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Send texts while on airplane mode using the pocket-sized goTenna Mesh that’s on sale

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Keep your network secure.
Keep your network secure.

Image: gotenna

When you think about it, it’s kind of weird that we refer to the most common form of internet connection as “wireless,” because, well, it’s not. Your traditional wireless router needs to be wired into your modem, which is wired into your wall, which is wired back to your ISP. There are a ton of wires involved! But the dream of a truly untethered future exists in the form of wireless mesh networks.

This technology transmits information via a group of devices, or “nodes,” that relay a signal from one, to the other, to the other, following the most efficient route available until, finally, it reaches your phone or laptop (all of which happens in milliseconds). In most cases, only one single node needs to be wired into the internet to get the whole network online — and a network can cover an entire city if enough nodes are used. 

Mesh networks have existed in one form or another since the 1980s, and they’ve been popping up in cities like New York, Portland, and Detroit since the early aughts, but only recently has the tech become widely available to consumers. While much of today’s mesh gear only appeals to a niche market of networking nerds, a Brooklyn-based startup called goTenna is trying to change that. Their goTenna Mesh device has the simplicity, user-friendly features, and elegant design that could very well bring mesh to the masses. (We previously covered the launch here.)

Check out the video below:

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While municipal mesh networks provide entire neighborhoods with high-speed internet, the goTenna Mesh has a humbler purpose — to connect you and your friends while you’re out and about. 

Picture this: You and the crew are hitting a fancy resort south of the border. You’re all spread out across different rooms, but you want to stay in contact. Unfortunately, you don’t have cell service, and Wi-Fi is too spotty to be useful. You turn on your goTenna Mesh and fire up the accompanying app, and all of a sudden you can see your device’s twin (yeah, they come in two-packs, like a walkie-talkie) on a highly detailed map of the area. You can also see every other goTenna that happens to be in the area. Then, without turning off Airplane Mode, like Neo stopping bullets in the Matrix, you defy all the laws of space and time by sending a text to your bud with the other goTenna. And they write back. And there is much rejoicing.

By producing a short-range radio signal, goTenna Mesh creates an off-the-grid wireless network that you can use to communicate with other goTenna users. Plus, additional nearby devices act as nodes, boosting your range so you can communicate with friends from further away. As more people get hip to goTenna, its capabilities expand. It can help developing communities that aren’t internet connected or provide a means of life-saving communication for people in war-torn cities. But it also works great for simply chatting with friends during trips, hikes, and events.

Start building your network today by grabbing your pair of goTenna Mesh Secure Portable Networks for just $155. That’s 13% off the regular $179 price point.

Here’s the aspect of self-driving car testing that’s not dominated by Apple or Google

Last week, Apple’s secretive, self-driving car project got some attention for adding more cars approved for testing in California.

But despite the company’s big name and the heightened curiosity over the iPhone-maker’s foray into autonomous vehicles, the winner here is not the company you’d expect.

We looked at the past few months of reports from the California DMV’s self-driving permit program to see which of the 50-plus (and growing) companies involved are stepping up its testing. Only two companies — Waymo, the self-driving car program from Google, and one other that has not been publicly revealed at this time — have applied for permits for the state’s truly driverless testing program, which would allow for an empty vehicle.

In terms of cars currently allowed to test drive on the California road, GM’s Cruise Automation dominates the big players. With 104 vehicles — named after the condor, hippo, wolverine, scorpion, puma, crayfish, and mongoose (according to the company’s last disengagement report from December) and of course, those ubiquitous Chevy Bolts — the startup-turned-major-car-company project has a large fleet with which to attempt to hit its target. By 2019, the company plans to offer a self-driving car service.

A company spokesperson for Cruise Automation made clear that although the total reported cars can technically drive with the self-driving tech, it doesn’t mean that many are out on the road, and almost certainly not all at once. But here in the Bay Area, it makes sense why those white Chevy Bolt Cruise vehicles appear to be everywhere — GM has way more cars than any other company, and have for months.

Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment about its growing autonomous vehicle project — aside from DMV reports, the company hasn’t publicized or shared anything about the team, the cars, tech, testing milestones, or any partners, goals or timelines.

Image: bob al-greene/mashable

But the picture on the road is different from just a year ago. Then, Cruise was trailing Waymo’s 79 approved vehicles with its 31. 

Looking at miles driven in autonomous mode — a key indicator in the autonomous testing race — Waymo is still firmly ahead: It logged 4 million miles across the U.S. by the end of November, and the company now says it’s at more than 5 million self-driven miles. In its end-of-year report in December, Waymo said it had completed 352,545 miles in autonomous mode in California.

GM’s Cruise, comparatively, reported 125,000 miles on San Francisco streets.

Before Uber dropped its California testing permit (hence the zero vehicles in the latest report) after a fatal crash in Arizona, Uber was around 3 million autonomous miles.

Apple will file its first report later this year.

Like Cruise, Waymo has ambitious goals, like offering a self-driving car service in Phoenix by the end of this year. 

In the self-driving industry, other measuring metrics like miles per intervention (when a human has to take over from the machine) could be examined to tell which company is ahead, but these metrics are not standardized or consistently tracked. So it’s a pretty muddled terrain out there to predict which company is truly leading.

The race to autonomy continues.

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CyberGhost is a VPN that stands out, and not just because it’s on sale

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Check out this choice VPN
Check out this choice VPN

Image: CyberGhost

One bright spot in this year’s black hole of bad news concerning internet privacy and data security: VPNs are thriving. It seems like you can throw a rock while blindfolded and hit a crypto-technology company, many of which are just variations on the same theme.

SEE ALSO: Best VPNs for watching Netflix

If you’re having a tough time figuring out which VPN to commit to for the rest of your web surfing days — or at least for the duration of a 90-day trial — one worth checking out is CyberGhost VPN, which is currently on sale. It does all the usual VPN duties efficiently and reliably while also introducing some truly unique and impressive features that never feel like filler. 

Superior servers

VPNs live and die by their servers; their quantity and location will dictate your connection’s reliability, browsing speeds, access to international streaming content, and other key factors. Luckily, CyberGhost is no slouch in that department. It hosts 1,300 servers in 90 locations spread across 58 different countries — from Albania to New Zealand to Vietnam — totaling over 40 gigabits per second in bandwidth. 

This variety is particularly helpful to world travelers, as there will almost always be a server nearby, no matter what country you’re currently exploring. Note that these numbers may fluctuate from time to time, but in the long-term, CyberGhost’s server offering will most likely continue to expand. 

Better. Faster. Stronger.

Unlike some other VPNs, CyberGhost places zero restrictions on your browsing habits. No throttling. No data caps. You can enjoy unlimited traffic and bandwidth for the duration of your membership. 

And while some slowdown is to be expected when using any VPN, CyberGhost manages to stay surprisingly speedy. PC Mag’s testing found that download speeds were reduced a mere 5.3 %, and upload speeds were diminished by only 6.5%, earning CyberGhost a favorable rating from the magazine in overall performance compared to its many competitors. 

If speed is your primary concern when VPN shopping or you just want to be able to finish a torrent download in a hurry, CyberGhost does have a Fastest Servers option. It saves you from sifting through hundreds of locations and instead connects you to the swiftest one automatically.  

Keep it secret and safe

Where security is concerned, CyberGhost runs a tight ship, employing 256-AES bit encryption to protect your payment info from cyber-crooks and hide your browsing data from nosy ISPs. In fact, even CyberGhost itself will be in the dark about your data, as the company swears by its “no logging” policy. 

Upon launching the application, protection is immediate and comprehensive: CyberGhost launches a secure browsing session in addition to the VPN connection. And one membership extends to seven devices simultaneously, so you can be sure that every laptop, tablet, and smartphone in your tech arsenal is safe and secure. You can even set it up on your router, and lock down your network’s security at the source. Should you ever experience any sudden outages, the automatic kill switch feature protects against even the slightest bit of exposure.

We all scream for streaming

CyberGhost knows where its bread is buttered. It’s well aware that many of its subscribers are only on board for that sweet, unrestricted streaming. So they’ve made it refreshingly easy to do so. 

The application’s main UI features easily understandable options, like Torrent Anonymously, which will automatically launch your preferred torrenting client, or Unblock Streaming, which dials in specific settings for various sports channels, YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, and more. Frequently censored websites like Facebook, Google, and Twitter are all easily unlockable with CyberGhost, too, in case you’re on vacation in a country with particularly restrictive internet laws. 

Virtuous reality

It’s CyberGhost’s commitment to its users’ freedom that sets it apart from competing VPNs. Based in Bucharest, it aligns closely with Romania’s high legal regard for online privacy. It touts itself as “a major supporter and promoter of civil rights, a free society, and an uncensored internet culture.” In 2015, CyberGhost backed up that ambitious bio by publishing a transparency report, which detailed all the copyright complaints, attempted attacks, and law enforcement requests the company incurred that year. 

On sale

Normally this service is available on a monthly or yearly basis, with a lifetime’s worth of access potentially running up to $720. But thanks to a special promotion, you can get CyberGhost VPN on Mac, iOS, Windows, or Android for just $84.99 and secure your digital connections. As a special offer for Mashable readers, you can save an additional 15% off with coupon code CYBERGHOST.

Valerian director Luc Besson accused of rape

Yesterday, French radio station Europe 1 reported that Paris authorities have opened an investigation against French film director Luc Besson, after an actress told them that he had raped her the night before.

According to the complaint, the actress says that she met Besson on Thursday evening at the Bristol hotel in Paris as the Cannes Film Festival was wrapping up. She describes how she was given a cup of tea and blacked out after drinking it, and awoke realizing that she had been raped. She says that the director left a wad of money for her before departing. The actress also noted that she had previously been in an intimate relationship with Besson for two years, one that she felt pressured into for “professional reasons.”

In a statement to AFP News Service, Besson’s lawyer says that the director “categorically denies these fantasist accusations,” and that the actress is “someone he knows, towards whom he has never behaved inappropriately.”

The director of films such as Fifth Element, Lucy, and most recently, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Besson has a history of dating younger actresses: he began dating his second wife, Maïwenn Le Besco in 1991 when she was 15 years old, and they had a daughter two years later. Le Besco has noted that Besson’s 1994 film Léon: The Professional, was inspired in part by their relationship, and that then 11-year-old star Natalie Portman’s parents demanded numerous changes to the script because of age-inappropriate content.

The accusation against Besson comes on the heels of a wave of complaints from within Hollywood of sexual misconduct from high-powered directors, actors, and producers, starting with executive Harvey Weinstein last year. These revelations caused the downfall of well-known actors such as Kevin Spacey, Louis CK, and others. This incident came just before actress Asia Argento described Cannes as Weinstein’s previous “hunting ground,” and said that there were people still in the crowd that would be “held accountable for their conduct against women,” and that “we know who you are and we will not allow you to get away with it any longer.”

AT&T has launched a programmable LTE button for businesses

AT&T has introduced a new product called the LTE-M button, a programmable button that businesses can deploy to allow customers to place orders or send alerts.

The LTE-M button isn’t designed for consumers, but for businesses: it can be programmed and issued with a custom label — and ordered in quantities of 500. AT&T says that each button will work for up to 1,500 clicks or for three years.

Engadget notes that the device sounds a bit like Amazon’s Dash buttons — branded devices that allow you to reorder a specific product with a click — and explains that the product runs on Amazon Web Services’ Internet of Things 1-Click service.

But unlike the Dash buttons, AT&T’s offerings connect to the carrier’s LTE-M network, and can be customized for whatever a company wants, such as soliciting feedback in public places, ordering specific products, or generating alerts for things like trash cans or oil tanks that need servicing, and more.

The company announced the devices back in November 2017, but they’re now available for the initial price of $29.99 each (it’ll jump to $35 after 5,000 are sold) — a bulk order of which will run companies $15,545 before taxes and shipping.