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The Download: Sensory Cities and Carbon Trapping-crops



When David Howes thinks about Montreal, he remembers the soothing tones of the carillon bells and the aroma of bagels cooked over wood fires. He was met with blank stares when he asked his local tourism office where visitors should go to taste, smell, and hear the city.

“They only know about things to see, not about the city’s other sensory attractions, its soundmarks and smellmarks,” says Howes, director of Concordia University’s Center for Sensory Studies, a hub for the growing field often referred to as “sensory urbanism.”

Around the world, researchers like Howes are investigating how nonvisual information defines the character of a city and affects its livability. They use a variety of methods, including low-tech sound walks, smell maps, data scraping, wearables and virtual reality to combat what they consider a visual bias in urban planning. Read the complete story .

–Jennifer Hattam

These scientists want to capture more carbon with CRISPR crops

The news: Plants are the original carbon capture factories–and a new research program aims to make them more effective by using gene editing. CRISPR co-inventor Jennifer Doudna founded the Innovative Genomics Institute. It is a research institute that uses gene editing to enhance their ability to store carbon.

How it would work: One of the main goals will be to improve photosynthesis, allowing plants to grow faster. Researchers could reduce energy-sapping side effects, such as those that release carbon dioxide, by altering enzymes. Researchers also hope to find ways to store carbon in soil by encouraging deeper roots and larger root systems.

Bigger picture: It’ll be a significant challenge to make these techniques work, but the research is part of a growing effort by scientists to find ways to vacuum up the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere in order to slow climate change. Read the complete story .

–Casey Crownhart

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The crypto market is in freefall

With colossal amounts of money at stake, crypto’s volatility now looks less thrilling and more worrying. (New York Mag)

+ The price of Bitcoin has plunged to its lowest in 18 months. (Bloomberg $)

+ Even the most bullish investors are freaking out. (Motherboard)

+ Crypto companies are making major layoffs, too. (The Verge)

+ El Salvador has lost around half its Bitcoin investment. (Mashable)

+ It’s okay to opt out of the crypto revolution. (MIT Technology Review)

2 Big Tech has agreed to disclose more about disinformation

On a country-by-country basis, something tech companies have previously resisted. (FT $)

+ The EU is threatening to fine them for failing to deal with deepfakes. (Reuters)

3 What studying strokes teaches us about addiction

A particular neural network in the brain could hold the key to quitting smoking. (NYT $)

4 The long fight to get illegal, nonconsensual videos taken offline

Survivors have struggled to get footage removed from Pornhub. (New Yorker $)

+ Deepfake porn is ruining women’s lives. (MIT Technology Review)

5 SpaceX has gained approval to launch its Starship rocket from Texas

But it has to meet stringent measures to protect the environment. (WP $)

+ This newborn star has a sibling. (Phys)

+ Our maps of the Milky Way have just received a major upgrade. (Nature)

6 India’s officials are big fans of facial recognition

Privacy advocates disagree with police claims it’s only being used to surveil criminals. (Motherboard)

+ Here’s how to stop AI from recognizing your face in selfies. (MIT Technology Review)

7 We need to change how we warn beachgoers about deadly currents

Static warning signs aren’t working. Warning systems that alert of changing conditions may work. (Hakai Magazine)

+ There’s a global movement dedicated to raising awareness of rip currents. (The Guardian)

8 People are increasingly terrified of being canceled

Psychiatrists wonder if it’s a new manifestation of OCD centered around fear of social ruin. (Slate)

9 Electric car designs are getting more creative

While some are becoming more luxurious, others seat only two passengers. (The Guardian)

+ This startup wants to pack more energy into electric vehicle batteries. (MIT Technology Review)

10 What’s the point of drinking alcohol in the metaverse?

Drinks brands are building virtual bars–but there’s not a drop to drink. (WSJ $)

Quote of the day

“Older people go on the internet for a couple of things. For the younger generation the internet is ‘the things.'”

— Payton Iheme, head of public policy for dating app Bumble, explains to the New York Times how different generations use technology, and what that means for potential risks.

The big story

Lunik: Inside the CIA’s audacious plot to steal a Soviet satellite

January 2021

In late October 1959, a Mexican spy named Eduardo Diaz Silveti slipped into the US Embassy in Mexico City. Tall and well-spoken with slicked-back hair, Silveti, 30, had learned spycraft in Mexico’s secret police. During the Cold War, the capital was so overrun with Communist spies, that the CIA enlisted the assistance of the Mexican secret service in its fight against the Soviet Union.

Winston Scott, 49, was the first secretary of the US Embassy. This was his cover. He was also the CIA’s most respected spymaster in Latin America. Secrets were a stock-in-trade for the silver-haired Alabaman: he had arrived in Mexico City in 1956 and turned the CIA station into one of the most successful counterespionage operations in the world.

He called Silveti to offer him a top secret mission that was “tremendously important for the United States.” He wanted to make sure that American scientists could study the stolen satellite. Read the full story.

–Jeff Maysh

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. Have any other ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me. )

+ This rumination on 40 years of ET is thought-provoking.

+ Love it or hate it, the texture of bouncy foods is a whole lotta fun (thanks Charlotte! )

+ An excellent joke for all the feline feeders out there.

+ A heartening tale of how beekeeping is helping psychiatric patients in Greece.

+ This photo of Mars’ landscape taken by Perseverance is amazing.

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USB logos finally make sense, thanks to a redesign




USB logos finally make sense, thanks to a redesign

Author: Mark Hachman
, Senior Editor

As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

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Cheaper OLED monitors might be coming soon




Cheaper OLED monitors might be coming soon

Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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New Pixel Watch leak reveals watch faces, strap styles and more




New Pixel Watch leak reveals watch faces, strap styles and more
Google Pixel watch

The Google Pixel Watch is incoming
(Image credit: Google)

We’re expecting the Google Pixel Watch to make its full debut on Thursday, October 6 – alongside the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro – but in the meantime a major leak has revealed much more about the upcoming smartwatch.

Seasoned tipster @OnLeaks (opens in new tab) has posted the haul, which shows off some of the color options and band styles that we can look forward to next week. We also get a few shots of the watch interface and a picture of it being synced with a smartphone.

Watch faces are included in the leak too, covering a variety of different approaches to displaying the time – both in analog and digital formats. Another image shows the watch being used to take an ECG reading to assess heartbeat rate.

Just got my hands on a bunch of #Google #PixelWatch promo material showing all color options and Watch Bands for the first time. Some details revealed as well…@Slashleaks 👉🏻 1, 2022

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Full colors

If the leak is accurate, then we’ve got four silicone straps on the way: black, gray, white, and what seems to be a very pale green. Leather straps look to cover black, orange, green and white, while there’s also a fabric option in red, black and green.

We already know that the Pixel Watch is going to work in tandem with the Fitbit app for logging all your vital statistics, and included in the leaked pictures is an image of the Pixel Watch alongside the Fitbit app running on an Android phone.

There’s plenty of material to look through here if you can’t wait until the big day – and we will of course be bringing you all the news and announcements as the Google event unfolds. It gets underway at 7am PT / 10am ET / 3pm BST / 12am AEDT (October 7).

Analysis: a big moment for Google

It’s been a fair while since Google launched itself into a new hardware category, and you could argue that there’s more riding on the Pixel Watch than there is on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro – as Google has been making phones for years at this point.

While Wear OS has been around for a considerable amount of time, Google has been leaving it to third-party manufacturers and partners to make the actual hardware. Samsung recently made the switch back to Wear OS for the Galaxy Watch 5 and the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, for example.

Deciding to go through with its own smartwatch is therefore a big step, and it’s clear that Google is envious of the success of the Apple Watch. It’s the obvious choice for a wearable for anyone who owns an iPhone, and Google will be hoping that Pixel phones and Pixel Watches will have a similar sort of relationship.

What’s intriguing is how Fitbit fits in – the company is now run by Google, but so far we haven’t seen many signs of the Fitbit and the Pixel lines merging, even if the Pixel Watch is going to come with support for the Fitbit app.

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you’ll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.

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