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22
Dec

iOS 7 gets its first complete jailbreak, with a big catch


Evasi0n7 iOS 7 jailbreak

You’ve mostly been out of luck if you’ve wanted to jailbreak iOS 7 so far; what options have existed have been incomplete at best. Cracking the code just got a lot easier, though, as evasi0n 7 has just arrived. The untethered jailbreak lets Mac and Windows users freely modify iOS 7 on any device that can run the software in the first place, including newer gadgets like the iPad Air and iPhone 5s. Just be prepared for a rough experience, at least with early versions. In addition to the usual risks associated with unofficial OS tweaks, Saurik (Jay Freeman) warns that he hasn’t had a real chance to test Cydia’s app distribution platform with the new evasi0n release; you’re using it at your own risk. Still, those who just have to venture beyond Apple’s prescribed boundaries can start downloading the jailbreak at the source link.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

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Via: Redmond Pie, Evad3rs (Twitter)

Source: Evad3rs

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22
Dec

Hulu Plus passes 5 million subscribers, plans to double its original content


New Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins chimed in this week with the video streaming site’s yearly recap, and pointed out a few big numbers as evidence it’s headed in the right direction. In 2013 Hulu will top $1 billion in revenue and 5 million paying customers for its Hulu Plus service, which compares to $695 million and 3 million subscribers in 2012, and 4 million subscribers back in April. That’s not a bad haul for a site that was almost soldagain — and lost former CEO Jason Kilar this year, but while those numbers are up, they were going up faster last year. All the while its competition is getting stronger as Netflix has over 40 million subscribers, Amazon pushes its Prime subscription service with licensed content and new original shows, and the TV networks that feed Hulu roll out streaming sites of their own (Fox Now, Watch ABC).

Still, Hulu’s trump card is that it offers current season TV shows many others don’t have yet, and Hopkins proudly notes it has seven of the current top ten TV shows ready for streaming at any time. Right now Hulu hosts over 2,900 TV series, with plans to take this year’s 20 original series and double that number “over the next few years.” Like Netflix and Amazon, Hulu isn’t posting viewer numbers, but Hopkins says original shows like The Wrong Mans, Behind the Mask and The Awesomes performed “extremely well” and are among the top 10 shows viewed. We think Hulu could use a drama like House of Cards to pull in viewers next year, but one more year of sale or IPO rumors about it splitting off from owners Disney, Fox and NBC Universal could be just as entertaining.

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Source: Hulu Blog

22
Dec

Inhabitat’s Week in Green: doggie translator, full-size Lego hot rod and skyscraper cemeteries


Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green.

Do you ever wish you knew exactly what your dog is thinking? A team of designers from the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery is playing Doctor Dolittle — they’ve developed a doggie headset that can read animal brainwaves and translate them into human speech. That’s just one of the many amazing scientific breakthroughs we’ve witnessed this week. South Korean scientists developed the world’s first nanobot that can both detect and treat cancer. Rawlemon unveiled a gigantic crystal ball that can magnify solar energy 10,000 times — that’s enough to harvest light from the sun, moon and clouds. For the first time, researchers at the University of Cambridge used an inkjet printer to print living retinal cells, which could be used to replace defective eye tissue. And this week, Inhabitat interviewed Natural Machine’s Chief Marketing Officer Lynette Kucsma to talk about an amazing new 3D printer that can cook up edible designs.

In green transportation news, the BMW i8 Spyder plug-in hybrid — which was originally unveiled back in 2012 — is finally set to hit the road by the end of 2015. Porsche is returning to the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race with its new LMP1 919 Hybrid racer. And a couple of Lego builders have created a life-size hot rod made almost entirely from Lego bricks. Oh yes, and it runs on nothing but air.

What happens when cemeteries run out of space? Norwegian designer Martin McSherry has come up with a clever solution: Build skyscraper cemeteries to house the dead. In other green design news, researchers at Purdue University recently discovered that cellulose nanocrystals — the structural basis of plant life — have the stiffness of steel. Singapore-based company Nevhouse recently unveiled a line of low-cost prefab houses made from recycled plastic that are fire and earthquake resistant. And after six months of negotiations, IKEA’s temporary flat-pack shelters will be available to Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

On the green energy front, a new government-sponsored initiative in Mongolia is looking to provide nomadic peoples with clean energy. Warren Buffet’s utility company, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., announced last week that it placed a massive order for 448 wind turbines, worth $1 billion, which will be installed in Iowa. Department of Energy scientists have figured out a way to convert algae into crude oil in less than one hour. And a new European research project has found that grass could be one of the best and most prolific sources of biofuel on the planet.

Wouldn’t it be nice if your lights stayed on during power outages? SmartCharge just unveiled a brilliant LED lightbulb that works even when the power is cut. The clever bulb has a built-in battery, and it can be switched on in emergency situations. And in case you’re looking to replace your old incandescent bulbs, Inhabitat provided an up-to-date roundup of all the latest alternatives that will save you energy and money. In other design and innovation news, London architect Daniel Widrig recently showed off his new line of customizable 3D wearable sculptures, which are built on 3D scans of the wearer’s body. Here’s a new product you didn’t know you needed: a stainless steel ring with a digital display that lets you control your smartphone without lifting a finger. Because, you know, handling a smartphone is such a chore. And Inhabitat reviewed Bang & Olufsen’s BeoPlay H6 headphones, which match form and function make a great addition to any holiday wish list.

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22
Dec

Time Machines: Apple’s attempt to sell the future at CES


Welcome to Time Machines, where we offer up a selection of mechanical oddities, milestone gadgets and unique inventions to test out your tech-history skills. In the week’s leading up to the biggest gadget show on Earth, we’ll be offering a special look at relics from CES’ past.

In the early ’90s, Apple CEO John Sculley filled his CES keynote with a sweeping premonition on how computers and consumer electronics would soon merge into tiny, do-everything devices. When he finally took the idea to market, it was innovative, ahead of its time and ultimately disappointing. There’s more to the story, though, and it’s all waiting for you after the break.

Apple MessagePad

At the 1992 Winter CES, Sculley gave a keynote speech that delved into the future of digital devices. He offered a new theme for the ’90s that involved the “reorganization of work,” where technology would help us break old habits, increase productivity and redefine the workplace. The key to that shift? The personal digital assistant (PDA), a successor to his 1987 “knowledge navigator” concept that would combine applications, multimedia and network access, and, according to Sculley, lead to a trillion dollar market by the next decade. He didn’t reveal any Apple products matching the description that year, but he was setting the stage for the MessagePad, a device positioned as the next big thing.

Although Sculley seems to have coined the term “personal digital assistant” during that keynote, quite a few products had already tried to tackle that market. Simple “palmtops,” like Psion’s Organisers, which offered contact databases, scheduling and electronic diaries had been around for years. In 1989, Grid Systems released the rugged GRiDPAD tablet that ran MS-DOS and had a stylus for handwriting input (using software developed by Grid’s Jeff Hawkins). In 1991, Psion offered its Series 3 clamshell organizer that added a QWERTY keyboard and productivity applications to the package. All of these devices, however, fell short of the lofty goals that Apple and its Newton group had for its device.

During the mid-’80s, Sculley managed to reinvigorate sales of the Mac line and lead Apple in a mobile direction, starting with the 1987 inception of the Newton team and the release of the 1989 Macintosh Portable computer. (Although, at 16 pounds, “portable” was a bit of a stretch.) By 1990, Sculley felt that it was time to bring a Newton-based PDA device to market. Following another year’s worth of form-factor testing, he chose a nearly pocketable hand-held design and planned for a launch at the 1992 Summer CES in Chicago. The pressure was on to move this product to its final stage, but delays began to hinder progress. There were chip changes, major issues with the handwriting recognition software and ongoing hardware deals with Sharp. In the push to be innovative, success with new and untested technology was uncertain.

Despite recent success with the 1991 PowerBook laptop series, Apple’s sales figures for the next year looked grim — Sculley needed a win. He hoped that the Newton PDA he hinted at during his 1992 CES keynote would soon be at the forefront of a lucrative market. But it still didn’t have a name and was hampered by delays in development and internal reorganizations within the company. When the 1993 Winter CES rolled around, Apple had an alpha Newton device to demonstrate, but it still wasn’t ready for release, and while there were vague mentions of a summer launch and a sub-$1,000 price, nothing was confirmed.

Unfortunately for Apple, other companies had been hard at work developing PDA-style products of their own. At the 1993 CeBIT event in Germany, Tandy announced its Zoomer PDA, based on software from Palm Inc., lead by former Grid Systems exec Hawkins. With competition on the rise, Apple eventually shifted its official release date to coincide with the Macworld Expo in August that same year and settled on a name for its device: the MessagePad. It would be a $699 device with 4.5 x 7.25-inch dimensions, pressure-sensitive and monochromatic LCD screen and a stylus. The handheld would offer wireless messaging and modem options, connect to serial devices and even “beam” data to other nearby MessagePads.

Apple managed to sell a respectable 50,000 units within the first two and a half months, but once the initial surge was over, sales stagnated. Its Calligrapher handwriting software was still problematic, often failing to accurately read input. The failure was so public, that shortly after its release, the popular comic strip Doonesbury mocked the issue, portraying a translation of the words “catching on” as “egg freckles.”

With company sales continuing to slip and the MessagePad’s failure still fresh, Apple’s board gave Sculley his walking papers. It seems that the synthesis of computers and consumer electronics that he had predicted would take longer than he thought. None of the early PDAs actually managed to gain traction in the market, all suffering from the inherent technological limitations of the time. Perseverance would pay off for Hawkins, though. He learned from the Zoomer’s failure and reworked its handwriting software into a new product called Graffiti. In 1994, he licensed it to Apple, solving many of the MessagePad’s problems. Hawkins eventually spun Graffiti into his own successful product in 1996 called the Palm Pilot. Steve Jobs discontinued the ill-fated MessagePad shortly after he returned to Apple in 1997, but it wasn’t the end of the road for Sculley’s “knowledge navigator.” After almost a decade, the idea would rematerialize, but this time it had a new name: the iPhone.

[Image credits: SSPL/Getty Images (MessagePad); Channel R/Wikipedia (Palm Pilot); Snowmanradio/Wikipedia (Psion Series 3)]

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22
Dec

IRL: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Gear


Welcome to IRL, an ongoing feature where we talk about the gadgets, apps and toys we’re using in real life and take a second look at products that already got the formal review treatment.

IRL: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Gear

Well, this is a fitting idea for an end-of-the-year column: let’s revisit one of our favorite gadgets of 2013 (the Galaxy Note 3) along with one of the most disappointing (that’d be the Galaxy Gear). Does Jon like the Note 3 as much as our reviewer James did? And might he be a little more forgiving of the smartwatch?

In theory, the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear make a great power couple: you get a big, powerful smartphone for heavy-duty tasks, and a small, convenient smartwatch for basics like calls. I wanted to see how well this combo worked in practice, so I’ve been using them for the past several weeks on Telus in Canada. Are they worth the premium over other Android flagships like the Nexus 5?

The Note 3 certainly is, at least for fans of big-screened smartphones. The 5.7-inch display is just about right; it’s large enough to be superb for web browsing and videos, but it’s not so big that it becomes truly unwieldy (as with the Galaxy Mega 6.3 or Xperia Z Ultra). Its battery easily lasts all day, even with my frequent use of Google+, Instagram and Twitter. I don’t use the S Pen much, but I see it as a handy bonus. In addition, Samsung addressed a couple of the GS4′s flaws: the Note’s Snapdragon 800 chip irons out the few performance hitches, and the textured back has a nicer feel than the GS4′s mostly featureless shell. LTE is certainly fast, too, reaching up to 30 Mbps on Telus’ Ottawa network.

Still, it’s not a perfect smartphone. For one, Samsung still doesn’t know how to handle low-light photography. The Note 3′s night mode is a little too eager to remove detail in the name of a blur-free picture — so much so that shots sometimes resemble Impressionist paintings. My Nexus 5 isn’t exactly an imaging champ, but it’s at least more consistent. I’m also not a big fan of Samsung’s many eye- and gesture-driven commands, as they generally aren’t reliable enough to be useful.

As for the Galaxy Gear? I thankfully received the firmware update that expands notification support, but even so, it would be hard for me to justify the $300 price. There just aren’t enough watch-ready apps available. Many of the titles I’d want to use from my wrist (Foursquare and Instagram, for example) just aren’t available, and neither the camera quality nor the phone features are good enough to stop me from using the Note 3 for those tasks. Pebble’s smartwatch is more enticing, simply because it’s a better value. It may not have as many extras, but it offers much of the core functionality I’d like for half the price — and with broader device compatibility to boot.

– Jon Fingas

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22
Dec

New Video Shows Us Notable Features Of The Oppo N1 CyanogenMod Phone


oppo n1 cyanogenmod phoneWe’ve recently learned that the Oppo N1 CyanogenMod phone has now been CTS-certified, marrying CyanogenMod and the Google Play Store together for the first time and that we can expect it to become available for sale on the 24th of December. We know what hardware is going to be in the Oppo N1, but what exactly can the N1, which comes with CyanogenMod preloaded, actually do? Well, Cyanogen Inc. have released a video via a Google+ post to detail just some of the great features that you can expect and how to take lots of selfies:

As you can see, the CyanogenMod running on the N1 will still let you do a lot of the things that stock Android can do, like homescreen app grouping, but still allow you to do all the things that you love custom ROMs for, like theme-ing and CPU throttle control. It’s also nice to see the Cyanogen Inc. team themselves showing off the features of the Oppo N1 which is actually pretty informative, something that appears to be lost in many advertisements these days (ahem, Samsung).

With install numbers of CyanogenMod up over 10,000,000 as of today, and the release of the CyanogenMod loaded Oppo N1 waiting in the wings, it looks like things are looking up for Cyanogen Inc., particularly if they’re already planning their next move with an unknown hardware manufacturer. Exciting times in the CM space.

Will you be getting the Oppo N1 CyanogenMod phone when it release on Christmas Eve? Let us know in the comments.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

Source: Google+ via Android Police

22
Dec

Aviary pauses Windows 8 and WP8 development, focuses on iOS and Android for now


We hope folks on WP and Windows 8 are A-OK with Aviary’s apps and SDKs as they are, because the company is not currently developing its products for the platforms. An Aviary representative has revealed the news in the firm’s forums, citing the “lack of general platform traction” as the reason. We reached out to CEO Tobias Peggs who confirmed that his team isn’t working on Aviary’s Windows tools this quarter. Apparently, the startup has chosen to focus on its iOS and Android products, following a tremendous growth in userbase on those operating systems. Not all hope is lost, however: according to Peggs, Aviary’s currently gathering feedback from Windows developers who’ve incorporated its image editing SDK into their own apps. Their input will be taken into account when the company makes its 2014 roadmap, which means, the CEO says, “[Aviary] may well jump back in.”

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Via: WPCentral

Source: Aviary Forum

22
Dec

Snapchat iOS update discreetly adds replay, filters and overlays for weather, time or speed


And suddenly, moments shared over Snapchat were a little less fleeting. The service is known for only allowing you to watch a shared image or video once, and only for a second, but the app’s latest iOS update changes everything: now you can replay pictures or videos. The feature is hidden in the application’s additional services menu (and comes with no explanation of what it does, exactly), but it allows users to replay old Snaps at the rate of one a day. While this doesn’t quite make Snaps public, it does make them a bit more enduring. Users who tend to create Snaps of a more …personal nature may want to think twice before sharing.

The application’s other updates are a bit less game changing. Users can now apply “Smart Filters” to their images, which overlay your Snaps with data including current weather, time, or the speed they’re traveling, along with new visual filters (swipe from right to left to activate them) and text options. The app has even added a “front-facing flash,” but don’t get too excited — it just flashes a bright white image on your smartphone’s screen as you capture a poorly-lit selfie. Itching to update? Check out that iTunes link below.

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Via: TechCrunch

Source: iTunes

22
Dec

Japanese bridge inspection robot has magnetic wheels, shuffles up walls


Most wall-climbing robots rely on advanced forms of suction to keep them adhered to a flat surface, but Japan’s latest wall crawler employs a different method: magnets. Hailing from the Osaka City University Graduate School of Engineering, BIREM (which stands for Bridge Inspection Robot Equipping Magnets) is designed to — as the name suggests — inspect bridges. Riding four spoked wheels adorned with eight magnets a piece, it can creep across metal girders at a rate of 7.8 inches per second. Its flexible midsection promises to give it an edge over uneven structures, and its creators hope that it will eventually lower infrastructure inspection costs. You won’t see it crawling across the Golden Gate any time soon, however — the team doesn’t expect to commercialize it for another three years.

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Via: CNET

Source: Osaka City University

22
Dec

Decromancer Review: A New Deck-Building Card Game Comes To Android


decromancer reviewThose of you who have read some of my game reviews before will know that I’m a sucker for all kinds of tabletop games: card games, board games, any other games as long as they have cards, dice and minatures, I get all giddy and childish. So when I heard about Decromancer after developer UNIT9 approached me advertising a “Battle Card RPG”, I got excited to hear to a true deck-building card game was coming to Android.

decromancer reviewFor those who don’t know what a deck-building card game (DBCG)  is, it’s essentially a game where either at the start of the game or over the progression of the game, you acquire cards to go in your deck of cards in the hopes that what you have will prepare you for the game ahead. There are a handful of hybrid DBCGs out there, like the new Injustice game which features deck-building with a side of real-time fighting action, but by and large most of these don’t really make the deck building a focus of the game, something Decromancer aims to do.

decromancerThe story of Decromancer is a basic one. You find yourself in command of a ship that has recently run aground and your mission is to protect the Necromancer diplomat that is now stranded with you. In true game form, you will need to forge a path through the uncertain terrain, making deals with various parties to help reinforce your ranks while you prepare to push further through the unknown. This aspect of the story cleverly masks the deck-building that is required to progress through the game though sometimes it feels a little contrived as you merely recruit the newest card available to you as opposed to one that you feel suits your deck the best.

decromancer reviewTravelling through the world map-style landscape is a joy as everything appears to have been hand drawn, right down to the details on tents and pirate ships. It’s delightfully impressive and relieving to know that there are studios out there who are still willing to embrace the hand drawn, personal, 2D touch over 3D models and flashy graphics. You control a rearing horse figurine on the world map who’s move speed depends on whether it’s on a road or off the beaten path. Even on the road, you move at a rather relaxing speed, though there is a chance to speed things up for a price; more on that later.

decromancer reviewIf there is any doubt that Decromancer was ever a DBCG, that will be dispelled when you enter a battle where the card game mechanics of the game are laid bare. The gameplay plays out in a turn-based battle where your opponent will always go first playing cards and you will play your cards to counter, and so forth. Each card will have an attack, defence and health value which will determine how effective they are in battle. Possibly more important that this is the positioning of your cards as while you are only allowed 10 cards on the field at a time, each card will have a specific attack range or area of effectiveness. This makes it particularly important to be aware of what your cards are capable and when to make strategic decisions. Furthermore, as you progress through the game, you will also gain access to spells which will have varied effects on the battle depending on which you get.

decromancer reviewBattles can be decided either by defeating all enemy cards played or by depleting your enemies morale points. Most battles will end from morale points being depleted, however there will be battles that are specifically constrained to only defeating the enemy cards to win; these are easily the most difficult battles I have encountered so far. Winning a battle will net you XP, gold and a boost to your morale and summon points which will be invaluable in future battles.

decromancerAll in all, the gameplay of Decromancer is compelling enough for you to want to keep playing and improve your deck. The most tedious part of the game is probably the travelling between two points as they can usually be quite far apart and as a result of your slow moving figurine, this process can become a grind. To mitigate this, there are shards, which along with gold coins, form the two currencies in the game. Gold is what you will use to purchase cards, upgrades and spells whereas shards will be used for purchasing more permanent upgrades like deck size and should you choose, instantly teleporting to your destination. While gold is quite easy to come across, large amounts of shards are not and as a result (or rather, by design), shards can be purchased for real-world money as an in-app purchase; gold too can be bought for real money if you should feel so inclined.

decromancer reviewAs I mentioned before, the art style featured throughout the game, especially the world map, appears to be 2D, hand drawn goodness which I think is easily the highlight of the game. It’s further enhanced by the ‘fog of war’ which exists where you haven’t explored yet and shimmers on the edges almost like ink or water. The areas that you haven’t explored yet will appear as an almost paper-like texture which fits in with the whole mystical, fantasy theme of Decromancer.

decromancer reviewThe majority of Decromancer is presented extremely well: we’ve already covered the delightful graphics and the sound and music in the game is appropriately themed and unobtrusive. Some of the text however can be positively tiny, even when viewed on my Note 2′s 5.5-inch screen. Decromancer can also be played in portrait mode, but this just accentuates this issue as well as the fact that some of the menu buttons scale to the resolution rather than just repositioned. This would definitely be better on a tablet, though it’s still a bit weird. There are also a number of bugs that I encountered while playing the game, though UNIT9 has put out updates since I reviewed the game so it’s likely that some of these issues have been ironed out already.

decromancer reviewOverall, I enjoyed Decromancer quite a lot. You may need to be more of a fan of turn-based strategy games and be prepared to be a little patient, but Decromancer offers card game fans something that isn’t readily available on Android and I thoroughly recommend checking it out. Decromancer is available on the Google Play Store now for the uncompromising price of free, so you have no reason not to at least check it out and see what I’m raving about.

Rating: 4/5

 

Game: Decromancer

Play Store Link

Price: Free

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