Plus, how following Apple Maps can lead you onto an airport runway, and the entirety of Great Britain recreated in Minecraft.
By Jason Imms on September 27, 2013 at 11:22 am
Welcome to the Friday Tech Roundup! Contained herein is your weekly dose of some of the best tech news from across the Internet, rounded up for your edification and entertainment. Read on for all the details of Microsoft’s plans to be first into the fledgling Chinese console market, drivers following Apple Maps onto an airport runway, and a plan to use pneumatic tubes to remove garbage from Manhattan.
Microsoft and BesTV partner to break into Chinese console market
As reported by Xinhua News, Microsoft and BesTV have posted a note on the Shanghai Stock Exchange defining their E-Home Entertainment Development partnership, which begins with a $237 million investment. Unconfirmed reports claim that the companies aim to produce an Xbox-derivative gaming console called Bestpad. This would be the first gaming console to be released in China since the lifting of the long-standing ban on the import and sale of consoles in the country. BesTV is mostly known for the production of smart TVs and associated entertainment services, and brings to the table a large existing customer-base, with 18 million IPTV subscribers across China, southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe. The new joint-venture will launch in the newly established free trade zone in Shanghai.
Ban on electronic device use during aircraft takeoff and landing may be lifted in 2014
After years of frustration, and recent prodding and pushing from industry members, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected to remove restrictions on aircraft passengers’ use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing. The New York Times reports that an FAA advisory panel is expected to recommend that the restrictions be removed, with implementation to occur in 2014. While the new rules are unlikely to allow for phone calls or mobile data use, passengers should expect to be able to listen to music, watch video, or get work done on their laptops without harassment from the flight crew. It is unclear whether or not lifting the restrictions in the US will have an effect in Australia, but it seems likely that once the concern is widely debunked that other countries will be quick to follow suit.
Apple Maps leads unwitting drivers onto airport runway
It seems that Apple isn’t quite out of the woods yet when it comes to Apple Maps and its questionable directions. Motorists at Alaska’s Fairbanks Airport were in for a rude shock when their mobile devices led them from the admittedly confusing airport motorway, onto one of the taxiways, and eventually across a runway. Fairbanks Airport officials contacted the Attorney General’s office requesting an immediate shutdown of the service. Barricades have been erected to stop further traffic from wandering onto the tarmac. After Apple CEO Tim Cook’s official apology in September 2012, in which he specified a list of competitor’s products as suggested alternatives, it was hoped that by now, a full year later, the more integrated application would have regained some trust. Drivers should always remember to use common sense when driving — after all, technology is fallible.
Angie Spear, assistant manager at Fairbanks Airport described the drivers as persistent, “They had to enter the airport property via a motion-activated gate, and afterwards there are many signs, lights and painted markings, first warning that aircraft may share the road and then that drivers should not be there at all. They needed to drive over a mile with all this before reaching the runway. But the drivers disregarded all that because they were following the directions given on their iPhones.”
A series of tubes: Pneumatic trash disposal system proposed for New York
The University Transportation Research Centre at the City University of New York, has conducted a study to determine the feasibility of installing a pneumatic trash disposal system to alleviate the problem of garbage collection in Manhattan. As it stands, normal curb-side collection requires garbage to be regularly deposited on the street for collection by noisy trucks. The study found that by installing two pneumatic trash disposal systems in the High Line in Chelsea and the Second Avenue subway, congestion and noise pollution could be seriously reduced, along with a 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to curb-side collection. The two retrofits would cost approximately $10.5 million each. The system is modelled on the only operational pneumatic trash system in the US, built in 1975 on Roosevelt Island when it was converted to a residential area.
Unfortunately, it seems that the proposal is unlikely to proceed, with a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Transit Authority stating in a statement to Capital New York that it already “rejected the idea as infeasible.”
224,000 square kilometre map of Great Britain reconstructed in Minecraft
When Joseph Braybrook joined the summer internship program at Ordnance Survey, Great Britain’s national mapping authority, it is unlikely that he expected to be spending his time crafting an accurate map of GB in one of his favourite videogames, but that is exactly what he did. Using mapping data from OS Terrain 50, a 3D model of the bare earth surface of GB, Baybrook was able to build 22 billion block Minecraft map of the country, scaled down to fit within Minecraft’s 128 block height maximum. Baybrook then used OS VectorMap District to populate the world with features such as water, woodland, and roads. Graham Dunlop, Innovation Lab Manager at Ordnance Survey said “We think we may have created the largest Minecraft world ever built based on real-world data.”
Players are encouraged to download the Minecraft world for themselves, and “add their own recreations of real-life features – such as landmarks like Stonehenge or add imagined environments such as Hogwarts castle.”