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Archive for May 9th, 2014

9
May
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CHIL Slap Stylus review w/ Mother’s Day Coupon


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A while back, we took a look a few products from CHIL, including their Nexus 7 (2012) Notchbook Review/Nexus 7 (2013) Notchbook Giveaway and the amazing CHIL PowerShare Reactor review. Today, just in time for Mother’s Day, we’re introducing you to the Slap Stylus.

The Slap Stylus is like any other slap band bracelet but with a stylus! Those of us with gigantic phones, or those with larger fingers may need something to make smartphones all the easier. The stylus opens up and stays straight and strong for use on any touchscreen smartphone, tablet, etc.

This may even be the perfect gift for Moms, Dads, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, etc. who could use a handy stylus that’s hard to loose when it’s right on your wrist when not in use. The slapping motion is gentle but firm and doesn’t hurt.

We loved trying the Slap Stylus out. It’s fun to use and neat to see in use. It comes in a variety of colors, along with extra stylus tips to protect from the possibility of damage. Available in Small and Large in over five colors.

 

Just in time for Mother’s Day! Use coupon code “CHILMom” for 25% Off and Free Shipping at the CHIL Store.

 

Follow the CHIL Brand on Twitter at @GoChil for new cool products.

The post CHIL Slap Stylus review w/ Mother’s Day Coupon appeared first on AndroidGuys.

9
May
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Image of Moto E leaks in Facebook post


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It seems Motorola is getting ready to announce the successor of Moto X at the conference they are holding on May 13th, and it will be known as the Moto E. Motorola is planning to launch this new affordable smartphone in developing markets, and somebody was nice enough to put a picture of the Moto E right along with Moto X on Facebook, and then removing it afterward. But folks over at Android Police got their hands on the picture, have a look:

moto eWell, it is similar to the Moto X in design, but who doesn’t like change, right? Motorola is planning to target the low-end market instead of launching high-end smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One. Do you think Moto E will make a decent affordable smartphone?

Source: AndroidPolice

 

The post Image of Moto E leaks in Facebook post appeared first on AndroidGuys.

9
May
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Chrome Apps Gaining OS X Finder Integration to Open Mac Files by Default [Mac Blog]


Google has launched a new feature for its experimental Chrome Canary browser for Mac, enabling a beta function that allows users to open local Mac files using Chrome apps in Finder. Using the feature, Chrome apps can be associated with OS X files, bringing Google one step closer to replacing desktop functionality with its browser.

For example, the Chrome Text app can be used to open any Mac text file, as seen in the screenshot below. The Text app shows up as an option right alongside native options like TextEdit.

chromecanarybeta

It is now possible to get OS integration of file associations for Chrome Apps in Chrome Canary for Mac.

All you need is to enable the experimental chrome://flags/#enable-apps-file-associations flag and restart your browser.

Enabling this flag in Canary Chrome will let users choose installed Chrome apps as an option when opening an associated file, with the apps behaving as native Mac apps. As noted by Gigaom, the process functions through app manifests, which allow developers to specify which apps are compatible with different file types via file handlers.

While the feature is currently limited to Chrome Canary for testing purposes, many Canary functions eventually make it to Google’s stable Chrome browser. There is no word, however, on when the new feature might make it out of testing as there are still several bugs to work out.



9
May
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Apple Playing ‘Catch Up’ With Beats Acquisition as Music Labels Push for Subscription Services


beatsOver the course of the last several years, streaming music services like Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, and Beats Music have been growing in popularity, usurping traditional music downloads as consumers’ listening method of choice. Despite the shift in user preference, Apple has been slow to adapt, attempting to stick to its download model even as its iTunes music sales have declined.

According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal music labels had been urging Apple to get into the subscription music business long before the company decided to enter negotiations to purchase Beats Electronics, and with it, the Beats Music streaming service.

Record executives have been “lobbying Apple for months” to design a subscription streaming service that would introduce the streaming music business model to a wider array of consumers, but Apple has been reluctant to create such a service, instead focusing on download-centric ideas such as exclusive iTunes album releases.

Back in December, Beyoncé launched an iTunes exclusive album and Apple hoped to negotiate with record labels to secure additional exclusive releases to boost iTunes music sales. Record labels didn’t believe that strategy would do enough to bolster flagging sales, and instead presented Apple with ideas like prompting users to subscribe to a music service over purchasing a music album.

Apple, on the other hand, had pitched more download-centric ideas in recent months, according to people familiar with the matter. One such suggestion was that record companies release all new albums exclusively on iTunes in album-only format for a window of time to drive album sales, before releasing the singles separately and making them available on streaming services. But labels countered that such a strategy–employed successfully by Beyoncé last year–wouldn’t work across the board.

Declining music sales have become a significant issue for Apple, to the point where the company has been forced to consider an entire overhaul of iTunes, introducing not only a streaming music service, but also an Android version of the iTunes store. Music downloads declined approximately 13.3 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the first quarter of 2013.

Apple did launch iTunes Radio back in September of 2013, providing a station-based streaming music service similar to Pandora, but this was seen as a “baby step” aimed at bolstering sales of Apple devices rather than a dedicated entry into the streaming music market.

With the purchase of Beats Music, Apple is potentially signaling its readiness to adapt to the music industry’s shift towards streaming services and its readiness to bring music streaming to the mainstream. While Spotify and other streaming services are relatively small, Apple’s massive iTunes customer base gives it the potential to introduce streaming music to a huge number of users.

Toward that end, Jon Maples argues that an acquisition of Beats would give Apple an easy entry into the true subscription music streaming market without necessarily diluting iTunes.

While music purchases may be falling, it’s still a big business for Apple. So instead of creating another option in iTunes that would potentially cannibalize download sales, why not just buy a service and keep it separate? Streaming blows up: Apple wins. Streaming doesn’t pan out, well, they still have the iTunes store chugging along.

With Apple having 800 million iTunes accounts to leverage, most with credit cards on file, the company can streamline and promote the Beats experience while still leaving its iTunes download service intact. And as Maples notes, Beats’ headphone business is currently highly profitable, which means Apple’s $3.2 billion purchase of Beats (Apple’s largest acquisition ever by far) could pay for itself in a relatively short period of time and actually provide Apple with a low-cost entry into subscription music services on the side.



9
May
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Samsung’s next Android tablet looks like a supersized Galaxy S5


Samsung's rumored Galaxy Tab S

Samsung has already launched a cavalcade of new Android tablets this year, but it looks like the company isn’t quite done yet. SamMobile claims to have the first photos of the Galaxy Tab S 10.5, a recently rumored Android design that would mark Samsung’s return to slates with OLED displays. As the name suggests, it would have a 10.5-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 AMOLED panel that promises higher contrast and bolder colors than an LCD; there’s reportedly an 8.4-inch equivalent in the works, too.

However, the hardware surrounding that display may be as much of an attention-getter. Where the Tab Pro range aped the Galaxy Note 3, the Tab S looks like a Galaxy S5 writ large — you’d get the same dimpled plastic back and, apparently, the same fingerprint sensor. Connectors on the back also hint at a possible smart screen cover. About the only disappointment may be the performance, since there’s talk of the Tab S carrying the same 1.9GHz Exynos 5 Octa processor that we saw in the Tab Pro early this year. Assuming the leak is accurate, the biggest mystery may be when this (mostly) upgraded device hits store shelves.

Filed under: Tablets, Samsung

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Via: Liliputing

Source: SamMobile

9
May
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Home theater deals of the week: 5.9.14


Let’s face it: It’s no longer enough to just have a TV in your living room to access broadcast programming. Streaming services are the norm; DVRs allow delayed commercial-free viewing; and most displays lack the power to fill a room with sound. To remedy those situations, we’ve compiled a handful of tempting deals for your end-of-the-week consideration. Jump down past the break to ogle the goods. If there are other home entertainment gadgets you’re after that we haven’t included here — join us and add them to your “Want” list. Every time there’s a price cut in the future, you’ll get an email alert!

Slingbox 350

Price: $125
Regular Price: $180
Engadget Global Score: 84
Buy: Amazon

If you didn’t snag a Slingbox 350 when we mentioned it a few months back, the price continues to tumble. Right now, the unit is labeled at a cool $125 — a $55 total discount. For the investment, you’ll gain mobile and remote desktop access to live programming and DVR content when you’re out of the living room.

Apple TV (third-gen)

Price: $85
Regular Price: $99
Engadget Global Score: 86
Buy: No Better Deal

As we’ve mentioned before, any discount on current-gen (albeit from 2012) Apple tech is certainly welcome. Cupertino’s compact set-top box is currently seeing a modest discount that could be enough to lure the curious. Of course, rumors are pretty much constant these days about a new model, though we’ve yet to discover any concrete details. The current rate is also on par with the lowest it has been in the past 90 days, too.

Philips Fidelio HTL7180/F7

Price: $500
Regular Price: $800
Buy: Amazon

While we don’t like to revisit options inside this roundup on the regular, the increased discount on the Philips Fidelio HTL7180/F7 made us take another look. The soundbar and its detachable speakers are now seeing a $300 total price drop, hitting a three-month low.

ZVOX SoundBase 555

Price: $299
Regular Price: $399
Engadget Global Score: 76
Buy: Amazon

If you’re after a gadget that will boost your TV’s sound without cluttering up a shelf, have a look here. The ZVOX SoundBase 555, as its moniker suggestions, rests underneath the base of that display and most reviewers have reported respectable sound quality. Inputs are limited though, so that may weigh heavily into your final decision. Current pricing is just $2 above the lowest we’ve seen since early February.

Filed under: Home Entertainment

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9
May
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Oracle gets another shot at making Google pay for using its code in Android


Oh, you thought Oracle and Google’s heated legal battle was over? Not quite: the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) overturned a lower court’s decision that Oracle’s Java APIs weren’t copyrightable. This means that Oracle gets another shot at making Mountain View pay for its alleged transgressions, assuming Google can’t prove that its use of the APIs in Android falls under the fair use doctrine of US copyright law.

To fully understand what’s going on, we need to flash back to 2010. Oracle sued Google for billions because it believed (among other things) that the search giant infringed the “structure, sequence, and organization” of 37 Java application programming interfaces (APIs) while it was first building Android. Two years and lots of legal jostling later, a jury decided that Google did in fact infringe on Oracle’s copyrights (but not its patents). Seems like an open and shut case, no? Judge William Alsup eventually shot down the copyright claims their verdict was based on, though, basically nullifying the jury’s decision.

The court ultimately decided that those APIs aren’t copyrightable, prompting Oracle to accept a whopping $0 in damages from the folks in Mountain View. Today, that’s no longer the case. In short, the appeals court took issue with Alsup’s original conclusion (and some of the intellectual leaps that lead to it) and overturned the ruling. APIs can indeed be copyrighted now, which itself is quite a can of worms to open because of the potential pitfalls for software creators trying to craft apps and services that interact with others. Last time around the jury found itself deadlocked on whether Google’s actions fell under fair use — expect another trial and still more legal intrigue to come.

Comments

Via: FOSS Patents

Source: US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (PDF)

9
May
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A Westerner’s guide to Japanese toilets


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Dirt, stains, effluent, material, the load, waste, matter. These are the words my tour guides at Toto’s toilet factory and research center in Kyushu used to verbally pirouette around what exactly its porcelain thrones deal with: shit. Japanese toilets are probably the best in the business at getting rid of your business, but for many Westerners, that first moment of contact can be terrifying. There are so many buttons, so many unknown symbols and open-to-interpretation stickmen figures; not to mention the (unfounded) fear that you could be sprayed with toilet water by merely approaching one. The Washlet, as Toto’s combination bidet/toilet is called, doesn’t come cheap. And yet, in Japan, they are everywhere. In fact, compared to plain, old, featureless toilets, washlets occupy the majority of restrooms.

Japan’s biggest toilet maker isn’t based in Tokyo. Toto’s headquarters are actually hundreds of miles away from the capital, on the island of Kyushu in the southwest tail of Japan, an area better known for its addictive tonkotsu pork ramen. Toto’s been here for just shy of 100 years; early, illustrious years that included making Japan’s first seated flush toilet. This is the same company that refers to itself as the “Apple of toilet tech.” But for all its technical accomplishments, Toto believes its toilets are the best simply due to its heritage in this area of bathroom fixtures, and not the Star Trek-esque control board attached to the bowl’s side.

Flush with features

The washlet’s plethora of user settings focuses more on physics and chemistry than electronics. Toto’s modern toilet bowls have a nanotech coating on the interior to defend against incidental stains and prevent waste from sticking to it long after you’ve flushed. The very latest models even partially electrolyze the flush water, which not only adds an antibacterial bonus to every flush, but also has a bleaching effect on urine stains. And some higher-end washlets pack proximity sensors that cause the seat to raise and lower on your approach and dismount.

Intelligence toilet

A representative demos Toto’s Intelligence Toilet.

Toto’s high-tech integration reached a peak with its nearly 10-year-old, health-centered “Intelligence Toilet.” A collaboration with construction giant, Daiwa House, the entire system included scales built into the bathroom floor, blood sugar and blood pressure monitoring, access to the internet (and your physician) and the ability to conduct “urine analysis.” It also came with a hefty $6,100 price tag.

A graphical representation of the Tornado Flush.

A graphical representation of the Tornado Flush.

Then there’s the Tornado flush — think of it as the toilet version of Dyson’s “cyclone technology.” Toto’s team made it a point to drill this specific feature into my head. This particular flushing process uses less water, and as demonstrated by the company’s own graphic visualization, is a more efficient way of getting rid of everything. And it’s constantly evolving, too. Toto teams up with universities, using supercomputers to model water physics, test flushing processes with particle waste and tweak the shape of its future toilets.

The ‘sound princess’ and the pee

For decades, modest Japanese would apparently repeatedly flush the toilet in public stalls to mask any trumpeting. The net effect of which was wasted water. To remedy that, Toto invented the Otohime (translation: sound princess) — a simple noise generator that’s often attached to the company’s public or business-based toilets. Waving your hand over Otohime‘s sensor makes a comforting, camouflaging noise play (a delicate melody, or perhaps something representing a tranquil forest) without an actual water flush, so you can sit in peace.

Don’t cross the streams

The positives of embedding a bidet function within your toilet, aside from a cleaner oshiri (or “arse” in Japanese), are twofold: It’s more economical and, apparently, there’s a therapeutic benefit to washing your butt with water. If you’re looking for said therapeutic relief, Toto’s washlets offer plenty of cleaning options to try out. The typical washlet includes controls for water temperature and pressure, but it can also be further adjusted for both oscillating and pulsing water streams.

With the aid of a strobe light, the Toto team was able to show me how the washlet’s pulsing stream behaves; it’s apparently set to burst at roughly seven centimeters from the spout, about the location of our collective arses’ epicenters. The stream, a mixture of air and water, is also oddly hypnotic, as you’ll see below.

The business of the BM

Despite the myriad benefits of a coddled washlet experience, Westerners are still not entirely sold on the toilet upgrade, and not just because of the associated high price. Sure, button panic and the fear of a rogue water stream factor into that hesitation, but there’s also the cultural discomfort to consider: Everybody poops, but no one wants to talk about it.

“It can be difficult to engage with consumers; to have a meaningful discussion about features and benefits beyond the design and basic function of a toilet,” said Brian Hedlund, marketing manager for US-based Kohler.

Everybody poops, but no one wants to talk about it.

Another US company, Brondell, sells bidet seats to augment existing toilets. As company head Steve Scheer told me, for many consumers, the key to understanding and buying into the luxe toilet experience is to test it out. “Trying to convince someone to change their [toilet paper] habits that have been ingrained in them since childhood were difficult at best. Bidet seats are a very personal and experiential thing in that you must experience it firsthand. You need a trusted source to convince you to try.”

Toto’s aware these cultural traditions and taboos hamper its reach in outside markets, especially in the US. To counter that, the company runs a Try a Washlet scheme in several bars and restaurants around the US to educate potential clients. Toto’s overall aim, however, is not the service industry, but upmarket homes. It’s the opposite tact from the bottom-up approach Toto used to build its business in Japan; a washlet for the everyman. In the US and other overseas markets, Toto’s marketing the washlet as aspirational; because most of us want what we can’t have, even if we’re not comfortable talking about it.

Please take a seat: Toto’s washlet in pictures

The many washlets on display at Toto’s showroom.

The Princess and the Pee

The portable Otohime is a convenient audio disguise for toilets that don’t have audio bells and whistles.

Headed to the USA, this model's remote panel is relatively clear on what each button does. The all important stop button is on far left. That

A washlet control panel customized for the US market. That “front” setting is meant for women, but don’t let that stop you from trying it.

What cleans the bidet cleaner?

Relax. The washlet’s self-cleaning bidet isn’t suddenly going to spray if you press a button — it’s connected to a pressure sensor on the seat.

The Washlet G: a toilet so famous it’s part of Japan’s Mechanical Engineering Heritage, like the bullet train. It was that important.

When the Washlet was first conceived, Toto experimented with varying water pressures and temperatures… on its staff.

Designer washlets, like this floating model, can cost around $6,000.

This one’s a toilet made for Sumo wrestlers. It’s specially strengthened to bear their extra weight.

[Image credit: Associated Press]

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9
May
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Amazon’s studio photography patent makes Apple, Samsung look reasonable


​Smucker’s, believe it or not, has a patent for the process of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You should see the filing, too — based on the complex diagrams you’d think it detailed architectural concepts or maybe even some weird new camera lens. While the PB&J company won’t likely sue for damages the next time you make yourself some lunch, a recently granted Amazon patent addresses another very simple concept, one used by professional around the world: photography (and video) of items against a white backdrop.

The patent, simply called Studio Arrangement, accounts for one of the most essential foundations of commercial photography: shooting objects in front of a clean white background with very controlled lighting. Though the concept is one familiar to virtually all studio photographers, the patent narrows in on some very particular settings, which Amazon apparently thinks eliminate the need for much post-production work. These include “an ISO setting of about 320,” an elevated surface “positioned about 21 inches above a floor level” and so on.

Since the patent entails so many specific settings, it’s unlikely that Amazon reps will be able to tell if you’re guilty of using a “plurality of light source consuming about 40 kilowatts.” Still, the Studio Arrangement patent addresses an incredibly widely used practice, albeit one that’s even more specific than Apple’s famously contested ownership of the slide-to-unlock function. It makes you wonder: What’s the point?

We can only hope Amazon — and Smucker’s before it — is making a joke of the US patent system by demonstrating just how much companies can get away with. Piling onto the ridiculousness might not be the quickest way to bring about reform, though. In any case, we’ve reached out to the e-commerce giant for comment, and will update the post should we get a response.

Filed under: Cameras, Amazon

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Via: Wired UK

Source: USPTO

9
May
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3D Printable 4.7-Inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Mockups Now Available from Free Plans


Yesterday, designer Martin Hajek started selling a $25 set of 3D files that allow you to print your own 4.7-inch iPhone 6 mockup using a 3D printer. Today, a second set of 3D plans for both the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch version of the iPhone 6 were released by MacRumors forum user Arthur Tilly and made available for free on Thingiverse.

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Using measurements available from leaked design drawings, the plans allow anyone with access to a 3D printer to print out the alleged iPhone 6 design and see how it feels in their hand. The set includes an .STL file for 3D printing and an editable OpenSCad file that can be used to modify the design and add some of the missing details like the Apple logo.

So, here’s an OpenSCad file to create one, and the STL file it makes. There are some comments in there, so you can adjust things to your personal rumour preference. And improve it, of course. It doesn’t print the expected lump on the back for the lens (that would mean the entire build would be on supports, or it would have to be printed a different way around). Neither does it have an apple logo or some other details that would be nice. Maybe I’ll improve it soon, or feel free to do so yourself…

There has been no shortage of renderings of the rumored iPhone 6 that provide an advance look at the possible shape and size of Apple’s upcoming smartphone. A new post from Taiwanese blog AppleCorner provides precise measurements of 138 x 67 x 7.0 mm obtained from one of these mockups, while a Sonny Dickson leak shows physical mockups in roughly the current three colors used on the iPhone 5s.

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While there are a variety of cases and mockups all pointing in the same direction for the design of the iPhone 6, it is important to remember that most of these products are essentially all based on the same sets of leaked design drawings, and they ultimately may or may not prove correct.



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