Tech round-up for July 4: Samsung messaging glitch hype, solar panel parking lot, the rise of audiobooks, Star Wars spaceship analysis

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This week, the rise of audiobooks continues the struggle between publishers and Amazon, a B.C. city installs solar panels in a parking lot, and studying the aerodynamics of Star Wars ships. But first, are Samsung phones texting your photos without your permission or knowledge?

Are Samsung phones texting photos independent of user action?

You may be wondering if this is another case that makes you think technology may have a mind of its own.

This week, stories from users of Samsung smartphones have surfaced in which they claim that their phones are texting photos to people in their contact lists seemingly at random, and without the users initiating it.

Samsung claims to be investigating the issue, but so far it’s very unclear whether this is a real issue or not because there is a very limited number of incidents that have been reported. And they may be related to a specific mobile carrier: T-Mobile in the U.S.

There don’t appear to be any such cases from Canada.

There was an update recently to the Samsung Messages app to move it from SMS (short message service) to RCS (rich communication services) protocol, which makes messaging more robust across different devices and carriers.

It’s entirely possible this is a non-issue. Until anything is clarified, though, if you’re a Samsung user and concerned you should simply use a different messaging app. Android Messages from Google is a good option that supports RCS.

Solar panels installed in Prince George City Hall parking lot

The City of Prince George in British Columbia has integrated photovoltaic (PV) panels in its parking lot.

The electricity generated by the panels will be used by city hall and the electric vehicle charging stations at the lot.

The panels, only millimetres thick and integrated with the asphalt, were designed by French company, Colas Group.

Vancouver’s Solar Earth is also working on PV-enabled roads and last year created the Solar Compass at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.

Audio books have come a long way since books-on-tape

Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball and The Big Short, has left Vanity Fair and has become a magazine writer for Audible, the audio book company owned by Amazon.

Writing in the New York Times, Alexandra Alter details the shift in the book publishing landscape.

John Scalzi told Alter that his novel Lock In, published in 2014, sold nearly twice as many audiobook versions as hardcovers.

That’s why Amazon, through Audible, is being so aggressive about new and exclusive content, and why publishers are scrambling to keep in the game.

Star Wars spaceship designs aren’t very aerodynamic

EC Henry publishes on YouTube with commentary on all things science fiction, including lots of stuff about Star Trek and Star Wars.

Recently, he got his hands on a copy of Autodesk’s Flow Design software, which is a virtual wind tunnel, and because Mr Henry is all about sci-fi, he put Star Wars spaceships into the tunnel.

He concedes that the ships from Star Wars are mostly used to fly in space, where there is no atmosphere and no need to worry about aerodynamics.

But if you’re curious to know how the Imperial ships match up against the Rebel designs when they’re fighting above the surface of a planet, have a watch.

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