Archive for April, 2012

Who Knew Kitchen Ventilation Was Worth Drooling Over? [Stoves]

Kitchen ventilation sounds like something totally boring, albeit necessary. But Gaggenau creates some really awesome solutions for keeping your cook space aired out that look modern and refined. More »


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Leslie Horn

April 30th

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Congress Wants Broken Laser to Zap North Korea’s Broken Missiles [Lasers]

North Korea's missile program seems to be moving backwards, with its latest failed launch crapping out earlier than its 2009 dud. Yet House Republicans still want a flying, missile-zapping laser cannon to stop Pyongyang and its ballistic "threats." More »


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Sam Biddle

April 30th

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The Most Amazing Warehouse I Have Ever Seen [Image Cache]

I was amazed when I saw the 65-foot-high Lego cathedrals, one of the largest warehouses in Europe that holds 19 billion Lego pieces a year. But this Christian Stoll's photo of one of DB Schenker's warehouses in Germany has left me speechless. More »


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Jesus Diaz

April 30th

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SloPro: Shoot and Edit Slow Motion Videos on Your iPhone 4S [App Of The Day]

One of the best parts about the iPhone is that it gives anyone the ability to crank out decent home video without needing a separate camcorder. And there are tons of apps that make the experience even better. The latest? SloPro, which lets you make beautiful slow-motion iPhone videos at 60 frames per second. More »


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Leslie Horn

April 30th

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Per Vices, The Rare YC Hardware Startup, Sets Out To Disrupt Wireless Communications

Screen Shot 2012-04-30 at 7.59.44 AM

Y Combinator might be best known for software plays like Dropbox and Airbnb. But it’s also harbored a few hardware companies, notably the one that blew out Kickstarter funding records with Pebble Watch this month.

There’s actually one more waiting in the wings.

Per Vices is a startup from the latest class that’s looking to disrupt how wireless communications are sent. They’ve built a device called Phi that can interact with any wireless or radio signal. It’s a transceiver that can demodulate and process signal data up to 4 Gigahertz.

In plain English, that means one of Per Vices’ devices can re-route your cell phone calls through your landline connection, if for example you have bad 3G service in your house. In theory, that means you could set up a decentralized wireless network where mobile devices and desktops are sending communications to each other instead of one where all mobile phones have to send and receive signals from carrier-operated cell phone towers. It’s a critical issue the industry needs to solve as data-hogging mobile subscribers eat into the profit margins of the carriers.

For now, however, the company is focusing on the hacker and hobbyist market as the device is a PCI card that supports Linux machines. (So yes, that limits the current potential audience size).

However, the longer-term goal is to build something that’s both accessible and affordable to the mainstream market. On their site, Phi retails for $666 for just the card or $750 with antennas, but the cost of producing it (as with many interesting hardware products) is getting lower every year. Comparable products from rivals like Ettus Research sell for $1,300 or higher.

They’ve hacked a few demos with the product, including one where you can pick-up HDTV transmissions and watch shows on your phone or call a walkie talkie using your mobile phone. They’re hoping that hackers will find even more interesting ways of using the Phi, like how some developers figured out how to subvert Microsoft’s Kinect.

Per Vices founders, Victor Wollesen and Yi Yao, are a physicist and an electrical engineer who used to work in the defense industry. But sales cycles there are endlessly long, so going the consumer route promises a faster time to market.



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Kim-Mai Cutler

April 30th

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What Do These Crazy Hacked Cars Have To Do With Michel Gondry’s Next Film? [Cars]

When you're walking through the set of a Michel Gondry film you can't expect that everything is going to seem normal, or even make sense. Case in point, he's currently shooting an adaptation of Boris Vian's The Froth on the Daydream on location in France, where Yan-Alexandre snapped these photos of a series of utterly bizarre hacked-together vehicles. More »


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Andrew Liszewski

April 30th

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Rumor: Hulu Will Soon Require Viewers To Have A Cable Subscription [Update: It'll Happen, But Not "Soon"]

hulu

If you love watching TV shows on Hulu but don’t have a cable subscription, things could get a bit more complicated in the near future. According to the New York Post, Hulu could soon start requiring its users to prove that they also have a cable or satellite subscription. This would obviously turn Hulu’s current business model on its head. It’s not clear how many of the service’s 31 million users currently don’t subscribe to cable TV, but chances are that the service’s audience would shrink after this move.

Keep in mind, this is just a rumor for now, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on. It’s also not clear if this subscription requirement – assuming it is actually going to happen – will just apply to Hulu’s free service, or if it will also apply to Hulu Plus subscribers. Hulu Plus, which costs $7.99 per month, currently has somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million paying subscribers.

Update: We just talked to a source close to Hulu. According to our source, Hulu and its content providers have talked about this move toward authentication since 2009. Our source noted that Hulu has no interest in being a first mover here and that a requirement for authentication is likely still a few years out. Hulu, however, does want to be a good partner and may have to give in to its partners’ pressure soon or later. Even though an authentication requirement isn’t likely to happen right away, though, our source notes that what could happen relatively soon is that the content providers could require longer delays before their shows become available on the service for non-subscribers. Cable subscribers, under this model, would get access to a show on Hulu the next day, while non-subscribers would have to wait at least 30 days. This model would likely also apply to Hulu Plus subscribers.

As our own Alexia Tsotsis noted last year when the FCC gave the go-ahead for the Comcast-NBC merger, it issued a number of specific rules to ensure that this merger wouldn’t influence Hulu’s operations. These rules, however, did not specifically touch upon any future provisions that would tie access to Hulu to a cable subscription.

NBCUniversal, News Corporation, The Walt Disney Company and Providence Equity Partners currently share ownership of Hulu. There have been persistent rumors that Providence Equity Partners is looking to sell its stake in the company to the rest of the owners, though. The New York Post’s Claire Atkinson argues that this move toward an authentication model is one of the main reasons why Providence Equity Partners is trying to sell its stake in the company.

We asked Hulu for a comment about these rumors and will update the story once/if we hear more.

One group that has already commented on these rumors is Public Knowledge, a group that works to “preserve the openness of the Internet” and promotes “creativity through balanced copyright.” In a statement, the group’s president and CEO Gigi B. Sohn writes that “restricting access to legal content will only drive consumers to find illegal content. In particular, we are concerned about restricting access to TV programming available over free over-the-air broadcasting. It should be available online, regardless whether anyone subscribes to cable or satellite TV. By putting more restrictions on consumer access to popular content, the entertainment industry only removes any justification for stronger ‘anti-piracy’ laws it is perpetually seeking from Congress.”



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Frederic Lardinois

April 30th

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Angry Birds trip to space tops 50 million downloads

Angry Birds Space hits 50 million downloads

Rovio on Monday announced that the company’s latest Angry Birds installment, Angry Birds Space, has been downloaded a whopping 50 million times in 35 days, making it the fastest growing mobile game of all time. The company also teased that “something even bigger is on its way” and gamers should stay tuned. Angry Birds Space was released on March 22nd for iOS and Android devices, as well as OS X and Windows PCs. The fourth major Birds release delivered new and unique gameplay features alongside new and existing characters. The game was an instant hit and in less than three days was downloaded 10 million times. Fans have called the game the best Birds game since the original. 

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Dan Graziano

April 30th

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Maybe This Is Why Those in Glass Houses Shouldn’t Throw Stones [Art]

Happen to have an extra 2000 pounds of glass laying around? In need of a saturday afternoon project? Why not shatter all that glass and make it look like silicon oxide is oozing from your windows? More »


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Adrian Covert

April 30th

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Why Won’t The LAPD Help Recover This Stolen Computer? (Updated) [Crime]

Find my iPhone and all that built in tracking stuff is great. But it's only useful if the police are willing to help. If they're not? Well. Welcome to Los Angeles. More »


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Mat Honan

April 30th

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