Archive for day September 2nd, 2011

Video: “Der Kritzler,” An Automatic Scribbling Machine

scribbler

An automatic scribbling machine sounds less than useful, admittedly, but it’s really just the style of line created by this motorized drawing machine. It’s reminiscent of ASCII art, in which heavier characters are used to create darker tones; in this case, the more jiggle added to the drawing platform, the more ink is put on the drawing surface. It’s kind of mesmerizing.

Check out the video (there’s another here):

It’s put together from mostly off-the-shelf parts (Arduino-powered, naturally), though it’s far from simple. The process uses vector graphics and turns it into a tone map, and given a known starting point for the pen, it “prints” by moving the pen along rows and adding jitter to darken the “pixels” to whatever degree is necessary. It looks like it has about four discrete tones it can make — not the greatest range, but in aggregate it works quite well.

You can read how it was put together at the creator Alex Weber’s blog, and he has also put the source, documentation, and so on up on Github.



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Devin Coldewey

September 2nd

Uncategorized

AT&T could sell 25% of T-Mobile to sway feds in favor of acquisition

AT&T is prepared to make sacrifices in an effort to sway the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission in favor of its planned $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile, Reuters reported on Friday. On August 31st, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against AT&T in attempt to block the merger, a move that is said to have caught both AT&T and T-Mobile USA’s owner, Deutsche Telekom, off-guard. “AT&T is pretty determined that they can find a solution, and they are pretty confident,” one source told Reuters, which noted AT&T’s “two-track” plan that includes possibly selling off as much as 25% of T-Mobile, including customers and spectrum, if the deal is approved. It is still unclear who could be a potential customer for the assets, however, as the government could investigate Sprint or Verizon Wireless if either carrier chose to purchase those assets. Reuters said U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle will preside over the case and said Huvelle is known for moving swiftly. AT&T has asked for an expedited hearing and the case could be heard within the next two months.

Read

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Todd Haselton

September 2nd

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Taking a page from Google, Apple’s Siri-based voice Assistant activates when you put the iPhone to your ear

Google’s iPhone Voice Search promo video

We already knew that iOS 5 would mimic some Google Android features. There’s the Android-like notification system and system-wide Nuance speech-to-text functionality, but now we’ve discovered that Apple’s yet to be announced voice Assistant will be activated in Google fashion. Above is Google’s promotional video for their voice-powered Google search App Store application for the iPhone.

As you can see in the video, all a user has to do is put the iPhone up to their face, start speaking, and Google search results will appear on screen within a few seconds. Apple is going to be providing the same convenience to their iOS 5 users for their system-wide Assistant feature. According to code strings we have found in the iOS 5 SDK, all a user will need to do is move their iPhone to their ear, speak, and the requested action will occur.

This is much quicker than Apple’s current Voice Control activation method. With Voice Control, users need to hold down their home button for a few seconds in order to activate. Assistant activation will not simply be activated via the iPhone’s proximity sensor sensing your ear, but will rely on the phone’s motion sensors as well for accuracy.



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Mark Gurman

September 2nd

Uncategorized

Listen to Gizmodo’s Soundtrack: Active Child [Video]

Listening to Active Child is like drinking a cup of codeine as your shuttle docks with a gently rotating space station. It's futuristic—contracting tides of synths, and and an ethereal voice that sounds part Android. It's very serene. More »


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Sam Biddle

September 2nd

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Call Of Duty’s $50 Per Year Subscription Service Heralds An Expensive Future For Gaming

elite_space

The world’s largest game franchises have become businesses unto themselves. World of Warcraft supports a huge halo industry of gold farming and grey markets. Farmville and its ilk have turned microtransactions into millions. The teams developing individual games like Assassin’s Creed or Gears of War are larger than many entire companies. So it’s not surprising that the stakes keep getting raised.

Call of Duty is among the most popular games in the world, and although selling millions of copies of the game at $40-60 is a real source of revenue, Activision is hoping that their new Call of Duty Elite service will bring in recurring revenue and rally the fanbase. But will that fanbase accept a yearly $50 fee on top of the game itself?

Part of the Elite services will be available for free, like mobile apps, stat sharing and analysis, and official clan creation. But the paid portion of Elite has just been detailed, and what it implies about the new gaming order is equally exciting and discouraging.

The primary draw will be the new content, in the form of maps, modes, and presumably weapons and character decorations. There will also be daily refereed tournaments with prizes like iPads. Activision described a “nine month DLC season” with around 20 pieces of content — a lot by any standard, and perhaps more than even CoD’s fans are willing to stomach. Many developers are already being accused of selling half the game at launch and doling out the rest over the next year or so, and although the boxed game will likely be enough for many, the emphasis placed on after-purchases is distressing.

So far, so predictable, but the larger implications are more interesting. Valve has talked about “games as services,” but their idea of DLC is slightly less money-grubbing than Activisions. The Team Fortress 2 community and the dozens of add-ons they’ve done aren’t an example everyone can follow, but you’re unlikely to find a more satisfied gaming community in the world. This idea of Activision’s puts CoD practically in the territory of Second Life or alternate reality games than anything else. People are already very serious about their “careers” in online games, but the social integration we’re seeing (like Battlefield 3′s Battlelog, above), the increased level of integration with other platforms, and the huge increase in money involved make this next generation of “big” games pretty serious business.

It’s a bit like TV adding premium channels like Showtime and HBO back in the day. You kind of have to commit to it, and the community created is parallel to the more mundane one surrounding networks, but far more dedicated. But there can only be so many Showtimes, especially if the currency in trade is time. Someone with money can afford to purchase all the premium channels, but with Call of Duty, WoW, Halo, and so on all expanding to become entire worlds to live in, a gamer can only do so much. This trend will continue, because there’s a hell of a lot of money in it.

Will we stop seeing “traditional” games that just sell for $50 and then that’s it? Something has to give when companies like Valve and Activision can afford to provide more for the money (though they may extract more from you later). The rise of inexpensive downloadable games on XBLA and PSN seems to offer a middle path. I’d expect way more titles between $5 and $20, hits like Braid and Bastion that don’t attempt to build a platform, just tell a story and have some fun. In the meantime, you’ll be paying more and more for the premium experience of the big dog franchises.

Is it a pro for gamers? Once the pricing and exclusivity hiccups work themselves out, I think so. People really enjoy these deep gaming experiences, and while I don’t share their need to, say, publicize my achievements, I can certainly see the draw. Clearly Activision does too, and they also see opportunity. Let’s hope the transition isn’t too rough. The generation that grew up with cartridges and arcades might have to give way. It had to happen some time.



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Devin Coldewey

September 2nd

Uncategorized

San Francisco Police Now Admit Participating in Search for Lost iPhone 5 (Updated) [Lost IPhone]

The San Francisco Police Department has changed its tune. It now says officers did come to the home of Sergio Calderón, looking for a missing iPhone 5, but that only Apple employees went inside, according to The SF Weekly. Updated More »


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Mat Honan

September 2nd

Apple

Apple’s Already Hiring New Product Security Managers [Blip]

It's probably just coincidence, but the fact that Apple's posted two new positions on its job board for high-level security personnel just as details emerge of an (un)reportedly lost iPhone 5 seems pretty convenient. Almost too convenient. More at 9to5Mac and iPodnn. More »


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Andrew Tarantola

September 2nd

Apple

Amazon Kindle tablet due in November for $250, report claims

Amazon’s first Android tablet will launch this coming November at a price point significantly below Apple’s entry-level iPad 2, TechCrunch reported on Friday. According to the site, which claims to have handled a prototype of the device, the Amazon tablet bears a strong resemblance to RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook and it runs a highly customized pre-Honeycomb version of Google’s Android operating system. It also features deep integration with various Amazon services such as the Amazon Appstore and Amazon’s Cloud Player service. All of this has already been reported, however. Read on for more.

In terms of new details, the biggest pieces of the puzzle the report adds are the name of the device — simply “Amazon Kindle” — and the price: $250. In other words, it looks like Amazon will adopt a strategy similar to Barnes & Noble’s, offering a low-end black and white eReader alongside a more sophisticated tablet device, but its tablet will seemingly be much more capable than the current Nook Color model. Amazon will also significantly undercut Apple’s iPad tablet, which starts at $499.

TechCrunch reports that Amazon intends to offer its Amazon Prime service, typically $79 per year, for free with each purchase of the Kindle tablet. Amazon Prime affords subscribers free second-day delivery on many Amazon-sourced orders, as well as unlimited on-demand video streaming from a limited library of older titles.

BGR exclusively reported in May that Amazon was working on a pair of Android tablets, a 7-inch entry-level “Coyote” slate and a larger 10-inch “Hollywood” tablet that is reportedly slated for release next year. According to TechCrunch, the 10-inch tablet is still in the works but it will only be release if Amazon finds success with its initial offering.

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Zach Epstein

September 2nd

Uncategorized

Amazon Kindle tablet due in November for $250, report claims

Amazon’s first Android tablet will launch this coming November at a price point significantly below Apple’s entry-level iPad 2, TechCrunch reported on Friday. According to the site, which claims to have handled a prototype of the device, the Amazon tablet bears a strong resemblance to RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook and it runs a highly customized pre-Honeycomb version of Google’s Android operating system. It also features deep integration with various Amazon services such as the Amazon Appstore and Amazon’s Cloud Player service. All of this has already been reported, however. Read on for more.

In terms of new details, the biggest pieces of the puzzle the report adds are the name of the device — simply “Amazon Kindle” — and the price: $250. In other words, it looks like Amazon will adopt a strategy similar to Barnes & Noble’s, offering a low-end black and white eReader alongside a more sophisticated and cabale tablet device, but its tablet will be much more capable than the current Nook Color model. Amazon will also significantly undercut Apple’s iPad tablet, which starts at $499.

TechCrunch reports that Amazon intends to offer its Amazon Prime service, typically $79 per year, for free with each purchase of the Kindle tablet. Amazon Prime affords subscribers free second-day delivery on many Amazon-sourced orders, as well as unlimited on-demand video streaming from a limited library of older titles.

BGR exclusively in May that Amazon was working on a pair of Android tablets, a 7-inch entry-level “Coyote” slate and a larger 10-inch “Hollywood” tablet that is reportedly slated for release next year. According to TechCrunch, the 10-inch tablet is still in the works but it will only be release if Amazon finds success with its initial offering.

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Zach Epstein

September 2nd

Uncategorized

Pure Breeze, Filmic Pro, Instamap and More [Apps Of The Week]

In this week's app roundup: iPhone video cameras, professionalized; Instagram, mapped on the iPad; launchers, re-imagined; warriors, eternal; PDFs, created; NFL Mobile, free; weather, beautiful-ed; browsers, dolphined; and much, much more. More »


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Casey Chan

September 2nd

Uncategorized
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