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12
May

‘PaRappa’ and ‘Gitaroo Man’ creators team up for ‘Project Rap Rabbit’


PaRappa the Rapper and Gitaroo Man are some of the brightest, weirdest and catchiest music games I’ve ever played. They’re crazy for sure — how many titles let you spit rhymes with a humanoid onion in a kung fu dojo? But they’re also bold, imaginative and constantly surprising, begging you to tap X and see what happens next. Now, Masaya Matsuura, the creator of PaRappa and Vib-Ribbon, and Keiichi Yano, the mastermind behind Gitaroo Man and Osu! Tatakae! Oeunden (the original inspiration for Elite Beat Agents on the DS), are teaming up for a new game called Project Rap Rabbit.

Details are scarce, but a short teaser shows the hero facing off against a toad in feudal Japan. A motorbike hums in the background while some colorful drones dance overhead. In the distance, a trio of cannons poke out of the city walls before slowly sliding back into their holes. Some upbeat music plays in the background, a blend of turntable scratching and playful pan pipes. It’s all very cool. Given the project’s name, it’s safe to assume that music will play a central role. But will this be another pure rhythm-action game like PaRappa and Gitaroo Man, or something wildly different?

It’s hard to say for sure, but the developers are promising more information “soon.” In the meantime, there’s always PaRappa the Rapper Remastered, which upgrades the classic PS One title with 1080p and 4K visuals. “Kick! Punch! It’s all in the mind! If you wanna test me, I’m sure you’ll find…”

Source: Project Rap Rabbit

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12
May

This is your last chance to buy ‘Alan Wake’


One of Alan Wake’s best features was its licensed soundtrack, and now the tunes developer Remedy Entertainment carefully curated are causing a bit of grief. Remedy’s rights to The Black Angels’ “Young Men Dead” and “Up Jumped The Devil” from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (among others) are expiring, and with them, so must Alan Wake itself. Remedy tweeted that because of this, the game will be delisted from Steam and other digital storefronts after May 15th.

To make sure everyone who wants to play it still has a chance to, Remedy will discount the game by a whopping 90 percent on Steam. It’s going for $30 at time of publication, so when the sale starts tomorrow the price should drop to $3. Oh, and if you’re buying it, don’t forget to hit the jukebox in the game’s diner early on for an easy achievement/trophy for playing “Lime in the Coconut.”

Alan Wake sale on @steam_games 90% discount starting 5/13. Game will be removed from stores after 5/15 due to expiring music licenses. pic.twitter.com/y10DPgY8Q0

— Remedy Entertainment (@remedygames) May 12, 2017

The delisting also applies to the Xbox 360 version that’s available on the Xbox Store, but the difference is that there, Remedy can’t control pricing for the backwards compatible game. If you’d want to play the game on your Xbox One and didn’t already own it, that’ll set you back $20, but add-on episodes “The Writer” and “The Signal” won’t cost you a dime.

Remedy stresses that no, the delisting won’t remove the game from your Steam or Xbox libraries, the developer just can’t continue to sell it.

This doesn’t apply to the action-heavy downloadable side-story Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, however.

If you’ve already burned through both of those but missed out on Remedy’s most recent project, Quantum Break, the time-traveling tale features an awesome soundtrack as well, both in terms of hand-picked licensed tracks like “Circles” by Kate Tempest and the score by Finnish composer Petri Alanko. Speaking of Quantum Break and music, that game has an option for turning licensed music off completely as a way to ensure streamers don’t get their videos flagged for copyright infringement.

To combat expiring licenses prior, other games have been patched to remove the offending tunes. But given how Remedy used specific tracks to punctuate the end of chapters/episodes in Alan Wake that very likely wouldn’t work here. It’s just one of the unfortunate side effects of the digital future we live in.

The “Alan Wake Sunset Sale” begins tomorrow at 1pm Pacific.

Source: Remedy Entertainment (Twitter), Steam, Xbox Marketplace

12
May

The best action camera


By Ben Keough

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After spending 20 hours testing the latest action cameras (building on the hundreds of hours Wirecutter staffers have spent with action cameras over the past three years), including hiking through the rain, attaching them to cars and bicycles, and even mounting them on a dog playing on a beach, we think the GoPro Hero5 Black is the best action camera for most people.

Who should buy one

If you spend a lot of time outdoors and want to be able to relive crazy moments, an action cam is essential. What sets an action camera apart from other cameras is its diminutive size, toughness, and wealth of mounting options when compared with a point-and-shoot, a DSLR, or a video camera. This makes action cameras uniquely suited to capturing footage from a first-person (or animal) perspective.

An action camera has a very wide wide-angle lens, so it can capture as much of the slopes or racetrack as you want. You can mount it to a helmet, fasten it to the tip of a surfboard, attach it to a hockey stick, or sit it atop a tripod standing super-close to the action. However, unlike a rugged camera, an action camera doesn’t have an optical zoom lens, so what you see is what you record. But rugged cameras lack the mounting abilities, wide-angle lens, and compact nature of an action camera. They’re also typically designed to capture stills first and foremost—video is where action cameras shine.

How we picked and tested

Top row, from left: Sony FDR-X3000, GoPro Hero5 Black, Yi 4K Action Camera. Bottom row, from left: Sony HDR-AS300, Garmin Virb Ultra 30. Photo: Ben Keough

Numerous action cameras have been announced since our last update, but ultimately we called in only five to test. Our ideal action camera has a bevy of mounting options, easy-to-use controls, excellent video quality, and decent Wi-Fi/Bluetooth functionality. Additionally, a top-tier action cam must offer multiple frame rates to choose from and include at least 1080/60p (that’s Full HD resolution at 60 frames per second), though 4K/30p is quickly becoming the norm.

Many cameras we considered failed to meet our criteria, as they had inadequate resolution or frame-rate options, insufficient battery life, or big and heavy designs. A list of these cameras is in our full guide.

Action cameras are designed for use in all sorts of conditions, so we put our five test models through as many challenges as possible to gauge their toughness, video quality, and usability. A good action cam should respond well to changing light, cope well with water and dust, handle vibrations with aplomb, and remain easy to use even when you’re engaged in strenuous physical activity.

We stress-tested cameras to see if they met our criteria by mounting cameras to a car for a winding sunset drive in Santa Fe, strapping them to a dog who romped around California’s Huntington Dog Beach, and taking them on a strenuous hike through Washington’s temperate rainforests. For more on our testing process, see our full guide.

We downloaded each manufacturer’s app and checked out how difficult it was to connect a phone to each camera, and how much control each app gave over vital shooting settings. We looked at sharing options, and tried out each brand’s desktop apps and editing tools, where available.

Finally, we put all of the cameras through battery-rundown tests at 1080/30p, 1080/60p, and 4K/30p to see how well they lived up to their promised endurance. Then, we timed how long they took to charge.

Our pick

The GoPro Hero5 Black provides the best combination of UI, video quality, and value for most people. Photo: Ben Keough

The GoPro Hero5 Black combines everything we loved about our previous pick, the GoPro Hero4 Silver (excellent video quality, intuitive touchscreen interface, affordable price), with the pro features that made the high-end Hero4 Black our upgrade pick (most notably, 4K video). Then the Hero5 Black ups the ante with built-in waterproofing, image stabilization, and voice control, wrapping everything in a small and convenient package. Best of all, it costs the same as the Hero4 Silver, despite all the new features. All of that adds up to the best action camera for most people.

Although the Hero5 Black’s video quality is more than good enough for most users and most applications, it’s the intuitive interface and clever extras that push this camera ahead of the pack.

The touchscreen UI is vitally important, because it’s how most people will interact with the Hero5 Black, and GoPro nailed this iteration. The screen provides direct access to all of the most-used settings, including shooting mode, resolution, frame rate, and field of view. Battery status is always visible, too. Swiping from the left brings up the playback menu, and swiping from the right accesses additional shooting settings such as ProTune adjustments, stabilization, auto low light, and audio control. Swiping down from the top produces less-used options like screen lock and voice control, plus deeper menus for Wi-Fi and basic device settings.

Runner-up: Better video quality, but harder to use

The Sony FDR-X3000 offers the best video quality and true optical image stabilization, but it’s harder to use than the competition. Photo: Ben Keough

Both our main and budget picks produce beautiful 4K footage, but for the best possible ultrahigh-definition clips, the best choice is the Sony FDR-X3000. Not only can it claim the widest lens, the highest bit rates, and the sharpest footage, but it also offers optical image stabilization using Sony’s BOSS (Balanced Optical SteadyShot) system. It’s the only action camera available today that can shoot stabilized 4K footage, and for the right user, that’s a huge advantage.

Whereas the electronic stabilization in the Garmin, GoPro, and Yi cameras we tested selectively crops the frame to mimic true stabilization, the Sony model actually does it with real live floating lens elements. This system provides dramatically improved stabilization, particularly when it comes to high-frequency vibrations—when you’re running over rumble strips or dirt-road hardpan in your car, for instance. Pros will probably want to pair the X3000’s optical image stabilization with a gimbal setup, but for most people BOSS will be more than enough.

Budget pick: High quality at a low price

The Yi 4K offers surprising quality at an affordable price. Photo: Ben Keough

The Yi 4K Action Camera is yet further proof that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover—or, rather, an action cam by its lack of a big brand name. Made by a company tied to Chinese tech giant Xiaomi, this upstart offers 4K/30p recording, electronic image stabilization, a simple and fluid touchscreen UI, fantastic battery life, a user-friendly smartphone app, and a surprisingly low price. For beginners and budget-conscious shoppers, the Yi 4K might be a smarter buy than more-expensive options like the GoPro Hero5 Black and Sony FDR-X3000.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

12
May

NHS hospitals in England hit by a widespread cyberattack


Various NHS Trusts are currently battling with what appears to be a large-scale cyberattack affecting IT systems across the country. According to reports, hospitals and GP surgeries are falling victim to a widespread ransomware attack, causing them to shut down their computer networks. The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust was one of the first to acknowledge the problem and switch off its systems, warning locals that they will have trouble getting through on the phone and asking them not to visit accident and emergency unless absolutely necessary.

Trusts in Essex, Blackpool, Derbyshire and elsewhere have confirmed they too have been targeted, and are issuing similar statements urging people to avoid A&E departments where possible. Routine appointments are also being cancelled. With systems down, staff are unable to use phones, access schedules, patient records, emails, X-rays, test results and prescriptions. Needless to say, it’s serious.

Reports from hospitals and GP surgeries are piling up, with a lot of activity on Twitter suggesting the ransomware is spreading throughout the entire IT network of NHS England. According to the BBC, the NHS in Wales, which runs on a separate system, remains unaffected.

Here’s the malware attack which appears to have hit NHS hospitals right across England today pic.twitter.com/zIAJ6wbAG5

— Lawrence Dunhill (@LawrenceDunhill) May 12, 2017

NHS Digital has released this statement on the ongoing cyberattack:

“A number of NHS organisations have reported to NHS Digital that they have been affected by a ransomware attack.

The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor.

This attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors.

At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed.

NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations and ensure patient safety is protected.

Our focus is on supporting organisations to manage the incident swiftly and decisively, but we will continue to communicate with NHS colleagues and will share more information as it becomes available.”

The ransomware in question is thought to be spreading via internal email, and is demanding $300 in Bitcoin in exchange for returning user control and decrypting files. Earlier today, Spain’s National Cryptology Centre said various local firms were being targeted by this same variant of the WannaCry virus, including Telefonica and several energy suppliers.

Via: The Register

Source: NHS Digital

12
May

Twitch dedicates May 26th to celebrating diversity


On May 26th, video streaming platform Twitch will celebrate a site-wide holiday called “TwitchUnity” that celebrates diversity and inclusivity. It plans to highlight channels on its front page that “exemplify a positive culture” that day, and it’s encouraging streamers to generate relevant discussions. The platform is also releasing an official emoji for the event, which you can see in the image above. If you want to personally support the effort, you can buy the special t-shirt Twitch is releasing for the event or check out the dance-a-thon it’s conducting. All proceeds from both efforts will be donated to Amnesty International’s fight for human rights around the globe.

The platform might have created the event to encourage more women and persons of color to join the community. As Paste Magazine wrote in 2015, Twitch has a diversity problem. Most of its video game streamers, for instance, are white dudes. The company has been trying to address the issue for quite a while now and even held a streamed panel called “Diversify Twitch” during its annual convention in 2016. Unfortunately, the African-American speakers were mercilessly attacked with racial slurs in chat, something we hope doesn’t happen to streamers joining the event this time around.

Source: Twitch

12
May

Robotic exo-shorts safely twist old folks out of falls


Robotic exosuits have already found use in a variety of medical applications from helping Parkinson’s patients walk more easily to letting kids with spinal muscular atrophy play again. Now a team of researchers from the EPFL have developed a pair of wearable “exo-shorts” (given they only cover the upper thigh and hips) which monitors the steps of the user and automatically jerks them upright out of stumbles and falls.

Trips, slips and falls hurt millions of elderly people every year and cause 95 percent of hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries in people over 65. And, while many old people will attempt to self-correct their stumble, they often lack the strength to do so.

This device, dubbed the Active Pelvis Orthosis (APO) is designed specifically to prevent that. The exoskeleton sits on a person’s hips and monitors their steps, quickly learning their normal gait. But if the suit detects a misstep, whether the hips are at the wrong angle or the user begins to tip over, it responds within 350 milliseconds, jerking the wearer’s hips into a neutral, upright position, while pushing the thighs down into a more stable stance and halting the fall. The APO is built to only engage when it actually feels a fall coming on, they don’t actively augment the user’s steps.

The APO system is only in the infancy of its development and won’t be coming to nursing homes near you any time soon. While the current prototype uses carbon fiber components, it still weighs about 9 pounds. That’s way too heavy for frail folks to be lugging around so some weight-cutting measures are certainly in order.

Via: Ars Technica

Source: Scienctific Reports

12
May

Elon Musk’s underground traffic tunnel looks like hyperspace


Elon Musk works fast. Just last month the Tesla CEO was showing off a concept video for how his solution to gridlocked traffic: a giant underground tunnel where rapidly propelled cars travel point A to point B on car-carrying sleds. Now we have footage of a recent test, using real cameras and a real tunnel. Of the Instagram video, Musk warned that it might cause motion sickness or seizures thanks to the rapid acceleration and flashing lights.

It’s hard to gauge if the sled is traveling at Musk’s promised 125 MPH, but if the tunnel’s lights are any indication, it looks a lot more expedient than sitting on the freeway during rush hour. Musk says that a trip between Westwood in northern California to Los Angeles International Airport via his tunnel system would take all of five minutes.

So yeah, it’d probably take you longer to get through security than it would to actually arrive at LAX with one of these. The future is a wild place, y’all.

[Warning, this may cause motion sickness or seizures] This is a test run of our electric sled that would transport cars at 125 mph (200 km/h) through the tunnels, automatically switching from one tunnel to the next. Would mean Westwood to LAX in 5 mins.

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on May 12, 2017 at 5:48am PDT

Source: Elon Musk (Instagram)

12
May

Google Maps uses Street View to keep you on the right path


Google Maps for Android got a slight remake this week, with a couple handy new features on board. It still looks and functions basically the same as the Google Maps you know and potentially love, but Google has smartly integrated some Street View features directly into the navigation view. When you ask the app for directions, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to see the all the turn-by-turn steps as before. But now each step is accompanied by a Street View image of that exact turn.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Google added it to the web version of Maps many year ago, in 2008 in fact (as Android Police notes). Tapping on the Street View image opens it up full-screen, properly facing the direction you’re going on the route. Most people are probably happy enough with the info provided by the turn-by-turn navigation, but if you’re the type to get a little lost these images might help you prepare for the route.

The default view when you pop open the Google Maps app has changed a bit, as well. Now, the bottom third or so of the screen contains info relevant to the time of day and your location, like local lunch spots. Google’s had this location-specific info in Maps for a long time now; they’re just surfacing it in a more obvious way here. These changes should all be available in Google Maps for Android now, but they haven’t rolled out to the iOS app just yet. Given how Google is keen on keeping its apps in parity, these new features will likely hit the iPhone before long.

Via: Android Police

12
May

Apple Pay Negotiations Still Ongoing in Germany as Hints of Pending Italian Launch Increase


Apple is “working rapidly” to expand Apple Pay to additional countries in Asia and Europe, and there’s increasing evidence and reports that suggest the service may launch in Italy and Germany in the near future.

Apple recently updated its Apple Pay participating banks and card issuers in Asia-Pacific support document with a new image of Europe that has Italy highlighted. The change isn’t visible on the United States or Europe versions of the page, suggesting that it may have been added to the Asia-Pacific page prematurely.


MacRumors discovered a colored version of the image stored on Apple’s servers that makes it easier to see Italy highlighted.


Apple’s regional Italian website has listed Apple Pay as “coming soon” since March, so it’s only a matter of time—WWDC?—before the payments service launches in the country. At launch, Apple Pay will work with Visa and MasterCard in Italy through participating banks UniCredit, Boon, and Carrefour Banca.

Meanwhile, German blog iPhone-Ticker reports that Apple Pay should launch in Germany in the fall or winter. As in some other countries, however, the negotiations between Apple and German banks allegedly continue to be challenging, likely as both sides struggle to reach an agreement over fees and control.

Last October, Germany was similarly highlighted on the Apple Pay availability map, but only for a brief period of time.


Apple Pay launched in the United States in October 2014, and it has since expanded to 14 other countries and regions: Australia, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. There was also a rumor that Belgium could be added this month.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tags: Italy, Germany
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12
May

Review: ExoLens’ Wide-Angle Zeiss Lens is Bulky, but Takes Distortion-Free Photos


ExoLens and Zeiss have teamed up to create some high-quality lenses designed to take iPhone photography to the next level. At $200, the ExoLens PRO with Optics by Zeiss Wide-Angle Kit for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is almost the price you’d pay for a standalone camera, but the lens is distortion free, compact, and enhances the range of images you can capture with your iPhone.

There are dozens of inexpensive lenses on the market, but most of the cheaper options are unable to measure up to the quality you get with the $199 Zeiss/ExoLens combo.

Design

The ExoLens PRO comes in a padded box and ships alongside several mounts to fit different sized iPhones, including the iPhone 7, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus.

Right out of the package, the ExoLens PRO stands apart from other lens options. It’s over an inch tall and similar in circumference to a standard pill bottle, with a solid weight to it. The outside of the lens is made from aluminum, and the glass of the lens itself is protected with caps on each side when not in use. Zeiss branding is on the side of the lens, which looks more like a small DSLR lens than a standard iPhone lens.


Inside the box, there are two carrying bags for the lens and any accessories, along with an aluminum lens hood and an installation guide.

The lens mount, which fits over the camera lens on the iPhone 7 Plus, features two pieces — an aluminum outer mount and a softer gel liner. The two pieces are combined and then slipped over the camera side of the iPhone, a process that’s quick and easy.


Once the lens mount is in place, the ExoLens PRO can be screwed in place and it’s ready to use. Despite its weight, the ExoLens PRO feels stable and secure on the back of the iPhone.

While the lens feels secure, it adds a lot of weight to the iPhone and changes the balance of the device. It’s unwieldy to hold and I needed to use two hands when taking a photo. Even then, I was worried it would slip out of my hands.


The ExoLens PRO can’t be used with a skin or a case on the iPhone, so there’s no real way to add extra grip. The extra weight and bulk of the lens also makes it more difficult to carry — it’s not going to fit in a pocket, and it’s awkward to use for other purposes with the lens attached.

It’s not difficult to pull the lens off when it’s not in use, but it’s worth noting that this is a lens that you’re only going to want to have on the camera for the express purpose of picture taking. There’s a lot more on and off action needed than with smaller lenses like the Olloclip.


The ExoLens PRO lens mount covers up the telephoto lens, so the lens itself only works with the standard iPhone lens. Since this is a wide-angle lens, that’s not a surprise, but it does prevent 2x zoom and Portrait mode from being used while the lens is attached. It does not work with the front-facing camera and it also prevents the flash and the microphone from working properly when attached.

ExoLens has other lens mounting solutions for the iPhone 7, including the newly released $50 ExoLens Case, but the lens mount is the only option for the iPhone 7 Plus at the moment.

Lens and Picture Quality

The lens is a Zeiss Mutar 0.6x Asph T* wide-angle lens, which is an 18mm equivalent. That’s wider than the default iPhone camera, which Apple says is 28mm.

Without ExoLens on left, with ExoLens on right
At 18mm, the Zeiss wide-angle lens is ideal for capturing landscape shots or more of an indoor area, and there’s an anti-reflective coating on the lens that seems to improve image quality when it’s bright outside.

ExoLens example shot
Pictures captured with the lens are as sharp and clear as those taken without the lens, and there is no distortion at the edges, a common issue with wide-angle camera lenses designed for the iPhone. I also saw no artifacts or color aberrations.

ExoLens example shot

Bottom Line

This is something of a niche product, and to be honest, I’m not sure who it’s targeted at. The average iPhone user isn’t going to want to shell out $200 for a wider-angle iPhone lens, nor should they, and photographers who need a wide-angle lens likely have better camera equipment.

It’s a well-built lens that produces high-quality images, but it isn’t a whole lot wider than what you get with the built-in camera (18mm vs 28mm) and it’s bulky and heavy, so it’s not a great solution for most iPhone users.


That said, it takes excellent photos, so if you’re a person with $200 to spare and you take all of your photos on the iPhone and want to extend your range, this is a lens worth considering.

Pros:

  • Distortion free
  • Easy to put on/remove

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t work with cases or screen protectors
  • Heavy
  • Adds a lot of bulk to the iPhone

How to Buy

The ExoLens PRO Wide-Angle Kit with a Zeiss Lens can be purchased from the ExoLens website for $199.95.

Note: ExoLens provided MacRumors with a ExoLens PRO with Optics by Zeiss Wide-Angle Kit for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

Tags: review, exolens
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