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The After Math: What on Earth are you watching?

Big goings-on in the world of broadcast this week. The BBC and Netflix are bringing back Watership Down to scar a whole new generation of children. NBCUniversal bought DreamWorks for $3.8 billion so hopefully both companies will finally be able to afford a space in their names. Sunday Ticket decided that watching football on your phone’s tiny screen is punishment enough and will no longer charge you extra to do so. And Saturday Night Live also decided that watching the show is itself punishment enough and will no longer make you sit through added commercials. Numbers, because otherwise the Nielsen Rating System wouldn’t make any sense.


IMAX’s in-theater spin class is sensory overload

I’ve never been particularly fond of spin classes, as they eschew all the things I enjoy about using a stationary bike: The ability to set my own pace, listen to my music and maybe even dip into a good book while I pedal. But I can understand the appeal of a spin class, as the presence of an instructor can push you out of your comfort zone and ensure that you get a real workout. So it would seem that IMAXShift sits somewhere in the middle, combining an intense audio and visual experience to entertain you while a dedicated instructor gives orders. The problem is, there might have been just little too much going on for me to enjoy any one aspect to the fullest.

There’s been a general trend of consumers moving away from big box, one-size-fits-all gyms toward a more boutique, personalized model of gym exercise. Sometimes boutique means just smaller, but in many cases it means some kind of specialization or gimmick of some sort. IMAXShift looks to draw spin enthusiasts to its debut location near downtown Brooklyn via a 24-by-40-foot curved screen combined with a robust IMAX sound system. Two sub-basses are even buried under the floor for that extra bit of oomph as you pedal. There are 50 stationary bikes across five steps, arrayed in a gentle arc.

Though the gym uses IMAX technology for its audiovisual elements and the company wants to do for fitness what it has done for movies in delivering “larger than life experiences,” you won’t be watching Star Wars or The Jungle Book while you pedal. Instead, each spin program is composed of a series of shorter video segments chosen by each individual instructor. The idea is that each class can be unique and you should never see the same sequence twice. The visuals I was treated to during my session included pulses of bright colors in abstract shapes, shifting black and white lines, and a grand sweep over a lush green forest set to Prince’s “When Doves Cry.” As evidenced by that last example, there wasn’t really a close thematic correlation between the music and visuals.

Even if there was, I might have missed it completely due to being overwhelmed by the sheer number of things going on in the IMAXShift theater. As I hopped on my own bike and began my own class with a group of roughly 20 people, I found myself so preoccupied with my spin routine that it was hard to focus on the images. The instructor for our session, Jesse Alexander, barked out instructions steadily, meaning I was constantly fiddling with the bike’s resistance, checking my revolutions per minute on its built-in console and overall trying not to hurt myself as I peddled faster, slower, stood up, sat down, straddled the seat and whatever else my cycling master demanded of me.

It didn’t help that sometimes the music would occasionally drown out Jesse as he was giving us a new order, meaning I spent a lot of time watching him or the other cyclists to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Quite a few of them weren’t looking up either; one woman I spoke to the locker room afterward even said she eventually just stopped paying attention to the screen entirely.

As the class wound down to the strains of Hans Zimmer’s “Time” I finally had enough wherewithal to take in a lovely visual of sky lanterns floating upward into the night. It was peaceful, and for a minute there I felt pretty good about having completed the entire workout. But I’m not entirely sure if it’s something I’d want to do again. The price isn’t a huge issue, as a single ride will cost $34, on par with established chains like SoulCycle.

However, replacing the usual mirror with a giant screen might eliminate any shame or other issues you might have with staring at yourself for 30 minutes, it also creates an enormous sense of isolation. There’s so much going on the room that it’s tough to engage with anything: Not the screen, not the instructor and certainly not the other cyclists, who exist as shadows in the corner of your eye when the lights go down. The music sort of blots out everything to the point where it becomes a form of white noise. I might have given my quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes a good workout today, but the part of me that’s most exhausted is my mind. I feel like a kid after a carnival: overstimulated and in serious need of a nap.


MacRumors 2016 Blood Drive

MacRumors is pleased to announce the Seventh Annual MacRumors Blood Drive, throughout the month of May 2016. Our goal every year is to save lives by increasing the number of life-saving blood and platelet donations. While most blood drives are specific to a geographic location, our blood drive is online and worldwide. To date we have recorded donations of over 300 units of blood and platelets.

Led by CEO Tim Cook, Apple supports health, relief, and charity efforts, including the recent Apps for Earth promotion. The MacRumors Blood Drive is run by the staff and volunteers of MacRumors.

We ask that you:

1. Donate blood or platelets at any donation center near you, join the bone marrow registry in your country, and sign up for the organ donor registry in your state, province, or country.

2. Post in the MacRumors 2016 Blood Drive! thread to tell us about it and to accept our thanks.

3. Share our message with other people you know.

For details see the MacRumors 2016 Blood Drive! thread and our traditional Honor Roll of donors.

There are many reasons that you should participate in the MacRumors Blood Drive. Consider what some of our forum members have said:

User A.Goldberg:

I was diagnosed and treated for leukemia at age 4. When I got my first blood transfusion, the nurse told me that a stranger had donated it. Decades later, I am healthy thanks in part to some truly altruistic people out there. If you’re considering donating, do it for me since I’m not eligible myself. Thanks!!!

User TheBean75:

Thank you for everyone who donates. I cannot (due to the mad cow thing) but my daughter was a micro-preemie born at 24 weeks and had 5 transfusions before her first month in the NICU. I know without the selfless act of donating by others she never would have made it.

User I14:

Thank you to everybody who is donating or has signed up for the bone marrow registry. After donating 42 units over the past years, last year I became a recipient with many units of blood and platelets and finally a bone marrow transplant as I battled leukemia. One of you may have saved my life. You will probably never meet the recipient of your donation, but they will be very thankful for your time, effort and your donation.

How to participate

1. If you are eligible, schedule a blood or platelet donation (see FAQ), in May if possible. Register for the bone marrow registry and/or register as an organ donor (see FAQ).

2. If you aren’t eligible to donate blood for reasons of health, age, height/weight, recent donation, or the temporary deferral for gay men that applies in many countries, please encourage someone else to make a donation, and let us know. The U.S. FDA has revised the rules since last year; see our Blood donor eligibility forum thread.

3. Help our drive by thanking donors and convincing friends and relatives to donate as well.

Tag: MacRumors blood drive
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From the Editor’s Desk: Hot for hardware


Bringing the former Motorola CEO back to run hardware might well be the jump-start Google needs to finally have a proper hardare division.

We’re now just two weeks out from Google I/O 2016. And this one bit of news has me pretty excited. Not for the developer conference itself, I guess, but for Google’s future as a hardware company.

That’s one area it’s never managed to get right. Services? Sure. But getting those services into a single stream of hardware? That’s been tough. Android@Home died on the vine. The Nexus Q was aborted. We still need a to see more from set-top boxes. (Shield TV is fine, but we need more.) Chromebooks are great, but that’s a partner ecosystem. Nest is good, but not growing. Chromecast has been the one shining example, of course.

Meanwhile, Amazon has been making huge inroads with the Echo and Alexa. I’m in the camp that expects Google to put forth something in that realm in a few weeks. But it needs to get its hardware ducks in a row. And bringing Osterloh, the former Motorola CEO, back into the fold might finally be the way to get it done. We probably won’t see the fruits of that labor in the next two weeks. But the next two years? This is going to be something to watch.

A few other thoughts on things …

  • Intel … Ouch.
  • Some folks thought I was being unfair in my initial review of podcasts in Google Play Music. But I think it’s all fair criticism. And if anything, I want people to listen to the podcast there! (You have subscribed, right?)
  • Talkshow looks pretty cool. So long as it’s not the next Peach.
  • You’re forgiven if you have no idea what either of those iOS-only things is.
  • This was a perfect take on the ridiculous debate over how to refer to products Apple.
  • Actually, I thought my take was particularly good, too. But as I was asked to give it on the Mobile Nations Snapchat, you’ll probably never see it now.
  • It had lemonade. (But not Becky with the Good Hair.)
  • I get the idea of Snapchat. It’s immediate and fun and silly. But I’m old, and I’m getting older. If I have something to say, dammit, I don’t want it to disappear a day later.
  • And don’t get me started on filters.
  • Or, ya know, the fact that we’re going to drive ourselves to extinction because we couldn’t be bothered. But, hey! At least we have Snapchat.
  • Get off my lawn.
  • I still love the White House Correspondents Dinner. Dude can deliver a good line. … And deliver a few bad lines.
  • But that’s what I love about that thing. They don’t all work. Some of Larry Wilmore’s jokes didn’t hit, either. But it’s Larry Wilmore!
  • Best part though is watching journalists face the uncomfortable reality.
  • Especially Wolf Blitzer.
  • And props to Don Lemon for this bird. And this one, later.
  • Doesn’t make up for this, though.

That’s it for this week. Time to see if Leicester can sew things up.


33 incredible photographers to follow on Instagram right now

Instagram is more than just a place for Kim K selfies and food porn.

It’s also a place where talented photographers from all over the world share their creativity. Instagram actually doubles as their portfolio, a showcase of professional-quality photos that anyone is allowed to view at no cost.

It’s inspiring. It’s extraordinary. It’s beautiful. And sometimes it’s also adorable.

The gallery above is a collection of 33 of the best photographers and their work. We included photojournalists, music photographers, iPhoneographers, graphic designers who dabble in photography, and a few people who just like to have fun and think outside of the box. Some are amateur snappers who have a keen eye for what works,

What they all have in common is that every one of these photographers is worth following on Instagram, like right now.

Whether you want to see a snap of a border collie playing hide and seek or maybe a toddler looking out the window, it seems there a billion brilliant photos waiting to be discovered through Instagram.

Let us know if you’ve made some incredible Insta-discoveries yourself.


Inhabitat’s Week in Green: The Karma Revero, and more!

The Fisker Karma is one of the hottest plug-in hybrid cars ever built. However, production stopped in 2012 when the company went bankrupt. Now the car is set to be reborn as the Karma Revero this year. Meanwhile, Ford is planning to launch a 200-mile electric car to take on the Tesla Model 3 and the Chevy Bolt. In other news, SpaceX announced plans to send its Red Dragon spacecraft to mars in 2018, while NASA invested $67 million to develop super efficient solar-electric engines. The US Air Force smashed the world record for maglev speed by propelling a floating sled to 633 miles per hour. And the Twicycle is a crazy bike that’s powered by your arms and legs.
The lifespan of the average lithium-ion battery is about 5,000 to 7,000 charges, but researchers just accidentally discovered a way to make li-ion cells last basically forever. In other energy news, Egypt is planning to build a massive $3.5 billion suite of solar power plants, and IKEA began selling photovoltaic panels in the UK. Tesla and SolarCity are on track to add more energy storage capacity this year than the entire USA installed in 2015. And a new type of floating solar panel can generate energy without taking up valuable real estate.

After investing $43 million in development, Dyson just unveiled the hair dryer of the future. It’s ultra-efficient, virtually silent and expensive with a $400 MSRP. In other design and technology news, we spotted a floating UFO home that is completely powered by the wind, water and sun. Scientists discovered a fourth state of water in which molecules “tunnel” when trapped in confined spaces. Splyt launched a line of modular lamps that can be connected to create LED trees. And Belgian designer Kristel Peters developed a process for making zero-waste shoes grown from fungus.


Ben Heck’s salvage wars

The Ben Heck Show - Episode 234 - Ben Heck's Salvage Wars

Finally it’s time for the team to decide who is the ultimate master of salvage. Ben, Karen and Felix fight it out to discover just how thrifty they can be in recovering motors, sensors and controllers from hardware you can find at your local thrift store. Which is better: the hi-fi or the electronic typewriter? Or maybe even a paper shredder! Can you help with the design and ideas behind a new board game which Karen is working on? Let the team know on the element14 Community page, where you can also connect with the Ben Heck Show team and find build files and code for past projects.


Scientists find a tailless comet from Earth’s early days

It’s well-established that the many asteroids and comets in the Solar System are the result of its violent early history, but finding an untouched example from the inner system is difficult. However, an astronomy team has discovered just that — and it might shed a lot of light on our homeworld’s early days. Thanks to both Pan-STARRS 1 and the Very Large Telescope, they’ve spotted a tailless, predominantly rocky comet (C/2014 S3) that has all the telltale signs of a “pristine” asteroid formed in the inner Solar System around the same time as the Earth, roughly 4.5 billion years ago. Its long, 860-year orbit hints that it was kicked towards the Oort Cloud (the system’s extremely distant bubble of comets and other icy bodies) in the ancient past and only recently got pulled back toward the Sun.

The comet doesn’t answer everyone’s questions. Researchers figure that it would take between 50 to 100 of these tailless comets to help determine which theoretical models describe the origins of the Solar System. However, the very fact that we know it’s out there is important. Besides providing some useful data by itself, it’s the first step in an evidence-gathering process that could explain how the young planets moved.

Via: Reuters

Source: ESO


Samsung app helps premature babies hear their mothers

For babies, the sound of their mother’s voice isn’t just comforting — it can be the key to healthy brain development. That’s not easy to manage for premature babies stuck in incubators, though, and Samsung thinks smartphones might help out. Its Voice of Life app lets a mom record her heartbeat and voice on her phone, and “wombifies” that audio (that is, remove the high frequencies) for playback on a speaker at the baby’s side. It not only provides a reassuring sound in the middle of a neonatal care unit, but helps parents connect to a child that they may rarely see in those crucial first weeks or months after birth.

Samsung hasn’t said much about how close Voice of Life is to completion, or which hospitals might be lined up to use it. We’ve asked the company to provide details and will let you know what it has to share. If it takes off, though, it could show that you don’t need elaborate equipment to give preemies a better start to their lives.

Source: Samsung Newsroom (YouTube)


‘Call of Duty’ teaser hints at a bleak sci-fi world

The Call of Duty series has been embracing dark sci-fi settings in recent games, and that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Activision has posted a teaser for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare that gives you a hint as what’s coming, and it’s clear that you’ll have to grapple with yet another dystopic future. A fearsome-looking representative of the “Settlement Defense Front” threatens to tear out his foes “from the history books” and otherwise usher in doom, complete with a brief glimpse of a city being wiped out. Ominous!

There isn’t too much more to be divined from the trailer, but it does give away a couple of series mainstays: there’s a mention of Nuketown (the classic multiplayer map) and an allusion to Ghost’s skull face mask. You likely won’t have to wait long to hear more about the game, at any rate. Given that leaked in-store displays for Infinite Warfare were reportedly due to go up as soon as May 3rd, the odds are that you’ll get the full scoop in the next few days.

Via: GamesRadar

Source: Call of Duty (YouTube)

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