhance shareholder value.

Motorola Solutions said it plans to fund the purchase of Airwave, which has about 600 employees, with bank financing and cash on hand.

The deal is expected to add to adjusted earnings and free cash flow immediately after closing in the first quarter of 2016, Motorola said.

SwiftKey launches symbol-based communication app for people who are non-verbal

Any technology that can improve peoples lives is always a technology that will be championed by us here, and if it is helping people with learning or speech difficulties then that is more incentive for us to bring it to our readers. This is current available on the google store for android devices and we are stating now that this should be on apple devices as soon as possible, the original article can be found on the verge website.

SwiftKey, the predictive smartphone keyboard company, wants to help people who are non-verbal communicate with others. The company launched an experimental symbol-based assistive app today called SwiftKey Symbol, which it says can be used to build sentences using images. SwiftKey staff who have family members with autism spectrum disorder came up with the idea for the tool, according to the company’s blog.

The app, which is free and available on Android, makes use of SwiftKey’s predictive technology to suggest symbols that might be used to finish a sentence. Outside factors like the time of day or the day of the week will influence these predictions, the company says. Users can also add their own images and use audio playback to read out to sentence to others.

Symbol-based communication apps like this aren’t new. Apps like Proloqui2Go and TouchChat also rely on pictograms to build sentences. But these tools can be expensive, and SwitKey says that its own take on the assistive app will be able to form sentences faster than the competition. “A lot of the current communication tools on the market are often too slow to select a particular image a child might choose,” the company wrote on its blog. “We realized that SwiftKey’s core prediction and personalization technology — which learns from each individual as they use it — would be a natural fit for people on the autistic spectrum who respond particularly well to routine-based activity.”

In the US, about two in 100 children have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. People with autism have varied needs, so it’s possible that this app could enhance communication for some people. We haven’t tried the app yet — but we’re eager to see what it can do.

The 19th Century plug that’s still being used

The BBC are on of the most trusted news sources on the planet,  so when stories fly around about the next iphone dropping it’s 3.5mm jack plug and moving to using their own lightning port or bluetooth. We think this is one of the usual stories that flies around before they release any new apple product, but when the BBC picks it up we take note! and this brilliant article shows that the common 3.5mm jack plug has a more of a history than we knew.

After rumours that Apple was going to get rid of the headphone jack in its imminent iPhone 7, more than 200,000 people have signed a petition asking them to reconsider. This humble plug is a rare example of technology that has stood the test of time, writes Chris Stokel-Walker.

For what remains an unconfirmed rumour, a lot of people are upset about the new iPhone. It’s alleged that Apple will be scrapping the 3.5mm socket, instead leaving headphones to be plugged into the “Lightning” port – the company’s own design of socket.

Cynics have pointed out that while this might enable iPhones to be slightly thinner, it will render many headphones useless and force manufacturers to pay Apple a fee to use their Lightning plugs on products.

The petition says Apple’s purported move would “singlehandedly create mountains of electronic waste”.

Two stereo audio jacksImage copyrightiStock

It will also be a blow for a piece of technology that has been remarkably resilient. The 3.5mm headphone jack is essentially a 19th Century bit of kit – it is a miniaturised version of the classic quarter-inch jack (6.35mm), which is said to go back as far as 1878.

Both sizes of plug have a nubbin of metal that nips in before flaring out just before the tip. “It needed to be something that could be inserted and removed very easily, but still make a secure connection,” says Charlie Slee, a member of the Audio Engineering Society.

Initially the quarter-inch jack was used by operators in old-fashioned telephone switchboards, plugging and unplugging connections. “The standard has always been quarter-inch jacks,” says Dr Simon Hall, head of music technology at Birmingham City University.

1st November 1919: Switchboard operators at the telephone switchboard oft the House of Commons, London.Image copyrightGetty Images

Image caption1919: Switchboard operators at the telephone switchboard of the House of Commons, London

“Professional headphones in studios, guitar leads – they all run off quarter-inch jacks.”

Of course, as miniaturisation changed audio equipment, so the plug had to have a smaller alternative.

The 3.5mm version quickly became popular, spread by the use of personal headsets on transistor radios in the middle of the 20th Century.

The jack is known as a tip, ring, sleeve – or TRS – connection. The “tip” transfers audio into the left-hand earplug of a stereo headphone set, and the “ring” the right. The “sleeve” is the ground or “shield”. This set-up is stereo – the original mono plugs had only tip and sleeve. Certain modern plugs have a second ring to allow control of a headset microphone or volume.

Annotated photograph showing sleeve, ring and tip of TRS jackImage copyrightiStock/BBC

“Technically speaking, it’s not a bad design,” Slee says of the utilitarian, adaptable design. “If the parts are made cheaply they can break and lose contact, but ultimately it does the job it was designed to do.”

And yet, if the rumours – which Apple is not commenting on – are true, it bodes ill for the 3.5mm jack.

Apple has a track record of being early to abolish things which then start to disappear from rival products too. It killed the 3.5 inch floppy disk early. It also was among the first to remove optical drives.

But those signing the petition on the Sum of Us site and social media users have suggested that Apple’s motive is greed.

Apple lightning cableImage copyrightAlamy

The potential grief in a switch to Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector is obvious.

“It feels painful because you’ve got hundreds of millions of devices out there that are using the old standard,” says Horace Dediu, a technology analyst with in-depth knowledge of Apple.

If you’re using £1,000 headphones with your iPhone at the moment, you’re going to be slightly cross.

And Charlie Slee thinks consumers are also concerned about ceding control to Apple. “People are mainly upset because they like to think they’re in control of their technology,” he says.

But this sense of the consumer in control is misplaced, Slee says. “Actually, the contrary is true: The big technology companies have always been in control of how you listen to music and watch videos.”

The headphones in history

Thomas Alva Edison (1847 - 1931) American scientist, inventor and industrialist, after spending 5 continuous days and nights perfecting the phonograph, listening through a primitive headphone.Image copyrightGetty Images

Image captionScientist Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931) listens to his phonograph through a primitive headphone

The “primitive headphones” (as above) used for listening to early phonographs were simple acoustic tubes.

Headphones are really just ordinary telephone receivers adapted to fit a headset, says John Liffen, Curator of Communications at the Science Museum. The headset usually had just one receiver for a single ear.

The first headsets with a receiver for each ear were just called “telephones”. The name was supplanted by “headphones” by the beginning of the 1920s when they were being widely used to listen to broadcasting via crystal sets.

For many years headphone receivers were the simple “Bell” type with permanent magnet, coil and diaphragm. Today’s high-end ‘phones are considerably more sophisticated, similar to miniature loudspeakers.

Source: John Liffen, The Science Museum


“I think it’s a storm in a teacup,” adds Simon Hall. His reasoning? Having a standardised headphone jack on mobile phones and MP3 players is only a relatively recent luxury.

“If you look at the previous generation of phones, things like Nokia phones, you had to have an adapter,” he reasons. “If you want to connect headphones to professional equipment, you also need a professional adapter.”

As recently as 2010, Samsung phones came equipped with a proprietary headphone port not dissimilar to Apple’s rumoured replacement for the 3.5mm socket, the “Lightning” port.

This isn’t the first time Apple has aroused ire. Way back in 2007, with the first iPhone, it received complaints that the headphone jack was sunk into the casing.

One technology wag called it “a great business plan – break an important device function, and sell the solution for fun and profit.” The problem was fixed when Apple released its second iPhone model in 2008.

But Apple is known for evolving technology: “They got rid of DVDs, they got rid of the floppy disk drive; they got rid of parallel ports, they’re eventually getting rid of USB. This is how they move,” says Dediu, the Apple-watcher. He reckons the switch to Apple’s proprietary connection augurs a planned move to headphones that are akin to the Apple Watch.

Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones in a London recording studio in 1968Image copyrightGetty Images

Image captionMick Jagger of The Rolling Stones in a London recording studio in 1968

Owners of “old” headphones may find themselves having to buy adapters.

Dediu forecasts a rapid change. “What Apple does is catalyse transitions,” he says. “It would have happened anyway, but if it wasn’t for Apple it’d have taken 10-15 years, but now it’ll happen in 5-7 years.”

That the time may have come for the 3.5mm jack to be replaced shouldn’t come as such a shock, believes Dediu. “Studying Moore’s Law and the history of technology, it’s clear we’re not going to stick around with something analogue for long,” he says. “It’s almost puzzling that it’s taken so long.”

Wrestling Legend Rowdy Roddy Piper Dead At 61

The world of professional wrestling is in mourning following the death of the legendary Rowdy Roddy Piper last month. Piper suffered a cardiac arrest whilst at his home in Hollywood, California. He was just 61 years old.

For many kids (including myself) that first became fans in the mid-late 1980’s, Roddy Piper was the definitive wrestling heel (industry jargon for a bad guy). Whether hosting his notorious Piper’s Pit segment, or facing off against Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (with partner Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorf) at the inaugural WrestleMania event, Piper was one of the industry’s biggest starts during one of its most popular and lucrative periods.

He was also instrumental in making the WWF (now WWE) brand the biggest in professional wrestling. In addition to headlining the very first WrestleMania event (a pioneering Pay-Per View extravaganza that could easily have ruined the company had it proved to be a failure), Piper also featured in one of WrestleMania II’s three main event matchups, thus securing his position as one of wrestling’s most bankable stars.

His undercard matches at WrestleManias III, VI and (the stone cold classic against Bret The Hitman Hart at) VIII are absolute highlights of a classic era of pro wrestling. He even acted as a guest referee for the main event of Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna at WrestleMania X. Younger fans, however, will undoubtedly remember Piper teaming with fellow veterans Ricky Steamboat and Jimmy Superfly Snuka to face Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XXV.

In an era defined by outlandish babyface characters with bodybuilder physiques and sometimes questionable in-ring abilities, Roddy Piper stood out as a genuine wrestler’s wrestler, an authentic tough guy – and the necessarily evil counterpoint to the simplistic, superheroic good guys being featured at the time by the WWF.

Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1954, Roderick Toombs was always an unruly personality. Expelled from school at a young age and subsequently falling out with his father, (a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) Toombs hit the road, staying in various youth hostels and earning a buck wherever he could. Eventually, the tempestuous youth wound up in a wrestling ring, making his in-ring debut at the tender age of just 15-years-old.

The kid was tough (he had a Black Belt in Judo), displayed a natural affinity for the ring and he had a roguish charisma all of his own. In addition, he really could play the bagpipes. After early stints jobbing in Verne Gagne’s AWA, NWA Houston and Fritz Von Erich’s Big Time Wrestling promotion in Dallas, Texas, Piper debuted for Mike and Gene LeBell’s NWA Hollywood promotion and soon became the outfit’s top heel. A slew of regional Championships followed.

Whilst working for promoter Roy Shire in the NWA’s San Francisco territory, Piper developed his character and ring work. In Los Angeles, he feuded with Chavo Guerrero Sr, Hector Guerrero and ultimately locked up against their father, Mexican wrestling legend Gory Guerrero (father of future WWE Champ Eddie). In The Pacific Northwest, he unseated former NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco for Mid Atlantic’s version of the World Heavyweight Championship, a title he would go on to hold twice more.

In the mid 1980’s, Piper entered Vince McMahon’s insurgent WWF. He was billed as being from Glasgow, Scotland and was well known for being the only wrestler to wear a kilt to the ring. Fans ate it up. Feuding with such stars as Hulk Hogan, Adrian Adonis, Andre The Giant, Jimmy Superfly Snuka, Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, Jerry The King Lawler and Bret Hitman Hart, to name but a few, Piper always brought out the best in his opponents and it was with the WWF that he became a household name, as well as one of the industry’s biggest ever stars.

In the mid-1990’s, Piper wrestled for WCW (World Championship Wrestling), where he debuted as one of the company’s headline stars. He feuded, once again, with Hulk Hogan and also battled old rivals such as Ric Flair, Bret Hart and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. Whilst working for WCW, he was even chosen to headline ‘Starrcade’, the company’s flagship Pay-Per-View event.

In his later career, Piper made sporadic reappearances for the WWE, briefly worked for TNA, enjoyed a reasonably successful acting career and also hosted his own podcast. He battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after being diagnosed with the illness in 2006, but had completely beaten it into remission as of last year. Despite the setbacks caused by his ill health, Piper wrestled his last match in 2011.

Although he never held a recognised World Heavyweight Championship, Piper will be remembered as one of the greatest WWF Intercontinental Champions of all time, a reign that was attested to during his appearance at this year’s WrestleMania XXXI, where he congratulated then-IC Champion Daniel Bryan on his victory. He also held other notable belts, such as the United States Championship, the WWF/E Tag Team Championship (with Ric Flair) and the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship.

Piper was a member of the WWE Hall of Fame and the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, as well as the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the Cauliflower Alley Club.

On the August 3rd edition of RAW, the entire WWE roster, each member clad in Roddy’s signature Hot Rod t-shirts opened the show with a very moving ten bell salute in tribute to the fallen legend.

WWE boss Vince McMahon said, “Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world. I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”

UFC Bantamweight Champion Rowdy Ronda Rousey dedicated her 34-second victory over Bethe Correia to Piper’s memory, “I just want to say that we lost a really close friend, Rowdy Roddy Piper, who gave me permission to use his name as a fighter (…) And so I hope him and my dad had a good time watching this today.”

Former WWE and WCW Champion (and Piper’s frequent in-ring rival) Bret Hart wrote, “I can’t find the words to describe the sorrow in my heart upon learning the news of my dear friend, Roddy Piper, passing away. He was my closest friend in the business, a man that schooled me and guided me throughout my career. In fact, if it wasn’t for Roddy Piper reaching out to help me, I’m sure I would’ve been a mere footnote in wrestling. He was always there for me. He was family to me.” Hart also recalled that, following his stroke in 2002; Piper was the only wrestler who visited him in hospital.

Hulk Hogan, another of Piper’s famous adversaries, said of Piper that, “He was my best friend. He is a legend. God’s gain is our loss. May his family in this time of need, find peace”

Other friends, colleagues and admirers of Piper’s included former WWF Champ The Iron Sheik, who said “Roddy Piper. I love you forever. God bless you Bubba” and multi-time World Champion Chris Jericho Tweeted, “Sorry to hear of the passing of my friend and Wrestlemania rival #RoddyPiper. One of the greatest who ever lived, but more importantly a legit sweet family man with a good heart”. Former WWE Divas Champion Paige called Piper a “legend” and Tweeted a picture of a broken heart, an image which reflected the feelings of many a wrestler and wrestling fan.

Roddy’s son, Colt, said that his father was his “best friend” and a “great man” saying that he would miss him forever and “always try to be the man he raised me to be”.

Rowdy Roddy Piper lived a life littered with accomplishments. Not many of us will ever be declared as legendary by our peers and fewer still will be able to stack 30+ Championship reigns anywhere on our resume, but those weren’t the man’s proudest achievements. Piper had been married to his wife, Kitty, since 1982 and is survived by her and the four children they lovingly raised together. My thoughts are with them, as well as everyone else who knew, worked with, or simply enjoyed to watch the late, great man work his magic in front of a capacity crowd. R.I.P Roddy.

Have Scientists found The Actual Holy Grail Of A Cancer Cure

Cancer affects millions of lives, possibly even more. Everybody knows somebody that has been forever hurt, either physically or emotionally, by this vicious, unforgiving ailment. Most of us know somebody who has lost their life to the disease.

Despite this, cancer survival rates are higher than ever before. In recent years, cancer treatment has improved rapidly, but a complete cure has always appeared to be just beyond reach, a tantalising Holy Grail of medical science. This month, however, an announcement was made that could have the potential to end all that.

The good news is that human trials could begin in as little as four years’ time. If those trials prove to be successful, then science will have made a major stride towards eradicating the disease completely.

A joint Dutch/Canadian team stumbled across this miraculous discovery whilst searching for ways to treat malaria in pregnant women.

According to the team, the carbohydrate that malaria attacks in the placenta is exactly the same as a carbohydrate present in cancer cells.

As Metro.co.uk reports, Ali Salanti from the University of Copenhagen said, “for decades, scientists have been searching for similarities between the growth of a placenta and a tumor (…) The placenta is an organ, which within a few months grows from only few cells into an organ weighing approx. two pounds, and it provides the embryo with oxygen and nourishment in a relatively foreign environment. (…) In a manner of speaking, tumors do much the same, they grow aggressively in a relatively foreign environment.”

Intrigued by this idea, the team tailored a special malaria protein to include a toxin designed to target cancerous cells. The cancer cells absorb the protein and are then in turn killed by the malaria virus. Theoretically, this idea is sound and experiments on mice with cancer have already begun.

It’s definitely early days yet, but the team are hopeful that this innovative new treatment could provide scientists with a valuable weapon in the fight against cancer. If the trials are successful, the potential benefits are simply staggering to consider. It just goes to show that no dream is too big to accomplish, provided we never stop believing that it’s possible. Imagine a world without cancer and perhaps, in time, we won’t have to.

A Right Cock-Up: Hilarity Ensues As Council Workers Paint Huge Tarmac Penises For Fun & Profit

A residential area in Tamworth, Staffordshire has become the talk of the Internet after council workers painted a bunch of dicks on the tarmac there.

Staffordshire County Council contractors Amey were tasked with the job of re-painting some old road markings in the area and apparently, they decided to get a little bit creative with the task. Using their school desks and the cubicle walls of gents toilets for artistic inspiration, the team apparently painted a dazzling array of gigantic penises all along the tarmac.

Featuring members of many different shapes, sizes and states of apparent arousal, the phallic paintings have angered local residents who, yknow, didnt necessarily want dicks painted on the floor outside their houses.

The official line is that the paint somehow caused a reaction with the existing markings, creating the distinctly adult imagery completely by accident. Uh huh.

Now, is it easier to believe that Staffordshire County Council has access to magic penis paint, or that the workers got a little bored and covered the street in dicks?

Given the amount of the constantly complaining, utterly humourless residents frequently quoted in articles, the street appears to be full of uptight pricks anyway, so its likely that the contractors didnt think anybody would notice a few more.

Since The Penis Incident, the Council has received a bewildering 300 complaints about the “disgusting mess” caused by a bit of magic paint and a few repressed urges. 300? The average fella wouldnt get that many complaints if he took his actual penis out at a gathering of 300 people!

Resident Graham Wood (no joke, thats really his name!) was quoted by Yahoo! News as saying, “There are some very bizarre, obscene shapes. One of them looks like someones giving someone the finger sign”.

Well, if you can create a detailed hand giving someone the finger using road paint, Id say that youre probably some sort of artistic genius. However, my personal favorite is still the extra long, almost mournful penis that appears to be dragging his two big balls across the street in search of food…Theres just an unspoken poetry to it all if you ask me.

Apparently, the paint settled down long before the local residents did and any surviving penises have since been hunted down and eliminated by the contractors.

All joking aside (but not for long, I promise!), whether the phalluses were painted there deliberately or not, this story really serves to highlight what a humorless bunch of dicks the British public can be at times.

What is a Covert Earpiece?

A covert earpiece is designed to go unnoticed in a person’s ear. Typically, the iconic image of the bodyguard or FBI agent always springs to the forefront of the imagination when the subject of covert earpieces is brought up, but they are often used by live on-air television personalities to take cues and direction from the production team as well. Politicians will also use them when making live speeches to get immediate feedback and change the course of the dialogue if needed.

Not all covert earpieces are designed for two-way communication, but during sensitive surveillance operations or security details a microphone is often used for real-time communication. The presence of a low-profile microphone becomes a necessity in these types of operations to keep the security forces hands-free at all times. They also allow the user to blend into a crowd without using a conspicuous walkie-talkie or other form of hand-held device.

Covert earpieces are designed not to have any visible wiring and to fit neatly inside the ear without being observable to any passers by who may be in the general vicinity. There are even devices made to fit on an ordinary pair of glasses, which amplify sound inside of the wearer’s ear.

An Earpieceonline acoustic tube earpiece has the features of a thin tube that helps to transmit sound. The tube fits snugly behind the ear, while the bud goes inside the ear. The acoustic tube ear piece is commonly paired with a microphone when used in security or covert operations, but there are some civilians who prefer to use it with their personal devices, such as mobile phones and personal audio devices. The ability to efficiently eliminate background noise in loud areas makes them a top choice for use in television and media as well.

The sturdy tubing of the acoustic tube is vital in protecting the delicate wiring involved in the listening device. The ability to protect the most crucial aspects of the earpiece makes the acoustic tube preferable over other devices with exposed wiring and even wireless devices, as the acoustic tube earpieces are known to outlast others. Anyone who will be performing rigorous activity while wearing a covert earpiece will choose the most durable option.

Many earpieces will be connected wirelessly to a handheld device called a main board, usually kept in the pocket or hidden somewhere on the person. Typically, there will be a beeper button on the main board, which sends a beep noise to connected devices when pressed. It can be used to send covert messages and sometimes has other uses, like connecting to Bluetooth with a long press of the button. Covert messages can also be sent by tapping the microphone, usually discreetly placed on the shoulder or wrist.

A neck loop will is also attached to the main board. This loop will transmit sounds wirelessly from the main board to the earpiece. The loop is worn loosely around the neck under the clothing, so it is not noticed in the collar area by anyone in the close proximity.

So, whether you’re a bodyguard on the job or a jogger listening to music, covert earpieces will fit the bill for any covert listening situation.

Boys From The Dwarf: Classic Sci-Fi Comedy Show To Return For Two New Series

The boys from the Dwarf are back! UK TV channel Dave has announced that it has commissioned two new series of the long-running science fiction comedy, the first of which (series XI) will be set to air in 2016.

Series co-creator Doug Naylor, who has been in sole charge of the franchise since 1997’s seventh series, said, “[We were] originally asked for more shows back in 2012 (…) but frustratingly it’s taken until now to get our ducks in a row and all the boys available at the same time. Now they are, we’re all absolutely delighted.”

Craig Charles, who portrays Dave Lister on the show, has reportedly left his long-running role as Lloyd Mullaney on British soap opera ‘Coronation Street’ in order to better commit to the part.

“Lloyd has become a huge part of my life and I’ve had an absolutely fantastic ten years,” the poet-turned actor told Empire Online. “…But I feel I owe it to my colleagues on Red Dwarf to join them in filming the new series and finding out what is in store for Lister and the others.”

The BBC initially aired 8 series of Red Dwarf from 1988 – 1999. From there, Dave optioned the rights to the series and produced a three-part special entitled ‘Red Dwarf: Back To Earth’ in 2009. Fan reaction to this new series was mixed and many saw it as a creative miss-step. However, both viewing figures and DVD sales for the specials were strong and so Dave commissioned a new series, ‘Red Dwarf X’ in 2012. This time around, with the characters returning to the original ‘sit-com in space’ format, the fan reaction was much more positive, which left many fans hungry for more.

Although the viewing figures for Series X were not as strong as they were for the ‘Back To Earth’ specials, the series was still Dave’s highest rated show of 2012.

Since then, however, it’s been a long wait. Having said that, three years between series is nothing for fans of Red Dwarf. After Series III wrapped in 1989, fans had to wait until 1991 for Series 4. Then, after Series VI ended (on a cliffhanger, no less), viewers had to wait four years until Series VII kicked off in 1997. Two years passed before 1999 saw the release of Series VIII and from there it was a decade before Dave aired the three part special, ‘Red Dwarf: Back To Earth’. Even after that venture proved to be (financially, if not entirely critically) successful – it was still three more years before fans saw any new episodes coming their way.

The two new series will be shot back-to-back towards the end of this year and are being co-produced by Baby Cow Productions. Welcome back, Dwarfers, the slime’s coming home!