Last month, you might remember seeing the work of storyboard artist Marty Cooper (aka Hombre McSteez). If you didn’t (then go watch it right now), he’s the man behind “Aug(De)mented Reality,” a three minute collection of entertaining stop-motion cartoons that have been brought into the real world. He does so using only transparent plastic cells, a sharpie, Wite Out, then capturing it all on his iPhone 5s. If it left you wondering what iPhone app Cooper uses (StopMotion Recorder) or how he manages to match each frame with the scene, then you’re in luck, as he’s taken the time to show none other than Mythbusters legend Adam Savage the tricks of the trade. In the video below, Cooper unleashes one of his creations inside the workshop, giving you a taste of how to bring your own imaginary monsters to life without any special effects.
Late last year, Taiwanese device manufacturer, HTC, was not in a good place. While its flagship device, the HTC One, had exceeded expectations, a slow start due to supply issues ensured that it never really saw its full potential. A bevy of subpar devices that followed it, including the HTC One Mini and HTC One Max, really hit HTC hard, which became months of quarterly losses following October 2013 after having not made a loss since it became public in 2002. Not one to be kept down, HTC changed their game plan: their fearless CEO, Peter Chou, downgraded his duties to focus on smartphone development, and HTC introduced several new services and, of course, the HTC One M8, which I predicted would all play a part in eventually seeing HTC rise from that dark place. And lo and behold, in July 2014, HTC is back in the black.
In the press release for its financial results in Q2 2014, HTC reports that its quarterly net profit came in at a healthy NT$2.78 billion (or approximately $93 million USD), which is almost the same amount HTC lost in the quarter ending October 2013. A lot of this can be attributed to the resounding popularity of the HTC One M8, but HTC’s mid-range devices, like the Desire line, have also improved in quality which is sure to have helped it in other regions. Whatever really caused the turn around, it’s good to see HTC back on the up, and hopefully this time they continue doing what they’re good at: being “quietly brilliant”.
What do you think about HTC getting back into the black? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.
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The defining characteristic of the Gionee Elife S5.5 is that it is thin. Really thin. At 5.5mm, it remains the thinnest smartphone available on the market right now, and you get the sense that other manufacturers will struggle to get any thinner than the wafer-thin Elife S5.5. While not the absolute bleeding edge in mobile technology, it holds its own in the mid-range, and now has another feather in its cap as the Gionee Elife S5.5 gets Android 4.4.2. The Elife S5.5 makes the jump from Android 4.2, skipping 4.3, resulting in a rather hefty update of 865MB.
The changes include homescreen changes, thanks to all the additions in Android KitKat, as well as UI changes which have allegedly improved the responsiveness of the devices. The full list of changes includes (as per GSM Arena):
- Android upgrade to KitKat
- New Desktop layout
- Removed the world cricket championship
- Added Du speed booster for faster operations
- Updated Amigo Paper with a brand new UI interface design
- Updated Game Zone with a new UI interface design
- Updated GioneeXender for optimized performance and further improved the linking success rate
If you have a Gionee Elife S5.5, we’d love to find out what the phone is like to own; let us know what you think in the comments below.
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A coder/activist is trying to walk a fine line with his encryption program called MiniLock, according to Wired. On the one hand, Nadim Kobeissi has developed a simple drag-and-drop interface for the browser plugin to make it accessible to all. But its public-key encryption backbone also needs to satisfy the vocal cryptographic community by being robust enough to handle any attack, even from experienced hackers (like the NSA). Judging by skeptical comments on Reddit, the latter aim will be daunting, particularly since his last effort (Cryptocat) wasn’t well regarded. Nevertheless, Kobeissi will introduce an experimental beta of the new program at the HOPE X hacker conference later this month in order to have it poked and prodded by that community. As for the interface, he told Wired that “it’s super simple, approachable, and it’s almost impossible to be confused by it.” If he manages to run the gauntlet at HOPE, MiniLock will eventually be released as a free browser plugin so that even your dear old gran can protect the family brownie recipe.
We’ve had our bags packed for a (hopefully) Richard Branson-led expedition to the “potentially habitable” exoplanets circling Gliese 581 for years, but there’s one small hitch: new research indicates some of them might not be there. In 2007, astronomers observing the star detected four planets, with two of them in the so-called “Goldilocks zone” (not too close to the star and too hot, not too far and too cold) including one called 581d. Later in 2010, they added two more planets to the tally, including Gliese 581g, which had even better odds for life, and since then we’ve found others. The problem is that despite artists depictions of what a planet might be like, scientists are really just looking at “squiggles on a graph.” That’s what the leader of the new research, Paul Robertson said, as his team found that the measurements used to detect planets could be affected by things like sunspots, leading false indications of the two planets listed above.
[Image credit: Lynette Cook / NASA]
In searching for these planets astronomers used readings from spectrographs, which focus on specific patterns of light from the star. It took years to detect the readings suggesting the planets existed, but now after observing a different spectrum, Robertson’s team at Pennsylvania State University has seen some signals fade away, while the other planets got stronger. The details are in a paper published in the journal Science, but if you just need a bit of good news then check this out: Robertson told Space.com that he thinks we will “find more planets than we lose,” by detecting them within the “noise” stars produce.
Filed under: Science
Next month and into September, Berlin will play host to the International Teletext Art Festival (ITAF). Teletext, a basic information service delivered over analogue TV signals, was once prevalent across Europe before becoming increasingly obsolete in the internet age. In the UK, the BBC switched off the very first teletext service Ceefax back in 2012, but similar systems are still active in several countries. The graphically challenged medium continues to be relevant in other ways, however, with plenty of digital artists adopting the simple format. Sponsored by various European teletext operators, the ITAF is now in its third year of showcasing the best in pixelated pieces. Check out the gallery below for select works from last year’s event.
[Image credit: Good Times by Dan Farrimond]
Earlier this week, we allegedly got our first look at the Sony Xperia Z3 and its mini partner in crime, the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact. To further strengthen the case of the Z3 Compact, DooMLoRD has tweeted what would appear to be the specs for Sony‘s next mini flagship, and it looks like the Z3 Compact is going to continue the example of its predecessor, the Z1 Compact, in retaining flagship level performance in a smaller device.
The specs indicate a very impressive 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801, 2GB RAM, with a 4.5-inch display, a tad bigger than last year’s offering. Sony appears to also be keeping the 20.7MP rear camera on the Z3 Compact, which will be paired with a 2.1MP front camera. DooMLoRD is a name that seems to come up a lot in regards to Sony rumours, and he often tends to be right, so we’d err on the side of being genuinely excited. And if these specs are indeed true, then the Z3 Compact will again be the undisputed king of mini devices. No word on when we would actually see the Z3 Compact, but we would suspect it would be in and around the time that the Xperia Z3 will be announced, which is expected to be around September.
What do you think about the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact? Will you consider one if these specs are true? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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You’d think the world of hobbyist mini computers would be full, considering that you’ve got a choice of Arudino, Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone and even Intel’s NUC. That hasn’t deterred SolidRun, which is releasing the HummingBoard as a more powerful alternative to the Raspberry Pi. Built on the same platform, the HummingBoard promises faster silicon (1GHz ARM v7 vs. 700MHz ARM v6) while fitting into the same third-party cases as its education-centric rival. It also lets you switch out the CPU and memory module, should you need some more grunt further down the road. The base unit with 512MB RAM will set you back $45 plus $10 for a power adapter, while the top-spec model with 1GB RAM and a faster chip is priced at $100.
Filed under: Desktops
Everyone makes mistakes… just some of them are a little more costly than others. A Goldman Sachs employee made a rather serious error when instead of sending a message to a gs.com email address, it went to a stranger with a Gmail account. That might sound innocent enough, except this email happened to contain the confidential data of a client. Google has blocked access to the message at the request of Goldman, so the user in question has not been able to read it, but the financial firm wants the internet giant to go one step further and actually delete the email. And that’s where the two companies find themselves — at a legal stalemate.
Google says it can’t and won’t delete a message from a user’s account without their consent, unless compelled to by a court order. So Goldman has filed a complaint in a New York state court seeking just that. Goldman and its clients understandably want to avoid the email becoming public knowledge. The company stands to lose not only money, but it could also suffer damage to its reputation. (Though, it’s arguable that there isn’t much of a reputation to salvage at this point.) On the other hand, if Google were to simply delete a random user’s email because a message was sent on accident it could set a troublesome precedent. While “unsending” an email would still involve jumping through serious hoops, accepting a mistake as reason enough to delete a message from a user’s account would set an extremely low legal bar.
Accessory manufacturer TYLT is hosting one heck of a 4th of July sale on their portable power offerings. It actually started on July 2nd and it runs through July 9th. Hopefully that will give you enough time to scrounge up some cash to crab something.
Everything you see above is 50% off with the special coupon code of fireworks during checkout. To give you an idea, he ENERGI 5L (5,200 mAh) usually runs $90, with the coupon it gets knocked down to $45. TYLT makes some pretty good looking products. The ENERGI 5K is one that I actually have and carry quite often since it has both a micro USB and a lightning charger built-in plus a regular USB out port. Just means I can help more people in need of a charge when I am out and about.
To check out the list and get an order, or two, placed you will want to head over to TYLT’s promo page.
Fine pint: Maximum discount of $200 per customer, only while supplies last. Shipping charges are not discounted.
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