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13
Feb

Sigma’s CEO wants you to focus on the dp2 Quattro’s new sensor, not its peculiar design


This was a bit of a shocker to us as well: Kazuto Yamaki, Sigma’s chief executive and lead design guru, doesn’t want you to be distracted by the dp Quattro’s strange shape. The extra-wide footprint is of course what first turned us on to this high-end camera, but the takeaway here should be the shooter’s 29-megapixel Foveon X3 CMOS direct image sensor, which Yamaki says enables a reduced file size and better high-ISO performance. That refreshed chip operates similarly to traditional color film, using multiple layers to capture enhanced detail. That, along with a new processor, should produce sharper, more realistic images with vibrant colors — something Sigma describes as “full-bodied image quality.” Without an opportunity to review full-resolution samples, we can’t really speak to the dp Quattro’s performance, but there’s no question that company reps are very excited about this new device.

The unusual design is what captured our attention, and judging by the long queue at Sigma’s CP+ booth in Yokohama, Japan today, consumers are quite curious as well. Our first thought was that the company widened the body to accommodate a larger display, but the 920k-dot, 3-inch LCD is shockingly ordinary. The model seen here is the dp2, which features a fixed 28mm f/2.8 lens, but Sigma is also releasing the dp1, which includes a 45mm f/2.8 optic and the dp3, which sports a 75mm equivalent lens (yes, you’ll need three cameras to take advantage of all three focal lengths). Since there’s a lot of real estate to work with, the buttons and control dials have plenty of room to stretch out — it literally couldn’t feel less cramped, so if you’re often accidentally tapping more than one button, you’ll love what Sigma’s done here. There’s also a hot shoe, and once you attach a full-size flash, the dp may feel better balanced.

We liked the design overall, though we’re still a bit puzzled, especially considering Sigma’s plea to look past the extra-wide housing. It’s also unclear how much each camera will retail for, or when they’ll hit stores, but our money’s on a price tag north of one grand. As for the internal design, Yamaki brings a bit of clarity in our video interview, embedded below.

Mat Smith contributed to this report.

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13
Feb

Meet ‘The Dash’: smart headphones that let you listen, train and talk (video)


Got a feature list for your dream in-ear headphones? Get ready to screw it up in a ball and be ashamed at how short it was. Enter “The Dash,” the name given to a pair of wireless smart headphones currently making waves on Kickstarter. The project is only a few days old, has already smashed through its $260,000 target, and is set to reach a cool million before the week is out. What’s all the fuss about? Well that laundry list of features we mentioned. Of course they’re wireless (Bluetooth 4.0, with support for aptX), have touch control (left ear for tracking, right for sound), 4GB onboard storage for media playback (or use your phone), audio training feedback, an accelerometer, heart rate monitor, oxygen saturation sensor, “transparent” mode (so you can hear ambient sounds without removing), oh and they’re also waterproof to one meter. Most of that functionality is on the headphones themselves, though there will be a mobile app for expanded functionality (viewing your training logs etc.). Well, we mean it will be once the funds are released and the real work begins. While that’s still another 45 days away, a new case that doubles as a chargeable battery pack has just been added to the project after meeting its first stretch goal. So the deal (currently $199 if you’re quick), is looking better all the time.

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Source: Kickstarter

13
Feb

Facebook now lets you specify a custom gender in your profile


Rainbow flags above a city street

Many in the queer community identify themselves through genders that don’t fit into binary male and female definitions, but social networks typically don’t allow for that more nuanced take on sexuality. Thankfully, Facebook is more accommodating as of today. You can now specify a custom gender as well as a preferred pronoun. If you’re not always comfortable with sharing that gender, you can limit who sees it. Facebook isn’t accounting for every aspect of gender — you still have to describe family relationships in binary terms, for instance — but this is an important first step.

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Via: The Next Web

Source: Facebook

13
Feb

Two Days Down With Republic Wireless and the Motorola Moto X


The other day I received a Republic Wireless Motorola Moto X to utilize. Partly to test out how Republic Wireless’s service was and partly to take a look at the Moto X for the first time. Having seen all the talk about the device and how much people who owned one loved it, I needed to see how it really was for myself. Having cleared two whole days, and then some, of using it as much as possible, I thought now would be a good time to offer up a round of initial thoughts.

Republic Wireless Motorola Moto XRepublic Wireless is a no contract monthly service that utilizes Wi-Fi and Sprint’s 3G/4G where available for service. Their devices come preloaded with the Republic Wireless app that helps you setup the device to your Wi-Fi connection and manage your account. In the settings of the app you have various bits of information and things you can adjust. For instance, setting the activity recognition to automatically select the best networks and manage how sensitive the handover from Wi-Fi to Cellular data is. You can even set it to allow you to manually hand off from Wi-Fi to cell or vise versa.

Republic Wireless has 4 plans to choose from based on your needs. (These are just for the Moto X)

  1. Wi-Fi only for $5 a month – Unlimited calls, text and data so long as you are on a Wi-Fi network.
  2. Wi-Fi + Cell $10 a month – Unlimited calling & text over both Wi-Fi and Cell connections, but only data when connected to Wi-Fi.
  3. Wi-Fi + Cell + 3G $25 a month – Unlimited calls, text and data on Wi-Fi plus 3G cell access.
  4. Wi-Fi + Cell + 4G  $40 a month – Unlimited calls, text and data on Wi-Fi plus 4G cellular where available.

For the most part, these plans work out pretty perfectly for me. I spend a great deal of time at home on my Wi-Fi, I would say a good 80% of my day. Part of my day is spent assisting a disabled lady who also has Wi-Fi, so I am connected there too.  I am currently using the 3rd plan, Wi-Fi + Cell + 3G. From a two day experience in my more rural, and Sprint supported, area I have above average coverage. The data is obviously fairly slow, but it handles calls, texts, G+, hangouts and emails just fine which is my primary usage when it comes to data when out and about. I have only driven around a little bit, so over the next few weeks I will be running around the area and checking it against my T-Mobile service.

Republic Wireless Motorola Moto X Republic Wireless Motorola Moto XAs for the the Moto X. This is my first hands on experience with it. I didn’t check it out at CES at all and haven’t ventured out to any stores to hold one. My first impression after opening up and turning it on is that it is TINY. It really is a tiny device compared to handling my Xperia Z. That isn’t a bad thing. The physical size is 129.3 x 65.3 x 10.4 mm (5.09 x 2.57 x 0.41 in) as compared to me Xperia Z 139 x 71 x 7.9 mm (5.47 x 2.80 x 0.31 in). In physical tech size the Moto X is nearly a half inch shorter and almost a quarter inch is cut from the width. It is also .10 inches thinner. You really do feel how dramatic the size is when you are holding it.

Where I really get thrown for the loop is the screen size. The Moto X is 4.7-inches while my Xperia Z is 5.0-inches. Going down in size when you have been climbing up in screen size is a bit difficult. What is sort of funny, is that I find myself reaching for the Moto X more than I reach for my Xperia Z. Even though it is smaller, it just feels so darn nice in your hands. After staring at it for a 15 or 20 minutes I can tell the difference between the AMOLED found in the Moto X and the TFT found in the Z. Something about the AMOLED in the Moto X just pops in a very beautiful vibrant way.

Republic Wireless Motorola Moto XI don’t want to get into too much detail and go over everything just yet; I have only had it in my possession for roughly 56 hours. So I am still learning the active display, playing around with the menu, the settings and getting a good feel for what I like and don’t like. I am also thinking that some of my dislikes might be solved in the KitKat update.  I will have to do a little research on that since the KitKat update is only just now rolling out to some of the carrier branded versions.

After having it in my hands for the short amount of time, I can honestly agree with a majority of the people out there. This is a magnificent little device.

 

 

13
Feb

Taco Bell Introducing Mobile Ordering Nationwide Later This Year [iOS Blog]


Taco BellTaco Bell is planning to roll out its mobile ordering platform nationwide later this year, according to a report from Nation’s Restaurant News, an industry trade publication. Taco Bell has been developing its new mobile ordering app for two-and-a-half years, testing the platform at five stores in California.

A number of other restaurants have supported mobile ordering, including Chipotle, as well as pizza restaurants including Domino’s and Pizza Hut. However, a quick-serve restaurant like Taco Bell provides a different type of service with much less customization and customers that expect prompt turnaround on orders.

The app will allow users to find their closest restaurant, display pricing specific to that location along with customized menu selections and more. Users will be able to use Taco Bell gift cards or stored credit cards, with orders flagged in the restaurant as from a mobile device. Then, the app determines the users’ location to determine when they are near the restaurant and only then will it send the order to be prepared.

Crunchytaco

Workers will be challenged to maintain speed of service during peak hours, when restaurants are receiving a steady flow of mobile orders at the same time guests are lined up at the counter. However, [Jeff Jenkins, mobile lead for Taco Bell] contends that mobile ordering will help eliminate some of the drag caused by consumers with “menu board anxiety,” as well as improving accuracy. When ordering by smartphone, for example, guests can take their time deciding whether to add sour cream or remove the cheese without holding up the line. “It’s really more about convenience and customization,” he noted.

Taco Bell told NRN that it expects young Millennials, its primary customer demographic, will embrace the mobile ordering platform. NRN claims that 74 percent of consumers aged 18 to 34 said they would order takeout/delivery on a mobile device, if it were available.

According to Jenkins, Taco Bell’s mobile lead, “Mobile is the biggest shift in QSR since the drive thru” and “if you can get 10 million people to download your app, you’re putting a portal to Taco Bell in 10 million pockets.”

Taco Bell has an existing app, but the new mobile ordering is expected to roll out nationally later this year.

    



13
Feb

Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside confirms he’s leaving for Dropbox


Not that we had serious doubts about the Wall Street Journal’s report, but it’s nice to get confirmation of Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside’s departure. Less than two years after taking over the position from Sanjay Jha, who ran the company before the Google acquisition, Woodside is stepping down to become the first COO of Dropbox. The move comes just weeks after the announcement that Lenovo would be taking Moto off of Google’s hands. It also raises questions about the future direction of the brand which shifted its focus towards affordability and customization over the last year, even if Woodside assures that Motorola management “remains focused on our current strategy.” Obviously there is still work to be done during the transition from one owner to another, so Jonathan Rosenberg who has been Senior Vice President of Product will be stepping in as COO of Motorola to work with the rest of the leadership team.

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Source: Motorola

13
Feb

Scientists get meaningful energy from laser-based nuclear fusion


Capsule for fusion experiments

Researchers have long sought to generate significant energy from laser-based nuclear fusion, and it appears that they’re finally making some headway. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reports that laser blasts in September and November produced more energy from hydrogen fusion reactions than they’d put into the hydrogen — the first time that’s happened. The key was an extra dose of caution. The lab team altered the laser pulse so that it didn’t break a shell used in the necessary fuel-compression process, improving the energy yield. We’re still far from seeing laser fusion reactors when just 1 percent of the power reached the hydrogen in the first place. However, the output was much closer to what scientists have been expecting for years — laser fusion is now more of a realistic possibility than a pipe dream.

[Image credit: Dr. Eddie Dewald]

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Via: New York Times

Source: Nature

13
Feb

EU Court of Justice: hyperlinks to copyrighted content are legal, if both sites let users see it for free


It’s common practice for those of us who make our living on the internet to link out to other websites in the stories we publish — in fact, we here at Engadget consider it a necessary part of good reporting. In the EU, however, there’s been some doubt as to whether such behavior constitutes copyright infringement. Thankfully, today the EU Court of Justice held that, as long as the source itself is freely accessible to the public, such hyperlinks don’t run afoul of copyright law.

The salient bit of EU law states that authors hold “the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit any communication to the public of their works.” In the case at hand, some Swedish journalists took umbrage with the fact that other websites that were publishing links to their work without permission, and thought those other sites should pay up for the privilege of doing so.

However, the Court found that, because the works in question were published on the open internet, the users of the linking sites are already part of the public authorized to see it. That, in turn, means that the act of linking is not an act of communicating a copyrighted work to the public. So, since there’s neither a new public nor an act of communication, the permission of the copyright holders (or payment to them) isn’t required. Naturally, the flip side of that reasoning means that, should the initial work be behind a paywall or be restricted by other means, then linking becomes an act of communication to a new portion of the public, and copyright infringement would occur. Makes perfect sense to us. If only the issues involving US copyright law could be resolved so easily.

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Via: TorrentFreak

Source: EU Court of Justice

13
Feb

Angry Birds Stella Announced by Rovio, Coming this Fall


Rovio has quite a lot on their plate. Keeping the plethora of their current games updated with new levels, characters and special bonus is quite the task all on its own. The last Rovio game that made its way to our devices was Angry Birds GO! The downhill kart racing game with an Angry Birds twist to it. My son certainly loves it. Since that release they have updated a number of their other Angry Birds games with new goodies, like the Carbonite pack found in Angry Birds Star Wars II.

Angry Birds Stella Rovio MobileRovio has been teasing about a new game that was in the works, like they always do. Now they officially announced the new title, but with little information as to what it is all about. The new game is title Angry Birds Stella. The image they released with the announcement has a tag line of “Best Friends Forever, Most of the Time.”

Angry Birds Stella will open a door to a part of the Angry Birds universe you’ve never seen before! There will be plenty of fun and adventure, but the bunch of passionate pals will also have to deal with some serious issues in order to protect their friendship and the environment they live in. Luckily, Stella and her friends are good at finding creative solutions!

In typical Angry Birds style, the title will launch with a full range of cartoons, books, toys and other fun stuff for you to spend your hard earned money on. You can keep up with the news with the hashtag #NewAngryBirds and visit the official Angry Birds Stella website.

Via Rovio

 

 

 

13
Feb

KitKat Update Rolling out for Sprint Galaxy S4 Owners


Samsung Galaxy S4 Sprint ANdroid 4.4.2 KitKatLooks like it could be a very happy Valentines Day for you guys rocking a Samsung Galaxy S4 on Sprint. Sprint has announced that the rollout of the the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update has begun today. The update will jump to software version L720VPUFNAE.

In typical fashion the update is rolling out in phases beginning today and is expected to be completed by March 9th. We have read conflicting arguments on if manually checking for the update really does any good or not. It doesn’t hurt to try, right? Head into Menu > Settings > More > System Update> Update Samsung Software > Check Now. Be sure you have ample charge on your device, a solid Wi-Fi connection and some time for the update to download. If you do happen to pick it up let us know in the comments. Particularly the file size as Sprint failed to mention that one.

Source: Sprint / Samsung via AndroidandMe

 

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