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Instagram demands Littergram app name change, what a load of rubbish

Instagram has sent a letter to the British creator of the anti-litter application Littergram, demanding it change its name.

Littergram is a not-for-profit venture started in 2014, which encourages people in Britain to take photos of litter and send them to their local councils through the dedicated app.

Instagram’s lawyers though have given it just three months to change the name or face being taken to court.

The small app’s owner, Danny Lucas, has recorded an impassioned plea to Mark Zuckerberg, whose Facebook owns Instagram. He claims that having to change the name at this stage would “destroy all our ingenuity and hard work”.

“I would like to hope that with your own personal ambitions to help our planet that instead of spending money on lawyers and eliminating great causes such as Littergram you will join forces with me and help me take this forward,” he said.

The lawyers however claim that the brand “utilises and relies on social media usage” like Instagram. It cannot therefore be used “in relation to services which are core” to their client’s app.

Lucas’ aim with Littergram was to help educate children about the negative effect of littering in the country and to make it as anti-social as drink driving.

What shocks us here at Pocket-lint is that Instagram, a name that is itself an amalgam of other brands (Kodak Instamatic cameras anyone), is clamping down on another, non-rivalling application simply for putting “gram” at the end.

What’s next? Facebook taking a pop at Penguin Books? Instagram going after Smash Instant Mash? WhatsApp going after a couple of beer-drinking frogs?



Artificial intelligence now fits inside a USB stick

Movidius chips have been showing up in quite a few products recently. It’s the company that helps DJI’s latest drone avoid obstacles, and FLIR’s new thermal camera automatically spot people trapped in a fire, all through deep learning via neural networks. It also signed a deal with Google to integrate its chips into as-yet-unannounced products. Now, the chip designer has a product it says will bring the capacity for powerful deep learning to everyone: a USB accessory called the Fathom Neural Compute Stick.

The Fathom contains the Myriad 2 MA2450 VPU paired with 512MB of LPDDR3 RAM. The Myriad 2 is the chip found in the previously mentioned DJI and FLIR products. It’s able to handle many processes simultaneously, which is exactly what neural networks call for. Because it’s specifically designed for this — its architecture is very different from the GPUs and CPUs that typically handle processing — it offers a lot of grunt without requiring much power. It can handle up to 150 gigaFLOPS (150 billion floating-operations per second) while consuming no more than 1.2 watts.

Unlike Tegra’s solutions for deep learning, the Fathom isn’t a standalone system. The idea is you plug it into the USB 3.0 port of any system running Linux to get a “20-30x performance improvement in neural compute.” You can use the Fathom to rapidly prototype neural networks, moving to something with a lot more power once you’re ready to deploy.

Of course, this is neural networking, so it’s not that simple. The Fathom accepts networks defined in Caffe and TensorFlow (two frameworks popular in deep learning circles) and their accompanying datasets. You need to use a Movidius tool to execute the network on the Myriad 2 chip, where it’ll run natively while sipping power. At first glance, it’s a very similar process to CUDA and cuDNN (Nvidia’s system for handing off neural networks to its graphics cards). That said, the whole point of Fathom is it can be used in an environment where you don’t have expensive graphics cards and processors.

The Fathom is a very interesting device. As anyone that’s attempted to run even a basic neural network on an underpowered machine will tell you, it’s slow going. At present, the best way to prototype a network is using a cloud-based system, tapping into computing power far away. Being able to add a decent amount of compute to a regular laptop could simplify and reduce the cost of building a network massively.

But the potential for Fathom doesn’t end there. It could prove very useful for robotics, drones, and the maker community at large. With a Fathom connected to a Raspberry Pi, for example, you could easily add some very advanced computer vision capabilities to something like a GoPro. The long game, of course, is to persuade more manufacturers to add Myriad chips into their devices, but something like the Fathom is a key step along the way.


DJI’s obstacle avoidance is powered by the same chip as the Fathom.

The AI community has reacted positively to the announcement. Facebook’s Director of Artificial Intelligence Dr. Yann LeCunn said he’s “been hoping for a long time that something like Fathom would become available … With Fathom, every robot, big and small, can now have state-of-the-art vision capabilities.” while Google’s AI Technical Lead Pete Warden said that “Fathom goes a long way towards helping tune and run these complex neural networks inside devices.”

While some organizations are being receiving their Fathoms now, the Neural Compute Stick won’t go on general sale until this winter. There’s no firm price yet, but we’re told it’ll be less than $100.


Facebook, Messenger and Instagram apps arrive for Windows 10

In Microsoft’s early discussions of its Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps, Facebook and Instagram were mentioned as upcoming options. Today, the companies announced that new Windows 10 apps for Facebook and Messenger are available on the desktop alongside an Instagram mobile app. If you’ll recall, a beta version of the filter-driven photo software arrived back in March, however, the list of devices that support the mobile OS remains limited.

As far as the Facebook desktop app is concerned, you’ll be able to keep up with friends and family via Live Tiles. There’s also an in-app browser for the News Feed and similar to the web interface, you can employ reactions and stickers to respond to a post, switch on notifications and keep up with events and trending topics. The new Messenger app brings its trademark features like group chats, stickers, GIFs and photo sharing to Windows on the desktop. It also allows you to turn on desktop notifications so you don’t miss a note and you can pin a convo to the Start Menu to receive updates on Live Tiles.

Facebook and Microsoft say that Instagram on Windows 10 mobile is rolling out “with all of the community’s favorite features.” That list includes direct messages, the recent addition of account switching and updated search/explore tools. And yes, video support is there as well. Just like the desktop apps, Instagram also supports Live Tiles, so you can easily keep track of updates on your home screen. All three apps are available for download now via the Windows Store, so you can put them to use immediately.

Source: Microsoft


Windows 10 update message interrupts live weather report

Microsoft made Windows 10 a recommended upgrade for previous versions, and users have reported the desktop operating system asking about a download without warning. There have even been reports of the software installing itself without user consent. It can be rather annoying, and a meteorologist at KCCI in Des Moines observed that first hand. During a live weather report, a pop-up appeared prompting the control room to update to Windows 10. As you can see, these messages are bit more intrusive than the notifications on other platforms, like Apple’s OS X for Mac.

Last fall, Microsoft confirmed that is was preloading WIndows 10 installation files on PCs just in case users wanted to upgrade to the latest version. That might sound convenient, but for folks who aren’t planning to make the switch, those files demand 3.5GB to 6GB of hard drive space. Of course, the company made updating to Windows 10 free, and the move lead to over 200 million installs in the first six months it was available.

Via: BetaNews

Source: KCCI


A viral VR sex suit and what it says about us

He’d had a terrible morning and an even worse afternoon.

Exhausted by human interaction, Roger returned home, eager to slam a beer, throw on his bathrobe and lie back in his big leather recliner while Rhonda gave him one of her signature hand jobs. Unfortunately, Rhonda was programmed to make him dinner that night and, anticipating his mood, readjusted her earlier, more optimistic projections for the day’s outcome.

Assuming he wouldn’t want to be bothered, she decided to make Roger his favorite meal. Rhonda was just four months out of the factory and was still getting to know her new human companion. She would soon learn that he valued sex over food, but for now, she was all in on dinner.

Beef Wellington doesn’t make itself, and Roger realized it would be hours before Rhonda would be free to service him. While her nimble robot fingers were occupied by another slab of meat, he proceeded to “Plan B,” a beta program that delivered live holographic camgirls right to your bedroom.

The service was shaky at best, occasionally delivering only the upper or lower torso and cutting out at key moments, but if he couldn’t have Rhonda, it was the next best thing. Anyway, he’d grown tired of the interactive VR sex clubs of his youth and longed for uncomplicated, one-on-one action.

It’s a future defined by the same phrase that applies to so much of mainstream consumer electronics: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

As Angelo the hologram swiveled like a doped-up water snake on a floating bed just feet from his face, he could feel the bionic penis in his pants begin to stir. Roger had lost his johnson years prior through a series of unfortunate mistakes involving a drone, a teledildonic sex sleeve and a pot of hot wax. As his brain’s pleasure centers fired off, his soft robotic appendage responded in kind.

This is the jaw-dropping future of sex that scientists, futurists and technologists are selling us today. Roger’s experience, no matter how far-out, is the stuff the media and its readers eat up. It’s a far-out, but seemingly attainable, future.

But there’s another, clumsier future of sex — one that no one asked for and will likely never come to be. It’s a future defined by the same phrase that applies to so much of mainstream consumer electronics: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. As the excitement around sexbots and holographic brothels heats up, sex-tech vaporware, raunchy April Fools’ jokes and libidinous crap gadgets are just as likely to go viral as the truly exciting, life-changing advances in sexual health.

Even seemingly exciting advancements like the “world’s first bionic penis” tend toward the sensational. As it turns out, that penis was nothing more than a run-of-the-mill penile implant.

When it comes to sex and tech, the press has a tendency to take everything at face value. Why dig deep on a subject that touches us all, when we can make a dick joke instead?

Just days after April Fools,’ Elite Daily reported on a virtual reality sex suit called the “Full Body Virtual Interface.” The article sourced Rice Digital as the origin of a video showing the haptic sex suit in action. The ridiculously cumbersome getup consists of a failed gaming peripheral called the Novint Falcon, a Tenga sex sleeve, a pair of silicone breasts, what appears to be a Gear VR and a white spandex bodysuit covered in black velcro straps and power cords. The suit apparently syncs to a VR videogame from Illusion VR called “Sexy Beach.” Rice Digital betrayed its clickbait-y motivation in the conclusion of its story, exemplifying just how mindless most coverage of sex and tech truly is with the following:

“The Full Body Virtual Interface, as it has been clinically named, will set you back a paltry £300 and will perfectly simulate a clumsy sexual encounter I once had with a girl called Jenny, on the periphery of an ice rink in Swindon, as a 14 year old boy.

Which is more detail than I had originally planned to give you on this, but apparently I need another 95 words to fill the SEO quota as recommended by the WordPress editor underneath the text box I’m typing into.”

And yet, for at least one week this month, this awkward unitard was the hottest thing on the internet. The Rice Digital demo video went viral, garnering more than 2 million views on YouTube, and eventually appeared on The Daily Show. Trevor Noah took the “Japanese so foolish” approach to mocking the suit saying “Yeah, that’s a real thing my friends;” Maxim warned that “the future of sex is here, and it’s a sad, lonely nightmare;” and Refinery29 said “… if you’re a straight man who is sick of hooking up with living, breathing women and don’t mind shelling out tons of cash to sweat inside a sex suit, it looks like the internet has answered your prayers.”

Reports said the $400 makeshift unitard had sold out with zero citation. Some nodded to the timing of the news, but no one was calling bullshit. The internet reveled in its ridiculousness, warning of a technosexual apocalypse. And yet a simple YouTube search surfaces a video posted by user “Are You Like Adult Video Game,’ titled “Illusion VR — is real or April Fools,’” dated April 1st. The account’s previous entries include demos of “Sexy Beach,” the video game at the heart of a hopeful and successful viral video campaign.

The suit was likely no more than a smartly timed PR stunt gone viral, but it illustrates our awkward relationship with sex. No matter how groundbreaking or viable the technology, we spin puns and poke fun at the expense of having a real conversation about innovation in the field of sexual health. We conjure our best adolescent dick jokes instead of discussing our relationship with machines. And we allow even the most ridiculous news to become truth because, despite its fundamental role in human existence, sex has the ability to turn society into a classroom full of 13-year-olds who just heard the words “Lake Titicaca” for the first time.


NFL Sunday Ticket adds out-of-market games at no extra cost

Before now, DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers had to pay extra for the Max package in order to livestream out-of-market games. The television provider announced today that when the 2016 season starts this fall, the additional purchase will no longer be required. This means that anyone who opts in to Sunday Ticket will get access to every NFL game on both mobile and satellite TV without the need for an upgrade. However, if you still want options like Red Zone, Fantasy Zone and Short Cuts’ condensed game replays, you’ll want to continue with the Sunday Ticket Max add-on.

Similar to Major League Baseball’s legal dispute over blackouts, the NFL faced a lawsuit over its season-long television package. The required upgrade to watch out-of-market games meant fans of the Carolina Panthers living in Seattle weren’t able to see all of their team’s games without paying more. In fact, unless you fit the criteria of living in “select areas, residence types, and enrolled in select universities,” a DirecTV plan is required to even have the option of buying Sunday Ticket.


Curiosity snaps a pic of the most rugged plateau it crossed

The Curiosity rover is almost done crossing the most rugged terrain it has ever crossed — and of course it whipped out its trusty Mast Camera (Mastcam) to take a panorama for us Earthlings. Curiosity began its journey through the “Naukluft Plateau” in March, battling a sandstone bedrock full of sharp ridges. Naukluft, which is located in lower Mt. Sharp, got its distinct look from billions of years of wind erosion. The rover’s ground team says the terrain didn’t damage the vehicle’s wheels more than it should, so it’s still in good enough condition to reach its final destination.

Mastcam, by the way, took a 360-degree panorama of the plateau on April 4th. So make sure you drag the YouTube video (embedded below) around — or use a VR headset — to get a good look at Curiosity’s jagged path to smoother surfaces.

Via: ABC

Source: NASA


How Instagram became the perfect platform for streetwear resellers

Instagram isn’t just about pictures of food. Search certain hashtags — #yeezysforsale, for example, and you’ll find countless images of the most in-demand streetwear. Behind those photos are resellers, who have turned the social network into a platform for buying, selling and trading items. This is where those coveted Yeezy sneakers end up for resale — often in the thousands of dollars. The same goes for limited-edition Air Jordans or clothing from Supreme, a New York City-based brand that’s taking a certain section of the fashion world by storm.

For some product resellers, Instagram has completely replaced eBay as their main storefront on the internet. The e-commerce site was once the preferred method to showcase and sell items, but it’s becoming an afterthought due to the processing fees its users are charged. According to one reseller, who asked to be known only as “Andre,” it’s also easier, cheaper and less time-consuming to deal with customers in person.

I met Andre, who appears to be in his early 30s (he wouldn’t confirm the exact age), outside Supreme’s flagship location in New York City on a Wednesday evening, just as he was preparing to camp out overnight before the store opened the following day. Every Thursday, Supreme releases new products at 11AM ET, drawing large crowds not unlike what you’d see the day an iPhone comes out.What makes the brand so desirable, aside from the apparent endorsements of celebrities like Kanye West, is the limited inventory produced on every run. Once a piece sells out at one of Supreme’s five retail stores worldwide or on its website, the best chance to get it is from a reseller for prices well above MSRP.

For instance, let’s say a Supreme “box logo” hoodie, one of the most sought-after products, originally cost around $150. You’d have to pay at least $500 or $600 if you don’t get it directly from the brand the day it was released.

Customers wait in line outside Supreme’s flagship store in New York City.

That’s where Andre comes in. His business, called Sole Street Sneaker Co., lives on Instagram, where the account has over 14,000 followers. The way that works is simple: He posts pictures of items for sale and then asks people to text him if they’re interested in anything. From there, Andre says he either meets people locally in New York or, in some cases, ships to other US cities or a different country. With most of his transactions done via PayPal and Square Cash, the core operation is controlled from an iPhone 6S Plus.

Although Andre still uses eBay occasionally, he says 90 percent of Sole Street’s sales happen through Instagram, a platform that gives him the potential to target millions of users. Essentially, he relies on the app to move the majority of his merchandise, which also includes Adidas and Nike sneakers, A Bathing Ape apparel (another famous streetwear company) and makeup from Kylie Jenner. Interestingly, Andre says Jenner’s Lip Kits have been some of the most profitable items he’s sold to date, showing that resale market’s scope on Instagram goes beyond Jordans, Yeezys and Supreme. He claims the Kylie Jenner Lip Kits make him roughly a 300 percent profit, as he sells each at $120 to $130.

“Anything West-Kardashian-Jenner-related, they can do no wrong. I don’t care what it is — a condom, an air freshener — I want part of all of that.”

“Anything West-Kardashian-Jenner-related, anything in that whole trifecta there, they can do no wrong. I don’t care what it is — a condom, an air freshener — I want part of all of that, he explains. “At the end of the day, I look to anything I can make a dollar off of. Any kind of product that’s limited and there’s a demand that will drive the price up, that’s within my realm of New York, I’m going to try to buy and sell it.”

Andre says he’s been in the business of reselling for about six years and, until recently, it was his full-time job and only source of income. “I just got a job about five months ago, because things were getting a little slow,” Andre says. “Nike’s release procedure started changing: There was a lot less in-store drops, a lot more on raffles and all that stuff really cuts into the bottom dollar.”

A photo posted by Sole Street (@solestreetsneakerco) on Feb 5, 2016 at 9:46am PST

An Instagram post by the Sole Street account, featuring the Kylie Jenner Lip Kits.

In the beginning, Andre says he sold sneakers on Craigslist, but in Instagram he saw an opportunity to create an unconventional marketplace. “On my personal page, I started seeing that other people were doing it: ‘Hey, I have this. Hey, I have that,’” he says. But the key, Andre claims, was to develop relationships and become a trusted member of the Instagram community — no small thing, considering the volume of counterfeits that pop up online.

It also helps that Andre isn’t shy about promoting his brand. Earlier this year, he was featured in a Complex documentary called Sold Out, which covers the underground economy of Supreme resellers. But Sole Street is just one of hundreds, if not thousands, of middleman businesses on Instagram. Today, it’s easy to find streetwear goods for sale on the site, thanks in large part to hashtags, with #jordansforsale, #yeezysforsale and #supremeforsale just a few examples.

Both Supreme and Instagram declined to comment for this story, but an Instagram spokesperson did point us to its community guidelines and terms of service, which don’t indicate that Sole Street and businesses like it are violating any rules.

There are more than 750,000 posts on Instagram with the hashtag #supremeforsale.

If there’s a downside to what Andre does, however, it can be the safety risks, given the high value of what he sells and how often he meets with strangers across New York. But he doesn’t seem concerned. “I’m not meeting you in the middle of [the] projects or at 8PM at night,” he says. “You’re going to put a gun to my head to get a Supreme sweater? You got it, man. Risk versus reward. It’s not 1987; it’s 2016, that kind of stuff really doesn’t happen often anymore.”

This isn’t necessarily true. In the past, highly anticipated releases have been plagued by violence, some of it fatal, which made companies like Nike and Adidas change their retail approach. Instead of holding in-store releases, as they did for years, both brands recently started using apps as an alternative way to reach customers. “The stores can’t deal with the headache of the lines, and just the sheer amounts of volume and people that will show up,” Andre says about how the shopping experience has changed for customers.

A photo posted by Sole Street (@solestreetsneakerco) on Feb 19, 2016 at 9:14pm PST

Who said Yeezys were hard to find?

Another thing to consider, especially within the streetwear community, is that reselling tends to be frowned upon. Andre’s well aware of that. “Yeah, a lot of people hate me,” he says when I ask if he’s ever received hostile comments on Instagram. “I understand it. There’s a little guy in the back of the line somewhere that came out here [to Supreme], stood out here for a long time and he really wants that fucking t-shirt, or he really wants that hoodie. I feel sorry, but if he had gotten here before me, he would be up here and he would have had his shit.”

Andre doesn’t think the people who hate him understand how he benefits streetwear fans who don’t live in a major city or close to a Supreme store. “I have a huge customer base that isn’t from near here; isn’t anywhere near Supreme,” he says. “They love that I resell all the limited edition sneakers that are released here in New York, because they can’t get it. Without me, they’re not going to get it. They understand that for me to get it to them there, there has to be a premium involved. There’s a price for my time.”

A Sole Street sticker, inspired by Supreme’s box logo, on a random New York City street.

More established stores are also experimenting with Instagram. One of them is Round Two, a brick-and-mortar shop that buys, sells and trades streetwear in Richmond, Virginia and Los Angeles. The only difference from Sole Street is that Round Two uses the platform to complement its retail business, not replace it. “We made the Instagram [account] before we even opened the shop as a way to build hype for it,” says Luke Fracher, one of the store’s three founders. “We don’t post every single item on Instagram, but the stuff that goes up sells quicker than other items. People don’t know if it’s worth making the trip unless they see something they absolutely want on Instagram and are like, ‘Oh, I’m going to come down.’”

Fracher says he likes the simple and “unregulated” way of doing business on Instagram. “With Facebook, for example, you have to go to the page and deal with Facebook’s weird layout and then go to the photos and add it,” he says. “Even on Twitter I think you have to click a link to the photo. Instagram is right there. It’s in front of you. It’s easy to use.”

Ultimately, Andre says it’s not all about making money with Sole Street’s Instagram page: He enjoys meeting people from the service in real life, including fellow resellers. “This is my entertainment; this is my socializing,” he tells me as we chat outside the Supreme store. “We’re sitting here for 10 minutes and 30 people have come up to [me]. This is my socializing and these are my family. I love these people.”

Andre says he’ll be running Sole Street as long as possible, but he’s still trying to figure out how to expand and not be dependent on Instagram. When asked whether he believes his business is sustainable in the long-term, he says he’s “been battling that question for so long.” And yet, he still isn’t sure: “It’s been great at times. It goes through its highs and lows. Reselling is sustainable, yes. Reselling Supreme, reselling Jordans, that stuff may not be that sustainable.”


Google and Fiat Chrysler are reportedly partnering on autonomous cars

Google parent company Alphabet has been on the lookout for established automakers to help its self-driving car initiative for some time now, and it looks like the company is close to announcing a major new partnership. First reported by auto blog and backed up today by The Wall Street Journal, Alphabet is working on a “technical partnership” with Fiat Chrysler. The talks have been described as ongoing for several months now, but apparently they’re now in the late stages, which means we could hear about a deal sooner than later if these reports are accurate.

It’s a logical partnership, as Alphabet has previously said that it doesn’t want to get into the weeds of building cars itself — so it’ll need another company, preferably an established one, to realize its visions. On Fiat’s end, the WSJ notes that the company has been “scouring the auto industry” looking for partners for either a merger or to offset production and development costs. How partnering with Alphabet’s self-driving car division would help those ends remains to be seen, but at the very least it seems the company could see an influx of cash if it starts building Alphabet’s autonomous vehicles in large quantities.

This news comes just a few days after Alphabet helped form the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets alongside Ford, Lyft, Uber and Volvo. The group is looking for push forward laws and regulations to allow self-driving cars to hit the road around the country. But legislation is only one part of the equation for Alphabet’s autonomous car division — and this rumored partnership with Fiat Chrysler could go a long way towards helping the technical side of things.

Via: The Verge

Source: The Wall Street Journal,


August Launches $229 Smart Lock With HomeKit Support and Updated Design

August Home today began shipping its second-generation Smart Lock, which includes support for Apple’s HomeKit platform and lets users unlock their doors with simple commands like, “Hey Siri, unlock my front door.” August announced the new Smart Lock back in October, revealing that the newly redesigned lock, as well as the free August app, can let users unlock and lock their doors while they’re away to let visitors inside, and double check the status of their home’s security.

Image via CNET
Today’s announcement brings news that those interested can buy the new Smart Lock from both Amazon and Best Buy, in addition to August’s online storefront. As confirmed last year, August’s lock can integrate with other HomeKit apps like Insteon+, Lutron, and iDevices, that can be customized to turn lights on or off as users unlock or lock their doors.

A couple of early reviews praise the Siri integration of the Smart Lock, as well as the improved design and largely seamless set-up process. According to CNET, the inside-only installation required of August’s upgraded device is also a major plus, with the discreet lock ensuring that no one on the outside of your house knows you have a Smart Lock.

“We are committed to providing value by partnering with companies such as Apple to deliver the features our customers are asking for, including HomeKit integration and support for Siri voice commands,” said Jason Johnson, CEO of August Home Inc. “We will continue to develop best-in-class products and partner with leading smart home companies to add convenience to consumer’s daily lives and new smart security features that are an essential element of the connected home.”

In addition to the August Smart Lock, which costs $229, the company sells the August Smart Keypad ($79) and August Doorbell Cam ($199) to further increase the security and protection of a home. Besides the free iOS app for the August Smart Lock, the company also has an Apple Watch app to receive instant notifications about your door’s security, and unlock and lock it from your wrist.

Before purchasing, August recommends users double check that their door’s deadbolt lock is listed as compatible with the company’s hardware on this list.

Tags: HomeKit, August Smart Lock, August
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