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Project Scorpio: Microsoft’s 4K Ready XBox

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At E3 2016, Microsoft officially announced Project Scorpio, a 4K ready upgrade to the existing Xbox One console. Project Scorpio was rumored to be much more powerful than the existing Xbox One and competes directly with Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro, which is also a more powerful iteration on the PS4. Up until recently, the only real information Microsoft released was that Scorpio would be capable of native 4K gaming (versus the upscaling that PS4 Pro does) and that all Xbox One games would still work on it. In early April, Digital Foundry was given an exclusive look at Scorpio and finally released some major tech specifications and details about the new console. Many people (including Microsoft itself) have speculated that perhaps this is the end of traditional console generations. Traditionally in the console gaming world, a new console has been released every 7-8 years. For example, the original PlayStation was released in 1995, the PS2 was released in 2000, the PS3 was released in 2006, and finally the PS4 was released in 2013. However, with both Xbox One and PS4 switching to generally off the shelf PC components instead of customized chipsets, both consoles seem to be obviating the need for a complete redesign. The trend seems to be leaning towards the PC gaming model where hardware is simply upgraded to more powerful components to run newer games while still being backwards compatible with older games. The ongoing effort by Microsoft to make Xbox 360 games playable on the Xbox One and Sony’s streaming gaming service PlayStation Now show that backwards compatibility is definitely a need. Along with Microsoft’s Xbox Play Anywhere program, Microsoft is clearly trying to use Project Scorpio to leverage the strengths of their Windows platform and the PC gaming community. Here are three things you need to know about Project Scorpio:

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It’s Powerful

To say that Project Scorpio is the most powerful gaming console ever is an understatement. First, let’s get all of the techie stuff out of the way. According to Eurogamer (who owns Digital Foundry): The central processor (CPU) has eight custom x86 cores clocked at 2.3GHz. The graphics processor (GPU) has 40 customized compute units clocked at 1172MHz – a very high clock speed for a console – and it does achieve Microsoft’s stated six-teraflop performance figure. There’s 12GB of GDDR5 RAM, with a memory bandwidth of 326GB/s. There’s a faster 1TB 2.5-inch hard drive, and a UHD Blu-ray drive. Like Xbox One S, it has an integrated power supply, so no external power brick. In terms of input/output ports, it is identical to Xbox One S (so, no Kinect port, but HDMI in is retained). What all that techie jargon means is that Scorpio is about 31% faster than the current gen Xbox One and can most certainly play all or most games at native 4K resolution. Microsoft showed Digital Foundry a stress test on the Scorpio using the Forza Motorsport game engine. The Scorpio was able to breeze through the test. Microsoft then upped the graphics settings to the PC equivalent of “Ultra” settings and it still smashed the test with performance to spare. It even kept a steady 60 frames per second which is the holy grail of performance.

Backwards Compatible

All current and future Xbox One games will be compatible with Scorpio. The increasing library of backwards compatible Xbox 360 games will also work on Scorpio. As mentioned earlier, Microsoft is envisioning the future of Xbox One similar to PC gaming. Any modern gaming PC can play every single game that has ever come out for PC (on Windows at least). Microsoft is aiming for that level of backwards compatibility in the future. Imagine it’s the year 2030 and you really want some old school Gears of War action. Theoretically you should be able to pop in a copy of Gears of War Remastered and play it just fine. Nintendo has shown with the recently discontinued NES Classic that people love playing older games.

Is It Better Than PS4 Pro?

Yes. Yes it is. Now to be fair, the PS4 Pro is a powerful machine in its own right and many games such as Horizon Zero Dawn can take advantage of the more extra power to improve performance or graphics. However, as far as console gaming, the Scorpio is in a league of its own. While the PS4 Pro can *technically* output games at 4K, it uses upscaling techniques such as checkerboard rendering to output games to 4K. The Scorpio is capable of native 4K gaming which is much more impressive. As a point of comparison, native 4K gaming on PC requires a high end graphics card such as the NVIDIA GTX 1080. Therefore, the fact that a console is able to produce this much performance is amazing.

The Elephant In The Room

Obviously, all of that power means nothing if there aren’t any good games to play on the Scorpio. In fact, the cancellation of several Xbox One exclusive titles such as Scalebound and Fable Legends have hampered Microsoft’s ability to secure exclusive games. Meanwhile, Sony has been killing it with titles such as Horizon Zero Dawn, Nier: Automata, Gravity Rush 2, Uncharted 4, and Nioh. Even with multiplatform franchises such as Call of Duty are releasing downloadable content (DLC) first on PS4. Microsoft is hoping that developers will see the performance potential of Scorpio and develop optimized games for it. Time will tell if the Xbox One will catch up to PS4 in the exclusives but the power of Scorpio combined with Microsoft’s push in the PC gaming scene may be the incentive developers are looking for. Microsoft hasn’t yet released pricing or even the actual name of Project Scorpio. That information will most likely be announced at E3 in June or perhaps an event ahead of E3.

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Scooterboard By InMotion Adds An Edge To Rideables

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After almost 3 years of product development and testing, the Scooterboard by InMotion has entered production, thanks to an impressive Kickstarter campaign where they were able to reach their funding goal in a mere 48 hours. The Scooterboard is a cross between a scooter and a skateboard, and the resulting product is a lightweight, front-axle steering rideable that is both easy to learn, is safe, and is sporty. Here is everything you need to know about Scooterboard.

scooterboard

The Scoop on InMotion:

The Scooterboard is the brain child of CEO Rose Wang, founder of InMotion, a company based out of San Diego, CA (You can read her full interview with Owner’s Magazine here). Formed in 2014, InMotion has been testing multiple prototypes and gathering user info from people all over the country, using that to tweak each iteration into what is being produced today. Thus, the Scooterboard is a product that is based solely on user feedback, merged into the creative idea that InMotion had. After three years of testing and re-testing, the final result is this unique rideable that caters to just about everyone.

Specifications

The Scooterboard weighs about 22 lbs, can carry up to 264.55 lbs, and has a top speed of 15.5 MPH, which it accomplishes through its 250w electric motorized rear wheel. It runs on a rechargeable, interchangeable lithium battery mounted on the undercarriage of the Scooterboard’s rider platform. Charging time is around 2.5 hours, which will grant its user about 7.5 miles of driving range. The included charger is equipped with an intelligent over-discharging system, which will cut off the power supply once the battery is full. The Scooterboard also has regenerative braking, a useful feature that pioneered the way for Hybrid Technology to be successful and gain traction (get it) in the motorized vehicle industry. How it works is that braking will generate kinetic energy, which will then be stored and reused as battery life.

There are two driving modes for the Scooterboard: Casual, and Power each of which changes riding experience drastically. Casual Mode keeps the motor quiet, the speeds smooth climbing and the brakes soft. It’s a mode for the leisurely rider to cruise easily. Power Mode is a different beast: Engine noise is heightened, acceleration is faster, and the brakes are firmer. Late to work? For a date? Want to feel more wind under the raw open-air of electric rideables? Use Power Mode.

scooterboard

scooterboard

Ergonomics

At first glance, the Scooterboard looks exactly like a spruced up, aggressive scooter, but that’s exactly what it isn’t. The Scooterboard sports three wheels instead of two, thanks to a front-axle, fork mounted steering system. The standing platform is sandpaper textured to avoid slipping in dry and wet weather, and gives the user a firm, planted feel when riding. On the single, ergonomic handlebar, there are two switches for acceleration and braking. Both are conveniently located right next to each other, but are situated where the thumb controls the brake, whereas the index finger controls the acceleration. Both are pressure sensitive, similar to the pedals on a car, or the handlebars on a motorcycle. There is also a mechanical brake in the rear wheel. Step on the rear wheel cover plate to brake via a small hidden brake pad. At 22 lbs, the Scooterboard is easily transportable, and the front handlebar folds down, allowing the user to carry it like a suitcase, or pull it along like a carry-on.

scooterboard

Rideability

With the unique concept of such a vehicle, rideability should be at the forefront of priorities. After all, being unique means it hasn’t been done. For a product such as the Scooterboard, rideability should be a special experience, but it should also be attractive and intuitive. The Scooterboard does just this by combining the best qualities of two popular terrains, the scooter, and the skateboard to allow its rider a fun, sporty platform that is also easy to learn (users claim it can be learned in a single session), practical, and convenient. To do this they crafted a single handle that curves like a cane right under the single handlebar. That allows for a perfectly balanced center of gravity. No other rideable on the market has employed this design, yet it works brilliantly with the Scooterboard’s ergonomics. The feet are planted sideways like a skateboard, or a snowboard (for the snowboarders, with the fork-mounted steering system, carving is possible, and encouraged), and steering is done in one of two possible ways: tilting the handlebar left or right, or by leaning the body. Leaning allows for sharp turns, and even full U-turns in small spaces, a useful feature not found in many other electric rideables. For novices, leaning to steer is a skill that takes some practice, but once attained is immeasurably helpful. For those wanting to get on the road right away, the handlebar exists to easily compensate. It is easy to use, and the mastery is almost immediate. Together, the handlebar and the lean to steer system combine to create a useful method of steering that is as useful as carving on a snowboard, without the months of learning associated with carving. It can be employed to take quick, sharp angled turns, and control speed which, on the Scooterboard, is surprisingly sharp. On a flat, level plain, the Scooterboard can hit top speed in about 4 seconds.

With the motor turned off, it can be kicked off manually. Conveniently, there is no resistance from the motor when it’s off, so users can kick off and enjoy a manually powered vehicle post shut-off.

Learnability

InMotion prides itself in the fact that its product has a very low learning curve. Users agree that through intuitive adaptation, riders can be comfortable on a Scooterboard by the end of a first session. There are a few things to get used to, however. 15.5 MPH may be drab in a car, but on a vehicle as small as a Scooterboard, the speed can be intimidating, especially for beginners. The lean-to-steer system has the biggest learning curve, there is a feeling associated with the vertigo of being close to falling that users have to overcome to fully utilize this method. But regardless, the Scooterboard can be driven any which way, however the user is most comfortable. CEO Rose Wang said herself that during conceptualization, she wanted to:

create a unique and accessible vehicle that is easy to learn and more affordable. With Scooterboard, we want to make the e-board culture more inclusive so that more people can participate in the electric vehicle movement. We want to challenge the e-board industry to innovate with inclusion in mind so it’s not just a cliché. E-boarding is a fun and awesome experience that’s good for the environment – why wouldn’t we want to get more people involved?”

The Scooterboard by InMotion is now available for pre-ordering here for $649.00 (early bird pre-orders currently receive $50 off the full retail price of $699.00). Because InMotion wanted to keep prices low, they will be working closely with distributors and retailers. There are currently two colorways available: the one found on the final tested prototype of a sleek black and blue, or the more enigmatic, bold black and green.

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Tesla News on Hurricane Irma Response

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Tesla came to the rescue by unlocking the full 75 kilowatt-hour of energy within the car’s battery pack once a Tesla owner immediately needed about 30 more miles to escape their mandatory evacuation zone during Irma. When Tesla realized that an additional 15 kWh jolt could give 30 to 40 more miles to other car owners, the company temporarily unlocked more Tesla vehicles in that region so they could reach safety. It became Tesla news when the company assisted in many escapes during Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma striked Florida for 11 days, receiving a record as the longest-lived Atlantic hurricane since 2004 with Hurricane Ivan. The storm left traces of tree debris, destroyed buildings, and even 26,000 bugs that were caught in the hurricane. Irma has devastated Florida with trails of wandering trash and floods, concluded Irma’s impact as the strongest storm in Atlantic history. Donations and help were given towards the tragedy, one of the most unexpected came from entrepreneur Elon Musk and Tesla.

Tesla is unlike other car manufacturers. The company is enabled to limit their battery capacity in its vehicles through a software. The Tesla Model S and Model X cars have a capacity of 75 kWh but are restricted to no more than 60-70 kWh. Tesla owners typically have to pay $9,000 more to unlock the extra 15 kWh of battery power, but in the time of need, Tesla came to help by offering all customers a temporary upgrade to escape the dangerous hurricane. Although most state laws demand customers to bring their cars into the dealerships to collect upgrades, Tesla has neglected traditional routes by deleting the third-party to connect with the company directly. Creating sparks of Tesla news and attention, the company is praised for being unique and away from traditional values. 

The CEO of Fetch Robotics, Melonee Wise commends Tesla’s act of courage during Irma. “One of the major benefits to being first to market is not only the ability to move quickly and decisively, but to offer a certain level of innovation and creativity that might not be available within a more established industry,” says CEO Melonee Wise.

Tesla is giving a prime example to other companies by doing their part in a time of disaster. To implement a sense of community and trust during tragic times will do more than just create sales. While Tesla is shaping that company culture gradually. What drives Tesla is innovation, their core branding is represented in how different they are from other manufacturers. “As a new, disruptive force in the automotive space with no established revenue base or embedded infrastructure to cannibalize, Elon Musk was able to completely reengineer the way cars were produced, serviced, and sold.” says Skywire Networks CEO Alan Levy. Tesla’s reply to immediately help during Hurricane Irma, further instructs the dependability of the company as a whole. Tesla is able to respond to their customer’s needs instantly.

Carbon Robotics CEO, Rosanna Myers emphasized on the issue that other companies face: don’t bite the hand that feeds you. “While disruptors can do what’s best for the customer. Tesla unlocking range to save lives is a prime example of how that agility is shifting the landscape.”  CEO Rosanna Myers also speaks upon a bigger topic trend: all major companies need to be software-centric. “Customers now expect continuous upgrades and improvements to their hardware, but a lot of old-school execs barely know how software works,” explains Rosanna Myers. “As we move to a world of connected devices, they’re being left in the dust.”

Among their activities, Tesla’s hurricane Irma response gave them copious amounts of praise, as they should. The bold act became the biggest Tesla news, for fans have more reason to purchase their cars. Their immediate reply to help can be used as an example for others to reshape company values. 

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Succeed As A Veteran Owned Business

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Starting and maintaining a business may be hard work, but can be made easier with the right network. Having the right support and connections may be the thin line between success and failure. If you’re a veteran entrepreneur with a business idea, you can receive funding to help bring those ideas to life. We will explain the steps to succeed as a veteran owned business.

Find Out If You Qualify

If you have previously served in the military and/or have an injury-related disability, you may be eligible for government contracting and additional funding. In order to receive this certification, the individual must own at least 51 percent of the company that they are applying for, and manage the day-to-day operations of the business. There is also a procedure that you’ll need to follow in order to prove your veteran and/or disabled status. In order to prove veteran status you will need to provide a Department of Defense Form (DD214). If you are applying as a service-disabled veteran, you will need to get a letter from the US Department of Veteran Affairs proving that you are actually disabled. In many cases, if you are not interested in securing government contracts for your veteran owned business, these steps are not necessary.

Register with The VA

Another crucial step in the qualification process is to register through the VA or Veterans Affairs. Registering will not only assist with the strategic marketing of your business but will also add a legitimacy factor in being known as a veteran owned business. People are generally supportive of service men and women and want to support your endeavors, so proudly promoting that you have a veteran owned business will add to growth. The VetBiz Registry, which acts as a business database is the first step in registering with the VA. You will need to have your DD214, letter of disability status, tax forms, bank statements, business license, any partner agreements, and some other additional documents may be requested at the discretion of the VA.

Utilize the SDVOSBC

The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act was created in 1999. The goal of this act is to generate over $15 billion of contracting dollars for businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. Being that some veterans return from duty with disabilities stemming from conflict, this program sets aside a certain amount of contracts to service them first. As long as you are considered disabled from service no matter your rating, you are eligible to securing a contract. However, if you do have a 100 percent disability rating the government has contingencies in place to allow a spouse or caregiver to run the business in place of the veteran. It’s very convenient and an amazing opportunity for vets who have served to be able to get their ideas out no matter their status.

Marketing Your Veteran Owned Business

Veterans are normally praised and promoted for their service in the armed forces, but the magnitude of entrepreneurship in this demographic is overlooked. According to Forbes, there are over 3 million Veteran owned businesses run in the United States, 5.7 million people are employed by Veterans, and Veterans are twice as likely to own a business than non-vets. These statistics show that there is a strong thread between the personalities of veterans and the interest in entrepreneurship. Strength, discipline, and leadership are all valuable traits to possess in business. Registering your business with BuyVeteran.com can also be a great resource to use for promotional items. When you register you will receive badges to display throughout your business/store, along with apparel (T-Shirts, Hats), Magnets, and other marketing items. Using the local media in your community, as well as social media, can help with promotion. Using your veteran status to appeal to an audience who already has admiration and respect for you will surely render growth.

Know Everything About Your Industry

If your chosen business field is completely out of your realm of knowledge be sure to research as much as possible before requesting support/investors. You should be an expert on your business idea as well as having a solid business plan ready to execute. Doing research includes finding out who your target audience is, how to price your products/services, who your competitors are, and what laws are in place in that industry. Will you need a license to provide certain services? How does paying taxes change for a business owner as opposed to an employee? These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered before you move forward with the business. Once you have completed all these steps you are ready to take on the world as a Vetrepreneur! Good luck!

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