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6
Apr

‘Gears of War 4’ hits Xbox One on October 11


There’s still a lot we don’t know about Gears of War 4, but at least we finally have a release date: October 11 for the Xbox One. The game is set 25 years after the end of the last entry, and it stars Marcus Fenix’s son, JD, along with a new crew of beefy soldiers. It’s going to be the fresh start for the series in many ways — the franchise is now under Microsoft’s control instead of Epic Games, and it’s being developed by its Vancouver-based subsidiary, The Coalition.

You’ll be able to get a taste of the game soon with a multiplayer beta, which begins on April 18 for people who’ve played Gears of War: Ultimate Edition on Xbox One or PC. If you want to get in on that early beta, you’ll need to pop in that remake in by April 11. Microsoft will open the beta up to all Xbox Live Gold members on April 24, and it’ll run until May 1.

Source: Microsoft

6
Apr

Comcast deal lets you buy ‘Star Wars’ from your set-top box


It’s not that hard to get Star Wars: The Force Awakens through digital sources, but Comcast doesn’t want to be left out. It just struck a deal that brings Disney’s movies to the Xfinity TV store, both online and from your TV proper — if you want to watch the adventures of Rey and Finn from your set-top box, you can. Only The Force Awakens is available right away, but Comcast will fill out the catalog over the “coming weeks.”

On top of that, Comcast hopes to be a good digital citizen. It’s eventually joining Disney Movies Anywhere, so anything you get from Xfinity TV will go into a unified digital locker (and vice versa). While there’s no time frame for when that will happen, it’s good news if you’d like that copy of Inside Out to be as accessible as possible.

Source: Comcast

6
Apr

Dear Veronica: A taste for laziness


Dear Veronica: A Taste for Laziness

OK, the title is a little inflammatory. I know that not everyone using meal delivery services are lazy — heck, some people have things like children and full-time jobs to think about! But there are alternatives out there, and Gabi Moskowitz of the BrokeAss Gourmet has the answers for you.

Since it’s tax time (ugh), I also talk about ways to make the whole process a lot easier using Dropbox. It’s tough enough paying Uncle Sam; might as well ease the burden a bit!

6
Apr

Orah 4i is a camera that makes live 360-degree videos a reality


If you wanted to create 360-degree video, there are a few options you can choose from. Consumers like you and me would likely go for a portable camera like the Ricoh Theta or Kodak’s SP360. Professionals on the other hand would opt for Google’s 16-camera GoPro Jump rig, Lytro’s Immerge or Nokia’s OZO. But there aren’t too many options for those who want something in between; something that has higher quality than the handheld models but isn’t quite as expensive as the pro ones. Additionally, none of these options do livestreaming; they all require you to take out a memory card and do post-production work to stitch it all together. The Orah 4i, however, aims to solve both issues. It’s apparently the first ever prosumer level 360-degree cam to also support live video.

The company behind this camera is VideoStitch, which actually makes and sells 360 video stitching software for those aforementioned rigs. The Orah 4i essentially utilizes that same software, but for stitching the videos live and on the fly. As you can see in the image above, the 4i is a lot smaller than any of the professional rigs mentioned, and is a lot more portable. It measures about 3.1 by 2.7 by 2.5 inches and weighs only 17 ounces, which makes it light enough to put in a backpack. It’s made out of 100 percent anodized “precipitation-hardened” aluminum, comes with four fisheye 8-layer f2.0 lenses and four Sony EXMORE image sensors. There are four microphones in it for capturing 4 channel “ambisonic” sound, so that you’ll know where the sound is coming from if you’re watching it in a VR rig. Oh, and it captures and streams all of that video in 4k.

I had the chance to take a preview of the hardware and it struck me as a surprisingly small piece of camera for all that it purports to do. That said, it does require you to attach it to what VideoStitch is calling a “Stitching Box,” which is essentially a single-purpose computer dedicated to stitching together the 360 video. The box has an Intel CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GPU and an 120GB SSD. Also aboard are four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, dual Gigabit LAN, WiFi 802.11 ac/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.

In our demo, the Orah 4i was attached to the Stitch Box via a single Ethernet cable. From there, CEO Nicolas Burtey had paired it with an app on his phone, which he used to set up the livestream. The idea here, according to Burtey, is that you’d be able to login to Facebook or YouTube or some other streaming platform on the app, and then start streaming that way. I tried on a Samsung Gear VR that had demo streaming software installed, and was suddenly able to see myself being livestreamed in 360 degrees, which was a surreal and bizarre experience.

There are a few caveats, however. For starters, even though VideoStitch says the Orah streams its videos live, there is a 30-second delay. Which would work in most instances, but might not be so great if you’re a video journalist trying to cover a breaking news event. Another is that the Orah is not truly portable, because the Stitch Box does require a power source. That said, Daniel Doornink, VideoStitch’s VP of Strategic Partnerships, told me that you could hook up the Box to a battery pack, which would let you bring it around. Lastly, the Orah 4i isn’t exactly cheap. It would retail around $3,600, though the company is running a promotion right now where it’s only $1,800.

“We’re not targeting Hollywood with this,” said Doornink. “Neither are we for the consumer. We are in the middle. This is for the prosumer, for professionals who want to livestream video.” For example, you could livestream 360-degree videos from weddings, concerts or sporting events, all without needing a multi-person crew. With the Orah 4i, you could just do it yourself. “It’s the DSLR of 360 cameras, but with live streaming too,” said Doornink.

As for live 360, well, none of the major services like Facebook, YouTube and Periscope offer it right now. But Doornink say the time is coming. “Facebook already offers 360 videos,” he said. “And it also now offers Live. The two will eventually come together.” He gave an example of Facebook Event pages that might eventually have live videos accompanying it. Seeing as Facebook has recently ramped up its Live video efforts significantly, it won’t be surprising if this does become a reality.

Still, $3,600 is a lot of money. Our own video producer pointed out that most people probably watch 360 degree videos on their phones, in which case something like a cheaper Ricoh Theta or a consumer-level camera would do just fine. Still, Doornink believes that as VR rigs like the Gear VR and the Oculus Rift become more mainstream, the demand to consume high-quality 360-degree videos on those will go up.

“We think there will be usecases for this,” he said. “It is the only total solution.” The Orah 4i is available for pre-order starting today and will ship later this year.

6
Apr

Google tests native desktop notifications for Chrome on Mac


Google Chrome already has its own desktop notifications for Windows and Mac to alert you to new Gmail messages and other updates. However, those pop-ups on Apple machines act independently from all of the other OS X notifications, so you can’t employ that handy Do Not Disturb option to keep them hidden or peruse ’em from the Notification Center.

The good news is it looks like Google’s browser will soon offer the native push notifications on Mac as the feature is currently in testing. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can give it a go by enabling the feature via this link in Chrome. Be warned that the tool isn’t without bugs just yet and what appears in the stable version browser differs from the unstable nightly builds pushed to Chrome Canary.

Via: The Next Web

Source: Chromium

6
Apr

Now we know why landslides can flow like rivers


The rule of thumb with a landslide is that however far up a mountain it begins, you’re safe if you can get twice that distance away. So, if a fall begins a mile up, you need to be two miles away before busting out the popcorn and beers. Except, that’s not really true, since plenty of landslides travel far longer distances than that, causing serious harm to people and property nearby. Thanks to Brown University’s Brandon Johnson, we know why: it’s because the falling rocks hitting the ground can create a set of very specific vibrations. These vibrations reduce the amount of friction in the local area, causing landslides to flow like rivers.

Interestingly, the theory of Acoustic Fluidization has actually been knocking around since 1979. It was originally offered up by Jay Melosh, who worked out the math to help explain this form of natural disaster. Unfortunately there was no way to prove the hypothesis correct back in the day since the computing power simply wasn’t there. These days, it was pretty easy to run the simulations necessary to determine of acoustic fluidization was the cause. Don’t bust out the booze to celebrate just yet, however, since the study has also established that these long-running landslides can occur anywhere.

Source: American Geophysical Union, Paper (.PDF)

6
Apr

‘Rock Band 4’ for PC fails to get crowdfunded


Labels may have wanted to keep Rock Band 4 from making the leap to PCs over piracy concerns, but not even a crowdfunding campaign could help jumpstart the effort. Harmonix held a month-long campaign on Fig in hopes of offsetting the development costs for porting the Xbox and PlayStation title to the PC, but as time expired, the project had only raised $792,817 or 52 percent of the $1.5 million goal. By the way, 27 people pledged $2,500 to nab every Rock Band song for the PC title. That’s dedication.

If you were hoping to play Rock Band on your PC, all is not lost. The studio has Rock Band VR in the works for this year with a hand from Oculus. Harmonix teased more details on the virtual reality title for E3 in June, so we should be hearing more in a few weeks. In a post-campaign update, the studio says failing to meet the goal is evidence there isn’t enough demand for a Rock Band game on PC right now. However, Harmonix says it will continue to “support and improve” RB4 on consoles.

Via: Polygon

Source: Fig

6
Apr

New iTunes Metadata Suggests Users May Soon Be Able to Hide Stock iOS Apps


Apple may be laying the groundwork to allow users to remove or hide stock iOS apps, such as Compass and Tips, from their iPhones in an upcoming version of its mobile software, based on recently added metadata keys showing up on App Store apps.

As discovered by AppAdvice, Apple several weeks ago added a new pair of keys called “isFirstParty” and “isFirstPartyHideableApp” to the metadata of every App Store listing in iTunes. The new keys allow for a Boolean value of “true” or “false” to denote whether the app would be allowed to be hidden or removed from the user’s iPhone. It’s unclear whether the metadata is referring to an Apple-approved way to simply hide the first-party apps, or remove them altogether.

Last September, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about the long-standing desire by users to remove apps like Stocks and Voice Memos from their iPhones to reduce clutter of unused apps. He admitted the company was at a bit of an impasse over the situation, because while some of its first-party experiences could be removed without much of a headache, certain apps “are linked to something else on the iPhone.” Their removal could begin a domino effect of bugs and issues elsewhere in iOS, so implementing a feature allowing their removal would be understandably risky.

Stock Apps metadataImage via AppAdvice
The hints found in the metadata of iTunes could be the potential solution, with Apple specifically targeting first-party apps that are safe to hide or remove, and letting users decide on their end if they choose to do so. With no official word from Apple on the topic since last year, it’s hard to say when — or if — we will see such a feature implemented into iOS, although iOS 10 coming later this year is an obvious opportunity.

Users looking to minimize clutter from less popular stock apps such as Tips and Compass, and even newer editions like Health and News in some cases, frequently sequester their least favorite apps into a forgotten folder somewhere on their home screens, but some have even gotten crafty in figuring out ways to go one step further in removing unsightly crammed folders from their home screens, without needing to resort to jailbreaking their devices.

Tag: App Store
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6
Apr

iPhone SE Availability Tightening Online and at Apple Stores


Nearly one week following the launch of the iPhone SE, availability of the new 4-inch smartphone continues to tighten. Apple now lists a standard delivery estimate of around April 22-27 in the U.S. for the majority of iPhone SE models, while in-store stock is depleted in many major cities.

AT&T

16GB/Silver: April 22-27
16GB/Gold: April 12-14
16GB/Space Gray: April 12-14
16GB/Rose Gold: April 12-14

64GB/Silver: April 22-27
64GB/Gold: April 22-27
64GB/Space Gray: April 22-27
64GB/Rose Gold: April 22-27

Verizon

16GB/Silver: April 12-14
16GB/Gold: April 12-14
16GB/Space Gray: April 12-14
16GB/Rose Gold: April 12-14

64GB/Silver: April 22-27
64GB/Gold: April 22-27
64GB/Space Gray: April 22-27
64GB/Rose Gold: April 22-27

Sprint

16GB/Silver: April 12-14
16GB/Gold: April 12-14
16GB/Space Gray: April 12-14
16GB/Rose Gold: April 12-14

64GB/Silver: April 22-27
64GB/Gold: April 12-14
64GB/Space Gray: April 22-27
64GB/Rose Gold: April 12-14

T-Mobile

16GB/Silver: April 22-27
16GB/Gold: April 22-27
16GB/Space Gray: April 22-27
16GB/Rose Gold: April 22-27

64GB/Silver: April 22-27
64GB/Gold: April 22-27
64GB/Space Gray: April 22-27
64GB/Rose Gold: April 22-27All SIM-Free iPhone SE models also currently have an April 22-27 delivery estimate.

Apple’s online Personal Pickup tool reveals that the iPhone SE is out of stock at many retail stores nationwide, including most or all locations in New York City, Los Angeles, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Houston, Phoenix, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Denver, Portland, Raleigh, Seattle, and Washington D.C.

iPhone-SE-personal-pickup
While extended delivery estimates are anecdotal evidence that iPhone SE sales may be off to a good start, they are not a measurable indicator of exact supply and demand. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Localytics both believe first weekend sales were “lackluster,” but Apple has not disclosed any official figures.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE
Tag: Apple retail
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6
Apr

Tim Cook Joins Robert F. Kennedy Center Board of Directors


Apple CEO Tim Cook today joined the board of directors for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights after being a longtime supporter of the organization. Cook counts Robert F. Kennedy as one of his personal heroes and has said there are two photos of Kennedy in his office that he looks at each day.

“Growing up, I was inspired by Robert Kennedy’s infinite hope for humanity and his belief that people at their core are good, sharing universal goals for themselves and the world in which we live,” said Cook. “Robert Kennedy spoke to our highest aspirations, calling Americans from all walks of life to fight for something better. He was and is a hero and role model to me, and I am honored to serve alongside Kerry and the rest of the board to advance his message of justice and equality.”

The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights aims to reach Robert F. Kennedy’s goal for a just and peaceful world by advancing corporate responsibility, teaching social justice, and partnering with human rights leaders. On Cook’s appointment to the board of directors, CEO Kerry Kennedy said Tim Cook is dedicated to the cause.

Announcing the appointment, Kerry Kennedy, President and CEO of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, said, “Tim knows the importance of advocating for and representing people who have not been heard. He has integrity and does not shy away from challenging issues when he knows they are right and just. Tim is deeply committed to the social justice work that he is helping Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights accomplish.”

On multiple occasions in the past, Tim Cook has auctioned off charity lunches with proceeds that benefit the RFK Center and Robert F. Kennedy has been mentioned in several of his speeches. Last year, the RFK Center gave Tim Cook the Ripple of Hope Award, designed to celebrate business leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to social change.

Tag: Tim Cook
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