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11
Oct

Carl Zeiss’ VR One is a $99 answer to the Samsung Gear VR


Virtual Reality isn’t quite here yet, but it’s starting to look like consumers will have plenty of options when it arrives: Gear VR caters to Samsung smartphone users, the consumer Oculus Rift is currently under development and Google has even fashioned a bottom-dollar solution that’s compatible with almost any smartphone. That said, cardboard is a bit flimsy — maybe you’d like something fancier, but not locked into Samsung’s product line? Take a look at Carl Zeiss’ VR One: a $99 smartphone VR headset for the rest of us.

The VR One is based on the same idea as the Samsung Gear VR, but with less specific hardware requirements. Carl Zeiss says the goggles should work with any smartphone between 4.7 and 5.2-inches (sorry OnePlus One users). It’s not completely universal though — users will have to order different “drawers” to hold different sized devices, which cost an additional $9.90 on top of the base device. The VR One isn’t due out until next year, but with Zeiss optics onboard, it’s bound to be a better experience than Google’s cardboard. Check out the pre-order page at the source link below.

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Source: One VR (1), (2)

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11
Oct

Marvel is releasing an adorable dancing baby Groot toy this December


Britain Guardians Of The Galaxy Premiere

The Gaurdians of the Galaxy market on Etsy is about to suffer a devastating blow. Why? Well, because Marvel has answered the pleas of fans and announced that it’s releasing an officially-licensed dancing baby Groot toy to “all major retailers.” Best of all, Disney, Marvel’s owner, have told Mashable that the embodiment of arguably Vin Diesel’s best performance will only set you back $15. The adorable, rhythmic twig will apparently shimmy to either your own music or a rendition (video after the break) of The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” and hit shelves in time for your December gift-giving occasion of choice. Considering that other plastic versions of the charming tree-being are rather limited and can run well over $300, you could buy a handful of these and make multiple geeks in your life happy this winter.

[Image credit: Jonathan Short/Invision/AP]

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Source: Mashable

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11
Oct

IRL: a tennis sensor you can use with any racquet


IRL: a tennis sensor you can use with any racquet

When I tested Babolat’s Play Pure Drive connected tennis racquet, I found the resulting data insightful, but thought the platform was hampered by being tied to a single, albeit popular, model. Zepp’s tennis sensor, though, can be swapped from racquet to racquet, so I thought I’d slap it on my current stick and see if it could quantify my averageness.

The sensor itself is the same one found on other Zepp products for golf and baseball. In fact, the one I was sent for testing came in golf-specific packaging, but a quick Amazon visit netted me the Tennis Flex Mount ($10) and I was ready to hit the courts.

The Flex Mount slips onto the base of your racquet handle like a snug sock, and the sensor snaps into a rubber cradle on the end. If switching out racquets isn’t a concern, Zepp also sells a more discreet Pro Mount, which consists of a plasticky snap-in cradle that adheres to the end of the handle.

In the Flex Mount, the sensor adds about 18g to the base of your racquet. After a short while, I didn’t notice the weight on my roughly 326g Wilson Six.One 95S. As a shorter player, I tend to serve with my pinkie finger dangling off the end of the handle for just a wee bit of extra reach. So it took a few swings to get used to the feeling of the rubber sock on the base.

Turning the sensor on requires squeezing on one corner of the unit until a strip of LEDs comes to life. From there, you can go about your practice session or match normally and the sensor will keep track. Using Zepp’s 3D serve-analysis feature, though, requires firing up the app and switching from the normal sensor mode.

The analysis mode offers up a 360-degree view of your serve, displaying racquet speed, angles, impact point and range of motion. In normal mode, it can track shot type, power and spin, among other metrics. However it’s not as accurate as Babolat’s offering. On the Play Pure Drive, I did a few accuracy tests and found it correctly identified backhands, forehands and serves about 95 percent of the time. Zepp’s track record wasn’t quite as solid — it counted a few backhands during a strictly serve-only practice session, for instance — but I’d peg its hit rate at around 85 to 90 percent.

To me, that’s a good enough percentage to glean some helpful info. After a light practice session, I downloaded the sensor data onto my iPad and found my power level for groundstrokes was around a 54, with peaks in the 70-plus range, on Zepp’s 100-point scale. It’s not based on MPH, Zepp says, but it does offer a personalized rating that tracks your power during a session.

While the app presents some clearly useful data in an easy-to-read manner, I wish it were easier to compare stats over time to see if I’m hitting better now than I was, say, two months ago. Currently, the app will show you stats on a static, session-by-session basis, but there’s no way to view two sessions side by side for a quick comparison.

The app also lacks the social and game-like aspects of Babolat’s platform, which encourages you to “level up” as you practice more and lets you see where you rank among other users, including pros.

Overall, the $150 sensor makes for a solid training aid for those looking to improve their tennis game. It lacks the accuracy and robust comparison features of Babolat’s offering, but scores points for its ability to switch racquets and even sports. I can certainly see myself using the Zepp on a regular basis as I practice and play, especially if Zepp opts to update and improve things on the software side.

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11
Oct

Edward Snowden documentary reveals more about the new leak source


Edward Snowden in Citizenfour

The US government insisted that there was a second source leaking intelligence data besides Edward Snowden, and we now have some extra evidence to support this claim. Laura Poitras’ just-launched documentary covering the Snowden leaks, Citizenfour, reveals that this mysterious tipster is both higher in the intelligence ranks and, at least at the time the movie was shot, still serving. In other words, the leaker theoretically has access to up-to-the-minute info about the US’ surveillance activities. When Snowden sees this information (provided by reporter Glenn Greenwald) in the documentary, he’s visibly startled — even he wasn’t aware of another insider.

The project also provides some insight regarding Snowden’s personal life following the leaks, including the necessary paranoia and his day-to-day presence in Russia. He’ll get sensitive info through paper notes when there’s a chance that a room is bugged, for instance, and his longstanding girlfriend moved to Russia despite the many risks. You’ll have to wait until October 24th to see CitizenFour if you didn’t catch its premiere at the New York Film Festival, but it may be worth the short wait if you’ve wanted to know more about the man who broke the NSA’s veil of secrecy.

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Via: Boing Boing, Hollywood Reporter

Source: Citizenfour, Film Society Lincoln Center

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11
Oct

George Lucas didn’t remake ‘Empire Strikes Back,’ you did


Given recent events, it can be difficult to remember that the internet is capable of pretty awesome stuff sometimes. Case in point: this super-cool shot-for-shot fan remake of The Empire Strikes Back that uses some 480 different filmmaking techniques. Spotted by Digg, it runs the gamut from hand-drawn animation, intentionally cheesy live-action and even a makeshift Echo Base populated with stop-motion LEGO minifigures — and that’s just within the first few minutes. Over 1,500 hopefuls submitted their 15-second scenes, and, like with Star Wars Uncut before it, the folks at Lucasfilm stitched the best of them together to create Empire Strikes Back Uncut. It’s pretty impressive on more than a few levels and we’ve embedded it just below. The video clocks in at just over two hours, so we heartily recommend pouring a frosty glass of blue milk and firing up your Chromecast to watch it.

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Via: Digg

Source: Star Wars (YouTube)

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11
Oct

Asus ZenWatch to be released in very limited numbers



Time for an update on the forthcoming Asus ZenWatch.  In an earlier article we noted that the ZenWatch would be released in November in very limited numbers.  Now it sounds like Asus will release somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 units, in Taiwan to begin with.  Asus isn’t giving us a reason for the limited… Read more »

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11
Oct

So you’re telling me there’s a chance…that HTC builds a smartwatch



Just a short while ago, there were a great many rumors that HTC was getting ready to release a smartwatch.  Then we heard those plans had been put on hold.  At the time, it sounded like HTC didn’t have enough confidence in whatever device they were planning to release.  Well, now we’re hearing that we… Read more »

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11
Oct

Recommended Reading: Winning (and losing) big on a video poker bug


Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you’ll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.

New Frontier Hotel & Casino Prepares To Close Its Doors

Finding a Video Poker Bug Made These Guys Rich — Then Vegas Made Them Pay
by Kevin Poulsen,
Wired

In 2009, John Kane discovered a glitch in video poker machines that allowed him to hit multiple jackpots in a single sitting. Then one night, Kane hit seven in an hour and half, earning over $10,000 and setting off some major red flags with the casino’s security. That sum was actually quite modest compared to other days. Wired has the story of how finding a bug in the gambling machines lead to earning a load of cash for a pair of men, until the workaround was discovered.

Misfit Engineer Rachel Kalmar Wants You to be an Intelligent Node
by Jennifer Elias, Fast Company

This piece from Fast Company discusses the mindset that Misfit wearables has when it comes to making the gadgets truly useful. Senior engineer Rachel Kalmar talks about the current state, and where the future may lead through the lens of a Burning Man project.

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What the Hell Was Megadeth, Arizona?
by Robin Sloan Bechtel
, Medium

The first website for a band debuted in 1994. It was for Megadeth, and it was weird. With a concept based on a book about roadside stops, the site helped give rise to an internet age that was still in its infancy. This is the story of how it all came to be.

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Guilt By Wikipedia: How Joe Streater Became Falsely Attached to the Boston College Point Shaving Scandal
by Ben Koo, Awful Announcing

By this point, you’ve likely been warned not to trust the crowdsourced info that’s housed on Wikipedia. Well, the story of how major media outlets have reported on Joe Streater’s involvement, or lack thereof, in a Boston College points-shaving scandal should serve as a reminder.

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Slutty Halloween Costumes: A Cultural History
by Suzanne LaBarre, Fast Company

Halloween wasn’t always about gathering up as much candy as you can. What may seem like a recent development to pack sexy costumes into the festivities has actually been around for centuries.

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[Photo credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images]

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11
Oct

Flight attendants want to bring back gadget ban during takeoff and landing


image of busy businessman...

Frequent travelers might be happy that the FAA now allows the use of phones during takeoff and landing, but the biggest union of flight attendants (60,000 strong) in the country sure isn’t. The union’s lawyer has just attempted to get the FAA’s decision overturned in the Court of Appeals, arguing that the FAA should’ve followed standard procedure by notifying the public first and allowing people to comment before issuing any ruling. Also, Atty. Amanda Duré says her clients (the flight attendants) are concerned, because a lot of people have stopped paying attention to pre-flight safety demos and emergency announcements ever since the gadget ban was lifted. They’re worried about mobile devices turning into projectiles during turbulence, as well — something which has already happened in at least one incident.

The opposing lawyer, on the other hand, says the FAA did ask for and receive public feedback (around a thousand responses) and argues that phones are no more dangerous than books flying around the cabin. Unfortunately for the union, it’ll have a tough time convincing the court, as the FAA doesn’t exactly require airlines to allow the use of mobile gadgets during all phases of flight — the choice still remains with the companies. Duré says she’s confident the court would side with her clients, but adds that the union would be A-OK with a compromise: gadgets can remain switched on during takeoff and landing, but they have to be stowed away until the plane’s safely up in the air.

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Source: MSN, LA Times, Detroit News, The Wall Street Journal

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11
Oct

Polish town builds a $14,000 statue in honor of Wikipedia


Most people show appreciation for Wikipedia by donating a bit of money to keep it running, but the folks in one Polish town have come up with something bigger: they’ve built a monument in its honor. It all began when Colegium Polonicum professor Krzysztof Wojciechowski decided he wanted a place where he can literally drop to his knees before Wikipedia. See, he was in awe with what the crowdsourced online encyclopedia has accomplished for people worldwide — Polish speakers, in particular, have more than a million Wiki pages they can read. The town authorities of Slubice where his college is located then agreed to take up his suggestion, making his idea a reality.

As you can see in the image of the model figurine below, the statue features Wikipedia’s logo held up by four people. It won’t be unveiled until October 22nd, but The Telegraph says the finished product erected in a central square is less than 6-and-a-half feet in height, and made of fiber and resin but laminated to look like brass. It cost the town $14,000 to build the statue, and one could argue that authorities could’ve just donated the money. But everyone involved is hoping it becomes a tourist attraction, one that encourages people to contribute money and time to the website for years to come.

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Source: Physorg, Collegium Polonicum

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