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Take to the skies with the best drones for everyone

Mashable

Drones and quadcopters have become increasingly accessible in the last few years. As the cost of designing and manufacturing a good quality drone has gone down, more people have been able to get into drone flying as a hobby -- or to up their photography game. There are different types of drone-based fun --from aerial photography to FPV racing -- plus regulations you need to know about. Here are the basics to get you started before spending any cash. One of the most popular gadgets of recent years -- not to mention an occasional headline grabber thanks to their role in military and security tech -- drones are remote-controlled aerial vehicles.


Deal alert! You can buy TWO Amazon Echo Dots for £29.99 right now

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Products featured in this Mail Best article are independently selected by our shopping writers. If you make a purchase using links on this page, MailOnline may earn an affiliate commission. Smart home devices were a hit over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but if you missed out, we have some good news. Right now, you can buy two Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen) smart speakers for £29.99 - so you can treat yourself and a friend this Christmas. The same sell-out deal that was seen during Amazon's Black Friday sale, for a limited time, shoppers can score two Alexa devices for £29.99 using the promo code 2ECHODOT at checkout.


Resona forms 31-firm consortium on facial recognition payment system

The Japan Times

Banking group Resona Holdings Inc. on Thursday established a consortium of 31 Japanese companies across a range of industries to discuss and share know-how on the development of a payment system using facial recognition technology. The bank unveiled the plan for the payment system in August, aiming to allow users to make deposits and withdrawals at banks and shop at stores without presenting anything if they register their facial images in advance, with hopes of creating a standard that can ultimately be utilized in different settings. The joint project is also headed by Panasonic System Solutions Japan Co., a unit of electronics giant Panasonic Corp. which has expertise in facial recognition technology, credit card firm JCB Co. and Dai Nippon Printing Co. The newly announced consortium includes West Japan Railway Co., Seven & i Holdings Co. and Hankyu Hanshin Holdings Inc., among other companies. The facial recognition technology requires customers to register a picture of their face through a website and other personal data.


Pirate-hunting drone monitors crime on the high seas

ZDNet

The ocean is a lawless frontier. Anyone who follows Ian Urbina's excellent series knows that crime abounds on the high seas and often goes unpunished. The factors contributing to lawlessness are complex and difficult to parse, but one issue is strictly logistical. The ocean is big and dangerous and it's not an easy place to monitor. Two UAV technology companies are joining forces to demonstrate that drones can be part of the solution.


Robotic process automation: This is how to stop your workers from resenting the bots

ZDNet

Adobe CIO Cynthia Stoddard says the introduction of RPA is "a culture change". At a time when good people are tough to find and even harder to keep happy, interest in robotic process automation (RPA) is growing: the technology can automate repetitive tasks and free up talented workers to focus on higher-value tasks that are more rewarding for the business and its staff. Gartner says global spending on RPA software reached $1.58 billion in 2020. The analyst predicts that 90% of large organisations globally will have adopted RPA in some form by 2022. Reimagining business for the digital age is the number one priority of many of today's top executives.


Amazon will shut down its Alexa.com web ranking site next year

Engadget

Before Amazon's Alexa became known as the e-commerce giant's voice assistant, it was the name of the company's web ranking site. It was established in 1996 and became famous sometime ago for analyzing web traffic and listing the most popular websites around the world. The service also offers paid subscriptions for those who want detailed SEO analytics and insights. Now, Amazon has announced that it's retiring Alexa.com on May 1st, 2022, just a month after it celebrates its 26th anniversary. "Twenty-five years ago, we founded Alexa Internet. After two decades of helping you find, reach, and convert your digital audience, we've made the difficult decision to retire Alexa.com on May 1, 2022. Thank you for making us your go-to resource for content research, competitive analysis, keyword research, and so much more."


'Help! I've been spotted!' Terry Pratchett on Thief, his favourite video game

The Guardian

In November 2001, Terry Pratchett was in Chester, famed for its Roman ruins and well-preserved medieval architecture. Staying at a hotel in the city centre, Pratchett opened the window of his room, and looked across the historic skyline. "I realised I could drop down on to a roof," he wrote later. "And from then on there was a vista of roofs, leads and ledges leading all the way to the end of the street and beyond; there were even little doors and inviting attic windows … There is a line break, and then he adds. "I'm going to have to stop playing this game." Pratchett was not considering a new career as a cat burglar. He was reflecting on his favourite video game – Thief II: The Metal Age. Released in March 2000, Thief II was the sequel to 1998's Thief: The Dark Project, a pioneering stealth game set in a gothic fantasy world. In both games, players donned the cowl of Garrett, a laconic master thief partly inspired by Raymond Chandler's PI Philip Marlowe. Thief charged players with breaking into medieval mansions, rooftop apartments, banks, cathedrals even police stations, stealing as much coin and valuables as they could while avoiding patrols of sword-wielding guards. Pratchett's relationship with video games is well documented. Always technologically savvy, he was an early adopter of PC gaming, and enjoyed everything from Doom to Deus Ex and Call of Duty. He even helped to create a mod (an unofficial add-on) for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, writing lines of dialogue for a character. But Pratchett held a particular affection for Thief. He played all three games in the series, and often contributed to a Usenet newsgroup named alt.games.thief-dark-project. That newsgroup, analogous to a modern forum, has long since been deactivated, but its posts survive in a Google groups archive. Combined, they provide a fascinating record of Pratchett's evolving relationship with both the Thief series and video games in general. Like so many players who become involved in online communities, he posted because he was stuck. In a post titled: "Help!


New Windows 11 build tests Voice Access, Spotlight backgrounds

PCWorld

Microsoft issued a meaty Windows Insider Build on Wednesday for the Dev channel, testing one substantial improvement: Voice Access, as well as a couple of personalization improvements that should be welcomed by Windows users. Technically, the new features offered in Build 22518 of the Dev Channel for Windows 11 are new, untested code, which might not even make it to the stable channel. Still, there's a good chance that at least Voice Access will come to market, as it leans on Microsoft's accessibility strengths. Microsoft's new build has also added a "Spotlight" feature that will provide fresh, updated desktop backgrounds, and it tweaked the Widgets feature to resemble Windows 10. Microsoft describes Voice Access as a new feature, and one that's distinct from dictation, which has been in Windows for some time.


Sony shows off a robot grabber, 4K OLED panels for VR, and more

#artificialintelligence

Sony's holding its Technology Day event to show off what it's been working on in its R&D labs, and this year, we got some great visuals of tech the company's been working on. Amidst the rehashes of the PS5's haptics and 3D audio and a demo reel of Sony's admittedly awesome displays for making virtual movie sets, we got to see a robot hand that Sony said could figure out grip strength depending on what it was picking up, a slightly dystopian-sounding "global sensing system," and more. Perhaps the most interesting thing Sony showed off was a headset that featured OLED displays with "4K-per-inch" resolution. While the headset Sony used in its presentation was very clearly something intended for lab and prototype use, the specs Sony laid out for the panels were reminiscent of the rumors swirling around the PlayStation VR 2. They don't exactly line up, though; Sony said the headset it showed off was 8K, given the 4K display per eye, and the PS VR 2 will supposedly only be 4K overall with 2000 x 2040 pixels per eye. Still, it's exciting that Sony is working on VR-focused panels, along with latency reduction tech for them.


This CEO quit finance to create a multimillion-dollar coffee robot business

#artificialintelligence

Ella can whip up a fresh cup of Joe four times faster than her human counterparts, and its coffee will soon be available at subways across the city-state. Well, he spent years in the finance industry before deciding to take a coffee break. "I was 35 years old, in finance, and I thought it's my chance, I've got to do something, build something for myself," said Keith Tan, the founder and CEO of Crown Digital. Watch the video above to find out why Tan left behind the 9-to-5 and went on to build a multimillion-dollar coffee robot.