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17
Jul

Heart of brightness: Astronomers map the inside of a supernova


Why it matters to you

By revealing how molecules form in the aftermath of supernovae, scientists can better describe the origin of planets and life.

A supernova is easily the most brilliant event in the universe. At the end of its short life, a massive star erupts with such intensity that it can outshine its home galaxy, create new elements, and form new molecules through the destruction of others.

The first recorded observation of a supernova dates all the way back to 185 AD, but it wasn’t until recently that scientists have been able to map what occurs at the core of these explosions. Now, thanks to computer models of a supernova first witnessed 30 years ago, astronomers at National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) have been able to depict the inside of this event.

“Supernovae explosions involve a lot of physics under extreme conditions,” Remy Indebetouw, an astronomer at the University of Virginia and NRAO, told Digital Trend. “Vast quantities of neutrinos; nuclear fusion and rapid decay; fluid and plasma dynamics and instabilities. It has been a great challenge to model them, and for many years astronomers had difficulties getting stars to explode at all in computer simulations.”

Although supernovae are relatively common within our observable universe, they still only occur every 50 years on average in galaxies as big as the Milky Way. That means scientists don’t often get the chance to study such an event from the initial explosion to its end, when it cools down and new molecules begin to form.

Indebetouw and his team used data from Chile’s Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) to study a supernova named SN 1987A, which occurred within a dwarf galaxy some 163,000 light-years away. Collected and analyzed over three decades, the ALMA data gave unprecedented detail about the star’s violent death, including the emergence of elements like carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen, and the formation of molecules like silicon monoxide (SiO) and carbon monoxide (CO).

“Supernovae are rare but very energetic, and disrupt vast parts of space around them,” Indebetouw said. “They are the source of most of the atoms like carbon and oxygen that eventually form planets and people, and astronomers have evidence that a supernova exploded near enough to our own solar system that some of the material from that explosion forms part of Earth. It’s really important to understand how, when, and where supernovae go off to understand how, when, and where stars, planets, and life forms in galaxies.”

Though scientists had previously estimated how and where molecules would combine within supernovae, this marks the first time data was captured in resolution high enough to confirm the test models. Two papers detailing the research have been published in the journals Astrophysical Journal Letters and Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.




17
Jul

Keep your cables organized with 100 VELCRO brand ties for $6


Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with an inexpensive cable management accessory you must have!

Update: That was quick! Looks like these are back up to $10 now!

Keeping your cables neat and tidy is a chore that many people don’t want to have to do, but cable management doesn’t have to be a big pain for you. Something as simple as some velcro ties can transform a slew of messy cables into something you can actually manage in just a few minutes. Right now you can pick up a 100 pack of VELCRO Brand thin ties for just $5.99 at Amazon, a savings of $4 from the regular price.

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  • Take control of computer and electronics cord clutter with easily adjustable, reusable hook & loop ties.
  • Perfect for computer, appliance and electronic cord organization, wire management and storage.
  • Trusted & used in data & network centers across the globe. Wraps onto itself for secure hold
  • 100 Pack of adjustable, reusable, low profile Black VELCRO Brand Thin Ties
  • Cut it to length or combine ties to make it the perfect length for any application

Stop dealing with messy cables all over the place and get them cleaned up and looking neat for just a few bucks.

See at Amazon

For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

17
Jul

Samsung Level On Pro wireless headphones review: Leave buttons and the noisy world behind


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Never leave home without headphones.

If I leave my phone at home, I’m gonna kick myself for forgetting. If I forget my headphones at home, I’m going back to get them every time. Headphones are the key to my sanity in a world of obnoxious coworkers, crying kids at the supermarket, and ridiculous noises. A good pair of headphones is as important as a good phone, because I’ll use the headphones just as much, if not more so.

I’ve bounced between different pairs of Bluetooth headphones for years, and while I initially had some misgivings about the Samsung Level On Pro Bluetooth headphones ($170), they’ve since won me over. Big and bulky though they may be, there’s a lot here to love… as long as you don’t mind giving up physical buttons.

Hardware

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The Samsung Level On Pro headphones look sleek, if a little generic. The two cups can be pulled out to adjust the fit for larger heads, but my more compact cranium fit the headphones without pulling out the cups and breaking up the clean profile.

The cups are wide, comfy, and even without active noise cancelling turned on they help block out a lot of ambient noise.

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The cups on the Samsung Level On Pro headphones don’t swivel as other headphones of this size and shape do, meaning that if you try to wear them around your neck between sessions they’re going to feel bulky and get in the way.

The headband is quite well-padded, though: I can listen for hours on end and feel no soreness where the headband sits.

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No buttons means having to rely on gestures, and they don’t always work reliably.

One thing you’ll rapidly notice on these headphones is the complete lack of buttons. There is a switch to turn on the headphones, and a switch to turn on the active noise cancelling, but that’s it. So, how do you pause your music? How do you turn up the volume?! The panel on the back of the right earcup is a capacitive touch panel. You double-tap the panel to pause/play music and to accept/end phone calls, and you swipe up/down/left/right to change tracks and volume.

It’s an adjustment, but once you’re used to it, things are quite smooth. If your headphones (or your whole head) are at an angle while listening, such as reclining in your favorite chair, then your commands can get mixed up. When listening with my head down on my desk, I frequently restarted a track instead of turning the volume up as I intended. Once you’ve adapted, though, that panel is oddly satisfying to use.

Sound

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One consequence of using cheap headphones for years and years: I can’t quite distinguish the finer notes of a headphones’ sound quality as some of my more audiophilic editors. These are the best headphones in my possession; they’re clear and crisp, the bass doesn’t get too muddy (not that I’m a big bass thumper), they keep their signal well across a room, and they block a decent amount of sound passively.

When active noise canceling is enabled, they can help me block out most of the harsh, noisy, volatile world, which makes me miss them terribly as I sit in a boisterous family gathering, or in a rowdy dive bar.

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I’m no audiophile, but these sound really, really good.

Using the Level On Pro headphones with a Samsung phone like my Galaxy S8 allows you to crank up some super special sound enhancements…. But I abandoned those quickly. They hurt more than they helped, if they made a difference at all. So if you’re not a Samsung user but are considering these headphones, relax: you’re not missing anything. Samsung user or not, when you get the Level On Pro headphones, you’ll want to install the Samsung Level app. It’ll allow you to tweak the headphones’ settings, and it’s the only way to know what the battery level is before the dreaded “low battery” chimes start going off.

Conclusion

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I’m enjoying every minute with the Samsung Level On Pro headphones. Active Noise Cancelling is amazing for blocking out crowd noise, kitchen noise, and whatever nonsense my family is chatting about.

If you’re looking for good Bluetooth headphones with good noise cancelling, an excellent fit and build quality, and aren’t quite as ridiculously expensive as the Bose QC 35 everyone seems to be in love with, it’s hard to go wrong with a quality brand like Samsung, especially when they’re half the price with just as many bells and whistles.

See at Amazon

17
Jul

Grab a 256GB SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick for its lowest price ever


Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with a great deal on SanDisk’s awesome wireless stick!

Flash drives have dropped big time in price over the recent years, and that’s great if you want something to be able to access from your computer. SanDisk’s Connect Wireless Stick is much more than a regular flash drive, as it’s designed to work with your phone, tablet, and computer, and right now you can pick up the 256GB version for just $128.95 at Amazon. This price sits around $15 cheaper than the previous low, and closer to $75 from its everyday price.

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Some of the features that make it stand out include:

  • The flash drive reinvented for your phone, tablet and computer
  • Wirelessly save and access your photos, videos and files
  • Collect and share up to 256GB
  • Stream HD videos and music to up to 3 devices at the same time
  • Connect wirelessly or simply plug into a USB port

With smartphones and tablets having limited space, odds are you don’t want to clutter them up with all your files. This is the best, and most portable, option for keeping more media, files, pictures, and music with you while on the go.

See at Amazon

For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

17
Jul

IPVanish VPN review: A rich set of features that also caters to novice users


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IPVanish has everything you love about a VPN, including a lack of user logs, a long list of servers, and features for advanced users.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are increasing in popularity due to the ever-eroding nature of online privacy. A VPN can be best described as an encrypted tunnel that protects your data as it moves between your device and the open internet. Not only that, it also helps keeps you anonymous while you go about your business.

Should I run a VPN on my Android phone?

There are many VPNs on offer, but that doesn’t mean they’re all equal. IPVanish is a leading VPN provider, thanks to a lack of log-keeping, a long list of servers, and snappy performance. Read on for more information about IPVanish and whether or not it’s right for you.

See at IPVanish

One of the first things you’ll look for when shopping for a VPN service is the price. IPVanish has three plans to choose from:

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A one-year plan to IPVanish is the cheapest deal you can get, costing $6.49 per month but billed annually at $77.99. If you don’t need a year’s worth of VPN — like if you’re taking a trip and need it for hostels and cafes — you can grab a three-month deal at $8.99 per month that’s billed once for $26.99.

Just want to give IPVanish a try? There’s a monthly subscription option that costs $10, and there’s a seven-day money-back guarantee that can be treated as a trial. There is, unfortunately, no lifetime plan available, something many of us look for when shopping a VPN.

Compared to other VPN services, IPVanish is priced somewhere in the middle. For example, you can grab a yearly subscription to Private Internet Access VPN for $3.33 per month, billed yearly at $39.95. That’s about half of what IPVanish costs. On the other hand, IPVanish is significantly cheaper than a yearly plan to ExpressVPN, which costs about $100.

IPVanish has a wide range of payment options, including credit card, Bitcoin, PayPal, and more, but most gift cards are not accepted, which is somewhat of a downer if you value anonymity throughout the entire process. If you’re looking for a completely anonymous transaction, be sure to go with Bitcoin.

Strong security, poor location

IPVanish security protocols

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IPVanish, like any good VPN service, takes security seriously, and they offer the full gamut of connection protocols. OpenVPN — both TPC and UDP — is used by default in the Android app, but for Chromebook, you’re stuck with either L2TP or IPSec, which are both capped at 128-bit AES encryption.

IPVanish treats their OpenVPN protocol properly, offering 256-bit AES encryption, authentication by means of SHA-256, and a handshake with RSA-2048. This is rock-solid protection and you should feel comfortable using it.

If you’re on Android, security comes first. On Chrome, it’s less of a priority.

On top of having a secure OpenVPN protocol, IPVanish provides users with a few extra options. You can choose which port to use for OpenVPN, and there’s a scramble option that effectively hides the fact that your traffic is encrypted. That’s a welcome option and not something you see from many other services.

The only downside that we can write about when it comes to IPVanish’s security is that the company itself is based in the United States. This might turn a lot of users away in favor of a VPN service located somewhere that doesn’t have such aggressive intelligence practices.

Laying it on thick

IPVanish features

This is a full-featured VPN that doesn’t skimp on speed or server options.

IPVanish has an impressive set of features that users can take advantage of. You can have five devices connected simultaneously to VPN servers, and you don’t have to worry about running out of bandwidth; you can use their service all you want without hitting a cap. Considering you can also configure a router with IPVanish, you’re effectively locking down a ton of other devices in your home.

There are more than 850 servers you can connect to in more than 60 countries, with more than 40,000 shared IP addresses. No matter where you are, you’re likely going to get a speedy connection. There’s also no limit on how many times you can switch servers in a set amount of time, so you can click around until you find a good speed.

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Some of the features that you’ll see settings for in the client include automatic IPv6 leak protection, automatic DNS leak protection, a kill switch that stops all traffic if the VPN goes down, and an automatic IP address changer that can be set to change at a timed interval of your choosing.

Rounding out the features is a SOCKS5 web proxy for VoIP, as well as the ability to torrent over the IPVanish network, something I’m sure many of you will love. Even if you’re using a P2P network for legal purposes, many outside entities have a hard time distinguishing between legal and illegal. It would be a shame to have your name on a list somewhere.

A note on IPVanish and Netflix. In my testing, I couldn’t get access to U.S. Netflix from where I’m located in Canada. If you’re looking at a VPN primarily for unblocking streaming services, look elsewhere.

Best intentions

IPVanish’s stance on user activity logs

IPVanish makes it clear in their privacy policy that they keep absolutely no logs. Yes, they might require your name, address, and email for billing purposes, but you can circumnavigate this by paying with Bitcoin.

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Because IPVanish is situated in the U.S., it’s hard to tell whether they’ll ever be pressured by an outside agency to cough up information. It seems that everything is currently running smoothly, but that could change without us knowing, and by that point, it would be too late.

Easy and intuitive

Setting up and using the IPVanish app

Getting everything set up on an Android device is painless. The app is readily available in the Play Store, and, assuming you’ve already created an account and purchased a subscription on the IPVanish website, all you need to do is log in. Note that Chromebook users will have to manually set things up, as there is no extension available.

The app is nicely-designed, but it’s set up for permanent night mode.

You’re greeted with a Quick Connect menu that has a large, green Connect button right in the middle, with some options below for choosing a country, a city, and a server. There is also information about your connection status, your real IP address, and your real location.

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The user interface is, by default, set to a dark or night view — text is white or green while the background is slate. I don’t mind this at all and enjoy seeing it from the start, but if you have a hard time reading the text this way, you’ll be disappointed that you can’t swap the colors around for a standard app view.

In most cases, I didn’t stray far from the Quick Connect menu because it has almost everything I need. However, when you really want to tweak your connection, you can head into the Server List menu, which contains a list of servers you can sort by country, city, or number of servers. You can also search through the servers if you have one in mind.

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Finally, there is a filter tab where you can nail down a collection of servers based on connection protocol, country, and latency. This helps if you’re an advanced user and really know what you want, but can be pretty much ignored by most novice VPN users.

Overall, the IPVanish client is about as easy as they come. If you’re a novice user, you can stick with the Quick Connect menu and trust that your connection is secured, but there are also a bunch of settings that can be quickly changed behind the scenes, something advanced users will love.

Make it snappy

IPVanish speed and performance

IPVanish doesn’t put any limits on bandwidth, so you don’t have to worry about hitting a cap and having everything slow down. IPVanish claims they deliver the best VPN speeds, so we put it to the test.

Using a Wi-Fi connection on my Samsung Galaxy Note 5, I used Ookla’s Speedtest app to test with and without IPVanish enabled. I tried a domestic connection in Canada, a close international connection in the U.S., and finally a far international connection in Australia. An OpenVPN (UDP) protocol was used.

First test (Mid-morning)

No VPN 19 ms 23.46 Mbps 2.82 Mbps
IPVanish recommended server (Canada) 69 ms 19.00 Mbps 2.87 Mbps
IPVanish recommended server (United States) 99 ms 25.56 Mbps 3.08 Mbps
IPVanish recommended server (Australia) 420 ms 0.85 Mbps 7.71 Mbps

Second test (Late afternoon)

No VPN 19 ms 16.09 Mbps 2.81 Mbps
IPVanish recommended server (Canada) 114 ms 15.13 Mbps 2.70 Mbps
IPVanish recommended server (United States) 112 ms 17.52 Mbps 2.90 Mbps
IPVanish recommended server (Australia) 406 ms 0.43 Mbps 2.73 Mbps

As you can see from the results above, speeds varied depending on the time of day and, more drastically, the location of the server. I tested the Australian server a few times, and the results were wildly inconsistent. There seemed to be almost no bandwidth for downloads, and, at times, relatively high speeds for uploads. Testing on other platforms did not draw the same odd results.

Connecting to or switching between servers is snappy. It takes no longer than a couple of seconds to connect, which can’t be said for many other VPN providers. While in my testing it might not have the actual fastest speeds when connecting through the recommended servers, there are many factors that contribute — my location, the location of the Ookla server, and the load on the VPN server all come into account. I don’t think the claim of having the best VPN speeds would hold up under heavy scrutiny — especially with the odd results when connecting overseas — but overall I was pleased with the performance when I kept to my own continent.

Help yourself

IPVanish customer service

When it comes to getting help with any problems, you have two options. You can search through an extensive library of guides and how-tos on the IPVanish website, or you can send an email directly to support staff. I sent a test email with a phony problem, and I received an answer faster than I was expecting.

There is no live chat option, so don’t expect a quick conversation, but, in my experience, you should have someone helping you out within an hour.

IPVanish review conclusion

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Not only is IPVanish’s Quick Connect menu suitable for novice users, there’s also a host of settings in the background that advanced users will love. There are over 850 servers in more than 60 countries, and you’ll be using one of 40,000 shared IP addresses. Tack on a lack of log keeping and secure connection protocols, and you have a very strong option. The only thing that makes me wary about IPVanish is their primary U.S. location.

Pros

  • Strong encryption.
  • Works on plenty of devices, including Tomato routers.
  • Good performance…most of the time.
  • Lots of servers in lots of countries.

Cons

  • Located in the U.S.
  • No live support.
  • Odd performance on some servers.

See at IPVanish

17
Jul

Best Replacement Watch Bands for Samsung Gear S3


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What are the best third-party watch bands for Samsung Gear S3?

The Samsung Gear S3 is one of our favorite smartwatches, and a great alternative to many of the Android Wear watches out there. The Gear S3 supports standard 22mm watch bands, making it really easy to upgrade with something new.

Here are a few of the best third-party watch bands to consider once you pick up your brand new Samsung Gear S3!

  • ArtStyle nylon strap
  • EloBeth Milanese Magnetic Loop Strap
  • Rerii leather band
  • TRUMiRR Milanese stainless steel band
  • Barton silicone band
  • Ritche stainless steel watch band

ArtStyle nylon strap

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Keep things simple, fun, and functional with the ArtStyle watch band made from a sturdy nylon material and a durable metal buckle! The ArtStyle nylon strap is easily adjustable and is hypoallergenic, making it the perfect band to wear if you have sensitive skin.

The material from this particular band is also breathable and waterproof on top of being extremely comfortable to wear day-to-day.

On top of the ArtStyle’s practical design, the watch strap comes in a ton of different, bright colors, including red, blue/yellow, black, black/gray, navy blue, gray, khaki, orange, army green, black/blue, black/green/red, black/gray/blue, black/gray/orange, black/gray/green, black/red for only around $9.

See at Amazon

EloBeth Milanese Magnetic Loop Strap

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If you’re someone who struggles with putting on your Samsung Gear S3 with one hand, or if you simply want a little bit of additional security when you’re sporting your S3, then the EloBeth Milanese Magnetic Loop Strap might be a good option to take a peek at.

The strong, magnetic clasp keeps this around-$10 watch band tight around your wrist, and can easily be adjusted to fit almost any wrist type, so if you have especially larger or smaller wrists, this band might be a great option for you.

The EloBeth Milanese Magnetic Loop Strap is made out of a high-end stainless steel that’s perfect for day-to-day wear, and if there are any issues with the band, you have an 18-month warranty to fix any issues.

You can pick up the EloBeth Milanese Magnetic Loop Strap in black, gold, rose gold, or silver finishes.

See at Amazon

Rerii leather band

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There’s nothing more simple and stylish than a classic leather watch band, and Rerii nails it with their affordable 22mm leather band that the Samsung Gear S3! Made from a high quality and sturdy yet lightweight and soft leather, the Rerii watch band comes with an easy-to-buckle stainless steel clasp, making it the perfect day-to-day band.

Unlike some other watch straps, the Rerii’s design is super simple and void of all logos, so it’s perfect for people who want a classic-looking smartwatch accessory.

The Rerii leather band also comes in a number of vibrant, eye-catching colors, like black, brown, coffee, black with white stitching, brown with white stitching, or coffee with white stitching for around $13.

See at Amazon

TRUMiRR Milanese stainless steel band

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The Milanese look has been a staple with traditional watch designs for decades, so incorporating the TRUMiRR Milanese stainless steel band might be the perfect fit if that’s the particular style you’re after.

This 22mm watch band is designed with a mesh, woven, stainless steel wire, and is adjustable for a variety of wrist sizes, so you never have to be uncomfortable while sporting your Samsung Gear S3 — and for $21, that’s quite the steal!

To attach and detach your watch band, all you need to do is release a small spring bar, minimizing annoying tools. The TRUMiRR may not come in a ton of colors, but it does come in a shiny silver or a clean, classic black design.

See at Amazon

Barton silicone band

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After garnishing its fair share of positive reviews online and coupled with an easy-release design, vibrant colors, comfortable feel, and much more, the Barton silicone band is a great option to check out while you’re customizing your Samsung Gear S3.

The Barton silicone watch band is designed with a textured back, making the slipping and sliding of most smooth silicone bands a thing of the past. The silicone design also makes it a great tool for working out, as you can easily remove and wash it if it starts to look dirty or stink.

To change your watch band, simply turn the band over and flip the switch — no tools are required! You can pick your Barton band from a number of vibrant colors, including black, white, turquoise, forest green, brown, gray, burgundy, yellow, navy blue, orange, peach, dark gray, and baby blue for around $17.

See at Amazon

Ritche stainless steel watch band

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The Ritche 22mm stainless steel watch band is an affordable, high quality strap that keeps your Samsung Gear S3 looking classic and clean without any clutter or useless accents of other watch bands.

Unlike some other straps, the Ritche cannot be adjusted to fit individual wrists with a simple tightening system; rather, users will have to remove the links near the band’s clasps in order to make the stainless steel Samsung Gear S3 accessory smaller. You can pick up this band for around $48.

To remove the Ritche, you will have to use a small tool which comes with the band. The Ritche only comes in one color, silver, but if you’re looking for a watch with a similar style in a different color, then we suggest taking a peek at the Vetoo.

See at Amazon

Your pick?

Is there a third-party watch band that you think would be perfect for the Samsung Gear S3? Drop a link in the comments with a brief description of why you like it so that others can check it out as well!

Updated July 2017: This list has been updated to include the EloBeth Milanese Magnetic Loop Strap. If you have any additional suggestions, please let us know!

17
Jul

Ataribox will come in two suitably retro editions


Just over a month since its announcement at E3, Atari is offering a proper look at its first console in over 20 years. In an email to fans, the company reveals the Ataribox will come in two editions, both of which pair a recognizably retro aesthetic with contemporary design flourishes.

As revealed in the teaser vid, one version of the Ataribox draws its design cues from the brown wood found on the original Atari 2600. The other edition comes in red and black with a glass front panel. Both will include ribbed lines that flow around the console’s body and a raised back. A front-facing logo and four indicator lights complete the design. On the back are included a HDMI port, four USB ports, and SD card support.

Although the company is keeping tight-lipped about the console’s specs, it sounds like it will be more than just a NES Classic for the Atari set. The latest info has it that the Ataribox will boast a mix of classic and contemporary titles. Then again, it could do a lot worse than aping Nintendo’s money-raking nostalgia cash-ins.

There’s still no word on pricing, release dates or games — things that might help drum up hype for the new hardware. Atari has a decent library of titles, too, stretching from arcade classic Centipede to this year’s Rollercoaster Tycoon Touch. The company has also been tight-lipped on who, if anyone, it will work with in the wider development community.

Atari believes that keeping quiet is the best policy for now, however, saying that it wants to nail its first console in two decades. “We know you are hungry for more,” said the email sent to customers. “We’re not teasing you intentionally; we want to get this right, so we’ve opted to share things step by step.” Atari fans are definitely a patient bunch, that’s for sure.

Source: Atari email (via Reddit)

17
Jul

Blanca Li dances with robots to better understand them


Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking are deeply concerned about AI, but the tech and its ramifications are poorly understood by the public. That disconnect prompted Blanca Li and her dance company to create a choreography for eight dancers called Robot. Produced with Softbank’s robotics division and Japanese artists Maywa Denki, it attempts to explore “the interactions between [humans and robots], in an absurd and poetic way.”

While you may not recognize 53-year-old Spaniard Blanca Li, you’ve no doubt seen her work. She has collaborated with Paul and Stella McCartney, Coldplay, Michel Gondry and Daft Punk, having choreographed the latter’s Around the World music video. In her early career, she was one of the first choreographers to work with hip hop music, put out a successful rap album with the pop group Xoxones and wore a leather Flamenco dress at a Paris cabaret as “Sara the MC.”

Robot — which debuted at the Festival Montpellier Danse in 2013, and has played ever since — is loaded with technology. On top of the multiple robots, it features wearable tech, images projected onto dancers, and the “nonsense” musical device orchestra by Maywa Denki.

Many of the dancers (and even the NAO robots) sport Maywa Denki’s signature powder blue coveralls. “The costume is designed as a typical working uniform of Japanese electric stores, symbolizing small/medium-sized enterprises that had once supported Japan’s economy during its high-growth period,” Maywa Denki’s website explains.

At various points in the show, a robot transforms into a human via projection tech, a disembodied hand beats out a tune, and five NAO robots in blue overalls perform with five dancers in Lost in Space-style robot costumes. Perhaps in homage to Li’s previous Paris job, a NAO robot in a sequinned suit and pink feather boa even belts out a Spanish torch tune in a cabaret.

Each mise-en-scene tries to pose larger questions: “Where are the borders between ‘us’ and ‘them?’ What kind of society will arise from it?” asks Blanca Li. “Can a machine, even an evolved one, replace relationships [with] the living? Will they be a reflection of what humanity unconsciously wants to represent?” If the highly original Robot is any indication, let’s hope so.

Via: The Atlantic

Source: Blanca Li Dance

17
Jul

UK to enforce porn site age checks from April 2018


For years the UK government has toyed with the idea of introducing compulsory age checks for online pornography. In May, all of that talk finally came to a head with the Digital Economy Bill, which forces websites hosting adult content to snuff out under-18s. (Or at least try to, because there’s always a way around such things.) Today, digital minister Matt Hancock announced that the new rule will come into effect next April. The exact implementation is still unclear, however. Forms that require your credit card details, or a check against the electoral roll have all been discussed, but we’re still none the wiser about how it will actually work.

In a written statement, Hancock admitted the scheme was “complex.” He also formalised the powers needed to appoint a regulator for the new law. The watchdog, which many assume will be the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), will be able to fine providers up to £250,000, or up to 5 percent of the turnover reported in their “most recent complete accounting period.” In a statement to the BBC, a BBFC spokesperson said: “We are already working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to ensure the effective implementation of the Act.”

Opinions are, unsurprisingly, split. Will Gardner, chief executive of internet safety charity Childnet said: “Steps like this to help restrict access, alongside the provision of free parental controls and education, are key.” The Open Rights Group, however, has warned about the privacy issues that could arise as a result. “The Government has repeatedly refused to ensure that there is a legal duty for age verification providers to protect the privacy of web users,” executive director Jim Killock said. “Age verification could lead to porn companies building databases of the UK’s porn habits, which could be vulnerable to Ashley Madison style hacks.”

Source: GOV.UK

17
Jul

Fly over Pluto and Charon in the latest NASA footage


The New Horizons spacecraft may have moved on from Pluto, making a long march to the Kuiper Belt, but we’re still deep in the process of analyzing the data it sent back. Now, for the spacecraft’s one-year anniversary of its Pluto flyby, NASA has released two new videos based on digital elevation models and New Horizons’ data of both Pluto and Charon.

The Pluto flyover begins in Sputnik Planitia, a nitrogen ice field bordered by craters on one side (Cthulhu Macula) and mountains on the other. It moves north to Voyager Terra, which are rugged highlands, and then sweeps over the pits and craters of Pioneer Terra. The flyover ends over Tartarus Dorsa.

The Charon flyover, meanwhile, surveys the canyon Serenity Chasma, before sweeping over Dorothy Gale crater and Mordor Macula, the dark polar hood of Charon. The flyover then moves south, covering an area called Oz Terra before ending at the Vulcan Planum plains and Clarke Montes mountains.

It’s important to note that the topographic features have been exaggerated in these videos to really give you an idea of what the landscape of Pluto and Charon are like. Additionally, NASA enhanced the colors of both dwarf planets’ surfaces.

Source: NASA

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