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16
Feb

Detailed Mars maps help you plan the hike of your dreams


With the help of NASA’s Curiosity rover, we’ve seen a lot more of Mars than we ever anticipated — especially the Red Planet’s sand dunes. But the exact topography of the planet remains a mystery to anyone not carefully studying the space agency’s data. Britain’s Ordnance Survey (OS) agency wants to change that, so it used its mapping expertise to create new charts detailing Mars’ terrain.

The two maps, which are hosted on the agency’s Flickr account, cover around 10 million square kilometers (3.8 million square miles). That’s about 7 percent of Mars’ surface. On them, you can see the landing sites of the Mars Pathfinder in the Acidalia Planitia region and the Opportunity rover, which is located west of Mark Watney’s destination in The Martian: the Schiaparelli crater.

For over 200 years, Ordnance Survey has been known for its highly-detailed paper maps of the UK, which have been traditionally used by hikers and explorers. However, Cartographer Chris Wesson created these one-off Martian maps following a request from planetary scientist Dr Peter Grindrod. It’s hoped that the map will be used to help plan the landing of the ESA’s ExoMars rover in 2019.

Via: Huffington Post, OS Blog

Source: Ordnance Survey (Flickr)

16
Feb

Grammycam footage during last night’s show was pretty terrible


It seemed like a solid idea. GoPro cameras in the base of those gold Grammy award statues were meant to capture a unique perspective of the music industry’s annual party. However, the results were really pretty awful. Those so-called Grammycams performed well, offering views from the stage as winners accepted awards and spouted thank yous to the crowd. Unfortunately, most of the sights were awkward angles of musicians and a lot of closeups of hands.

Based on the coverage and archived clips, it was almost as if the nominees weren’t told about the tech. Taylor Swift seemed to notice the tiny camera capturing her acceptance speech, while others either blocked the lens or kept it angled towards themselves for rather unflattering views. Perhaps next year the Grammy Awards producers will figure out a way to better use the setup, but for now, you can relive some awkward angles from last night down before.


Via: PetaPixel

Source: Grammys (YouTube)

16
Feb

Three new ‘Fallout 4’ DLCs are coming this spring


Bethesda announced three upcoming add-on packs to its smash-hit Fallout 4 on Tuesday. Players will soon be able to access three DLCs dubbed Automatron, Wasteland Workshop and Far Harbor.

Automatron, dropping in March for $10, will pit players against a horde of robots unleashed by the evil Mechanist. With parts gathered from destroying these robots, players will be able to build and customize their own mechanical companions.

The $5 Wasteland Workshop, which is being released in April, will enable players to design and set cages to capture live creatures which can then be pitted against each other in post-apocalyptic bloodsports. The Workshop also includes a number of new design elements for customizing your settlement.

And for $25, players will be able to download the Far Harbor DLC in May. Set sail for a mysterious island off the coast of Maine in search of a missing woman and a hidden colony of Synths on behalf of the Valentine Detective Agency.

Take note, however, that the price of the season pass is going to increase on March 1st from the current price of $30 up to $50. That said, if you’ve already purchased your season pass, nothing changes. You’ll get every 2016 DLC for the $30 you already paid for it. So if you’re waffling over whether or not to get one, you’d better make up your mind by the end of February.

Source: Bethesda

16
Feb

Here Maps for iOS offers easy access to detailed place info


Here Maps provides an alternative to Apple and Google navigation apps, and the iOS version of the software just got a lot more useful. First, tapping on a place icon on a map will bring up detailed information like hours, contact details and more. It’s similar to what what you’d see in Google’s app. There’s also a new shortcut tool that offers quick access to Here Maps features. If you tap and hold on any place, options for directions, navigation, sharing the destination and saving it for later all pop up.

When you input your home address, there’s a handy button in the top right corner to get you back with ease. In other words, having Here navigate you back to your humble abode is as simple as a tap. The app now plays nice with 3D Touch too, which puts those directions back home a long press away with the Here Maps icon on your home screen. If you’re looking to give it a go, the new version of the app is available now.

Source: Here Maps

16
Feb

Where the hell is ‘Kentucky Route Zero?’


There’s an important question at the heart of Kentucky Route Zero. As Conway and his dog drive through dusty, humid towns collecting strange friends and glowing-yellow leg bones, a single question haunts their tire tracks: Where the hell is Kentucky Route Zero? Not in geographic terms — Conway does eventually find the highway — but on a grand scale, where is it actually located? On another plane? In another galaxy? When you’re on Route Zero, where are you, really?

The game is supposed to comprise five acts, but it’s been nearly two years since the third installment dropped. Originally, developer Cardboard Computer pledged to launch one new act every three months, with the final episode scheduled to land in October 2014. So, fans are asking the question again, this time literally: Where the hell is Kentucky Route Zero — specifically, its fourth act?

“It’s so close. Oh my god, it’s so close.”

That’s Jake Elliott, one-half of Cardboard Computer alongside fellow developer Tamas Kemenczy; musician Ben Babbitt composes the game’s haunting score. Elliott has a rough idea of when the fourth act will go live, but that timing is a secret for now. A lot about the fourth act is shrouded in mystery, including why it’s taken so long to develop. Cardboard Computer has been quietly working away on the episode for 21 months, but the team hasn’t divulged much about its content, leaving fans to wonder and speculate.

The secrecy isn’t because Elliott is afraid to put his work out there — he’s a seasoned artist and a high-profile independent game developer. Shyness isn’t his issue. Spoilers are.

“I think a lot of it is just wanting to — I don’t know. You can hear I’m kind of struggling to talk about this stuff now without spoiling anything,” Elliott says. “I don’t want to be too precious about it, that it’s like this paper flower that’s going to wilt if I tell you too much about it…. It’s something we feel protective of, people’s first experience with it.”

Elliott carefully drops slivers of information about the fourth act: It takes place in entirely new settings with a lot of new characters, and it has fresh mechanics. These mechanics aren’t superficial spectacles, either. Think back to the end of Act 3 (take your time; it’s been a while): Conway and friends find a mold-powered supercomputer called Xanadu that basically functions as a separate video game within Kentucky Route Zero itself. That’s one example of what Elliott means when he talks about “new mechanics.”

The new settings take up a lot of time, too. In the previous three episodes, Cardboard Computer was able to re-use some environments as players traveled among known locations. Not so in Act 4.

And then there’s the technical side of things. To make these new features function properly, Elliott and Kemenczy had to overhaul the game’s dialogue and movement systems. Elliott re-wrote the dialogue engine — “It looks the same and it hopefully feels the same. Hopefully it feels a little bit better,” he says — and Kemenczy created a new “blocking manager” that allows him to get more emotions and gestures out of the characters.

“And there’s a lot of stuff that I think will be obvious when you play it, these new experimental things that we don’t want to get into until it’s out,” Elliot says.

“Experimental” is how Cardboard Computer rolls, and it’s another factor in Act 4’s extreme delay. Elliott and Kemenczy have released three free “interludes” between Kentucky Route Zero’s acts, and they’ve grown exponentially more intricate as the years have dragged on.

The first one, Limits and Demonstrations, is a short, interactive art exhibit that plays out like a traditional point-and-click adventure game. It’s simple, yet it expands Kentucky Route Zero’s world and teases interactions in Act 2. Though when it was conceived, the interlude’s narrative potential was an afterthought. Some people were having problems running the game, and each work of art in Limits and Demonstrations actually tests out different aspects of players’ graphics cards.

“When we started selling episode one, we had no idea of having these interludes between them,” Elliott says.

Technical issues aside, the team enjoyed the world-building aspect of that first interlude, and they decided to continue churning them out between episodes. The second interlude, The Entertainment, is a stage play within the game world, “written” by a fictional character. It’s set in a dimly lit bar, and players inhabit a silent patron alone at a table; they’re able to watch the play, stare at the audience and interact with bits of the set to reveal stage notes and other small goodies. But that’s not experimental enough for Cardboard Computer — the script of the fictional play The Entertainment is available for purchase in physical form. Yes, under the name of a fictional author and with a fake ISBN.

The most recent interlude, Here and There Along the Echo, is Cardboard Computer’s most ambitious by far. Its on-screen component features a telephone that calls just one number: An audio guide to the Echo River and its surrounding attractions (voiced by Kentucky-born musician and actor Will Oldham). But, as demonstrated by The Entertainment’s real-life script, Elliott and Kemenczy can’t be contained by digital walls. Kemenczy also got his hands on a few dozen old phones and dug around in their circuitry so they could only “call” the Echo River number. Then, Cardboard Computer auctioned some of them off.

“You could just plug it into a wall and have a physical version of this piece,” Elliott says. “It was a ton of work for him, designing that circuit but then also assembling it.”

Kemenczy and Elliott wanted to sell the phones on a rolling basis leading up to the release of Act 4. They ended up selling three — one on eBay under a fictional profile; one via a live, 90s-style home-shopping sale; and one at a physical auction in Chicago’s Nightingale cinema. For the eBay sale, Elliott and Kemenczy added a flowery description of the Pink Western Electric model 2500 that offered hints into the game world, plus they made a video showing off the phone in glorious detail. For the home-shopping film, Kemenczy physically modified a digital camera to shoot in an authentically grainy, VHS style. At the live auction, they brought in a real auctioneer and the event was written up by a handful of local outlets.

Each of the phones sold for around $300.

“I think the reason we felt compelled to do all that weird, extra stuff was just a basic discomfort with the idea of selling art,” Elliott says. “We had to make it into some kind of theater or something so that people would get something out of it even if they weren’t paying for it. I think the interludes kind of work that way in general, it’s like half of the game, basically, is free.”

Elliott and Kemenczy wanted to sell more phones, but the auctions were cutting into development time on the actual game. They’ve paused the project for now, though Elliott hopes to return to it in the future.

Overall, Elliott doesn’t sound worried about Act 4’s two-year development schedule. He rides molasses waves of inspiration that have taken Kentucky Route Zero to haunted mines, whiskey factories staffed by skeletons and, yes, even eBay.

“We definitely err on the side of following our intuition and going wherever we want to go,” Elliott says. They do edit themselves; they’ve abandoned some features throughout development, but they don’t scrap anything because it might take too long to implement, Elliott says. “That doesn’t really happen very much. I don’t know — maybe it should, but it doesn’t.”

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— cardboard computer (@cardboardcompy) February 7, 2016

Kentucky Route Zero and its interludes blur the lines between reality and fantasy, virtual worlds and physical spaces. Act 4 is poised to do the same, but on an even larger scale. Ben Babbitt’s music, at least, is more ambitious than ever before. He records his own foley sounds and uses actual instruments, rather than electronic facsimiles, to craft the game’s mood. The music in Act 4 includes a lap steel guitar and a theremin, two instruments that Babbitt didn’t know how to play before development started.

“The theremin is really hard to play,” Elliott says. “I was surprised that he decided to use a real theremin instead of using a computer, but I’m sure it will be worth it.”

Elliott plans on teasing Act 4 as well as he can, without spoiling anything, of course. The Cardboard Computer Twitter account recently posted images from the new installment; no text, just the pictures. That kind of subtlety feels right to Elliott. The day Act 4 is finally ready for public consumption, it’ll probably just pop up online, skipping the release-date announcement system entirely.

“It’s hard, having been close to it for so long, this time there’s some anxiety about whether it’s going to land the way that we hope it will,” Elliott says. “That anxiety has had a lot more time to build than it had with the other ones.”

We know, Elliott. We know.

16
Feb

Fashion and technology find common ground in a new exhibition


Technology isn’t just about smartphones and 4K. In the fashion world, it comes in the form of computer modeling, laser cutting, sewing machines and, recently, 3D printing. These elements are what inspired a new exhibition called Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, which will be on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York later this year. Manus x Machina features over 100 pieces, ranging from haute couture to ready-to-wear, each showing how designers have adopted handmade and machine-made techniques throughout history.

Pictured above, for example, is Chanel’s wedding ensemble, created by Karl Lagerfeld as part of the fashion house’s Fall/Winter 2014 couture collection. The dress was handmade, but its design was manipulated by a computer to give it that pixelated look. All told, it took 450 hours to put together. At the same time, Lagerfeld has also experimented with 3D printing (sorry, Kanye), bringing a futuristic look to Chanel’s iconic women’s suit. Another dress, designed by Cristopher Kane, mixes hand and machine embroidery to make a style based on the process of photosynthesis.

“Instead of presenting the machine and hand as rivals, the exhibition presents them as equal,” says Andrew Bolton, chief curator at The Costume Institute. He says there are “times when the hand has been celebrated and the machine degraded, and vice versa,” so the goal with Manus x Machina is to show that the line between the two is blurring. Not surprisingly, the exhibition has the support of fashion icons like Anna Wintour, as well as Apple.

Bolton says Apple was the perfect sponsor of the exhibition, thanks to its emphasis on craftsmanship, particularly the ways in which a hand and machine come together as one. If you’re in New York City, or happen to be visiting, Manus x Machina will be open from May 5th to August 14th. In the meantime, enjoy this early peek at some of the garments on display.

Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

16
Feb

Win Samsung’s next new phone (ahem, Galaxy S7) from Android Central!


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Update: Just a few days to go, folks! Be sure to enter if if you haven’t already!

Mobile World Congress is quickly approaching, and rumors are flying regarding what Samsung will be announcing during its Feb. 21 event. We’re expecting to see at least two versions of the Galaxy S7, including a regular flat S7 and a curvy S7 edge.

So we’re going to go ahead and give away an IOU for one because we’re awesome like that. Interested in winning? Head down to the widget below and get to entering!

The prize

The winner will receive an IOU for the Samsung Galaxy S7, which does not include service. Just the phone.

The rules

Normal contest rules apply here. One entry per method per person. This one’s open to all folks everywhere such contests are legal, but we can’t guarantee the phone will work on your network. (You know how these things go.) The contest ends on Feb. 20. We’ll announce the winner here on Android Central shortly after the closing date.

That’s it! Good luck, everyone!

Win Samsung’s next new phone from Android Central!

Samsung Galaxy S7

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The Galaxy S7 is expected to be announced at Mobile World Congress in late February 2016.

  • Complete Galaxy S7 news
  • Join our Galaxy S7 forums
  • The Galaxy S7 could come in three sizes
  • The microSD card slot might return in the GS7
  • Fewer megapixels in the GS7 camera might be better

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16
Feb

How to share Amazon Prime with friends and family


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Willing to share some of that free quick shipping and streaming video with your crew? It’s probably easier than you think.

Your Amazon Prime account is set up with a feature called Amazon Household that allows you to share a large handful your benefits with friends and family. Add another adult to your digital household and enjoy easy features including parental controls for the kids, unlimited storage for photos, and a family library to share books, apps, and games. Here’s how to get started!

  • How to add members to your Household in Amazon Prime
  • How to manage your content in Amazon Prime
  • What are other shareable benefits with Amazon Prime?

How to add members to your Household in Amazon Prime

Click Your Account from the drop-down menu located at the top-right side of your screen.

Scroll down to your Account Settings and click the Manage your Household option.

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On the Household homepage, click to Add an Adult.

Have the adult enter their Log in Information, whether they’re a trial member or Prime member.

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Add up to 4 children to your household by clicking Add a Child.

Each child’s profile can be modified by clicking Edit underneath their avatar.

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Once you’ve added everyone to your household, you’re all set to share content! Keep in mind that each adult will be sharing their payment information under the same account, so it’s important to ensure the appropriate credit or debit card is selected at checkout when purchasing products or content.

How to Manage your Content in Amazon Prime

Select Your Account from the drop-down menu located at the top-right side of your screen.

Scroll down to your Account Settings and select the Manage your Household option.

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Under your household homepage, click Manage Your Family Library in the middle of your screen.

Select whether or not you wish to share apps/games, audiobooks, or eBooks by clicking their Sharing Buttons.

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Underneath your Family Library, select Manage your Content and Devices.

Select Show Instant Video under the Content Tab.

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Click Show FreeTime located next to the sort menu under Your Content.

Choose from your Instant Videos and select Add to FreeTime.

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Choose between videos and Select a Child to allow viewing access.

Click OK when finished.

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That’s the basics for managing your content under your Household account!

What are other shareable benefits with Amazon Prime?

Amazon Prime is more than just sharing content. For your annual subscription charge you get access to a great number of perks, including reduced expedited shipping on orders:

  • Free 2-day, same-day, and discounted one-day shipping
  • Prime Video access to thousands of movies and TV shows
  • Early access to Amazon Lightning Deals
  • Unlimited storage for photos
  • Free Kindle books through the Lending Library
  • 20% off diapers subscriptions
  • 15% off Baby Registry completion discount
  • Prime Fresh benefits

That’s all there is to setting up your Amazon Prime account to share its benefits with your friends and family! There’s always the option to remove members as needed, but if you choose to leave your household, there’s a 180-day period where neither adult can add members or join other households. Setup is quick and easy, and it’s a great perk for Prime members that love to share.

Sign up for Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime

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  • Get a free 30-day Amazon Prime trial
  • Share Prime with friends and family
  • Best movies to stream on Prime Video
  • Shop smart with Amazon coupons

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16
Feb

From the forums — Why do LG G5 cases exist well before the phone is announced?


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The Android leak cycle is well documented at this point. We get some feature whispers, an internal document or two, the occasional press render or blurrycam photo, and then the case manufacturers show up to the party. It happens with just about every phone now, case manufacturers listing products for sale to protect phones that haven’t even been officially announced yet. It’s not always clear if these manufacturers have already made these cases, or if they’re just trying to grab our attention early, and with the LG G5 this seems especially prevalent.

A brief conversation in our G5 forum on the subject left everyone wondering why these case manufacturers behave this way, especially when the phone hasn’t even been announced yet. For the most part, it’s about getting attention early and hoping for the best — which in their case is early sales.

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Manufacturers have been lining up to tell everyone about their cool new cases for the LG G5. Some of these manufacturers have leaked actual details, like the dual-camera setup on the back and the end of LG’s “Rear Key” in the design of this phone. Other companies, who scrambled to offer a competing accessory for a not-yet-announced product, are perfectly happy to put up photos of their G4 cases as placeholders until their G5 case is ready for photography. All of these case manufacturers have two things in common: none of them have touched a G5 yet, and their cases aren’t shipping until the end of February at the earliest.

When preparing a phone for third-party case manufacturers, it’s common for device manufacturers to send those companies a blank. It’s basically a 3D-printed block in the dimensions of the phone you want to make a case for, with all the buttons and camera grooves and extra markings carved out so the case folks know where to do their thing. This blank typically includes a render of the phone, so the company can either print those cardboard fillers for the retail packaging or Photoshop themselves a model of what the actual phone would look like with the case on. You see these in the promo images on Amazon all the time, and it’s clear from most of these images that the case manufacturer hasn’t yet seen the actual phone they’re building a case for.

There are of course exceptions to every rule, but for the most part this is how the case manufacturers get little bits of information early but never seem to have the whole picture. The G5 is a little unique in this particular adventure due to LG’s participation in the leak cycle. When LG decided to leak their own case to show off features for the phone they will be unveiling in Barcelona, third party case companies are left with little option than to offer their own products as quickly as possible to attract customers. The end result is a little more silliness than usual when it comes to phone leaks, but LG seems perfectly happy with this extra buzz before a launch.

LG G5

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The LG G5 is expected to be announced at Mobile World Congress in late February 2016.

  • The modular, dual-everything G5 could be a big deal
  • The LG G5 will have an always-on display
  • Get the latest news and rumors on the LG G5
  • Your LG G5 wish list
  • Join the LG G5 discussion

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16
Feb

Verizon will throw in 2GB of free data if you upgrade on their XL or XXL data plans


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Verizon is once again offering an additional 2GB of data per line when adding or upgrading a device to an XL or larger data bucket. In order to get the free data, which is good for the lifetime of your account, you need to be on Verizon’s XL or XXL data buckets. The XL plan comes with 12GB of shareable data, while the XXL bumps it up to 18GB. For each line that you add, or upgrade the hardware on, you can receive an additional 2GB of data on either of these plans.

Verizon allows 10 lines per account, so if all of them upgraded or were new lines you would get a total of 20GB of data free each month, or 240GB per year. This data is shareable, and comes at no cost to you for as long as you have the line with Verizon. Remember, for a limited time Verizon is paying up to $650 per line in switching costs to get you free from your current carrier. Combine that with the free data and you may have a pretty sweet deal on your hands now.

Shop XL and XXL plans at Verizon

Source: Verizon

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