Newtech

Chinese space station Tiangong-2 is about to burn up over the Pacific

The final hours for China’s Tiangong-2 space station are at hand, as the eight-ton piece of hardware will fall to earth, or rather sea, some time in the next 20 hours or so in a controlled deorbit maneuver.  But unlike with its predecessor, it isn’t a mystery where this particular piece of space debris is going to fall.

Tiangong-2 is a small space station that was put into orbit in 2016 to test a number of China’s orbital technologies; it was originally planned to stay up there for two years, but as many a well-engineered piece of space kit has done, it greatly exceeded its expected lifespan and has been operational for more than a thousand days now.

Chinese Taikonauts have visited the station to perform experiments, test tools, perform orbital refueling and all that sort of thing. But it’s not nearly as well equipped as the International Space Station, nor as spacious — and that’s saying something — so they only stayed a month, and even that must have been pretty grueling.

The time has come, however, for Tiangong-2 to be deorbited and, naturally, destroyed in the process. The China National Space Administration indicated that the 18-meter-wide station and solar panels will mostly burn up during reentry, but that a small amount of debris may fall “in a safe area in the South Pacific,” specifying a rather large area that does technically include quite a bit of New Zealand (160-190°W long by 30-45°S lat).

They did not specify when exactly it would be coming down, except that it would be during July 19 Beijing time (it’s already morning there at the time of publishing). It should produce a visible streak but not anything you’ll see if you aren’t looking for it. This visualization from The Aerospace Company shows how the previous, very similar station would break up:

It’ll be different this time around but you get a general idea.

That’s much better than Tiangong-1, which stopped responding to its operators after several years and as such could not be deliberately guided into a safe reentry path. Instead it just slowly drifted down until people were pretty sure it would be reentering sometime in the following few days — and it did.

There was never any real danger that the bus-sized station would land on anyone, but it’s just fundamentally a little unnerving not knowing where the thing would be coming down.

This isn’t the last Tiangong; Tiangong-3 is planned for a 2020 launch, and will further inform the Chinese engineers and astronauts in their development of a more full-featured space station planned for a couple years down the line.

Controlled deorbit is the responsible thing to do, not to mention just plain polite, and the CNSA is doing the right thing here. All the same, Kiwis should probably carry umbrellas tomorrow.

Review: ‘Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3’ Is Nintendo Switch’s Superhero Smackdown


Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 on Nintendo Switch, like previous games in the series, is basically a superheroic reskin of Blizzard’s legendary action-RPG Diablo. And like many games inspired by Diablo (most infamously Destiny) you’ll either become completely addicted to the loop or question why you’re doing any of this as the numbers go up. What makes you fall into one camp or the other depends on game quality for sure but also personal preference. And it turns out fun but mostly brainless team-up action just feels so much more appropriate to me for a superhero blockbuster.

Subtitled “The Black Order,” Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3’s story mode is supposed to be about hunting down the Infinity Stones so Thanos can’t have them. But just like in the movies, that’s more of a framework for a bunch of rip-roaring self-contained adventures full of colorful but throwaway villains to vanquish and an ever expanding assemblage of superheroes to recruit. Daredevil even jokes about hallway fights. The snappy pacing and slick frequent cutscene transitions between levels make it tough to find a natural stopping point in the breezy ten-hour crossover campaign.

As I said in my preview, the roster here is quite impressive, not weirdly limited like Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite and thankfully not rendered in bootleg photorealistic art style like the upcoming Square Enix Avengers game. The story also does a good job of grouping characters in different “families” like classic Avengers Iron Man and Captain America, street-level ninja Defenders Iron Fist and Elektra, X-Men Wolverine and Nightcrawler, the Guardians of the Galaxy, mystical Midnight Sons Ghost Rider and Elsa Bloodstone, and young Spider-People Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy.

Beyond giving your team some aesthetic cohesion, characters in the same groups also receive extra team bonuses. I was going to go for an all-Black cast no matter what, like I did in the first game. But I also got a resiliency bonus for playing as members of The Crew: Black Panther, Storm, Luke Cage, and Falcon.

That’s just the start though when it comes to customizing characters. You can spend currency you earn on global team bonuses. Eventually you’ll also start gathering Infinity Stone shards called ISO-8 that buff characters you equip them to. They’re basically the game’s loot and can be enhanced or broken down into component parts. It makes the game’s downtime feel a little more involved than like a Lego Marvel Super Heroes game or something.

But ultimately Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is about smashing your way through waves of henchmen and bosses in combat encounter barely broken up by an environmental puzzle or two. It’s no Bayonetta or anything but Team Ninja’s combat does have some appreciated Japanese depth along with the Dynasty Warriors ridiculous spectacle. Characters have light, heavy, and jumping attacks that combo into each other pretty well depending on the character. You can spend energy to use four different special attacks as well you upgrade over time.

You’ll quickly fall into effective rhythms with your teammates and their skills as you swap between them. A typical tactic for me involves freezing hordes with Storm’s ice barrage, slicing through them with Black Panther’s quick light claw attacks, and using Luke Cage’s nonstop punching special on weakened bosses since his bulletproof skin shrugs off weak hits. Also Falcon flies around.

You’re supposed to sync up complementary special moves for synergy attacks but I found the controls for activating this too awkward in the heat of battle. More often I just waited for another meter to charge that lets you use an explosive screen-filling ultimate attack with all four characters at once.

The enemies aren’t geniuses but there’s a nice variety to them that makes you reconsider your approach at times. Take out lethal distant snipers before you worry about crowd control. Stagger heavy enemies by breaking their guard gauge. Toss explosive power cores back at towering Sentinel robots. Absorb and redirect dark dimension energy. And of course the generous supply of over-the-top bosses have their own gimmicks like Kingpin’s sumo charge or Doctor Octopus’s vulnerable tentacles.

By design the combat isn’t all that complicated. The varied but relatively simplistic character movesets encourage you to swap your team around more often to see something new. The nifty new zoomed-in single-player Heroic camera angle makes this look more like a third-person action game and better shows off the simple but slick levels and character models. The performance holds up even when things get wild. But you can still feel the game’s top-down roots and that’s okay. Again, this is Diablo but with all-ages superheroes instead of M-rated demons.

Fortunately, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 also realizes that messing around with buddies in the post-game is the real fun of Diablo. You can play locally with other Switch players or hop online. And the Infinity Rifts, along with extra campaign difficulties, give you plenty to do with your maxed-out team. These are collections of little gauntlets remixing content from the main game. Beat a wave of bosses. Kill enemies to replenish the timer as it runs out. Rely exclusively on special moves. They’re tough but you get great rewards for your troubles like new costumes, extra currency, and even a handful of unlockable characters. They make a part of the game that could have otherwise been a grind still feel meaningful.

So whether you want to marinade in a stylish rendition of the Marvel comic book universe or just chill out and plow through a bunch of fleeting but flashy fights with cool characters, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is pretty honest and unpretentious about what it offers. For more, here are some other cool Switch games to play and remember how Iron Man was completely right in Avengers: Endgame.

Nexar’s Live Map is like Street View with pictures from 5 minutes ago

We all rely on maps to get where we’re going or investigate a neighborhood for potential brunch places, but the data we’re looking at is often old, vague or both. Nexar, maker of dashcam apps and cameras, aims to put fresh and specific data on your map with images from the street taken only minutes before.

If you’re familiar with dash cams, and you’re familiar with Google’s Street View, then you can probably already picture what Live Map essentially is. It’s not quite as easy to picture how it works or why it’s useful.

Nexar sells dash cams and offers an app that turns your phone into one temporarily, and the business has been doing well, with thousands of active users on the streets of major cities at any given time. Each node of this network of gadgets shares information with the other nodes — warning of traffic snarls, potholes, construction and so on.

The team saw the community they’d enabled trading videos and sharing data derived by automatic analysis of their imagery, and, according to co-founder and CTO Bruno Fernandez-Ruiz, asked themselves: Why shouldn’t this data be available to the public as well?

Actually there are a few reasons — privacy chief among them. Google has shown that properly handled, this kind of imagery can be useful and only minimally invasive. But knowing where someone or some car was a year or two ago is one thing; knowing where they were five minutes ago is another entirely.

Fortunately, from what I’ve heard, this issue was front of mind for the team from the start. But it helps to see what the product looks like in action before addressing that.

nexar zoom

Zooming in on a hexagonal map section, which the company has dubbed “nexagons,” polls the service to find everything the service knows about that area. And the nature of the data makes for extremely granular information. Where something like Google Maps or Waze may say that there’s an accident at this intersection, or construction causing traffic, Nexar’s map will show the locations of the orange cones to within a few feet, or how far into the lanes that fender-bender protrudes.

You can also select the time of day, letting you rewind a few minutes or a few days — what was it like during that parade? Or after the game? Are there a lot of people there late at night? And so on.

Right now it’s limited to a web interface, and to New York City — the company has enough data to launch in several other areas in the U.S. but wants to do a slower roll-out to identify issues and opportunities. An API is on the way as well. (Europe, unfortunately, may be waiting a while, though the company says it’s GDPR-compliant.)

The service uses computer vision algorithms to identify a number of features, including signs (permanent and temporary), obstructions, even the status of traffic lights. This all goes into the database, which gets updated any time a car with a Nexar node goes by. Naturally it’s not in 360 and high definition — these are forward-facing cameras with decent but not impressive resolution. It’s for telling what’s in the road, not for zooming in to spot a street address.

Detection Filtering

Of course, construction signs and traffic jams aren’t the only things on the road. As mentioned before it’s a serious question of privacy to have constantly updating, public-facing imagery of every major street of a major city. Setting aside the greater argument of the right to privacy in public places and attendant philosophical problems, it’s simply the ethical thing to do to minimize how much you expose people who don’t know they’re being photographed.

To that end, Nexar’s systems carefully detect and blur out faces before any images are exposed to public view. License plates are likewise obscured so that neither cars nor people can be easily tracked from image to image. Of course, one may say that here is a small red car that was on 4th, and is on 5th a minute later — probably the same. But systematic surveillance rather than incidental is far easier with an identifier like a license plate.

In addition to protecting bystanders, Nexar has to think of the fact that an image from a car by definition places that car in a location at a given time, allowing them to be tracked. And while the community essentially opts into this kind of location and data sharing when they sign up for an account, it would be awkward if the public website let a stranger track a user all the way to their home or watch their movements all day.

“The frames are carefully random to begin with so people can’t be soloed out,” said Fernandez-Ruiz. “We eliminate any frames near your house and your destination.” As far as the blurring, he said that “We have a pretty robust model, on par with anything you can see in the industry. We probably are something north of 97-98% accurate for private data.”

So what would you do with this kind of service? There is, of course, something fundamentally compelling about being able to browse your city in something like real time.

“On Google, there’s a red line. We show you an actual frame — a car blocking the right lane right there. It gives you a human connection,” said Fernandez-Ruiz. “There’s an element of curiosity about what the world looks like, maybe not something you do every day, but maybe once a week, or when something happens.”

No doubt we are many of us guilty of watching dash-cam footage or even Street View pictures of various events, pranks and other occurrences. But basic curiosity doesn’t pay the bills. Fortunately there are more compelling use cases.

“One that’s interesting is construction zones. You can see individual elements like cones and barriers — you can see where exactly they are, when they’re started etc. We want to work with municipal authorities, departments of transportation, etc. on this — it gives them a lot of information on what their contractors are doing on the road. That’s one use case that we know about and understand.”

In fact there are already some pilot programs in Nevada. And although it’s rather a prosaic application of a 24/7 surveillance apparatus, it seems likely to do some good.

But the government angle brings in an unsavory line of thinking — what if the police want to get unblurred dash cam footage of a crime that just happened, or one of many such situations where tech’s role has historically been a mixed blessing?

“We’ve given a lot of thought to this, and it this concerns our investors highly,” Fernandez-Ruiz admitted. “There are two things we’ve done. One is we’ve differentiated what data the user owns and what we have. The data they send is theirs — like Dropbox. What we get is these anonymized blurred images. Obviously we will comply with the law, but as far as ethical applications of big data and AI, we’ve said we’re not going to be a tool of an authoritarian government. So we’re putting processes in place — even if we get a subpoena, we can say: This is encrypted data, please ask the user.”

That’s some consolation, but it seems clear that tools like this one are more a question than an answer. It’s an experiment by a successful company and may morph into something ubiquitous and useful or a niche product used by professional drivers and municipal governments. But in tech, if you have the data, you use it. Because if you don’t, someone else will.

You can test out Nexar’s Live Map here.

Apollo 11: Here’s the Speech Richard Nixon Would Have Given ‘In Event of Moon Disaster’

President Richard Nixon speaks to astronauts on the Moon on July 20, 1969. (Photo Credit: CORBIS / Corbis via Getty Images)

The Apollo 11 moon landing 50 years ago this July 20 stands as one of mankind’s most stunning achievements. As America celebrates the mission’s milestone anniversary this week, it’s hard to imagine that everything could have gone tragically wrong during those four nail-biting days. But in the days before that landing in 1969, White House and NASA officials prepared for the worst.

Then-president Richard Nixon’s landline call to the astronauts after the successful mission (“Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man’s world”) will always be remembered, but Nixon was also prepared to call two others in the event the mission went terribly wrong — Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin’s wives.

Nixon was also prepared to face the American public with remarks in case Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon, but were unable to get off the surface and back to the space capsule.

According to author James Mann, writing in the Washington Post, William Safire, then a White House speechwriter, drafted a speech for Nixon to deliver to the nation if the astronauts were stranded on the moon.

Safire’s undelivered speech lay hidden for 30 years, until Mann found it in the late 1990s while browsing Nixon archives during research for a book.

“I was rummaging through the archives of the Nixon administration (then in College Park, Md.) when my eyes suddenly fell on something I wasn’t looking for,” Mann wrote in the Post. “It was a memo from Safire to White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman titled, “In event of moon disaster.”

“The short text still brings tears to the eyes,” Mann added.

The entire memo is below, courtesy of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum:

The speech, which also included instructions about Nixon telephoning the wives of the astronauts and a clergyman conducting the equivalent of a burial at sea, begins with “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.”

“These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery,” the speech continues. “But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.”

It ends with: “For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”

Following the address, Safire’s instructions included that at the point when NASA ends communication with the astronauts, a clergyman should do the equivalent of a burial at sea, “commending their souls to ‘deepest of the deep’” and conclude with the Lord’s Prayer.

More on Geek.com:

These robo-ants can work together in swarms to navigate tricky terrain

While the agility of a Spot or Atlas robot is something to behold, there’s a special merit reserved for tiny, simple robots that work not as a versatile individual but as an adaptable group. These “tribots” are built on the model of ants, and like them can work together to overcome obstacles with teamwork.

Developed by EPFL and Osaka University, tribots are tiny, light and simple, moving more like inchworms than ants, but able to fling themselves up and forward if necessary. The bots themselves and the system they make up are modeled on trap-jaw ants, which alternate between crawling and jumping, and work (as do most other ants) in fluid roles like explorer, worker and leader. Each robot is not itself very intelligent, but they are controlled as a collective that deploys their abilities intelligently.

In this case a team of tribots might be expected to get from one end of a piece of complex terrain to another. An explorer could move ahead, sensing obstacles and relaying their locations and dimensions to the rest of the team. The leader can then assign worker units to head over to try to push the obstacles out of the way. If that doesn’t work, an explorer can try hopping over it — and if successful, it can relay its telemetry to the others so they can do the same thing.

fly tribot fly

Fly, tribot, fly!

It’s all done quite slowly at this point — you’ll notice that in the video, much of the action is happening at 16x speed. But rapidity isn’t the idea here; similar to Squishy Robotics’ creations, it’s more about adaptability and simplicity of deployment.

The little bots weigh only 10 grams each, and are easily mass-produced, as they’re basically PCBs with some mechanical bits and grip points attached — “a quasi-two-dimensional metamaterial sandwich,” according to the paper. If they only cost (say) a buck each, you could drop dozens or hundreds on a target area and over an hour or two they could characterize it, take measurements and look for radiation or heat hot spots, and so on.

If they moved a little faster, the same logic and a modified design could let a set of robots emerge in a kitchen or dining room to find and collect crumbs or scoot plates into place. (Ray Bradbury called them “electric mice” or something in “There will come soft rains,” one of my favorite stories of his. I’m always on the lookout for them.)

Swarm-based bots have the advantage of not failing catastrophically when something goes wrong — when a robot fails, the collective persists, and it can be replaced as easily as a part.

“Since they can be manufactured and deployed in large numbers, having some ‘casualties’ would not affect the success of the mission,” noted EPFL’s Jamie Paik, who co-designed the robots. “With their unique collective intelligence, our tiny robots can demonstrate better adaptability to unknown environments; therefore, for certain missions, they would outperform larger, more powerful robots.”

It raises the question, in fact, of whether the sub-robots themselves constitute a sort of uber-robot? (This is more of a philosophical question, raised first in the case of the Constructicons and Devastator. Transformers was ahead of its time in many ways.)

The robots are still in prototype form, but even as they are, constitute a major advance over other “collective” type robot systems. The team documents their advances in a paper published in the journal Nature.

Amazon reportedly ramps development on Alexa-powered home robot on wheels

Bloomberg reported last April that Amazon was working on a home robot codenamed “Vesta” (after the Roman goddess of the hearth and home), and now the publication says that development on the project continues. Plus, the report includes new details about the specifics of the robot, including that it will indeed support Alexa and have wheels to help it move around. My terrible artist’s rendering of what that could look like is above.

The plan for Vesta was apparently to release it this year, but it’s not yet quite ready for mass production, according to Bloomberg’s sources. And while it could end up mothballed and never see the light of day, as with any project being developed ahead of launch, the company is said to be putting more engineering and development resources into the team working on its release.

Current prototypes of the robot are said to be about waist-high, per the report, and make their way through the world aided by sensor-fed computer vision. It’ll come when you call thanks to the Alexa integration, per an internal demo described by Bloomberg, and should ostensibly offer all the same kind of functionality you’d get with an Echo device, including calling, timers and music playback.

For other clues as to what Vesta could look like, if and when it ever launches, a good model might be Kuri, the robot developed by Bosch internal startup Mayfield Robotics which was shuttered a year ago and never made it to market. Kuri could also record video and take photos, play games and generally interact with the household.

Meanwhile, Amazon is also apparently readying a Sonos-competing high-quality Echo speaker to debut next year.

Top Movie and TV Trailers of the Week: ‘Disney’s Mulan,’ ‘Another Life,’ and More

Disney only teased a live-action movie of Mulan, that includes a ferocious warrior who shields her dad by fighting in a war, even while Netflix’s eerie sci-fi show Another Life teases extraterrestrial mayhem. By Roadside Attractions’ biopic on The Wizard of Oz celebrity Judy Garland into Hulu’s cryptic show Light as a Feather, here are the very best films and TV shows to continue your radar.

Light as a Feather

FREAKS 

Twenty-one years following an remarkable box office series, Disney’s Mulan is coming back to the big screen, and this time, it’ll be a live-action picture of the animated movie. The film, which follows the ferocious warrior’s travel to rescue China from enemies, will premiere in theatres on March 27, 2020.
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Extraterrestrials are here in order to snap up our world at Another Life, a Netflix sci-fi show that follows the wake of a strange alien artifact landing on Earth and also an intergalactic mission which attempts to prevent its strong hold on humankind.

Judy

    Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac

  • Best Films and TV Panels to Keep on Your Radar for SDCC 2019
  • The mortal game comes in Light as a Feather, Hulu’s creepy show that sends a bunch of friends into a dangerous game against supernatural powers. Light as a Feather Season 2 strikes Hulu on July 26.
    You may recall Judy Garland as Dorthy at The Wizard of Oz, but not much is understood about the last years of her lifetime. Judy, a movie concentrated on the celebrity ’ post-cinema profession, celebrities Renée Zellweger as the fighting starlet who needs to visit London and steal crowds with her own voice. Judy hits theatres Sept. 27.
    Seven-year-old Chloe and her daddy are concealing from the exterior in FREAKS, a sci-fi thriller that occurs at a post-apocalyptic society in which certain people are worried by the general public. Desires to escape her position, which might put her own life. FREAKS hits theatres on Aug. 23.
    TGIF.  We have rounded up the best film and TV trailers which you may have missed throughout the week, As you’re looking for your long weekend ahead.

    A strong horned fairy plus a princess participate in a significant showdown at Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of all Evil.  The movie, which stars Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning, follows the intricate connection between a significant villain and Princess Aurora and also their electricity battle to take over a kingdom. Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of all Evil hits theatres on Oct. 18.
    Data manipulation is just one of technician ’s feared defects and The fantastic Hack, a documentary which explores this terrifying scenario, spans private accounts and viewpoints on the enormous Cambridge Analytica/Facebook information scandal that happened this past year. This documentary is coming on July 24 to Netflix and theatres.

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  • History has had warriors known as knights, and today, a set of modern-day men have to step up and save the planet in Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac. This anime show, that follows the youthful heroes as they devote their lives to protecting Goddess Athena and people, is arriving to Netflix on July 19.

  • Watch: New Live-Action ‘Mulan’ Trailer Spotlights a Fierce Fighter
  • The Fantastic Hack

    Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

YouTube lands on Fire TV and Amazon Prime Video arrives on Chromecast, Android TV

It’s nice when people can come together and work through their differences to make it easier to watch stuff. That’s exactly what happened today, when the long-standing detente between Google and Amazon over streaming video services came to an end, with YouTube arriving on Fire TV and Prime Video making its way to Chromecast and Android TV.

Amazon’s second-generation Fire TV Stick, their Fire TV Stick 4K, the Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Stick Basic Edition and Fire TV Edition smart TVs made by partner OEMs will all get support for the official YouTube app globally starting today, and Amazon intends to extend support to even more of its hardware in the future. YouTube TV and YouTube Kids will also come to Amazon Fire TV devices later this year.

On the Google side, both its own Chromecast devices, as well as partner TVs and hardware that support Chromecast built-in, or that run Android TV, will gain support broadly for Prime Video. Plus, any Chromecast Ultra owners will also get access to Prime Video’s 4,000-title library normally reserved for Prime members, at no additional cost, as part of the new tie-up between the two companies.

Prime has been available on some Android TV devices to date, but it’s expanding to a much broader selection of those smart TVs and streaming boxes from today.

This has been a long time coming — several years in fact, with the most recent spat between the two coming as a result of Amazon’s implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show. Then, in May, the companies announced they’d reached an agreement to put the feud behind them in the interest of consumers, which is what resulted in this cross-platform launch today.

Let the streams flow!

Nintendo Switch Lite’s trade-off of whimsy for practicality is a good one

Nintendo revealed a new Switch Lite version of its current-generation console today, which attaches the controllers permanently, shrinks the hardware a bit, and adds a touch more battery life – but it also takes away the ‘Switch’ part of the equation, because you can only use it handheld, instead of attached to a TV or as a unique tabletop gaming experience.

The changes mostly seem in service of brining the price down, since it will retail for $199 when it goes on sale in September. That’s $100 less than the original Switch, which is a big price cut and could open up the market for Nintendo to a whole new group of players. But it’s also a change that seems to take away a lot of what made the Switch special, including the ability to plug it into a TV for a big-screen experience, or quickly detach the Joy-Con controllers for motion-control gaming with rumble feedback.

Switch Lite makes some crucial changes that I suspect Nintendo knows are reflective of how a lot of people actually use the Switch, regardless of what the aspirational, idealized Switch customer does in Nintendo’s ads and promo materials. As mentioned, it should bump your battery life during actual gameplay – it could add an extra hour when playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, for instance. And the size savings mean it’s much easier to slip in a bag when you head out on a trip.

NSwitchLiteImageWallImg04 image950w

The new redesigned, permanently attached controllers also include a proper D-pad on the left instead of the individual circle buttons used on the Joy-Pad, and the smaller screen still outputs at the same resolution, which means things will look crisper in play.

For me, and probably for a lot of Switch users, the trade-offs made here are actually improvements that reflect 90 percent of my use of the console. I almost never play plugged into a TV, for instance – and could easily do without, since mostly I do that for one-off party game use that isn’t really all that necessary. The controller design with a D-pad is much more practical, and I have never used motion controls with my Switch for any game. Battery life means that you probably don’t need to recharge mid-trip on most short and medium-length trips, and the size savings means that when I’m packing and push comes to shove, I’m that much more likely to take the Switch Lite rather than leave it at home.

Already, some critics are decrying how this model makes the Switch ‘worse’ in almost every way, but actually I think it’s just the opposite – Nintendo may have traded away some of its trademark quirk with this version, but the result is something much more akin to how most people actually want to use a console most of the time.

The Raspberry Pi 4 doesn’t work with all USB-C cables

The Raspberry Pi 4 is a great little beast, but Tyler Ward identified a flaw in the USB Type-C connector. The Raspberry Pi Foundation confirmed to TechRepublic that the design flaw is real, and that your Raspberry Pi 4 might not work with all USB-C cables.

It’s not really a dealbreaker, but you can expect a future board revision with a proper implementation of the USB-C protocol. But if you find yourself scratching your head and you don’t understand why your Raspberry Pi is not powering up, now you know why.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has released the schematics of the board. And there’s a missing CC resistor that let sophisticated chargers negotiate current with the device.

Given that USB-C is a complicated connector, some cables are electronically marked, which means that they have an integrated chip to support a wide range of devices.

For instance, you can use a MacBook Pro charger with plenty of USB-C devices. The charger just figures out how much power it needs to deliver.

But the Raspberry Pi 4 doesn’t support electronically marked cables, such as Apple’s USB-C cables or Google’s Pixel 3 cables. The device is incorrectly identified as an audio adapter accessory.

Fortunately, it doesn’t damage the Raspberry Pi 4 and it doesn’t create any fire hazard. The device just doesn’t power up.

"I expect this will be fixed in a future board revision, but for now users will need to apply one of the suggested workarounds. It's surprising this didn't show up in our (quite extensive) field testing program,” Raspberry Pi Foundation founder Eben Upton told TechRepublic.

A simple workaround is to buy a non e-marked cable or charger. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is selling an $8 USB-C charger for instance. In my testing, it has been working fine for the past couple of weeks.