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Like a GoPro for guppies, Spydro captures footage from your fishing line

Why it matters to you

Spydro is a fish-focused action cam which promises to make every fishing trip a learning experience. Are you looking to make your fishing game a bit smarter? If so, a new Kickstarter campaign could be just what you’re looking for. Spydro is a smart underwater fishing action camera, designed to automatically record the moment a fish strikes, and share this with your mobile device — in glorious 30 frames per second 1080p HD.

In addition, it determine water conditions, such as salinity, temperature, and turbidity, as well as creating a fishing log with all the necessary data to help you learn the maximum amount from every fishing expedition. It’s a nifty way to not only find out more information about the conditions necessary for the perfect catch but to make fishing fun even when you don’t actually catch the fish that you’re after. “When it comes to fishing, some of the most exciting aspects happen under the water,” Moordan Trablus, founder and creator of Spydro, told Digital Trends. “We’ve all heard tales of ‘the one that got away,’ right?

Spydro helps anglers prove it. Anglers can’t see what happens underwater; they can only guess. Spydro brings a new dimension and makes this accessible to the angler.

There’s no more guessing of what’s happening.”

Spydro is waterproof to depths of up to 360 feet, claims 3.5 hours of battery life, boasts night-vision shooting, and sports a built-in SD card with a marine-grade resistivity that is fully stabilized for high-speed trolling. While this isn’t the only smart fishing accessory we covered before, it does promise to be an impressively flexible one, regardless of whether you’re trolling, surf fishing, float bait, or kayak fishing. Trablus describes the ideal audience for the product as being any angler who loves fish and fishing, which sounds just about right.

The Kickstarter campaign is aiming to raise £100,000 over the next 40 days, with about 10 percent of that currently pledged. If you’re interested in getting hold of a unit, you can pre-order one for £179 for a Spydro camera, 8GB SD card, SB© USB cable, pouch, a pair of weights, weight holder, and float. Higher price options are available for 16GB SD cards and additional accessories.

Shipping is set to take place in January.

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Is the optical cable dying?

It was once the most high-tech and futuristic feature you could find: Transmit sound — with light! Lasers! A cable not of copper, but glass!

Except, it was almost never glass, and was usually expensive. And while the optical cable was the digital audio transfer method of choice for decades, it has started to disappear. More and more products are dropping the optical connection.

This once cool cable is dying a very slow death. Here’s how it happened.

Tech of the past

The official term for optical audio cable is “Toslink,” short for Toshiba Link. Developed in the early ’80s to connect their CD players to their receivers, it was a red laser optical version of the Sony/Phillips “Digital Interconnect Format” aka S/PDIF standard.

You’ve seen standard S/PDIF connections a bunch too; they’re often called “coax digital.” Optical had certain benefits over copper cables, but they were also more fragile, and for a long time, more expensive. Though glass cables were available, for even more money, most optical cables were made from cheap plastic. This limited their range to in-room use, primarily.

The back of the original Apple TV.

The new 4K model ditches optical.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Through the ’90s and 2000’s, the optical cable was near-ubiquitous: The easiest way to get Dolby Digital and DTS from your cable/satellite box, TiVo, or DVD player to your receiver. Even in the early days of HDMI, right next to it would be the lowly optical cable, ready in case someone’s receiver didn’t accept HDMI. But now more and more gear are dropping optical.

It’s gone completely on the latest Roku and Apple TV 4K, for example. It’s also disappeared from many smaller TVs, though it lingers on in larger ones, a potentially redundant backup to HDMI with ARC. The reason for this?

Soundbars. Most soundbars still persist with an optical connection, and they are one of the only thing that keeps the format holding on. Of course, on the audio side devices like the Chromecast Audio also use an optical connection and this is as much due to space constraints as anything else.

The Chromecast Audio uses the mini-Toslink variant which fits inside a 3.5mm analog jack.

The current crop of media streamers. Where’s the optical connection?

Sarah Tew/CNET

So where’d it go? Doesn’t optical have the potential for significantly more bandwidth than HDMI?

Well… no. “Potential” is the key word there. In theory, optical cables can transmit tremendous amounts of data. But the optical audio connection is far more limited.

So limited, it can’t even transmit the high-resolution audio formats that came out with Blu-ray more than a decade ago, such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio. Unlike HDMI, which has expanded its capabilities significantly over the short time it’s been available, Toslink has remained largely the same. Because there is no specification for the optical connection to handle high-res audio, it can’t do it.

With no specification, one piece of gear can’t talk to another piece of gear. So yes, in theory optical can do a lot of things, but because everyone jumped onto HDMI, optical was left to languish. Perhaps ironically, many custom installers use optical to transmit HDMI data.

HDMI-over-fiber is usually more expensive than wireless, but significantly less prone to interference and issues. It’s also capable of far longer runs than traditional HDMI cables. These cousins of the Toslink connection may share lasers and copperless cables, but they’re Ferraris to Toslink’s bicycle.

The once and future cable

Fibre Optic cables used to send data, images and telephone conversations.

Andrew Brookes / Getty

Cry not for the humble optical cable.

While it may someday disappear from inside of your home, it lives on, even thrives, outside. Google Fiber, Verizon FIOS, AT&T Fiber, and others are fiber-optic broadband lines that supply hundreds of megabits, and in some places even a gigabit, per second to your home. Fiber-optic cables are also becoming the backbone of the Internet itself. Facebook and Google, for example, just finished laying MAREA, a trans-Atlantic cable with a bundle of eight fiber-optic threads that together can transmit up to 160 terabits per second.

So while for most people the optical cable has been replaced by HDMI and forgotten, the optical cable technology is here to stay. After all, lasers!

How about you? How many optical cables do you still use in your A/V system?

Got a question for Geoff?

First, check out all the other articles he’s written on topics like why all HDMI cables are the same, TV resolutions explained, LED LCD vs. OLED and more. Still have a question?

Tweet at him @TechWriterGeoff then check out his travel photography on Instagram.

He also thinks you should check out his best-selling sci-fi novel and its sequel.

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'House of Cards' will end with next year's sixth season

“House of Cards” will end after its sixth season.

David Giesbrecht/Netflix

Francis Underwood’s getting the boot. “House of Cards,” the popular Netflix series, will end next year after its upcoming sixth season. The show, the first original series distributed by the streaming giant, features Kevin Spacey as Underwood, a scheming politician.

The news of the cancellation comes the day after Spacey was accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward a minor three decades ago. Anthony Rapp, a Broadway actor and “Star Trek: Discovery” star, told Buzzfeed that Spacey made the advances when 46-year-old Rapp was 14. (CBS, which broadcasts “Star Trek: Discovery” on its CBS All Access service, also owns CNET.) According to the report, Spacey “invited Rapp over to his apartment for a party, and, at the end of the night, picked Rapp up, placed him on his bed, and climbed on top of him, making a sexual advance.” Spacey was 26 at the time.

Spacey responded to the allegation later Sunday by tweeting that doesn’t remember the incident. He apologized but attributed it to “inappropriate drunken behavior.” Spacey also came out as gay in the statement, something that has reportedly upset gay rights activists and others who saw it as a way to deflect the allegations against him. Netflix said in a statement:

“Media Rights Capital and Netflix are deeply troubled by last night’s news concerning Kevin Spacey.

In response to last night’s revelations, executives from both of our companies arrived in Baltimore this afternoon to meet with our cast and crew to ensure that they continue to feel safe and supported. As previously scheduled, Kevin Spacey is not working on set at this time.”

Netlfix told TVLine that it had reached the decision to end the show before the accusations against Spacey were made. News of the cancellation, however, didn’t come out until after the Spacey story surfaced.

The Smartest Stuff: Innovators are thinking up new ways to make you, and the things around you, smarter.

iHate: CNET looks at how intolerance is taking over the internet.

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MIT built an A.I. bot that writes scary stories — and some are terrifying

Why it matters to you

MIT’s new A.I. is another illustration of how spookily useful artificial intelligence can be in the creative process. If you want something really spooky to get you in the mood for Halloween, how about the prospect of machines which don’t just carry out regular routinized work, but can actually be creative — thereby performing a function we typically view as being quintessentially human? That’s (kind of) what researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed with a new October 31-themed artificial intelligence project: The world’s first collaborative A.I. horror writer.

Found on Twitter, “Shelley” tweets out the beginning of a new horror story every hour, alongside the hashtag #yourturn as an invitation to human co-writers. Anyone is welcome to reply to the tweet with the next installment of the story, thereby prompting Shelley to reply again with the next part. “Shelley is a deep learning-based A.I. that took her name [from] horror story writer, Mary Shelley,” Pinar Yanardhag, one of the researchers on the project, told Digital Trends. “She initially trained on over 140,000 horror stories on Reddit’s popular r/nosleep subreddit, and is able to generate random snippets based on what she learned, or continue a story given a text.

We expect Shelley to inspire people to write the weirdest and scariest horror stories ever put together. So far, Shelley has co-authored over 100 stories with Twitter users, and some of them are really scary.”

Meghan Murphy

A collection of some of the stories generated by Shelley can be found here. The researchers say that the work is designed to tap into some of the fears that surround humans and A.I. relationships, and the project builds on the success of MIT’s 2016 Halloween project, which used neural networks to generate scary images.

Can machines really replace human writers? “Human authors have nothing to fear in the short term,” Iyad Rahwan, an associate professor in MIT’s Media Lab, told us. “Today, A.I. algorithms can generate highly structured content, such as reports on market developments or sports games. They can also generate less structured, more creative content, like short snippets of text. But algorithms are still not very good at generating complex narrative.

It will be a while before we have an A.I. version of J. K. Rowling or Stephen King, [although] there are no guarantees about where things are headed in the medium or long term — and machines may eventually be able to construct complex narratives, and explore new creative spaces in fiction.”

As Rahwan points out, however, if we really do build machines that are able to experience the world around them as fully as humans can, and use this to generate their own unique ideas, we have bigger problems than simply losing a few jobs in creative writing.

Editor’s Recommendations

TrueCall 140 Hour SD Memory Card for TrueCall Devices

trueCall Call Recorder is a memory card that allows your trueCall unit make audio recordings of some or all of your telephone calls. You can also save and archive any important answering machine messages. Why would you want to record calls? It is easier to resolve disputes over ‘who said what to who, and when’ relating to products or services you have bought. Banks and insurance companies keep recordings of calls for their own protection in case of a dispute – why shouldn’t you have access to the same information? If you receive malicious calls, this information may make it easier to take legal action to stop them. You can keep a record of harassment by debt collection companies. Keep a record of what you have agreed to in case of mis-selling and slamming. trueCall Call Recorder is an SD Card – the same sort of memory card that is used in many digital cameras. It comes with trueCall Message Centre software that allows you to copy your call recordings and messages you your PC where you can store, annotate and manage them. This trueCall Call Recorder card can store up to 70 hours of telephone conversations and messages.

  • Works with trueCall units – 140 hours recording time
  • Record incoming and outgoing telephone conversations
  • Transfer your recordings to your PC
  • Includes Message Centre software for your PC
  • Includes SD/SB© USB converter

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