Archives 2016

Meet the Sea Creature Giving the Loch Ness Monster a Run For Its Money

While nowadays there are 10.4 million residential and 309,000 public swimming pools in the U.S., people in ancient times may have not had it so easy. Earlier this month, Scottish paleontologists revealed the fossil remains of a frightening sea monster that may have had cavemen swimming for their lives.

This sea monster is giving the Loch Ness Monster a run for its money. Known as Storr Lochs, he has been preserved in the National Museums Scotland for the past 50 years. He underwent a detailed study by University of Edinburgh researchers and has been released for public view.

Unearthed on Scotland’s northwestern Isle of Skye in 1966, Storr Lochs’ remains are around 13 feet in length and show a distinct long nose and a streamlined body. Paleontologists believe Storr Lochs lived primarily in the sea, and is apart of the ichthyosaurs dinosaur family.

Storr Lochs is unique in that he is the best ever seafaring skeleton from the Mesozoic era found in Scotland. This find is expected to lead researchers to dig up some interesting finds. The new research will pay more attention to how this particular dinosaur evolved during the Middle Jurassic period, as there are not a lot of fossils from this particular era.

“Ichthyosaurs like the Storr Lochs Monster ruled the waves while dinosaurs thundered across the land,” Dr. Steve Brusatte, Professor at the School of GeoSciences in Scotland explained to Tech Times. “Their bones are exceptionally rare in Scotland, which makes this specimen one of the crown jewels of Scottish fossils.”

These mammoth sea creatures had cone-shaped teeth good for eating fish and squid. Scientists believe they had incredibly fast swimming power.

They are compared to the dolphin of modern times. A scary one at that.


Photo: Todd Marshall for University of Edinburgh

New Federal Guidelines For Self-Driving Vehicles

Self-driving cars have been all over the news of late, but until now there has been little to no word on the specifics of their official regulation. But finally, the United States federal government has issued guidelines for the safety of these autonomous vehicles.

The new rules are meant to encourage a standardization of safety measures without over-regulating the burgeoning new industry. This is especially relevant as more and more companies begin to do road tests, like Uber is currently conducting in Pittsburgh.

National Economic Council Director Jeffery Zients, along with U.S. Department of Transportation Anthony Foxx, appeared to announce the new guidelines. Introduced was a “15-point safety checklist. The officials also discussed how current regulations could be adapted to self-driving cars, and called on states to develop rules for autonomous vehicles.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesperson Bryan Thomas said, “We left some areas intentionally vague because we wanted to outline the areas that need to be addressed and leave the rest to innovators.”

Autonomous vehicles could lead to less congestion, pollution, and possibly vehicle-related deaths. There is 60% less traffic at night, and yet 40% of all fatal car crashes occur at night — technological advances in sensory technology for self-driving cars could drastically drive down this number.

President Obama and his administration also spoke up about the need for regulation (but not too much regulation) and the importance of developing these new technologies: “Right now, too many people die on our roads – 35,200 last year alone – with 94 percent of those the result of human error or choice. Automated vehicles have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives each year. And right now, for too many senior citizens and Americans with disabilities, driving isn’t an option. Automated vehicles could change their lives.”

Auto Financing Gets a 21st Century Facelift, Proving that Millennials Don’t Ruin Everything

It’s a 21st Century internet truism: millennials ruin everything. So far, they’ve ruined everything from marriage and the diamond industry to the workforce and vacations.

However, there are a few things that have only been revised due to millennial trends. Automotive financing, for example, is one of them.

Auto financing hasn’t gotten a facelift since, well, its inception. While auto financing is common among car buyers — 43% of people do it in order to help pay for their new vehicles — the process remains very antiquated. It is still largely paper-driven, after all. It’s also a relatively slow process and a confusing one at that. Why some potential buyers aren’t approved for loans often remains a mystery.

Millennials have already disrupted the car buying experience with their digital fixations and e-commerce preferences. Thanks to the millennial buying experience, which is largely centered on Amazon-like services that deliver products to your doorstep with a click of a button, the overall American buying experience for all products, including cars, has changed.

The days of walking into a dealership to go car shopping with the help of a salesman are largely gone. When a buyer does walk into a dealership, they have likely already done research and know what they want. It was only a matter of time that dealership financing and insurance shopping saw the same changes.

Now, JPMorgan Chase has developed a new financing option: Chase Auto Direct. This Chase service, in partnership with TrueCar, an online car-buying service, streamlines the process of financing.

It works like this: pre-approved borrowers who apply with Chase are directed to one of Chase’s more than 14,000 affiliated dealerships. When the cars hit the lot, they will come with their financing paperwork already figured out, so the buyer can just show up to the showroom, sign, and drive.

It’s as instant as possible, as long as the app is as seamless and user-friendly as Chase promises it will be. Currently, Chase Auto Direct is available in 30 states. Chase is expected to expand its availability to all 50 states sometime next year.

Orange County Animal Services Advise Pet Owners to Include Their Pets in Hurricane Disaster Plans

Hurricane Matthew had many southeast coast residents worrying about their safety, and the safety of their homes, last week. Of course, the damage from this particular storm could have been much worse, but 2016’s hurricane season is far from over.

Most of the people who live in the Southeastern United States are well aware of the financial cost of hurricanes, tropical storms and other extreme weather events — water damages cost an average of $2,386 alone to fix, while wind damages can cost up to $10,000 — and they take steps to safeguard their property against the worst of the damage. And of course everyone who lives in the path of a hurricane knows the importance of stocking up on bottled water, shelf-stable snacks, flashlights, batteries and other emergency preparedness items.

Unfortunately, one thing that can slip the minds of many homeowners when it comes to preparing for impending storms is the welfare of their pets. Since 37%-47% of households have least one dog, and even more have cats or other animals, it’s hard to imagine that they would be left out of the equation.

“We often find that residents simply do not think that a storm will impact them,” said Dil Luther, the Orange County Animal Services Division Manager. “Therefore, [they] do not have a disaster plan, or do not include their pets in those plans.”

Orange County Animal Services says that all pet owners in the area should buy at least two pounds of food per pet when putting together their storm preparations. They also recommend visiting the vet for last-minute vaccinations and microchip enabling, just in case these pets become lost. Having a photo of your pet will also help during search efforts.

When you prepare a disaster kit for yourself and family, consider your pets’ needs as well. In addition to food and water, pet carriers, blankets, and a waterproof container to hold your pet’s medical records are necessary items to include. Newspaper or litter, cleaning supplies, and plastic bags for animal waste, as well as favorite toys or other comforting items, are also recommended.

Pets, especially those who are scared by occasional thunder or lightning, will most likely become nervous or upset during the storm. Adding a cotton sheet or blanket to the disaster kit to put over the carrier will help pets relax during the storm.

“A lot of our customers actually use thunder coats,” said April Godsey, assistant manager at Preppy Pet Boarding and Daycare in south Orlando. “[It] holds the dogs tight, and there’s a lavender smell that sends off to help keep [dogs] at ease.”

In case of evacuation, pet owners should realize that many shelters will not allow them to bring their four-legged friends. All American Red Cross-sponsored shelter sites prohibit animals, and many others do as well. Godsey reports that more than two dozen animals had been booked to stay at her pet boarding facility during Hurricane Matthew.

Before the storm hits, research hotels and shelters outside of the hurricane zones that allow dogs. The Humane Society of the United States recommends Bring Fido,, Dog In My Suitcase, Pet Friendly Hotels, Pets Allowed Hotels, Pets Welcome, and Trips With Pets for finding safe, pet-friendly accommodations in your area. Hotels may also be willing to waive their pet fees or policies during the hurricane. Before the storm hits, make calls to hotels, predetermined shelters, or even family members that may be willing to allow your animal to stay during the harsh conditions.

Tropical Storm Nicole, currently located 900 miles east of Miami, is expected to strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane with 100-mph winds, potentially threatening Bermuda by the end of the week.

Millennials Are Changing Things Up in the Housing Market

Millennials. The generation known to be connected to their mobile phones, obsessed with social media, and still living at home with their parents long after graduating college.

However, this generation is changing things up. Over the past couple of years, they have squashed all previously conceived notions about living a lavish lifestyle. In fact, everything people thought they knew about Millennial spending is changing.

First off, buying homes. A few years ago, Millennials were notorious for renting homes instead of buying them. But in 2014, one-third of home buyers were first-time buyers, a number that’s set to steadily increase. Only a little later than the generations before.

This is because Millennials are having children later than any other generation. But research shows that this doesn’t mean they still want to fulfill their American Dream of purchasing a home and settling down.

“The traditional white picket fence with 2.5 children may no longer be the gold-standard, but the notion of being able to take control of your destiny and create your own success is strong in the millennial generation,” says Erin Lowry, founder of financial advice site Broke Millennial.

Millennials have also toppled another pillar of the American dream — the notion of staying with the same company for years. Millennials are proud to change jobs regularly, and a report from State Street Global Advisors found that 60% of all Millennials have changed jobs between one and four times in the last five years.

This just adds to the phenomena of Millennials not wanting to buy a home until they are established with a job and a family within one location. After all, what is the point for this transient generation to apply for a mortgage if they just want to keep moving around?

All in all, Millennials are trying to be different and it is working. Lowry explains, “You’re seeing a rise in entrepreneurship and people looking to create the jobs they want and trying to balance it with a more idealized version of their lives instead of sticking with one company for 40 years and retiring to Florida with a comfortable pension.”

Iris Apfel Launches New Jewelry Line With a ‘Peculiar’ Twist

Jewelry has played a key role in the lives of countless people for thousands of years. In fact, the oldest known pieces of jewelry ever found were from approximately 100,000 years ago.

Despite its prevalence throughout history, it’s safe to say that jewelry has experienced its fair share of evolutions throughout time, and Iris Apfel’s new collection is certainly proof of the peculiar nature of jewelry design.

Apfel’s Miss Peregrine Collection is tied to the release of Tim Burton’s film adaptation of the well-loved book series, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

During a first look with People Magazine, Apfel revealed that the collection is colorful and filled with creative textures and whimsy.

HSN approached her to do the collection. She said that she couldn’t have been more excited to create it.

Apfel has long felt that her personal style has meshed well with both Burton’s past work and especially with this new film.

She said she felt particularly excited to work on this collection because of the message that the movie and books send out to young readers and viewers.

“Peculiarities should be celebrated and fostered! What’s the harm in being different?” she said.

Despite the overwhelmingly positive response to the line of jewelry, reviewers haven’t been so warm to the movie itself.

When a book receives a movie adaptation, there’s always a mix of excitement and apprehension from fans of the literature. It’s inevitable that some things will be changed from text to screen, but some thought that Burton’s adaptation of the popular book series fell a little bit flat.

According to one reviewer, it seemed as though Burton’s directing style didn’t mesh well with screenwriter Jane Goldman’s script.

Goldman, who has penned films such as “Stardust,” “Kick-Ass” and “X-Men: First Class” works well with a playful-whimsy style, but Burton’s darker vision seems to have marred the work for some viewers.

Aside from the minor changes, most viewers report having issues with the pacing of the movie, which is ironic because it is in part a movie that deals with time.

Despite issues with Burton’s work, Apfel’s line of jewelry has inspired numerous people to embrace the peculiar.

With any luck, a potential next film will hold as much promise for fans of the book series.

Will Hack of 500 Million Yahoo Accounts Affect Verizon Merger?

A hacking scandal has come to light that may have a significant impact on the impending Yahoo-Verizon merger. In 2014, 500 million Yahoo accounts were hacked, consequently exposing email addresses, passwords, and personal information and leaving half a billion people vulnerable to identity theft.

Though it has not yet been confirmed exactly when Yahoo officials first discovered the security breach, the public was made aware of the issue just last Thursday, September 22. Verizon executives learned the news only several days before it was released to the media, causing many to wonder how this messy situation might affect Verizon’s decision to move forward with their $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo’s business.

As of right now, Verizon has not given any indication of whether or not the breach will hinder the deal. Tim Armstrong, chief executive of Verizon-unit AOL said in an interview on CNBC that Verizon is working with Yahoo to investigate the scope of the hack.

Yahoo said on Friday that “Our investigation into this matter is ongoing and the issues are complex.”

The company suspects that the hack was performed by a group acting on behalf of a foreign entity, but did not identify which country it believes is involved.

This incident may not affect the merger between Verizon and Yahoo, but it should certainly be a reminder to all Internet users that cyber security is not foolproof. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there is a one-in-33 chance that you will have your identity stolen within the next year.

“Once you have this Yahoo email address, a lot of those link to a LinkedIn profile,” said Christopher Ahlberg, chief executive of the threat intelligence company Recorded Future. “You start logging into all these places, pretty quickly you can take over a person’s online persona. You could have a field day with this.”

New Gearless Robot May Change the Way We Handle Search and Rescue Missions

A new research and development firm, Ghost Robotics, founded by PhD candidates out of the University of Pennsylvania just revealed a game-changing product. Ghost Minitaur is a dog-like robot that runs, climbs, and even opens doors. While other groups have already produced similar functional robots, this latest one is different — it’s completely gearless.

The patent-pending design, which uses conventional rotary electric motors, eliminates the gearbox altogether. Gearboxes are typically expensive and extremely fragile; common malfunctions include leaky seals, bearing failure, and electrical fluting.

CEO of Ghost Robotics, Jiren Parikh explained that by getting rid of the gears, the amount of equipment that stands between the robot and its environment is minimized, making the machine more reactive and more sensitive.

“The legs have enough power to jump and do flips, but can also sense contact with an egg without breaking it. If it had gears, it would be much slower and tasks like this would be problematic.”

While traditional robots struggle to move around rough terrain, the Ghost Minitaur can be used to transport loads to hazardous environments that are unsafe for humans. It can do this because its direct-drive legs are extremely agile and can actually “feel” the ground.

With its innovative sensory and mobile abilities, the Minitaur could have a number of practical applications, including military missions, exploration of hazardous environments, and search and rescue missions. Developers also believe that the technology used in the robot’s legs could be integrated into other types of systems for surgeries, home care, animal husbandry, food manufacturing, and more.

According to Parikh, the devices are “very low-cost to manufacture in volume.” However, Ghost Robotics has only produced the Minitaur in small batches. Each robot is currently selling for $10,000, but co-founder Gavin Kenneally hopes that production will be scaled up eventually, dropping costs to $1,500 per robot.

Lawn Equipment Theft Sweeps South Jersey

Most Americans believe that having a yard and keeping it well kept are important, but for many New Jersey residents, their lawn maintenance efforts have been put on hold. A string of lawn equipment thefts have taken place in Cumberland County this year.

Over 300 cases of lawn equipment theft has been reported in the city of Vineland, alone, resulting in serious losses.

Victim Diane Velez experiences a loss of over $3,000 in equipment. A compressor, power-washer, and leaf blower were stolen from her locked garage at her home outside of Vineland. During the night, the burglar managed to force entry by breaking the lock.

These thefts are not all recent, according to area police. There has been a recent trend in lawn equipment thefts across the country, but Vineland’s issues have reached epidemic proportions.
Although some arrests have been made, the criminal activity still continues. Police believe that the thieves are trading equipment in exchange for cash. Although large pieces of equipment like tractors and lawnmowers must be transported by vehicle, many of the people who are stealing the equipment are relying on a middle man to pick up the equipment after the access point has been determined.

Thieves have been known to partly remove the equipment and stash it for pickup at a later time, reducing the suspicion caused by large vehicles coming to private properties and taking the equipment.

Police are currently searching for the middlemen of the operation — the thieves themselves — in order to conduct a larger investigation that pinpoints the leader in the landscaping scheme.

All South Jersey residents who witness any suspicious activity or have information regarding the thefts are advised to contact authorities immediately using one of the following methods:

    • Call the Crime Stoppers line at (856) 691-0345
    • Text VPDTIP and your tip to 847411 (Tip411)
    • Contact the dedicated detective line at (856) 691-4111, ext. 4180


Americans Going to Lengths to Protect Their Security, Only Occasionally

On average, homeowners will spend up to four percent of their home’s value annually on maintenance and repairs. But instead of arming their homes with security systems, they are going the non-conventional route and taking matters into their own hands.

By purchasing guns and taking basic firearms training courses.

In light of the controversial presidential election and each candidate’s opposing views on gun laws, there have been plenty of studies done nationwide to try and get a feel for gun use within the American people.

The results? Older Americans and minorities are more likely to arm themselves with guns, but the reasons vary.

A survey by Harvard and Northeastern Universities show that about 55 million American gun owners are over 55-years-old. A quarter of Americans over 60 own a firearm of some kind, with 14% owning both a long gun and a hand gun.

Additionally, the National Rife Association reports that between 2010 and 2015, there was a whopping 400% increase in people over age 65 taking basic firearm safety courses.

It’s also worth noting that a study conducted by the Crime Prevention Research Center in August found that the amount of right-to-carry permits boomed nationwide, particularly amongst minorities and women. As reported on NRA’sAmerica’s First Freedom, the amount of right-to-carry permits has increased by 161% for women, and 85% for men since 2012.

Even more, the study found that between 2007 and 2015, the number of concealed carry permits issued both federally and on the state level increased by 75% among minorities compared to whites.

So, within the past nine years, the view on gun ownership is changing in America.


The reasons differ. Some have picked up an interest in hunting, while others have grown up in famililies that were big into gun sports. But for most, they are investing in firearms as a method of protection.

As reported on KY3, the NRA tries to explain this phenomenon,

“We see the increase in older adults enrolling in firearms training courses as an indicator that these citizens believe their personal protection, and the safety of their families and property, is ultimately their responsibility, and are taking the initiative to pursue proper firearms training in order to become empowered to defend themselves legally and responsibly.”

Nick Newman, an owner of a firearms store in Missouri, adds, “The comment that we hear a lot is, this world is crazy today, and things aren’t like they used to be.”

The researchers in these studies all believe these seniors feel vulnerable and must prepare for their personal safety in the only way they know how. They also found that minorities such as women and African Americans, are arming themselves as they are becoming victims of violent crime more and more.

However, these individuals have more to worry about than just their home and physical security. Their computers are just as susceptible to threats that can put their personal information at risk. In 2013, there were 82,000 new malware threats per day, and now a new report shows that this number is only increasing.

This new study, released by security corporation Check Point, finds that some form of cyber malware is downloaded every 81 seconds worldwide. They used data from 1,100 corporations and personal computers across the world, and found unsettling results.

Not only is a new threat downloaded less than every two minutes, someone accesses a malicious website every five seconds. A high-risk application is also used every four minutes, and every 32 minutes, a person sends sensitive or private data over the web.

There are undoubtably many security concerns with these unsafe practices, as personal information is incredibly easy to attain over the web. Unfortunately, even though the computer users in the reports knew they were practicing unsafe habits, they didn’t change their behaviors on the Internet.

Overall, these personal threats are severe. They can lead to a host of privacy problems from stolen identities to scams from stolen personal and business data.