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Tech journalist Will Smith launches a talk show in VR

When Will Smith (no, not that one) announced he was leaving Tested to start his own virtual reality company last September, it came as a bit of a shock. But sometimes you see something so powerful that you can’t do anything to stop yourself from pursuing it. Now Smith has revealed exactly what he’s doing: A talk show filmed entirely in VR called The FOO Show. “My goal with The FOO Show is to showcase amazing creators and their works in ways that were never before possible, using virtual reality,” he writes on Medium.

Smith says that the ultimate goal was to produce the same type of videos he was known for at Tested, but in a cutting edge, interactive setting. For example, the first episode (which he says is currently in early access on Oculus Home; SteamVR is coming soon) features the folks behind Firewatch, developer Campo Santo, and him exploring a location from the game. There have been a few attempts at talk shows in VR before, but nothing quite with these types of production values.

The focus is on using off-the-shelf hardware like the HTC Vive to capture performances, and after all the initial work like building a set and writing a script is done, an episode only takes a few hours to render. Regular production starts this summer and Smith promises “lots” more by year’s end. Considering his output on Tested, that’s probably a bit of an understatement.

Here’s what I’ve been working on, introducing FOO VR:

PS If you have a Rift, check us out in the Oculus Store

— Will Smith (@willsmith) April 2, 2016

Via: (2)

Source: Will Smith (Medium) (1)


Pinning tabs in Edge – CNET

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Microsoft has made some handy changes to the Edge browser in its latest Windows 10 build (Build 14291), including the convenient ability to pin tabs to the tab bar inside the browser.

Pinning tabs inside a browser is a convenience you probably didn’t know you wanted, but it’s not new — you can do the same thing in Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari. Still, it’s nice to see that Microsoft is fleshing out its new flagship browser, and bringing it up to speed with the rest of our favorite modern browsers. Maybe I’ll even switch over from Firefox (maybe after a few more updates).

To pin a tab in Edge, open a new tab and navigate to the website you want to pin.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Right-click on the tab and click Pin tab.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

The pinned tab will now appear as a favicon in the tab bar. This tab will always be open, so it’s sort of like a convenient, extra-accessible bookmark. If you mouse-over the favicon, you’ll see a small preview of the open tab.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

To unpin a tab from the tab bar, right-click the favicon and click Unpin tab.

You can also pin Web pages directly to the Start menu from Edge. To do this, navigate to the page you want to pin and click the icon in the upper right corner and click Pin this page to Start. For more info on how to pin links to the Start menu from any browser, check out our guide here.


Next Blue Origin rocket carries two microgravity experiments

We only just found out that Jeff Bezos & Co. are planning another round trip rocket flight for tomorrow, and now they’ve announced something extra. This time around the New Shepard vehicle will be carrying two microgravity experiments. Being able to conduct science not possible on Earth is part of Blue Origin’s pitch for its rockets, and each setup takes advantage of the flight in different ways.

One is the Southwest Research Institute’s (SwRI) Box of Rocks Experiment (BORE) that’s supposed to investigate what happens to rocky soil on small asteroids. Meanwhile the Collisions Into Dust Experiment (COLLIDE) was built by University of Central Florida students and will record video of a marble hitting a bed of dust while in low gravity, to see how the particles move.

Nanoracks, which has worked on a number of experiments with NASA, has apparently worked on Blue Origin’s payload integration, creating a setup to execute and observe experiments while the ship is in low-gravity. Of course, if something does go wrong that could result in a loss of the experiments and data, but as SwRI knows, that’s a risk you take.

Two university microgravity experiments on tomorrow’s @blueorigin flight. Short vids:

— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) April 1, 2016


Fungi can help NASA deduce how climate change affects forests

A team from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a new method to detect what kind of mycorrhizae are attached to the roots of trees using only satellite images. Mycorrhizae are fungi that form mutually beneficial relationships with the roots of trees, increasing the plants’ absorption capability and providing them with direct access to sugars. There are two types of mycorrhizae, and each tree/plant species is only associated with either one of them. Since the two respond differently to climate change, scientists can use the method to figure out how forests will fare in the future.

The team developed their method by looking at satellite images of the Smithsonian Institution’s Forest Global Earth Observatory. This forest and its underlying network of fungi had already been mapped in the past, so the team was able to connect the trees’ behavior with their corresponding mycorrhizae. In particular, they found significant differences in timing between the trees associated with each type of fungi: they start growing leaves and reach peak greenness at different times.

Armed with this knowledge, the team can detect the type of mycorrhizae trees have just by looking at satellite images of forest canopies. As such, they can use this method to determine how forests all over the globe will be affected by our changing climate, which could give us enough time to conjure up viable solutions.

Source: NASA


Tesla’s Model 3 has already racked up 232,000 pre-orders

It hasn’t even been 24 hours since we got our first glimpse of Tesla’s $35,000 Model 3 electric vehicle, and the pre-orders are flying in. Despite, or possibly because of, a polarizing style and interesting cabin that ditches the usual gauges for a single flatscreen, CEO Elon Musk reports the vehicle has already notched 232,000 pre-orders.

Earlier today the number stood at 180,000, which was already enough to raise questions of how a company that made fewer than 50,000 vehicles last year will keep up with the demand. Earlier today Musk himself tweeted that there’s a need to “rethink production planning,” which sounds like a good problem to have. So, if you’re interested, it’s probably a good idea to get in line now, or at least check out our first drive impressions before laying down $1,000 to reserve a spot in line.

Model 3 orders at 180,000 in 24 hours. Selling price w avg option mix prob $42k, so ~$7.5B in a day. Future of electric cars looking bright!

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 1, 2016

Definitely going to need to rethink production planning…

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 1, 2016

Now 232k orders

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 2, 2016

Source: Elon Musk (Twitter)


The new era of PlayStation starts today

Today marks the first day of Sony’s new PlayStation-centric division, Sony Interactive Entertainment. Over on the PlayStation Blog, SIE president Shawn Layden says that it’s going to be a bit before we see exactly what this shuffling of papers means, but says that in the long run, it’ll mean “everything.” Specifically, it’ll allow the company more flexibility to “adapt more quickly to meet the needs of the gaming community” and “drive the consistent and constant innovation” in the video game medium.

Specifically, he calls out PlayStation VR as a result of the new company. Since the announcement this past January we’ve seen SIE finally give us a price and release window for PS VR, and, weirdly, word that the firm was going back to the mobile gaming money pit with ForwardWorks. Maybe the latter could be the success that PlayStation Mobile never was. After all, Miitomo seems to be doing pretty well for Nintendo so far.

And hey, the new company’s name rolls off the tongue an awful lot easier than Sony Computer Entertainment America/Japan/Europe ever did, so at least there’s that. With E3 just over two months away, it probably won’t be too long before we see what else SIE has up its sleeve.

Source: PlayStation Blog, Sony


Android Central 281: Butts are still funny

We recruited three of the most attractive minds in mobile tech for an all-questions, all-answers episode. When they couldn’t show up, we brought in Jerry, Phil and Russell to run things. This is nearly 90 minutes of your questions, and our answers. Strap. In.

Thanks to this week’s sponsor!

  • Harry’s: Start shaving better today and save $5 off your first purchase with coupon code AC.

Podcast MP3 URL:


Snag Sphero’s BB-8 for a discounted $129 through April 10


Just in time for the arrival of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on digital stores, Sphero has dropped the price of its app-controlled BB-8 droid to $129. That’s a modest discount of $20 from the little droid’s original price of $149.

With BB-8 by Sphero, you can control the rolling droid via a connected app to zip through your house, yard or wherever you choose to go on an adventure of your own. If you’re interested in taking the now-iconic Sphero BB-8 out for a spin, you’ll want to act soon; Sphero says that the price drop will only last through April 10.

See at Sphero



The Public Access Weekly: What kind of fool?

Welcome to your April Fool’s edition of the Public Access Weekly — the holiday that every journalist hates with the power of 10,000 suns! While we’re busy pulling our hair out trying to figure out which of our emails are adorable jokes and which are sincere pitches, there’s been a ton of stuff going down this week. To whit: The Microsoft Build event, HoloLens, a Tesla Model 3 event, we closed comments for a week, then we opened comments back up again… In short, we’re all ready for copious amounts of puppy GIFs, Daredevil-watching and trying to get that last world key in Plants vs Zombies 2. (Maybe that’s just me…)
Over on the Public Access page, things are just humming right along – and March was a fantastic month! Let’s break it down by the numbers:

  • 57 total articles went live in March (that’s up from 39 posts in February!)
  • 27 different Public Access members published stories — including twelve newcomers who published their first posts. Welcome!
  • The member with the most posts in March was a three-way tie between Kevin Nouse, Cormac Reynolds and Amit Sen who each posted five articles. Nice going all!

And for those who are curious, the top ten most read posts of March (again, not counting the Public Access Weekly posts) were:

Why I Won’t Purchase the New Galaxy S7 (or Edge) by Richard Heby
We’re shutting down our comments…see you next week by Amber Bouman
Top 10 Graphic Design Trends In 2016 Freelancers Should Know by Amit Sen
Six Apps to Keep You in a Positive Mindset by Erik Wilson
The New Ecnomics of Online Music: How Listeners Will Pay for Free Streaming in 2016 by Ari Shohat
Why I’m writing about my ‘dick fantasies’ on Engadget by Christopher Trout
The Science Behind the Superheroes: Can Superpowers be Created? by Cormac Reynolds
IKEA is my favorite live action game by Kris Naudus
Top 7 Search Engine Options That Can Help When Google Cannot by Amit Sen
I Can’t Leave My Home Without These Excellent Travel Apps by Elizabeth Kartini

One of my favorite things to do every morning is read the new posts on Public Access, so thank you sincerely to all the members who spend so much time crafting their articles and posts! Y’all are really the best, and kudos to you.

Looking for something to read? Check out:

An error in Google Maps — and some regular ol’ human oversight — resulted in the wrong house being torn down in Texas. That’s.. a bad miss.

Our review of Apple’s iPhone SE is up! Long story short: It’s about a B+.

Also up: Our Oculus Rift review (for those of you who have a hefty chunk of change to throw around).

Looking for something to write about? Mull over:

Our decision to take a break from comments provoked a lot of suggestions, thoughts and feelings. While we’re sifting through all those responses, weigh in and tell us: What would you do to create an amazing comments section? What is your ideal comment section look like? Or, where is your favorite comment section on the web?

We thought for a moment that Juicero was a joke — a $700 cold-pressed juice maker, it’s like a Keurig for your o.j. — but as it turns out, it’s legit and plenty of people were eager to sign up on the wait list for one. This begs the question: What’s the most ridiculous/useless/pointless piece of tech you’ve ever seen (or used)? Or, what’s the best joke gadget you’ve come across?

Devindra tried the 4DX experience while watching Batman vs Superman and…was not a fan. How can technology make films a more immersive experience? Tell us what technology you would use to create the ultimate movie watching experience.


Google apologizes again for its ill-fated ‘Mic Drop’ prank

Every year Google insists on unleashing a storm of April Fool’s “jokes,” but this time one had a problem. Last night its Gmail “Mic Drop” feature that responded with a dismissive GIF and closed the conversation permanently had to be pulled after user complaints. Now in a second update to its blog post, Google has acknowledged its mistake, focusing on three points: It should’ve asked users before turning on the feature and/or added a confirmation step, it placed the Mic Drop button too close to other more familiar elements, and there was a bug that could cause the regular send button to still send Mic Drops. Hopefully any damage wasn’t too catastrophic, and Google says it’s working on bringing Mic Dropped messages with further replies back to user’s inboxes.

UPDATE: We heard feedback that some of you were negatively impacted by this feature, so we quickly turned it off late last night. In addition, we are working to bring back Mic-Dropped messages that had subsequent replies to your inbox, so you can read those.

We realize many of you use Gmail for very important messages, and we are sorry if Mic Drop was in any way harmful to you. Note that if you’re a Google Apps business, education or government user this feature was never turned on.

At Google we have a culture of sharing what we learned when things go wrong, and we want to share these learnings with you:

We should have asked you before turning on the feature, and it should have included a confirmation before sending.
We didn’t anticipate accidental clicks: “Send + Mic Drop” was too close to other send buttons (“Send” as well as “Send & Archive”), which caused confusion.
And yes there was a bug. It was rare, but possible to press the regular “Send” button and still Mic Drop if you did the following:

Opened a new compose window
Pressed the “Send & Mic Drop” button with no recipients and saw error message
Edited the message by adding message recipient(s)
Pressed the regular send button.
Again, sorry. We love April Fools jokes at Google, and we regret that this joke missed the mark and disappointed you.

Source: Gmail Blog

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