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The VR headset: still not stylish just like Back to the Future II predicted





Ever since Back to the Future II’s uber futuristic glimpse of what life could be like in 2015, the technology comparisons have been running rampant. While the movie’s predictions have some obvious hits and misses, thanks to Sony’s SmartEyeglass, I realized that the 1989 film was right about one more thing. There are no stylish VR headsets available today. This epiphany came on the heels of the announcement that Sony’s answer to Google Glass was now for sale. After checking out Sony’s SmartEyeglass, my first thought was that not a single person would ever take me seriously while wearing them.


Sony SmartEyeglass or SmartEyesore?

I mean, could you blame them? I’m certainly not the most fashionable person around, but I can’t possibly be alone in thinking that not a single person would look normal while using Sony’s SmartEyeglass. Besides the overlarge square design that wouldn’t flatter even the most genetically blessed among us, I think the thing that gets me most is that its bulky retro-ish styling detracts from its usability. Despite the dizzying number of potential uses, I just know it would bring a lot of (unwanted) attention that would keep me from wearing them. And that’s a huge bummer. Especially since you know that Sony tried their best to make them as stylish as possible. Perhaps they’re going for the nostalgia market since the vintage black frame look of the $840 SmartEyeglass will only offer the classic green display of those old monochrome monitors.

Sony is bringing back Monochrome in 2015

Sony is bringing back Monochrome in 2015

The future’s not that bright, either. I find myself liking the ultra futuristic look of the now defunct Google Glass about as much as I like the thick black styling of SmartEyeglass. While I can appreciate the minimalist approach that Google’s designers took, I can’t help but think that it looks like something a pretentious architect would wear.


Was this the Google Glass target demographic?

I mean, granted, Google Glass offers a full color display unlike Sony’s SmartEyeglass but even with the barely there frames, I know that I would still feel a bit weird rocking a pair. I guess, to me, it almost looks like a bluetooth earpiece for your face. And as amazing and revolutionary as the Microsoft HoloLens promises to be, you have to admit that there is still much to be desired when it comes to the looks department.

Microsoft HoloLens

Microsoft HoloLens augments reality but not your looks

I’m not saying that the VR headset from Back to the Future II is the best thing around; far from it, in fact. What I am saying is that, if given the choice, I would pick the silly Back to the Future glasses instead of the HoloLens or Google Glass. Why? Well, I think Back to the Future II totally got it right: they embraced the inherent awkwardness of VR glasses instead of trying to fight it. I know it’s not an easy task to design good looking virtual reality and augmented reality headsets, but we must be able to do better, right? And yes, you can argue that Michael J. Fox doesn’t exactly look cool while yelling at the fruit dispensing robot in his VR glasses, but they are certainly a lot less obtrusive than some options that are currently on the market.


Ahem, Oculus Rift

I guess what I’m saying is that maybe we should take a page from the Back to the Future II design playbook. Let’s embrace the fact that VR headsets will never look like regular glasses and goggles and run with it so that we can move past the era of weird looking VR headsets and instead focus our efforts on making flying cars happen.

Hey, I'm Sara! I'm a fan of all things geek so you'll usually find me immersed in everything from comic books to auto sports. I often wish that I was born in the future so that I could have experienced adventures worthy of Star Wars or Star Trek. To cope with the fact that we don't even have flying cars yet, I generally infuse everything I do with a healthy dose of humor. I mean, we may as well laugh while we're waiting, right? (Also, it's a great excuse to include as many Simpsons references as possible)


Tesla will create a 1,800-mile semi-truck charging circuit after Biden financing rejection





Tesla remains committed to its ambitious project of constructing an electric big-rig charging corridor spanning from Texas to California, undeterred by being excluded from a lucrative federal funding program associated with President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. However, we have learned that the project’s original scope may still undergo modifications.

The company had been looking to secure close to $100 million from the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant program under the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). With approximately $24 million of its own funds, Tesla aimed to construct nine electric semi-truck charging stations spanning from Laredo, Texas, to Fremont, California.

This corridor, if implemented, would create a groundbreaking charging network that has the potential to revolutionize long-distance and regional electric trucking, making a significant contribution to the reduction of pollution in the transportation industry. Without it, however, Tesla’s commitment to revolutionize heavy-duty trucking could face even more delays than it already has.

The project, known as TESSERACT, was presented to the FHWA. It was mentioned in a slide within a lengthy 964-page filing with the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Tesla worked together with SCAQMD on the application.

However, Tesla was not on the list of 47 recipients that the Biden administration announced in January. Together, those winners were granted a staggering $623 million to construct electric vehicle charging and refueling stations nationwide. Despite Tesla’s success in winning approximately 13% of all other charging awards from the Infrastructure Act, the company has only managed to secure around $17 million in revenue.

Rohan Patel, who recently departed from his VP position at Tesla amidst the company’s 10% workforce reduction, mentioned in a message that Tesla might explore options such as state funding opportunities or future rounds of the CFI program. According to him, some of the sites along the route are obvious choices, even without funding.


The 1,800-mile route would connect Tesla’s two North American vehicle factories, as well as one that is planned but delayed in Mexico. Every station was initially planned to have eight 750kW chargers specifically for Tesla Semis, along with four chargers available for other electric trucks. It’s uncertain how successful it would be if the company couldn’t construct all nine stations, which are evenly spaced along the route.

Approximately half of the CFI funding recipients selected by the Biden administration have prioritized the expansion of EV charging infrastructure in various communities, including urban and rural areas. These efforts aim to establish charging stations at key locations such as schools, parks, libraries, and multi-family housing complexes, among others.

A significant portion of the funding was allocated to support 11 “corridor” projects, several of which are located along the I-10 corridor that coincides with Tesla’s proposed route. This allocation involves $70 million to the North Texas Council of Governments for the construction of up to five hydrogen fueling stations catering to medium and heavy-duty trucks in the Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio regions.

The Department of Transportation stated in January that the project will contribute to the establishment of a hydrogen corridor stretching from southern California to Texas.

“Funding hydrogen stations will be seen as a complete waste of money,” Patel stated in an interview.

Although he is no longer representing Tesla, he expressed his disapproval of funding hydrogen infrastructure during his tenure at the company.

On X in February, he expressed his frustration with governments worldwide for squandering tax dollars on hydrogen for light/heavy duty infrastructure. Quitting is always possible, just like giving up smoking.

There are other challenges to the project besides funding. Tesla’s recent restructuring could add another layer of complexity.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has expressed a strong commitment to advancing autonomy within the company. It has been reported that Tesla has shifted its focus from a planned low-cost electric vehicle to prioritizing the development of a specialized robotaxi. The Semi has experienced significant delays in its production timeline, with Tesla having manufactured only a limited number of around 100 units so far.

Despite all this, the Tesla Semi program continues to gain traction among customers. Shortly after the restructuring, Dan Priestley, the head of the Semi program, took to social media to announce a promising new customer for the trucks. In March, Priestley also mentioned that Tesla has been utilizing Semis to transport battery packs from Nevada to the Fremont factory.

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There is a looming threat of hackers releasing a massive list of stolen sanctions and financial crimes data





A financially motivated criminal hacking group claims to have obtained a confidential database comprising millions of records used by companies to screen potential customers for connections to sanctions and financial crime.

The hackers, who identify themselves as GhostR, claimed responsibility for the theft of 5.3 million records from the World-Check screening database in March. They have issued a warning that they may release the data online.

World-Check is a screening database that companies use to conduct “know your customer” checks (or KYC). It helps companies assess the risk level of prospective customers and identify any potential criminal activity, such as individuals involved in money laundering or under government sanctions. The hackers disclosed that they acquired the data from a Singapore-based company that has access to the World-Check database; however, they refrained from revealing the company’s name.

The stolen data, which the hackers shared with us, includes individuals who were sanctioned as recently as this year.

Simon Henrick, a spokesperson for the London Stock Exchange Group, stated that there was no security breach of LSEG or their systems, according to. The incident pertains to a third party’s data set, which contains a duplicate of the World-Check data file. This was acquired in a manner that violates legal protocols from the system of a third party. We are working closely with the affected third party to safeguard our data and are promptly notifying the relevant authorities.

LSEG did not disclose the third-party company involved, but they did not contest the reported severity of the data breach.

The stolen data that has come across includes information on numerous individuals, including both current and former government officials, diplomats, and leaders of private companies who are considered to be “politically exposed people.” These individuals are at a higher risk of being involved in corruption or bribery. The list also includes individuals accused of involvement in organized crime, suspected terrorists, intelligence operatives, and a European spyware vendor.

The data differs from record to record. The database includes a variety of personal information, such as names, passport numbers, Social Security numbers, online crypto account identifiers, bank account numbers, and more.

World-Check is currently under the ownership of the London Stock Exchange Group as a result of their acquisition of financial data provider Refinitiv in 2021 for a staggering $27 billion. LSEG gathers data from various public sources, such as sanctions lists, government sources, and news outlets. This valuable database is then offered to companies on a subscription basis, enabling them to perform thorough customer due diligence.

However, privately operated databases such as World-Check have been found to have inaccuracies that can impact individuals who have no involvement in criminal activities and have no connection to them, but whose data is stored in these databases.

In 2016, a security lapse at a third-party company led to the online leak of an older copy of the World-Check database. A former adviser to the U.K. government whose name World-Check had classified as “terrorism” was involved in this incident. HSBC closed the bank accounts of several well-known British Muslims after they were labeled as having connections to terrorism by the World-Check database.

The Information Commissioner’s Office, the U.K.’s data protection authority, has not yet provided a comment on the breach.

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Orbex’s recent funding could expedite the launch of its Prime microlauncher into space





Orbex, a small launch company based in the UK, got more money from backers, including Scotland’s national bank. The company is now getting ready for its first orbital launch, but the date for that mission has not yet been set.

With its start in 2015, Orbex is one of only a few companies in Europe racing to make the next generation of launch vehicles. The retirement of the Ariane 5 and big delays to the Ariane 6 and Vega C rockets have left a huge gap that these companies are trying to fill. Without these vehicles, there is almost no native launch capacity coming out of Europe.

But Orbex also has a chance because of his absence. The company is working on what is sometimes called a “microlauncher.” It is a two-stage vehicle called Prime that is only 19 meters tall and can take up to 180 kilograms of payload. Rocket Lab’s Electron is the most similar. It’s only a meter shorter, but it can take up to 300 kilograms.

The fact that Orbex is small is not a problem for the company. In fact, Orbex CEO Philip Chambers told TechCrunch via email that the company is seeing “positive market conditions” for its product.

“There is a pent-up demand for sovereign launch capabilities,” he said. “We are seeing an exponential growth of satellites being launched into LEO, and demand for launch is far exceeding supply. At the moment, it’s not possible to launch a single kilogram from Europe.” “We will let European customers choose how to launch their own payloads and let them launch European payloads from European soil.”

Prime will take off from a new spaceport being built with money from the UK’s national space agency in Sutherland, which is in northern Scotland. The end goal is to use a patented recovery technique that the company calls REFLIGHT. This is an interstage device that sits between the rocket stages. When the booster comes off, four “petals” will unfold and, along with a parachute, create enough drag for a soft landing in the ocean.

It’s possible that a bigger car will be made in the future, but Chambers made it clear that Prime was the company’s top goal. He did say, though, that many of the rocket’s main technologies could be used with bigger packages.

Considering the laws of physics, it would be logical for Orbex to explore the option of using larger vehicles in order to compete on cost per kg.

The company is starting its Series D round with £16.7 million ($20.7 million) in new funding, including investments from Octopus Ventures, BGF, Heartcore, EIFO, and other contributors. Following the closure of a £40.4 million ($50 million) Series C in October 2022, Orbex has secured additional capital. Although a spokesperson has confirmed that the new funding will assist Orbex in accelerating the development of Prime, ensuring its readiness and scalability for the launch period, the specific launch window has not been announced yet.

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