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18
Feb

How to deal with Blu-Ray problems on PlayStation 4


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Blu-Ray won’t give you problems today

Watching a movie on your PlayStation 4 is great, right until it isn’t. For some reason, the BD-Live option on many PlayStation 4 units has a habit of giving your Blu-Ray player a bit of trouble. It’s not the source of every problem, but when it crops up it can be difficult to troubleshoot.

Thankfully, we have found a few solutions for you to try based on what you think is best for your compatibility.

Checking out BD-Live

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This is a feature on your PlayStation 4 that will allow internet access options to become available on certain Blu-Ray Disks. The requirements for using this feature are 1 GB of internal storage and an internet connection. When enabled it will download extra content for your movie, even if it was released after the movie was.

You’re familiar with the “Extras” disk that came with a lot of your DVD movies growing up, yes? Things like deleted scenes, background scenes and bloopers are the types of content that will be downloaded. Only certain Blu-Rays, like “Transformers” and “So I married an Axe Murderer” even have these features.

Trouble-Shooting a Blu-Ray issue

Well, unfortunately, BD-Live is an almost dead feature for Blu-Ray disks and more often times than not causes more problems than good content. If you’ve put in your favorite Blu-Ray movie and you’re getting nothing but black screen chances are this forgotten feature is trying to look for content in your movie that doesn’t exist. In this case, you have a few options for making sure you can play your movies without being guilted by the BD-Live ghost.

Turn off BD-Live and forget about it

If you don’t care about the features BD-Live offers (on the occasional movie it even exists on) chances are you accidentally opted into the experience not knowing what it was. That’s okay, there is a way to turn it off through the settings menu.

While your Blu-Ray disc is actively playing (even if it’s just a blank screen) press the options button on your controller.
Select Settings.
Select Video Playback Settings.
Opt to turn off BD-Live.

Turn off your internet

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If you’re someone who’s super into movies and has Blu-Rays that play BD-Live content and don’t feel like constantly having to go back and forth between your settings there’s a different solution. Un-Plug your ethernet cable or simply disable your Wi-Fi for the duration of your movie.

If there’s no internet for the feature to work off of. it won’t interfere with the playback.

Did this fix your issue?

If there is a movie that you know uses BD-Live you enjoy tell us about it! Are you experiencing any other issues with your Blu-Ray player for the PlayStation 4?

PlayStation 4

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  • PS4 vs. PS4 Slim vs. PS4 Pro: Which should you buy?
  • PlayStation VR Review
  • Playing PS4 games through your phone is awesome

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18
Feb

Now’s the perfect time to get into PlayStation VR with these big price drops


Take advantage of these deals while they last.

If you just want to get into the PlayStation virtual reality world, you can start with the standalone headset at its lowest price since Black Friday, just $199.99 at B&H. It’s normally $300, and this price will only last through March 3.

Dive into the deep end of PlayStation VR with some of the bigger bundles on sale as well. For example, the Doom VR Bundle includes the headset, the PlayStation camera, and the virtual reality version of Bethesda’s shooter, Doom. It’s on sale for $299 from a street price around $350.

The PlayStation VR Skyrim bundle is down to $349 from $400. It includes two PlayStation Move controllers along with the game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR.

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The headset features a 5.7-inch OLED 1080p display and runs up to 120 frames per second. The 3D audio technology allows you to pinpoint sounds above, below, and all around you making your experience that much more realistic.

The LEDs around the PlayStation VR headset, on the DualShock 4 wireless controller, and the PlayStation Move motion controller are tracked by the PlayStation Camera, capturing your exact natural movement in virtual space.

See on B&H

18
Feb

Get the $40 Gaiam Evolve Balance Board for Standing Desks at its lowest price ever


Wobble wobble.

Amazon has the Gaiam Evolve Balance Board for Standing Desk on sale for $40.49. This is a match of its lowest price ever and down from its usual selling price of $70.

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This balance board is fit for offices with standing desks, clerks, cashiers, and anyone who stands for long periods of time. The rocking motion creates a low-impact movement that engages your muscles in the back, core, legs, and ankles. The design is ergonomic and promotes neutral positioning with a non-slip texture is secure on hard floors and carpet. It has received 3.9 out of 5 stars based on 68 customer reviews.

See on Amazon

18
Feb

After Math: Market fluctuations


It’s been a volatile week for us all, what with the stock market’s unpredictable undulations, the US Senate’s DACA drama, the Olympics hacking and whatever other craziness that’s sure to happen between the time I file this post and Sunday morning. It was pretty wild for the tech industry as well. Turns out that Apple’s HomePod seemingly secretes wood-marking oils, Sony announced it’ll cut the price of its VR headset by a third, and Netflix continued its spending spree, blowing $300 million on the guy who brought us “Glee.” Numbers, because how else are you going to count stuff?

$40: YouTube TV is already a solid option for people looking to cut ties with their cable company and it’s only getting better. Google announced this week that it’s expanding its channel lineup with stations from Turner Broadcasting, NBA TV, MLB TV, and a few others. Only problem is that the $35 service is bumping up $5 come March 13th, but only for new customers so if you want in, you’ve got a month to pull the trigger.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Writer John Gray, actor Sarah Paulson and actor Ryan Murphy attends the FOX Broadcasting Company, FX, National Geographic And Twentieth Century Fox Television's 68th Primetime Emmy Awards after Party at Vibiana on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

$300 million: That’s how much Netflix paid for the services of one Ryan Murphy, producer of shows like Glee, Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story and Scream Queens, for a multi-year agreement. Does Netflix not realize how many perfectly good human souls you could buy for that sort of cash?

20 minutes: That’s how long it takes for Apple’s HomePod to burn a noticeable ring into your desktop. No, your literal desktop, not your computer’s desktop. The solution: Apple recommends either refinishing the furniture that their product damaged or shell out $20 for a leather coaster. Because Apple products “just work.”

$1,000: That’s how much Magic Leap’s AR headset will likely retail for when it becomes available sometime in the near future. That’s a steep price for the ability to watch classic NBA games as if you were Gulliver in Lilliputia. Just, please, seriously, I’m begging you, don’t wear them in public.

$200: Sony is dropping $100 off the price on its PSVR headset to help boost the accessory’s adoption. Plus, Sony will throw in a copy of Gran Turismo Sport and the camera necessary to play it. That’s not a bad deal if you’re really into virtual vehicle racing. Hit me up when the VR experience comes to Monster Hunter World.

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 08:  An visitor wears a Vive virtual reality (VR) headset, manufactured by HTC Corp during the 'Virtuality Paris 2018' show on February 08, 2018 in Paris, France. The second edition of Virtuality Paris, the virtual reality fair, will be held in Paris from 08 to 10 February 2018  (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

$9: Last spring HTC introduced a subscription service enabling its Vive users to rent up to five VR titles per month at a cost of $7. The company announced this week that the price is going up by another two bucks on March 22nd. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

$2,500: Maybe you’re the outdoorsy type that wants to film their adventures but don’t want to run around with a controller in your hands. Maybe you’ve got nearly three grand burning a hole in your pocket. Maybe you want to check out this fully autonomous camera drone from Skydio.

18
Feb

The best portable SSD


By Justin Krajeski

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

After researching 28 external solid-state drives and testing the four most promising contenders in 2017, we found that the best portable SSD is the 500 GB Samsung T5 Portable SSD. Samsung’s solid-state drives work reliably, and the T5 was consistently speedier than the competition in our benchmark tests. It supports faster USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds, too.

Who this is for

Portable hard drives are great for travel and for people who frequently transfer large amounts of data between computers. Compared with portable hard drives or desktop external drives, they’re much faster, more compact, more durable, and more secure, and run at cooler temperatures, but they’re also more expensive.

How we picked and tested

A great external SSD should be reliable, fast, and small. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Here’s what you should look for in a portable solid-state drive:

  • Reliability: A portable SSD must keep your data safe.
  • Toughness: Because portable SSDs lack moving parts, they are less susceptible to total failure when dropped or jostled than mechanical drives. A portable SSD should also be sturdily built, and not feel creaky or hollow.
  • Durability: Flash memory cells can be written to only so many times before wearing out. You’d have to write hundreds of terabytes of data to even begin wearing out the drive, though, and very few people will ever get near that limit.
  • Drive speed: Speed is the reason you’re spending a lot more for a portable SSD over a portable or external desktop hard drive. We tested both sequential and random speeds.
  • Connection type: We considered both USB-A and USB-C models in this review, at speeds of USB 3.0 or faster.
  • Price: More expensive portable SSDs can offer faster speeds, but you don’t want to overpay to get extra speed or other features you may not notice.
  • Capacity: We think a capacity around 500 GB for about $200 currently represents the best mix of affordability, space, and speed for most people.
  • Size and weight: A portable SSD should be light and compact—many are roughly the size of a stack of sticky notes, or even smaller.
  • Encryption: Portable SSDs that support the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) can more reliably protect your sensitive information, but not all portable SSDs offer this feature.
  • Software: Backup software is a nice addition, but it’s not essential.
  • Warranty and customer service: Three-year warranties are standard among portable solid-state drives, and strong customer service is always valuable.

We investigated the most popular portable solid-state drives on Amazon, and scoured the websites of well-known external SSD manufacturers. We then researched each of the 28 models we found by reading reviews from trusted editorial sources and customer reviews, ultimately calling in four finalists. We tested each drive’s sequential and random speeds, and evaluated its build quality and included software. Please see our full guide to Portable SSDs to learn more about our testing process.

Our pick

Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

The 500 GB Samsung T5 Portable SSD is the best portable solid-state drive for most people because it’s reliable, fast, reasonably priced, and compact. At around $200, or 40¢ per gigabyte, it costs about as much per gigabyte as most SSDs—many of which are slower and larger. The T5 has a single USB-C port that supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds and includes both a USB-C–to–USB-C cable and a USB-C–to–USB-A cable. It also comes with software that was the easiest to use of the drives we tested and AES 256-bit hardware encryption to protect your data. Plus, it has a handy indicator light so you know when it’s connected and actively transferring data, and it comes with a three-year warranty.

When plugged into a USB 3.0 port, the 500 GB Samsung T5 gave us sequential read and write speeds of 409.8 MB/s and 423.6 MB/s, respectively, about as fast as the competition. Using a Thunderbolt 3 port, it was even faster—462.2 MB/s and 493.3 MB/s, respectively. Its random speeds were faster than any of the competition, too.

More storage: 1 TB Samsung T5 Portable SSD

If you need double the storage and you’re willing to spend around twice as much, we recommend the 1 TB Samsung T5 Portable SSD. Because higher-capacity solid-state drives often provide slightly improved performance, we expect the 1 TB to be a little faster than the 500 GB Samsung T5 (even though we tested only the 500 GB capacity). At around $400, it costs about the same per gigabyte as the 500 GB version, with the same dimensions, features, and warranty.

Runner-up

Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

If our pick is sold out or unavailable, we recommend the 512 GB Western Digital My Passport SSD for around the same price. In our tests, the My Passport SSD was about 30 to 60 MB/s slower than the Samsung T5, but it was faster than the other two solid-state drives we tested. Like the Samsung T5, it has a USB-C port and supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds. The My Passport SSD is even thinner and lighter (but longer) than the T5, though not by much. Its software is as simple to use as the Samsung’s, and it has hardware encryption as well. The My Passport SSD has a three-year warranty but lacks an indicator light.

Plugged into a USB 3.0 port, the My Passport SSD had sequential read and write speeds of 387 MB/s and 383.9 MB/s, respectively. Although these are respectable speeds, they reflect the slower side of the four solid-state drives we tested. When we plugged the My Passport SSD into a Thunderbolt 3 port, though, it was faster than every drive except the Samsung T5.

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

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

18
Feb

How to design and order Google Photo Books


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This year, give the gift of memories.

Smartphones cameras just keep getting better, and you’ve probably taken a few photos over the years that you want to commit to memory forever. Sure, you can post them on social media or get individual prints at your local convenience store, but there’s nothing like a nice photo book to organize all of your favorite shots in one place.

Luckily, Google makes it easy to order customized books through its Photos backup service. Whether you’re using the website or the app on your phone, it just takes a few minutes to create something special.

  • How to create a Photo Book
  • How to configure your book
  • How to order the book

How to create a Photo Book

Much like backing up images to Google Photos, creating a Photo Book is actually pretty simple.

In the Google Photos app, swipe over from the left side of the screen (or tap the overflow button) in the upper left corner.
Tap Photo books.
In the Photo Books menu, you can choose from suggested books or albums, or tap start a book to choose your own photos.

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Keep in mind that you can only choose from images in your Google Photos library. If you want to add other images, you’ll need to back them up to Google Photos first.

How to configure your book

Once you’ve selected the photos you want to include, have a scroll through the pages of your book. It’s time to organize and configure your book.

Press and hold on any image in the list to enter the editing screen.
Drag photos around to rearrange the list to your liking, or tap the X in the upper right corner of a photo to remove it from the book.
Once you’re happy with the layout, tap the checkmark in the upper left corner of the screen.
You can change the layout of individual pages, as well. Tap an image, then select your preferred crop — you can use the entire image or punch in and fill the page.

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How to order the book

Once you’re happy with the layout, it’s time to set it in stone. Well, paper anyway.

Tap the shopping cart icon in the bottom right corner.
You can choose from either a 7″ softcover or a 9″ hardcover. Both include up to 20 pages for a flat rate, then charge per additional page afterwards; $0.35 and $0.65, respectively.
Once you’ve chosen a book, tap Select.
Select the quantity, add a gift message if desired, and tap Checkout to complete your order.

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That’s it! Once you tap Checkout, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Google, and a followup with shipping details shortly afterwards. Once it arrives, share it with your friends and enjoy your new photo book!

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18
Feb

Mattel’s ‘Jurassic World’ dino-bots are surprisingly realistic


Mattel’s last Kamigami STEM robot was an adorable DIY lady bug. Now, the toy company is aiming for something bigger with its new Jurassic World bots. You’ll still have to put them together first, but what you end up with is a complex robo-dino with realistic movement. And, just like before, they’ll also help kids bone up on their STEM chops.

You’ll have two options to choose from with the Jurassic World Kamigami Robots: “Blue” the velociraptor, or the new villainous Indoraptor. It shouldn’t be too tough to build them, since you just need to snap together a few plastic pieces. The real innovation is in how they move. Their tails bend and wave naturally, as do their feet. They almost look like tiny dinosaurs scurrying around the floor.

You’ll be able to control things like their eye color, movement and sounds from the Kamigami Jurassic World mobile app. But more importantly, you can also program them to do your bidding with a simple interface. Like most STEM toys, it’s more about getting you to understand the logic of programming, rather than teaching you an actual language.

Also new this year is the Pterano-Drone, a flying toy version of the Pteranodon from Jurassic World. Its simplified controller will make it easy for kids to control, and there are also auto-landing and auto-circling options to simplify the more complex tasks. Mattel developed a patented plastic cover around the rotor blades, which will automatically turn off the engine when kids hold them down. It’s one way to avoid clipping fingers, a fairly common issue for drones.

All of the toys will be launching this spring, ahead of the June 22nd release of Jurassic World 2. The Kamigami robots will run for $60 each, while the drone will cost $120.

Check out the rest of our coverage from Toy Fair 2018 here.

18
Feb

Hyperloop transportation routes could soon be running from Cleveland to Chicago


One small step for Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, one giant leap for travel in middle America. This week, HyperloopTT (HTT), one of the two companies seeking to create high-speed tunnel-based transportation systems, signed an agreement that could herald a new era in the feasibility of an interstate Hyperloop system. The new deal was struck with the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) and also involves the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), and will kick off a feasibility study for the region. Thus far, “several corridors have been identified for study connecting Cleveland to Chicago,” HTT notes in a press release.

Demand for such a high-speed transportation option in the region has been high for quite some time, as Ohio lawmakers passed a resolution to kickstart the initiative last year. And just in the past couple months, HTT has worked with congressional representatives from states including both Ohio and Illinois to send a formal letter to the White House requesting infrastructure funding support to bring a Hyperloop to life.

“Regulations are the ultimate barrier for Hyperloop implementation, and we are excited to build the first real public-private partnership to bring Hyperloop travel to the U.S.,” said Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of HTT. “With this agreement, we welcome innovative and industry-leading partners in both government and industry to our movement.”

HTT isn’t the only company looking to transport riders in low-pressure pods.In fact, Hyperloop One has also recently selected a Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh link as one of just 10 around the world that it would like to further explore. But for the time being, it would appear that HTT is ahead in the race. An independent engineering firm will lead the feasibility analysis on the Cleveland-Chicago route as early as March, and could take between six and 12 months. The study will ultimately determine potential routes and suss out cost, ridership, and possible station locations.

“We came here because places like Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburgh have the manufacturing, the raw materials and the talented, hard working people in order to make it happen,” said Andrea La Mendola, Chief Global Operations Officer of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. “We can source everything from this area. This is a place where you make big things.”

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18
Feb

It doesn’t look like much, but this black box pulls energy out of thin air


Melanie Gonick

In the search for sustainable energy solutions, no idea is too big or too small to consider. In the past couple of years, we’ve seen genetically engineered algae serve as biofuel, cellphones harness energy from radio waves, and even toilets that convert urine into electricity.

Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have now developed a small device that captures energy from changing air temperatures. Called a thermal resonator, the device exploits the temperature fluctuations that occur throughout the day-night cycle. This offers promise as a longterm power source for remote operating systems, according to the researchers, who recently published a paper in the journal Nature Communications.

“Ambient temperature fluctuations are a ubiquitous and mostly untapped energy resource,” Anton Cottrill, an MIT graduate student and first author of the study, told Digital Trends. “They surround us everyday in a variety of contexts, and a great example that we are all very familiar with is the diurnal cycle, day and night temperature changes. We have demonstrated an optimized device, a thermal resonator, that is designed specifically to lock into a particular temperature fluctuation frequency … and translate the fluctuations into electricity.”

Unlike solar panels, the thermal resonator doesn’t require direct sunlight, meaning it can function in the shade. And unlike turbines, the device is mostly unaffected by unpredictable wind conditions. It doesn’t yet generate a huge amount of energy, but there is enough to provide continuous power to remote sensing sensing instruments out in the field. The device may also be used to support more established green energy solutions — for example, by drawing waste heat away from solar panels.

The device works by taking advantage of something called “thermal effusivity,” or a material’s ability to extract heat from its surroundings.

“The thermal resonator is enabled by high thermal effusivity materials,” Cottrill said, “[which are] materials that transfer heat with their environment very effectively. High thermal effusivity materials are characterized by high thermal conductivity and a high heat storage capability.”

Cottrill and his colleagues created such a material by coating a metal foam with a layer of graphene, which increases its thermal conductivity. This was then infused with a phase-change material, which changes between a solid and liquid state.

The engineers see a handful of real world applications for their thermal resonator, particularly as power support systems for sensing devices set up in hard-to-reach places.

“A great example is a wireless sensor node network, which is desired to operate perpetually and autonomously for extended periods and often in remote locations,” Cottrill said. “For these networks, batteries are currently highly relied upon, but eventually they will need to be replaced or recharged.” Since battery replacement is often impractical, Cottrill said the thermal resonator could offer an alternative.

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18
Feb

‘Alien Zoo’ takes you on a virtual journey through an extraterrestrial world


The alien invasion is finally here, thanks to a new virtual reality (VR) experience at the Westfield Century City mall in California. The VR startup Dreamscape Immersive has created a location-based VR exhibit that lets fans interact with a range of bizarre alien life forms during the journey.

Intrepid explorers don VR headsets, headphones, a backpack, and reflectors on their hands and feet for the 12-minute experience. It’s a new kind of “location-based” VR with full-body tracking that the company hopes to replicate across the country.

Groups of six people, accompanied by a virtual avatar, explore the movielike world and interact with otherworldly creatures, and not all of them are friendly. The cinematic presentation even includes a musical score by Hans Zimmer.

Co-founder Walter Parkes was a producer of blockbusters like Men in Black, and this attraction has a different focus than many VR exhibits. “Most virtual reality companies tend to have one foot in the tech world and one foot in gaming,” he recently told Deadline. ”We have one foot in theme park attractions and one foot in big movies.”

The team created their own universe for the attraction but that won’t always be the case, as Parkes told the Hollywood Reporter. “We decided to start with an original piece of content,” he said. “A lot of these things tend to be tied to movies, and our next set of properties will be connected to major franchises, but we thought it was interesting to start with something new.”

The company has gotten backing from Hollywood with big players such as 21st Century Fox and Warner Bros. A recent round of financing pulled in an additional $30 million, according to UploadVR, with companies like AMC Entertainment and Nickelodeon jumping on board.

AMC plans to open up six more Dreamscape locations, and Nickelodeon is looking to produce a Dreamscape experience based on its properties. “When you hear VR, you tend to think tech and gaming and being alone in a headset but we’re going for something different,” said Parkes. “It’s very important for us to bring this into a mainstream environment.”

Alien Zoo at the Westfield has been so popular that it’s been extended until March 14, but many dates are already sold out.

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