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Citing monkey business, court refuses to toss simian selfie lawsuit

David Slater via Wikimedia

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused a request to dismiss the famous “monkey selfie” case, despite an agreement that was reached between the photographer and wildlife group PETA. This means we may finally find out who owns the rights to the image that has spawned countless internet memes.

Back in 2011, nature photographer David Slater was capturing images of the endangered Sulawesi crested macaque in Indonesia. “So I put my camera on a tripod with a very wide angle lens, settings configured such as predictive autofocus, motorwind, even a flashgun, to give me a chance of a facial close up if they were to approach again for a play,” he wrote on his blog. “I was then to witness one of the funniest things ever as they grinned, grimaced and bared teeth at themselves in the reflection of the large glassy lens.”

One of the monkeys, possibly named named “Naruto,” eventually triggered the camera shutter, which resulted in a series of captivating “monkey selfies,” setting off a seven-year legal battle that’s still ongoing. Wikimedia Commons posted the images and claimed they were public domain, saying monkeys can’t own a copyright to a picture they take.

As NPR reported, the U.S. Copyright office even updated its manual in 2014 to reflect that a photograph taken by a monkey is not a “fruit of intellectual labor” and therefore not protected by copyright law.

The court agreed, but PETA appealed the court decision in 2016 on behalf of the monkey, saying the proceeds from Slater’s self-published book should go towards preservation of the endangered species.

Back in September, the two parties came to an agreement that seemed amicable to all and asked the Ninth Circuit to dismiss the case.

In a surprise move the court refused, writing in its decision that, “The grant of a voluntary dismissal is not mandatory, and sometimes neither is it advisable.” The court cited a number of previous cases where humans had attempted to represent animals, as well as other cases that courts had refused to dismiss despite requests from both parties.

The decision makes it seem like the judges were wary of the litigants using the court case for some monkey business of their own, noting that “denying the motion to dismiss and declining to vacate the lower court judgment prevents the parties from manipulating precedent in a way that suits their institutional preferences.”

So it seems Naruto will finally have her day in court, and perhaps Slater can finally get this monkey off his back.

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Austin test uses blockchain to improve ID for the homeless

Many people take identification for granted, but it’s a serious challenge if you’re homeless. If you lose what’s on your back, you might lose everything — and recovering that ID is much harder when you have no fixed address or easy transportation to government offices. Austin might have a technological solution. The Texas city is piloting a system that uses blockchain identifiers to safeguard the IDs and vital records of homeless people in a way that’s more accessible for service providers.

Similar to Microsoft’s digital ID initiative, the distributed and encrypted nature of blockchain would make records accessible virtually anywhere while preserving security. Workers could verify someone’s ID on the street, for example, while a clinic could quickly check a patient’s history even if it’s their first visit to that location.

There are some security concerns about a system like this. You’d need to be certain when authenticating an ID holder, since a fraudster might have access to a huge range of info. If the pilot is successful in ironing out this and other issues, however, this could be crucial to not only providing better services to the homeless, but helping them escape homelessness. When your identification is safe, you can tap into social assistance and job programs on a consistent basis and focus on creating a better future.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Bloomberg Philanthropies


Apple will repair your swollen Watch Series 2 battery for free

If your Apple Watch Series 2 suddenly won’t turn on, don’t panic — you might qualify for a free fix. MacRumors has learned that Apple has quietly institute a service policy that will repair 42mm Series 2 models for free when they either won’t power on or have a swollen battery, including those whose battery has expanded to the point where the display has popped loose. The smartwatch doesn’t have to be under warranty, and it’ll cover the repairs for up to three years after purchase (in other words, you likely have until 2019 or 2020).

This doesn’t affect 38mm units or any other Apple Watch models, although Apple instituted a similar plan for original versions.

Apple hasn’t formally announced the new policy (we’ve asked for comment), and you might not want to depend on free repairs right away when some staffers might not be aware of the change. However, it might just set your mind at ease if you’d rather not pay out of pocket just to keep your Series 2 on your wrist.

Source: MacRumors


Android P might include iPhone X-style navigation gestures

It’s well-established that Android P will support notched displays when it arrives later in the year. However, that might not be the only iPhone X-like feature in the finished release. The 9to5Google team has noticed that a Google developer blog post briefly included an Android P screenshot (below) with a very different set of navigation buttons. Instead of the usual three buttons (back, home and multitasking) that have been present for years, the OS includes just a back button and an iPhone X-style strip.

The image doesn’t include hints as to functionality, but 9to5Google had previously heard through a source that Google was testing a nav bar where an upward swipe would trigger multitasking, similar to the iPhone X. The back button would also disappear whenever it’s not in use, such as when you’re visiting the home screen.

We wouldn’t bet money on this feature surviving in later releases. Google experiments with features that might be cut or modified by the time a new Android version reaches your hands. It’s entirely plausible, however, that Google would show this off between its I/O conference in May and the eventual launch later in 2018. Tall-screened phones are becoming commonplace, and Google might want a clutter-free interface to match. An introduction at I/O would give app developers time to adapt to the change.

Android P navigation bar

Source: 9to5Google, Android Developers Blog


The best Nokia 8 Sirocco cases to keep your HMD phone safe

The Nokia 8 Sirocco was one of the more unexpected hits of Mobile World Congress 2018, and one of our personal highlights of the show, winning one of our Best of MWC awards. We love the beautiful design, solid specs, and speedy camera software in this phone. But despite the stainless steel frame and the use of Gorilla Glass 5, it’s not invulnerable — and it’s expensive too. A protective case is a good idea for your Nokia 8 Sirocco, just to make sure it survives until your next upgrade with minimal damage.

There’s aren’t many cases out just yet, as the phone still has to be released in many markets, but we’ve put together a list of the best cases that are currently available.

KWMobile Clear Indian Sun Case ($8)

A thin and flexible TPU case is a wonderful thing, as it allows the style of your device to shine through while still keeping it protected. This clear case from KWMobile might not be fully clear (though there is a fully clear version available), but it still ticks all the boxes that we like from clear TPU cases. The soft TPU helps to absorb shocks, and keeps the body of the phone from being scratched or marred. The screen is slightly more protected too, thanks to a raised edge that keeps the display and camera lenses from touching surfaces. We really dig the Indian sun design too, and think is adds a cool twist to a regular gel case. Add its bargain price onto that, and you’ve got a winner.

Buy one now from:


TopAce Carbon Fiber-style Case ($9)

Want a touch more protection with some exterior style added on? Look no further than this case from TopAce. Made from shock-absorbent and flexible TPU, this case boasts a brushed metal look with carbon fiber-style panels at either end to lend a “sci-fi,” futuristic style that we really like. The soft TPU aids in grip, while the corners come with shock-absorbing airbags, helping disperse blows against those areas from falls or drops. It follows the curved screen of your Nokia 8 Sirocco, too, and comes with molded button covers to keep those safe. We’ve highlighted the black here, but it also comes in blue and gray.

Buy one now from:


KuGi PU Leather Wallet Case ($6)

Wallet cases exude a quiet elegance, and they’re a great way to add a little sophistication to your phone. The Nokia 8 Sirocco doesn’t need any help in this regard, but the KuGi PU leather wallet case is still a great choice thanks to its added utility. The PU leather is easy to keep clean and durable, and the flip cover helps to keep your phone’s display safe when not in use. A pocket on the inside of the cover has enough room for a credit card, and is perfect for spare cash, a payment card, or travel tickets. The cover also folds over to make a horizontal stand, which is excellent for watching movies while on the go.

Buy one now from:


Caseflex Extreme Heavy Armour Case ($5)

Caseflex offers something a little more heavy-duty. The Extreme Heavy Armour is a hybrid case, meaning it’s made from both soft, absorbent TPU and hard polycarbonate (PC). That combination means it’s very good at withstanding multiple types of damage, with shocks and drops being absorbed by the TPU inner case, while the outer PC shells help keep the case rigid, and deflects more direct hazards. The rugged look also comes with areas specifically designed to help with grip, and the raised edges mean that the screen and camera lenses are elevated from surfaces. If you need somewhere to rest your phone, or if you’re watching a video, there’s also a handy little kickstand that will hold it in a horizontal position.

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eBuymore PU Leather Holster Case ($10)

Alright, so it’s not really a case. However, this holster case from eBuymore has its uses, and if you’re looking for an easy way to carry your phone around without worrying about it being damaged, then this could be a great choice for you. It’s made from PU leather, so it’s durable and easy to maintain. Your belt threads through the loop on the back of the case, and gives you an easily accessible but safe place to keep your phone. The flap folds over your phone when not in use, keeping it secure and safe, and the all-round protection should mean it doesn’t get damaged. Combine this with a thin case to give your Nokia 8 Sirocco great overall protection.

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Low-latency JPEG XS format is optimized for live streaming and VR

You might only know JPEG as the default image compression standard, but the group behind it has now branched out into something new: JPEG XS. JPEG XS is described as a new low-energy format designed to stream live video and VR, even over WiFi and 5G networks. It’s not a replacement for JPEG and the file sizes themselves won’t be smaller; it’s just that this new format is optimized specifically for lower latency and energy efficiency. In other words, JPEG is for downloading, but JPEG XS is more for streaming.

The new standard was introduced this week by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, which says that the aim of JPEG XS is to “stream the files instead of storing them in smartphones or other devices with limited memory.” So in addition to getting faster HD content on your large displays, the group also sees JPEG XS as a valuable format for faster stereoscopic VR streaming plus videos streamed by drones and self-driving cars.

“We are compressing less in order to better preserve quality, and we are making the process faster while using less energy,” says JPEG leader Touradj Ebrahimi in a statement. According to Ebrahimi, the JPEG XS video compression will be less severe than with JPEG photos — while JPEG photos are compressed by a factor of 10, JPEG XS is compressed by a factor of 6. The group promises a “visual lossless” quality to the images of JPEG XS.

JPEG XS is open source, has a universal HDR coding format, which also lends itself well to professional video transcoding. The format is still awaiting approval, but JPEG XS will likely be used in movie editing, space imagery (the European Space Agency has already expressed interest for using it to transmit video from space probes) and professional cameras.

Consumer electronics like “self-driving cars, virtual reality, augmented reality, and wireless connections between multimedia devices and TV monitors or projectors” will be next, according to Ebrahimi.

Source: VentureBeat, Road to VR, EPFL


‘Gwent’ revamp will help it take on card game rivals

You’d think that CD Projekt Red would have locked in Gwent’s mechanics with an expected launch just months away, but not so — if anything, it’s ready to toss out what many are already taking for granted. The developer has unveiled a revamp (nicknamed Gwent Homecoming) that could shake up fundamental aspects of the game. The initiative will push for both a “complete overhaul of the visual experience” (including a tone more consistent with The Witcher) and, more importantly, key changes to gameplay.

The studio notes that rows don’t have much of an effect on your game, and is considering not only giving cards a “preferred” row with perks, but cutting one of the rows entirely (at least in part to emphasize visuals). There are promises of a new leveling system, a tweaked ranked mode, a change to the Create system to emphasize skill over the luck of randomly generated cards and an overall emphasis on “core gamers.”

CD Projekt Red hopes the rework will take about six months, and expects to formally launch Gwent out of testing at that point alongside its single-player campaign, Thronebreaker. We wouldn’t count on this schedule remaining firm (the company acknowledges the row cut would require “extensive testing”). However, it shows just how determined the company is to give Gwent a good start and better compete against rivals like Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering. The title will likely have to draw on its The Witcher links and offer distinctive gameplay if it’s going to stand out, and its creators are willing to make dramatic changes to ensure that happens.

Via: Polygon

Source: Gwent


Best Gaming Controllers for Amazon Fire TV


Gaming on your Amazon Fire TV? You have more controller options than you might think.

Looking to invite friends over for a multiplayer session on your Amazon Fire TV but not sure what controllers are compatible with it? Well, for starters you’re going to have an easier time connecting third-party controllers if you’re still rocking the first generation of Fire TV.

But worry not. We’ve broken out a list of some of your best controller options for the Amazon Fire TV — and chances are you may already own something that’s compatible without knowing.

  • Amazon Fire TV Gaming Controller
  • Matricom G-Pad BX Wireless Gamepad
  • Mad Catz Micro C.T.R.L.R. Mobile Gamepad
  • Xbox 360 Wired Controller
  • DualShock 4 Bluetooth Controller (for PS4)
  • SteelSeries Stratus XL
  • Logitech Gamepad F310

Amazon Fire TV Gaming Controller


An obvious but necessary inclusion on this list, if you enjoy the gaming controller that came with your Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition, you can buy extra controllers from — where else — Amazon.

The Amazon Fire TV controller connects via Bluetooth and has a number of features specifically designed to get the most out of your Amazon Fire TV box. For starters, it includes a built-in microphone, which gives you full access to Alexa features and allows you to search for games, movies, music, and more information, using only your voice.

The controllers also feature a headphone jack, so you can fully immerse yourself in a movie or game without bothering the people around you. This will also be your best option if you have a second generation Fire TV, as support for third-party game controllers with the newer Amazon box is spotty at best compared to its predecessor.

The Amazon Fire TV controller takes two AA batteries, so you should stock up on those if you plan on becoming a heavy gamer. Get yours for just $49.99 from Amazon (where else?).

See at Amazon

Matricom G-Pad BX Wireless Gamepad


There’s a number of features that make the Matricom G-Pad a compelling third-party Bluetooth controller to buy for your Amazon Fire. For starters, it’s powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery which means you won’t need to stock up on AA batteries, and if you’re running low you can plug the mini-USB cable to your Amazon Fire and play wired.

Since it’s Bluetooth, it’ll work just fine with your Samsung Gear VR, other Android devices and, of course, Matricom’s own G-Box Android TV box. It features dual modes for control, so you can switch over to mouse emulation whenever you may need it. Best of all, it’s the cheapest controller on the list offering at just $17.50, yet is quite comfortable and lightweight for a budget price. Given its near-universal compatibility and simple-yet-conventional design, Matricom’s G-Pad Wireless gamepad is worth your attention.

See at Amazon

Mad Catz Micro C.T.R.L.R. Mobile Gamepad


But since we’re talking about third-party controllers for the Amazon Fire, we gotta include this smaller option from Mad Catz — a household name in third-party gaming accessories. This is a compact option, and probably the smallest controller on this list, but it is jam-packed with features you’ll love.

For starters, Mad Catz claims the Micro C.T.R.L.R. is “future-proof,” featuring dual-mode Bluetooth that works with Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Smart devices. That helps this controller achieve near-universal compatibility, with controller modes specific to the device you’re connected to: Mouse Mode, PC Mode, and GameSmart Mode (for near-universal compatibility with laptops, tablets, and smartphones). It also features built-in media buttons for controlling your favorite media streaming services including Netflix, Youtube and Hulu Plus, so you can use this little kitty for nearly everything on your Amazon Fire.

For great quality and versatility that won’t break the bank, you can’t go wrong with this travel-sized controller. Get yours for $39.99!

See at Amazon

Xbox 360 Wired Controller

The wired version of the Xbox 360 controller works nearly flawlessly with the first generation of Amazon Fire TV. Simply plug in the controller to the USB port on the back of your Amazon Fire TV and you’re good to go. With the second generation, you may need to go into settings and ensure that USB debugging is turned off before the system will find the controller.

Looking to attach more than one USB controller? It’s as simple as first plugging in a USB hub then plugging in up to four controllers. If you’ve got a couple plugged in, you’ll even notice the player indicator lights will light up properly — a small but reassuring feature.

There’s a whole bunch of third-party controllers that work with the Amazon Fire, including the wireless versions of the Xbox 360 controllers, but the reason why we’re not recommending the wireless variant is that you’ll also need to own Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver for Windows.

If you happen to already have a few of the wireless Xbox 360 controllers around, the dongle receiver may be the better option. If you don’t, the wired variety is your best bet, as you won’t have to worry about batteries or connectivity issues. At this point, they must be considered collectors item because Amazon is selling them for $65.

See on Amazon

DualShock 4 Bluetooth Controller (for PS4)


The DualShock controller has been an industry standard and trailblazer since first being introduced for the original PlayStation back in 1998. While the technology inside the controller has improved, the overall design has remained largely unchanged and it’s clear to see why — it’s incredibly comfortable to hold.

Sony’s DualShock 4 Bluetooth Controller is a great option that’s compatible with your Amazon Fire TV. It’s quick to pair — simply go into the Amazon Fire TV’s Bluetooth controller settings, then hold down the Share and PS button on the DualShock controller to start the pairing.

The DualShock 4 controller is a surprisingly versatile controller; beyond using it with your PS4 and Amazon Fire TV, it’s also compatible with Windows for PC gaming. Get yours for just $47 on Amazon.

See at Amazon

SteelSeries Stratus XL


The SteelSeries Stratus XL is a great controller that works for gaming on your Windows PC, Android phone, and Amazon Fire TV. SteelSeries has basically taken the best features from the DualShock and Xbox 360 controllers and combined them to create the Stratus XL.

It connects via Bluetooth and plays for up to 40 hours on two AA batteries. It’s perfectly weighted and has been designed to fit comfortably in your hands for marathon gaming sessions.

Best of all you can get this great controller for just $38. Don’t miss out!

See at Amazon

Logitech Gamepad F310


If you’re looking for a cheaper USB controller option, the Gamepad F310 from Logitech is a good choice.

It features the same analog stick layout as the DualShock and a cord that should be long enough to reach from the Amazon Fire TV to the couch. This one is also plug-and-play, meaning you shouldn’t have to worry about setting things up.

And since this is a cheaper option, starting at $29.99, you could stock up on a couple of them, along with a decent USB hub and always be prepared for some multiplayer action.

See at Amazon

What’s your preferred controller?

Do you have a favorite Amazon Fire TV gaming controller that didn’t make our list? Tell us about it in the comments!

Update April 14, 2018: Updated pricing information. These are still the best options for the Amazon Fire TV.

Amazon Fire TV

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Buy at Amazon


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