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I'm Fascinated By the Tree of 40 Fruit

I've been into the idea of grafting, attaching a branch from one tree to another similar species, since I was introduced to the technique as a kid. Sam Van Aken grafts branches from 40 species of fruit tree to make a single gorgeous tree that bears 40 different kinds of fruit. Horticulture meets art! (via kottke)

Hobby RC: Testing the Kyosho Blizzard SR

Regular readers of this column will know that I am a fan of rare and offbeat RC vehicles. This review definitely fits that mold. The Kyosho Blizzard SR ($350) blends my eccentric taste with a built-in capability for FPV driving. This vehicle provided my first taste of surface FPV and the Blizzard's pedestrian speeds were welcome.

The Blizzard is actually not a new design. This Snowcat-like RC vehicle was originally introduced by Kyosho in 1981. There have been several iterations of the Blizzard since then, but the core of the design has changed very little. The latest version reviewed here features a Wi-Fi radio link for control in lieu of the traditional 75MHz or 2.4GHz systems used for surface RC vehicles. The Wi-Fi link lets you drive the Blizzard via a smart phone app while also providing a real-time video link from the onboard camera. A 2.4GHz radio-equipped version of the Blizzard ($308) is also available, but you forfeit the camera.

Viscera of the Beast

In spite of the complexity suggested by the wide tracks and multitude of wheels, the Blizzard is deceptively simple. Just as with full-scale tracked vehicles, steering is accomplished by varying the relative speed of the right and left tracks. In this case, each track is driven by a dedicated motor and ESC. So controlling the speed of individual tracks is easy.

This top view of the Blizzard illustrates the simple and uncluttered layout of the design. The wide tracks provide great traction on many surfaces.

The Blizzard is mostly assembled at the factory. You will need to attach the plow mechanism, which takes just a few minutes. The remaining steps deal with installing the iReceiver app on your phone or tablet and then linking it to the vehicle. I alternately used an iPhone 4S, iPhone 6, and an iPad Mini with the Blizzard. All three systems were configured without any trouble. The process was not intuitive to me, but the steps in the manual are accurate.

Tested: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro

Windows 10 is out today, and I've been using the new OS near-constantly over the last couple of weeks. I really like most of what Microsoft has done with the latest version if Windows, it's mostly fixes the mess that Microsoft made with Windows 8, while adding a handful of great new features. Windows 10 represents a big departure for the operating system.

Microsoft is calling Windows 10 the last version of Windows. Don't worry, Windows isn't going anywhere, but Microsoft is getting rid of the big annual releases. Instead of upgrades you need to shell out cash for, you can expect to see smaller, more regular, free updates to the OS. While Microsoft reps wouldn't commit to a specific timeline for updates, they said we could expect to see three to four updates annually.

The problem with Windows 8 was simply that the OS that Microsoft shipped was designed to be used with touch devices--that sounds great, except it didn't work well with the billion or so computers that didn't include touch and the touch-capable devices didn't really exist at launch. The result was an OS that was based around a decent first attempt at a touch-first operating system that was frustrating for anyone who used it with a mouse and keyboard.

With Windows 10, Microsoft is attempting to atone for its tablet-first error. The OS is smarter and more configurable than either of its direct predecessors. Windows 10 behaves like a tablet OS when the keyboard and mouse are missing and shifts to a traditional Windows desktop when you use it with a keyboard and mouse. With widespread support for touchscreens on laptops and a user interface that shifts seamlessly between touch and traditional controls based on the type of input you're using, I can finally see the promise of the convertible laptop.

Tested In-Depth: Microsoft Windows 10

Microsoft's Windows 10 is finally here! We've been testing the beta for months as part of the Insider's Program, and sit down with the latest build right before public release to talk about our experience. We show off the new features, compare it with Windows 7 and 8, and give our thoughts as to whether you should install it. What are your thoughts on Microsoft's latest OS?

Intel and Micron Announce New, Fast Non-Volatile Memory

In most modern systems, there are two types of storage, volatile and non-volatile memory. Volatile storage is very fast, but is expensive and requires constant power to retain data, if the power drops, the data disappears. For this reason, it's typically used as system RAM and provides the working storage for the system's processor. Non-volatile storage, which typically takes the form of a hard drive or solid-state drive, retains your data without power to the system, but it is much, much slower than typical RAM.

Today, Intel and Micron announced XPoint memory (pronounced: crosspoint). The companies are promising that XPoint is 1000x faster than the NAND flash used in today's SSDs and because the structure is simplified, they can be packed 10x denser than the chips used in SSDs today. In terms of performance, this puts XPoint somewhere between the DRAM used for system memory and the NAND flash used in SSDs. Cost for XPoint memory will be somewhere between that of NAND and DRAM as well.

This kind of advancement has real potential to move bottlenecks inside the PC, but the current PC ecosystem can't accommodate the scale of performance that Intel and Micron are promising. Current PCI-Express SSDs are already able to saturate PCI-Express, so making the storage inside a drive faster won't show a performance benefit without upgrading the drive's connection to the PC. If XPoint succeeds, we'll eventually see significant architectural changes to the PC to take advantage of the new technology, but that will take time. At first, I'd expect to see the new technology integrated in next-generation PCI-Express SSDs, but as DRAM density growth is slowing down, it's good to see new potential technologies that can scale come online to replace or supplement it.

So when will you be able to get XPoint in your PC? Intel and Micron didn't share any details about potential product integrations, but they did say that they're manufacturing now and will ship products in 2016. Given what we know about the technology, I'd expect to see this show up first on SSDs destined for the data center, but we'll likely find out more about product plans in a few weeks at the Intel Developer Forum.

The Best Coffee Maker Today

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a list of the best gear for your home. Read the full article here.

After two months spent surveying readers; interviewing coffee experts; researching makes, models, and reviews; and testing five finalist machines with a 10-person tasting panel, we recommend the $190 Bonavita 1900TS. It's the best coffeemaker for most people who love good coffee but don't have the time or patience for pour-over. The 1900TS brewed the most consistently delicious coffee among all of the machines we tested. That's thanks to a smart internal design: a wider showerhead, a flat-bottomed filter (the normal, wavy kind), and a built-in pre-infusion timer.

Why you should trust us

To get to these picks, we talked to coffee experts of various backgrounds from different parts of the industry: Humberto Ricardo, the owner of the renowned Manhattan coffee shop Third Rail Coffee; barista Carlos Morales, who just won third place in the Northeast Brewers Cup Championship; and Mark Hellweg, who founded and runs the speciality coffee accessory company Clive Coffee, which recently developed and released a high-end coffee machine of their own design. We also chatted with pretty much every barista we encountered at shops to get their perspectives.

Tested Builds: DIY Arcade Cabinet Kit, Part 1

Time to start more weeks of builds! This week, we're joined by Jeremy Williams to assemble his new Porta-Pi DIY Arcade Cabinet Kit. the Porta-Pi is a desktop-sized arcade emulator that runs on either a Raspberry Pi or mini computer. Jeremy had built an earlier version, but the new model has a larger screen and more powerful computer inside. Let's get to building! (Follow along the rest of the week by joining the Tested Premium member community!)