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Reddit might look a lot more like Facebook’s News Feed soon

Reddit has been talking about some serious design changes for awhile now (getting rid of CSS styling, for one), and now we have more information on what it might look like. In an interview with Recode, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman unveiled an early version of a new design that takes its cues from Facebook’s News Feed.

This redesign comes on the heels of (and is made possible by) a new round of funding for the front page of the Internet, which raised $200 million and brought the total valuation of the company to $1.8 billion. The homepage redesign, which involves rewriting all of its code from the ground up, is an attempt to make the site feel less musty and outdated. “Reddit feels old. We don’t want to be associated with old,” Huffman told Recode in an interview.

In order to support the redesign, Reddit has been hiring additional employees. The company began 2017 with 140 full-time staff and hope to double in size, ending the year with roughly 300 employees. They are also hoping to feature video more on the site. Up until now, Reddit has not supported video, but earlier this year, it introduced a beta feature allowing users to upload video. It’s possible that this is the first step towards introducing video advertising, though Huffman noted to Recode that making money is not Reddit’s top priority.

While this redesign hasn’t yet been implemented, it’s hard to imagine that the bulk of Reddit’s users will be happy with the visual changes Huffman is describing. While the intent is to improve the site’s aesthetics, it also changes the way users will interact with the site. There’s a reason that its devoted users rely on Reddit, rather than Twitter or Facebook, for discussion. While these measures are likely intended to bring in a new audience to the site, it’s likely its existing user base won’t be pleased with this overhaul to their community.

Via: Venture Beat

Source: Recode


Upgraded versions of the Moto G5 line are coming to the US this fall

We’ve been getting info about Motorola’s Moto G5S and G5S Plus phones for a little while, but now we have the official specs and general release dates. First up, the G5S, which has an all-metal body made from a single sheet of aluminum and a 5.2-inch HD display. The phone also comes with a 3,000mAh battery and TurboPower charging that, when your battery is almost tapped, can give you a five hour charge in just 15 minutes. The Moto G5S has a 16-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with an LED flash as well as a 1.4GHz octa-core processor.

The Moto G5S Plus also has an all-metal body and comes with 13-megapixel dual rear cameras with features like selective focus and replace background mode. The 8-megapixel front-facing camera has an LED flash and a new panoramic mode. The G5S Plus has a 5.5-inch display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.0GHz octa-core processor and a 3,000mAh battery. For this model, the TurboPower charger can get you up to six hours of battery life in 15 minutes.

Motorola says the two new phones will be available in Europe this month and they’re prices start at €249 and €299, or £220 and £260 in the UK. The phones will be released in the US this fall.

Source: Motorola


iOS app developers can now recruit up to 10,000 beta testers

You’ll now have a bigger chance of beta testing upcoming iOS, tvOS, watchOS and even iMessage apps from your favorite developers. Cupertino has expanded the number of beta testers devs can invite on TestFlight to a whopping 10,000 from a measly 2,000 people. The tech giant acquired TestFlight’s creator in 2014 to give its third-party developer community a simple way to invite testers before releasing their products on the App Store. All they need to send out invitations are email addresses, so they can easily solicit for help online if they’re looking for bugs or send previews to members of the press.

The beta testing app only used to be able to accommodate 1,000 public testers per project in its early days until Apple doubled that number a year later. 1 Infinite Loop is much more generous this time around, enabling app developers to get valuable feedback and bug reports from a bigger number and a wider variety of people.

Here’s the iPhone-maker’s announcement in full:

“Now you can gain even more valuable feedback by inviting up to 10,000 users to beta test your apps before you release them on the App Store. TestFlight makes it simple to invite testers using just their email address and lets testers quickly provide feedback within the TestFlight app.”

Via: 9to5mac

Source: Apple


Panasonic AI senses drowsy drivers and cranks up the AC

Until self-driving cars get a lot better, the only AI controlling them will be us. Since we’re imperfect, sleepy beings, however, Panasonic is using artificial intelligence in a different way: To detect when we’re drowsy and pull us back from dreamland. There’s a surprising amount of tech to that, including an infrared sensor, environment sensor, facial capture camera and “thermal sensation” system that activates the car’s AC or alarms if all else fails.

Panasonic came up with five different levels of potential drowsiness: not drowsy at all, slightly drowsy, drowsy, very drowsy and seriously drowsy (their terms). The system aims to figure out exactly where you are on that scale and take the appropriate measures.

To do so, the camera uses AI facial recognition to detect eyeblinks and expressions. If your eyelids droop and the speed of your blinks slow down drastically, for instance, you’re likely on a level five journey to sleepyville. All told, it can detect around 1,800 facial expressions and blink parameters related to drowsiness.

The infrared sensor, meanwhile, can tell how fast you’re losing heat regardless of how much clothing you’re wearing. If heat loss levels are higher, generally a driver will become drowsy more quickly. Furthermore, if it’s dark rather than light, you’ll also tend to get sleepy over a shorter period of time.

To counter that, the system adjusts lighting, airflow and temperature based on how drowsy it thinks you are. The system doesn’t want to freeze you out, though, so, Panasonic worked with Nara Women’s University to calculate your “thermal sensation,” the ideal level of airflow, light and warmth needed to keep you “comfortably awake,” Panasonic says.

Unlike other systems, it works silently in the background so that drivers don’t even notice they’re being monitored. Rather, you’ll (hopefully) just feel generally more awake during the trip, unless you try to pull off a 20-hour all-night trip. In that case, it’ll rightfully tell you to pull the hell over so you don’t endanger yourself and others. Panasonic plans to make their system available to automakers by October, and it might come to your favorite car model sometime after that.


FIFA’s tech ‘experiments’ drag soccer into the modern age

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. It may not be as big as American football, baseball or basketball in the US– at least not yet– but there’s a much larger interest in it here now than five or 10 years ago. One of the problems with soccer is that, unlike pro sports organizations such as the NFL, NBA or MLB, it has never been quick to adopt new technology. For decades FIFA, the sport’s governing body, opposed cutting-edge ideas that could keep referees from making the wrong calls. “We shall rely on human beings,” former FIFA President Sepp Blatter said in 2002. “Players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes and yes, sometimes referees make mistakes. But football is passion, football is emotion. Football has a human touch.”

Blatter, whose FIFA term lasted 17 years until he resigned in 2015, added back then, “In my opinion, as long as I am in charge I will make sure no technical help will be introduced.” But things have obviously changed since he made these statements. Fifteen years later, Blatter’s no longer at the helm — he stepped down over a corruption scandal. Still, along the way he seemingly changed his views on technology and greenlit two projects that FIFA hopes will usher soccer into a new era: GLT and VAR, short for goal-line technology and video assistant referee, respectively.


Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

The driving force behind these changes is the International Football Association Board, whose mission is to “serve the world of football as the independent guardian of the laws of the game.” IFAB is headquartered in Zurich, the same place as FIFA, and is responsible for ensuring there are principles, practicalities and protocols in place for GLT and VAR. And even though professional soccer leagues aren’t required to use these technologies, it’s imperative that there’s a set of standards in place should they choose to do so.

In 2012, IFAB approved approved testing for GLT, which consists of a set of electromagnetic antennas around the goal posts that are complemented by six to eight high-speed cameras that shoot at 500 frames-per-second. The system, developed by Hawk-Eye Innovations, a Sony-owned company, determines when a ball crosses the goal line in its entirety, then transmits that information to a watch referees wear. Had this technology been in place years ago, many moments in soccer history might have had a different outcome. Remember 2010 World Cup, when England’s Frank Lampard had a goal disallowed because the referees on the field missed the ball crossing the line? Poor England.

FIFA tested goal-line technology for the first time in an official tournament at the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, after two years of internal trials. It went so well that today some of the most important leagues around the globe are using the tech, including England’s Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga, France’s Ligue 1, Italy’s Serie and the Netherlands’ Eredivisie. GLT has also been used at the international level, during the 2014 World Cup Brazil, when France became the first team to benefit from the system at FIFA’s elite event. A referee originally ruled no goal on a shot from French player Karim Benzema, but the decision was changed after checking the goal-line technology system.

Goal Line Technology Testing - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015

A test of goal-line technology.

Video assistant referee, meanwhile, is exactly what its name suggests. If there’s a questionable play on the field, referees are able to check a video replay to help them make the right call. The caveat is that not everything can be reviewed in games, only the following:

  • Goal/no goal decisions
  • Penalty/no penalty decisions
  • Direct red cards (not second yellow cards)
  • Mistaken identity

VAR was approved for testing in official matches just last year, but it’s already been used during high-profile international tournaments like the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia last month. FIFA says it plans to use it during next year’s World Cup as well. And while it’s great to see FIFA finally embracing technology, it’s hard to believe it took it so long to implement something as elementary as video replays. The NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB, began experimenting with it in 1991, 1999, 2002 and 2008, respectively.

“Football has been fairly reluctant to introduce technology because it has to be applicable everywhere, in professional football, also in grass-roots football,” the secretary of IFAB, Lukas Brud, told Engadget. He says it wasn’t so much that IFAB or FIFA weren’t eager to bring tech into the game, but that they needed it to make sure the solutions available to them worked well in practice. And developing something that works for everyone takes time, especially because it involves not just the referees, coaches and players, but also broadcasters.

To help along the way, Brud says IFAB worked with the NBA, NFL and MLB to understand the benefits and challenges of using video replays to assist refs. He claims one of the key things he learned from visiting spots like the NBA’s Replay Center, a 2,300-square-foot facility that processes video from 29 basketball arenas and houses more than 100 replay monitors, was how to create something similar that would work for a sport as complex as soccer. FIFA oversees soccer in 211 nations, most of which have their own club leagues; there are also more than 15 international tournaments for men and women, including the World Cup.

With video replay, Brud says there’s no need to reinvent the wheel — IFAB and FIFA just have to adapt it for their own purposes. “People will still be emotional about referee decisions, but [they] will be happy that the scandals are over,” he says. “If you asked me three years ago [if] we would ever have video assistant referees, I would’ve said, ‘yes maybe in 60 years’ time,’ and look where we are now.” The next step after GLT and VAR, Brud says, will be creating a protocol to let players use tech wearables in games, which will allow coaches to monitor their heart-rate and other fitness data in real time.

Naturally, growing pains can be expected, and that was on full display during FIFA’s 2017 Confederations Cup. VAR came under scrutiny after it was called to action several times and, every time, caused confusion among players, managers and broadcasters. In large part, that’s because referees weren’t informing anyone what, exactly, was being reviewed, and on one occasion the wrong decision was made. Either way, the final call is always on the referees.


If you asked me three years ago [if] we would ever have video assistant referees, I would’ve said, ‘yes maybe in 60 years’ time,’ and look where we are now.

IFAB Secretary Lukas Brud

When Germany played Cameroon in that tournament, for instance, the ref used VAR to review a hard-foul play but ended up giving a red card to the wrong player, before correcting his decision after watching the replay again. Howard Webb, a world-renowned former English Premier League referee, says the biggest challenge with VAR will be ensuring that officials “see the match through the eyes of video assistant referee rather than through the lens of a referee,” which he says will help them know when it is appropriate to intervene in a game. Webb, who’s now the professional referee organization manager of VAR operations for MLS, will play a major role in ensuring everything goes smoothly when the league rolls out the tech on August 5th.

Major League Soccer is one of the 18 leagues around the world that has announced plans to support VAR. Most of them are choosing video assistant referee rather than goal-line technology because it requires fewer resources and infrastructure, according to Brud. He wouldn’t say how much the cost difference is, but each Hawk-Eye goal-line system costs roughly $330,000, while VAR can use existing traditional broadcast cameras and monitors in place at stadiums.

Above all, VAR is more flexible, because it’s able to assist referees with more than just calling goals. Jeff Agoo, MLS vice president of competition, says although MLS is an advocate of GLT, the league is betting video assistant referee will be more efficient. “Based on the number of key match-changing situations, we believed there to be a higher utilization rate than goal-line technology, which would only be used in a handful of games throughout the season,” he says. “We are confident that over time, video review will provide maximum benefit and minimum interference to improve the sport.”

Germany v England: 2010 FIFA World Cup - Round of Sixteen

“People will still be emotional about referee decisions, but [they] will be happy that the scandals are over.”

As helpful as VAR or GLT may be, there are are purists who believe technology will tarnish the sport. They fear games will slow down to a similar degree as those in the NBA, NFL or MLB — which typically last more than three hours, compared with two in soccer. But would you, as a fan, rather deal with wrong calls? It seems natural that people would welcome VAR and GLT with open arms, especially those whose teams have been on the wrong end of bad referee decisions at least once.

“There is only one reason and one reason alone soccer fans are reluctant to introduce any technological advancement into our game,” says former MLS player Kyle Martino, who is now an English Premier League analyst for NBC. Fear of change. “Like the person who still uses a Blackberry when the rest of us are interacting on devices that make life easier and more enjoyable,” he says, “purist soccer fans are willing to handicap the game to assuage their concerns that any change will take away what they already love rather than make what they love even better.”

Those naysayers will have to get used it, because technology in football is here to stay. Sure, it took IFAB and FIFA longer than others to join the 21st century, but at least they seem to be going in the right direction. And when, not if, in-game fitness wearables are approved, soccer may even end up being ahead of other sports. No one would’ve imagined that.


Trade in your Surface for a new one every 18 months

Microsoft is making it easier for customers to get their hands on the latest tech with its new Surface Plus financing options. Phone carriers have already tapped into the marketing potential of early upgrades: now you can buy a Surface device with a 24-month 0 percent interest payment plan and upgrade to the latest model after just 18 months (providing you return the existing device in good condition). The package includes dedicated tech support and Microsoft store benefits, such as Surface training sessions and a device health check.

The US-only program launches alongside Surface Plus for Business, a similar scheme that allows businesses to have a mix of Surface models (including the previously unavailable 55-inch Surface Hub) and gives them the option to upgrade after just 12 months on a 24-month contract. The deal also includes tech support, Office 365 for a reduced cost and flexible terms, letting businesses add to, or take away from, their device line-up mid-contract. Both programs launch today at at 12PM ET / 9AM PT.

Via: The Verge

Source: Windows Blog


Kuri robot will (hopefully) record your family’s precious moments

If you’re a parent, you probably dread the thought of missing an important moment in your child’s life. Do you really want to be in the other room when your little one takes those first steps? Mayfield Robotics thinks it can be there even when you can’t. It’s adding yet another feature to its upcoming Kuri home robot that will record moments independently. The tiny companion will use a mix of machine learning and image recognition to determine when it should start capturing video, using your preferences as a guide. Ideally, this will catch your kids’ playtime or an impromptu dance party without asking you to lift a finger — and the more it records, the more it should understand your tastes.

It’s easy to be skeptical of the Vision feature, since it’s hard to know just how well this will work or what Kuri will consider a video-worthy moment. Is it going to capture occasions you’ll cherish forever, or is it going to record your vacuuming? You can specify when and where Kuri is allowed to record, so it shouldn’t immortalize anything scandalous, but you may end up with a lot of mundane footage on your hands.

Still, it’s at least an intriguing idea. Home robots still represent a very young category, so their use cases still aren’t entirely clear. This could make your robot more useful at those times when it’s not waiting on your every word. And frankly, it’s not often that you see companies add features to a product with a lengthy wait until release — if anything, companies scale tend to scale things back when there’s a protracted launch.

Source: Kuri Blog


SNES Classic will be available for pre-order this month, honest

The SNES Classic has already had a tumultuous history, and it was only officially announced last month. But now, Nintendo has confirmed (really for real) that the system will actually (really) be available for pre-order later in August.

Rumors swirled around the SNES Classic after its older brother, the NES Classic, was abruptly discontinued even though it was incredibly popular. Its existence was finally confirmed in late June, scheduled to release on September 29, and Walmart began taking pre-orders for the retro console. However, the retailer canceled all orders late last month, blaming a “technical glitch” for making the console available ahead of its on-sale date.

But now, Nintendo has assured anxious customers that the console does indeed exist and there will be pre-orders for it. The on-sale date is still September 29, with 21 games — including Star Fox 2, which was never released. It will cost $80. Nintendo hopes to avoid the shortages that faced the NES Classic this time around, promising to ship more of the product than last year’s console. That being said, it looks like the SNES Classic might only be produced in 2017 — their Facebook posts says units will ship “throughout the balance of the calendar year” — so if you’re desperate to get your hands on one, you should probably pre-order as soon as you can.

Source: Nintendo


Hollywood’s favorite video editing tools arrive in a free app

If you’re serious about video editing and are weighing up your software options, two choices usually pop up: Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Final Cut Pro X (FCPX). But Avid, Hollywood’s go-to editing company, just played a wild card by releasing Media Composer First, a limited version of its pro software, for the hard-to-resist price of “free.” I’m well acquainted with Avid, and have used Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro since they first launched. I was excited to try out MC First to figure out if I’d recommend it, and the answer is a qualified yes — I like it, but it’s not for everyone.

Avid’s Media Composer was the first widely-used “non-linear” editing system that let you make video edits instantly and non-destructively. To suit its original feature film and TV market, Avid developed it to be fast for cutting and allow for powerful footage organization. Nowadays, it’s a complete tool for finished effects, color correction, titles and audio, as Avid also owns Pro Tools, the standard for professional audio production.

The new free version, Media Composer First, mirrors Avid’s expensive software in most ways that count. “We’ve been showing Media Composer First to Hollywood film and TV editors and they all asked the same question: “What isn’t in Media Composer First? This works just like my Media Composer,” Avid’s Matt Feury told No Film School.

However, it has limitations that could give you pause, especially if you work with high-res video or a lot of video and audio tracks. You’ve got just five bins, four video tracks and eight audio tracks to work with, and exports are limited to Quicktime H.264 or DNxHD (an Avid format) at 1080p 59.94 fps max — so no 4K. Almost any type of input footage, including 4K or UltraHD is allowed, however.

Avid MC First has powerful bins and editing tools, but a steep learning curve (Avid)

Some users have also reported that Avid MC First can barely chug along on older computers, so you may have to adjust the settings for your machine. Another annoyance is that you must log into the Avid Application Manager each time you start up your PC.

Avid MC First, like Adobe Premiere, is Mac- and PC-agnostic, whereas FCPX requires a Mac. Unlike Premiere Pro CC and FCPX, though, Avid’s video editor is not exactly intuitive to learn.

With projects, sequences and bins, the overall workflow is similar to other systems. However, menus are often buried, making it tricky to figure out how to do simple things like rename bins without checking the 1,700-page PDF guide. For instance, I couldn’t figure out how to set the project resolution and frame-rate until I realized it’s done automatically when you drop your first clip into the timeline.

The editing logic is also quite different from Premiere Pro and FCPX (which themselves are much different from each other). On the one hand, you have the drag-and-drop style of Premiere Pro and equally visual “magnetic timeline” of FCPX. Avid, however, leans heavily on keyboard shortcuts and powerful, but tricky-to-learn techniques. Those include split edits (editing audio and video separately), match frame cuts and “slipping and sliding” — a way to quickly adjust the head and tail or position of a clip.

One of MC First’s strongest point is its bins, which help you organize complex projects with lots of media. While that makes it great for documentaries, TV shows or films, it’s overkill for personal, business or YouTube videos.

Effects-wise, MC First has nearly everything the big program has. That includes one of the better color correctors out there (Finesse, above), audio tools and effects, timewarp slo-mo control, a stabilizer, multicam editing, titles, plugins and more. However, each of those is missing some settings and features compared to the paid version, unsurprisingly — for instance, there are no curves or channels available for color correction and no fluid motion timewarp, which is a bummer.

So who needs this? If you’re serious about editing, have lots of footage, and don’t need more than four video channels, Avid is worth a try. Once you grasp them, the editing tools make a lot of sense, and it’s easier to keep your media organized than with other apps. As it’s been on the market for over 20 years, Media Composer also has a reputation for being stable and relatively crash free.

If you’re a film student or enthusiast and thinking about becoming a professional film editor, then you really need to consider getting MC First. With few exceptions, most film and television shows are cut on Avid, because it can easily handle and share complex video and audio assets and even sync up scenes with lines in a script (the latter option isn’t available in MC First).

In my estimation, anyone that masters Avid’s free editor will have a very short learning curve to the paid app. Learning FCPX and Premiere Pro CC is also nice, but Apple, and to a lesser extent Adobe, aren’t used widely in the high-end pro market. So, knowing those apps won’t likely get you a gig editing for Scorcese or Nolan.

If the average consumer downloads Avid’s MC First, they may get discouraged with the learning curve and give up quickly. That’s too bad, because it is a powerful, stable editor. In any case, Avid may not care about Mom and Pop video makers — instead, it is pursuing serious folks looking at a future film career, in the hopes of not losing future market share to Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X. With a free and relatively powerful version of its big software, it should at least grab your attention.


Twelve South Releases BookBook Case For Latest MacBook and MacBook Pro Models

Twelve South today announced the release of its BookBook case for all 12-inch MacBook and 2016 and later MacBook Pro models.

BookBook essentially disguises a MacBook or MacBook Pro as a vintage hardback book, while protecting the notebook with reinforced corners and a new, stronger crush-resistant spine. The outside is crafted from premium oil-pull up leather, while the inside is lined with a velvety soft microfiber material.

The new BookBook has a hidden compartment for hiding a few documents below the MacBook. BookBook also has two elastic bands on the inside cover of the case, which can be slipped over the corners of the MacBook’s screen. Then, when the BookBook is opened, the MacBook screen will open too.

BookBook, one of the more popular MacBook cases over the past six years, is available now on Twelve South’s website. It costs $79.99 for all 12-inch MacBook and 2016 and later MacBook Pro models with free U.S. shipping available. BookBook remains available for other MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models as well.

Tags: Twelve South, BookBook
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