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16
Feb

Orange is the New Black season two hits Netflix on June 6th (video)


Should you fancy Piper Chapman’s prison-based predicament more than Frank Underwood’s political conniving, you’re in luck. The second season of Orange is the New Black will hit Netflix on June 6th — less than a year after the series debuted. As The Hollywood Reporter tells it, Laura Prepon won’t return as a regular on the show, but Danielle Brooks (Taystee) and Taryn Manning (Pennsatucky) will. The latter of which should be a clue that Chapman showed at least some restraint during the first season’s closing moments. Of course, if you’ve made it through House of Cards’ second season, you’re already privy to this info as there’s a poster after the season finale. We’ve embedded a teaser trailer after the break if you’re jonesin’ for a peek at Crazy Eyes’ … well, crazy eyes.

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Source: Orange is the New Black (Twitter)

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16
Feb

IRL: Is the Lumia 1020 good enough to replace a standalone camera?


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: Is the Lumia 1020 good enough to replace a standalone camera?

You only need to look at Jon Fingas’ Instagram feed to understand how much he enjoys smartphone photography. We get it: you probably have an Instagram account too, but for Jon, taking photos of flowers, Christmas ornaments, ice sculptures and even other gadgets is how the guy unwinds. So what happens when you give him a camera with more megapixels than your average point-and-shoot? Just about what you’d expect.

                               To call me a mobile photography fan would be an understatement: it’s all too common to find me shooting flower macros when I should be enjoying the scenery. You can imagine that I was over the moon, then, once Nokia launched the Lumia 1020 in Canada back in October. I picked one up to see how it would stack up against other mobile phone cameras — and whether I could afford to leave my “big” Sony NEX-5N at home.

To some extent, I can. The biggest appeal of Nokia’s 41-megapixel shooter is undoubtedly its zoom. It’s not just that I can get closer to distant subjects. It’s that I can get just the right framing for a close-up without having to get overly cozy with my subject. The experience is almost like shooting with a constant-aperture zoom lens on a DSLR, since the brightness and depth of field largely stay the same regardless of distance. What’s more, Nokia Camera provides a level of control I’m not used to in mobile photography. I’ve captured long exposures and other shots that are tough (if not impossible) to pull off using other smartphones.

The image quality also lives up to my expectations… usually. Colors pop in most images, and it’s easy to focus on just the right object in a given scene. Low-light performance is also superb. The Lumia 1020 doesn’t quite have the 920′s almost surreal ability to take bright photos in the dark, but it’s one of the few phones I’d willingly use for night shots. Color accuracy is a sore point, though. As I’ve seen on the Lumia range since the 800, the 1020 occasionally captures sickly hues. It’s not a dealbreaker when the flaw only creeps up in certain (usually dim) lighting conditions, but it’s frustrating when I have to either retake a picture or settle for an oddly tinged image.

As good as the Lumia 1020 is, though, there’s one major flaw that would prevent me from getting the phone again if I had to: the Lumia 1520. It “only” has a 20-megapixel sensor, but its faster performance and superior display are easily worth the step down in picture detail. I don’t regret owning the 1020, but I see it as more of a niche device these days. It’s what you get if you crave image resolution above all else, or if you have to get one of the best Lumias that fits comfortably in one hand. Me, I’d like something a little more futureproof.

– Jon Fingas

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16
Feb

The sights and scents of the Sensorama Simulator


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.

You’re perched atop a motorcycle, cruising through Brooklyn with the wind whipping through your hair. A faint waft of indefinable city-funk hits your nose and the rumbling of the engine rattles your backside. Then your tokens run out. You’ve just experienced the Sensorama Simulator, a machine from 1962 that played a 3D film along with stereo sound, aromas and wind in order to create an immersive sensory environment. It was one of many 3D-related creations that visionary inventor and cinematographer Morton Heilig gave the world. His ideas for adding layers of sensory stimuli to augment a simple cinema presentation led the way towards today’s “virtual reality” experiences.

Sensorama Simulator

Heilig seemed to like things that blew his hair back. It’s obvious from the wind generator in his Sensorama machine, but his worldly adventures seem to corroborate the assumption. After a few years of school, he served time overseas in the Army, and by 1946 he was in charge of the Medical Corps’ motion picture services in Marseille, France. He left the military in 1947 and returned to school, studying painting in France, philosophy in Switzerland, film direction in Italy and later earning a Masters of Communication Arts in Pennsylvania. After years of soaking up the world’s backdrop, he settled down in Mexico for a time, and it’s there, in 1955, that he wrote his prescient essay Cinema of the Future.

In the spirit of the “Feelies” in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, where sensory elements were used to heighten the “feely effects” of a movie, Heilig began to explore the potential of using tactile and sensory enhancements to accompany short films. In his essay, Heilig states “…without the active participation of the spectator there can be no transfer of consciousness, no art.” He wasn’t alone in trying to expand the art of the cinema during the ’50s. There was a boom in the industry, with studios hastening to add larger and wider screens, 3D features and stereophonic sound to their repertoire. Names like Cinerama, Colorama, Panoramic Screen and Cinemascope were adorning marquees, in the hopes of drawing customers with sensational claims. Most of these systems, however, only dealt with enhanced visual or audio delivery of a film, leaving other senses out of the picture. One notable exception arrived in the form of Swiss inventor Hans Laube’s Smell-O-Vision machine. It premiered in 1960 alongside the film Scent of Mystery, but the “smells” that it delivered to theatergoers were often poorly timed or too subtle to recognize, and it failed to catch on with audiences.

After writing his 1955 essay, Heilig set about creating the device he’d described, which aimed to stimulate four of the five senses: sight, hearing, smell and touch. It was patented in 1962 under the name: Sensorama Simulator. He even created his own 3D motion picture camera for capturing the short films that would be at the center of the experience. It was a side-by-side dual film 35mm camera and was small enough to be used as a hand-held device. Heilig made a variety of shorts for the Sensorama, including titles like Motorcycle, Belly Dancer, Dune Buggy and, interestingly, I’m a Coca-Cola Bottle, all of which he shot, produced and edited himself.

The Sensorama Simulator included a bucket seat for a single viewer (although his designs could be expanded for four), a set of handles and viewing holes that were surrounded by a series of vents, which were sheltered under a hooded canopy to limit distraction. The 3D film was viewed through a set of ocular portals and filled a good portion of the user’s peripheral vision. The design even included an ultraviolet light to sanitize the viewing surface for the next user. In Motorcycle, viewers would begin to feel the seat thrum as if astride a real vehicle; the handlebars would shake to the beat of the road; and the sounds of the engine and surroundings were delivered in full stereo. It was all first-person action, seen through the eyes of the driver as they navigated through the streets. The “reality” was further enhanced by a fan-generated breeze and a series of chemical scents, both emerging from the vents. The Sensorama was initially considered for arcade use, but the machinery ended up being too complex. It had also been pitched to companies like Ford and International Harvester as a potential showroom display, but didn’t find any takers. At the time, it was near impossible to find investors, leaving the Sensorama stalled in the prototype stage.

Heilig continued to create variations on the theme and in 1969 he patented his cinema-sized Experience Theater concept. He envisioned each seat as a type of Sensorama Simulator, except this time an IMAX-like screen would fill a curved wall shared by all the viewers. He also remained busy writing, directing and manning the camera for a variety of film projects over the years, even doing a good deal of consulting work, including Disney among his clients. He helped create effects, illusions and experience rooms while at Disney during the ’70s and played a big role in opening the company up to the world of 3D, leading to projects like the “Thrillerama” 3D theater. Heilig shared his invaluable experience in 3D filmmaking throughout the years, but some of his side projects crossed over into real-world action. His company Supercruiser, Inc. sold a variety of skateboard products in the ’80s and ’90s, including gas- and electric-powered “scooters” and an all-terrain Dirtboard. It seems his sensory indulgence wasn’t exclusively bound to the virtual realm.

There’s an obvious correlation between Heilig’s Sensorama Simulator and today’s virtual reality projects, but many devices lack the inclusion of layered sensory stimulation. Several researchers over the years have explored the concept of olfactory displays, however. The Ishida Lab at the Tokyo University of Architecture and Technology has gone so far as to deliver scents based on the relative position of onscreen content, like a hint of coffee drifting in from where a cup of java sits on the screen. The lab has also announced plans to incorporate heat and wind enhancements to the display. Companies like Scentee have even created smartphone peripherals for delivering notifications in the form of coffee-, cinnamon roll- and bacon-flavored aromas. Inventions like these may “reek” havoc at the breakfast table, though, and don’t quite match up with what Heilig was trying to achieve. Besides, sometimes you just can’t beat the real thing.

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16
Feb

Google and Apple rejecting Flappy Titles


It has been a week since the founder of the popular Indie game developer Dong Nguyen pulled the game off the iOS and Android app store. After that, hundreds of Flappy Bird spin-offs surfaced on both app stores. Well, it appears that both companies have decided to stop lappy-esque games decimating Flappy Bird’s popularity charts.

Flappy Bird is not longer on the Google Play Store

The first incident to indicate this was originally spotted on Twitter where Mind Juice Media’s Ken Carpenter’s “Flappy Dragon” — Flappy Bird mock up– got rejected for infringing DotGear studios copyrights of this app.

 

In addition, another popular Flappy Bird mock up has recently changed its name to “Jumpy Bee” thus avoiding being kicked out from the app store. It’s highly probable that Google and Apple are reaching to the folks behind the Flappy Bird mock ups already in the app store, in order to change the name of their app.

Both companies have yet to comment on the particular event. If we hear anything we’ll let you people know immediately.

Have you guys played any Flappy Bird alternatives? If yes, let us know of your impressions and if the two tech giants are doing the right thing by rejecting FB mock apps in the comments below.

 

16
Feb

Feedback Loop: Gaming PCs and next-gen consoles, favorite Kickstarter projects and more!


Welcome to Feedback Loop, a weekly roundup of the most interesting discussions happening within the Engadget community. There’s so much technology to talk about and so little time to enjoy it, but you have a lot of great ideas and opinions that need to be shared! Join us every Saturday as we highlight some of the most interesting discussions that happened during the past week.

Engadget Forums

This week, we discussed whether gaming PCs and next-gen gaming consoles can peacefully co-exist in the same home. We also tackled tips and tricks for tracking daily routines, fondly remembered our most satisfying app experiences and shared our favorite Kickstarter projects. Click past the break and read what fellow Engadget users like you have to say.

Gaming PCs and next-gen consoles

Daninbusiness already has a pretty good gaming PC, but the Xbox One is looking pretty tempting to him. He wants to know if it’s worthwhile to pick one up. Do you think gaming PCs and next-gen gaming consoles can peacefully coexist? Share your thoughts in the Engadget forums.

Tracking daily routines

Let’s face it, we create a lot of digital data about our lives. Between tweeting, checking in to Foursquare, counting steps with a Fitbit and taking pictures of our food with Instagram, we’re doing a pretty decent job of documenting our daily lives. Frankspin is looking for advice on how to better log his daily activies. Tell us what apps you’re using to log your virtual lives.

Most satisfying app experiences

Last week, swin1974 shared his frustrations with using iTunes. This week, he’s back to change things up. He wants to know your most satisfying app experiences. Is there something that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling when you open it? Post your favorite apps in the forums!

Favorite Kickstarter projects

There have been a lot of great projects that were only possible because of Kickstarter funding. The Pebble and Olloclip are two that come to mind. Head over to the forums and share your favorite Kickstarter projects that you’ve backed.

That’s all this week! Do you want to talk about your favorite gadget or have a burning question about technology? Register for an Engadget account today, visit the Engadget forums and start a new discussion!

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16
Feb

Inhabitat’s Week in Green: NASA’s healing device, vertical gardens and a grass-powered robot mower


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.

Solar power just got a big boost as Ivanpah, the world’s biggest solar thermal power plant, was just switched on in the California desert. The massive plant, which is partly owned by Google, will provide enough clean energy to power 140,000 homes. Ivanpah wasn’t the only major breakthrough in clean energy this week: For the first time, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory achieved a nuclear fusion reaction that produced more energy than it took in. In Oregon, officials gave the green light to the first offshore wind farm on the West Coast of the US. At the intersection of renewable energy and modern design, a giant photovoltaic cube appeared in the streets of Milan, showing that solar power can be beautiful. The sun isn’t the only natural source of energy: Swiss designer Fabienne Felder collaborated with a few Cambridge scientists to produce the world’s first radio that is completely powered by plants.

Vertical gardens are on the rise! A developer recently announced plans to build the world’s tallest vertical garden in Sri Lanka. The 46-story apartment building will be entirely covered in foliage, so that no glass surface will be exposed to direct sunlight. Crowdfunding has helped provide funding for everything from flying bikes to documentary films. So why not a building? This week the Prodigy Network launched the world’s first crowdsourcing platform for real estate development with plans to crowdsource an innovative hotel in New York City’s financial district. Want to learn more about the crowdfunding platform? Prodigy Network will be participating in a panel at Social Media Week on Thursday, and you can join in on a live webcast! In other green architecture news, Inhabitat took a look at LaMar Alexander’s self-sufficient 400-square-foot cabin, which he built himself for under $2,000. In China, an ancient city that was submerged to create a hydroelectric power plant in the 1950s has become a popular tourist attraction for divers.

You’ve no doubt heard of self-driving cars, but what about fish-driven cars? The folks at Studio diip created a mobile aquarium that changes course depending on which direction the fish inside swims. New technology could completely change the way electric-vehicle charging works: Toyota announced plans last week to begin testing its new wireless battery charging system, which can recharge batteries in just 90 minutes. In other EV news, Croatia-based electric carmaker Rimac produced an all-electric supercar with 1,088 horsepower. Remember that bright red Cozy Coupe toy car you used to scoot around in? An English mechanic created a full-scale replica of the classic toy car that runs on an 800cc engine.

In other green tech and innovation news, NASA developed a couple of hand-held gadgets that can heal injured astronauts — just like Star Trek. Scientists at Washington University developed high-tech glasses that help surgeons visualize and target cancer cells. In a bid to make the mundane task of mowing the lawn both effortless and greener, a team of engineers and business students from George Mason University developed a robotic lawnmower that is powered by grass. Designer Steve Gates created a clever LED cork light that transforms any wine bottle into a lamp. And at New York Fashion Week, jewelry maker Heart & Noble pushed the boundaries of eco fashion with its new line of laser-cut jewelry.

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16
Feb

Apple May Have Considered Purchasing Tesla, Researching Audio to Predict Heart Attacks


Apple’s interest in vehicle and medical integration for its products is well-known, but a new report from the San Francisco Chronicle claims some new details on both fronts, including word that Apple may have explored a potential purchase of electric car manufacturer Tesla last year.

The specific claim that Apple was considering a purchase of Tesla seems to be primarily speculation, but the report notes that Apple’s head of acquisitions Adrian Perica met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk early last year. According to the report’s source, Apple CEO Tim Cook was probably also involved in the meeting.

In October 2013, German investment banking analyst Adnaan Ahmad created a media stir when he wrote an “open letter” to Apple CEO Tim Cook and board director Al Gore, urging the company to acquire Tesla. […]

Six months before Ahmad’s letter, Musk met with Perica and probably Cook at Apple headquarters, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect business relationships. While a megadeal has yet to emerge (for all of its cash, Apple still plays hardball on valuation), such a high-level meeting between the two Silicon Valley giants involving their top dealmakers suggests Apple was very much interested in buying the electric car pioneer.

One analyst suggests that discussion of a deal to integrate iOS devices with Tesla cars may have been a much more likely topic for the meeting, but it is unclear why such a discussion would directly involve Musk and Apple’s acquisitions chief.

tesla_model_s
On a separate note, the report claims that Apple’s interest in medical functions, rumored to be linked to its iWatch initiative, includes an innovative effort to predict heart attacks using audio sensors. That effort is reportedly led by Tomlinson Holman, the audio pioneer behind the THX sound standard who joined Apple in 2011.

Though Apple has never confirmed it, the company hired Holman in 2011 to “provide audio direction,” according to his LinkedIn profile. At the time, observers assumed Holman would focus his efforts on boosting the audio quality of MacBooks and iPhones.

But under Holman, Apple is exploring ways to measure noise “turbulence” as it applies to blood flow. The company wants to develop software and sensors that can predict heart attacks by identifying the sound blood makes as it tries to move through an artery clogged with plaque, the source said.

The report also points to Apple patents covering heart-related biometrics such as the ability to authenticate a device based on a user’s unique heart rhythm.

Apple’s iWatch has been rumored to include an array of sensors for monitoring a wide variety of health-related statistics, and reports have indicated that the device could arrive later this year.

    



16
Feb

Google buys SlickLogin, looks to swap passwords for inaudible sound waves


If Google’s latest acquisition is anything to go by, entering a password on a website could soon be as easy as placing your smartphone near your computer. Israeli startup SlickLogin confirmed today it has become the latest company join Mountain View’s ranks (although it’ll work from Google’s local offices), bringing its patented sound-based smartphone technology with it. While neither party has disclosed much information, Google’s intentions seem clear: the company already offers its two-factor authentication tech free to everybody, but it can be a pain to enter a six-digit authentication code (which changes every minute). SlickLogin’s system, however, requires no additional technology, just place your phone near your computer and inaudible sounds played through the speakers take care of the rest. The Israeli team says Google is already “working on some great ideas that will make the internet safer for everyone,” except maybe from your dog, who could hear all of your future passwords.

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Via: TechCrunch

Source: SlickLogin

16
Feb

[LEAK] The Sony Xperia G looks like it will be Sony’s next mid-range Smartphone


Sony Xperia GSony‘s never been very good at keeping a lid on their upcoming releases, despite their best intentions. The latest device to get leaked out appears to be a more mid-range device named the Sony Xperia G, according to ViziLeaks. Vizileaks says that this Xperia G will have LTE, a 4.8-inch display, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, 8MP camera and won’t have any sort of water resistance. Both photos, above and below, show the Xperia G sandwiched below what looks like a Xperia Z1, and while there’s very little to see, you will notice that the camera position of the Xperia G is slightly different to that of the Z1, as is the power button position, and you’ll also spot a micro-USB port too.

Sony Xperia GAs far as I can see, the Xperia G is poised to be a direct competitor to the surprising success that is the Motorola Moto G which married a brilliant compromise of hardware with a very attractive price-tag. From the leaked specs, it looks like the Xperia G has the advantage in one key area which is LTE support, something that the Moto G has a glaring lack of. I found it most interesting that Sony wouldn’t make the Xperia G water resistant as this would be a key advantage in the mid-range smartphone market, but it’s most likely an attempt to keep costs low to compete at the Moto G’s level.

Would you be interested in a mid-range Sony Xperia G? Do you like the look of it from these photos? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Source: Twitter (1), (2) via engadget

16
Feb

How Mobiles Have Changed Communication


Mobile-Devices

Mobile phones have become such natural components of daily life that it’s a wonder how anyone got on without them. Leaving one’s phone at home causes instant panic, whereas before cell phone technology people would go hours and sometimes more without constant connection with loved ones, business associates and the internet. The changing times offer much greater ease of communication. Though advancements in technology are causing more than a few regressions in the ways people converse face-to-face. So much about today’s tech gadgetry is simply fantastic. Yet all mobile users should be aware of some potential pitfalls.

The Need for Speed
Really it’s e-commerce that’s to blame for this one. Access to shopping 24/7 has become so ubiquitous that it’s challenging to realise that the same standard should not be expected to be held by independent and smaller businesses. It is simply not feasible for companies with just a few employees to be on call 365 days a year. Yet such ease of access to other companies makes it challenging to remember these are real humans one’s dealing with and thy deserve a day off, too. So if you’ve ever sent an email on a Sunday and gotten aggravated at the lack of same-day response, this is one of the negative repercussions of modern technology. Slow down, take a break and give others a break. Just as you’d like to get away from it all sometimes, remember that so do others.

Talking in Text
Texting is a brilliant method for short missives. However, such staccato bursts of communication are not suitable for conversations that could easily be misconstrued or contain deeper emotional content. In addition, rampant texting is affecting the way people write longer letters, particularly in regards to teens and spelling. It is also starting to affect the way people speak to one another. The limitations of the medium make it perfect for giving a quick update to a friend, yet shortened communications in longer form letters or face-to-face easily come off as curt and should be treated with far more care than texts. As future generations are raised with the technology communication will be affected further still.

Less Descriptive Dialogue
Before mobile Web browsing, phones with cameras and various social media platforms people were required to have longer attention spans and more descriptive dialogue. Think of how many times a forgotten piece of trivia or someone’s name required, you really need to think about to remember; all that’s required is looking at a smartphone before trying to pull the memory from the recesses of the brain. The same holds true for descriptive dialogue. When once a person might need to go into detail describing a person or place, now photos and factoids are all at hand. Instead of engaging in conversation and utilising descriptive phrasing, most conversations are foreshortened by saying, “Well here, let me find a picture.”  The changes in conversation may be less noticeable now but it will most certainly be seen to greater affect in younger generations. To help combat diminishing communication and memory in children play games with them that require short-term retrieval and enhanced word-play.

Dining Taboos
Today’s technology has made it common practice to keep the phone at hand, even whilst dining with others. Though now pervasive, it is still a major breach in basic courtesy. Constantly looking at one’s mobile whilst with others says that everything and everyone else is more important than the person with you. Such behavior is particularly rude when dining. Attention is divided at best or completely dismissive at worst. When taking time to sit with someone face-to-face, put the phone away whenever possible. Enjoy the rare moments of getting together with friends.

Today’s smartphones help keep friends and family better connected than ever before. Well the technology can—but it’s all in how it’s used. Mobiles should help facilitate effective communication, not diminish it. Use the handy gadgets yet don’t let their widespread appeal become more enticing than personal interaction and courtesy your nan can be proud of.

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