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Google’s Next Futuristic Self-Driving Car Is a Chrysler Minivan


Gizmodo / Alissa Walker

Google’s Next Futuristic Self-Driving Car Is a Chrysler Minivan

The minivan of the future. AP Photo/Paul SancyaAfter months (and months and months) of rumors, including one rumor that it was partnering with Ford, Google’s self-driving car is going into manufacturing mode, with a new prototype based on the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. But hold the grocery-getter jokes, please. An autonomous minivan is exactly what Google should be making.Google announced the partnership today, along with several reasons why a Fiat Chrysler partnership make sense:This collaboration with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is the first time we’ve worked directly with an automaker to create our vehicles. FCA will design the minivans so it’s easy for us to install our self-driving systems, including the computers that hold our self-driving software, and the sensors that enable our software to see what’s on the road around the vehicle. The minivan design also gives us an opportunity to test a larger vehicle that could be easier for passengers to enter and exit, particularly with features like hands-free sliding doors. Chrysler will make 100 autonomous 2017 Pacifica hybrid minivans, which will start rolling onto the roads by the end of 2016. In addition to scooting around Mountain View, the vans will make their way to Google’s other test cities like Austin, Phoenix, and Kirkland, Washington. The Pacificas will join the rest of the vehicles in Google’s self-driving fleet which includes modified Lexus hybrids and other customized vehicles that Google built itself. This decision to go with this kind of vehicle emphasizes the goal that’s always been behind Google’s self-driving car project: It will allow unprecedented independence for people who are blind, deaf, and disabled. A minivan can be easily adapted for wheelchairs and other assistive devices that will help people to get in and out of the vehicle easily.But there’s also another important benefit to a minivan: More seats means that these autonomous vehicles can be easily shared, allowing them to function more like public transportation. There’s a reason that Elon Musk hinted about developing some kind of autonomous bus. Self-driving shared vehicles are the future.Google’s partnership with Fiat Chrysler is the latest self-driving collaboration between tech companies and American automakers, with GM and Lyft pairing up at CES. And last month, a new self-driving consortium formed that currently includes Ford, Volvo, Google, Lyft and Uber, to help push forward regulation to help get these cars on the road.[Google]

Slack will soon start testing voice and video chat


TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Slack will soon start testing voice and video chat

 Slack is gunning for Skype and Google Hangouts with the 2016 product roadmap it revealed today. The biggest change coming: the ability to seamlessly turn a text chat into a voice or video chat will begin testing “very soon”. This builds on Slack’s January 2015 acquisition of Screenhero, when it said these features would eventually be released. At its customer conference in… Read More

Here’s why your next pair of sneakers may be made out of wool


Finance / Dennis Green

Here’s why your next pair of sneakers may be made out of wool

The hottest new trend in sneakers? Wool. 
Yes, that wool. The same kind of fabric that lines your favorite suits and overcoats is now being used in running apparel, according to Bloomberg.
Everyone seems to be giving it a try, from startups like Allbirds, who make simple shoes with uppers made entirely out of wool, to Nike, who has collaborated with Pendleton Woolen Mills to make a line of sneakers using the brand’s signature fabric and patterns. 
It turns out wool has some surprising benefits.
Wool is a light, all-natural material that’s able to regulate internal temperatures and still insulate even when wet. It also has natural moisture-wicking properties and antimicrobial tendencies.
Now for the bad news: wool is pretty expensive. The wool version of Nike sneakers cost $20 more than the regular versions, and Allbirds’ sneakers cost a relatively high (for the category) $95.

Still, startups and big corporations alike are betting on the new material to differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded market. The number of new models of sneakers introduced in the past year has increased by 39% according to WGSN, a fashion consultancy, as told to Bloomberg.
Will wool take off? Only time will tell, but early signs point to a promising start. A sports industry analyst told Bloomberg that natural materials like wool are especially popular among millennial consumers.
Allbirds has already raised $2.7 million in venture capital funds after shopping its Kickstarter shoe around in Silicon Valley and New York.SEE ALSO: 11 deadly style sins every guy should avoid making
DON’T FORGET: Follow Business Insider’s lifestyle page on Facebook!
Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 4 things every man should know before going into a Victoria’s Secret

Slack will soon start testing voice and video chat


TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Slack will soon start testing voice and video chat

 Slack is gunning for Skype and Google Hangouts with the 2016 product roadmap it revealed today. The biggest change coming: the ability to seamlessly turn a text chat into a voice or video chat will begin testing “very soon”. This builds on Slack’s January 2015 acquisition of Screenhero, when it said these features would eventually be released. At its customer conference in… Read More

Ex-Bank of England chief: ‘Another crisis is certain’


Finance / Oscar Williams-Grut

Ex-Bank of England chief: ‘Another crisis is certain’

Former Bank of England Governor Lord Mervyn King says governments around the world need “the courage to undertake bold reforms" to prevent the global economy falling into another financial crisis.
In extracts from his new book serialised over the weekend in The Telegraph, Lord King writes: "Another crisis is certain, and the failure… to tackle the disequilibrium in the world economy makes it likely that it will come sooner rather than later."
Lord King was Governor of the Bank of England from 2003 to 2013, overseeing the UK government’s bailout of Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Despite having a hand in post-crisis central banking policy, Lord King argues that governments and central bankers have not been systematic enough in dealing with the problems that caused the 2008 crash, instead simply dealing with its symptoms.
Lord King argues that central bankers have been too keen to see liquidity as the issue and the solution to financial problems since 2008, when the real issue is solvency.
He writes in The Telegraph:
Dealing with the immediate symptoms of crises by taking short- term measures to maintain market confidence – usually by throwing large amounts of money at it – will only perpetuate the underlying disequilibrium.
Almost every financial crisis starts with the belief that the provision of more liquidity is the answer, only for time to reveal that beneath the surface are genuine problems of solvency.
Fifty years from now, will our grandchildren ask why we lacked the courage to put in place reforms to stop a crisis happening again? I hope not. Events drive ideas, and the experience of crisis is driving economists to develop new ideas about how our economies work. They will be needed to overcome the power of vested interests and lobby groups.
The extract does not make clear what exactly these "bold reforms" Lord King is calling for would look like.
Lord King is also vague on the subject of what exactly the next crisis he is predicting will be. However, he highlights issues with China, emerging markets, and Europe. He writes:
The epicentre of the next financial earthquake is as hard to predict as a geological earthquake. It is unlikely to be among banks in New York or London, where the aftershocks of 2008 have led to efforts to improve the resilience of the financial system.
But there are many places where the underlying forces of the disequilibrium in their economies could lead to cracks in the surface – emerging markets that have increased indebtedness, the euro area with its fault lines, China with a financial sector facing large losses, and the middle and near east with a rise in political tensions.
Lord King is hardly the lone bear sounding the alarm on these issues. Goldman Sachs has dubbed emerging market debt — specifically China’s huge debt burden — the "Third Wave" of the 2008 financial crisis and global stock markets have collapsed since the start of the year amid fears over Chinese growth rates.
You can read the full extract from Lord King’s book in The Telegraph.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How Donald Trump used bankruptcy to stay rich

Raspberry Pi 3 Launches — 50% Faster, With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth And An Eye On IoT


TechCrunch / Natasha Lomas

Raspberry Pi 3 Launches — 50% Faster, With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth And An Eye On IoT

 A major new Raspberry Pi microprocessor has been announced today: the Pi 3 Model B board becomes the new top-of-the-line Pi, with a 64bit 1.2GHz quad-core chipset and 1GB RAM it’s being slated to offer a 50 per cent power bump over the Pi 2. But is still priced at just $35… Read More

Ex-Bank of England chief: ‘Another crisis is certain’


Finance / Oscar Williams-Grut

Ex-Bank of England chief: ‘Another crisis is certain’

Former Bank of England Governor Lord Mervyn King says governments around the world need “the courage to undertake bold reforms" to prevent the global economy falling into another financial crisis.
In extracts from his new book serialised over the weekend in The Telegraph, Lord King writes: "Another crisis is certain, and the failure… to tackle the disequilibrium in the world economy makes it likely that it will come sooner rather than later."
Lord King was Governor of the Bank of England from 2003 to 2013, overseeing the UK government’s bailout of Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Despite having a hand in post-crisis central banking policy, Lord King argues that governments and central bankers have not been systematic enough in dealing with the problems that caused the 2008 crash, instead simply dealing with its symptoms.
Lord King argues that central bankers have been too keen to see liquidity as the issue and the solution to financial problems since 2008, when the real issue is solvency.
He writes in The Telegraph:
Dealing with the immediate symptoms of crises by taking short- term measures to maintain market confidence – usually by throwing large amounts of money at it – will only perpetuate the underlying disequilibrium.
Almost every financial crisis starts with the belief that the provision of more liquidity is the answer, only for time to reveal that beneath the surface are genuine problems of solvency.
Fifty years from now, will our grandchildren ask why we lacked the courage to put in place reforms to stop a crisis happening again? I hope not. Events drive ideas, and the experience of crisis is driving economists to develop new ideas about how our economies work. They will be needed to overcome the power of vested interests and lobby groups.
The extract does not make clear what exactly these "bold reforms" Lord King is calling for would look like.
Lord King is also vague on the subject of what exactly the next crisis he is predicting will be. However, he highlights issues with China, emerging markets, and Europe. He writes:
The epicentre of the next financial earthquake is as hard to predict as a geological earthquake. It is unlikely to be among banks in New York or London, where the aftershocks of 2008 have led to efforts to improve the resilience of the financial system.
But there are many places where the underlying forces of the disequilibrium in their economies could lead to cracks in the surface – emerging markets that have increased indebtedness, the euro area with its fault lines, China with a financial sector facing large losses, and the middle and near east with a rise in political tensions.
Lord King is hardly the lone bear sounding the alarm on these issues. Goldman Sachs has dubbed emerging market debt — specifically China’s huge debt burden — the "Third Wave" of the 2008 financial crisis and global stock markets have collapsed since the start of the year amid fears over Chinese growth rates.
You can read the full extract from Lord King’s book in The Telegraph.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: EXCLUSIVE: Hugh Hefner’s son speaks out against Playboy’s decisions to go non-nude and sell the Mansion

New York Judge Rules US Can’t Force Apple to Help Unlock an iPhone 


Gizmodo / Kate Knibbs

New York Judge Rules US Can’t Force Apple to Help Unlock an iPhone 

On the eve of a Congressional hearing about the Department of Justice’s fight with Apple over a locked iPhone, a Brooklyn judge has ruled that the DOJ cannot force Apple to assist in unlocking an iPhone in a separate New York drug case. Judge James Orenstein rejected the government’s interpretation of the All Writs Act, ruling that it cannot compel Apple to create software that will weaken its security protections using that statute. Orenstein arguing that the government’s expansive interpretation of the All Writs Act would “cast doubt on the AWA’s constitutionality if adopted.”This is an unambiguous victory for Apple. Orenstein is calling this government overreach in clear terms: The implications of the government’s position are so far-reaching – both in terms of what it would allow today and what it implies about Congressional intent in 1789 – as to produce impermissibly absurd results.“Absurd” showed up at least six times, as USA Today journalist Brad Heath pointed out on Twitter. Orenstein believes that Apple has a better argument about the role of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act in the case:Both the government and Apple agree that CALEA does not compel a private company such as Apple to provide the kind of assistance the government seeks here. See Govt. II at 22; Apple II at 5. They disagree as to why that is so: the government contends that CALEA simply has nothing to say on the matter,while Apple argues that the omission reflects a legislative choice. As explained below, Apple’s argument has more merit.The Department of Justice is still attempting to compel Apple to create software to help it unlock a phone connected to the San Bernardino shooting. Just like with this drug case, the DOJ is using the All Writs Act in an attempt to carry out a search warrant for the phone.http://gizmodo.com/the-227-year-o…Orenstein’s dismissal of the AWA is bad news for the government, but it certainly doesn’t put the issue between the DOJ and Apple to rest. It’ll be a tool for Apple, but it’s not binding. Since the San Bernardino case involves a more serious crime than a simple drug case, the DOJ could argue that the cases are not similar.But while this doesn’t guarantee victory for Apple in the San Bernardino case, it may have a major impact on how the All Writs Act gets used, as attorney and Brookings Fellow Susan Hennessey pointed out on Twitter. “It’s a meticulous and scholarly opinion. It should be a roadmap for any court considering one of these requests from the government,” ACLU attorney Alex Abdo said in a statement. You can read the full order here: [Talking Points Memo]Contact the author at kate.knibbs@gizmodo.com.Public PGP keyPGP fingerprint: E71A 198B C6A4 60CB CEEA 2635 4AA0 EE14 6579 0F38

Raspberry Pi 3 Launches — 50% Faster, With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth And An Eye On IoT


TechCrunch / Natasha Lomas

Raspberry Pi 3 Launches — 50% Faster, With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth And An Eye On IoT

 A major new Raspberry Pi microprocessor has been announced today: the Pi 3 Model B board becomes the new top-of-the-line Pi, with a 64bit 1.2GHz quad-core chipset and 1GB RAM it’s being slated to offer a 50 per cent power bump over the Pi 2. But is still priced at just $35… Read More

China’s Didi Kuaidi is raising $1 billion more to battle Uber


Autoblog Green / TechCrunch

China’s Didi Kuaidi is raising $1 billion more to battle Uber

Filed under: Green, Transportation Alternatives, ChinaA Chinese company that is taking on Uber in the ride-on-demand market, Didi Kuaidi, is now worth over $20 billion, thanks to a new $1B financing round.Continue reading China’s Didi Kuaidi is raising $1 billion more to battle UberChina’s Didi Kuaidi is raising $1 billion more to battle Uber originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 26 Feb 2016 08:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments

Mitsubishi Outlander now in M’sia – CBU, 2.4, RM167k


Paul Tan’s Automotive News / Danny Tan

Mitsubishi Outlander now in M’sia – CBU, 2.4, RM167k

Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) has unveiled the new Mitsubishi Outlander to the media in a preview session. The SUV, which has seven seats in three rows, is available for public viewing at Bangsar Shopping Centre […]
The post Mitsubishi Outlander now in M’sia – CBU, 2.4, RM167k appeared first on Paul Tan’s Automotive News.

Google unveils PlaNet neural network that outperforms humans at guessing the location of an image (MIT Technology Review)


Techmeme /

Google unveils PlaNet neural network that outperforms humans at guessing the location of an image (MIT Technology Review)

MIT Technology Review:
Google unveils PlaNet neural network that outperforms humans at guessing the location of an image  —  Google Unveils Neural Network with “Superhuman” Ability to Determine the Location of Almost Any Image  —  Guessing the location of a randomly chosen Street View image is hard, even for well-traveled humans.

BMW i8 crushed by cement truck will break your heart


Autoblog BMW / Erin Marquis

BMW i8 crushed by cement truck will break your heart

Filed under: Government/Legal, BMW, Fuel Efficiency, Green Driving, Coupe, Hybrid, LightweightA BMW i8 was crushed in Newport Beach, CA Thursday after a cement truck lost control and tipped over onto the hybrid coupe.Continue reading BMW i8 crushed by cement truck will break your heartBMW i8 crushed by cement truck will break your heart originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 26 Feb 2016 08:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments

Google unveils PlaNet neural network that outperforms humans at guessing the location of an image (MIT Technology Review)


Techmeme /

Google unveils PlaNet neural network that outperforms humans at guessing the location of an image (MIT Technology Review)

MIT Technology Review:
Google unveils PlaNet neural network that outperforms humans at guessing the location of an image  —  Google Unveils Neural Network with “Superhuman” Ability to Determine the Location of Almost Any Image  —  Guessing the location of a randomly chosen Street View image is hard, even for well-traveled humans.

Murder Is Legal and Torture Is Mandatory, Because Gods of Egypt Exists


Gizmodo / Charlie Jane Anders on io9, shared by Mario Aguilar to Gizmodo

Murder Is Legal and Torture Is Mandatory, Because Gods of Egypt Exists

Go ahead, commit cannibalism! Slaughter your neighbors and feast on their still-warm flesh. Nobody can judge you, because the mere existence of the film Gods of Egypt has dissolved all social contracts, and eliminated forever all concepts of good and evil.The moment I walked out of a screening of Gods of Egypt, I set about building a massive throne out of human pelvises. I worked feverishly through the night, barely pausing to listen to the sounds of the city fracturing into seven brutal revels: a chainsaw maze, a great pit full of vengeful lobsters, a poisoned rave, and so on. As I climbed at last atop my pelvic majesty, I had a perfect view of the inundation of viscera that had turned the very streets into canals: For even if nobody else ever saw this movie, its very existence was enough to sunder every human relation for once and ever. There could be no language, no society, no kindness, after Gods of Egypt.How did this happen? Why didn’t somebody involved with the creation of Gods of Egypt realize what they were setting in motion, and that this movie was not just bad, but obscenely, devastatingly bad? I wondered this the whole time I was watching Gods of Egypt.I’m going to give you a spoiler warning here, even though spoilers are a concept that belongs to the old order, before the rise of the murderpocalypse.So Gods of Egypt is loosely based on Egyptian mythology, if the Egyptian gods were mostly white people who could turn into animal robots, sort of like Transformers. Basically, director Alex Proyas and his crew tried to turn the ancient beliefs of the Egyptians into a standard action-adventure movie, full of wacky set pieces and wild romps. And they wound up something that actually makes a river of entrails seem totally reasonable.This movie starts when the god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from Game of Thrones) is about to be crowned King of Egypt—until his uncle, the evil god Set (Gerard Butler), overthrows him. To get back his power and reclaim the throne, Horus must work with a plucky human thief named Bek (Brenton Thwaites) to pass a bunch of tests, with a little help from the sun god, Ra (Geoffrey Rush.) So yeah, it’s a buddy comedy about a god and a mortal teaming up to save the world and stuff—which could actually have been good, in theory.In fact, in theory, this movie could have been awesome—generally any film with giant fire-breathing snakes, huge scarab-drawn chariots and holy spaceships is automatically great, in my book. But instead, Gods of Egypt squanders all of its incredible potential.Gods of Egypt has been justly criticized for its policy of casting white people as almost all of its Egyptian characters—to the point where it might be the first movie whose director apologized months before it was released. But the casting is just one of the many problems that eat away at this movie, which seems to have fed slices of Egyptian cultural traditions into a typical Hollywood “Save the Cat Goddess” structure, to try and create something familiar and comfort-foody, with an exotic veneer.The result is a movie in which nothing particularly makes sense. The stakes are completely unclear, and the moment that you think you have a handle on what’s going on, the movie lurches off in another direction. The actors stand around in front of greenscreens, saying terrible dialogue that they know is meaningless, and none of it carries any weight at all. This is also the umpteenth movie I’ve seen lately that has 90 minutes of action padded out to over two hours.Bek, the movie’s ostensible main character, is supposed to be desperately in love with a mortal woman named Zaya (Courtney Eaton) who dies early on—so Bek is helping Horus in the hope that the god-king can bring Zaya back from the aferlife. But Zaya’s death puts barely a dent in Bek’s chipper action hero banter, and he just carries on leaping from CG obstacle to CG obstacle, while saying things like, “roll the bones!” Meanwhile, every few minutes, the movie asks us to care about stakes-raising weird ideas like, “Set has changed the rules of the afterlife!” and “Set has stolen the glowing blue brain of the only black person in the movie!” At the same time, you don’t get the impression that any of the human characters actually worships these gods or considers them more than just oversized people with random powers.But the result of taking all this grand metaphysical weirdness and putting it into a formulaic action-movie template is to create a movie where nothing means anything, but the film keeps dragging you from set piece to set piece every few minutes anyway. This isn’t just a film where it’s impossible to care, but one that negates the very idea of giving a shit.Nothing has meaning! Everything is monstrous.And that brings us to the central problem of Gods of Egypt—this movie can’t manage to find an interesting tone. At all. It’s either a comedy, in which there’s exactly one funny line of dialogue, or it’s a breezy action-adventure romp in which the characters are unlikable and the plot is mush, or it’s a semi-serious epic about the struggle of the gods. The overwhelming tone is one of blandness, like a rejected Disney Channel TV movie starring the younger brother from Hannah Montana and one of the less gifted wizards of Waverly Place.And meanwhile, this movie’s aesthetic is a weird mixture of Egyptology pastiche and VFX overkill. As I mentioned, the Egyptian gods are sort of like off-label Transformers. Their fights, for the most part, look pretty awfully rendered, with a lot of bits that look like 90s video games. And the film’s aesthetic is pretty much a solid gold—all the buildings are gold, the gods are blinged out, and they bleed gold blood.And one of the film’s most interesting visual innovations turns out to be its greatest liability: all of the gods, including Jaime Lannister, are much bigger than ordinary humans. Like, maybe 10 or 12 feet tall, I’m guessing. This yields a few startling shots early on in the film, but also means that at no point can the actors just be in a scene together, without everything being rendered digitally. I have a feeling that’s one reason for the utter lack of chemistry or personality in any of this movie’s character-building moments.This movie feels like a dull, joyless monument to excess and cultural exploitation.I’m just going to repeat the word “joyless” a few more times—joyless, joyless, joyless—while reminding you that I’m writing this review on a computer keyboard that I fashioned out of the fingernails and ribs of my former best friends. (The keyboard’s not connected to anything; I’m not even sure how you’re reading this, to be honest.) I love an over-the-top bad movie as much as the next Joe Bob Briggs acolyte, but Gods of Egypt is just too fucking bland—even with Gerard Butler shouting his heart out in a few scenes—to be anything but brain-compacting.That said, there are a handful of incredibly beautiful images, that leave you with a sense of just why anybody thought this film was a good idea at all. At one point, when we first visit the spaceship belonging to Geoffrey Rush’s Ra, there’s a stunning visual of the flat Earth that Ra is sailing over. A few bits inside the land of the dead are also just gorgeous. You can sort of see how someone might have seen a few of those renders, early on, and thought this might be a distinctive, even eye-popping, film.But for the most part, Gods of Egypt feels like such an abdication of story, and such a bastardization of culture, that the only sane response is to abandon sanity, and enlist in the murder-police of the senseless new era. As I write this from atop my pelvic cathedra in a world of unspeakable mayhem, I testify that Gods of Egypt has liberated us all. You do not need to see this movie to know that you live in the world it created. Mercy is a cast-off from the time before the coming of Gods of Egypt.Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, which is available now. Here’s what people have been saying about it. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.http://www.amazon.com/All-Birds-Char…

The New Pagani Huayra BC Is $2.5 Million of Insanitude


Car and Driver Blog / Andrew Wendler

The New Pagani Huayra BC Is $2.5 Million of Insanitude

Pagani hasn’t made a rational car yet, and the Huayra BC does little to change that fact. Adhering to the same “better performance through a cost-is-no-object blend of passion and technology” approach that it applies to all of its creations, the Huayra BC is Pagani’s most powerful road car to date. Lighter and more powerful […]

Popcorn Time ‘Officially’ Announces Its Return


Gizmodo / Darren Orf

Popcorn Time ‘Officially’ Announces Its Return

Popcorn Time is the revolutionary app that’s been continuously dubbed the Netflix for torrents. But after aggressive legal action by the Motion Picture Association of America, the original site Popcorntime.io, shut down indefinitely. But after week of mystery surrounding its sudden reappearance, anonymous developers are declaring that illegal Netflix is back, baby.Previously reported by TorrentFreak, the Popcorn Time blog recently announced the resurrection with an update called “Hail Hydra.” The post says, “After the ‘MPAA incident,’ we’re a little diminished, and we’ve chosen a new direction: we’re shifting from an active development of Popcorn Time to a more or less resilience-driven development.”The unknown devs also mention other team members who’ve gone on to work on the legal version of Popcorn Time, called Butter, and say that Butter and their new zombie reincarnation share the same base code. As TorrentFreak points out, all these Popcorn Time imitators (there are several) along with various plug-ins must deal with the ever looming specter of insecurity, especially since anonymous developers mean no one can be held accountable if things go awry. This new incarnation of Popcorn Time says it’s sticking with the platform’s original mission, which means the site won’t be looking to make money whatsoever. Who knows how resistant this new form of Popcorn Time will be, but for now, streaming film is free again. [Popcorn Time Blog via TorrentFreak]Contact the author at darren.orf@gizmodo.com.

2017 Aston Martin DB11 Teased In New Video


High Gear Media Network Feed / feedback@highgearmedia.com (Viknesh Vijayenthiran)

2017 Aston Martin DB11 Teased In New Video

We’re now just days away from seeing the official reveal of Aston Martin’s new DB11 at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, however, as is often the case in this day and age photos of the car have already surfaced. Nevertheless, this latest teaser video from Aston Martin highlights the car’s heritage and a shadowy glimpse at the end hints…

Sources: Apple is working on a security upgrade to prevent the exploit method FBI is seeking from working in the future (New York Times)


Techmeme /

Sources: Apple is working on a security upgrade to prevent the exploit method FBI is seeking from working in the future (New York Times)

New York Times:
Sources: Apple is working on a security upgrade to prevent the exploit method FBI is seeking from working in the future  —  Apple Is Said to Be Working on an iPhone Even It Can’t Hack  —  WASHINGTON — Apple engineers have already begun developing new security measures that would make it impossible …

Popcorn Time ‘Officially’ Announces Its Return


Gizmodo / Darren Orf

Popcorn Time ‘Officially’ Announces Its Return

Popcorn Time is the revolutionary app that’s been continuously dubbed the Netflix for torrents. But after aggressive legal action by the Motion Picture Association of America, the original site Popcorntime.io, shut down indefinitely. But after week of mystery surrounding its sudden reappearance, anonymous developers are declaring that illegal Netflix is back, baby.Previously reported by TorrentFreak, the Popcorn Time blog recently announced the resurrection with an update called “Hail Hydra.” The post says, “After the ‘MPAA incident,’ we’re a little diminished, and we’ve chosen a new direction: we’re shifting from an active development of Popcorn Time to a more or less resilience-driven development.”The unknown devs also mention other team members who’ve gone on to work on the legal version of Popcorn Time, called Butter, and say that Butter and their new zombie reincarnation share the same base code. As TorrentFreak points out, all these Popcorn Time imitators (there are several) along with various plug-ins must deal with the ever looming specter of insecurity, especially since anonymous developers mean no one can be held accountable if things go awry. This new incarnation of Popcorn Time says it’s sticking with the platform’s original mission, which means the site won’t be looking to make money whatsoever. Who knows how resistant this new form of Popcorn Time will be, but for now, streaming film is free again. [Popcorn Time Blog via TorrentFreak]Contact the author at darren.orf@gizmodo.com.

The Craziest Line in Apple’s Motion to Throw Out the iPhone Case


Gizmodo / Adam Clark Estes

The Craziest Line in Apple’s Motion to Throw Out the iPhone Case

Apple just took its next swipe in the fight over unlocking a terrorist’s iPhone: a court order to vacate. The company is invoking the First and Fifth Amendments to argue that the court order it received to create a back door for the device is unconstitutional. The motion is embedded below.As you may have expected, Apple did not mince its words in explaining the catastrophic consequences of giving the government such sweeping powers. Less than a day after Tim Cook likened the back door to a “software equivalent of cancer” on national television, the company’s lawyers explained in stark terms how the government’s request would “impose an unprecedented and oppressive burden on Apple and the citizens who use the iPhone.” Check out this analogy—we’ve added emphasis:For example, under the same legal theories advocated by the government here, the government could argue that it should be permitted to force citizens to do all manner of things “necessary” to assist it in enforcing the laws, like compelling a pharmaceutical company against its will to produce drugs needed to carry out a lethal injection in furtherance of a lawfully issued death warrant, or requiring a journalist to plant a false story in order to help lure out a fugitive, or forcing a software company to insert malicious code in its auto- update process that makes it easier for the government to conduct court-ordered surveillance.Of course, that third example is essentially what the government is doing. While the current case deals applies to an iPhone 5C owned by the San Bernardino shooter, the FBI has made at least a dozen other similar requests. As Apple and other security experts have explained time and time again, it’s impossible to create a back door for a single device. If forced to build the software, Apple would make every iPhone vulnerable to government intrusion.“This is not a case about one isolated iPhone,” the motion reads. “No court has ever authorized what the government now seeks, no law supports such unlimited and sweeping use of the judicial process, and the Constitution forbids it.”Why would we want to start now?[WSJ, Re/code]Read the full motion below:Contact the author at adam@gizmodo.com.Public PGP keyPGP fingerprint: 91CF B387 7B38 148C DDD6 38D2 6CBC 1E46 1DBF 22A8

The New Daredevil Trailer Is All About Elektra


Gizmodo / James Whitbrook on io9, shared by James Whitbrook to Gizmodo

The New Daredevil Trailer Is All About Elektra

Last week’s first big look at Daredevil season two introduced us to Matt Murdock’s next big rival, the Punisher. But in its last few seconds, we got to see Matt re-encounter a familiar face from his past, Elektra Natchios—and this giant new trailer explores her connection to the Man without Fear.http://io9.gizmodo.com/say-hello-to-t…We got a brief glimpse of the Greek ninja in action in a short teaser yesterday, but like the “part one” trailer before it, this one is jam-packed with stuff—and not just more of Elodie Yung’s Elektra. More Daredevil, more Foggy and Karen, more Punisher… more everything! And an even better look at the updated Daredevil costume, complete with creepy looking red eyes.But it’s not all snazzy costumes and punching bad guys in store for Daredevil—it’s time for Matt to struggle with the consequences of his actions. Gangs are on the rise after he dealt with the Yakuza in season one, and the escalating violence of the Punisher is testing him physically and ethically as he questions whether Daredevil is going far enough, which also causes an even bigger rift between Matt and Foggy. The avocados at law may not be in partnership for much longer!Oh, and ninjas. It wouldn’t be true to Daredevil if there weren’t copious amounts of ninjas.Considering we’re little more than three weeks away from getting the whole season, it’s likely that this is the last big batch of new footage we’ll get to see of Daredevil before season 2 hits Netflix on March 18th. It’s done plenty to whet my appetite for a return to Hell’s Kitchen though.Contact the author at james.whitbrook@io9.com.

Google’s New AI Can Tell Where Your Photo Was Taken Without Using Geotags


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Google’s New AI Can Tell Where Your Photo Was Taken Without Using Geotags

Image via Adam Bautz/FlickrIn case you didn’t already feel like Google was a creepy stalker, its artificial intelligence tools are rapidly crossing over into uncanny. The latest one is PlaNet, a new deep-learning machine that specializes in figuring out where a photo was taken—using nothing but the image’s pixels.Today, MIT Tech Review reports on a new effort led by Tobias Weyand, a computer vision specialist at Google, to create a computer that sees a photo and can instantly figure out where in the world it’s from. The system was fed over 90 million geotagged images across the planet, and trained to spot patterns based on location. In a trial run using 2.3 million geotagged images, PlaNet determined the country of origin with 28.4 percent accuracy and the continent of origin in 48 percent of cases. Now, those figures might not sound so impressive, but as MIT Tech Review points out, PlaNet is already performing quite a bit better than humans, whose squishy organic brains have a lifetime of ecological and cultural cues to draw on. And with more image training, PlaNet has the potential to get even better.“We think PlaNet has an advantage over humans because it has seen many more places than any human can ever visit and has learned subtle cues of different scenes that are even hard for a well-traveled human to distinguish,” Weyand told MIT Tech Review.If you’re a photography buff who sometimes forgets to geotag your images, tools like PlaNet could one day become your best friend. Then again, if you were already worried about Google watching your every move, it might be time to start avoiding cameras entirely.[MIT Tech Review]Contact the author at maddie.stone@gizmodo.com.

Google’s New AI Can Tell Where Your Photo Was Taken Without Using Geotags


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Google’s New AI Can Tell Where Your Photo Was Taken Without Using Geotags

Image via Adam Bautz/FlickrIn case you didn’t already feel like Google was a creepy stalker, its artificial intelligence tools are rapidly crossing over into uncanny. The latest one is PlaNet, a new deep-learning machine that specializes in figuring out where a photo was taken—using nothing but the image’s pixels.Today, MIT Tech Review reports on a new effort led by Tobias Weyand, a computer vision specialist at Google, to create a computer that sees a photo and can instantly figure out where in the world it’s from. The system was fed over 90 million geotagged images across the planet, and trained to spot patterns based on location. In a trial run using 2.3 million geotagged images, PlaNet determined the country of origin with 28.4 percent accuracy and the continent of origin in 48 percent of cases. Now, those figures might not sound so impressive, but as MIT Tech Review points out, PlaNet is already performing quite a bit better than humans, whose squishy organic brains have a lifetime of ecological and cultural cues to draw on. And with more image training, PlaNet has the potential to get even better.“We think PlaNet has an advantage over humans because it has seen many more places than any human can ever visit and has learned subtle cues of different scenes that are even hard for a well-traveled human to distinguish,” Weyand told MIT Tech Review.If you’re a photography buff who sometimes forgets to geotag your images, tools like PlaNet could one day become your best friend. Then again, if you were already worried about Google watching your every move, it might be time to start avoiding cameras entirely.[MIT Tech Review]Contact the author at maddie.stone@gizmodo.com.

This Little Bluetooth Sensor Shouts The Second Anyone Tries To Move Your Stuff


TechCrunch / Greg Kumparak

This Little Bluetooth Sensor Shouts The Second Anyone Tries To Move Your Stuff

 Uh oh. You’re three cups of coffee into a busy work day, and you’re starting to get the ol’ caffeine rumble gut. But you don’t want to give up your prime table at the coffee shop.
“Hey, can you watch my stuff?” you say to the nearest complete stranger.
This box watches your stuff for you. If it moves ever so slightly, it can fire off a siren or send a… Read More

This Little Bluetooth Sensor Shouts The Second Anyone Tries To Move Your Stuff


TechCrunch / Greg Kumparak

This Little Bluetooth Sensor Shouts The Second Anyone Tries To Move Your Stuff

 Uh oh. You’re three cups of coffee into a busy work day, and you’re starting to get the ol’ caffeine rumble gut. But you don’t want to give up your prime table at the coffee shop.
“Hey, can you watch my stuff?” you say to the nearest complete stranger.
This box watches your stuff for you. If it moves ever so slightly, it can fire off a siren or send a… Read More

The New Star Wars Theme Parks Coming to Disney Look Out of This World


Gizmodo / Germain Lussier on io9, shared by Adam Clark Estes to Gizmodo

The New Star Wars Theme Parks Coming to Disney Look Out of This World

This past summer, Disney revealed they would be making massing Star Wars-themed additions to their two U.S. theme parks. At that time, we just saw a few hints. But Sunday night, Harrison Ford himself revealed some amazing new looks at the parks.The 14-acre expansions are coming to Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida sometime in the next several years. We don’t know exactly when, just that construction has already begun. Then, Sunday during a TV special celebrating 60 years of Disneyland, Ford revealed some new concept images from what he called “The Star Wars Experience.”First up, here are some images of what the land itself is going to look like. We’ve already heard the lands will be a brand new Star Wars planet and here we get a taste of its marketplace, dining establishments and, of course, its cantina.Next, these are images from the two main rides. One will put fans in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon and another will put them in the middle of a battle between the Resistance and First Order.You can see some more in the video segment below. Suffice to say, these expansions are going to be can’t miss stops for Star Wars fans all over the world.Disney [H/T Hollywood Reporter, SW Underground]Contact the author at germain@io9.com.

Study Suggests Drinking Coffee Might Reduce Liver Damage From Alcohol


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

Study Suggests Drinking Coffee Might Reduce Liver Damage From Alcohol

There is a growing body of evidence that coffee may be good for your long-term health, reducing the risk of type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. According to one recent meta-study, it may also lower your risk of liver damage from boozing. The study was conducted by scientists from the University of Southampton. It’s not a clinical trial—rather, researchers pooled results from nine previous studies that recorded both the incidence of liver cirrhosis and caffeine consumption. In total, 432,133 participants contributed to the studies, across a broad demographic range. Liver cirrhosis is a big killer, claiming over a million people worldwide every year. It’s most famously caused by excessive long-term alcohol consumption, but also brought about by hepatitis infections, immune disorders, and even obesity or diabetes. The results of the meta-study demonstrate a significant protective effect from consuming coffee: the analysis shows that increasing coffee consumption by two cups per day halves the risk of liver cirrhosis, including alcoholic cirrhosis. The halving of the risk also holds true for death rates. The stats get better the more coffee you consume: four cups a day drops the risk of liver cirrhosis by 65 percent. Given the complex chemical makeup of coffee, it’s difficult to say exactly how the caffeine is protecting the liver. This is also only a meta-study: although the analysis seems robust, controlling for bias and variables across that great a sample size and time period is an imperfect science at best. [Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics via Reuters]Contact the author at chris@gizmodo.com.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweets in support of Apple, says forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise user privacy (Jordan Novet/VentureBeat)


Techmeme /

Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweets in support of Apple, says forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise user privacy (Jordan Novet/VentureBeat)

Jordan Novet / VentureBeat:
Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweets in support of Apple, says forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise user privacy  —  Google CEO Sundar Pichai backs Tim Cook over Apple-FBI controversy  —  Google CEO Sundar Pichai just weighed in on the ongoing issue over device encryption between Apple …

Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweets in support of Apple, says forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise user privacy (Jordan Novet/VentureBeat)


Techmeme /

Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweets in support of Apple, says forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise user privacy (Jordan Novet/VentureBeat)

Jordan Novet / VentureBeat:
Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweets in support of Apple, says forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise user privacy  —  Here’s Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s response to the Apple-FBI controversy  —  Google chief executive Sundar Pichai just weighed in on the ongoing issue …

Facebook Instant Articles Will Give All Publishers Faster Loading, Fewer Monetization Options


TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Facebook Instant Articles Will Give All Publishers Faster Loading, Fewer Monetization Options

 Facebook is taking another bite of the outside Internet by turning its Instant Articles format into an open platform any publisher can use starting April 12th. Yet the question remains whether Instant Articles are good for publishers, or something detrimental they’ll have to adopt or be left behind. Since the launch in May, Facebook had worked directly with partnered publishers to… Read More

Facebook Instant Articles Will Give All Publishers Faster Loading, Fewer Monetization Options


TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Facebook Instant Articles Will Give All Publishers Faster Loading, Fewer Monetization Options

 Facebook is taking another bite of the outside Internet by turning its Instant Articles format into an open platform any publisher can use starting April 12th. Yet the question remains whether Instant Articles are good for publishers, or something detrimental they’ll have to adopt or be left behind. Since the launch in May, Facebook had worked directly with partnered publishers to… Read More

Kanye Can’t Stop Piracy


Gizmodo / Alex Cranz

Kanye Can’t Stop Piracy

The Life of Pablo has been downloaded over 500,000 times since its release on February 14, according to TorrentFreak. What does that mean? That means half a million people looked at that free sample subscription to Tidal and said “nah.” They saw a “sign up for free” label and then looked at their old copy of Utorrent that probably gave them a virus three years ago and thought piracy was the better plan. The Pirate Bay, one of TorrentFreak’s primary data points, doesn’t show the precise number of downloads, but it does show that nearly 10,000 users are seeding T.L.O.P. right now. That’s three times more seeders than the next closest album (Rihanna’s ANTI). It’s killing in private circles too. On one site it had twice as many seeders as the next closest album (Adele’s 25) and had just under 2,000 fewer downloads despite being online for two days rather than three months. The old adage is that media piracy is all about filling the gaps. Your average cheap-as-fuck consumer has needs, and piracy provides. Piracy lets people sidestep expensive movie tickets, pricey DVR fees, and draconian DRM in their video games. And now, piracy is letting them sidestep a couple of free months of Tidal and the risk of forgetting to cancel the free trial before their credit card gets charged.Maybe they’re downloading it because Kanye insists it will never see a Sam Goody or iTunes Music store. These half a million pirates—a number that continues to grow—are just thinking about that future date, when they will have to pay for Tidal to get the tunes and being proactive. Or maybe they just couldn’t be bothered to click the “accept” button.Regardless, it’s not looking good for Kanye right now. He can’t save Tidal. He can’t stop piracy. He’s 53 million dollars in debt. And he mixed T.L.O.P. in like a week, and so it sounds like a hot pile of ass leaking into your ear.Least he has that cool shirt with his mom’s face on it.[TorrentFreak]Image: GettyContact the author at alex.cranz@gizmodo.com.

Can A Ludicrous Tesla Model X Beat A Ludicrous Model S In A Drag Race?


Gizmodo / Justin Westbrook on Jalopnik, shared by Chris Mills to Gizmodo

Can A Ludicrous Tesla Model X Beat A Ludicrous Model S In A Drag Race?

Now that the new Tesla Model X electric SUV is finally being delivered to customers it’s time to see just exactly what kind of performance we can expect. Luckily for us, Tesla followed up the insanely powerful Ludicrous mode Model S P90D with an equally Ludicrous Model X P90D, and somebody raced them.http://truckyeah.jalopnik.com/what-its-like-…The Tesla Model X just so happens to be the fastest SUV ever; not just American SUV; not just electric SUV—the Model X P90D’s combined (available) horsepower of over 530 from its front and rear motors meeting a claimed 0 to 60 time of just 3.2 seconds makes it the fastest sport utility vehicle ever made. But how does it compare to its equally fully-electric mind-blowing sibling, the Model S P90D (which sits on the same platform)?Well, when the Model X doesn’t jump the line, it turns out that extra size equates to about 600 pounds of extra weight, ultimately slowing down the SUV when compared to its sedan sibling. But damn if it isn’t close.According to dragtimes.com, The Model X’s best time was 11.61 at 116 mph, while the Model S’s best was 11.24 at 118.5 mph. Both vehicles were said to be fully charged. That’s only a difference of 0.37 seconds, 2.5 mph—making that the “lightest” 600 pounds I’ve ever heard of. All it takes is a blink of the eye and it’s a toss up between the two. While at the strip, the Model X P90D used in the test (with Ludicrous Mode) clocked a 0 to 60 of just 3.1 seconds. In an SUV. I hope the kids don’t mind being early to soccer practice.Be sure to check out the article covering the end-all be-all of electric drag races over at DragTimes.Contact the author at justin@jalopnik.com or @WestbrookTweets.

Kanye Can’t Stop Piracy


Gizmodo / Alex Cranz

Kanye Can’t Stop Piracy

The Life of Pablo has been downloaded over 500,000 times since its release on February 14, according to TorrentFreak. What does that mean? That means half a million people looked at that free sample subscription to Tidal and said “nah.” They saw a “sign up for free” label and then looked at their old copy of Utorrent that probably gave them a virus three years ago and thought piracy was the better plan. The Pirate Bay, one of TorrentFreak’s primary data points, doesn’t show the precise number of downloads, but it does show that nearly 10,000 users are seeding T.L.O.P. right now. That’s three times more seeders than the next closest album (Rihanna’s ANTI). It’s killing in private circles too. On one site it had twice as many seeders as the next closest album (Adele’s 25) and had just under 2,000 fewer downloads despite being online for two days rather than three months. The old adage is that media piracy is all about filling the gaps. Your average cheap-as-fuck consumer has needs, and piracy provides. Piracy lets people sidestep expensive movie tickets, pricey DVR fees, and draconian DRM in their video games. And now, piracy is letting them sidestep a couple of free months of Tidal and the risk of forgetting to cancel the free trial before their credit card gets charged.Maybe they’re downloading it because Kanye insists it will never see a Sam Goody or iTunes Music store. These half a million pirates—a number that continues to grow—are just thinking about that future date, when they will have to pay for Tidal to get the tunes and being proactive. Or maybe they just couldn’t be bothered to click the “accept” button.Regardless, it’s not looking good for Kanye right now. He can’t save Tidal. He can’t stop piracy. He’s 53 million dollars in debt. And he mixed T.L.O.P. in like a week, and so it sounds like a hot pile of ass leaking into your ear.Least he has that cool shirt with his mom’s face on it.[TorrentFreak]Image: GettyContact the author at alex.cranz@gizmodo.com.

Scientists Discover a Boiling River of Amazonian Legend 


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Scientists Discover a Boiling River of Amazonian Legend 

Deep in the heart of the Amazon, legends tell of a river so hot that it boils from below. As a geoscientist, Andrés Ruzo’s training told him the stories couldn’t be true. But that was before he saw the river with his own eyes.It’s incredible to think there are natural wonders on this planet not yet known to science, but such was the case for the river at Mayantuyacu, publicized for the first time in The Boiling River: Adventure and Discovery in the Amazon. The book is an engrossing, true story of discovery, adventure, science, and mysticism, told by a man who was driven to explain something impossible, and is now on a quest to preserve it.http://www.amazon.com/Boiling-River-…When he was twelve years old growing up in Peru, Ruzo’s grandfather told him a strange story. After Spanish conquistadors killed the last Inca emperor, they headed deep into the Amazon rainforest in search of gold. Few of these men would ever return, but those who did spoke of a waking nightmare—poisoned water, man-eating snakes, starvation, disease, and a river that boils from below, as if lit by a great fire.“The planet’s gotten small, and natural wonders like this are few and far between “The image of that boiling river seared itself into Ruzo’s mind. But it wasn’t until years later, as a PhD student in geophysics at Southern Methodist University, that he started to wonder if the legend could be true. This wasn’t just idle curiosity: Ruzo’s thesis project was initially focused on creating the first detailed geothermal map of Peru, including parts of the Amazon. If a boiling river existed, it would surely merit recognition.But his senior colleagues dismissed the idea as preposterous. It would take a tremendous amount of geothermal heat to boil even a small section of a river—and the Amazon basin lies hundreds of miles from any active volcanoes. One advisor even suggested that Ruzo stop asking “stupid questions” if he wanted to finish his PhD.But Ruzo didn’t stop asking. And eventually, he found someone who took his questions about a boiling river seriously: his aunt. That’s because she’d been to one.The Boiling River at Mayantuyacu, via Sofia RuzoThe river turned out to be no legend at all, but the sacred geothermal healing site of Mayantuyacu, nestled deep in the Peruvian rainforest and protected by a powerful shaman. Ruzo couldn’t quite believe it until he saw it for himself, but once he did, his life changed.Up to 82 feet (25 meters) wide and 20 feet (six meters) deep, the river surges for nearly 4 miles at temperatures hot enough to brew tea or cook any animals unfortunate enough to fall in. And yes, a small portion of it is so hot that it actually boils. There are documented hot springs in the Amazon, but nothing nearly as large as this river.“You’re surrounded by the sounds of the rainforest,” Ruzo told Gizmodo. “You feel this water surging past you and plumes of vapor coming up. It’s truly a spectacular place.”Mayantuyacu is visited each year by a handful of tourists, who come to experience the traditional medicinal practices of the Asháninka people. Save several obscure references in petroleum journals from the 1930s, scientific documentation of the river is non-existent. Somehow, this natural wonder has managed to elude widespread notice for over seventy five years.Many of us turn to fiction to escape the mundanity of the real world. But as The Boiling River so poignantly illustrates, fantastical discoveries are lurking all around us. It takes a special type of persistence, and a little bit of crazy, to pull the clues out of the white noise of everyday routine. When Ruzo did, he was rewarded with the biggest adventure of his life.Sampling 207 degree Fahrenheit water, via Devlin GandyAnd it’s an adventure that’s just beginning. Having forged a strong relationship with the local community, Ruzo is now conducting detailed geothermal studies of the boiling river, attempting to place it in the context of the Amazon basin. He’s also collaborating with microbial ecologists to investigate the extremophile organisms living in its scalding waters. Anything that survives here could offer insights into how life got its start billions of years ago, when the Earth was a much harsher planet.But most importantly, Ruzo’s trying to save the boiling river. “In the middle of my PhD, I realized, this river is a natural wonder,” Ruzo said. “And it’s not going to be around unless we do something about it.”Since Ruzo first visited Mayantuyacu in 2011, the surrounding forest has been decimated by illegal logging. If action isn’t taken, the site—held sacred by generations of Asháninka cultural practitioners—could soon vanish.Ruzo hopes that by putting a spotlight on the boiling river, he can garner the public interest and financial support needed to ensure its long-term survival. While Mayantuyacu faces many threats, from loggers to would-be energy developers, the coalition to protect its unique natural and cultural heritage grows stronger every day. Destruction of Amazon rainforest surrounding the Boiling River site, via Andres RuzoRuzo recently received a grant from National Geographic, part of which will go toward using technology—drones, satellites, and the like—to learn which regions of the surrounding forest are the most vulnerable. To strengthen the conservation effort on the ground, he’s teamed up with Peruvian environmental organizations, and local community leaders.Ultimately, if the boiling river is to survive, it’ll be because people came together and recognized its intrinsic value. After reading Ruzo’s captivating, real-life adventure story, you might be inclined to agree.“I don’t like the concept of one person leading this charge—I think it’s about building a community on an international scale,” Ruzo said. “The planet’s gotten small, and natural wonders like this are few and far between.”Follow the author @themadstoneTop image via Devlin Gandy

Tidal Tops U.S. App Store After Landing Exclusive Rights To Kanye’s New Album (Fitz Tepper/TechCrunch)


Techmeme /

Tidal Tops U.S. App Store After Landing Exclusive Rights To Kanye’s New Album (Fitz Tepper/TechCrunch)

Fitz Tepper / TechCrunch:
Tidal Tops U.S. App Store After Landing Exclusive Rights To Kanye’s New Album  —  After scoring exclusive streaming rights to Kanye’s new album, The Life of Pablo, Tidal has taken over the number one spot on the U.S. App Store. … The album, which went live yesterday …

Scalia’s Death May Have Saved the Planet


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Scalia’s Death May Have Saved the Planet

The United States’ commitment to combatting climate change will affect the entire world. Last week, the Supreme Court froze Obama’s plan to uphold that commitment, sparking fears that the Paris climate agreement would fall apart. But the death of justice Antonin Scalia over the weekend changes everything.Scalia might have been surprisingly progressive on technology, but when it came to climate change, the justice was a staunch defender of the proud American tradition of doing nothing. In 2007, he wrote an alarming dissent to a landmark Supreme Court ruling that the EPA can regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, on the grounds that “it is not the Atmospheric Protection Agency.” In 2006, when the attorney general of Massachusetts gently reminded him which atmospheric layer was suffering the most from carbon emissions, Scalia replied:Troposphere, whatever. I told you before I’m not a scientist. That’s why I don’t want to have to deal with global warming, to tell you the truth.Scalia popularized this use of the “I’m not a scientist” line, always followed by some shady deductive reasoning that makes him therefore absolved of any responsibility to help save our planet. And on February 9, along with four other Supreme Court justices, Scalia voted to put a stay on Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a signature set of environmental rules for combatting carbon pollution and transitioning the US to a clean energy economy. With his death, the odds of that plan surviving—along with the Paris climate agreement and, inevitably, humanity—just got a lot better.The Paris agreement, in which 195 countries agreed to combat climate change by slashing their carbon pollution to stay within a 2-degree Celsius global warming target, was based largely on trust. (A binding emissions agreement was not reached, for fear of it being struck down by rabidly anti-science meat popsicles in the US House of Representatives.) The onus was on each individual country to come up with a suitable plan and to reduce its carbon emissions accordingly. For its initial pledge, the US—historically the largest carbon emitter, now the second largest after China—promised to reduce its emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. The only credible way for the US to meet that goal was the Clean Power Plan, which mandates that each state reduce its power plant carbon emissions by a third by 2030.A court that was 5-4 against the Clean Power Plan is now split evenly.It took years of glacially slow international negotiations to get everyone on board with universal participation in climate action. Developing countries, many of whom are already facing the catastrophic effects of climate change, have historically argued that it’s unfair for them to be forced to slow their economic growth, when it’s the US and other developed nations who got us all into this mess. (Fair point.) In fact, it was the inability of rich and poor nations to compromise that doomed the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009. In December, two decades after the first climate talks and more than fifty years after scientists began sounding the alarm, the world finally reached a consensus that all nations needs to get off fossil fuels.If the United States jumped ship now, that would be nothing short of catastrophic for global climate action. Navroz K. Dubash, a senior fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi said the United States potentially backing out would be “the proverbial string which causes Paris to unravel.” That’s precisely the scenario that was beginning to look very likely last week.Since Obama introduced the Clean Power Plan last summer, over two dozen states have sued the federal government, calling the plan a “power grab,” and “the most far-reaching and burdensome rule the EPA has ever forced onto the states.” Last week, Scalia and four other justices put a freeze on enforcement of the new rules until litigation moves forward—an unprecedented move that, as Harvard law professor Jody Freeman told the New York Times “indicates a high degree of initial judicial skepticism from five justices on the court.”It’s expected that the Clean Power Plan will eventually make its way to the Supreme Court for a final verdict, where it probably would have faced a swift death. As fate would have it, Scalia died first. A court that was 5-4 against the Clean Power Plan is now split evenly. And it seems very unlikely that Obama, who has made saving the planet his presidential moonshot, would nominate an anti-environment justice to take Scalia’s place.Of course, Senate Republicans are already swearing on their mothers’ graves to block any Supreme Court nomination the president puts forward in his last year. So at this point, it’s anyone’s guess whether we’ll have a climate-friendly court by the time the Clean Power Plan makes its way back. If approval of a new justice is delayed until the Cruz administration takes over, you can bet the Clean Power Plan—along with every other pro-environment idea the president has put forth these last few months—is going to be cast into the proverbial saralacc pit.And if that’s the case, what for the Paris climate agreement? Well, we need only look to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for a striking example of where climate treaties go without US leadership: nowhere.In his death, Scalia has scored a win for the planet. But the battle for Earth is far from over.Image: GettyFollow the author @themadstone

For $499, You Can Buy Your Kids A Little Tesla Model S From Radio Flyer


TechCrunch / Frederic Lardinois

For $499, You Can Buy Your Kids A Little Tesla Model S From Radio Flyer

 Tesla and Radio Flyer — yep, the company best known for the little red wagon that parents all over the U.S. use to drag their kids around their neighborhoods — are about to launch a little electric Model S for kids.
The $499 Model S for Kids is now available for pre-order and is scheduled to ship in May.
Like any good Tesla, the Model S for Kids is obviously powered by batteries. Read More

For $499, You Can Buy Your Kids A Little Tesla Model S From Radio Flyer


TechCrunch / Frederic Lardinois

For $499, You Can Buy Your Kids A Little Tesla Model S From Radio Flyer

 Tesla and Radio Flyer — yep, the company best known for the little red wagon that parents all over the U.S. use to drag their kids around their neighborhoods — are about to launch a little electric Model S for kids.
The $499 Model S for Kids is now available for pre-order and is scheduled to ship in May.
Like any good Tesla, the Model S for Kids is obviously powered by batteries. Read More

Apple Will Update The iPhone’s Remote App To Do Everything Apple TV’s Own Remote Can


TechCrunch / Greg Kumparak

Apple Will Update The iPhone’s Remote App To Do Everything Apple TV’s Own Remote Can

 Back in October of 2015, Apple released a long awaited hardware update to the Apple TV — and with it, a shiny new Apple TV remote. You could speak to the remote to issue voice commands (“Siri, play Pitch Perfect 2. Yes, again. Don’t judge me, Siri. You don’t know me.”) and flick around a built-in trackpad for quick navigation. But long-time Apple TV users… Read More

Apple’s First Original TV Series Could Star Dr. Dre


TechCrunch / Jay Donovan

Apple’s First Original TV Series Could Star Dr. Dre

 According to both The Hollywood Reporter, Beats co-founder and Apple executive Dr. Dre will be starring in and producing his own six-show original series called Vital Signs. The semi-autobiographical storyline is rumored to be distributed via Apple Music, includes other celebrities like Sam Rockwell and Mo McCrae, and contains “an orgy scene”. Read More

Holy Shit! Scientists Have Confirmed the Existence of Gravitational Waves


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Holy Shit! Scientists Have Confirmed the Existence of Gravitational Waves

Since Albert Einstein first predicted their existence a century ago, physicists have been on the hunt for gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime. That hunt is now over. Gravitational waves exist, and we’ve found them.That’s according to researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), who have been holed up for weeks, working round-the-clock to confirm that the very first direct detection of gravitational waves is the real deal. False signals have been detected before, and even though the rumors first reported by Gizmodo have been flying for a month, the LIGO team wanted to be absolutely certain before making an official announcement.That announcement has just come. Gravitational waves were observed on September 14th, 2015, at 5:51 am ET by both of the LIGO detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. The source? A supermassive black hole collision that took place 1.3 billion years ago. When it occurred, about three times the mass of the sun was converted to energy in a fraction of a second.The discovery has been accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters.Gravitational waves are ripples in the universe caused by some of the most energetic cosmic events, from exploding stars to supermassive black hole mergers. As they propagate through space and time, gravitational waves cause tiny tremors in atoms that make up matter. While Einstein predicted them in his general theory of relativity in 1916, and their existence was indirectly demonstrated in the 1980s, it wasn’t until the LIGO detector came online in 2002 that the hunt for elusive spacetime ripples started to get serious.R. Hurt, Caltech / JPLBut the first generation LIGO experiment, which ran for eight years, wasn’t sensitive enough. Which is understandable. Gravitational waves are minuscule— the atomic jitters that pass through our world when two black holes bash together in a distant galaxy are on the order of a billionth of a billionth the diameter of an atom. LIGO detects them by proxy, using high powered lasers to measure tiny changes in the distance between two objects positioned thousands of miles apart. A million things can screw this up, including a rumbling freight train, a tremor in the Earth, and the inconvenient reality that all objects with a temperature above absolute zero are vibrating all the time.After a series of upgrades that lasted from 2010 to 2015, LIGO was back online this past fall. With more powerful lasers and improved system for isolating the experiment from vibrations in the ground, the prospects of detecting the first gravitational waves have never looked better. Some scientists even predicted that we’d have our first positive detection in 2016—but few could have known how quickly it would come.In fact, LIGO saw gravitational waves almost immediately. The team then spent the entire fall exhaustively investigating potential instrumental and environmental disturbances to confirm that the signal was real.According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, when a pair of black holes orbit on another, they lose energy slowly, causing them to creep gradually closer. In the final minutes of their merger, they speed up considerably, until finally, moving at about half the speed of light, they bash together, forming a larger black hole. A tremendous burst of energy is released, propagating through space as gravitational waves.The two black holes behind the all the hubbub are 29 and 36 times the mass of the Sun, respectively. During the peak of their cosmic collision, LIGO researchers estimate that their power output was 50 times that of the entire visible universe.“The description of this observation is beautifully described in the Einstein theory of general relativity formulated 100 years ago and comprises the first test of the theory in strong gravitation,” said Rainer Weiss, who first proposed LIGO as a means of detecting gravitational waves in the 1980s. “It would have been wonderful to watch Einstein’s face had we been able to tell him.”The discovery of gravitational waves has been an open secret for weeks now. The scientists’ own excitement got the better of them on several occasions, including last week, when theoretical physicist Clifford Burgess at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, sent an email to his entire department, telling them that LIGO had found a real, and “spectacular,” signal of two large black holes merging.Now, the muzzle has been lifted and the physicists can geek out at the top of their lungs. Keep an eye on social media today, it should be a ruckus.The discovery of gravitational waves confirms an important aspect of the theory of relativity, but it does much more than that. Quite literally, it opens up a new chapter in our exploration of the cosmos, one where electromagnetic radiation is no longer our only tool for “seeing” the universe. As MIT astrophysicist Scott Hughes told Gizmodo in a phone interview, we can use gravitational waves to probe mysterious celestial objects like black holes and neutron stars, which typically no light.“There’s a lot of rich information encoded in gravitational waves,” he said, noting that the shape of a spacetime ripple can tell us about the size and motion of the object that produced it. “As an astronomer, I try to think about how to go from the ‘sound’ of the waveform that LIGO measures, to the parameters that produce that waveform.”Hughes also notes that once our detectors are sensitive enough to catch gravitational waves regularly, we can start to build a census of the universe’s most energetic events. “Actually getting some demographic data is one of the key things we hope to do in an era of detection,” he said.“Whenever first detection happens, there’s gonna be a party, no question,” he continued. “But after that, when detection becomes routine, is when things start getting really interesting.”A century-long hunt is over. But a new cosmic exploration is just beginning.Follow the author @themadstone

This True American Hero Built a VR Version of Duck Hunt


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

This True American Hero Built a VR Version of Duck Hunt

Joseph Delgado is my new hero. The 21-year-old computer science student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, took his Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 and morphed the 8-bit NES classic into a virtual reality adventure. It looks super fun.The development process sounds relatively simple, too. Delgado converted the 2D sprites into 3D models with a Python script. The gray-and-orange NES Zapper is replaced by the VR handset Razer Hydras for the controller, though that iconic plastic gun still appears as your in-game weapon. Leaving the Hydra’s base station on a desk screws with the accuracy and response time of the controller though, so Delgado 3D-printed a headmount and stuck the base on his head. He made the game for Global Game Jam 2016, a sort of round-the-world hackathon for game developers.Delgado also tweaked the gameplay so that it’s a seven-day challenge, and each day, the ducks get faster and the game gets harder. He even made an original hub world that you access in between days that tells you your goal for the day. It’s also got a TV on static and is filled with empty liquor bottles you can practice shooting on.Delgado commented on YouTube that he plans on releasing it for free, and will probably port it to HTC Vive when it comes out. Read more about his process behind making the game on his blog. Joseph, are you taking requests? Can you do Metroid next, please?[Joseph Delgado]GIF via YouTube

A New Technique Makes GPS Accurate to an Inch


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

A New Technique Makes GPS Accurate to an Inch

GPS is an utterly pervasive and wonderful technology, but it’s increasingly not accurate enough for modern demands. Now a team of researchers can make it accurate right down to an inch.Regular GPS registers your location and velocity by measuring the time it takes to receive signals from four or more satellites, that were sent into space by the military. Alone, it can tell you where you are to within 30 feet. More recently a technique called Differential GPS (DGPS) improved on that resolution by adding ground-based reference stations—increasing accuracy to within 3 feet.Now, a team from the University of California, Riverside, has developed a technique that augments the regular GPS data with on-board inertial measurements from a sensor. Actually, that’s been tried before, but in the past it’s required large computers to combine the two data streams, rendering it ineffective for use in cars or mobile devices. Instead what the University of California team has done is create a set of new algorithms which, it claims, reduce the complexity of the calculation by several order of magnitude. In turn, that allows GPS systems in a mobile device to calculate position with an accuracy of just an inch. The research is published in IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology.The team hopes that the new GPS units could be used where accuracy is far more important that it was in the past. Autonomous vehicles is an obvious application, where knowing exactly where the vehicle is on the road is absolutely crucial—but it could be included in your phone, too.[IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology via PhysOrg]TechnImage by Aaron Parecki under Creative Commons license

The House Of Cards Season 4 Trailer Is Equal Parts Terrifying and Exciting


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

The House Of Cards Season 4 Trailer Is Equal Parts Terrifying and Exciting

House Of Cards Season 4 is coming in less than a month, but don’t worry: while you’re counting down the remaining 552 hours until you can binge on Frank, Netflix has released a new trailer to relieve the boredom. The trailer is everything we’ve come to expect from Netflix’s hallmark original programming: overly tense music, serious corruption, a little sex, and enough plot material to keep you scheming for months. March 4th can’t come soon enough. [YouTube]

The Arrow Smart Electric Go-Kart Is a Tesla For Nine-Year-Olds


Gizmodo / Andrew Liszewski on Toyland, shared by Andrew Liszewski to Gizmodo

The Arrow Smart Electric Go-Kart Is a Tesla For Nine-Year-Olds

Four-year-olds get to play with Power Wheels, teenagers get to drive real cars, but how do all those kids in-between quench their need for speed? With the new Arrow Smart-Kart from Actev Motors that sounds as feature-packed as a Tesla Model S, without the $70,000 price tag.There are actually a few different features that rightfully earn the Arrow go-kart its ‘smart’ moniker. Even though it was designed by professional racecar drivers and tops out at a brisk 12 miles per hour, the kart still prioritizes safety as much as it does driving fun.For example, a collision sensor mounted on the front of the Arrow will automatically stop the kart before it’s involved in a head-on crash that could damage both the vehicle and the driver. For kids who haven’t quite honed their reflexes, that alone could make the Arrow worthwhile. But the Smart Kart also connects to a free iOS and Android smartphone app over wi-fi allowing parents to limit the go-kart’s speed, range, and other capabilities.The Arrow Smart Kart is primarily designed for kids aged five to nine (although if an adult was able to squeeze into the tiny vehicle it actually supports riders up to 200 pounds) and as a young driver gets accustomed to controlling the kart without crashing, parents can slowly increase its top speed using the app.The Smart Kart also supports geo-fencing, so using the app parents can limit exactly how far a child can drive it. An onboard GPS tracker will automatically slow the vehicle to a crawl when it breaks a geo-fence barrier, which encourages kids to return to the pre-designated area so they can drive at full speed again.The Arrow’s accompanying app also has an emergency stop feature that completely shuts down the Smart Kart with the tap of a button. There’s notifications, including when the kart’s collision avoidance feature has been activated, or when the Arrow has been motionless for a set amount of time, indicating a possible problem. And it even keeps track of driving stats like time, distance, and speeds.On a full charge the Arrow will run for anywhere from 30 minutes to a full hour, depending on where or how fast the kart is being driven. If a kid has the pedal to the metal as they climb a mountain switchback, expect battery life to be closer to half an hour. Charging the battery is an overnight affair using the charger included with the kart, but a fast charger will also be available as an optional accessory, as well as additional batteries that can be quickly swapped out.In fact, accessories and add-ons will be a big part of the whole Arrow experience. The kart is available for pre-order starting today for $600, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Everything from custom body kits, to drifting wheel rings, to smart cones, to steering wheel upgrades will be available. Even the app has some clever ways to squeeze a few more bucks out of mom or dad with various synthesized engine sound effects that can be downloaded and shared to the vehicle.So if you’ve got a kid who seemingly can’t wait until they’re 16 to get behind the wheel, the Arrow Smart Kart could be a great way to tide them over, and maybe even teach them the basics of the road before you have to nervously climb in the passenger seat one day while helping them get their license.[Actev Motors]Toyland: We love toys. Join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

A New Technique Makes GPS Accurate to an Inch


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

A New Technique Makes GPS Accurate to an Inch

GPS is an utterly pervasive and wonderful technology, but it’s increasingly not accurate enough for modern demands. Now a team of researchers can make it accurate right down to an inch.Regular GPS registers your location and velocity by measuring the time it takes to receive signals from four or more satellites, that were sent into space by the military. Alone, it can tell you where you are to within 30 feet. More recently a technique called Differential GPS (DGPS) improved on that resolution by adding ground-based reference stations—increasing accuracy to within 3 feet.Now, a team from the University of California, Riverside, has developed a technique that augments the regular GPS data with on-board inertial measurements from a sensor. Actually, that’s been tried before, but in the past it’s required large computers to combine the two data streams, rendering it ineffective for use in cars or mobile devices. Instead what the University of California team has done is create a set of new algorithms which, it claims, reduce the complexity of the calculation by several order of magnitude. In turn, that allows GPS systems in a mobile device to calculate position with an accuracy of just an inch. The research is published in IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology.The team hopes that the new GPS units could be used where accuracy is far more important that it was in the past. Autonomous vehicles is an obvious application, where knowing exactly where the vehicle is on the road is absolutely crucial—but it could be included in your phone, too.[IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology via PhysOrg]TechnImage by Aaron Parecki under Creative Commons license

Your Stupid-Ass Typing Style Might Not Actually Be So Bad


Gizmodo / George Dvorsky

Your Stupid-Ass Typing Style Might Not Actually Be So Bad

Back in the olden days, most typists were trained to use all their fingers. That’s less of a concern now, leading to all sorts of self-taught typing styles. But as a new study shows, our lack of formal training—and our resistance to using all ten fingers—doesn’t mean we’re not proficient typists. I cringe every time I have to watch my teenage son type. Unlike his father, who still dutifully sets his eight fingers on the home row, this child of the digital era uses his two measly index fingers to type. Incredibly, however, it works for him; his fingers fly across the keyboard quickly and accurately. A new study from Aalto University supports this observation, suggesting it’s not the number of fingers that matters when typing, but how we use them. “We were surprised to observe that people who took a typing course, performed at similar average speed and accuracy, as those that taught typing to themselves and only used six fingers on average,” said study co-author Anna Feit in a statement. “The number of fingers does not effect typing speed. You could use just one or two fingers per hand and still type very fast.”Feit’s team recruited 30 volunteers of various ages and typing skills, and then recorded their individual styles with an optical motion capture system. A dozen high-speed infrared cameras tracked 52 reflective markers placed on the participants’ hands and fingers. This allowed the researchers to to measure the speed and accuracy of their individual typing styles. And to get a visual sense of typing commonalities, the researchers created finger-to-key maps. Fast typists, touch vs. self taught.Slow typists, touch vs. self-taughtAnalysis revealed that most participants used their left and right hands differently; some kept their left hands at the same place over the keyboard while their right hand moved from side-to-side, and vice-versa. Four groups of typists performed these similar movements with their left hand, and six groups with their right hand. The volunteers used anywhere from one to two fingers per hand (i.e. “hunt-and-peck”) to using all five. Some exhibited unique typing behaviors, like using the Caps Lock instead of shift, or using both thumbs together to hit the spacebar. Common strategies for each hand.Regardless of the style, however, the volunteers typed at different rates, some fast, some slow. This suggests that other factors are at play. For example, fast typists kept their hands on one position instead of moving them over the keyboard. They also used the same finger for the same letter virtually every time. The researchers also observed that untrained typists spent about twice as much time gazing at their fingers instead of the screen, which affected their ability to do complex editing tasks. The researchers say our typing techniques are often a reflection of the task being performed on the computer. “The touch typing system was developed for typing sentences on typewriters,” said Feit. “It is not advantageous for Photoshop shortcuts or gaming, often done with one hand on the mouse.” Developers could use this research to create better user interfaces both in software and in keyboards themselves. The interfaces should be tailored to the way we type today, not how we typed a long time ago.[Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems]Images: Aalto UniversityEmail the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him @dvorsky.

A Producer Is Tweeting Descriptions of Women from Movie Scripts and It’s Hilariously Awful


Gizmodo / Charlie Jane Anders on io9, shared by Mario Aguilar to Gizmodo

A Producer Is Tweeting Descriptions of Women from Movie Scripts and It’s Hilariously Awful

Ross Putman is a film producer with a few credits under his belt, and now he’s started a Twitter feed where he just tweets the initial descriptions of female main characters in the movie scripts he’s reading. It’s endlessly fascinating, and kind of garbage.According to Putman’s Twitter bio, “These are intros for female leads in actual scripts I read.” The only change he makes is that he changes all the names to Jane. Taken one at a time, these descriptions are kind of funny, like descriptions from old 1940s pulp novels.But when you read 20 of these in a row, it starts to feel kind of creepy and weird. Especially when you take in the part about “female leads.” In other words, these are the main characters (or female main characters, at least) in movies that people are trying to get made, and the writer of that movie only thinks of these characters in terms like “leggy” or “sexy.” Urk.Here are a few of the most notable:[Thanks Saladin Ahmed, from whom I also stole the top image]Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, which is available now. Here’s what people have been saying about it. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.http://www.amazon.com/All-Birds-Char…

Your Stupid-Ass Typing Style Might Not Actually Be So Bad


Gizmodo / George Dvorsky

Your Stupid-Ass Typing Style Might Not Actually Be So Bad

Back in the olden days, most typists were trained to use all their fingers. That’s less of a concern now, leading to all sorts of self-taught typing styles. But as a new study shows, our lack of formal training—and our resistance to using all ten fingers—doesn’t mean we’re not proficient typists. I cringe every time I have to watch my teenage son type. Unlike his father, who still dutifully sets his eight fingers on the home row, this child of the digital era uses his two measly index fingers to type. Incredibly, however, it works for him; his fingers fly across the keyboard quickly and accurately. A new study from Aalto University supports this observation, suggesting it’s not the number of fingers that matters when typing, but how we use them. “We were surprised to observe that people who took a typing course, performed at similar average speed and accuracy, as those that taught typing to themselves and only used six fingers on average,” said study co-author Anna Feit in a statement. “The number of fingers does not effect typing speed. You could use just one or two fingers per hand and still type very fast.”Feit’s team recruited 30 volunteers of various ages and typing skills, and then recorded their individual styles with an optical motion capture system. A dozen high-speed infrared cameras tracked 52 reflective markers placed on the participants’ hands and fingers. This allowed the researchers to to measure the speed and accuracy of their individual typing styles. And to get a visual sense of typing commonalities, the researchers created finger-to-key maps. Fast typists, touch vs. self taught.Slow typists, touch vs. self-taughtAnalysis revealed that most participants used their left and right hands differently; some kept their left hands at the same place over the keyboard while their right hand moved from side-to-side, and vice-versa. Four groups of typists performed these similar movements with their left hand, and six groups with their right hand. The volunteers used anywhere from one to two fingers per hand (i.e. “hunt-and-peck”) to using all five. Some exhibited unique typing behaviors, like using the Caps Lock instead of shift, or using both thumbs together to hit the spacebar. Common strategies for each hand.Regardless of the style, however, the volunteers typed at different rates, some fast, some slow. This suggests that other factors are at play. For example, fast typists kept their hands on one position instead of moving them over the keyboard. They also used the same finger for the same letter virtually every time. The researchers also observed that untrained typists spent about twice as much time gazing at their fingers instead of the screen, which affected their ability to do complex editing tasks. The researchers say our typing techniques are often a reflection of the task being performed on the computer. “The touch typing system was developed for typing sentences on typewriters,” said Feit. “It is not advantageous for Photoshop shortcuts or gaming, often done with one hand on the mouse.” Developers could use this research to create better user interfaces both in software and in keyboards themselves. The interfaces should be tailored to the way we type today, not how we typed a long time ago.[Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems]Images: Aalto UniversityEmail the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him @dvorsky.

IBM Watson Teams With Toronto Raptors On Data-Driven Talent Analysis


TechCrunch / Ron Miller

IBM Watson Teams With Toronto Raptors On Data-Driven Talent Analysis

 IBM announced today that is has teamed with the Toronto Raptors to bring cognitive analysis in the form of IBM Watson to the NBA team’s talent evaluation process.
The new tool called IBM Sports Insights Central, pulls in data from a variety of sources including statistics, video, social networking sentiment analysis, medical records and much more. It compares this data against the… Read More

Voice Control on Apple TV Is About To Get Way More Useful


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

Voice Control on Apple TV Is About To Get Way More Useful

When the new Apple TV was announced, the inclusion of Siri was a strong selling point—too bad it turned out to suck. Finally, though, Apple is making voice control on the set-top box rather more useful.The latest version of tvOS issued to developers includes something that will prove rather useful: voice dictation. As our very own Adam Clark Estes pointed out when he reviewed the new Apple TV, Siri just doesn’t currently cut it:I was… disappointed by how little Siri did in other apps. Asking Siri to play music is a joke, but who wants to listen to music on their TV? You can, however, open YouTube and say, “Play Ariana Grande.” If there’s an Ariana Grande video already displayed on the home screen, it will play. If not, Siri’s basically like: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯With the new developer beta, explains Mac Rumors, you’re able to speak at the Siri remote to dictate text as well as just asking dumb questions about the weather or sports scores. That suddenly means scrabbling around with on-screen keyboard isn’t always required. Adam will be pleased.Elsewhere, the new developer version of the OS also adds support for Bluetooth keyboards, iCloud Photo Libraries, and Live Photos.For now, though, this a beta for developers only. An official date for the roll-out of the new OS will likely be announced at the rumored upcoming Apple event.[Mac Rumors via The Verge]

Inside the Tech Behind New York’s Monstrously Fast Gigabit Wifi


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

Inside the Tech Behind New York’s Monstrously Fast Gigabit Wifi

New York City is replacing busted old payphone booths with amazing free gigabit wifi hotspots in 10,000 locations around the city. We’ve already tested an early version of the new service and it’s fast. Now we finally know why.The blazing wireless internet—which we clocked at a ridiculous 400 Mbps—is enabled by components developed by Qualcomm, one of the three companies behind CityBridge. For those that are unfamiliar, CityBridge is the New York-based group of companies made up of Qualcomm, CIVIQ and Intersection. CityBridge is the group that’s working with the city to replace over 7,500 existing pay phones with ultra-futuristic fountains of reliable wifi.There’s a lot riding on whether or not the wifi works. New York City’s new gigabit internet service is the initial testing ground for a project that could be rolled out to cities around the world. LinkNYC isn’t an exception—especially as it’s the biggest public wifi project in history.Kiva Allgood, vice president of Qualcomm’s Intelligent Solutions division, says LinkNYC is part of a Smart Cities initiative that aims to take similar internet infrastructure around the world—but it starts in New York.“We bring the wifi, all those antennas, and put them in a metal box,” Allgood told Gizmodo. “It does have to pay for itself. New York is unique with advertising.” The $200 million project will generate a lot of income through ads, which’ll play on big electronic displays on the side of each unit. Since New York brims with over 8 million data-hungry humans roaming the streets, those ads are prime real estate, especially when you consider LinkNYC’s mission of planting a Link every 150 feet.You’re probably wondering how each Link will be able to handle the hundreds of tired tourists huddling on the curb for a mini-binge of Orange Is the New Black. While we were told that LinkNYC is supposed to be something of a fleeting experience, allowing people to perform quick, on-the-go tasks like checking email, Allgood assured me that the tech inside each Link is built to withstand dozens of streaming video-watchers.Inside is MIMO wifi, which stands for “multiple in, multiple out.” It’s specifically designed to avoid traffic congestion by serving multiple devices simultaneously—useful when you’re serving throngs of smartphone-toting humans in America’s biggest city. So, even if a bunch of people did camp out for group YouTube parties, the Links should still be cranking out breakneck wifi for the crowds at all times.For specs lovers, here are the full details about what’s actually inside each Link, which is being announced formally today:For the wifi: Ruckus Wireless ZoneFlex 802.11ac wave 2 4×4 access points, supported by a Qualcomm Internet Processor and the Qualcomm VIVE 11ac Wi-Fi solution with Qualcomm MU|EFX Multi-User MIMO technologyFor 911 calls: Sierra Wireless’ MC9090 3G modem, incorporating a Qualcomm Technologies’ chipsetFor displays and ads: eInfochips’ Eragon Single Board Computer solution featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, the first Snapdragon processor to feature the Qualcomm Adreno 320 graphics processing unitFor USB charging: Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 All that stuff is also what lets users browse the internet and access city maps and directions on the built-in Android tablets. Those tablets aren’t active yet, though. Allgood told me that in the next two weeks, Mayor Bloomberg will host an event that officially brings the Links out of beta and activates the tablets. Once activated, New Yorkers will even be able to use them to pay utility bills, or make video calls on Skype. See? They’re still (kinda) like (futuristic) pay phones after all!Another phone-like function? Always-available 911 calling. That onboard modem is what operates the call: Press the big red button and you’ll instantly be connected to a first responder. Finally, users can charge their devices using a Link’s Quick Charge ports, which apparently juice your phone 75 percent faster than most devices. (We’ve yet to try that, obviously, but the city’s claims that the wifi being super fast were true—so hopefully the same goes for these phone charging speeds.)We tested the Links here in Manhattan, and they are indeed awesome—their wifi crushed a nearby Starbucks’, and was even faster than the internet at the Gawker offices. While New York will continue blazing the trail for free omnipresent gigabit wifi (the idea is that there are so many units, you connect to the network once and you’ll never have to reconnect again), Allgood told me that Qualcomm’s looking to help take similar technology around the world. “We have several projects across the board, including seven or eight other cities internationally, including Latin America,” Allgood said. Other cities might not have Link-like devices that look exactly like New York’s, though. Some countries, including in Latin America, actually have laws that require payphones to exist on the streets, in order to accommodate citizens who lack mobile phones. So in those cases, Links may complement rather than fully replace.For now, though, the Big Apple is the world’s guinea pig. All eyes are on New York—and all of New York’s hands are on wifi-craving smartphones.Image: LinkNYC

You Can Get 2GB of Free Google Drive Storage Today


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

You Can Get 2GB of Free Google Drive Storage Today

Want some more space for your documents? Of course you do. Well, you can grab 2GB of extra capacity on Google Drive for free today. Here’s how.All you need to to is head to Google and run through a very brief security update—checking that your backup email address is correct, renewing account permissions, that kind of thing. For a couple of minutes of work, you’ll be given 2GB of extra storage on Drive. What are you waiting for? Go do it.The offer is to mark Safer Internet Day 2016, and it’s similar to a promotion Google ran last year, too. But don’t worry: If you got 2GB of free space then, you can still claim another 2GB today. Happy days.[Google via Reddit]

You Can Now Sleep In This Trippy Airbnb Bedroom Based on a Van Gogh Painting


Gizmodo / Michael Nunez

You Can Now Sleep In This Trippy Airbnb Bedroom Based on a Van Gogh Painting

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to see the world through the crazy eyes of very crazy Vincent Van Gogh, now you can. The Art Institute of Chicago built a life-size replica of his popular painting, Bedroom In Arles. The room is available for rent on Airbnb starting today, and judging by the photos, it’s a nearly an exact replica of the famous painting.The rental was built to promote a new exhibition, Van Gogh’s Bedrooms, that opens at the museum on February 14 and runs until May 10. The exhibition is the first time that all three versions of the painting will be shown in North America, and it includes several extra presentations, including a digitally enhanced reconstruction of the room—you can’t sleep in it, but you can interact with it to learn more about new scientific research on the painting.Right now, there are no longer dates available to rent the room in February, but the Art Institute plans to release more rentals in the near future. “The available dates went much faster than anyone could have expected,” the museum posted on Facebook. “We’ll be sharing available dates in March in the next couple of weeks.”If you’re lucky enough to get one of the coveted spots for this Airbnb listing, you’ll be allowed to bring a friend. The room accommodates two people and even comes with a bathroom. More importantly, the room only costs ten bucks per night.“I’m charging $10 for no other reason than that I need to buy paint,” says the description of the room, written as though it were penned Vincent Van Gogh. “However, I will be happy to provide you with tickets to my exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.” What a deal.[Colossal]Images via AirbnbContact the author at michael.nunez@gizmodo.com.

Inside the Tech Behind New York’s Monstrously Fast Gigabit Wifi


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

Inside the Tech Behind New York’s Monstrously Fast Gigabit Wifi

New York City is replacing busted old payphone booths with amazing free gigabit wifi hotspots in 10,000 locations around the city. We’ve already tested an early version of the new service and it’s fast. Now we finally know why.The blazing wireless internet—which we clocked at a ridiculous 400 Mbps—is enabled by components developed by Qualcomm, one of the three companies behind CityBridge. For those that are unfamiliar, CityBridge is the New York-based group of companies made up of Qualcomm, CIVIQ and Intersection. CityBridge is the group that’s working with the city to replace over 7,500 existing pay phones with ultra-futuristic fountains of reliable wifi.There’s a lot riding on whether or not the wifi works. New York City’s new gigabit internet service is the initial testing ground for a project that could be rolled out to cities around the world. LinkNYC isn’t an exception—especially as it’s the biggest public wifi project in history.Kiva Allgood, vice president of Qualcomm’s Intelligent Solutions division, says LinkNYC is part of a Smart Cities initiative that aims to take similar internet infrastructure around the world—but it starts in New York.“We bring the wifi, all those antennas, and put them in a metal box,” Allgood told Gizmodo. “It does have to pay for itself. New York is unique with advertising.” The $200 million project will generate a lot of income through ads, which’ll play on big electronic displays on the side of each unit. Since New York brims with over 8 million data-hungry humans roaming the streets, those ads are prime real estate, especially when you consider LinkNYC’s mission of planting a Link every 150 feet.You’re probably wondering how each Link will be able to handle the hundreds of tired tourists huddling on the curb for a mini-binge of Orange Is the New Black. While we were told that LinkNYC is supposed to be something of a fleeting experience, allowing people to perform quick, on-the-go tasks like checking email, Allgood assured me that the tech inside each Link is built to withstand dozens of streaming video-watchers.Inside is MIMO wifi, which stands for “multiple in, multiple out.” It’s specifically designed to avoid traffic congestion by serving multiple devices simultaneously—useful when you’re serving throngs of smartphone-toting humans in America’s biggest city. So, even if a bunch of people did camp out for group YouTube parties, the Links should still be cranking out breakneck wifi for the crowds at all times.For specs lovers, here are the full details about what’s actually inside each Link, which is being announced formally today:For the wifi: Ruckus Wireless ZoneFlex 802.11ac wave 2 4×4 access points, supported by a Qualcomm Internet Processor and the Qualcomm VIVE 11ac Wi-Fi solution with Qualcomm MU|EFX Multi-User MIMO technologyFor 911 calls: Sierra Wireless’ MC9090 3G modem, incorporating a Qualcomm Technologies’ chipsetFor displays and ads: eInfochips’ Eragon Single Board Computer solution featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, the first Snapdragon processor to feature the Qualcomm Adreno 320 graphics processing unitFor USB charging: Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 All that stuff is also what lets users browse the internet and access city maps and directions on the built-in Android tablets. Those tablets aren’t active yet, though. Allgood told me that in the next two weeks, Mayor de Blasio will host an event that officially activates the tablets. Once activated, New Yorkers will even be able to use them to pay utility bills, or make video calls on Skype. See? They’re still (kinda) like (futuristic) pay phones after all!Another phone-like function? Always-available 911 calling. That onboard modem is what operates the call: Press the big red button and you’ll instantly be connected to a first responder. Finally, users can charge their devices using a Link’s Quick Charge ports, which apparently juice your phone 75 percent faster than most devices. (We’ve yet to try that, obviously, but the city’s claims that the wifi being super fast were true—so hopefully the same goes for these phone charging speeds.)We tested the Links here in Manhattan, and they are indeed awesome—their wifi crushed a nearby Starbucks’, and was even faster than the internet at the Gawker offices. While New York will continue blazing the trail for free omnipresent gigabit wifi (the idea is that there are so many units, you connect to the network once and you’ll never have to reconnect again), Allgood told me that Qualcomm’s looking to help take similar technology around the world. “We have several projects across the board, including seven or eight other cities internationally, including Latin America,” Allgood said. Other cities might not have Link-like devices that look exactly like New York’s, though. Some countries, including in Latin America, actually have laws that require payphones to exist on the streets, in order to accommodate citizens who lack mobile phones. So in those cases, Links may complement rather than fully replace.For now, though, the Big Apple is the world’s guinea pig. All eyes are on New York—and all of New York’s hands are on wifi-craving smartphones.Image: LinkNYCCorrection, 8:47 a.m.: The story misidentified which New York mayor is involved. (It’s the current mayor, Bill de Blasio.)

You Can Get 2GB of Free Google Drive Storage Today


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

You Can Get 2GB of Free Google Drive Storage Today

Want some more space for your documents? Of course you do. Well, you can grab 2GB of extra capacity on Google Drive for free today. Here’s how.All you need to to is head to Google and run through a very brief security update—checking that your backup email address is correct, renewing account permissions, that kind of thing. For a couple of minutes of work, you’ll be given 2GB of extra storage on Drive. What are you waiting for? Go do it.The offer is to mark Safer Internet Day 2016, and it’s similar to a promotion Google ran last year, too. But don’t worry: If you got 2GB of free space then, you can still claim another 2GB today. Happy days.[Google via Reddit]

SETI Scientist Explains Why We Haven’t Found Aliens Yet


TechCrunch / Emily Calandrelli

SETI Scientist Explains Why We Haven’t Found Aliens Yet

 The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is a field of science that’s been around for over 60 years. While SETI tools and strategies have improved immensely over that time, we have yet to find definitive evidence for intelligent alien life in our universe. TechCrunch spoke with famed astronomer Jill Tarter, to understand how the search has changed over the years and why… Read More

Playboy’s First Nudity-Free Issue Targets Teens With a Snapchat Selfie


Gizmodo / Adam Clark Estes

Playboy’s First Nudity-Free Issue Targets Teens With a Snapchat Selfie

This is Sarah McDaniel, a 20-year-old Instagram celebrity. She’s on the cover of the newly nudity-free Playboy magazine, striking a very millennial pose. Notice anything odd about her eyes, though? McDaniel took the internet by storm a few months ago thanks in part to her particularly beautiful case of heterochromia irdum. This is why she has one brown eye and one blue eye. But that’s only a small part of what makes this cover interesting. Since Playboy decided to go PG-13 in October, the magazine says that traffic to its website has spiked by 400-percent and the mean reader age dropped from 47-years-old to 30. It seems like the pivot to being a better-behaved media empire was pretty smart.Cleverly, the new cover manages to evoke not only the obvious Snapchat reference but also a little bit of the internet cam girl allure. So it’s familiar, if not a little naughty at the same time. McDaniel said of the cover, “The idea was to look at me from a boyfriend’s perspective.” (The photo was, of course, taken by a professional.)It’s voyeuristic and alluring which is why people started “reading” Playboy in the first place. [Playboy, New York Times]Contact the author at adam@gizmodo.com.Public PGP keyPGP fingerprint: 91CF B387 7B38 148C DDD6 38D2 6CBC 1E46 1DBF 22A8

How to Watch Super Bowl 50 Online 


Gizmodo / Kate Knibbs

How to Watch Super Bowl 50 Online 

It can be a pain in the ass to stream live sports, but this year’s Super Bowl 50 will be easy to watch on February 7, even without a cable subscription. This is a fantastic innovation, because it means cordcutters will spend less time agonizing over how to watch the Denver Broncos play the Carolina Panthers and more time crafting delicious cheese-based dips, as God intended. If you own a Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, or Amazon Fire box, you can download CBS’s Sports or National Football League apps and watch the game for free that way, even if you don’t have a cable subscription. The commercials played on TV will also play through the app.If you want to watch on your laptop or tablet from within the US, you can go to CBSSports.com. Verizon customers can stream the game on smartphones through its NFL Mobile app. It’ll probably destroy your data package if you’re not using wi-fi, so be careful. If you’re not in the US, though, it’s much harder to see the game for free. As The New York Times points out, international football fans will need to pay for access:International fans cannot stream the game without a subscription to N.F.L. Game Pass, a $99-a-year video service for watching football games, according to the N.F.L.That doesn’t mean Broncos or Panthers fans overseas are screwed. It’s just harder, and (in some cases) less legal to get the game digitally without paying for Game Pass. If you know someone who has a TV and a Slingbox, you can use the Slingbox to stream the game to your device, though it’s not really free because a Slingbox is pricy. I can see this option appealing to Americans who happen to be traveling during the Super Bowl, and who already own a Slingbox, but it’s definitely not ideal. Cult of Mac has another option—in theory, someone could use the service Uno Telly to spoof a US IP address, which would allow international viewers to use the CBS Sports app on Apple TV as though they were within the US. (Gizmodo has never tested the service and cannot recommend it.)And I’m probably not supposed to tell you this but if you Google “stream Super Bowl” you’ll likely find a malware-riddled stream that you can play directly in your browser. I have done this before in times of desperation, but the buffering situation was NOT ideal, also there’s a roughly 89 percent chance a ring of Russian hackers has been reading all my emails. THIS IS NOT ADVICE DON’T DO THIS I’M JUST SAYIN’ YOU PROBABLY COULD. Image: AP

Don’t Believe Facebook’s Claim That ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ Is Bogus


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

Don’t Believe Facebook’s Claim That ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ Is Bogus

Today, a Facebook post revealed that each Facebook user is an average of only 3.57 connections away from all users on the site. That by itself is interesting, but instead, Facebook’s comparing it to the popular theory of six degrees of separation—presenting its user base and the general population as two groups that, hell, may as well be considered one in the same!The post starts with a description of six degrees of separation: The notion that it takes just six social connections to link you with every human on Earth. But Facebook (which celebrates its twelfth birthday today) disagrees: “We’ve crunched the Facebook friend graph and determined that the number is actually 3.57.” At least among the 1.59 billion people on Facebook.Let’s break it down. First, of course the number of connections could be fewer, if the overall sample is smaller—1.59 billion isn’t the world’s 7.4 billion! (The Facebook post says, however, that apparently interconnectivity has grown as the user base has increased.) But still, groups that have more in common will obviously be more connected. In this case, people with enough internet access, free time, and the sheer interest of owning a Facebook account.Personally, I would’ve been super interested if Facebook was using its mathematicians and social networking wizards to try and debunk the six degrees theory (which is already kinda sketchy and flawed) on a wider scale, going beyond the boundaries of Facebook and proving that we all are actually more connected than we think. And hey, maybe the happy rainbow unity magic of the internet might actually have something to do with it. Instead, this is Facebook’s latest attempt to make us think the site is a basic part of the human experience.[Facebook Research]Image via Facebook

Don’t Believe Facebook’s Claim That ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ Is Bogus


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

Don’t Believe Facebook’s Claim That ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ Is Bogus

Today, a Facebook post revealed that each Facebook user is an average of only 3.57 connections away from all users on the site. That by itself is interesting, but instead, Facebook’s comparing it to the popular theory of six degrees of separation—presenting its user base and the general population as two groups that, hell, may as well be considered one in the same!The post starts with a description of six degrees of separation: The notion that it takes just six social connections to link you with every human on Earth. But Facebook (which celebrates its twelfth birthday today) disagrees: “We’ve crunched the Facebook friend graph and determined that the number is actually 3.57.” At least among the 1.59 billion people on Facebook.Let’s break it down. First, of course the number of connections could be fewer, if the overall sample is smaller—1.59 billion isn’t the world’s 7.4 billion! (The Facebook post says, however, that apparently interconnectivity has grown as the user base has increased.) But still, groups that have more in common will obviously be more connected. In this case, people with enough internet access, free time, and the sheer interest of owning a Facebook account.Personally, I would’ve been super interested if Facebook was using its mathematicians and social networking wizards to try and debunk the six degrees theory (which is already kinda sketchy and flawed) on a wider scale, going beyond the boundaries of Facebook and proving that we all are actually more connected than we think. And hey, maybe the happy rainbow unity magic of the internet might actually have something to do with it. Instead, this is Facebook’s latest attempt to make us think the site is a basic part of the human experience.[Facebook Research]Image via Facebook

Promising New Therapy Extends Lifespans of Mice by 35 Percent


Gizmodo / George Dvorsky

Promising New Therapy Extends Lifespans of Mice by 35 Percent

By flushing out cells worn-out with age, researchers from the Mayo Clinic have extended the lifespans of mice by as much as 35 percent. It’s an encouraging finding that could eventually lead to similar therapies in humans. Aging is a complex biological process with no single causal factor. One particularly critical contributor of aging, however, is a process known as cellular senescence (senescence being a fancy word for aging). After a while, our cells stop dividing properly, leading to a host of age-related problems, including frailty, inflammation, tissue and organ damage, and diseases like pulmonary fibrosis, atherosclerosis, and arthritis. With this in mind, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found a way to destroy these worn-out cells in normal mice, extending their lifespan by as much as 25 to 35 percent. Excitingly, this aging process applies to humans as well, giving hope to potential life-extending therapies. The details of this work can now be found in the latest edition of Nature. The problem with senescent cells is at least twofold. First, their inability to divide properly means they’re no longer contributing to the growth of healthy tissue. Second, these stressed-out cells pollute the body, damaging healthy cells nearby. The result is chronic inflammation, which is closely linked to frailty and other age-related diseases. Tellingly, the accumulation of abnormal amounts of senescent cells tends to happen where disease occurs, including in our lungs, joints, and arteries.Our immune system clears out senescent cells on a regular basis, but this process becomes less effective over time. What’s less known, however, is if these damaged cells are somehow beneficial to our health. Going into the study, the Mayo Clinic researchers asked themselves two important questions: are these senescent cells important drivers of disease, and if so, can their removal be used as a therapeutic mechanism to treat patients of age-related diseases?To explore the role of senescent cells in aging, a team led by Jan van Deursen, Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Mayo Clinic, created a mouse model in which these cells could be flushed out. The researchers transplanted a foreign gene into otherwise normal mice, allowing them to remove the worn-out cells with a drug called AP20187. It worked quite well, clearing out about 60 to 70 percent of senescent cells in middle-aged mice (which for mice is about 12 months). Treatments continued until the mice died of natural causes. The effect was nothing short of extraordinary: The median lifespan of the treated mice were extended by 25 to 35 percent. Importantly, the intervention didn’t just extend lifespan, it extended healthy lifespan—and without any observable side-effects. Observations of the treated mice revealed delays in tumor formation, and preserved tissue and organ function, including reduced inflammation in fat, muscle, and kidney tissue.This research strongly suggests that the accumulation of senescent cells is largely a bad thing; not only do they shorten life, they shorten the healthy parts of our lives. The study also bolsters the theory that cellular senescence is a mechanism that contributes to cancer and the proliferation of tumors. As the research shows, treated mice displayed a decreased disposition towards cancer. The treated mice still developed tumors associated with aging, but the rate of growth decreased, and they died of these tumors much later. Looking ahead, the researchers are hoping to apply these findings to the development of life-extending therapies in humans. And they’re not kidding; van Deursen and study co-author Darren Baker have licensed patents to develop such drugs for a company that van Deursen co-founded. Importantly, this study was done on mice, and humans are obviously not mice. It’s unlikely that a similar intervention in humans would extend our lives by a whopping 35 percent (which would raise human life expectancy to around 115 to 120 years!) But it could very possibly extend human lifespan a bit. And importantly, it would likely stave off age-related diseases and extend the healthy phase of our lives.[Nature]Top image: Jan van DeursenEmail the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him @dvorsky.

Source: iPhone 7 will be similar in design to iPhone 6, but will have a flush rear camera, and no antenna bands on back (Eric Slivka/MacRumors)


Techmeme /

Source: iPhone 7 will be similar in design to iPhone 6, but will have a flush rear camera, and no antenna bands on back (Eric Slivka/MacRumors)

Eric Slivka / MacRumors:
Source: iPhone 7 will be similar in design to iPhone 6, but will have a flush rear camera, and no antenna bands on back  —  First Details on iPhone 7 Design: Flush Rear Camera, No Antenna Bands Across the Back  —  Apple’s iPhone 7 isn’t expected to launch until the usual September timeframe …

Ohlala, An Uber For Escorts, Launches Its ‘Paid Dating’ Service In NYC


TechCrunch / Lucas Matney

Ohlala, An Uber For Escorts, Launches Its ‘Paid Dating’ Service In NYC

 New Yorkers sick of the tired uncertainties of the urban dating scene can now turn to a new dating app that’s aiming to reduce its complexities to dollars and cents.
Ohlala, a controversial on-demand escort dating app popular in Germany, is launching its services today in its first American market, New York City.
It was no sooner than Ohlala’s CEO and co-founder… Read More

Ohlala, An Uber For Escorts, Launches Its ‘Paid Dating’ Service In NYC


TechCrunch / Lucas Matney

Ohlala, An Uber For Escorts, Launches Its ‘Paid Dating’ Service In NYC

 New Yorkers sick of the tired uncertainties of the urban dating scene can now turn to a new dating app that’s aiming to reduce its complexities to dollars and cents.
Ohlala, a controversial on-demand escort dating app popular in Germany, is launching its services today in its first American market, New York City.
It was no sooner than Ohlala’s CEO and co-founder… Read More

Google’s Cars Drive Three Million Simulated Miles Every Day


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

Google’s Cars Drive Three Million Simulated Miles Every Day

Google’s self-driving cars have racked up about 1.4 million self-driven miles on actual roads in the last six years, but as impressive as that sounds, it’s a pittance compared to what the simulators have been doing behind the scenes. As part of its monthly report on self-driving cars, Google has detailed the simulators it uses to test out software changes for its fleet. Every mile driven by a car with sensors has been tabulated as a two-million-mile virtual test course for every version of Google’s software. Whenever code is changed, it ‘re-drives’ all the miles that Google’s cars have driven in the real world before, to see how it reacts: “For example, to make left turns at an intersection more comfortable for our passengers, we modified our software to adjust the angle at which our cars would travel. To test this change, we then rerun our entire driving history of 2+ million miles with the new turning pattern to ensure that it doesn’t just make our car better at left turns, but that the changes creates a better driving experience overall.The report claims that Google simulates three million miles of driving every day, which obviously requires some processing horsepower. Luckily, Google has a few data centers to spare. The simulator is also useful for working out what went wrong in the past. Every time a test driver takes control to avoid a potential accident, Google’s engineers later simulate what would have happened had the car continued driving, and obviously fix any deficiencies. Simulators alone won’t make self-driving cars any better in rain or snow; but as a tool to speed up development, and check new versions of software, it’s potent. Good thing Google has a few spare computers lying around. [Google]Contact the author at chris@gizmodo.com.

I Want This Google Now Mirror In My Bathroom Immediately


Gizmodo / Darren Orf

I Want This Google Now Mirror In My Bathroom Immediately

Smart mirrors still reside in the realm of tinkerers, only achievable for those who’ve mastered the art of DIY electronics. Which is too bad! Because Max Braun, a software engineer at Google, may have hacked together the first IoT device I actually want to buy.Braun uses a combination of Android and weather forecast APIs, along with an Associated Press RSS feed to create this informative pane of glass. Despite the mirror’s already impressive appearance, Braun still calls the project a work-in-progress. Inside, the mirror is still a jungle of wires with an Amazon Fire TV Stick at its heart running the Android API.Braun says that he’s still experimenting with “traffic, reminders, and essentially anything that has a Google Now card” to add to the mirror. So cool.Google. If you need moonshot projects that actually make money, this is it. I will buy it immediately. Just tell much money I need to throw at you.[Medium]Images used with permission of Max BraunContact the author at darren.orf@gizmodo.com

I Want This Google Now Mirror In My Bathroom Immediately


Gizmodo / Darren Orf

I Want This Google Now Mirror In My Bathroom Immediately

Smart mirrors still reside in the realm of tinkerers, only achievable for those who’ve mastered the art of DIY electronics. Which is too bad! Because Max Braun, a software engineer at Google, may have hacked together the first IoT device I actually want to buy.Braun uses a combination of Android and weather forecast APIs, along with an Associated Press RSS feed to create this informative pane of glass. Despite the mirror’s already impressive appearance, Braun still calls the project a work-in-progress. Inside, the mirror is still a jungle of wires with an Amazon Fire TV Stick at its heart running the Android API.Braun says that he’s still experimenting with “traffic, reminders, and essentially anything that has a Google Now card” to add to the mirror. So cool.Google. If you need moonshot projects that actually make money, this is it. I will buy it immediately. Just tell much money I need to throw at you.[Medium]Images used with permission of Max BraunContact the author at darren.orf@gizmodo.com

Here’s What Watching The Super Bowl With Microsoft’s HoloLens Could Look Like


TechCrunch / Frederic Lardinois

Here’s What Watching The Super Bowl With Microsoft’s HoloLens Could Look Like

 Watching sports could soon be a very different experience — at least if it’s up to Microsoft and the NFL. Before you know it, a holographic player could be charging through your walls and replays could play in 3D on your coffee table.
Microsoft today released a new concept for its HoloLens augmented reality goggles that shows off its vision for what the combination of sports and… Read More

Here’s What Watching The Super Bowl With Microsoft’s HoloLens Could Look Like


TechCrunch / Frederic Lardinois

Here’s What Watching The Super Bowl With Microsoft’s HoloLens Could Look Like

 Watching sports could soon be a very different experience — at least if it’s up to Microsoft and the NFL. Before you know it, a holographic player could be charging through your walls and replays could play in 3D on your coffee table.
Microsoft today released a new concept for its HoloLens augmented reality goggles that shows off its vision for what the combination of sports and… Read More

Build This Dream Theater For Your Super Bowl 50 Party


Gizmodo / Alex Cranz

Build This Dream Theater For Your Super Bowl 50 Party

The Super Bowl is less than a week away, and that means it’s time to throw out everything you own and start living like a real American—with a brand new home entertainment system plopped right in the middle of your living room. Sure, you could probably get by streaming the game on a laptop, but it’s 2016. Why not treat yourself to that massive 70-inch TV or that robotic butler you’ve always dreamed of? Here’s a look at the best Super Bowl party gear:The TelevisionYou need a centerpiece for your new set up. A display that you and your Super Bowl-viewing guests can really revel in. You could go with a projector: Sony has a couple in the $20,000 range that are great so long as you have a giant wall to project on. But the images cast by projectors can look like garbage when the lights are on or the sun is out. More importantly, you have less than a week until the game, and you probably don’t have time to install a theater-quality projection system.The safe, and still wonderful choice, is a television. Samsung makes a solid $3,000 LED option that uses nanocrystals to brighten the image and bring out stronger contrasts. That’s quantum physics, man. You can’t argue with that.If you want to do one better, you should get an OLED TV. The latest from LG have a few billion pixels that can be individually controlled, so you get the blackest blacks and the whitest whites (which will be especially handy when the vanilla white Oscars are on next month). LG’s 65EF9500, a 65-inch 4K OLED television, is the one to beat. You might be throwing down $6,000 ($5,000 on sale!) just so your eyeballs can be exposed to bright lights every day, but it’s probably cheaper than a ticket to the Super Bowl. So spend your money wisely: On this beautiful 65-inch 4K OLED television.http://www.amazon.com/LG-Electronics…The AudioOnce you have your TV, you’ll want to pipe in some high-quality audio. Your mother warbling in the house three counties over sounds better than what comes out of those tiny-ass speakers on the back of your TV. So grab some good speakers, but not a 7.1 surround sound system with an amp, receiver, and cords slithering everywhere.Go with Sonos instead. You’ll need the Playbar to put under your TV, and you’ll have to put down cash for multiple PLAY1 or PLAY5 speakers, but you won’t have to deal with a bulky receiver taking up space in your media console. And everything is wireless! And there’s really cool software that optimizes the audio for the room you’re in. And for a couple hundred bucks per speaker, you’re probably not going to find a better deal.http://www.amazon.com/SONOS-PLAYBAR-…The ButlerClearly the best bang for your buck is a small child, but child labor laws being what they are, the second best kind of butler would be Pepper, the robot butler. While it (I refuse to gender robots even if Pepper’s sexist overlords do) isn’t designed for butler duties, it can perceive human emotion. So it should be able to perceive your need for the nachos baking in the oven. Get it here.The RemoteA butler, a TV, and a good audio system are fine, but you still need something to control it all. Savant—known for the home automation systems for the rich and famous—makes a gorgeous remote, but Logitech makes a remote that ships via Amazon Prime. Both control everything in your house that’s connected to the central hub. That means your TV, your lights, even your thermostat…if you are so inclined.http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Harmo…The Set Top BoxIf you think you’ll be able to stream the Super Bowl in glorious 4K resolution—you’re wrong. The NFL broadcasts all games in 720p, a noticeably low resolution compared to other streaming services like Netflix. But that shouldn’t stop you from getting a set-top box that streams 4K video. The Nvidia Shield will do just that. And when you’re not streaming TV shows, it will let you stream games from your PC to the living room. So even though the Shield might not come in handy during game time, it will be great when you re-watch all the Super Bowl commercials on YouTube in 4K.http://www.amazon.com/NVIDIA-SHIELD-…Mood LightingYou need to be fully immersed in the game and that 65-inch OLED 4K TV will definitely help. But to really bring out the glowing allure of your TV, stick these Dream Screen LED backlights on the back. They change color depending on what the display is showing, and help the image pop a little more. We’re not exactly sure of the scientific validity behind this, but we can say that it does look pretty damn sweet.Other Mood LightingYou have the lights behind the TV covered, now you need to blanket the kitchen in a soft glow. Philips Hue is a system of very expensive lights that change color depending on how you program them. They also come pre-loaded with 17 “scenes” that let you change the room’s ambiance with the press of a button. Great for providing light without disrupting the game.http://www.amazon.com/Philips-456210…The SeatingBecause you threw your furniture out to make way for you new entertainment lifestyle, you now need new seating. Don’t get a cozy pair of home theater seats or a couch upholstered in Italian leather. Get something easily deflated so you can kick it out of the room when you’re all standing and shouting at the TV.http://www.amazon.com/Intex-Pull-out…The FridgePepper the robot is on nacho duty, but what about beverage duty? Do you really want to be running to the kitchen for soda and/or beer constantly? When your significant other, who hates carbonated beverages, needs a long pour of Cold Duck or Franzia, you need to be ready. So why not grab a $5200 fridge that dispenses wine like soda.http://www.amazon.com/Vinotemp-VT-10…The Cleanup CrewWhen the party is over someone has to clean up. Or something. A robot vacuum will clean without complaining and babysit your child while you’re vomiting away your hangover. You’ll have to duct tape the child to the vacuum, but that’s a price I’m personally willing to pay.http://www.amazon.com/iRobot-Roomba-…Contact the author at alex.cranz@gizmodo.com.

What’s Up With Uber’s New Logo? 


Gizmodo / Katharine Trendacosta

What’s Up With Uber’s New Logo? 

That’s Uber’s new logo which isn’t a stylized “u” anymore. Which is a weird choice that doesn’t seem at all connected with the name of the brand. Updated with more information and another logo. The new logo, along with quadcopter-like background, is already everywhere from App Store:To the official Uber twitter account:The old “U” one is still trademarked by Uber, but I bet we’ll be seeing a filing on the new one relatively soon. There’s no real reason for the change we can tell, other than maybe that Uber is trying to make itself over as a company. In which case, a weird disc with a square isn’t going to cut it. Updated: Wired has a piece on the new (and colorful) redesign. The logo we’re seeing everywhere is the “rider” one, with another “partner” one:The new logo, as one of the other writer’s here has pointed out, bears a bit of a resemblance to the logo for Chase. According to Wired, founder and CEO Travis Kalanick didn’t go to a marketing company for the rebranding (also called a “coming of age” story in Wired), but did it all in-house. Maybe if they had gone to someone else, they would have been told that a logo so totally divorced from a connection with the actual name of the company defeats the purpose of a trademark: easy identification. The new wordmark—the font and spacing of the company name—is actually great. It is much easier to read and still keeps some of the classic Uber look:The rest of the Wired story will fill you in on how Uber chose the new colors, picked the tessellated pattern after being inspired by bathroom tile, created mood boards, based the look on a blog post by Kalanick, and how they reworked the process once they figured out the problem was they were designing a logo for Kalanick and not the users. For my part, I’m going to go back to wondering why the line in the “rider” logo isn’t at least vertical, which would make it look slightly more like a “u.”Contact the author at katharine@io9.com.

Google’s Cars Drive Three Million Simulated Miles Every Day


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

Google’s Cars Drive Three Million Simulated Miles Every Day

Google’s self-driving cars have racked up about 1.4 million self-driven miles on actual roads in the last six years, but as impressive as that sounds, it’s a pittance compared to what the simulators have been doing behind the scenes. As part of its monthly report on self-driving cars, Google has detailed the simulators it uses to test out software changes for its fleet. Every mile driven by a car with sensors has been tabulated as a two-million-mile virtual test course for every version of Google’s software. Whenever code is changed, it “re-drives” all the miles that Google’s cars have driven in the real world before, to see how it reacts: “For example, to make left turns at an intersection more comfortable for our passengers, we modified our software to adjust the angle at which our cars would travel. To test this change, we then rerun our entire driving history of 2+ million miles with the new turning pattern to ensure that it doesn’t just make our car better at left turns, but that the changes creates a better driving experience overall.The report claims that Google simulates three million miles of driving every day, which obviously requires some processing horsepower. Luckily, Google has a few data centers to spare. The simulator is also useful for working out what went wrong in the past. Every time a test driver takes control to avoid a potential accident, Google’s engineers later simulate what would have happened had the car continued driving, and obviously fix any deficiencies. Simulators alone won’t make self-driving cars any better in rain or snow. But as a tool to speed up development, and check new versions of software, it’s potent. Good thing Google has a few spare computers lying around. [Google]Contact the author at chris@gizmodo.com.

Japanese Company to Build the World’s First Autonomous Farm


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Japanese Company to Build the World’s First Autonomous Farm

We had a hunch that the future of farming was going to be all about robots, and naturally, Japan is taking the lead. This morning, Kyoto-based firm Spread made a bold announcement: In two years time, it intends to be running the world’s very first fully-automated, (mostly) human-free farm.From watering seedlings to harvesting crops, robots will control nearly every aspect of this indoor lettuce production operation, according to company official Koji Morisada, who spoke about his autonomous farming ambitions with the AFP this morning. But note the ‘nearly.’ Despite the fact that this future farm is being marketed as a bastion of automation, humans are still going to fill one very important roll.“Seed planting will still be done by people, but the rest of the process, including harvesting, will be done [by industrial robots],” Morisada told AFP.Still, by cutting most of the squishy meatbags out of the equation, Morisada hopes to slash personnel costs and energy expenses. There are no details yet on what sorts of robots the indoor farming company plans on using, but if you’d like a little help imagining our robot-farming future, check out these 13 crazy farming robots that already exist.Spread’s indoor grow house is slated to open in 2017. [MSN] Follow the author @themadstoneTop image: lettuce in indoor hydroponic system via, Shutterstock

Alphabet’s “Other Bets” Cost It Almost $3.6B Last Year


TechCrunch / Frederic Lardinois

Alphabet’s “Other Bets” Cost It Almost $3.6B Last Year

 Alphabet — the company formerly known as Google — reported some pretty good earnings today. For the first time today, the company also broke out its revenue and loss from its “other bets” outside of the core products that still make up its Google subsidiary. These other bets generated $448 million in revenue in 2015 but Alphabet’s operating loss for those bets… Read More

Way to Go Everyone, We Ruined Almonds


Gizmodo / Alissa Walker

Way to Go Everyone, We Ruined Almonds

Great job, internet. Remember all that shit-talking you did about almonds sucking up too much of California’s drought-plagued water? Now the price of almonds is way down, and people just aren’t grabbing America’s nuts like they used to, causing serious damage to the industry.It wasn’t only a bad reputation that hurt almonds. Farmers got whipped into a planting frenzy that ended up flooding the market with too many nuts. Now, the price per nut has plummeted, causing the state to lose about $1.8 billion. Farmers admit they’re probably to blame, according to a report that aired on NPR:“We probably pushed the price up too high,” says Darren Rigg. He handles over 50 million pounds of nuts with Meridian Growers in Tulare, Calif.“It killed off demand, and people at a certain point, they just don’t buy,” Rigg says. “We’re probably coming back into an equilibrium point, but we possibly have overcorrected as well.”Why was the United States growing so many almonds in the first place? We have to go back to the counterintuitive reason for why almonds thrived in an age of water scarcity: Because of the drought, almonds were so financially lucrative that it made sense for farmers to plant more of them, even with the extra water factored in. As Valley Public Radio reports, farmers have been tearing out other crops to make way for almond trees, which resulted in the glut of nuts. This started happening long before the drought, by the way, so some of these almond trees have yet to mature—so even more almonds are on the way.The other big problem is that the almond industry is built on a precarious economic premise. It banks on the fact that people in other countries like China and India will pay top dollar for America’s nuts. That turned out to be not as true in 2015 as it was in 2014, and the market flooded, resulting in a plunging price per pound. As Gizmodo’s Esther Inglis-Arkell, pointed out to me, this is also the same kind of thing that happened when the price of wheat skyrocketed nealry a century ago. The price of wheat went up, so farmers planted more wheat to make big bucks. That sent prices way down, which meant farmers had to produce even more wheat to make money, which pushed the price down even more. Of course, farmers ended up abandoning their crops, and that’s how we ended up with the Dust Bowl. Let’s hope the Great Almond Crash doesn’t have the same effect.On the other hand, some forward-looking farmers have already given up on almonds entirely and are planting solar panels instead.[Valley Public Radio via NPR]AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Sandalwood Odor Could Be a Treatment for Leukemia


Gizmodo / Esther Inglis-Arkell

Sandalwood Odor Could Be a Treatment for Leukemia

Olfactory receptors are not limited to your nose. You have them all over your body, including your blood. Now, synthetic sandalwood has been shown to promote cell death in cancer cells for patients with a certain kind of leukemia. This could open the door for a whole new kind of treatment.Researchers from Essen University Hospital and Ruhr-Universität Bochum have found olfactory receptors in white blood cells, according to a paper published today in Cell Death Discovery. This is not as strange as it might seem. Although we first discovered olfactory receptors in the nose, many different parts of our bodies make use of chemical receptors. Scientists have discovered “olfactory receptors” in the liver, “taste buds” in the colon, and most recently, the receptor OR2AT4 in the white blood cells of patients suffering from acute myeloid leukemia. Sandalore is a synthetic sandalwood scent that is used to replace actual sandalwood oil in many skin creams and perfumes. It’s a chemical the binds to the receptor and causes a chemical reaction in the cell. In this case, it provoked an influx of the calcium ion Ca2+ into the cell. The scientists noticed that this influx triggered a higher rate of cell death. They also found that it caused phosphorylation. Phosphorylation adds a phosphoryl group, PO32−, to an enzyme. Adding or subtracting these groups turns enzymes on and off. Enzymes speed up functions in a cell, and in this case, phosphorylation decreases the rate at which cells proliferate.This is important, because in myeloid leukemia patients cells in the spinal cord called myeloblasts create too many immature white blood cells. A medication that depresses the creation of these cells—and causes them to die earlier—could be a life-saving treatment. According to Professor Hans Hatt, one of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum scientists, “Acute myeloid leukemia in particular is a disease for which specific medication is not, as yet, available.” This treatment might only be the first. The researchers discovered seven different odor receptors in the cells, and they’re studying them to see if they can also be used to manipulate blood cells and treat cancer through odorants. Using olfactory receptors to shut down and kill off cancer cells might be a whole new way of treating the disease.[Cell Death Discovery, Olfactory Receptors in the Blood]Image:National Cancer Institute

Japanese Company to Build the World’s First Autonomous Farm


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Japanese Company to Build the World’s First Autonomous Farm

We had a hunch that the future of farming was going to be all about robots, and naturally, Japan is taking the lead. This morning, Kyoto-based firm Spread made a bold announcement: In two years time, it intends to be running the world’s very first fully-automated, (mostly) human-free farm.From watering seedlings to harvesting crops, robots will control nearly every aspect of this indoor lettuce production operation, according to company official Koji Morisada, who spoke about his autonomous farming ambitions with the AFP this morning. But note the ‘nearly.’ Despite the fact that this future farm is being marketed as a bastion of automation, humans are still going to fill one very important roll.“Seed planting will still be done by people, but the rest of the process, including harvesting, will be done [by industrial robots],” Morisada told AFP.Still, by cutting most of the squishy meatbags out of the equation, Morisada hopes to slash personnel costs and energy expenses. There are no details yet on what sorts of robots the indoor farming company plans on using, but if you’d like a little help imagining our robot-farming future, check out these 13 crazy farming robots that already exist.Spread’s indoor grow house is slated to open in 2017. [MSN] Follow the author @themadstoneTop image: lettuce in indoor hydroponic system via, Shutterstock

New technologies like connected TVs, cars, bulbs, wearables, and more give government ample means to track suspects, Berkman Center study finds (David E. Sanger/New York Times)


Techmeme /

New technologies like connected TVs, cars, bulbs, wearables, and more give government ample means to track suspects, Berkman Center study finds (David E. Sanger/New York Times)

David E. Sanger / New York Times:
New technologies like connected TVs, cars, bulbs, wearables, and more give government ample means to track suspects, Berkman Center study finds  —  New Technologies Give Government Ample Means to Track Suspects, Study Finds  —  WASHINGTON — For more than two years the F.B.I. and intelligence agencies …

Alphabet’s “Other Bets” Cost It Almost $3.6B Last Year


TechCrunch / Frederic Lardinois

Alphabet’s “Other Bets” Cost It Almost $3.6B Last Year

 Alphabet — the company formerly known as Google — reported some pretty good earnings today. For the first time, the company also broke out its revenue and loss from its “other bets” outside of the core products that still make up its Google subsidiary. These other bets generated $448 million in revenue in 2015 but Alphabet’s operating loss for those bets was… Read More

Facebook says it’s now using feedback from user surveys in News Feed when selecting stories, warns some Pages will lose referral traffic (Facebook)


Techmeme /

Facebook says it’s now using feedback from user surveys in News Feed when selecting stories, warns some Pages will lose referral traffic (Facebook)

Facebook:
Facebook says it’s now using feedback from user surveys in News Feed when selecting stories, warns some Pages will lose referral traffic  —  News Feed FYI: Using Qualitative Feedback to Show Relevant Stories  —  The goal of News Feed is to show you the stories that matter most to you.

Facebook says it’s now using feedback from user surveys in News Feed when selecting stories, warns some Pages will lose referral traffic (Facebook)


Techmeme /

Facebook says it’s now using feedback from user surveys in News Feed when selecting stories, warns some Pages will lose referral traffic (Facebook)

Facebook:
Facebook says it’s now using feedback from user surveys in News Feed when selecting stories, warns some Pages will lose referral traffic  —  News Feed FYI: Using Qualitative Feedback to Show Relevant Stories  —  The goal of News Feed is to show you the stories that matter most to you.

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Slack will soon start testing voice and video chat


TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Slack will soon start testing voice and video chat

 Slack is gunning for Skype and Google Hangouts with the 2016 product roadmap it revealed today. The biggest change coming: the ability to seamlessly turn a text chat into a voice or video chat will begin testing “very soon”. This builds on Slack’s January 2015 acquisition of Screenhero, when it said these features would eventually be released. At its customer conference in… Read More

Slack will soon start testing voice and video chat


TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Slack will soon start testing voice and video chat

 Slack is gunning for Skype and Google Hangouts with the 2016 product roadmap it revealed today. The biggest change coming: the ability to seamlessly turn a text chat into a voice or video chat will begin testing “very soon”. This builds on Slack’s January 2015 acquisition of Screenhero, when it said these features would eventually be released. At its customer conference in… Read More

Raspberry Pi 3 Launches — 50% Faster, With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth And An Eye On IoT


TechCrunch / Natasha Lomas

Raspberry Pi 3 Launches — 50% Faster, With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth And An Eye On IoT

 A major new Raspberry Pi microprocessor has been announced today: the Pi 3 Model B board becomes the new top-of-the-line Pi, with a 64bit 1.2GHz quad-core chipset and 1GB RAM it’s being slated to offer a 50 per cent power bump over the Pi 2. But is still priced at just $35… Read More

Ex-Bank of England chief: ‘Another crisis is certain’


Finance / Oscar Williams-Grut

Ex-Bank of England chief: ‘Another crisis is certain’

Former Bank of England Governor Lord Mervyn King says governments around the world need “the courage to undertake bold reforms" to prevent the global economy falling into another financial crisis.
In extracts from his new book serialised over the weekend in The Telegraph, Lord King writes: "Another crisis is certain, and the failure… to tackle the disequilibrium in the world economy makes it likely that it will come sooner rather than later."
Lord King was Governor of the Bank of England from 2003 to 2013, overseeing the UK government’s bailout of Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Despite having a hand in post-crisis central banking policy, Lord King argues that governments and central bankers have not been systematic enough in dealing with the problems that caused the 2008 crash, instead simply dealing with its symptoms.
Lord King argues that central bankers have been too keen to see liquidity as the issue and the solution to financial problems since 2008, when the real issue is solvency.
He writes in The Telegraph:
Dealing with the immediate symptoms of crises by taking short- term measures to maintain market confidence – usually by throwing large amounts of money at it – will only perpetuate the underlying disequilibrium.
Almost every financial crisis starts with the belief that the provision of more liquidity is the answer, only for time to reveal that beneath the surface are genuine problems of solvency.
Fifty years from now, will our grandchildren ask why we lacked the courage to put in place reforms to stop a crisis happening again? I hope not. Events drive ideas, and the experience of crisis is driving economists to develop new ideas about how our economies work. They will be needed to overcome the power of vested interests and lobby groups.
The extract does not make clear what exactly these "bold reforms" Lord King is calling for would look like.
Lord King is also vague on the subject of what exactly the next crisis he is predicting will be. However, he highlights issues with China, emerging markets, and Europe. He writes:
The epicentre of the next financial earthquake is as hard to predict as a geological earthquake. It is unlikely to be among banks in New York or London, where the aftershocks of 2008 have led to efforts to improve the resilience of the financial system.
But there are many places where the underlying forces of the disequilibrium in their economies could lead to cracks in the surface – emerging markets that have increased indebtedness, the euro area with its fault lines, China with a financial sector facing large losses, and the middle and near east with a rise in political tensions.
Lord King is hardly the lone bear sounding the alarm on these issues. Goldman Sachs has dubbed emerging market debt — specifically China’s huge debt burden — the "Third Wave" of the 2008 financial crisis and global stock markets have collapsed since the start of the year amid fears over Chinese growth rates.
You can read the full extract from Lord King’s book in The Telegraph.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: EXCLUSIVE: Hugh Hefner’s son speaks out against Playboy’s decisions to go non-nude and sell the Mansion

New York Judge Rules US Can’t Force Apple to Help Unlock an iPhone 


Gizmodo / Kate Knibbs

New York Judge Rules US Can’t Force Apple to Help Unlock an iPhone 

On the eve of a Congressional hearing about the Department of Justice’s fight with Apple over a locked iPhone, a Brooklyn judge has ruled that the DOJ cannot force Apple to assist in unlocking an iPhone in a separate New York drug case. Judge James Orenstein rejected the government’s interpretation of the All Writs Act, ruling that it cannot compel Apple to create software that will weaken its security protections using that statute. Orenstein arguing that the government’s expansive interpretation of the All Writs Act would “cast doubt on the AWA’s constitutionality if adopted.”This is an unambiguous victory for Apple. Orenstein is calling this government overreach in clear terms: The implications of the government’s position are so far-reaching – both in terms of what it would allow today and what it implies about Congressional intent in 1789 – as to produce impermissibly absurd results.“Absurd” showed up at least six times, as USA Today journalist Brad Heath pointed out on Twitter. Orenstein believes that Apple has a better argument about the role of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act in the case:Both the government and Apple agree that CALEA does not compel a private company such as Apple to provide the kind of assistance the government seeks here. See Govt. II at 22; Apple II at 5. They disagree as to why that is so: the government contends that CALEA simply has nothing to say on the matter,while Apple argues that the omission reflects a legislative choice. As explained below, Apple’s argument has more merit.The Department of Justice is still attempting to compel Apple to create software to help it unlock a phone connected to the San Bernardino shooting. Just like with this drug case, the DOJ is using the All Writs Act in an attempt to carry out a search warrant for the phone.http://gizmodo.com/the-227-year-o…Orenstein’s dismissal of the AWA is bad news for the government, but it certainly doesn’t put the issue between the DOJ and Apple to rest. It’ll be a tool for Apple, but it’s not binding. Since the San Bernardino case involves a more serious crime than a simple drug case, the DOJ could argue that the cases are not similar.But while this doesn’t guarantee victory for Apple in the San Bernardino case, it may have a major impact on how the All Writs Act gets used, as attorney and Brookings Fellow Susan Hennessey pointed out on Twitter. “It’s a meticulous and scholarly opinion. It should be a roadmap for any court considering one of these requests from the government,” ACLU attorney Alex Abdo said in a statement. You can read the full order here: [Talking Points Memo]Contact the author at kate.knibbs@gizmodo.com.Public PGP keyPGP fingerprint: E71A 198B C6A4 60CB CEEA 2635 4AA0 EE14 6579 0F38

Raspberry Pi 3 Launches — 50% Faster, With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth And An Eye On IoT


TechCrunch / Natasha Lomas

Raspberry Pi 3 Launches — 50% Faster, With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth And An Eye On IoT

 A major new Raspberry Pi microprocessor has been announced today: the Pi 3 Model B board becomes the new top-of-the-line Pi, with a 64bit 1.2GHz quad-core chipset and 1GB RAM it’s being slated to offer a 50 per cent power bump over the Pi 2. But is still priced at just $35… Read More

Ex-Bank of England chief: ‘Another crisis is certain’


Finance / Oscar Williams-Grut

Ex-Bank of England chief: ‘Another crisis is certain’

Former Bank of England Governor Lord Mervyn King says governments around the world need “the courage to undertake bold reforms" to prevent the global economy falling into another financial crisis.
In extracts from his new book serialised over the weekend in The Telegraph, Lord King writes: "Another crisis is certain, and the failure… to tackle the disequilibrium in the world economy makes it likely that it will come sooner rather than later."
Lord King was Governor of the Bank of England from 2003 to 2013, overseeing the UK government’s bailout of Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Despite having a hand in post-crisis central banking policy, Lord King argues that governments and central bankers have not been systematic enough in dealing with the problems that caused the 2008 crash, instead simply dealing with its symptoms.
Lord King argues that central bankers have been too keen to see liquidity as the issue and the solution to financial problems since 2008, when the real issue is solvency.
He writes in The Telegraph:
Dealing with the immediate symptoms of crises by taking short- term measures to maintain market confidence – usually by throwing large amounts of money at it – will only perpetuate the underlying disequilibrium.
Almost every financial crisis starts with the belief that the provision of more liquidity is the answer, only for time to reveal that beneath the surface are genuine problems of solvency.
Fifty years from now, will our grandchildren ask why we lacked the courage to put in place reforms to stop a crisis happening again? I hope not. Events drive ideas, and the experience of crisis is driving economists to develop new ideas about how our economies work. They will be needed to overcome the power of vested interests and lobby groups.
The extract does not make clear what exactly these "bold reforms" Lord King is calling for would look like.
Lord King is also vague on the subject of what exactly the next crisis he is predicting will be. However, he highlights issues with China, emerging markets, and Europe. He writes:
The epicentre of the next financial earthquake is as hard to predict as a geological earthquake. It is unlikely to be among banks in New York or London, where the aftershocks of 2008 have led to efforts to improve the resilience of the financial system.
But there are many places where the underlying forces of the disequilibrium in their economies could lead to cracks in the surface – emerging markets that have increased indebtedness, the euro area with its fault lines, China with a financial sector facing large losses, and the middle and near east with a rise in political tensions.
Lord King is hardly the lone bear sounding the alarm on these issues. Goldman Sachs has dubbed emerging market debt — specifically China’s huge debt burden — the "Third Wave" of the 2008 financial crisis and global stock markets have collapsed since the start of the year amid fears over Chinese growth rates.
You can read the full extract from Lord King’s book in The Telegraph.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How Donald Trump used bankruptcy to stay rich

China’s Didi Kuaidi is raising $1 billion more to battle Uber


Autoblog Green / TechCrunch

China’s Didi Kuaidi is raising $1 billion more to battle Uber

Filed under: Green, Transportation Alternatives, ChinaA Chinese company that is taking on Uber in the ride-on-demand market, Didi Kuaidi, is now worth over $20 billion, thanks to a new $1B financing round.Continue reading China’s Didi Kuaidi is raising $1 billion more to battle UberChina’s Didi Kuaidi is raising $1 billion more to battle Uber originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 26 Feb 2016 08:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments

Mitsubishi Outlander now in M’sia – CBU, 2.4, RM167k


Paul Tan’s Automotive News / Danny Tan

Mitsubishi Outlander now in M’sia – CBU, 2.4, RM167k

Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) has unveiled the new Mitsubishi Outlander to the media in a preview session. The SUV, which has seven seats in three rows, is available for public viewing at Bangsar Shopping Centre […]
The post Mitsubishi Outlander now in M’sia – CBU, 2.4, RM167k appeared first on Paul Tan’s Automotive News.

BMW i8 crushed by cement truck will break your heart


Autoblog BMW / Erin Marquis

BMW i8 crushed by cement truck will break your heart

Filed under: Government/Legal, BMW, Fuel Efficiency, Green Driving, Coupe, Hybrid, LightweightA BMW i8 was crushed in Newport Beach, CA Thursday after a cement truck lost control and tipped over onto the hybrid coupe.Continue reading BMW i8 crushed by cement truck will break your heartBMW i8 crushed by cement truck will break your heart originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 26 Feb 2016 08:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments

Google unveils PlaNet neural network that outperforms humans at guessing the location of an image (MIT Technology Review)


Techmeme /

Google unveils PlaNet neural network that outperforms humans at guessing the location of an image (MIT Technology Review)

MIT Technology Review:
Google unveils PlaNet neural network that outperforms humans at guessing the location of an image  —  Google Unveils Neural Network with “Superhuman” Ability to Determine the Location of Almost Any Image  —  Guessing the location of a randomly chosen Street View image is hard, even for well-traveled humans.

Murder Is Legal and Torture Is Mandatory, Because Gods of Egypt Exists


Gizmodo / Charlie Jane Anders on io9, shared by Mario Aguilar to Gizmodo

Murder Is Legal and Torture Is Mandatory, Because Gods of Egypt Exists

Go ahead, commit cannibalism! Slaughter your neighbors and feast on their still-warm flesh. Nobody can judge you, because the mere existence of the film Gods of Egypt has dissolved all social contracts, and eliminated forever all concepts of good and evil.The moment I walked out of a screening of Gods of Egypt, I set about building a massive throne out of human pelvises. I worked feverishly through the night, barely pausing to listen to the sounds of the city fracturing into seven brutal revels: a chainsaw maze, a great pit full of vengeful lobsters, a poisoned rave, and so on. As I climbed at last atop my pelvic majesty, I had a perfect view of the inundation of viscera that had turned the very streets into canals: For even if nobody else ever saw this movie, its very existence was enough to sunder every human relation for once and ever. There could be no language, no society, no kindness, after Gods of Egypt.How did this happen? Why didn’t somebody involved with the creation of Gods of Egypt realize what they were setting in motion, and that this movie was not just bad, but obscenely, devastatingly bad? I wondered this the whole time I was watching Gods of Egypt.I’m going to give you a spoiler warning here, even though spoilers are a concept that belongs to the old order, before the rise of the murderpocalypse.So Gods of Egypt is loosely based on Egyptian mythology, if the Egyptian gods were mostly white people who could turn into animal robots, sort of like Transformers. Basically, director Alex Proyas and his crew tried to turn the ancient beliefs of the Egyptians into a standard action-adventure movie, full of wacky set pieces and wild romps. And they wound up something that actually makes a river of entrails seem totally reasonable.This movie starts when the god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from Game of Thrones) is about to be crowned King of Egypt—until his uncle, the evil god Set (Gerard Butler), overthrows him. To get back his power and reclaim the throne, Horus must work with a plucky human thief named Bek (Brenton Thwaites) to pass a bunch of tests, with a little help from the sun god, Ra (Geoffrey Rush.) So yeah, it’s a buddy comedy about a god and a mortal teaming up to save the world and stuff—which could actually have been good, in theory.In fact, in theory, this movie could have been awesome—generally any film with giant fire-breathing snakes, huge scarab-drawn chariots and holy spaceships is automatically great, in my book. But instead, Gods of Egypt squanders all of its incredible potential.Gods of Egypt has been justly criticized for its policy of casting white people as almost all of its Egyptian characters—to the point where it might be the first movie whose director apologized months before it was released. But the casting is just one of the many problems that eat away at this movie, which seems to have fed slices of Egyptian cultural traditions into a typical Hollywood “Save the Cat Goddess” structure, to try and create something familiar and comfort-foody, with an exotic veneer.The result is a movie in which nothing particularly makes sense. The stakes are completely unclear, and the moment that you think you have a handle on what’s going on, the movie lurches off in another direction. The actors stand around in front of greenscreens, saying terrible dialogue that they know is meaningless, and none of it carries any weight at all. This is also the umpteenth movie I’ve seen lately that has 90 minutes of action padded out to over two hours.Bek, the movie’s ostensible main character, is supposed to be desperately in love with a mortal woman named Zaya (Courtney Eaton) who dies early on—so Bek is helping Horus in the hope that the god-king can bring Zaya back from the aferlife. But Zaya’s death puts barely a dent in Bek’s chipper action hero banter, and he just carries on leaping from CG obstacle to CG obstacle, while saying things like, “roll the bones!” Meanwhile, every few minutes, the movie asks us to care about stakes-raising weird ideas like, “Set has changed the rules of the afterlife!” and “Set has stolen the glowing blue brain of the only black person in the movie!” At the same time, you don’t get the impression that any of the human characters actually worships these gods or considers them more than just oversized people with random powers.But the result of taking all this grand metaphysical weirdness and putting it into a formulaic action-movie template is to create a movie where nothing means anything, but the film keeps dragging you from set piece to set piece every few minutes anyway. This isn’t just a film where it’s impossible to care, but one that negates the very idea of giving a shit.Nothing has meaning! Everything is monstrous.And that brings us to the central problem of Gods of Egypt—this movie can’t manage to find an interesting tone. At all. It’s either a comedy, in which there’s exactly one funny line of dialogue, or it’s a breezy action-adventure romp in which the characters are unlikable and the plot is mush, or it’s a semi-serious epic about the struggle of the gods. The overwhelming tone is one of blandness, like a rejected Disney Channel TV movie starring the younger brother from Hannah Montana and one of the less gifted wizards of Waverly Place.And meanwhile, this movie’s aesthetic is a weird mixture of Egyptology pastiche and VFX overkill. As I mentioned, the Egyptian gods are sort of like off-label Transformers. Their fights, for the most part, look pretty awfully rendered, with a lot of bits that look like 90s video games. And the film’s aesthetic is pretty much a solid gold—all the buildings are gold, the gods are blinged out, and they bleed gold blood.And one of the film’s most interesting visual innovations turns out to be its greatest liability: all of the gods, including Jaime Lannister, are much bigger than ordinary humans. Like, maybe 10 or 12 feet tall, I’m guessing. This yields a few startling shots early on in the film, but also means that at no point can the actors just be in a scene together, without everything being rendered digitally. I have a feeling that’s one reason for the utter lack of chemistry or personality in any of this movie’s character-building moments.This movie feels like a dull, joyless monument to excess and cultural exploitation.I’m just going to repeat the word “joyless” a few more times—joyless, joyless, joyless—while reminding you that I’m writing this review on a computer keyboard that I fashioned out of the fingernails and ribs of my former best friends. (The keyboard’s not connected to anything; I’m not even sure how you’re reading this, to be honest.) I love an over-the-top bad movie as much as the next Joe Bob Briggs acolyte, but Gods of Egypt is just too fucking bland—even with Gerard Butler shouting his heart out in a few scenes—to be anything but brain-compacting.That said, there are a handful of incredibly beautiful images, that leave you with a sense of just why anybody thought this film was a good idea at all. At one point, when we first visit the spaceship belonging to Geoffrey Rush’s Ra, there’s a stunning visual of the flat Earth that Ra is sailing over. A few bits inside the land of the dead are also just gorgeous. You can sort of see how someone might have seen a few of those renders, early on, and thought this might be a distinctive, even eye-popping, film.But for the most part, Gods of Egypt feels like such an abdication of story, and such a bastardization of culture, that the only sane response is to abandon sanity, and enlist in the murder-police of the senseless new era. As I write this from atop my pelvic cathedra in a world of unspeakable mayhem, I testify that Gods of Egypt has liberated us all. You do not need to see this movie to know that you live in the world it created. Mercy is a cast-off from the time before the coming of Gods of Egypt.Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, which is available now. Here’s what people have been saying about it. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.http://www.amazon.com/All-Birds-Char…

Google unveils PlaNet neural network that outperforms humans at guessing the location of an image (MIT Technology Review)


Techmeme /

Google unveils PlaNet neural network that outperforms humans at guessing the location of an image (MIT Technology Review)

MIT Technology Review:
Google unveils PlaNet neural network that outperforms humans at guessing the location of an image  —  Google Unveils Neural Network with “Superhuman” Ability to Determine the Location of Almost Any Image  —  Guessing the location of a randomly chosen Street View image is hard, even for well-traveled humans.

Sources: Apple is working on a security upgrade to prevent the exploit method FBI is seeking from working in the future (New York Times)


Techmeme /

Sources: Apple is working on a security upgrade to prevent the exploit method FBI is seeking from working in the future (New York Times)

New York Times:
Sources: Apple is working on a security upgrade to prevent the exploit method FBI is seeking from working in the future  —  Apple Is Said to Be Working on an iPhone Even It Can’t Hack  —  WASHINGTON — Apple engineers have already begun developing new security measures that would make it impossible …

Popcorn Time ‘Officially’ Announces Its Return


Gizmodo / Darren Orf

Popcorn Time ‘Officially’ Announces Its Return

Popcorn Time is the revolutionary app that’s been continuously dubbed the Netflix for torrents. But after aggressive legal action by the Motion Picture Association of America, the original site Popcorntime.io, shut down indefinitely. But after week of mystery surrounding its sudden reappearance, anonymous developers are declaring that illegal Netflix is back, baby.Previously reported by TorrentFreak, the Popcorn Time blog recently announced the resurrection with an update called “Hail Hydra.” The post says, “After the ‘MPAA incident,’ we’re a little diminished, and we’ve chosen a new direction: we’re shifting from an active development of Popcorn Time to a more or less resilience-driven development.”The unknown devs also mention other team members who’ve gone on to work on the legal version of Popcorn Time, called Butter, and say that Butter and their new zombie reincarnation share the same base code. As TorrentFreak points out, all these Popcorn Time imitators (there are several) along with various plug-ins must deal with the ever looming specter of insecurity, especially since anonymous developers mean no one can be held accountable if things go awry. This new incarnation of Popcorn Time says it’s sticking with the platform’s original mission, which means the site won’t be looking to make money whatsoever. Who knows how resistant this new form of Popcorn Time will be, but for now, streaming film is free again. [Popcorn Time Blog via TorrentFreak]Contact the author at darren.orf@gizmodo.com.

The Craziest Line in Apple’s Motion to Throw Out the iPhone Case


Gizmodo / Adam Clark Estes

The Craziest Line in Apple’s Motion to Throw Out the iPhone Case

Apple just took its next swipe in the fight over unlocking a terrorist’s iPhone: a court order to vacate. The company is invoking the First and Fifth Amendments to argue that the court order it received to create a back door for the device is unconstitutional. The motion is embedded below.As you may have expected, Apple did not mince its words in explaining the catastrophic consequences of giving the government such sweeping powers. Less than a day after Tim Cook likened the back door to a “software equivalent of cancer” on national television, the company’s lawyers explained in stark terms how the government’s request would “impose an unprecedented and oppressive burden on Apple and the citizens who use the iPhone.” Check out this analogy—we’ve added emphasis:For example, under the same legal theories advocated by the government here, the government could argue that it should be permitted to force citizens to do all manner of things “necessary” to assist it in enforcing the laws, like compelling a pharmaceutical company against its will to produce drugs needed to carry out a lethal injection in furtherance of a lawfully issued death warrant, or requiring a journalist to plant a false story in order to help lure out a fugitive, or forcing a software company to insert malicious code in its auto- update process that makes it easier for the government to conduct court-ordered surveillance.Of course, that third example is essentially what the government is doing. While the current case deals applies to an iPhone 5C owned by the San Bernardino shooter, the FBI has made at least a dozen other similar requests. As Apple and other security experts have explained time and time again, it’s impossible to create a back door for a single device. If forced to build the software, Apple would make every iPhone vulnerable to government intrusion.“This is not a case about one isolated iPhone,” the motion reads. “No court has ever authorized what the government now seeks, no law supports such unlimited and sweeping use of the judicial process, and the Constitution forbids it.”Why would we want to start now?[WSJ, Re/code]Read the full motion below:Contact the author at adam@gizmodo.com.Public PGP keyPGP fingerprint: 91CF B387 7B38 148C DDD6 38D2 6CBC 1E46 1DBF 22A8

The New Daredevil Trailer Is All About Elektra


Gizmodo / James Whitbrook on io9, shared by James Whitbrook to Gizmodo

The New Daredevil Trailer Is All About Elektra

Last week’s first big look at Daredevil season two introduced us to Matt Murdock’s next big rival, the Punisher. But in its last few seconds, we got to see Matt re-encounter a familiar face from his past, Elektra Natchios—and this giant new trailer explores her connection to the Man without Fear.http://io9.gizmodo.com/say-hello-to-t…We got a brief glimpse of the Greek ninja in action in a short teaser yesterday, but like the “part one” trailer before it, this one is jam-packed with stuff—and not just more of Elodie Yung’s Elektra. More Daredevil, more Foggy and Karen, more Punisher… more everything! And an even better look at the updated Daredevil costume, complete with creepy looking red eyes.But it’s not all snazzy costumes and punching bad guys in store for Daredevil—it’s time for Matt to struggle with the consequences of his actions. Gangs are on the rise after he dealt with the Yakuza in season one, and the escalating violence of the Punisher is testing him physically and ethically as he questions whether Daredevil is going far enough, which also causes an even bigger rift between Matt and Foggy. The avocados at law may not be in partnership for much longer!Oh, and ninjas. It wouldn’t be true to Daredevil if there weren’t copious amounts of ninjas.Considering we’re little more than three weeks away from getting the whole season, it’s likely that this is the last big batch of new footage we’ll get to see of Daredevil before season 2 hits Netflix on March 18th. It’s done plenty to whet my appetite for a return to Hell’s Kitchen though.Contact the author at james.whitbrook@io9.com.

The New Pagani Huayra BC Is $2.5 Million of Insanitude


Car and Driver Blog / Andrew Wendler

The New Pagani Huayra BC Is $2.5 Million of Insanitude

Pagani hasn’t made a rational car yet, and the Huayra BC does little to change that fact. Adhering to the same “better performance through a cost-is-no-object blend of passion and technology” approach that it applies to all of its creations, the Huayra BC is Pagani’s most powerful road car to date. Lighter and more powerful […]

2017 Aston Martin DB11 Teased In New Video


High Gear Media Network Feed / feedback@highgearmedia.com (Viknesh Vijayenthiran)

2017 Aston Martin DB11 Teased In New Video

We’re now just days away from seeing the official reveal of Aston Martin’s new DB11 at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, however, as is often the case in this day and age photos of the car have already surfaced. Nevertheless, this latest teaser video from Aston Martin highlights the car’s heritage and a shadowy glimpse at the end hints…

Popcorn Time ‘Officially’ Announces Its Return


Gizmodo / Darren Orf

Popcorn Time ‘Officially’ Announces Its Return

Popcorn Time is the revolutionary app that’s been continuously dubbed the Netflix for torrents. But after aggressive legal action by the Motion Picture Association of America, the original site Popcorntime.io, shut down indefinitely. But after week of mystery surrounding its sudden reappearance, anonymous developers are declaring that illegal Netflix is back, baby.Previously reported by TorrentFreak, the Popcorn Time blog recently announced the resurrection with an update called “Hail Hydra.” The post says, “After the ‘MPAA incident,’ we’re a little diminished, and we’ve chosen a new direction: we’re shifting from an active development of Popcorn Time to a more or less resilience-driven development.”The unknown devs also mention other team members who’ve gone on to work on the legal version of Popcorn Time, called Butter, and say that Butter and their new zombie reincarnation share the same base code. As TorrentFreak points out, all these Popcorn Time imitators (there are several) along with various plug-ins must deal with the ever looming specter of insecurity, especially since anonymous developers mean no one can be held accountable if things go awry. This new incarnation of Popcorn Time says it’s sticking with the platform’s original mission, which means the site won’t be looking to make money whatsoever. Who knows how resistant this new form of Popcorn Time will be, but for now, streaming film is free again. [Popcorn Time Blog via TorrentFreak]Contact the author at darren.orf@gizmodo.com.

Google’s New AI Can Tell Where Your Photo Was Taken Without Using Geotags


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Google’s New AI Can Tell Where Your Photo Was Taken Without Using Geotags

Image via Adam Bautz/FlickrIn case you didn’t already feel like Google was a creepy stalker, its artificial intelligence tools are rapidly crossing over into uncanny. The latest one is PlaNet, a new deep-learning machine that specializes in figuring out where a photo was taken—using nothing but the image’s pixels.Today, MIT Tech Review reports on a new effort led by Tobias Weyand, a computer vision specialist at Google, to create a computer that sees a photo and can instantly figure out where in the world it’s from. The system was fed over 90 million geotagged images across the planet, and trained to spot patterns based on location. In a trial run using 2.3 million geotagged images, PlaNet determined the country of origin with 28.4 percent accuracy and the continent of origin in 48 percent of cases. Now, those figures might not sound so impressive, but as MIT Tech Review points out, PlaNet is already performing quite a bit better than humans, whose squishy organic brains have a lifetime of ecological and cultural cues to draw on. And with more image training, PlaNet has the potential to get even better.“We think PlaNet has an advantage over humans because it has seen many more places than any human can ever visit and has learned subtle cues of different scenes that are even hard for a well-traveled human to distinguish,” Weyand told MIT Tech Review.If you’re a photography buff who sometimes forgets to geotag your images, tools like PlaNet could one day become your best friend. Then again, if you were already worried about Google watching your every move, it might be time to start avoiding cameras entirely.[MIT Tech Review]Contact the author at maddie.stone@gizmodo.com.

Google’s New AI Can Tell Where Your Photo Was Taken Without Using Geotags


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Google’s New AI Can Tell Where Your Photo Was Taken Without Using Geotags

Image via Adam Bautz/FlickrIn case you didn’t already feel like Google was a creepy stalker, its artificial intelligence tools are rapidly crossing over into uncanny. The latest one is PlaNet, a new deep-learning machine that specializes in figuring out where a photo was taken—using nothing but the image’s pixels.Today, MIT Tech Review reports on a new effort led by Tobias Weyand, a computer vision specialist at Google, to create a computer that sees a photo and can instantly figure out where in the world it’s from. The system was fed over 90 million geotagged images across the planet, and trained to spot patterns based on location. In a trial run using 2.3 million geotagged images, PlaNet determined the country of origin with 28.4 percent accuracy and the continent of origin in 48 percent of cases. Now, those figures might not sound so impressive, but as MIT Tech Review points out, PlaNet is already performing quite a bit better than humans, whose squishy organic brains have a lifetime of ecological and cultural cues to draw on. And with more image training, PlaNet has the potential to get even better.“We think PlaNet has an advantage over humans because it has seen many more places than any human can ever visit and has learned subtle cues of different scenes that are even hard for a well-traveled human to distinguish,” Weyand told MIT Tech Review.If you’re a photography buff who sometimes forgets to geotag your images, tools like PlaNet could one day become your best friend. Then again, if you were already worried about Google watching your every move, it might be time to start avoiding cameras entirely.[MIT Tech Review]Contact the author at maddie.stone@gizmodo.com.

This Little Bluetooth Sensor Shouts The Second Anyone Tries To Move Your Stuff


TechCrunch / Greg Kumparak

This Little Bluetooth Sensor Shouts The Second Anyone Tries To Move Your Stuff

 Uh oh. You’re three cups of coffee into a busy work day, and you’re starting to get the ol’ caffeine rumble gut. But you don’t want to give up your prime table at the coffee shop.
“Hey, can you watch my stuff?” you say to the nearest complete stranger.
This box watches your stuff for you. If it moves ever so slightly, it can fire off a siren or send a… Read More

The New Star Wars Theme Parks Coming to Disney Look Out of This World


Gizmodo / Germain Lussier on io9, shared by Adam Clark Estes to Gizmodo

The New Star Wars Theme Parks Coming to Disney Look Out of This World

This past summer, Disney revealed they would be making massing Star Wars-themed additions to their two U.S. theme parks. At that time, we just saw a few hints. But Sunday night, Harrison Ford himself revealed some amazing new looks at the parks.The 14-acre expansions are coming to Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida sometime in the next several years. We don’t know exactly when, just that construction has already begun. Then, Sunday during a TV special celebrating 60 years of Disneyland, Ford revealed some new concept images from what he called “The Star Wars Experience.”First up, here are some images of what the land itself is going to look like. We’ve already heard the lands will be a brand new Star Wars planet and here we get a taste of its marketplace, dining establishments and, of course, its cantina.Next, these are images from the two main rides. One will put fans in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon and another will put them in the middle of a battle between the Resistance and First Order.You can see some more in the video segment below. Suffice to say, these expansions are going to be can’t miss stops for Star Wars fans all over the world.Disney [H/T Hollywood Reporter, SW Underground]Contact the author at germain@io9.com.

This Little Bluetooth Sensor Shouts The Second Anyone Tries To Move Your Stuff


TechCrunch / Greg Kumparak

This Little Bluetooth Sensor Shouts The Second Anyone Tries To Move Your Stuff

 Uh oh. You’re three cups of coffee into a busy work day, and you’re starting to get the ol’ caffeine rumble gut. But you don’t want to give up your prime table at the coffee shop.
“Hey, can you watch my stuff?” you say to the nearest complete stranger.
This box watches your stuff for you. If it moves ever so slightly, it can fire off a siren or send a… Read More

Study Suggests Drinking Coffee Might Reduce Liver Damage From Alcohol


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

Study Suggests Drinking Coffee Might Reduce Liver Damage From Alcohol

There is a growing body of evidence that coffee may be good for your long-term health, reducing the risk of type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. According to one recent meta-study, it may also lower your risk of liver damage from boozing. The study was conducted by scientists from the University of Southampton. It’s not a clinical trial—rather, researchers pooled results from nine previous studies that recorded both the incidence of liver cirrhosis and caffeine consumption. In total, 432,133 participants contributed to the studies, across a broad demographic range. Liver cirrhosis is a big killer, claiming over a million people worldwide every year. It’s most famously caused by excessive long-term alcohol consumption, but also brought about by hepatitis infections, immune disorders, and even obesity or diabetes. The results of the meta-study demonstrate a significant protective effect from consuming coffee: the analysis shows that increasing coffee consumption by two cups per day halves the risk of liver cirrhosis, including alcoholic cirrhosis. The halving of the risk also holds true for death rates. The stats get better the more coffee you consume: four cups a day drops the risk of liver cirrhosis by 65 percent. Given the complex chemical makeup of coffee, it’s difficult to say exactly how the caffeine is protecting the liver. This is also only a meta-study: although the analysis seems robust, controlling for bias and variables across that great a sample size and time period is an imperfect science at best. [Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics via Reuters]Contact the author at chris@gizmodo.com.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweets in support of Apple, says forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise user privacy (Jordan Novet/VentureBeat)


Techmeme /

Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweets in support of Apple, says forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise user privacy (Jordan Novet/VentureBeat)

Jordan Novet / VentureBeat:
Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweets in support of Apple, says forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise user privacy  —  Here’s Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s response to the Apple-FBI controversy  —  Google chief executive Sundar Pichai just weighed in on the ongoing issue …

Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweets in support of Apple, says forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise user privacy (Jordan Novet/VentureBeat)


Techmeme /

Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweets in support of Apple, says forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise user privacy (Jordan Novet/VentureBeat)

Jordan Novet / VentureBeat:
Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweets in support of Apple, says forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise user privacy  —  Google CEO Sundar Pichai backs Tim Cook over Apple-FBI controversy  —  Google CEO Sundar Pichai just weighed in on the ongoing issue over device encryption between Apple …

Facebook Instant Articles Will Give All Publishers Faster Loading, Fewer Monetization Options


TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Facebook Instant Articles Will Give All Publishers Faster Loading, Fewer Monetization Options

 Facebook is taking another bite of the outside Internet by turning its Instant Articles format into an open platform any publisher can use starting April 12th. Yet the question remains whether Instant Articles are good for publishers, or something detrimental they’ll have to adopt or be left behind. Since the launch in May, Facebook had worked directly with partnered publishers to… Read More

Facebook Instant Articles Will Give All Publishers Faster Loading, Fewer Monetization Options


TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Facebook Instant Articles Will Give All Publishers Faster Loading, Fewer Monetization Options

 Facebook is taking another bite of the outside Internet by turning its Instant Articles format into an open platform any publisher can use starting April 12th. Yet the question remains whether Instant Articles are good for publishers, or something detrimental they’ll have to adopt or be left behind. Since the launch in May, Facebook had worked directly with partnered publishers to… Read More

Can A Ludicrous Tesla Model X Beat A Ludicrous Model S In A Drag Race?


Gizmodo / Justin Westbrook on Jalopnik, shared by Chris Mills to Gizmodo

Can A Ludicrous Tesla Model X Beat A Ludicrous Model S In A Drag Race?

Now that the new Tesla Model X electric SUV is finally being delivered to customers it’s time to see just exactly what kind of performance we can expect. Luckily for us, Tesla followed up the insanely powerful Ludicrous mode Model S P90D with an equally Ludicrous Model X P90D, and somebody raced them.http://truckyeah.jalopnik.com/what-its-like-…The Tesla Model X just so happens to be the fastest SUV ever; not just American SUV; not just electric SUV—the Model X P90D’s combined (available) horsepower of over 530 from its front and rear motors meeting a claimed 0 to 60 time of just 3.2 seconds makes it the fastest sport utility vehicle ever made. But how does it compare to its equally fully-electric mind-blowing sibling, the Model S P90D (which sits on the same platform)?Well, when the Model X doesn’t jump the line, it turns out that extra size equates to about 600 pounds of extra weight, ultimately slowing down the SUV when compared to its sedan sibling. But damn if it isn’t close.According to dragtimes.com, The Model X’s best time was 11.61 at 116 mph, while the Model S’s best was 11.24 at 118.5 mph. Both vehicles were said to be fully charged. That’s only a difference of 0.37 seconds, 2.5 mph—making that the “lightest” 600 pounds I’ve ever heard of. All it takes is a blink of the eye and it’s a toss up between the two. While at the strip, the Model X P90D used in the test (with Ludicrous Mode) clocked a 0 to 60 of just 3.1 seconds. In an SUV. I hope the kids don’t mind being early to soccer practice.Be sure to check out the article covering the end-all be-all of electric drag races over at DragTimes.Contact the author at justin@jalopnik.com or @WestbrookTweets.

Kanye Can’t Stop Piracy


Gizmodo / Alex Cranz

Kanye Can’t Stop Piracy

The Life of Pablo has been downloaded over 500,000 times since its release on February 14, according to TorrentFreak. What does that mean? That means half a million people looked at that free sample subscription to Tidal and said “nah.” They saw a “sign up for free” label and then looked at their old copy of Utorrent that probably gave them a virus three years ago and thought piracy was the better plan. The Pirate Bay, one of TorrentFreak’s primary data points, doesn’t show the precise number of downloads, but it does show that nearly 10,000 users are seeding T.L.O.P. right now. That’s three times more seeders than the next closest album (Rihanna’s ANTI). It’s killing in private circles too. On one site it had twice as many seeders as the next closest album (Adele’s 25) and had just under 2,000 fewer downloads despite being online for two days rather than three months. The old adage is that media piracy is all about filling the gaps. Your average cheap-as-fuck consumer has needs, and piracy provides. Piracy lets people sidestep expensive movie tickets, pricey DVR fees, and draconian DRM in their video games. And now, piracy is letting them sidestep a couple of free months of Tidal and the risk of forgetting to cancel the free trial before their credit card gets charged.Maybe they’re downloading it because Kanye insists it will never see a Sam Goody or iTunes Music store. These half a million pirates—a number that continues to grow—are just thinking about that future date, when they will have to pay for Tidal to get the tunes and being proactive. Or maybe they just couldn’t be bothered to click the “accept” button.Regardless, it’s not looking good for Kanye right now. He can’t save Tidal. He can’t stop piracy. He’s 53 million dollars in debt. And he mixed T.L.O.P. in like a week, and so it sounds like a hot pile of ass leaking into your ear.Least he has that cool shirt with his mom’s face on it.[TorrentFreak]Image: GettyContact the author at alex.cranz@gizmodo.com.

Scientists Discover a Boiling River of Amazonian Legend 


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Scientists Discover a Boiling River of Amazonian Legend 

Deep in the heart of the Amazon, legends tell of a river so hot that it boils from below. As a geoscientist, Andrés Ruzo’s training told him the stories couldn’t be true. But that was before he saw the river with his own eyes.It’s incredible to think there are natural wonders on this planet not yet known to science, but such was the case for the river at Mayantuyacu, publicized for the first time in The Boiling River: Adventure and Discovery in the Amazon. The book is an engrossing, true story of discovery, adventure, science, and mysticism, told by a man who was driven to explain something impossible, and is now on a quest to preserve it.http://www.amazon.com/Boiling-River-…When he was twelve years old growing up in Peru, Ruzo’s grandfather told him a strange story. After Spanish conquistadors killed the last Inca emperor, they headed deep into the Amazon rainforest in search of gold. Few of these men would ever return, but those who did spoke of a waking nightmare—poisoned water, man-eating snakes, starvation, disease, and a river that boils from below, as if lit by a great fire.“The planet’s gotten small, and natural wonders like this are few and far between “The image of that boiling river seared itself into Ruzo’s mind. But it wasn’t until years later, as a PhD student in geophysics at Southern Methodist University, that he started to wonder if the legend could be true. This wasn’t just idle curiosity: Ruzo’s thesis project was initially focused on creating the first detailed geothermal map of Peru, including parts of the Amazon. If a boiling river existed, it would surely merit recognition.But his senior colleagues dismissed the idea as preposterous. It would take a tremendous amount of geothermal heat to boil even a small section of a river—and the Amazon basin lies hundreds of miles from any active volcanoes. One advisor even suggested that Ruzo stop asking “stupid questions” if he wanted to finish his PhD.But Ruzo didn’t stop asking. And eventually, he found someone who took his questions about a boiling river seriously: his aunt. That’s because she’d been to one.The Boiling River at Mayantuyacu, via Sofia RuzoThe river turned out to be no legend at all, but the sacred geothermal healing site of Mayantuyacu, nestled deep in the Peruvian rainforest and protected by a powerful shaman. Ruzo couldn’t quite believe it until he saw it for himself, but once he did, his life changed.Up to 82 feet (25 meters) wide and 20 feet (six meters) deep, the river surges for nearly 4 miles at temperatures hot enough to brew tea or cook any animals unfortunate enough to fall in. And yes, a small portion of it is so hot that it actually boils. There are documented hot springs in the Amazon, but nothing nearly as large as this river.“You’re surrounded by the sounds of the rainforest,” Ruzo told Gizmodo. “You feel this water surging past you and plumes of vapor coming up. It’s truly a spectacular place.”Mayantuyacu is visited each year by a handful of tourists, who come to experience the traditional medicinal practices of the Asháninka people. Save several obscure references in petroleum journals from the 1930s, scientific documentation of the river is non-existent. Somehow, this natural wonder has managed to elude widespread notice for over seventy five years.Many of us turn to fiction to escape the mundanity of the real world. But as The Boiling River so poignantly illustrates, fantastical discoveries are lurking all around us. It takes a special type of persistence, and a little bit of crazy, to pull the clues out of the white noise of everyday routine. When Ruzo did, he was rewarded with the biggest adventure of his life.Sampling 207 degree Fahrenheit water, via Devlin GandyAnd it’s an adventure that’s just beginning. Having forged a strong relationship with the local community, Ruzo is now conducting detailed geothermal studies of the boiling river, attempting to place it in the context of the Amazon basin. He’s also collaborating with microbial ecologists to investigate the extremophile organisms living in its scalding waters. Anything that survives here could offer insights into how life got its start billions of years ago, when the Earth was a much harsher planet.But most importantly, Ruzo’s trying to save the boiling river. “In the middle of my PhD, I realized, this river is a natural wonder,” Ruzo said. “And it’s not going to be around unless we do something about it.”Since Ruzo first visited Mayantuyacu in 2011, the surrounding forest has been decimated by illegal logging. If action isn’t taken, the site—held sacred by generations of Asháninka cultural practitioners—could soon vanish.Ruzo hopes that by putting a spotlight on the boiling river, he can garner the public interest and financial support needed to ensure its long-term survival. While Mayantuyacu faces many threats, from loggers to would-be energy developers, the coalition to protect its unique natural and cultural heritage grows stronger every day. Destruction of Amazon rainforest surrounding the Boiling River site, via Andres RuzoRuzo recently received a grant from National Geographic, part of which will go toward using technology—drones, satellites, and the like—to learn which regions of the surrounding forest are the most vulnerable. To strengthen the conservation effort on the ground, he’s teamed up with Peruvian environmental organizations, and local community leaders.Ultimately, if the boiling river is to survive, it’ll be because people came together and recognized its intrinsic value. After reading Ruzo’s captivating, real-life adventure story, you might be inclined to agree.“I don’t like the concept of one person leading this charge—I think it’s about building a community on an international scale,” Ruzo said. “The planet’s gotten small, and natural wonders like this are few and far between.”Follow the author @themadstoneTop image via Devlin Gandy

Kanye Can’t Stop Piracy


Gizmodo / Alex Cranz

Kanye Can’t Stop Piracy

The Life of Pablo has been downloaded over 500,000 times since its release on February 14, according to TorrentFreak. What does that mean? That means half a million people looked at that free sample subscription to Tidal and said “nah.” They saw a “sign up for free” label and then looked at their old copy of Utorrent that probably gave them a virus three years ago and thought piracy was the better plan. The Pirate Bay, one of TorrentFreak’s primary data points, doesn’t show the precise number of downloads, but it does show that nearly 10,000 users are seeding T.L.O.P. right now. That’s three times more seeders than the next closest album (Rihanna’s ANTI). It’s killing in private circles too. On one site it had twice as many seeders as the next closest album (Adele’s 25) and had just under 2,000 fewer downloads despite being online for two days rather than three months. The old adage is that media piracy is all about filling the gaps. Your average cheap-as-fuck consumer has needs, and piracy provides. Piracy lets people sidestep expensive movie tickets, pricey DVR fees, and draconian DRM in their video games. And now, piracy is letting them sidestep a couple of free months of Tidal and the risk of forgetting to cancel the free trial before their credit card gets charged.Maybe they’re downloading it because Kanye insists it will never see a Sam Goody or iTunes Music store. These half a million pirates—a number that continues to grow—are just thinking about that future date, when they will have to pay for Tidal to get the tunes and being proactive. Or maybe they just couldn’t be bothered to click the “accept” button.Regardless, it’s not looking good for Kanye right now. He can’t save Tidal. He can’t stop piracy. He’s 53 million dollars in debt. And he mixed T.L.O.P. in like a week, and so it sounds like a hot pile of ass leaking into your ear.Least he has that cool shirt with his mom’s face on it.[TorrentFreak]Image: GettyContact the author at alex.cranz@gizmodo.com.

Tidal Tops U.S. App Store After Landing Exclusive Rights To Kanye’s New Album (Fitz Tepper/TechCrunch)


Techmeme /

Tidal Tops U.S. App Store After Landing Exclusive Rights To Kanye’s New Album (Fitz Tepper/TechCrunch)

Fitz Tepper / TechCrunch:
Tidal Tops U.S. App Store After Landing Exclusive Rights To Kanye’s New Album  —  After scoring exclusive streaming rights to Kanye’s new album, The Life of Pablo, Tidal has taken over the number one spot on the U.S. App Store. … The album, which went live yesterday …

Scalia’s Death May Have Saved the Planet


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Scalia’s Death May Have Saved the Planet

The United States’ commitment to combatting climate change will affect the entire world. Last week, the Supreme Court froze Obama’s plan to uphold that commitment, sparking fears that the Paris climate agreement would fall apart. But the death of justice Antonin Scalia over the weekend changes everything.Scalia might have been surprisingly progressive on technology, but when it came to climate change, the justice was a staunch defender of the proud American tradition of doing nothing. In 2007, he wrote an alarming dissent to a landmark Supreme Court ruling that the EPA can regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, on the grounds that “it is not the Atmospheric Protection Agency.” In 2006, when the attorney general of Massachusetts gently reminded him which atmospheric layer was suffering the most from carbon emissions, Scalia replied:Troposphere, whatever. I told you before I’m not a scientist. That’s why I don’t want to have to deal with global warming, to tell you the truth.Scalia popularized this use of the “I’m not a scientist” line, always followed by some shady deductive reasoning that makes him therefore absolved of any responsibility to help save our planet. And on February 9, along with four other Supreme Court justices, Scalia voted to put a stay on Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a signature set of environmental rules for combatting carbon pollution and transitioning the US to a clean energy economy. With his death, the odds of that plan surviving—along with the Paris climate agreement and, inevitably, humanity—just got a lot better.The Paris agreement, in which 195 countries agreed to combat climate change by slashing their carbon pollution to stay within a 2-degree Celsius global warming target, was based largely on trust. (A binding emissions agreement was not reached, for fear of it being struck down by rabidly anti-science meat popsicles in the US House of Representatives.) The onus was on each individual country to come up with a suitable plan and to reduce its carbon emissions accordingly. For its initial pledge, the US—historically the largest carbon emitter, now the second largest after China—promised to reduce its emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. The only credible way for the US to meet that goal was the Clean Power Plan, which mandates that each state reduce its power plant carbon emissions by a third by 2030.A court that was 5-4 against the Clean Power Plan is now split evenly.It took years of glacially slow international negotiations to get everyone on board with universal participation in climate action. Developing countries, many of whom are already facing the catastrophic effects of climate change, have historically argued that it’s unfair for them to be forced to slow their economic growth, when it’s the US and other developed nations who got us all into this mess. (Fair point.) In fact, it was the inability of rich and poor nations to compromise that doomed the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009. In December, two decades after the first climate talks and more than fifty years after scientists began sounding the alarm, the world finally reached a consensus that all nations needs to get off fossil fuels.If the United States jumped ship now, that would be nothing short of catastrophic for global climate action. Navroz K. Dubash, a senior fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi said the United States potentially backing out would be “the proverbial string which causes Paris to unravel.” That’s precisely the scenario that was beginning to look very likely last week.Since Obama introduced the Clean Power Plan last summer, over two dozen states have sued the federal government, calling the plan a “power grab,” and “the most far-reaching and burdensome rule the EPA has ever forced onto the states.” Last week, Scalia and four other justices put a freeze on enforcement of the new rules until litigation moves forward—an unprecedented move that, as Harvard law professor Jody Freeman told the New York Times “indicates a high degree of initial judicial skepticism from five justices on the court.”It’s expected that the Clean Power Plan will eventually make its way to the Supreme Court for a final verdict, where it probably would have faced a swift death. As fate would have it, Scalia died first. A court that was 5-4 against the Clean Power Plan is now split evenly. And it seems very unlikely that Obama, who has made saving the planet his presidential moonshot, would nominate an anti-environment justice to take Scalia’s place.Of course, Senate Republicans are already swearing on their mothers’ graves to block any Supreme Court nomination the president puts forward in his last year. So at this point, it’s anyone’s guess whether we’ll have a climate-friendly court by the time the Clean Power Plan makes its way back. If approval of a new justice is delayed until the Cruz administration takes over, you can bet the Clean Power Plan—along with every other pro-environment idea the president has put forth these last few months—is going to be cast into the proverbial saralacc pit.And if that’s the case, what for the Paris climate agreement? Well, we need only look to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for a striking example of where climate treaties go without US leadership: nowhere.In his death, Scalia has scored a win for the planet. But the battle for Earth is far from over.Image: GettyFollow the author @themadstone

For $499, You Can Buy Your Kids A Little Tesla Model S From Radio Flyer


TechCrunch / Frederic Lardinois

For $499, You Can Buy Your Kids A Little Tesla Model S From Radio Flyer

 Tesla and Radio Flyer — yep, the company best known for the little red wagon that parents all over the U.S. use to drag their kids around their neighborhoods — are about to launch a little electric Model S for kids.
The $499 Model S for Kids is now available for pre-order and is scheduled to ship in May.
Like any good Tesla, the Model S for Kids is obviously powered by batteries. Read More

For $499, You Can Buy Your Kids A Little Tesla Model S From Radio Flyer


TechCrunch / Frederic Lardinois

For $499, You Can Buy Your Kids A Little Tesla Model S From Radio Flyer

 Tesla and Radio Flyer — yep, the company best known for the little red wagon that parents all over the U.S. use to drag their kids around their neighborhoods — are about to launch a little electric Model S for kids.
The $499 Model S for Kids is now available for pre-order and is scheduled to ship in May.
Like any good Tesla, the Model S for Kids is obviously powered by batteries. Read More

Apple Will Update The iPhone’s Remote App To Do Everything Apple TV’s Own Remote Can


TechCrunch / Greg Kumparak

Apple Will Update The iPhone’s Remote App To Do Everything Apple TV’s Own Remote Can

 Back in October of 2015, Apple released a long awaited hardware update to the Apple TV — and with it, a shiny new Apple TV remote. You could speak to the remote to issue voice commands (“Siri, play Pitch Perfect 2. Yes, again. Don’t judge me, Siri. You don’t know me.”) and flick around a built-in trackpad for quick navigation. But long-time Apple TV users… Read More

Apple’s First Original TV Series Could Star Dr. Dre


TechCrunch / Jay Donovan

Apple’s First Original TV Series Could Star Dr. Dre

 According to both The Hollywood Reporter, Beats co-founder and Apple executive Dr. Dre will be starring in and producing his own six-show original series called Vital Signs. The semi-autobiographical storyline is rumored to be distributed via Apple Music, includes other celebrities like Sam Rockwell and Mo McCrae, and contains “an orgy scene”. Read More

A New Technique Makes GPS Accurate to an Inch


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

A New Technique Makes GPS Accurate to an Inch

GPS is an utterly pervasive and wonderful technology, but it’s increasingly not accurate enough for modern demands. Now a team of researchers can make it accurate right down to an inch.Regular GPS registers your location and velocity by measuring the time it takes to receive signals from four or more satellites, that were sent into space by the military. Alone, it can tell you where you are to within 30 feet. More recently a technique called Differential GPS (DGPS) improved on that resolution by adding ground-based reference stations—increasing accuracy to within 3 feet.Now, a team from the University of California, Riverside, has developed a technique that augments the regular GPS data with on-board inertial measurements from a sensor. Actually, that’s been tried before, but in the past it’s required large computers to combine the two data streams, rendering it ineffective for use in cars or mobile devices. Instead what the University of California team has done is create a set of new algorithms which, it claims, reduce the complexity of the calculation by several order of magnitude. In turn, that allows GPS systems in a mobile device to calculate position with an accuracy of just an inch. The research is published in IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology.The team hopes that the new GPS units could be used where accuracy is far more important that it was in the past. Autonomous vehicles is an obvious application, where knowing exactly where the vehicle is on the road is absolutely crucial—but it could be included in your phone, too.[IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology via PhysOrg]TechnImage by Aaron Parecki under Creative Commons license

The House Of Cards Season 4 Trailer Is Equal Parts Terrifying and Exciting


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

The House Of Cards Season 4 Trailer Is Equal Parts Terrifying and Exciting

House Of Cards Season 4 is coming in less than a month, but don’t worry: while you’re counting down the remaining 552 hours until you can binge on Frank, Netflix has released a new trailer to relieve the boredom. The trailer is everything we’ve come to expect from Netflix’s hallmark original programming: overly tense music, serious corruption, a little sex, and enough plot material to keep you scheming for months. March 4th can’t come soon enough. [YouTube]

The Arrow Smart Electric Go-Kart Is a Tesla For Nine-Year-Olds


Gizmodo / Andrew Liszewski on Toyland, shared by Andrew Liszewski to Gizmodo

The Arrow Smart Electric Go-Kart Is a Tesla For Nine-Year-Olds

Four-year-olds get to play with Power Wheels, teenagers get to drive real cars, but how do all those kids in-between quench their need for speed? With the new Arrow Smart-Kart from Actev Motors that sounds as feature-packed as a Tesla Model S, without the $70,000 price tag.There are actually a few different features that rightfully earn the Arrow go-kart its ‘smart’ moniker. Even though it was designed by professional racecar drivers and tops out at a brisk 12 miles per hour, the kart still prioritizes safety as much as it does driving fun.For example, a collision sensor mounted on the front of the Arrow will automatically stop the kart before it’s involved in a head-on crash that could damage both the vehicle and the driver. For kids who haven’t quite honed their reflexes, that alone could make the Arrow worthwhile. But the Smart Kart also connects to a free iOS and Android smartphone app over wi-fi allowing parents to limit the go-kart’s speed, range, and other capabilities.The Arrow Smart Kart is primarily designed for kids aged five to nine (although if an adult was able to squeeze into the tiny vehicle it actually supports riders up to 200 pounds) and as a young driver gets accustomed to controlling the kart without crashing, parents can slowly increase its top speed using the app.The Smart Kart also supports geo-fencing, so using the app parents can limit exactly how far a child can drive it. An onboard GPS tracker will automatically slow the vehicle to a crawl when it breaks a geo-fence barrier, which encourages kids to return to the pre-designated area so they can drive at full speed again.The Arrow’s accompanying app also has an emergency stop feature that completely shuts down the Smart Kart with the tap of a button. There’s notifications, including when the kart’s collision avoidance feature has been activated, or when the Arrow has been motionless for a set amount of time, indicating a possible problem. And it even keeps track of driving stats like time, distance, and speeds.On a full charge the Arrow will run for anywhere from 30 minutes to a full hour, depending on where or how fast the kart is being driven. If a kid has the pedal to the metal as they climb a mountain switchback, expect battery life to be closer to half an hour. Charging the battery is an overnight affair using the charger included with the kart, but a fast charger will also be available as an optional accessory, as well as additional batteries that can be quickly swapped out.In fact, accessories and add-ons will be a big part of the whole Arrow experience. The kart is available for pre-order starting today for $600, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Everything from custom body kits, to drifting wheel rings, to smart cones, to steering wheel upgrades will be available. Even the app has some clever ways to squeeze a few more bucks out of mom or dad with various synthesized engine sound effects that can be downloaded and shared to the vehicle.So if you’ve got a kid who seemingly can’t wait until they’re 16 to get behind the wheel, the Arrow Smart Kart could be a great way to tide them over, and maybe even teach them the basics of the road before you have to nervously climb in the passenger seat one day while helping them get their license.[Actev Motors]Toyland: We love toys. Join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Holy Shit! Scientists Have Confirmed the Existence of Gravitational Waves


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Holy Shit! Scientists Have Confirmed the Existence of Gravitational Waves

Since Albert Einstein first predicted their existence a century ago, physicists have been on the hunt for gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime. That hunt is now over. Gravitational waves exist, and we’ve found them.That’s according to researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), who have been holed up for weeks, working round-the-clock to confirm that the very first direct detection of gravitational waves is the real deal. False signals have been detected before, and even though the rumors first reported by Gizmodo have been flying for a month, the LIGO team wanted to be absolutely certain before making an official announcement.That announcement has just come. Gravitational waves were observed on September 14th, 2015, at 5:51 am ET by both of the LIGO detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. The source? A supermassive black hole collision that took place 1.3 billion years ago. When it occurred, about three times the mass of the sun was converted to energy in a fraction of a second.The discovery has been accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters.Gravitational waves are ripples in the universe caused by some of the most energetic cosmic events, from exploding stars to supermassive black hole mergers. As they propagate through space and time, gravitational waves cause tiny tremors in atoms that make up matter. While Einstein predicted them in his general theory of relativity in 1916, and their existence was indirectly demonstrated in the 1980s, it wasn’t until the LIGO detector came online in 2002 that the hunt for elusive spacetime ripples started to get serious.R. Hurt, Caltech / JPLBut the first generation LIGO experiment, which ran for eight years, wasn’t sensitive enough. Which is understandable. Gravitational waves are minuscule— the atomic jitters that pass through our world when two black holes bash together in a distant galaxy are on the order of a billionth of a billionth the diameter of an atom. LIGO detects them by proxy, using high powered lasers to measure tiny changes in the distance between two objects positioned thousands of miles apart. A million things can screw this up, including a rumbling freight train, a tremor in the Earth, and the inconvenient reality that all objects with a temperature above absolute zero are vibrating all the time.After a series of upgrades that lasted from 2010 to 2015, LIGO was back online this past fall. With more powerful lasers and improved system for isolating the experiment from vibrations in the ground, the prospects of detecting the first gravitational waves have never looked better. Some scientists even predicted that we’d have our first positive detection in 2016—but few could have known how quickly it would come.In fact, LIGO saw gravitational waves almost immediately. The team then spent the entire fall exhaustively investigating potential instrumental and environmental disturbances to confirm that the signal was real.According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, when a pair of black holes orbit on another, they lose energy slowly, causing them to creep gradually closer. In the final minutes of their merger, they speed up considerably, until finally, moving at about half the speed of light, they bash together, forming a larger black hole. A tremendous burst of energy is released, propagating through space as gravitational waves.The two black holes behind the all the hubbub are 29 and 36 times the mass of the Sun, respectively. During the peak of their cosmic collision, LIGO researchers estimate that their power output was 50 times that of the entire visible universe.“The description of this observation is beautifully described in the Einstein theory of general relativity formulated 100 years ago and comprises the first test of the theory in strong gravitation,” said Rainer Weiss, who first proposed LIGO as a means of detecting gravitational waves in the 1980s. “It would have been wonderful to watch Einstein’s face had we been able to tell him.”The discovery of gravitational waves has been an open secret for weeks now. The scientists’ own excitement got the better of them on several occasions, including last week, when theoretical physicist Clifford Burgess at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, sent an email to his entire department, telling them that LIGO had found a real, and “spectacular,” signal of two large black holes merging.Now, the muzzle has been lifted and the physicists can geek out at the top of their lungs. Keep an eye on social media today, it should be a ruckus.The discovery of gravitational waves confirms an important aspect of the theory of relativity, but it does much more than that. Quite literally, it opens up a new chapter in our exploration of the cosmos, one where electromagnetic radiation is no longer our only tool for “seeing” the universe. As MIT astrophysicist Scott Hughes told Gizmodo in a phone interview, we can use gravitational waves to probe mysterious celestial objects like black holes and neutron stars, which typically no light.“There’s a lot of rich information encoded in gravitational waves,” he said, noting that the shape of a spacetime ripple can tell us about the size and motion of the object that produced it. “As an astronomer, I try to think about how to go from the ‘sound’ of the waveform that LIGO measures, to the parameters that produce that waveform.”Hughes also notes that once our detectors are sensitive enough to catch gravitational waves regularly, we can start to build a census of the universe’s most energetic events. “Actually getting some demographic data is one of the key things we hope to do in an era of detection,” he said.“Whenever first detection happens, there’s gonna be a party, no question,” he continued. “But after that, when detection becomes routine, is when things start getting really interesting.”A century-long hunt is over. But a new cosmic exploration is just beginning.Follow the author @themadstone

This True American Hero Built a VR Version of Duck Hunt


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

This True American Hero Built a VR Version of Duck Hunt

Joseph Delgado is my new hero. The 21-year-old computer science student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, took his Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 and morphed the 8-bit NES classic into a virtual reality adventure. It looks super fun.The development process sounds relatively simple, too. Delgado converted the 2D sprites into 3D models with a Python script. The gray-and-orange NES Zapper is replaced by the VR handset Razer Hydras for the controller, though that iconic plastic gun still appears as your in-game weapon. Leaving the Hydra’s base station on a desk screws with the accuracy and response time of the controller though, so Delgado 3D-printed a headmount and stuck the base on his head. He made the game for Global Game Jam 2016, a sort of round-the-world hackathon for game developers.Delgado also tweaked the gameplay so that it’s a seven-day challenge, and each day, the ducks get faster and the game gets harder. He even made an original hub world that you access in between days that tells you your goal for the day. It’s also got a TV on static and is filled with empty liquor bottles you can practice shooting on.Delgado commented on YouTube that he plans on releasing it for free, and will probably port it to HTC Vive when it comes out. Read more about his process behind making the game on his blog. Joseph, are you taking requests? Can you do Metroid next, please?[Joseph Delgado]GIF via YouTube

A New Technique Makes GPS Accurate to an Inch


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

A New Technique Makes GPS Accurate to an Inch

GPS is an utterly pervasive and wonderful technology, but it’s increasingly not accurate enough for modern demands. Now a team of researchers can make it accurate right down to an inch.Regular GPS registers your location and velocity by measuring the time it takes to receive signals from four or more satellites, that were sent into space by the military. Alone, it can tell you where you are to within 30 feet. More recently a technique called Differential GPS (DGPS) improved on that resolution by adding ground-based reference stations—increasing accuracy to within 3 feet.Now, a team from the University of California, Riverside, has developed a technique that augments the regular GPS data with on-board inertial measurements from a sensor. Actually, that’s been tried before, but in the past it’s required large computers to combine the two data streams, rendering it ineffective for use in cars or mobile devices. Instead what the University of California team has done is create a set of new algorithms which, it claims, reduce the complexity of the calculation by several order of magnitude. In turn, that allows GPS systems in a mobile device to calculate position with an accuracy of just an inch. The research is published in IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology.The team hopes that the new GPS units could be used where accuracy is far more important that it was in the past. Autonomous vehicles is an obvious application, where knowing exactly where the vehicle is on the road is absolutely crucial—but it could be included in your phone, too.[IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology via PhysOrg]TechnImage by Aaron Parecki under Creative Commons license

Your Stupid-Ass Typing Style Might Not Actually Be So Bad


Gizmodo / George Dvorsky

Your Stupid-Ass Typing Style Might Not Actually Be So Bad

Back in the olden days, most typists were trained to use all their fingers. That’s less of a concern now, leading to all sorts of self-taught typing styles. But as a new study shows, our lack of formal training—and our resistance to using all ten fingers—doesn’t mean we’re not proficient typists. I cringe every time I have to watch my teenage son type. Unlike his father, who still dutifully sets his eight fingers on the home row, this child of the digital era uses his two measly index fingers to type. Incredibly, however, it works for him; his fingers fly across the keyboard quickly and accurately. A new study from Aalto University supports this observation, suggesting it’s not the number of fingers that matters when typing, but how we use them. “We were surprised to observe that people who took a typing course, performed at similar average speed and accuracy, as those that taught typing to themselves and only used six fingers on average,” said study co-author Anna Feit in a statement. “The number of fingers does not effect typing speed. You could use just one or two fingers per hand and still type very fast.”Feit’s team recruited 30 volunteers of various ages and typing skills, and then recorded their individual styles with an optical motion capture system. A dozen high-speed infrared cameras tracked 52 reflective markers placed on the participants’ hands and fingers. This allowed the researchers to to measure the speed and accuracy of their individual typing styles. And to get a visual sense of typing commonalities, the researchers created finger-to-key maps. Fast typists, touch vs. self taught.Slow typists, touch vs. self-taughtAnalysis revealed that most participants used their left and right hands differently; some kept their left hands at the same place over the keyboard while their right hand moved from side-to-side, and vice-versa. Four groups of typists performed these similar movements with their left hand, and six groups with their right hand. The volunteers used anywhere from one to two fingers per hand (i.e. “hunt-and-peck”) to using all five. Some exhibited unique typing behaviors, like using the Caps Lock instead of shift, or using both thumbs together to hit the spacebar. Common strategies for each hand.Regardless of the style, however, the volunteers typed at different rates, some fast, some slow. This suggests that other factors are at play. For example, fast typists kept their hands on one position instead of moving them over the keyboard. They also used the same finger for the same letter virtually every time. The researchers also observed that untrained typists spent about twice as much time gazing at their fingers instead of the screen, which affected their ability to do complex editing tasks. The researchers say our typing techniques are often a reflection of the task being performed on the computer. “The touch typing system was developed for typing sentences on typewriters,” said Feit. “It is not advantageous for Photoshop shortcuts or gaming, often done with one hand on the mouse.” Developers could use this research to create better user interfaces both in software and in keyboards themselves. The interfaces should be tailored to the way we type today, not how we typed a long time ago.[Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems]Images: Aalto UniversityEmail the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him @dvorsky.

A Producer Is Tweeting Descriptions of Women from Movie Scripts and It’s Hilariously Awful


Gizmodo / Charlie Jane Anders on io9, shared by Mario Aguilar to Gizmodo

A Producer Is Tweeting Descriptions of Women from Movie Scripts and It’s Hilariously Awful

Ross Putman is a film producer with a few credits under his belt, and now he’s started a Twitter feed where he just tweets the initial descriptions of female main characters in the movie scripts he’s reading. It’s endlessly fascinating, and kind of garbage.According to Putman’s Twitter bio, “These are intros for female leads in actual scripts I read.” The only change he makes is that he changes all the names to Jane. Taken one at a time, these descriptions are kind of funny, like descriptions from old 1940s pulp novels.But when you read 20 of these in a row, it starts to feel kind of creepy and weird. Especially when you take in the part about “female leads.” In other words, these are the main characters (or female main characters, at least) in movies that people are trying to get made, and the writer of that movie only thinks of these characters in terms like “leggy” or “sexy.” Urk.Here are a few of the most notable:[Thanks Saladin Ahmed, from whom I also stole the top image]Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, which is available now. Here’s what people have been saying about it. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.http://www.amazon.com/All-Birds-Char…

IBM Watson Teams With Toronto Raptors On Data-Driven Talent Analysis


TechCrunch / Ron Miller

IBM Watson Teams With Toronto Raptors On Data-Driven Talent Analysis

 IBM announced today that is has teamed with the Toronto Raptors to bring cognitive analysis in the form of IBM Watson to the NBA team’s talent evaluation process.
The new tool called IBM Sports Insights Central, pulls in data from a variety of sources including statistics, video, social networking sentiment analysis, medical records and much more. It compares this data against the… Read More

Your Stupid-Ass Typing Style Might Not Actually Be So Bad


Gizmodo / George Dvorsky

Your Stupid-Ass Typing Style Might Not Actually Be So Bad

Back in the olden days, most typists were trained to use all their fingers. That’s less of a concern now, leading to all sorts of self-taught typing styles. But as a new study shows, our lack of formal training—and our resistance to using all ten fingers—doesn’t mean we’re not proficient typists. I cringe every time I have to watch my teenage son type. Unlike his father, who still dutifully sets his eight fingers on the home row, this child of the digital era uses his two measly index fingers to type. Incredibly, however, it works for him; his fingers fly across the keyboard quickly and accurately. A new study from Aalto University supports this observation, suggesting it’s not the number of fingers that matters when typing, but how we use them. “We were surprised to observe that people who took a typing course, performed at similar average speed and accuracy, as those that taught typing to themselves and only used six fingers on average,” said study co-author Anna Feit in a statement. “The number of fingers does not effect typing speed. You could use just one or two fingers per hand and still type very fast.”Feit’s team recruited 30 volunteers of various ages and typing skills, and then recorded their individual styles with an optical motion capture system. A dozen high-speed infrared cameras tracked 52 reflective markers placed on the participants’ hands and fingers. This allowed the researchers to to measure the speed and accuracy of their individual typing styles. And to get a visual sense of typing commonalities, the researchers created finger-to-key maps. Fast typists, touch vs. self taught.Slow typists, touch vs. self-taughtAnalysis revealed that most participants used their left and right hands differently; some kept their left hands at the same place over the keyboard while their right hand moved from side-to-side, and vice-versa. Four groups of typists performed these similar movements with their left hand, and six groups with their right hand. The volunteers used anywhere from one to two fingers per hand (i.e. “hunt-and-peck”) to using all five. Some exhibited unique typing behaviors, like using the Caps Lock instead of shift, or using both thumbs together to hit the spacebar. Common strategies for each hand.Regardless of the style, however, the volunteers typed at different rates, some fast, some slow. This suggests that other factors are at play. For example, fast typists kept their hands on one position instead of moving them over the keyboard. They also used the same finger for the same letter virtually every time. The researchers also observed that untrained typists spent about twice as much time gazing at their fingers instead of the screen, which affected their ability to do complex editing tasks. The researchers say our typing techniques are often a reflection of the task being performed on the computer. “The touch typing system was developed for typing sentences on typewriters,” said Feit. “It is not advantageous for Photoshop shortcuts or gaming, often done with one hand on the mouse.” Developers could use this research to create better user interfaces both in software and in keyboards themselves. The interfaces should be tailored to the way we type today, not how we typed a long time ago.[Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems]Images: Aalto UniversityEmail the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him @dvorsky.

Voice Control on Apple TV Is About To Get Way More Useful


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

Voice Control on Apple TV Is About To Get Way More Useful

When the new Apple TV was announced, the inclusion of Siri was a strong selling point—too bad it turned out to suck. Finally, though, Apple is making voice control on the set-top box rather more useful.The latest version of tvOS issued to developers includes something that will prove rather useful: voice dictation. As our very own Adam Clark Estes pointed out when he reviewed the new Apple TV, Siri just doesn’t currently cut it:I was… disappointed by how little Siri did in other apps. Asking Siri to play music is a joke, but who wants to listen to music on their TV? You can, however, open YouTube and say, “Play Ariana Grande.” If there’s an Ariana Grande video already displayed on the home screen, it will play. If not, Siri’s basically like: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯With the new developer beta, explains Mac Rumors, you’re able to speak at the Siri remote to dictate text as well as just asking dumb questions about the weather or sports scores. That suddenly means scrabbling around with on-screen keyboard isn’t always required. Adam will be pleased.Elsewhere, the new developer version of the OS also adds support for Bluetooth keyboards, iCloud Photo Libraries, and Live Photos.For now, though, this a beta for developers only. An official date for the roll-out of the new OS will likely be announced at the rumored upcoming Apple event.[Mac Rumors via The Verge]

Inside the Tech Behind New York’s Monstrously Fast Gigabit Wifi


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

Inside the Tech Behind New York’s Monstrously Fast Gigabit Wifi

New York City is replacing busted old payphone booths with amazing free gigabit wifi hotspots in 10,000 locations around the city. We’ve already tested an early version of the new service and it’s fast. Now we finally know why.The blazing wireless internet—which we clocked at a ridiculous 400 Mbps—is enabled by components developed by Qualcomm, one of the three companies behind CityBridge. For those that are unfamiliar, CityBridge is the New York-based group of companies made up of Qualcomm, CIVIQ and Intersection. CityBridge is the group that’s working with the city to replace over 7,500 existing pay phones with ultra-futuristic fountains of reliable wifi.There’s a lot riding on whether or not the wifi works. New York City’s new gigabit internet service is the initial testing ground for a project that could be rolled out to cities around the world. LinkNYC isn’t an exception—especially as it’s the biggest public wifi project in history.Kiva Allgood, vice president of Qualcomm’s Intelligent Solutions division, says LinkNYC is part of a Smart Cities initiative that aims to take similar internet infrastructure around the world—but it starts in New York.“We bring the wifi, all those antennas, and put them in a metal box,” Allgood told Gizmodo. “It does have to pay for itself. New York is unique with advertising.” The $200 million project will generate a lot of income through ads, which’ll play on big electronic displays on the side of each unit. Since New York brims with over 8 million data-hungry humans roaming the streets, those ads are prime real estate, especially when you consider LinkNYC’s mission of planting a Link every 150 feet.You’re probably wondering how each Link will be able to handle the hundreds of tired tourists huddling on the curb for a mini-binge of Orange Is the New Black. While we were told that LinkNYC is supposed to be something of a fleeting experience, allowing people to perform quick, on-the-go tasks like checking email, Allgood assured me that the tech inside each Link is built to withstand dozens of streaming video-watchers.Inside is MIMO wifi, which stands for “multiple in, multiple out.” It’s specifically designed to avoid traffic congestion by serving multiple devices simultaneously—useful when you’re serving throngs of smartphone-toting humans in America’s biggest city. So, even if a bunch of people did camp out for group YouTube parties, the Links should still be cranking out breakneck wifi for the crowds at all times.For specs lovers, here are the full details about what’s actually inside each Link, which is being announced formally today:For the wifi: Ruckus Wireless ZoneFlex 802.11ac wave 2 4×4 access points, supported by a Qualcomm Internet Processor and the Qualcomm VIVE 11ac Wi-Fi solution with Qualcomm MU|EFX Multi-User MIMO technologyFor 911 calls: Sierra Wireless’ MC9090 3G modem, incorporating a Qualcomm Technologies’ chipsetFor displays and ads: eInfochips’ Eragon Single Board Computer solution featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, the first Snapdragon processor to feature the Qualcomm Adreno 320 graphics processing unitFor USB charging: Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 All that stuff is also what lets users browse the internet and access city maps and directions on the built-in Android tablets. Those tablets aren’t active yet, though. Allgood told me that in the next two weeks, Mayor Bloomberg will host an event that officially brings the Links out of beta and activates the tablets. Once activated, New Yorkers will even be able to use them to pay utility bills, or make video calls on Skype. See? They’re still (kinda) like (futuristic) pay phones after all!Another phone-like function? Always-available 911 calling. That onboard modem is what operates the call: Press the big red button and you’ll instantly be connected to a first responder. Finally, users can charge their devices using a Link’s Quick Charge ports, which apparently juice your phone 75 percent faster than most devices. (We’ve yet to try that, obviously, but the city’s claims that the wifi being super fast were true—so hopefully the same goes for these phone charging speeds.)We tested the Links here in Manhattan, and they are indeed awesome—their wifi crushed a nearby Starbucks’, and was even faster than the internet at the Gawker offices. While New York will continue blazing the trail for free omnipresent gigabit wifi (the idea is that there are so many units, you connect to the network once and you’ll never have to reconnect again), Allgood told me that Qualcomm’s looking to help take similar technology around the world. “We have several projects across the board, including seven or eight other cities internationally, including Latin America,” Allgood said. Other cities might not have Link-like devices that look exactly like New York’s, though. Some countries, including in Latin America, actually have laws that require payphones to exist on the streets, in order to accommodate citizens who lack mobile phones. So in those cases, Links may complement rather than fully replace.For now, though, the Big Apple is the world’s guinea pig. All eyes are on New York—and all of New York’s hands are on wifi-craving smartphones.Image: LinkNYC

You Can Get 2GB of Free Google Drive Storage Today


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

You Can Get 2GB of Free Google Drive Storage Today

Want some more space for your documents? Of course you do. Well, you can grab 2GB of extra capacity on Google Drive for free today. Here’s how.All you need to to is head to Google and run through a very brief security update—checking that your backup email address is correct, renewing account permissions, that kind of thing. For a couple of minutes of work, you’ll be given 2GB of extra storage on Drive. What are you waiting for? Go do it.The offer is to mark Safer Internet Day 2016, and it’s similar to a promotion Google ran last year, too. But don’t worry: If you got 2GB of free space then, you can still claim another 2GB today. Happy days.[Google via Reddit]

You Can Now Sleep In This Trippy Airbnb Bedroom Based on a Van Gogh Painting


Gizmodo / Michael Nunez

You Can Now Sleep In This Trippy Airbnb Bedroom Based on a Van Gogh Painting

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to see the world through the crazy eyes of very crazy Vincent Van Gogh, now you can. The Art Institute of Chicago built a life-size replica of his popular painting, Bedroom In Arles. The room is available for rent on Airbnb starting today, and judging by the photos, it’s a nearly an exact replica of the famous painting.The rental was built to promote a new exhibition, Van Gogh’s Bedrooms, that opens at the museum on February 14 and runs until May 10. The exhibition is the first time that all three versions of the painting will be shown in North America, and it includes several extra presentations, including a digitally enhanced reconstruction of the room—you can’t sleep in it, but you can interact with it to learn more about new scientific research on the painting.Right now, there are no longer dates available to rent the room in February, but the Art Institute plans to release more rentals in the near future. “The available dates went much faster than anyone could have expected,” the museum posted on Facebook. “We’ll be sharing available dates in March in the next couple of weeks.”If you’re lucky enough to get one of the coveted spots for this Airbnb listing, you’ll be allowed to bring a friend. The room accommodates two people and even comes with a bathroom. More importantly, the room only costs ten bucks per night.“I’m charging $10 for no other reason than that I need to buy paint,” says the description of the room, written as though it were penned Vincent Van Gogh. “However, I will be happy to provide you with tickets to my exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.” What a deal.[Colossal]Images via AirbnbContact the author at michael.nunez@gizmodo.com.

You Can Get 2GB of Free Google Drive Storage Today


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

You Can Get 2GB of Free Google Drive Storage Today

Want some more space for your documents? Of course you do. Well, you can grab 2GB of extra capacity on Google Drive for free today. Here’s how.All you need to to is head to Google and run through a very brief security update—checking that your backup email address is correct, renewing account permissions, that kind of thing. For a couple of minutes of work, you’ll be given 2GB of extra storage on Drive. What are you waiting for? Go do it.The offer is to mark Safer Internet Day 2016, and it’s similar to a promotion Google ran last year, too. But don’t worry: If you got 2GB of free space then, you can still claim another 2GB today. Happy days.[Google via Reddit]

Inside the Tech Behind New York’s Monstrously Fast Gigabit Wifi


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

Inside the Tech Behind New York’s Monstrously Fast Gigabit Wifi

New York City is replacing busted old payphone booths with amazing free gigabit wifi hotspots in 10,000 locations around the city. We’ve already tested an early version of the new service and it’s fast. Now we finally know why.The blazing wireless internet—which we clocked at a ridiculous 400 Mbps—is enabled by components developed by Qualcomm, one of the three companies behind CityBridge. For those that are unfamiliar, CityBridge is the New York-based group of companies made up of Qualcomm, CIVIQ and Intersection. CityBridge is the group that’s working with the city to replace over 7,500 existing pay phones with ultra-futuristic fountains of reliable wifi.There’s a lot riding on whether or not the wifi works. New York City’s new gigabit internet service is the initial testing ground for a project that could be rolled out to cities around the world. LinkNYC isn’t an exception—especially as it’s the biggest public wifi project in history.Kiva Allgood, vice president of Qualcomm’s Intelligent Solutions division, says LinkNYC is part of a Smart Cities initiative that aims to take similar internet infrastructure around the world—but it starts in New York.“We bring the wifi, all those antennas, and put them in a metal box,” Allgood told Gizmodo. “It does have to pay for itself. New York is unique with advertising.” The $200 million project will generate a lot of income through ads, which’ll play on big electronic displays on the side of each unit. Since New York brims with over 8 million data-hungry humans roaming the streets, those ads are prime real estate, especially when you consider LinkNYC’s mission of planting a Link every 150 feet.You’re probably wondering how each Link will be able to handle the hundreds of tired tourists huddling on the curb for a mini-binge of Orange Is the New Black. While we were told that LinkNYC is supposed to be something of a fleeting experience, allowing people to perform quick, on-the-go tasks like checking email, Allgood assured me that the tech inside each Link is built to withstand dozens of streaming video-watchers.Inside is MIMO wifi, which stands for “multiple in, multiple out.” It’s specifically designed to avoid traffic congestion by serving multiple devices simultaneously—useful when you’re serving throngs of smartphone-toting humans in America’s biggest city. So, even if a bunch of people did camp out for group YouTube parties, the Links should still be cranking out breakneck wifi for the crowds at all times.For specs lovers, here are the full details about what’s actually inside each Link, which is being announced formally today:For the wifi: Ruckus Wireless ZoneFlex 802.11ac wave 2 4×4 access points, supported by a Qualcomm Internet Processor and the Qualcomm VIVE 11ac Wi-Fi solution with Qualcomm MU|EFX Multi-User MIMO technologyFor 911 calls: Sierra Wireless’ MC9090 3G modem, incorporating a Qualcomm Technologies’ chipsetFor displays and ads: eInfochips’ Eragon Single Board Computer solution featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, the first Snapdragon processor to feature the Qualcomm Adreno 320 graphics processing unitFor USB charging: Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 All that stuff is also what lets users browse the internet and access city maps and directions on the built-in Android tablets. Those tablets aren’t active yet, though. Allgood told me that in the next two weeks, Mayor de Blasio will host an event that officially activates the tablets. Once activated, New Yorkers will even be able to use them to pay utility bills, or make video calls on Skype. See? They’re still (kinda) like (futuristic) pay phones after all!Another phone-like function? Always-available 911 calling. That onboard modem is what operates the call: Press the big red button and you’ll instantly be connected to a first responder. Finally, users can charge their devices using a Link’s Quick Charge ports, which apparently juice your phone 75 percent faster than most devices. (We’ve yet to try that, obviously, but the city’s claims that the wifi being super fast were true—so hopefully the same goes for these phone charging speeds.)We tested the Links here in Manhattan, and they are indeed awesome—their wifi crushed a nearby Starbucks’, and was even faster than the internet at the Gawker offices. While New York will continue blazing the trail for free omnipresent gigabit wifi (the idea is that there are so many units, you connect to the network once and you’ll never have to reconnect again), Allgood told me that Qualcomm’s looking to help take similar technology around the world. “We have several projects across the board, including seven or eight other cities internationally, including Latin America,” Allgood said. Other cities might not have Link-like devices that look exactly like New York’s, though. Some countries, including in Latin America, actually have laws that require payphones to exist on the streets, in order to accommodate citizens who lack mobile phones. So in those cases, Links may complement rather than fully replace.For now, though, the Big Apple is the world’s guinea pig. All eyes are on New York—and all of New York’s hands are on wifi-craving smartphones.Image: LinkNYCCorrection, 8:47 a.m.: The story misidentified which New York mayor is involved. (It’s the current mayor, Bill de Blasio.)

Don’t Believe Facebook’s Claim That ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ Is Bogus


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

Don’t Believe Facebook’s Claim That ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ Is Bogus

Today, a Facebook post revealed that each Facebook user is an average of only 3.57 connections away from all users on the site. That by itself is interesting, but instead, Facebook’s comparing it to the popular theory of six degrees of separation—presenting its user base and the general population as two groups that, hell, may as well be considered one in the same!The post starts with a description of six degrees of separation: The notion that it takes just six social connections to link you with every human on Earth. But Facebook (which celebrates its twelfth birthday today) disagrees: “We’ve crunched the Facebook friend graph and determined that the number is actually 3.57.” At least among the 1.59 billion people on Facebook.Let’s break it down. First, of course the number of connections could be fewer, if the overall sample is smaller—1.59 billion isn’t the world’s 7.4 billion! (The Facebook post says, however, that apparently interconnectivity has grown as the user base has increased.) But still, groups that have more in common will obviously be more connected. In this case, people with enough internet access, free time, and the sheer interest of owning a Facebook account.Personally, I would’ve been super interested if Facebook was using its mathematicians and social networking wizards to try and debunk the six degrees theory (which is already kinda sketchy and flawed) on a wider scale, going beyond the boundaries of Facebook and proving that we all are actually more connected than we think. And hey, maybe the happy rainbow unity magic of the internet might actually have something to do with it. Instead, this is Facebook’s latest attempt to make us think the site is a basic part of the human experience.[Facebook Research]Image via Facebook

Promising New Therapy Extends Lifespans of Mice by 35 Percent


Gizmodo / George Dvorsky

Promising New Therapy Extends Lifespans of Mice by 35 Percent

By flushing out cells worn-out with age, researchers from the Mayo Clinic have extended the lifespans of mice by as much as 35 percent. It’s an encouraging finding that could eventually lead to similar therapies in humans. Aging is a complex biological process with no single causal factor. One particularly critical contributor of aging, however, is a process known as cellular senescence (senescence being a fancy word for aging). After a while, our cells stop dividing properly, leading to a host of age-related problems, including frailty, inflammation, tissue and organ damage, and diseases like pulmonary fibrosis, atherosclerosis, and arthritis. With this in mind, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found a way to destroy these worn-out cells in normal mice, extending their lifespan by as much as 25 to 35 percent. Excitingly, this aging process applies to humans as well, giving hope to potential life-extending therapies. The details of this work can now be found in the latest edition of Nature. The problem with senescent cells is at least twofold. First, their inability to divide properly means they’re no longer contributing to the growth of healthy tissue. Second, these stressed-out cells pollute the body, damaging healthy cells nearby. The result is chronic inflammation, which is closely linked to frailty and other age-related diseases. Tellingly, the accumulation of abnormal amounts of senescent cells tends to happen where disease occurs, including in our lungs, joints, and arteries.Our immune system clears out senescent cells on a regular basis, but this process becomes less effective over time. What’s less known, however, is if these damaged cells are somehow beneficial to our health. Going into the study, the Mayo Clinic researchers asked themselves two important questions: are these senescent cells important drivers of disease, and if so, can their removal be used as a therapeutic mechanism to treat patients of age-related diseases?To explore the role of senescent cells in aging, a team led by Jan van Deursen, Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Mayo Clinic, created a mouse model in which these cells could be flushed out. The researchers transplanted a foreign gene into otherwise normal mice, allowing them to remove the worn-out cells with a drug called AP20187. It worked quite well, clearing out about 60 to 70 percent of senescent cells in middle-aged mice (which for mice is about 12 months). Treatments continued until the mice died of natural causes. The effect was nothing short of extraordinary: The median lifespan of the treated mice were extended by 25 to 35 percent. Importantly, the intervention didn’t just extend lifespan, it extended healthy lifespan—and without any observable side-effects. Observations of the treated mice revealed delays in tumor formation, and preserved tissue and organ function, including reduced inflammation in fat, muscle, and kidney tissue.This research strongly suggests that the accumulation of senescent cells is largely a bad thing; not only do they shorten life, they shorten the healthy parts of our lives. The study also bolsters the theory that cellular senescence is a mechanism that contributes to cancer and the proliferation of tumors. As the research shows, treated mice displayed a decreased disposition towards cancer. The treated mice still developed tumors associated with aging, but the rate of growth decreased, and they died of these tumors much later. Looking ahead, the researchers are hoping to apply these findings to the development of life-extending therapies in humans. And they’re not kidding; van Deursen and study co-author Darren Baker have licensed patents to develop such drugs for a company that van Deursen co-founded. Importantly, this study was done on mice, and humans are obviously not mice. It’s unlikely that a similar intervention in humans would extend our lives by a whopping 35 percent (which would raise human life expectancy to around 115 to 120 years!) But it could very possibly extend human lifespan a bit. And importantly, it would likely stave off age-related diseases and extend the healthy phase of our lives.[Nature]Top image: Jan van DeursenEmail the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him @dvorsky.

SETI Scientist Explains Why We Haven’t Found Aliens Yet


TechCrunch / Emily Calandrelli

SETI Scientist Explains Why We Haven’t Found Aliens Yet

 The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is a field of science that’s been around for over 60 years. While SETI tools and strategies have improved immensely over that time, we have yet to find definitive evidence for intelligent alien life in our universe. TechCrunch spoke with famed astronomer Jill Tarter, to understand how the search has changed over the years and why… Read More

Playboy’s First Nudity-Free Issue Targets Teens With a Snapchat Selfie


Gizmodo / Adam Clark Estes

Playboy’s First Nudity-Free Issue Targets Teens With a Snapchat Selfie

This is Sarah McDaniel, a 20-year-old Instagram celebrity. She’s on the cover of the newly nudity-free Playboy magazine, striking a very millennial pose. Notice anything odd about her eyes, though? McDaniel took the internet by storm a few months ago thanks in part to her particularly beautiful case of heterochromia irdum. This is why she has one brown eye and one blue eye. But that’s only a small part of what makes this cover interesting. Since Playboy decided to go PG-13 in October, the magazine says that traffic to its website has spiked by 400-percent and the mean reader age dropped from 47-years-old to 30. It seems like the pivot to being a better-behaved media empire was pretty smart.Cleverly, the new cover manages to evoke not only the obvious Snapchat reference but also a little bit of the internet cam girl allure. So it’s familiar, if not a little naughty at the same time. McDaniel said of the cover, “The idea was to look at me from a boyfriend’s perspective.” (The photo was, of course, taken by a professional.)It’s voyeuristic and alluring which is why people started “reading” Playboy in the first place. [Playboy, New York Times]Contact the author at adam@gizmodo.com.Public PGP keyPGP fingerprint: 91CF B387 7B38 148C DDD6 38D2 6CBC 1E46 1DBF 22A8

How to Watch Super Bowl 50 Online 


Gizmodo / Kate Knibbs

How to Watch Super Bowl 50 Online 

It can be a pain in the ass to stream live sports, but this year’s Super Bowl 50 will be easy to watch on February 7, even without a cable subscription. This is a fantastic innovation, because it means cordcutters will spend less time agonizing over how to watch the Denver Broncos play the Carolina Panthers and more time crafting delicious cheese-based dips, as God intended. If you own a Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, or Amazon Fire box, you can download CBS’s Sports or National Football League apps and watch the game for free that way, even if you don’t have a cable subscription. The commercials played on TV will also play through the app.If you want to watch on your laptop or tablet from within the US, you can go to CBSSports.com. Verizon customers can stream the game on smartphones through its NFL Mobile app. It’ll probably destroy your data package if you’re not using wi-fi, so be careful. If you’re not in the US, though, it’s much harder to see the game for free. As The New York Times points out, international football fans will need to pay for access:International fans cannot stream the game without a subscription to N.F.L. Game Pass, a $99-a-year video service for watching football games, according to the N.F.L.That doesn’t mean Broncos or Panthers fans overseas are screwed. It’s just harder, and (in some cases) less legal to get the game digitally without paying for Game Pass. If you know someone who has a TV and a Slingbox, you can use the Slingbox to stream the game to your device, though it’s not really free because a Slingbox is pricy. I can see this option appealing to Americans who happen to be traveling during the Super Bowl, and who already own a Slingbox, but it’s definitely not ideal. Cult of Mac has another option—in theory, someone could use the service Uno Telly to spoof a US IP address, which would allow international viewers to use the CBS Sports app on Apple TV as though they were within the US. (Gizmodo has never tested the service and cannot recommend it.)And I’m probably not supposed to tell you this but if you Google “stream Super Bowl” you’ll likely find a malware-riddled stream that you can play directly in your browser. I have done this before in times of desperation, but the buffering situation was NOT ideal, also there’s a roughly 89 percent chance a ring of Russian hackers has been reading all my emails. THIS IS NOT ADVICE DON’T DO THIS I’M JUST SAYIN’ YOU PROBABLY COULD. Image: AP

Don’t Believe Facebook’s Claim That ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ Is Bogus


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

Don’t Believe Facebook’s Claim That ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ Is Bogus

Today, a Facebook post revealed that each Facebook user is an average of only 3.57 connections away from all users on the site. That by itself is interesting, but instead, Facebook’s comparing it to the popular theory of six degrees of separation—presenting its user base and the general population as two groups that, hell, may as well be considered one in the same!The post starts with a description of six degrees of separation: The notion that it takes just six social connections to link you with every human on Earth. But Facebook (which celebrates its twelfth birthday today) disagrees: “We’ve crunched the Facebook friend graph and determined that the number is actually 3.57.” At least among the 1.59 billion people on Facebook.Let’s break it down. First, of course the number of connections could be fewer, if the overall sample is smaller—1.59 billion isn’t the world’s 7.4 billion! (The Facebook post says, however, that apparently interconnectivity has grown as the user base has increased.) But still, groups that have more in common will obviously be more connected. In this case, people with enough internet access, free time, and the sheer interest of owning a Facebook account.Personally, I would’ve been super interested if Facebook was using its mathematicians and social networking wizards to try and debunk the six degrees theory (which is already kinda sketchy and flawed) on a wider scale, going beyond the boundaries of Facebook and proving that we all are actually more connected than we think. And hey, maybe the happy rainbow unity magic of the internet might actually have something to do with it. Instead, this is Facebook’s latest attempt to make us think the site is a basic part of the human experience.[Facebook Research]Image via Facebook

Source: iPhone 7 will be similar in design to iPhone 6, but will have a flush rear camera, and no antenna bands on back (Eric Slivka/MacRumors)


Techmeme /

Source: iPhone 7 will be similar in design to iPhone 6, but will have a flush rear camera, and no antenna bands on back (Eric Slivka/MacRumors)

Eric Slivka / MacRumors:
Source: iPhone 7 will be similar in design to iPhone 6, but will have a flush rear camera, and no antenna bands on back  —  First Details on iPhone 7 Design: Flush Rear Camera, No Antenna Bands Across the Back  —  Apple’s iPhone 7 isn’t expected to launch until the usual September timeframe …

Ohlala, An Uber For Escorts, Launches Its ‘Paid Dating’ Service In NYC


TechCrunch / Lucas Matney

Ohlala, An Uber For Escorts, Launches Its ‘Paid Dating’ Service In NYC

 New Yorkers sick of the tired uncertainties of the urban dating scene can now turn to a new dating app that’s aiming to reduce its complexities to dollars and cents.
Ohlala, a controversial on-demand escort dating app popular in Germany, is launching its services today in its first American market, New York City.
It was no sooner than Ohlala’s CEO and co-founder… Read More

Ohlala, An Uber For Escorts, Launches Its ‘Paid Dating’ Service In NYC


TechCrunch / Lucas Matney

Ohlala, An Uber For Escorts, Launches Its ‘Paid Dating’ Service In NYC

 New Yorkers sick of the tired uncertainties of the urban dating scene can now turn to a new dating app that’s aiming to reduce its complexities to dollars and cents.
Ohlala, a controversial on-demand escort dating app popular in Germany, is launching its services today in its first American market, New York City.
It was no sooner than Ohlala’s CEO and co-founder… Read More

Google’s Cars Drive Three Million Simulated Miles Every Day


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

Google’s Cars Drive Three Million Simulated Miles Every Day

Google’s self-driving cars have racked up about 1.4 million self-driven miles on actual roads in the last six years, but as impressive as that sounds, it’s a pittance compared to what the simulators have been doing behind the scenes. As part of its monthly report on self-driving cars, Google has detailed the simulators it uses to test out software changes for its fleet. Every mile driven by a car with sensors has been tabulated as a two-million-mile virtual test course for every version of Google’s software. Whenever code is changed, it ‘re-drives’ all the miles that Google’s cars have driven in the real world before, to see how it reacts: “For example, to make left turns at an intersection more comfortable for our passengers, we modified our software to adjust the angle at which our cars would travel. To test this change, we then rerun our entire driving history of 2+ million miles with the new turning pattern to ensure that it doesn’t just make our car better at left turns, but that the changes creates a better driving experience overall.The report claims that Google simulates three million miles of driving every day, which obviously requires some processing horsepower. Luckily, Google has a few data centers to spare. The simulator is also useful for working out what went wrong in the past. Every time a test driver takes control to avoid a potential accident, Google’s engineers later simulate what would have happened had the car continued driving, and obviously fix any deficiencies. Simulators alone won’t make self-driving cars any better in rain or snow; but as a tool to speed up development, and check new versions of software, it’s potent. Good thing Google has a few spare computers lying around. [Google]Contact the author at chris@gizmodo.com.

I Want This Google Now Mirror In My Bathroom Immediately


Gizmodo / Darren Orf

I Want This Google Now Mirror In My Bathroom Immediately

Smart mirrors still reside in the realm of tinkerers, only achievable for those who’ve mastered the art of DIY electronics. Which is too bad! Because Max Braun, a software engineer at Google, may have hacked together the first IoT device I actually want to buy.Braun uses a combination of Android and weather forecast APIs, along with an Associated Press RSS feed to create this informative pane of glass. Despite the mirror’s already impressive appearance, Braun still calls the project a work-in-progress. Inside, the mirror is still a jungle of wires with an Amazon Fire TV Stick at its heart running the Android API.Braun says that he’s still experimenting with “traffic, reminders, and essentially anything that has a Google Now card” to add to the mirror. So cool.Google. If you need moonshot projects that actually make money, this is it. I will buy it immediately. Just tell much money I need to throw at you.[Medium]Images used with permission of Max BraunContact the author at darren.orf@gizmodo.com

Here’s What Watching The Super Bowl With Microsoft’s HoloLens Could Look Like


TechCrunch / Frederic Lardinois

Here’s What Watching The Super Bowl With Microsoft’s HoloLens Could Look Like

 Watching sports could soon be a very different experience — at least if it’s up to Microsoft and the NFL. Before you know it, a holographic player could be charging through your walls and replays could play in 3D on your coffee table.
Microsoft today released a new concept for its HoloLens augmented reality goggles that shows off its vision for what the combination of sports and… Read More

Build This Dream Theater For Your Super Bowl 50 Party


Gizmodo / Alex Cranz

Build This Dream Theater For Your Super Bowl 50 Party

The Super Bowl is less than a week away, and that means it’s time to throw out everything you own and start living like a real American—with a brand new home entertainment system plopped right in the middle of your living room. Sure, you could probably get by streaming the game on a laptop, but it’s 2016. Why not treat yourself to that massive 70-inch TV or that robotic butler you’ve always dreamed of? Here’s a look at the best Super Bowl party gear:The TelevisionYou need a centerpiece for your new set up. A display that you and your Super Bowl-viewing guests can really revel in. You could go with a projector: Sony has a couple in the $20,000 range that are great so long as you have a giant wall to project on. But the images cast by projectors can look like garbage when the lights are on or the sun is out. More importantly, you have less than a week until the game, and you probably don’t have time to install a theater-quality projection system.The safe, and still wonderful choice, is a television. Samsung makes a solid $3,000 LED option that uses nanocrystals to brighten the image and bring out stronger contrasts. That’s quantum physics, man. You can’t argue with that.If you want to do one better, you should get an OLED TV. The latest from LG have a few billion pixels that can be individually controlled, so you get the blackest blacks and the whitest whites (which will be especially handy when the vanilla white Oscars are on next month). LG’s 65EF9500, a 65-inch 4K OLED television, is the one to beat. You might be throwing down $6,000 ($5,000 on sale!) just so your eyeballs can be exposed to bright lights every day, but it’s probably cheaper than a ticket to the Super Bowl. So spend your money wisely: On this beautiful 65-inch 4K OLED television.http://www.amazon.com/LG-Electronics…The AudioOnce you have your TV, you’ll want to pipe in some high-quality audio. Your mother warbling in the house three counties over sounds better than what comes out of those tiny-ass speakers on the back of your TV. So grab some good speakers, but not a 7.1 surround sound system with an amp, receiver, and cords slithering everywhere.Go with Sonos instead. You’ll need the Playbar to put under your TV, and you’ll have to put down cash for multiple PLAY1 or PLAY5 speakers, but you won’t have to deal with a bulky receiver taking up space in your media console. And everything is wireless! And there’s really cool software that optimizes the audio for the room you’re in. And for a couple hundred bucks per speaker, you’re probably not going to find a better deal.http://www.amazon.com/SONOS-PLAYBAR-…The ButlerClearly the best bang for your buck is a small child, but child labor laws being what they are, the second best kind of butler would be Pepper, the robot butler. While it (I refuse to gender robots even if Pepper’s sexist overlords do) isn’t designed for butler duties, it can perceive human emotion. So it should be able to perceive your need for the nachos baking in the oven. Get it here.The RemoteA butler, a TV, and a good audio system are fine, but you still need something to control it all. Savant—known for the home automation systems for the rich and famous—makes a gorgeous remote, but Logitech makes a remote that ships via Amazon Prime. Both control everything in your house that’s connected to the central hub. That means your TV, your lights, even your thermostat…if you are so inclined.http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Harmo…The Set Top BoxIf you think you’ll be able to stream the Super Bowl in glorious 4K resolution—you’re wrong. The NFL broadcasts all games in 720p, a noticeably low resolution compared to other streaming services like Netflix. But that shouldn’t stop you from getting a set-top box that streams 4K video. The Nvidia Shield will do just that. And when you’re not streaming TV shows, it will let you stream games from your PC to the living room. So even though the Shield might not come in handy during game time, it will be great when you re-watch all the Super Bowl commercials on YouTube in 4K.http://www.amazon.com/NVIDIA-SHIELD-…Mood LightingYou need to be fully immersed in the game and that 65-inch OLED 4K TV will definitely help. But to really bring out the glowing allure of your TV, stick these Dream Screen LED backlights on the back. They change color depending on what the display is showing, and help the image pop a little more. We’re not exactly sure of the scientific validity behind this, but we can say that it does look pretty damn sweet.Other Mood LightingYou have the lights behind the TV covered, now you need to blanket the kitchen in a soft glow. Philips Hue is a system of very expensive lights that change color depending on how you program them. They also come pre-loaded with 17 “scenes” that let you change the room’s ambiance with the press of a button. Great for providing light without disrupting the game.http://www.amazon.com/Philips-456210…The SeatingBecause you threw your furniture out to make way for you new entertainment lifestyle, you now need new seating. Don’t get a cozy pair of home theater seats or a couch upholstered in Italian leather. Get something easily deflated so you can kick it out of the room when you’re all standing and shouting at the TV.http://www.amazon.com/Intex-Pull-out…The FridgePepper the robot is on nacho duty, but what about beverage duty? Do you really want to be running to the kitchen for soda and/or beer constantly? When your significant other, who hates carbonated beverages, needs a long pour of Cold Duck or Franzia, you need to be ready. So why not grab a $5200 fridge that dispenses wine like soda.http://www.amazon.com/Vinotemp-VT-10…The Cleanup CrewWhen the party is over someone has to clean up. Or something. A robot vacuum will clean without complaining and babysit your child while you’re vomiting away your hangover. You’ll have to duct tape the child to the vacuum, but that’s a price I’m personally willing to pay.http://www.amazon.com/iRobot-Roomba-…Contact the author at alex.cranz@gizmodo.com.

What’s Up With Uber’s New Logo? 


Gizmodo / Katharine Trendacosta

What’s Up With Uber’s New Logo? 

That’s Uber’s new logo which isn’t a stylized “u” anymore. Which is a weird choice that doesn’t seem at all connected with the name of the brand. Updated with more information and another logo. The new logo, along with quadcopter-like background, is already everywhere from App Store:To the official Uber twitter account:The old “U” one is still trademarked by Uber, but I bet we’ll be seeing a filing on the new one relatively soon. There’s no real reason for the change we can tell, other than maybe that Uber is trying to make itself over as a company. In which case, a weird disc with a square isn’t going to cut it. Updated: Wired has a piece on the new (and colorful) redesign. The logo we’re seeing everywhere is the “rider” one, with another “partner” one:The new logo, as one of the other writer’s here has pointed out, bears a bit of a resemblance to the logo for Chase. According to Wired, founder and CEO Travis Kalanick didn’t go to a marketing company for the rebranding (also called a “coming of age” story in Wired), but did it all in-house. Maybe if they had gone to someone else, they would have been told that a logo so totally divorced from a connection with the actual name of the company defeats the purpose of a trademark: easy identification. The new wordmark—the font and spacing of the company name—is actually great. It is much easier to read and still keeps some of the classic Uber look:The rest of the Wired story will fill you in on how Uber chose the new colors, picked the tessellated pattern after being inspired by bathroom tile, created mood boards, based the look on a blog post by Kalanick, and how they reworked the process once they figured out the problem was they were designing a logo for Kalanick and not the users. For my part, I’m going to go back to wondering why the line in the “rider” logo isn’t at least vertical, which would make it look slightly more like a “u.”Contact the author at katharine@io9.com.

Here’s What Watching The Super Bowl With Microsoft’s HoloLens Could Look Like


TechCrunch / Frederic Lardinois

Here’s What Watching The Super Bowl With Microsoft’s HoloLens Could Look Like

 Watching sports could soon be a very different experience — at least if it’s up to Microsoft and the NFL. Before you know it, a holographic player could be charging through your walls and replays could play in 3D on your coffee table.
Microsoft today released a new concept for its HoloLens augmented reality goggles that shows off its vision for what the combination of sports and… Read More

Google’s Cars Drive Three Million Simulated Miles Every Day


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

Google’s Cars Drive Three Million Simulated Miles Every Day

Google’s self-driving cars have racked up about 1.4 million self-driven miles on actual roads in the last six years, but as impressive as that sounds, it’s a pittance compared to what the simulators have been doing behind the scenes. As part of its monthly report on self-driving cars, Google has detailed the simulators it uses to test out software changes for its fleet. Every mile driven by a car with sensors has been tabulated as a two-million-mile virtual test course for every version of Google’s software. Whenever code is changed, it “re-drives” all the miles that Google’s cars have driven in the real world before, to see how it reacts: “For example, to make left turns at an intersection more comfortable for our passengers, we modified our software to adjust the angle at which our cars would travel. To test this change, we then rerun our entire driving history of 2+ million miles with the new turning pattern to ensure that it doesn’t just make our car better at left turns, but that the changes creates a better driving experience overall.The report claims that Google simulates three million miles of driving every day, which obviously requires some processing horsepower. Luckily, Google has a few data centers to spare. The simulator is also useful for working out what went wrong in the past. Every time a test driver takes control to avoid a potential accident, Google’s engineers later simulate what would have happened had the car continued driving, and obviously fix any deficiencies. Simulators alone won’t make self-driving cars any better in rain or snow. But as a tool to speed up development, and check new versions of software, it’s potent. Good thing Google has a few spare computers lying around. [Google]Contact the author at chris@gizmodo.com.

I Want This Google Now Mirror In My Bathroom Immediately


Gizmodo / Darren Orf

I Want This Google Now Mirror In My Bathroom Immediately

Smart mirrors still reside in the realm of tinkerers, only achievable for those who’ve mastered the art of DIY electronics. Which is too bad! Because Max Braun, a software engineer at Google, may have hacked together the first IoT device I actually want to buy.Braun uses a combination of Android and weather forecast APIs, along with an Associated Press RSS feed to create this informative pane of glass. Despite the mirror’s already impressive appearance, Braun still calls the project a work-in-progress. Inside, the mirror is still a jungle of wires with an Amazon Fire TV Stick at its heart running the Android API.Braun says that he’s still experimenting with “traffic, reminders, and essentially anything that has a Google Now card” to add to the mirror. So cool.Google. If you need moonshot projects that actually make money, this is it. I will buy it immediately. Just tell much money I need to throw at you.[Medium]Images used with permission of Max BraunContact the author at darren.orf@gizmodo.com

Japanese Company to Build the World’s First Autonomous Farm


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Japanese Company to Build the World’s First Autonomous Farm

We had a hunch that the future of farming was going to be all about robots, and naturally, Japan is taking the lead. This morning, Kyoto-based firm Spread made a bold announcement: In two years time, it intends to be running the world’s very first fully-automated, (mostly) human-free farm.From watering seedlings to harvesting crops, robots will control nearly every aspect of this indoor lettuce production operation, according to company official Koji Morisada, who spoke about his autonomous farming ambitions with the AFP this morning. But note the ‘nearly.’ Despite the fact that this future farm is being marketed as a bastion of automation, humans are still going to fill one very important roll.“Seed planting will still be done by people, but the rest of the process, including harvesting, will be done [by industrial robots],” Morisada told AFP.Still, by cutting most of the squishy meatbags out of the equation, Morisada hopes to slash personnel costs and energy expenses. There are no details yet on what sorts of robots the indoor farming company plans on using, but if you’d like a little help imagining our robot-farming future, check out these 13 crazy farming robots that already exist.Spread’s indoor grow house is slated to open in 2017. [MSN] Follow the author @themadstoneTop image: lettuce in indoor hydroponic system via, Shutterstock

Alphabet’s “Other Bets” Cost It Almost $3.6B Last Year


TechCrunch / Frederic Lardinois

Alphabet’s “Other Bets” Cost It Almost $3.6B Last Year

 Alphabet — the company formerly known as Google — reported some pretty good earnings today. For the first time today, the company also broke out its revenue and loss from its “other bets” outside of the core products that still make up its Google subsidiary. These other bets generated $448 million in revenue in 2015 but Alphabet’s operating loss for those bets… Read More

Way to Go Everyone, We Ruined Almonds


Gizmodo / Alissa Walker

Way to Go Everyone, We Ruined Almonds

Great job, internet. Remember all that shit-talking you did about almonds sucking up too much of California’s drought-plagued water? Now the price of almonds is way down, and people just aren’t grabbing America’s nuts like they used to, causing serious damage to the industry.It wasn’t only a bad reputation that hurt almonds. Farmers got whipped into a planting frenzy that ended up flooding the market with too many nuts. Now, the price per nut has plummeted, causing the state to lose about $1.8 billion. Farmers admit they’re probably to blame, according to a report that aired on NPR:“We probably pushed the price up too high,” says Darren Rigg. He handles over 50 million pounds of nuts with Meridian Growers in Tulare, Calif.“It killed off demand, and people at a certain point, they just don’t buy,” Rigg says. “We’re probably coming back into an equilibrium point, but we possibly have overcorrected as well.”Why was the United States growing so many almonds in the first place? We have to go back to the counterintuitive reason for why almonds thrived in an age of water scarcity: Because of the drought, almonds were so financially lucrative that it made sense for farmers to plant more of them, even with the extra water factored in. As Valley Public Radio reports, farmers have been tearing out other crops to make way for almond trees, which resulted in the glut of nuts. This started happening long before the drought, by the way, so some of these almond trees have yet to mature—so even more almonds are on the way.The other big problem is that the almond industry is built on a precarious economic premise. It banks on the fact that people in other countries like China and India will pay top dollar for America’s nuts. That turned out to be not as true in 2015 as it was in 2014, and the market flooded, resulting in a plunging price per pound. As Gizmodo’s Esther Inglis-Arkell, pointed out to me, this is also the same kind of thing that happened when the price of wheat skyrocketed nealry a century ago. The price of wheat went up, so farmers planted more wheat to make big bucks. That sent prices way down, which meant farmers had to produce even more wheat to make money, which pushed the price down even more. Of course, farmers ended up abandoning their crops, and that’s how we ended up with the Dust Bowl. Let’s hope the Great Almond Crash doesn’t have the same effect.On the other hand, some forward-looking farmers have already given up on almonds entirely and are planting solar panels instead.[Valley Public Radio via NPR]AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Sandalwood Odor Could Be a Treatment for Leukemia


Gizmodo / Esther Inglis-Arkell

Sandalwood Odor Could Be a Treatment for Leukemia

Olfactory receptors are not limited to your nose. You have them all over your body, including your blood. Now, synthetic sandalwood has been shown to promote cell death in cancer cells for patients with a certain kind of leukemia. This could open the door for a whole new kind of treatment.Researchers from Essen University Hospital and Ruhr-Universität Bochum have found olfactory receptors in white blood cells, according to a paper published today in Cell Death Discovery. This is not as strange as it might seem. Although we first discovered olfactory receptors in the nose, many different parts of our bodies make use of chemical receptors. Scientists have discovered “olfactory receptors” in the liver, “taste buds” in the colon, and most recently, the receptor OR2AT4 in the white blood cells of patients suffering from acute myeloid leukemia. Sandalore is a synthetic sandalwood scent that is used to replace actual sandalwood oil in many skin creams and perfumes. It’s a chemical the binds to the receptor and causes a chemical reaction in the cell. In this case, it provoked an influx of the calcium ion Ca2+ into the cell. The scientists noticed that this influx triggered a higher rate of cell death. They also found that it caused phosphorylation. Phosphorylation adds a phosphoryl group, PO32−, to an enzyme. Adding or subtracting these groups turns enzymes on and off. Enzymes speed up functions in a cell, and in this case, phosphorylation decreases the rate at which cells proliferate.This is important, because in myeloid leukemia patients cells in the spinal cord called myeloblasts create too many immature white blood cells. A medication that depresses the creation of these cells—and causes them to die earlier—could be a life-saving treatment. According to Professor Hans Hatt, one of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum scientists, “Acute myeloid leukemia in particular is a disease for which specific medication is not, as yet, available.” This treatment might only be the first. The researchers discovered seven different odor receptors in the cells, and they’re studying them to see if they can also be used to manipulate blood cells and treat cancer through odorants. Using olfactory receptors to shut down and kill off cancer cells might be a whole new way of treating the disease.[Cell Death Discovery, Olfactory Receptors in the Blood]Image:National Cancer Institute

New technologies like connected TVs, cars, bulbs, wearables, and more give government ample means to track suspects, Berkman Center study finds (David E. Sanger/New York Times)


Techmeme /

New technologies like connected TVs, cars, bulbs, wearables, and more give government ample means to track suspects, Berkman Center study finds (David E. Sanger/New York Times)

David E. Sanger / New York Times:
New technologies like connected TVs, cars, bulbs, wearables, and more give government ample means to track suspects, Berkman Center study finds  —  New Technologies Give Government Ample Means to Track Suspects, Study Finds  —  WASHINGTON — For more than two years the F.B.I. and intelligence agencies …

Facebook says it’s now using feedback from user surveys in News Feed when selecting stories, warns some Pages will lose referral traffic (Facebook)


Techmeme /

Facebook says it’s now using feedback from user surveys in News Feed when selecting stories, warns some Pages will lose referral traffic (Facebook)

Facebook:
Facebook says it’s now using feedback from user surveys in News Feed when selecting stories, warns some Pages will lose referral traffic  —  News Feed FYI: Using Qualitative Feedback to Show Relevant Stories  —  The goal of News Feed is to show you the stories that matter most to you.

Facebook says it’s now using feedback from user surveys in News Feed when selecting stories, warns some Pages will lose referral traffic (Facebook)


Techmeme /

Facebook says it’s now using feedback from user surveys in News Feed when selecting stories, warns some Pages will lose referral traffic (Facebook)

Facebook:
Facebook says it’s now using feedback from user surveys in News Feed when selecting stories, warns some Pages will lose referral traffic  —  News Feed FYI: Using Qualitative Feedback to Show Relevant Stories  —  The goal of News Feed is to show you the stories that matter most to you.

New technologies like connected TVs, cars, bulbs, wearables, and more give government ample means to track suspects, Berkman Center study finds (David E. Sanger/New York Times)


Techmeme /

New technologies like connected TVs, cars, bulbs, wearables, and more give government ample means to track suspects, Berkman Center study finds (David E. Sanger/New York Times)

David E. Sanger / New York Times:
New technologies like connected TVs, cars, bulbs, wearables, and more give government ample means to track suspects, Berkman Center study finds  —  New Technologies Give Government Ample Means to Track Suspects, Study Finds  —  WASHINGTON — For more than two years the F.B.I. and intelligence agencies …

Japanese Company to Build the World’s First Autonomous Farm


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Japanese Company to Build the World’s First Autonomous Farm

We had a hunch that the future of farming was going to be all about robots, and naturally, Japan is taking the lead. This morning, Kyoto-based firm Spread made a bold announcement: In two years time, it intends to be running the world’s very first fully-automated, (mostly) human-free farm.From watering seedlings to harvesting crops, robots will control nearly every aspect of this indoor lettuce production operation, according to company official Koji Morisada, who spoke about his autonomous farming ambitions with the AFP this morning. But note the ‘nearly.’ Despite the fact that this future farm is being marketed as a bastion of automation, humans are still going to fill one very important roll.“Seed planting will still be done by people, but the rest of the process, including harvesting, will be done [by industrial robots],” Morisada told AFP.Still, by cutting most of the squishy meatbags out of the equation, Morisada hopes to slash personnel costs and energy expenses. There are no details yet on what sorts of robots the indoor farming company plans on using, but if you’d like a little help imagining our robot-farming future, check out these 13 crazy farming robots that already exist.Spread’s indoor grow house is slated to open in 2017. [MSN] Follow the author @themadstoneTop image: lettuce in indoor hydroponic system via, Shutterstock

Alphabet’s “Other Bets” Cost It Almost $3.6B Last Year


TechCrunch / Frederic Lardinois

Alphabet’s “Other Bets” Cost It Almost $3.6B Last Year

 Alphabet — the company formerly known as Google — reported some pretty good earnings today. For the first time, the company also broke out its revenue and loss from its “other bets” outside of the core products that still make up its Google subsidiary. These other bets generated $448 million in revenue in 2015 but Alphabet’s operating loss for those bets was… Read More

UberPUPPY Is Exactly What You Think It Is


TechCrunch / Lucas Matney

UberPUPPY Is Exactly What You Think It Is

 Oh my god. Uber has finally done it. They’ve made my dreams come true.
In honor of this week’s Puppy Bowl, Uber is teaming up with Animal Planet, the SF SPCA, Peninsula Humane Society, and Berkeley Humane Society to deliver on-demand puppies to your house to hang out with you for a bit.
The puppy packs will be available this Wednesday, February 3 from 11am-2pm for $30 in an… Read More

Tesla Motors Confirms It’s Developing Two ‘Affordable’ Electric Vehicles


Gizmodo / Justin Westbrook on Jalopnik, shared by Chris Mills to Gizmodo

Tesla Motors Confirms It’s Developing Two ‘Affordable’ Electric Vehicles

Tesla Motors, hot off of beginning deliveries for it’s new Model X SUV, has now confirmed it’s working on not one, but two ‘affordable’ electric vehicles which it hopes to sell for around $30,000. Following the current Model S and Model X, Tesla plans to introduce a Model 3 and Model Y. S3XY.Remember when Ford killed Tesla Motor’s CEO Elon Musk’s attempt at bringing “S.E.X.” to the market by introducing a compact electric sedan slotted between the Model S and Model X to be called the Model E? Well he found a way around that, with all-but-confirmed reports that the “Model 3″ will be unveiled this March, and it may not be the only new model to come from Tesla this year.http://jalopnik.com/ford-killed-se…Earlier today Electrek ran an article claiming that a second-hand source confirmed that Tesla would show off a compact electric sedan called the “Model 3" this March (as has been previously reported). They also claimed that Tesla would simultaneously introduce a smaller SUV or CUV called the “Model Y” with Falcon doors similar to the the Model X, which would be based on the same new “pancake” electric battery platform as the upcoming small sedan—which we’ve heard about since June of last year.http://jalopnik.com/the-tesla-mode…A Tesla spokesperson reached out to Electrek, who updated their original post, claiming this report was “wrong,” but confirmed that the Model 3 was due to be revealed on schedule this March, and that the electric automaker was in fact working on another new vehicle that would share its platform.As for the “Model Y” name—it was no joke when Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted out (and then deleted) that there would be “a Model 3 and Model Y,” fulfilling the brand’s S.3.X.Y. lineup. We’ll just have to wait and see if that nomenclature stands after Tesla’s March announcement of its prospective sub-$30,000 car.Screenshot from 60 Minutes via ElectrekContact the author at justin@jalopnik.com or @WestbrookTweets.

Sources: Apple working on wireless charging tech for iOS devices that works over a distance, may be released as soon as next year (Tim Culpan/Bloomberg Business)


Techmeme /

Sources: Apple working on wireless charging tech for iOS devices that works over a distance, may be released as soon as next year (Tim Culpan/Bloomberg Business)

Tim Culpan / Bloomberg Business:
Sources: Apple working on wireless charging tech for iOS devices that works over a distance, may be released as soon as next year  —  Apple Said Developing Wireless-Charged Phone for as Soon as 2017  —  Technology could power devices further away than charging mats

Why the Calorie Is Broken


Gizmodo / Cynthia Graber & Nicola Twilley — Mosaic

Why the Calorie Is Broken

Calories consumed minus calories burned: it’s the simple formula for weight loss or gain. But dieters often find that it doesn’t work. The calorie is broken—and this is why.“For me, a calorie is a unit of measurement that’s a real pain in the rear.”Bo Nash is 38. He lives in Arlington, Texas, where he’s a technology director for a textbook publisher. And he’s 5’10” and 245 lbs–which means he is classed as obese.In an effort to lose weight, Nash uses an app to record the calories he consumes and a Fitbit band to track the energy he expends. These tools bring an apparent precision: Nash can quantify the calories in each cracker crunched and stair climbed. But when it comes to weight gain, he finds that not all calories are equal. How much weight he gains or loses seems to depend less on the total number of calories, and more on where the calories come from and how he consumes them. The unit, he says, has a “nebulous quality to it”.Tara Haelle is also obese. She had her second son on St Patrick’s Day in 2014, and hasn’t been able to lose the 70 lbs she gained during pregnancy. Haelle is a freelance science journalist, based in Illinois. She understands the science of weight loss, but, like Nash, doesn’t see it translate into practice. “It makes sense from a mathematical and scientific and even visceral level that what you put in and what you take out, measured in the discrete unit of the calorie, should balance,” says Haelle. “But it doesn’t seem to work that way.”Nash and Haelle are in good company: more than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. For many of them, the cure is diet: one in three are attempting to lose weight in this way at any given moment. Yet there is ample evidence that diets rarely lead to sustained weight loss. These are expensive failures. This inability to curb the extraordinary prevalence of obesity costs the United States more than $147 billion in healthcare, as well as $4.3 billion in job absenteeism and yet more in lost productivity.At the heart of this issue is a single unit of measurement–the calorie–and some seemingly straightforward arithmetic. “To lose weight, you must use up more calories than you take in,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dieters like Nash and Haelle could eat all their meals at McDonald’s and still lose weight, provided they burn enough calories, says Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “Really, that’s all it takes.”But Nash and Haelle do not find weight control so simple. And part of the problem goes way beyond individual self-control. The numbers logged in Nash’s Fitbit, or printed on the food labels that Haelle reads religiously, are at best good guesses. Worse yet, as scientists are increasingly finding, some of those calorie counts are flat-out wrong–off by more than enough, for instance, to wipe out the calories Haelle burns by running an extra mile on a treadmill. A calorie isn’t just a calorie. And our mistaken faith in the power of this seemingly simple measurement may be hindering the fight against obesity.Image by Catherine LosingThe process of counting calories begins in an anonymous office block in Maryland. The building is home to the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, a facility run by the US Department of Agriculture. When we visit, the kitchen staff are preparing dinner for people enrolled in a study. Plastic dinner trays are laid out with meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, brown bread, a chocolate-chip scone, vanilla yoghurt and a can of tomato juice. The staff weigh and bag each item, sometimes adding an extra two-centimetre sliver of bread to ensure a tray’s contents add up to the exact calorie requirements of each participant. “We actually get compliments about the food,” says David Baer, a supervisory research physiologist with the Department.The work that Baer and colleagues do draws on centuries-old techniques. Nestle traces modern attempts to understand food and energy back to a French aristocrat and chemist named Antoine Lavoisier. In the early 1780s, Lavoisier developed a triple-walled metal canister large enough to house a guinea pig. Inside the walls was a layer of ice. Lavoisier knew how much energy was required to melt ice, so he could estimate the heat the animal emitted by measuring the amount of water that dripped from the canister. What Lavoisier didn’t realise–and never had time to find out; he was put to the guillotine during the Revolution–was that measuring the heat emitted by his guinea pigs was a way to estimate the amount of energy they had extracted from the food they were digesting.Until recently, the scientists at Beltsville used what was essentially a scaled-up version of Lavoisier’s canister to estimate the energy used by humans: a small room in which a person could sleep, eat, excrete, and walk on a treadmill, while temperature sensors embedded in the walls measured the heat given off and thus the calories burned. (We now measure this energy in calories. Roughly speaking, one calorie is the heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius.) Today, those ‘direct-heat’ calorimeters have largely been replaced by ‘indirect-heat’ systems, in which sensors measure oxygen intake and carbon dioxide exhalations. Scientists know how much energy is used during the metabolic processes that create the carbon dioxide we breathe out, so they can work backwards to deduce that, for example, a human who has exhaled 15 litres of carbon dioxide must have used 94 calories of energy.The facility’s three indirect calorimeters are down the halls from the research kitchen. “They’re basically nothing more than walk-in coolers, modified to allow people to live in here,” physiologist William Rumpler explains as he shows us around. Inside each white room, a single bed is folded up against the wall, alongside a toilet, sink, a small desk and chair, and a short treadmill. A couple of airlocks allow food, urine, faeces and blood samples to be passed back and forth. Apart from these reminders of the room’s purpose, the vinyl-floored, fluorescent-lit units resemble a 1970s dorm room. Rumpler explains that subjects typically spend 24 to 48 hours inside the calorimeter, following a highly structured schedule. A notice pinned to the door outlines the protocol for the latest study:6:00 to 6:45pm—Dinner,11:00pm—Latest bedtime, mandatory lights out,11:00pm to 6:30am—Sleep, remain in bed even if not sleeping.In between meals, blood tests and bowel movements, calorimeter residents are asked to walk on the treadmill at 3 miles per hour for 30 minutes. They fill the rest of the day with what Rumpler calls “low activity”. “We encourage people to bring knitting or books to read,” he says. “If you give people free hand, you’ll be surpried by what they’ll do inside the chamber.” He tells us that one of his less cooperative subjects smuggled in a bag of M&Ms, and then gave himself away by dropping them on the floor.Using a bank of screens just outside the rooms, Rumpler can monitor exactly how many calories each subject is burning at any moment. Over the years, he and his colleagues have aggregated these individual results to arrive at numbers for general use: how many calories a 120-lb woman burns while running at 4.0 miles an hour, say, or the calories a sedentary man in his 60s needs to consume every day. It’s the averages derived from thousands of extremely precise measurements that provide the numbers in Bo Nash’s movement tracker and help Tara Haelle set a daily calorie intake target that is based on her height and weight.Measuring the calories in food itself relies on another modification of Lavoisier’s device. In 1848, an Irish chemist called Thomas Andrews realied that he could estimate calorie content by setting food on fire in a chamber and measuring the temperature change in the surrounding water. (Burning food is chemically similar to the ways in which our bodies break food down, despite being much faster and less controlled.) Versions of Andrews’s ‘bomb calorimeter’ are used to measure the calories in food today. At the Beltsville centre, samples of the meatloaf, mashed potatoes and tomato juice have been incinerated in the lab’s bomb calorimeter. “We freeze-dry it, crush into a powder, and fire it,” says Baer. Humans are not bomb calorimeters, of course, and we don’t extract every calorie from the food we eat. This problem was addressed at the end of the 19th century, in one of the more epic experiments in the history of nutrition science. Wilbur Atwater, a Department of Agriculture scientist, began by measuring the calories contained in more than 4,000 foods. Then he fed those foods to volunteers and collected their faeces, which he incinerated in a bomb calorimeter. After subtracting the energy measured in the faeces from that in the food, he arrived at the Atwater values, numbers that represent the available energy in each gram of protein, carbohydrate and fat. These century-old figures remain the basis for today’s standards. When Baer wants to know the calories per gram figure for that night’s meatloaf, he corrects the bomb calorimeter results using Atwater values.Image by Catherine LosingThis entire enterprise, from the Beltsville facility to the numbers on the packets of the food we buy, creates an aura of scientific precision around the business of counting calories. That precision is illusory.The trouble begins at source, with the lists compiled by Atwater and others. Companies are allowed to incinerate freeze-dried pellets of product in a bomb calorimeter to arrive at calorie counts, though most avoid that hassle, says Marion Nestle. Some use the data developed by Atwater in the late 1800s. But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also allows companies to use a modified set of values, published by the Department of Agriculture in 1955, that take into account our ability to digest different foods in different ways.Atwater’s numbers say that Tara Haelle can extract 8.9 calories per gram of fat in a plate of her favourite Tex-Mex refried beans; the modified table shows that, thanks to the indigestibility of some of the plant fibres in legumes, she only gets 8.3 calories per gram. Depending on the calorie-measuring method that a company chooses–the FDA allows two more variations on the theme, for a total of five–a given serving of spaghetti can contain from 200 to 210 calories. These uncertainties can add up. Haelle and Bo Nash might deny themselves a snack or sweat out another few floors on the StairMaster to make sure they don’t go 100 calories over their daily limit. If the data in their calorie counts is wrong, they can go over regardless.There’s also the issue of serving size. After visiting over 40 US chain restaurants, including Olive Garden, Outback Steak House and PF Chang’s China Bistro, Susan Roberts of Tufts University’s nutrition research centre and colleagues discovered that a dish listed as having, say, 500 calories could contain 800 instead. The difference could easily have been caused, says Roberts, by local chefs heaping on extra french fries or pouring a dollop more sauce. It would be almost impossible for a calorie-counting dieter to accurately estimate their intake given this kind of variation.Even if the calorie counts themselves were accurate, dieters like Haelle and Nash would have to contend with the significant variations between the total calories in the food and the amount our bodies extract. These variations, which scientists have only recently started to understand, go beyond the inaccuracies in the numbers on the back of food packaging. In fact, the new research calls into question the validity of nutrition science’s core belief that a calorie is a calorie.Using the Beltsville facilities, for instance, Baer and his colleagues found that our bodies sometimes extract fewer calories than the number listed on the label. Participants in their studies absorbed around a third fewer calories from almonds than the modified Atwater values suggest. For walnuts, the difference was 21 per cent. This is good news for someone who is counting calories and likes to snack on almonds or walnuts: he or she is absorbing far fewer calories than expected. The difference, Baer suspects, is due to the nuts’ particular structure: “All the nutrients–the fat and the protein and things like that–they’re inside this plant cell wall.” Unless those walls are broken down–by processing, chewing or cooking–some of the calories remain off-limits to the body, and thus are excreted rather than absorbed.Another striking insight came from an attempt to eat like a chimp. In the early 1970s, Richard Wrangham, an anthropologist at Harvard University and author of the book Catching Fire: How cooking made us human, observed wild chimps in Africa. Wrangham attempted to follow the entirely raw diet he saw the animals eating, snacking only on fruit, seeds, leaves, and insects such as termites and army ants. “I discovered that it left me incredibly hungry,” he says. “And then I realized that every human eats their food cooked.”Wrangham and his colleagues have since shown that cooking unlaces microscopic structures that bind energy in foods, reducing the work our gut would otherwise have to do. It effectively outsources digestion to ovens and frying pans. Wrangham found that mice fed raw peanuts, for instance, lost significantly more weight than mice fed the equivalent amount of roasted peanut butter. The same effect holds true for meat: there are many more usable calories in a burger than in steak tartare. Different cooking methods matter, too. In 2015, Sri Lankan scientists discovered that they could more than halve the available calories in rice by adding coconut oil during cooking and then cooling the rice in the refrigerator.Wrangham’s findings have significant consequences for dieters. If Nash likes his porterhouse steak bloody, for example, he will likely be consuming several hundred calories less than if he has it well-done. Yet the FDA’s methods for creating a nutrition label do not for the most part account for the differences between raw and cooked food, or pureed versus whole, let alone the structure of plant versus animal cells. A steak is a steak, as far as the FDA is concerned.Industrial food processing, which subjects foods to extremely high temperatures and pressures, might be freeing up even more calories. The food industry, says Wrangham, has been “increasingly turning our food to mush, to the maximum calories you can get out of it. Which, of course, is all very ironic, because in the West there’s tremendous pressure to reduce the number of calories you’re getting out of your food.” He expects to find examples of structural differences that affect caloric availability in many more foods. “I think there is work here for hundreds and probably thousands of nutritionists for years,” he says.There’s also the problem that no two people are identical. Differences in height, body fat, liver size, levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and other factors influence the energy required to maintain the body’s basic functions. Between two people of the same sex, weight and age, this number may differ by up to 600 calories a day–over a quarter of the recommended intake for a moderately active woman. Even something as seemingly insignificant as the time at which we eat may affect how we process energy. In one recent study, researchers found that mice fed a high-fat diet between 9am and 5pm gained 28 percent less weight than mice fed the exact same food across a 24-hour period. The researchers suggested that irregular feedings affect the circadian cycle of the liver and the way it metabolizes food, thus influencing overall energy balance. Such differences would not emerge under the feeding schedules in the Beltsville experiments.Until recently, the idea that genetics plays a significant role in obesity had some traction: researchers hypothesized that evolutionary pressures may have favoured genes that predisposed some people to hold on to more calories in the form of added fat. Today, however, most scientists believe we can’t blame DNA for making us overweight. “The prevalence of obesity started to rise quite sharply in the 1980s,” says Nestle. “Genetics did not change in that ten- or twenty-year period. So genetics can only account for part of it.”Instead, researchers are beginning to attribute much of the variation to the trillions of tiny creatures that line the coiled tubes inside our midriffs. The microbes in our intestines digest some of the tough or fibrous matter that our stomachs cannot break down, releasing a flow of additional calories in the process. But different species and strains of microbes vary in how effective they are at releasing those extra calories, as well as how generously they share them with their host human.In 2013, researchers in Jeffrey Gordon’s lab at Washington University tracked down pairs of twins of whom one was obese and one lean. He took gut microbes from each, and inserted them into the intestines of microbe-free mice. Mice that got microbes from an obese twin gained weight; the others remained lean, despite eating the exact same diet. “That was really striking,” said Peter Turnbaugh, who used to work with Gordon and now heads his own lab at the University of California, San Francisco. “It suggested for the first time that these microbes might actually be contributing to the energy that we gain from our diet.”The diversity of microbes that each of us hosts is as individual as a fingerprint and yet easily transformed by diet and our environment. And though it is poorly understood, new findings about how our gut microbes affect our overall energy balance are emerging almost daily. For example, it seems that medications that are known to cause weight gain might be doing so by modifying the populations of microbes in our gut. In November 2015, researchers showed that risperidone, an antipsychotic drug, altered the gut microbes of mice who received it. The microbial changes slowed the animals’ resting metabolisms, causing them to increase their body mass by 10 per cent in two months. The authors liken the effects to a 30-lb weight gain over one year for an average human, which they say would be the equivalent of an extra cheeseburger every day.Other evidence suggests that gut microbes might affect weight gain in humans as they do in lab animals. Take the case of the woman who gained more than 40 lbs after receiving a transplant of gut microbes from her overweight teenage daughter. The transplant successfully treated the mother’s intestinal infection of Clostridium difficile, which had resisted antibiotics. But, as of the study’s publication last year, she hadn’t been able to shed the excess weight through diet or exercise. The only aspect of her physiology that had changed was her gut microbes.All of these factors introduce a disturbingly large margin of error for an individual who is trying, like Nash, Haelle and millions of others, to count calories. The discrepancies between the number on the label and the calories that are actually available in our food, combined with individual variations in how we metabolise that food, can add up to much more than the 200 calories a day that nutritionists often advise cutting in order to lose weight. Nash and Haelle can do everything right and still not lose weight.None of this means that the calorie is a useless concept. Inaccurate as they are, calorie counts remain a helpful guide to relative energy values: standing burns more calories than sitting; cookies contain more calories than spinach. But the calorie is broken in many ways, and there’s a strong case to be made for moving our food accounting system away from that one particular number. It’s time to take a more holistic look at what we eat.Image by Catherine LosingWilbur Atwater worked in a world with different problems. At the beginning of the 20th century, nutritionists wanted to ensure people were well fed. The calorie was a useful way to quantify a person’s needs. Today, excess weight affects more people than hunger; 1.9 billion adults around the world are considered overweight, 600 million of them obese. Obesity brings with it a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This is a new challenge, and it is likely to require a new metric.One option is to focus on something other than energy intake. Like satiety, for instance. Picture a 300-calorie slice of cheesecake: it is going to be small. “So you’re going to feel very dissatisfied with that meal,” says Susan Roberts. If you eat 300 calories of a chicken salad instead, with nuts, olive oil and roasted vegetables, “you’ve got a lot of different nutrients that are hitting all the signals quite nicely,” she says. “So you’re going to feel full after you’ve eaten it. That fullness is going to last for several hours.”As a result of her research, Roberts has created a weight-loss plan that focuses on satiety rather than a straight calorie count. The idea is that foods that help people feel satisfied and full for longer should prevent them from overeating at lunch or searching for a snack soon after cleaning the table. Whole apples, white fish and Greek yoghurt are on her list of the best foods for keeping hunger at bay.There’s evidence to back up this idea: in one study, Roberts and colleagues found that people lost three times more weight by following her satiety plan compared with a traditional calorie-based one–and kept it off. Harvard nutritionist David Ludwig, who also proposes evaluating food on the basis of satiety instead of calories, has shown that teens given instant oats for breakfast consumed 650 more calories at lunch than their peers who were given the same number of breakfast calories in the form of a more satisfying omelette and fruit. Meanwhile, Adam Drewnowski, a epidemiologist at the University of Washington, has his own calorie upgrade: a nutrient density score. This system ranks food in terms of nutrition per calorie, rather than simply overall caloric value. Dark green vegetables and legumes score highly. Though the details of their approaches differ, all three agree: changing how we measure our food can transform our relationship with it for the better.Individual consumers could start using these ideas now. But persuading the food industry and its watchdogs, such as the FDA, to adopt an entirely new labelling system based on one of these alternative measures is much more of a challenge. Consumers are unlikely to see the calorie replaced by Roberts’s or Drewnowski’s units on their labels any time soon; nonetheless, this work is an important reminder that there are other ways to measure food, ones that might be more useful for both weight loss and overall health.Down the line, another approach might eventually prove even more useful: personalized nutrition. Since 2005, David Wishart of the University of Alberta has been cataloguing the hundreds of thousands of chemical compounds in our bodies, which make up what’s known as the human metabolome. There are now 42,000 chemicals on his list, and many of them help digest the food we eat. His food metabolome database is a more recent effort: it contains about 30,000 chemicals derived directly from food. Wishart estimates that both databases may end up listing more than a million compounds. “Humans eat an incredible variety of foods,” he says. “Then those are all transformed by our body. And they’re turned into all kinds of other compounds.” We have no idea what they all are, he adds—or what they do.According to Wishart, these chemicals and their interactions affect energy balance. He points to research demonstrating that high-fructose corn syrup and other forms of added fructose (as opposed to fructose found in fruit) can trigger the creation of compounds that lead us to form an excess of fat cells, unrelated to additional calorie consumption. “If we cut back on some of these things,” he says, “it seems to revert our body back to more appropriate, arguably less efficient metabolism, so that we aren’t accumulating fat cells in our body.”It increasingly seems that there are significant variations in the way each one of us metabolizes food, based on the tens of thousands–perhaps millions–of chemicals that make up each of our metabolomes. This, in combination with the individuality of each person’s gut microbiome, could lead to the development of personalized dietary recommendations. Wishart imagines a future where you could hold up your smartphone, snap a picture of a dish, and receive a verdict on how that food will affect you as well as how many calories you’ll extract from it. Your partner might receive completely different information from the same dish.Or maybe the focus will shift to tweaking your microbial community: if you’re trying to lose weight, perhaps you will curate your gut microbiome so as to extract fewer calories without harming your overall health. Peter Turnbaugh cautions that the science is not yet able to recommend a particular set of microbes, let alone how best to get them inside your gut, but he takes comfort from the fact that our microbial populations are “very plastic and very malleable”–we already know that they change when we take antibiotics, when we travel and when we eat different foods. “If we’re able to figure this out,” he says, “there is the chance that someday you might be able to tailor your microbiome” to get the outcomes you want.None of these alternatives is ready to replace the calorie tomorrow. Yet the need for a new system of food accounting is clear. Just ask Haelle. “I’m kind of pissed at the scientific community for not coming up with something better for us,” she confesses, recalling a recent meltdown at TGI Friday’s as she navigated a confusing datasheet to find a low-calorie dish she could eat. There should be a better metric for people like her and Nash—people who know the health risks that come with being overweight and work hard to counter them. And it’s likely there will be. Science has already shown that the calorie is broken. Now it has to find a replacement.This article first appeared on Mosaic and is republished here under Creative Commons license. Read the original article on Mosaic here.All images by Catherine Losing with permission.

21 Must-See Google Street View Locations That Aren’t Streets


Gizmodo / David Nield on Field Guide, shared by Michael Nunez to Gizmodo

21 Must-See Google Street View Locations That Aren’t Streets

You don’t have to spend all your time on Google Street View time looking up the addresses of your friends: Google has added all kinds of landmarks, buildings, remote trails, underwater worlds, airplanes and even fictional alleyways to its database of sights you can see from your laptop or smartphone. We’ve picked a few of our favorites but there are plenty more to explore.Machu PicchuWander the Peruvian mountains like the Incas used to: Google’s Street View cameras go right into the ruined city, and therefore so can you. [Link]CERNTake a peek inside the CERN labs on the Franco-Swiss border, Large Hadron Collider and all—there are a choice of sites to start exploring from. [Link]Diagon AlleyOkay, this is technically speaking a street, but we think it’s still worth including in our round-up for all the Harry Potter fans out there. [Link]The Lamborghini MuseumAutomobile lovers, gather around: the Street View cameras have been in the Lamborghini Museum so you can browse for your next car online. [Link]StonehengeTake a Street View tour of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, and ask yourself: just how did these mammoth blocks of stone get here to begin with? [Link]The Taj MahalThe Taj Mahal is instantly recognizable to most of us, well-traveled or not, and you can get up close to the “crown jewel of India” here. [Link]The Grand CanyonThe Grand Canyon really needs to be seen to be believed, but if that’s not possible for you then the Street View cameras have you covered. [Link]Emirates Airbus A380You might never be able to afford a ticket for the first class section of the A380, but you can at least see what your money would get you. [Link]The pyramids of GizaMarvel at these wonders of the ancient world through the browser or phone of your choice. You can almost feel the sand beneath your feet. [Link]Nasir Al Mulk MosqueOne of the most beautiful places of worship in the world, and now accessible to anyone thanks to the interior shots available in Google Street View. [Link]Crystal MountainThere are plenty of skiing resorts and piste routes on Street View, but we’ve picked out just one: Crystal Mountain resort in Washington state. [Link]Canal Grande of VeniceYou can explore almost every inch of Venice using Street View, and that includes the canals that make up the main arteries of the city. [Link]The Great Barrier ReefOne of many spots where you can dive underwater with Street View, letting you view the natural wonder without causing any damage to it. [Link]Smithsonian American Art MuseumGoogle loves adding as many museums and art galleries as it can to Street View, and they don’t come much more impressive than this one. [Link]The Northern LightsIf you can’t get to see the Northern Lights for real, then this is your next best option, a vantage point from the iced-over Pitkäjärvi lake in Finland. [Link]Liwa DesertOne of the UAE’s most beautiful regions, captured via Street View cameras on camels—just like the real thing, without the scorching temperatures. [Link]Palace of VersaillesTreat yourself to a taste of opulence: the Palace and its gardens are one of many historical buildings that you can wander inside via Street View. [Link]Swiss Alps railwayThe first train line to appear on Street View was the Albula/Bernina line through the Swiss Alps back in 2012, and it’s still just as impressive. [Link]The White HouseIf you want to get a sense of what the President of the United States sees each day then take a tour of the White House in Washington DC. [Link]Scott’s HutGo inside the hut erected by Robert Falcon Scott as a base of operations for the ill-fated British Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole. [Link]Mont BlancThe most recently added sight to see on Street View: you can now explore one of Europe’s highest peaks from the warmth of your home. [Link]

Controversial ‘Transmittable Alzheimer’s’ Theory Is Starting to Look Plausible


Gizmodo / George Dvorsky

Controversial ‘Transmittable Alzheimer’s’ Theory Is Starting to Look Plausible

Back in September, researchers in the UK discovered that brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s may be transmissible through certain medical procedures. Skeptical scientists urged caution, but now a different set of autopsy results have shown the same thing.As reported in Nature News, the latest autopsies were performed on the brains of patients who died of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD), a rare brain-wasting disorder. Many years earlier, these individuals had received surgical grafts of dura mater—a membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord—prepared from human cadavers. Regrettably, these grafts that were contaminated with the prion protein responsible for CJD. Five of the seven brains analyzed also showed signs of Alzheimer’s disease. This was odd because the individuals, age 28 to 63, were too young to have developed the amayoid plaques indicative of the neurological disorder (amyloid plaques are a misfolded protein that fuels the spread of Alzheimer’s). Analysis of a control group failed to show signs of this wasting signature. This suggests that that the “seeds” of certain neurological diseases can be transmitted during certain medical procedures—or even through contaminated surgical instruments. The new report, written by researchers from Switzerland and Austria, can now be found in Swiss Medical Weekly. Back in September, a different research team discovered something very similar. While performing an autopsy on eight CJD patients, University of College London researchers found that four of them exhibited similar vascular amyloid beta pathology. Alarmingly, all of these patients, most of whom were quite young when they died, caught their CJD from a growth hormone derived from the pituitary glands of human cadavers—some of which were contaminated with prions.Importantly, neither study suggests that Alzheimer’s can be transmitted through normal physical contact. Also, cadaver-derived human growth hormone (HGH) isn’t used any more, as it’s been replaced by synthetics. But scientists are now seriously worried that “amyloid seeding” is actually a thing. Nature News reports:[If true] it would have important clinical implications. In general surgery, for example, any amyloid-β proteins, which are very sticky, would not be routinely removed from surgical instruments; standard sterilization procedures cannot shift them.“It is our job as doctors to see in advance what might become a problem in the clinic,” says neuropathologist Herbert Budka of the University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland, who is a co-author of the latest paper.This theory will require more proof if it’s to be accepted by the scientific community. Both studies are purely observational, and both were performed on a limited sample of subjects. Moreover, neither study proves that the deposits of amyloid beta were actually caused by the contaminated dura mater or hormone injections.But these finding, though preliminary, are nonetheless disturbing. It shows we still have lots to learn about neurodegnerative disorders and the ways in which seeds of amyloid beta proteins can be transmitted. And if this theory is ultimately proven to be true, it will put even more pressure on health care providers to provide a clean and safe environment for its patients. It’s a terrifying thought.[Nature News]Top image: Depsoits of the amyloid protein in the frontal cortex of patients who developed CJD after surgery. Credit: Frontzek K, Lutz MI, Aguzzi A, Kovacs GG, Budka H.er. via Nature NewsEmail the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him @dvorsky.

iPhone Sales Have Finally Stalled


Gizmodo / Darren Orf

iPhone Sales Have Finally Stalled

It looks like interest in the iPhone is finally waning. For the first time since its creation in 2007, Apple is reporting a year-over-year dip in demand for its pricey pocket computer. That said, Apple still sold a lot of iPhones!http://gizmodo.com/holy-shit-appl…In a quarterly earnings call, Tim Cook just revealed that Apple has sold 74.77 million iPhones since September. That’s good news in a sense, since Apple really wanted to hit any number above 74.5 million iPhones sold, the ludicrous watermark established after sales of last year’s larger-than-usual iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. But the increase in sales is almost insignificant. Tim Cook spent time comparing (smartly) how impressive the numbers are to iPhone sales two years and five years ago, but not last year because then he’d have to say the phrase “zero percent growth.” Other than that, Cook pins most of the blame on “weakening currencies in international markets” and a continuing lack of LTE penetration. Apple’s first ever iPhone sales plateau doesn’t necessarily mean it’s losing the title as reigning smartphone sales champion, but it does mean that Apple’s biggest source of revenue (about two-thirds, actually) might be stalling. Although that southward trending sales figure is a first for Apple, it certainly isn’t the first for most smartphone makers, who’ve been feeling a similar mobile sales plateau for at least a year aided in no small part by a slowing Chinese economy. iPhone sales in millions from reported numbers starting in January 2008.iPhones are also starting to have staying power, much like Apple’s iPad lineup. Early iPhones offered massive improvements over what came before—with some software even being upgraded into oblivion due to out-of-date processors. The iPhone 6s offered little more than the arguably useful 3D Touch and gimmick-filled Live Photos.The 6s did come with the faster A9 chip, but the Pew Research Center shows that the top five uses for smartphones are now text messaging, voice/video calling, internet, email, and social networking. You don’t really need blazing processors for any of those things. As the push for smartphone-powered VR continues, that could change, but until then a better processor doesn’t really mean much.Still, this number alone isn’t enough to declare that iPhone sales will forever be on the decline. When looking at the sales difference between iPhone 5 and 5s, you can see that the 5s only eked out a measly 3.2 million more than its predecessor. The 6s shows similar trends, though at an alarmingly smaller number.Apple’s answer to this less-than-stellar report seems to be “strength in numbers.” Rumors of three different iPhones for 2016, the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, and the much talked about 4-inch iPhone 5se, will most likely right the mobile ship, especially if Apple sticks with its bi-annual habit of reinventing the iPhone’s design. Some leaks already suggest as much.Contact the author at darren.orf@gizmodo.com.

21 Must-See Google Street View Locations That Aren’t Streets


Gizmodo / David Nield on Field Guide, shared by Michael Nunez to Gizmodo

21 Must-See Google Street View Locations That Aren’t Streets

You don’t have to spend all your time on Google Street View time looking up the addresses of your friends: Google has added all kinds of landmarks, buildings, remote trails, underwater worlds, airplanes and even fictional alleyways to its database of sights you can see from your laptop or smartphone. We’ve picked a few of our favorites but there are plenty more to explore.Machu PicchuWander the Peruvian mountains like the Incas used to: Google’s Street View cameras go right into the ruined city, and therefore so can you. [Link]CERNTake a peek inside the CERN labs on the Franco-Swiss border, Large Hadron Collider and all—there are a choice of sites to start exploring from. [Link]Diagon AlleyOkay, this is technically speaking a street, but we think it’s still worth including in our round-up for all the Harry Potter fans out there. [Link]The Lamborghini MuseumAutomobile lovers, gather around: the Street View cameras have been in the Lamborghini Museum so you can browse for your next car online. [Link]StonehengeTake a Street View tour of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, and ask yourself: just how did these mammoth blocks of stone get here to begin with? [Link]The Taj MahalThe Taj Mahal is instantly recognizable to most of us, well-traveled or not, and you can get up close to the “crown jewel of India” here. [Link]The Grand CanyonThe Grand Canyon really needs to be seen to be believed, but if that’s not possible for you then the Street View cameras have you covered. [Link]Emirates Airbus A380You might never be able to afford a ticket for the first class section of the A380, but you can at least see what your money would get you. [Link]The pyramids of GizaMarvel at these wonders of the ancient world through the browser or phone of your choice. You can almost feel the sand beneath your feet. [Link]Nasir Al Mulk MosqueOne of the most beautiful places of worship in the world, and now accessible to anyone thanks to the interior shots available in Google Street View. [Link]Crystal MountainThere are plenty of skiing resorts and piste routes on Street View, but we’ve picked out just one: Crystal Mountain resort in Washington state. [Link]Canal Grande of VeniceYou can explore almost every inch of Venice using Street View, and that includes the canals that make up the main arteries of the city. [Link]The Great Barrier ReefOne of many spots where you can dive underwater with Street View, letting you view the natural wonder without causing any damage to it. [Link]Smithsonian American Art MuseumGoogle loves adding as many museums and art galleries as it can to Street View, and they don’t come much more impressive than this one. [Link]The Northern LightsIf you can’t get to see the Northern Lights for real, then this is your next best option, a vantage point from the iced-over Pitkäjärvi lake in Finland. [Link]Liwa DesertOne of the UAE’s most beautiful regions, captured via Street View cameras on camels—just like the real thing, without the scorching temperatures. [Link]Palace of VersaillesTreat yourself to a taste of opulence: the Palace and its gardens are one of many historical buildings that you can wander inside via Street View. [Link]Swiss Alps railwayThe first train line to appear on Street View was the Albula/Bernina line through the Swiss Alps back in 2012, and it’s still just as impressive. [Link]The White HouseIf you want to get a sense of what the President of the United States sees each day then take a tour of the White House in Washington DC. [Link]Scott’s HutGo inside the hut erected by Robert Falcon Scott as a base of operations for the ill-fated British Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole. [Link]Mont BlancThe most recently added sight to see on Street View: you can now explore one of Europe’s highest peaks from the warmth of your home. [Link]

Stem Cell Breakthrough Could Put an End to Daily Insulin Injections for Diabetics


Gizmodo / George Dvorsky

Stem Cell Breakthrough Could Put an End to Daily Insulin Injections for Diabetics

People with type 1 diabetes have to inject insulin daily, and it often results in pain, redness, swelling, and itching at the injection site. But this could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a new breakthrough that takes us one step closer to a functional cure for type 1 diabetes. Researchers at MIT and Harvard have used insulin-producing cells to restore insulin function in mice for an extended period. Back in 2014, the same group used stem cells to create insulin-producing beta cells in large quantities. Now, they’ve taken those mass-produced cells and transplanted them into mice, effectively switching off the disease for six months, without provoking an immune response. The details can now be found in the science journal Nature. People with type 1 diabetes have a pancreas that’s unable to produce insulin, a critical hormone that helps the body control glucose levels in the blood. Without insulin, this sugar builds up in the bloodstream instead of being channeled for energy. The exact cause of type 1 diabetes isn’t known, but scientists think it has something to do with the body’s immune system and the way it attacks cells that make insulin. (Type 1 diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar.) To create an effective therapy that doesn’t rely on a steady stream of insulin injections, researchers at MIT, Harvard, Boston Children’s Hospital, and several other institutions, designed a material that encapsulated human pancreatic cells prior to transplant. Embryonic stem cells were used to generate the human insulin-producing cells, which were virtually identical to normal cells. After transplantation in mice, the cells began to produce insulin in response to blood glucose levels. This effectively cured the mice of their type 1 diabetes for a period of 174 days. In human terms, that’s equivalent to several years.Study co-author Daniel Anderson was quoted in MIT News as saying this approach “has the potential to provide diabetics with a new pancreas that is protected from the immune system, which would allow them to control their blood sugar without taking drugs.” Human trials could start just a few years from now. If this process can be proven effective in humans, patients would need a transfusion every few years, rather than a daily insulin injection.[Nature]Top image: Arturo J. Vegas et al., 2016Email the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him @dvorsky.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Rocks Latest Hover Tests


Gizmodo / Mika McKinnon

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Rocks Latest Hover Tests

Go go Dragon! SpaceX just posted video of its Dragon 2 spacecraft testing its ability to hover. Once certified, this spacecraft will carry astronauts to the space station as part of NASA’s commercial crew program. Crewed test flights are tentatively planned to start in 2017.The Dragon 2 (or Crew Dragon) is the spacecraft that will sit atop the Falcon 9 rockets. Although it’ll be launched into orbit by the rocket, the eight SuperDraco engines will be used to bring the craft down for a controlled landing when it brings crews safely home.The hover test was the latest in a long line of tests for certifying the Dragon 2 to transport humans. The craft performed beautifully during two tethered tests in November 2015 at SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas. A NASA statement describing the eight thrusters as landing the full-sized spacecraft mockup with the “accuracy of a helicopter.”Despite the flawless performance, the thrusters won’t be used the first few times humans ride in the Dragon. Initially, the spacecraft will use parachutes to slow its descent through the atmosphere, and splash down in the ocean in a manner familiar to fans of the Apollo missions.Check out the full video of the descent landing tether test:[SpaceX]Contact the author at mika.mckinnon@io9.com or follow her at @MikaMcKinnon.

The Tor Project Raised Over $200,000 From Its First Crowdfunding Campaign


TechCrunch / Jon Russell

The Tor Project Raised Over $200,000 From Its First Crowdfunding Campaign

 In the quest to lessen its reliance on grants from the U.S. government, the Tor Project began its first crowdfunding campaign back in November. That initial funding drive is now over with the organization announcing that it brought in just over $200,000 in donations — $205,874 from 5,265 donors, to be precise — over the six week period. Read More

It Cost Google $1 Billion to Keep its Search Bar on iPhones


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

It Cost Google $1 Billion to Keep its Search Bar on iPhones

Google’s search bar has been a fixture on Apple devices for years, something that’s always seemed counterintuitive, what with Android being iOS’s only real competitor. According to Bloomberg, Google’s search engine is only present because of a $1 billion payment made to Apple in 2014. Bloomberg found the details in court proceedings from an Oracle vs Google lawsuit. Oracle has been fighting Google since 2010 over the search giant’s use of Oracle’s Java software in the development of Android. Somewhere along the way, Oracle’s lawyers got their hands on internal Google finances, which were brought up in open court, before Google’s attorneys pleaded to have the transcript redacted and sealed. According to Oracle’s lawyers—and neither confirmed nor denied by Google’s side—Google paid Apple $1 billion in 2014 to keep its search bar on Apple devices. The two companies then have a revenue-sharing agreement to split any profits Google makes from Apple’s devices, although the breakdown is not known.Google search might seem like an iPhone staple, but it’s interesting to see what this implies—if Google suffers a lean year and doesn’t give more cash to Apple, you could be back to Yahoo search on your iDevices. In the same court case, Oracle also alleged that Google has made $22 billion in profit to date from the Android operating system. The company doesn’t break out Android-specific financials from its main business, but the documents claim revenue of $31 billion and profits of $22 billion. Given that revenue is solely from selling ads and apps, it’s a hefty figure, but still only equal to about half a year of selling iPhones. [Bloomberg]

The Tor Project Raised Over $200,000 From Its First Crowdfunding Campaign


TechCrunch / Jon Russell

The Tor Project Raised Over $200,000 From Its First Crowdfunding Campaign

 In the quest to lessen its reliance on grants from the U.S. government, the Tor Project began its first crowdfunding campaign back in November. That initial funding drive is now over with the organization announcing that it brought in just over $200,000 in donations — $205,874 from 5,265 donors, to be precise — over the six-week period. Read More

How Astronomers Will Solve the ‘Alien Megastructure’ Mystery 


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

How Astronomers Will Solve the ‘Alien Megastructure’ Mystery 

KIC 8462852 has quickly become one of the biggest astronomical mysteries of the decade. It’ll be months before we have any firm answers on this fitfully flickering star, but astronomers intend to get to the bottom of it. How?“If we could catch it in the act of dimming again, that would really help,” Penn State’s Jason Wright told Gizmodo. Wright’s the astronomer who made KIC 8462852 famous last fall, when he nonchalantly suggested that the star might be occluded by an alien megastructure. He, along with several other astronomers I spoke with this week, agrees that the way we’re going to figure this weird star out is to watch it doing something weird.KIC 8462852, also known as “Tabby’s Star,” was first spotted in the Kepler Space Telescope’s dataset last September. Despite being an ordinary, main sequence F-type star—slightly hotter and larger than our sun—it caught astronomers’ attention. Over four years of observational data, the star’s light output intermittently tanked, something that isn’t consistent with any astronomical phenomenon we’re aware of. Explanations for the star’s unruly behavior ranged from a swarm of comets to gravity darkening to alien megastructures. You can imagine which of those possibilities sparked a global hysteria.But KIC 8462852 wasn’t done surprising us. The mystery deepened last week when Louisiana State University’s Bradley Schaefer decided to look at KIC 8462852 in old photographic plates of the sky. When he did, he saw something astonishing: over the past century, the star’s total light output has dropped by about 19 percent. This star isn’t just sputtering—it’s fading out entirely. “Observationally, there is zero precedent for any main sequence star to vary in brightness like this,” Schaefer told Gizmodo. “Seeing this star fade by 20 percent over a century is more than just startling.”Dips in KIC 846285’s brightness over Kepler’s 1500 day observational period. The bottom two panels are blown-up versions of the top one centered around day 800 and 1500. Via Boyajian et al. 2015“We were baffled when it was just the Kepler data, and if it were just this we’d be baffled,” Wright said. “The comet hypothesis was great because it could explain almost anything, but it doesn’t really work for the new data.”What we do know, according to Wright, is that whatever’s occluding the star isn’t emitting strongly in the infrared spectrum, meaning it isn’t very warm. That means we’re talking about something in a distant orbit, which doesn’t improve our odds of getting a good look at it.KIC 8462852 is fading over time. Blue diamonds represent measurements taken between 1890 and 1989, while solid and dashed lines are fitted trends. Via Schaefer 2016.But there is one way astronomers can learn what’s causing the star to sputter—and that’s to catch KIC 8462852 doing it again.When Kepler watched KIC 8462852 flicker several years back, it was only collecting white light—aggregating information across the visible spectrum. All we can do with this data is pinpoint dimming events. But if it happened again, astronomers would be prepared to make precise measurements in a broader range of wavelengths. As KIC 8462852’s starlight passes through whatever material is occluding it, certain colors will be absorbed more than others. This gives us a spectral fingerprint, which can be used to work out what type of material we’re looking at.“From the spectrum, we might see absorption lines from any gas associated with the ‘occulter,’” Shaefer said. “We might see a reddening that would point to the occulter being mainly dust, or we might see a color neutral dip that would point to a solid body. This would greatly narrow down models.”For the next few months, astronomers are sitting tight. KIC 8462852 is behind the Sun and only visible during daylight hours, making it impossible to observe from the ground. According to Tabetha Boyajian, the Yale astronomer who discovered the star, a few satellites are monitoring it, but the temporal coverage isn’t great. “Mainly, we are now using this time to prepare for what to do when the star becomes visible again in a few months,” she said. This includes discussing different scenarios, and figuring out what data will be needed to confirm or refute each of them. “When the dipping begins again, we will be prepared to hit it with everything we have,” she said.Wright added that although two independent surveys haven’t turned up any evidence of extraterrestrial technology, UC Berkeley’s SETI program is now working with the billionaire-backed alien hunting initiative Breakthrough Listen, and plans to conduct a very sensitive broadband sweep of the star’s neighborhood in the next few months. The prospect that we’re looking at a bona fide Dyson sphere is as unlikely as ever, but….well, it hasn’t been ruled out.“The ET hypothesis has very little predicative power,” Wright said, noting that you can invoke it to explain just about anything—the so-called “aliens in the gaps” fallacy. Nevertheless, you can bet astronomers won’t rest until they’re sure one way or the other.Follow the author @themadstoneTop image via Harun Mehmedinovic/Gavin Heffernan/project SKYGLOW

Facebook’s Engineering Wizardry Makes Even VR Videos Load Fast


TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Facebook’s Engineering Wizardry Makes Even VR Videos Load Fast

 How did Facebook go from 1 billion to 8 billion videos views per day in 18 months without the whole server farm catching fire? It’s called SVE, short for streaming video engine. SVE lets Facebook cut videos into little chunks, cutting the delay from upload to viewing by 10X. And to ensure the next generation of 360 and virtual reality videos load fast too, it’s invented new… Read More

Facebook’s Engineering Wizardry Makes Even VR Videos Load Fast


TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Facebook’s Engineering Wizardry Makes Even VR Videos Load Fast

 How did Facebook go from 1 billion to 8 billion videos views per day in 18 months without the whole server farm catching fire? It’s called SVE, short for streaming video engine. SVE lets Facebook slice videos into little chunks, cutting the delay from upload to viewing by 10X. And to ensure the next generation of 360 and virtual reality videos load fast too, it’s invented and… Read More

Chrome Is About to Load Web Pages Way Faster


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

Chrome Is About to Load Web Pages Way Faster

If you like Chrome but don’t think it loads web pages fast enough, you might be in luck. Google has now readied a new compression algorithm for the browser which will squeeze web pages down by as much as 25 percent more than it does right now.The new algorithm, called Brotli, is designed to replace the one that Chrome currently uses, known as Zopfli. (Google has always sucked at naming things—in this case, Brötli means ‘small bread’ in Swiss German.) It’s been in the works for a while, but the code is now ready to roll, according to Google’s Ilya Grigorik.Google claims that it uses a “whole new data format” that manages to squeeze down web page content by an impressive amount—apparently squashing HTML, CSS and JavaScript down by 17-25 percent more than Zopfli.It does that while also achieving comparable decompression speeds which, it might not surprise you to hear, “allows for better space utilization and faster page loads.” Google also reckons it will provide “benefits to mobile users, such as lower data transfer fees and reduced battery use.” Sounds good, eh?The code is now said to be readied to the stage of “intent to ship,” which means it should appear in Chrome very soon. Good news for the impatient. [Google via Engadget]Image by Graham Smith

How Should We Look For Aliens?


Gizmodo / Mika McKinnon

How Should We Look For Aliens?

The search for extraterrestrial life is the ultimate hybrid of creativity and science, the quest to discover something we can’t even describe yet. Jill Tarter embodies that creativity in her work with the SETI Institute, and is the subject of a special video released today.WeTransfer’s Creative Class is an online series highlighting creative people doing cool things in the world. This season, the series features SETI Institute astronomer Jill Tarter, the real-life inspiration for Carl Sagan’s Dr. Ellie Arroway in Contact.Tarter chatted with Gizmodo about the role of creativity in the search for intelligent aliens, exclaiming, “You have to try to think creativity about how do you discover what you really can’t imagine!”Jill Tarter, real-life alien-hunting astronomer. Image courtesy of Jill Tarter“I like to say we’re looking for photons, but maybe it’s zeta rays that the advanced technologies of the universe are using to communicate,” Tarter offered as an analogy. “I don’t know what a zeta ray is because we haven’t invented it yet. We don’t understand that physics yet. Maybe that’s in our future.”We haven’t found aliens yet, so we need to keep expanding the very way that we search. “How do you look at the universe in new ways that will allow you to find things you that you didn’t imagine?” Tarter said. “[Astronomer Martin Harwit] made this case for essentially venture investing in the astronomical sciences because every time you open up a new observation space, we found something we didn’t expect!”What will we find if we listen in just the right way? Image credit: Warner Bros.Astronomy is full of such examples. Tarter recounts the iconic discovery of pulsars that started in 1965-66, when a team of graduate students built a new type of radio telescope:Jocelyn Bell and her colleagues spent the summer nailing up kilometers of wire and fence posts to make a low-frequency detector. They made it for a very scientific goal, but yet when Jocelyn was looking at the data, she found these little bits scruff. She was curious enough and systematic enough to follow up on them.Suddenly, wow! There are radio beacons out there more precise than any clock we’ve built. There are entire stars, neutron stars, that are spinning around several times a second. Unbelievable! They found it because they had a new tool. They had a different way of looking at the universe.This happens again and again and again. Every time we invent a new tool, discoveries follow. “I think being creative, building new ways to look at the universe, can lead to amazing results.” Tarter said. “You don’t do that if you think, ‘Well, I’m going to do today what I did yesterday.’”Our conversation with Tarter was so interesting and so long that we couldn’t transcribe it all in just one night. Instead, check out her Creative Class special here:Check back tomorrow as we continue our conversation with Tarter about how the SETI Institute searches for alien life, how that search might change as technology improves, and her life as one of the first women in the industry.Top image: SETI astronomer Jill Tarter is the real-life inspiration for Contact’s Ellie Arroway. Credit: Warner Bros. Corrections: We mistranscribed science fiction zeta rays as more mundane beta rays, and went camping with tent pegs while building a radio telescope. Such is the woe of phone interviews! Apologies, Jill.Contact the author at mika.mckinnon@io9.com or follow her at @MikaMcKinnon.

Discovery of Brutal Massacre Pushes Back History of Human Warfare


Gizmodo / George Dvorsky

Discovery of Brutal Massacre Pushes Back History of Human Warfare

Anthropologists working in Kenya have uncovered the remains of a group of prehistoric foragers who were ruthlessly massacred about 10,000 years ago. It’s considered the earliest example of organized violence among nomadic hunter-gatherers, a rare find that’s offering an unprecedented glimpse into what life—and death—was like for prehistoric foragers. Archaeological evidence of warfare is abundant among settled societies, but the same cannot be said for prehistoric hunter-gatherers. This is why the discovery of 27 foragers who were killed in a massacre some 10,000 years ago is as unique as it is important. In grim detail, it shows what the dark side of life was like for ancient hunter-gatherers, while at the same time extending the history of human warfare. The details of this work, conducted by researchers from Cambridge University’s Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies (LCHES), can now be found in the latest edition of Nature. A male skeleton, found lying prone in the lagoon’s sediments. The skull has multiple lesions on the front and on the left side, consistent with wounds from a blunt implement, such as a club. Image by Marta Mirazon Lahr, enhanced by Fabio Lahr. The team, led by Marta Mirazon Lahr of the University of Cambridge, discovered the remains 18 miles (30 km) west of Lake Turkana, Kenya, at a site called Nataruk. Twenty-one of the 27 individuals unearthed were adults: eight male, eight female, and five unidentified. The partial remains of six children—all under the age of six, except for one young teenager—were found close to the bodies of four adult women and some partial remains. This skeleton was that of a man, with lesions on the left side of his skull consistent with a wound from a blunt implement, such as a club, and a perforating lesion on his neck vertebrae consistent with an arrow wound. Image by Marta Mirazon Lahr. These foragers died in brutal fashion. Ten of the skeletons exhibited signs of a violent death, including extreme blunt-force trauma to the skull and cheekbones (possibly delivered by a wooden club), signs of arrow lesions to the neck, stone projectile tips lodged in the skull and midsection of two men, and numerous broken hands, knees, and ribs.A skeleton of a female found reclining on her left elbow, with fractures on the knees and possibly the left foot. The position of the hands suggests her wrists may have been bound. She was found surrounded by fish. Image by Marta Mirazon Lahr, enhanced by Fabio Lahr.None of the bodies were buried, and were likely left to rot where they died. Some individuals had fallen into a lagoon, allowing their bones to be preserved in sediment. A number of skeletons with severe skull fractures were found face down. The positions of four bodies suggests they were bound and tied, including a woman in the late stages of pregnancy; the bones of her 9-month old fetus were also recovered. It’s not known why she and some others were bound in this particular way. As the depiction at left shows, the pregnant woman was found in a sitting position, with her hands crossed between her legs.One adult male appears to have been hit in the head by at least two projectiles, followed by a blow to the knees with a blunt instrument, and then finally falling face down into the lagoon’s shallow water. Another male took two blows to the head, crushing his skull at the points of impact. “The deaths at Nataruk are testimony to the antiquity of inter-group violence and war.” — Marta Mirazon LahrThe researchers were surprised at the roughly equal proportion of males to females. Typically in such encounters, the victors, after killing the men, claim the surviving women and children. But at Nataruk, no one appears to have been spared. The researchers also discovered bits of arrow or spear tips, two of which were made from obsidian—a black volcanic rock that can be worked to razor-like sharpness. The presence of this rare material suggests the two groups came from different home ranges. Carbon dating places the skeletons to between 9,500 to 10,500 years ago, around the start of the Holocene Epoch.Today, this area of Kenya is arid scrubland, but back then it was a fertile lakeshore capable of sustaining a significant population of hunter-gatherers. The site of the massacre transpired at the edge of a lagoon near a large lake. The researchers theorize that the massacred remains belonged to an extended family group of hunter-gatherers who were brutally attacked and killed by a rival group of prehistoric foragers. They say it’s the earliest scientifically-dated historical evidence of human conflict, and a precursor to organized warfare. “The deaths at Nataruk are testimony to the antiquity of inter-group violence and war,” said Lahr. “These human remains record the intentional killing of a small band of foragers with no deliberate burial, and provide unique evidence that warfare was part of the repertoire of inter-group relations among some prehistoric hunter-gatherers.”The location of the massacre occurred in a highly desireable place; the foragers would have had easy access to drinking water and fishing. It was likely coveted by rival groups, giving rise to territorial disputes. “The Nataruk massacre may have resulted from an attempt to seize resources—territory, women, children, food stored in pots—whose value was similar to those of later food-producing agricultural societies, among whom violent attacks on settlements became part of life,” said Mirazon Lahr. “This would extend the history of the same underlying socio-economic conditions that characterize other instances of early warfare: a more settled, materially richer way of life.” The researchers caution that Nataruk could just be an example of a “standard antagonistic response” between two groups who happened to run into each other. We’ll likely never know the true reasons for the massacre at Nataruk. The origin of war is a contentious issue among anthropologists, with some saying it’s an atavistic remnant of our species’ more brutal evolutionary past, while others suggest it’s a consequence of ownership and resulting disputes over access to land, water, food, and other resources. Regardless, the new study shows that ancient foragers were not immune to the ravages of war, and that human conflict emerged at a time before our species set aside its nomadic way of life. The myth of the Noble Savage remains exactly that — a myth. [Nature] Top image: Skeleton KNM-WT 71255 after excavation. This skeleton was that of a man, found lying prone in the lagoon’s sediments. The skull has multiple lesions on the front and on the left side, consistent with wounds from a blunt implement, such as a club. Image and caption by Marta Mirazon Lahr, enhanced by Fabio Lahr.Email the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him @dvorsky.

Chrome Is About to Load Web Pages Way Faster


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

Chrome Is About to Load Web Pages Way Faster

If you like Chrome but don’t think it loads web pages fast enough, you might be in luck. Google has now readied a new compression algorithm for the browser which will squeeze web pages down by as much as 25 percent more than it does right now.The new algorithm, called Brotli, is designed to replace the one that Chrome currently uses, known as Zopfli. (Google has always sucked at naming things—in this case, Brötli means ‘small bread’ in Swiss German.) It’s been in the works for a while, but the code is now ready to roll, according to Google’s Ilya Grigorik.Google claims that it uses a “whole new data format” that manages to squeeze down web page content by an impressive amount—apparently squashing HTML, CSS and JavaScript down by 17-25 percent more than Zopfli.It does that while also achieving comparable decompression speeds which, it might not surprise you to hear, “allows for better space utilization and faster page loads.” Google also reckons it will provide “benefits to mobile users, such as lower data transfer fees and reduced battery use.” Sounds good, eh?The code is now said to be readied to the stage of “intent to ship,” which means it should appear in Chrome very soon. Good news for the impatient. [Google via Engadget]Image by Graham Smith

NYC’s New Public Wifi Is Obscenely Fast


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

NYC’s New Public Wifi Is Obscenely Fast

Today, the first of New York City’s public, gigabit wifi hotspots opened to the public. I tried them, so take it from me: They’re insanely fast. How fast? Fast enough that Starbucks’ free internet is about to get killed. Earlier this month, we reported on LinkNYC, the Big Apple’s initiative to roll out breakneck internet access to everyone. Today, the first four modules are open in beta mode to the public. The 9.5-foot-tall rectangles, which are replacing the city’s pay phones, feature USB outlets for charging your devices (actual charger not included), city maps, 911 emergency access, and video calls to anywhere in the country. And, of course, wi-fi. Fast wi-fi. I ran internet speed tests at various locations this morning, with the goal of comparing a NYCLink location (at 15th Street and 3rd Avenue) to other common spots where I often score free wi-fi. Those included a Starbucks, a New York City subway platform that offers gratis wireless, and the Gawker Media offices. The winner? LinkNYC. It wasn’t even close. Like, at all.Here’re the results of a test I ran on the LinkNYC public wifi:And at the Starbucks located right next to the Link:Finally, from the F and M train platform at 14th Street:LinkNYC is ten times faster than New York’s existing public internet, and infinitely quicker than Starbucks. With city internet that fast, what’s going to happen to Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, Panera, or other establishments whose complementary wifi is such a pull? After all, if you want to work or study at a place that isn’t the library or your house, you pretty much have to buy a mocha and camp out. And with the sheer number of Links that New York is planning to install—7,500 units in the next 12 years, each with a service radius of up to 400 feet—it could mean that you and your devices will never be outside a serviceable zone.Still. These things aren’t designed to have people convene in front of them to stream Orange Is the New Black en masse. (Although the folks at LinkNYC have said the system can handle that.) They’re designed for temporary, fleeting experiences: checking your email, downloading a map of the city, making a quick Skype call. Whether LinkNYC will complicate the city’s relationship with chains and businesses remains to be seen. For now, the units are still being tested (911, calls, and maps aren’t yet available), and they seem to be advertisers more than anything, with signs hawking Coors Light and Citibank. You can use the wi-fi, of course—you just need to input an email address. (LinkNYC says that it will never give out private user information.) And in case you’re wondering, no sites are blocked from the network. Want to download some sleaze on a park bench? Go for it…I guess?For now, the city wants to open up ten new Links a day, with the goal of 500 running by July. Let the mass, ultra-fast streaming begin.

NYC’s New Public Wifi Is Obscenely Fast


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

NYC’s New Public Wifi Is Obscenely Fast

Today, the first of New York City’s public, gigabit wifi hotspots opened to the public. I tried them, so take it from me: They’re insanely fast. How fast? Fast enough that Starbucks’ free internet is about to get killed. Earlier this month, we reported on LinkNYC, the Big Apple’s initiative to roll out breakneck internet access to everyone. Today, the first four modules are open in beta mode to the public. The 9.5-foot-tall rectangles, which are replacing the city’s pay phones, feature USB outlets for charging your devices (actual charger not included), city maps, 911 emergency access, and video calls to anywhere in the country. And, of course, wi-fi. Fast wi-fi. I ran internet speed tests at various locations this morning, with the goal of comparing a NYCLink location (at 15th Street and 3rd Avenue) to other common spots where I often score free wi-fi. Those included a Starbucks, a New York City subway platform that offers gratis wireless, and the Gawker Media offices. The winner? LinkNYC. It wasn’t even close. Like, at all.Here’re the results of a test I ran on the LinkNYC public wifi:And at the Starbucks located right next to the Link:Finally, from the F and M train platform at 14th Street:LinkNYC is ten times faster than New York’s existing public internet, and infinitely quicker than Starbucks. With city internet that fast, what’s going to happen to Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, Panera, or other establishments whose complementary wifi is such a pull? After all, if you want to work or study at a place that isn’t the library or your house, you pretty much have to buy a mocha and camp out. And with the sheer number of Links that New York is planning to install—7,500 units in the next 12 years, each with a service radius of up to 400 feet—it could mean that you and your devices will never be outside a serviceable zone.Still. These things aren’t designed to have people convene in front of them to stream Orange Is the New Black en masse. (Although the folks at LinkNYC have said the system can handle that.) They’re designed for temporary, fleeting experiences: checking your email, downloading a map of the city, making a quick Skype call. Whether LinkNYC will complicate the city’s relationship with chains and businesses remains to be seen. For now, the units are still being tested (911, calls, and maps aren’t yet available), and they seem to be advertisers more than anything, with signs hawking Coors Light and Citibank. You can use the wi-fi, of course—you just need to input an email address. (LinkNYC says that it will never give out private user information.) And in case you’re wondering, no sites are blocked from the network. Want to download some sleaze on a park bench? Go for it…I guess?For now, the city wants to open up ten new Links a day, with the goal of 500 running by July. Let the mass, ultra-fast streaming begin.

Airbus Working With Uber to Provide On-Demand Helicopter Flights


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

Airbus Working With Uber to Provide On-Demand Helicopter Flights

Airbus will provide helicopters to Uber in order to establish an on-demand flight service. The initiative, said to be a “pilot project,” will debut at the Sundance Film Festival later this week.The Wall Street Journal reports that the service, confirmed by the Airbus chief executive Tom Enders, will use H125 and H130 helicopters to ferry passengers. Uber will use its cars to get passengers to and from the landing site.It’s not the first time Uber has flirted with helicopter rides: It’s ferried people by chopper at the Cannes Film Festival, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, and even between Manhattan and the Hamptons. But it shows that Airbus is looking to expand its horizons for potential customers.It’s not clear how much the flights will cost, but in the past Uber has charged somewhere in the region of hundreds or thousands of dollars for a flight.[Wall Street Journal]Image by final gather under Creative Commons license

Airbus Working With Uber to Provide On-Demand Helicopter Flights


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

Airbus Working With Uber to Provide On-Demand Helicopter Flights

Airbus will provide helicopters to Uber in order to establish an on-demand flight service. The initiative, said to be a “pilot project,” will debut at the Sundance Film Festival later this week.The Wall Street Journal reports that the service, confirmed by the Airbus chief executive Tom Enders, will use H125 and H130 helicopters to ferry passengers. Uber will use its cars to get passengers to and from the landing site.It’s not the first time Uber has flirted with helicopter rides: It’s ferried people by chopper at the Cannes Film Festival, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, and even between Manhattan and the Hamptons. But it shows that Airbus is looking to expand its horizons for potential customers.It’s not clear how much the flights will cost, but in the past Uber has charged somewhere in the region of hundreds or thousands of dollars for a flight.[Wall Street Journal]Image by final gather under Creative Commons license

The Case of the So-Called Alien Megastructure Just Got Weirder


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

The Case of the So-Called Alien Megastructure Just Got Weirder

It’s probably not aliens. Seriously guys, it’s very, very unlikely that it’s aliens. But the weird, flickering star known as KIC 8462852 still isn’t sitting right with astronomers. In fact, it just got a lot weirder.Ever since KIC 84628532 was spotted in the Kepler Space Telescope’s dataset, astronomers have puzzled over what the heck could be responsible for the star’s logic-defying light curve. Over four years of observational data, KIC 8462852 flickered erratically, its light output sometimes dropping by as much as 20%. That’s highly unusual stellar behavior, and it can’t be explained by a transiting planet.Some astronomers proposed that KIC 8462852 might be occluded by a swarm of comets. Others suggested aliens.Specifically, astronomer Jason Wright tossed out the idea that the star’s weird distortion might be the result of a giant alien construction project—you know, like a Dyson sphere. The idea electrified the citizens of Earth and mobilized a worldwide SETI search for hard evidence of our celestial neighbors. Sadly, two independent searches, for radio signals and laser beams—both of which could indicate a technological society—didn’t pan out. (And remember, we’ve confused inexplicable observations for aliens many, many times before.)But according to a study just released arXiv, the comet hypothesis is now falling flat, too, and the mystery of KIC 8462852 has deepened considerably. While Kepler only has a few years of data on the star, astronomer Bradley Schaefer of Louisiana State University decided to look at photographic plates of the sky dating back to the late 19th century. To his amazement, he learned that over the last hundred years, KIC 8462852’s light output has steadily faded by about 19%, something that’s “completely unprecedented for any F-type main sequence star.”“This presents some trouble for the comet hypothesis,” Tabetha Boyajian, a lead researcher on the team that originally discovered the star, told New Scientist. “We need more data through continuous monitoring to figure out what is going on.”Indeed, it’s hard to imagine either aliens or natural celestial bodies dampening a star’s light output that much over such a short period of time. It’ll be a while yet before we’ve solved the mystery of KIC 8462852. But this is what’s great about scientific discovery. Literally all possible explanations are on the table at this point—and the truth about this tantalizing star could be more fascinating than we ever imagined.[New Scientist]Follow the author @themadstoneTop image via NASA/JPL-Caltech

Hell Yes: Obama Wants to Spend $4 Billion to Fill Our Roads With Autonomous Vehicles


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

Hell Yes: Obama Wants to Spend $4 Billion to Fill Our Roads With Autonomous Vehicles

The American government is officially putting a giant vote of confidence behind self-driving cars. And the cash to back it up.Today, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is announcing a nearly $4 billion plan that’ll help manufacturers and tech companies develop safe, automated vehicles in the next ten years with real-world pilot projects. It’s all part of President Obama’s plan to make American transportation as futuristic as possible.The funds, which have been set aside in the proposed federal budget for 2017, will go toward pilot programs in specific transportation corridors in the US. The government will then work with industry leaders to kick the development of automated vehicles into high gear. The goal is to make sure that those robo-cars are safe, and that American infrastructure is ready for them.Secretary Foxx will revealed the huge game-changer at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this afternoon with Ford, Google, Delphi and others. In a statement from the Department of Transportation provided to Gizmodo before the announcement, he said this about the plan:“We are on the cusp of a new era in automotive technology with enormous potential to save lives, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and transform mobility for the American people. Today’s actions and those we will pursue in the coming months will provide the foundation and the path forward for manufacturers, state officials, and consumers to use new technologies and achieve their full safety potential.”Secretary Foxx’s announcement will also update the policy guidance on self-driving vehicles developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2013. This is crucial as it now points to autonomous vehicles as a valuable tool for creating safer streets and highways.NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said today, in the same provided statement:“NHTSA is using all of its available tools to accelerate the deployment of technologies that can eliminate 94 percent of fatal crashes involving human error. We will work with state partners toward creating a consistent national policy on these innovations, provide options now and into the future for manufacturers seeking to deploy autonomous vehicles, and keep our safety mission paramount at every stage.”How will this change start to roll out? Within the first six months of 2016, the government will hit two major milestones.First, the NHTSA will collaborate with the industry to finalize guidelines for “safe deployment and operation of autonomous vehicles,” plus state partners, and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators on the state level that can help guide a consistent framework on the national level.Next, to accommodate the folks on the engineering side, Secretary Foxx wants manufacturers to submit “rule interpretation requests” so that the technology aligns with the law. The Department of Transportation points to one example of when BMW inquired about the company’s remote self-parking system, and whether it met federal safety standards.Self-driving cars are coming to American roads, ready or not.

Udacity Guarantees Graduates From Its New Nanodgree Plus Programs Will Find A Job In 6 Months


TechCrunch / Frederic Lardinois

Udacity Guarantees Graduates From Its New Nanodgree Plus Programs Will Find A Job In 6 Months

 Udacity is launching a new spin on its Nanodegree certification programs today. With its new Nanodegree Plus offerings, the for-profit education company guarantees that you will get a job within six months after graduation. If you don’t, you will get all of your tuition back. Read More

Google X Is Now Just Called ‘X’


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

Google X Is Now Just Called ‘X’

The most threatening letter of the alphabet is now the new name of Google’s quasi-secret moonshot lab: Google X is now just “X.” Hear that? That’s the sound of paranoid civilians boarding up windows and prepping drone-downing cannons.Re/code reports that Google’s arm for awesomely out-there inventions switched its name to just “X,” and debuted a new logo with it. Last year, the biggest tech company in the world made waves with the launch of Alphabet, a new parent company for Google and friends. Today’s nomenclature news is Google’s latest victory in its never-ending conquest of every facet of our lives, right down to owning individual letters in the English language.X has been brewing up crazy cool projects like delivery drones, self-driving cars, robots, balloon-based internet, and more for years. They all sound pretty sweet, but there’s something about “X” that reminds me of, like… exterminate? I dunno, I’ll just pretend Google’s working with the X-Men instead.[Re/code]

Detect and Disable an Airbnb’s Hidden Wi-Fi Cameras With This Script


Gizmodo / Patrick Allan on Lifehacker, shared by Cheryl Eddy to Gizmodo

Detect and Disable an Airbnb’s Hidden Wi-Fi Cameras With This Script

Airbnb renters keep finding hidden Wi-Fi cameras watching them without them knowing. If you want to ensure your privacy in a rental, this Linux script will find any Wi-Fi cameras on the network and disable them.The rise in popularity of cheap cameras like Google’s Nest DropCam make it easier than ever for homeowners to install basic surveillance systems. And while Airbnb suggests that hosts respect their guests’ privacy, they don’t explicitly say that hosts can’t have video or audio surveillance equipment installed and monitoring guests. This understandably bothers a lot of people who expect privacy in a rental they’re paying for. Fortunately, engineer and software developer Julian Oliver came up with a simple script to knock those types of cameras offline. Once you connect to the Airbnb’s Wi-Fi, a quick run of Oliver’s dropkick.sh script will find and disconnect the Wi-Fi enabled cameras on the network and give you some privacy.Before you make the decision to use the script, however, Oliver explains that it may be illegal to run due to changes made by the FCC last year. So use the script at your own risk. You can find the complete instructions and more information at the link below.http://lifehacker.com/how-can-i-avoi…Detect and disconnect WiFi cameras in that AirBnB you’re staying in | Julian Oliver via MotherboardPhoto by Ravi Shah.

Detect and Disable an Airbnb’s Hidden Wi-Fi Cameras With This Script


Gizmodo / Patrick Allan on Lifehacker, shared by Cheryl Eddy to Gizmodo

Detect and Disable an Airbnb’s Hidden Wi-Fi Cameras With This Script

Airbnb renters keep finding hidden Wi-Fi cameras watching them without them knowing. If you want to ensure your privacy in a rental, this shell script will find any Wi-Fi cameras on the network and disable them.The rise in popularity of cheap cameras like Google’s Nest DropCam make it easier than ever for homeowners to install basic surveillance systems. And while Airbnb suggests that hosts respect their guests’ privacy, they don’t explicitly say that hosts can’t have video or audio surveillance equipment installed and monitoring guests. This understandably bothers a lot of people who expect privacy in a rental they’re paying for. Fortunately, engineer and software developer Julian Oliver came up with a simple script to knock those types of cameras offline. Once you connect to the Airbnb’s Wi-Fi, a quick run of Oliver’s dropkick.sh script will find and disconnect the Wi-Fi enabled cameras on the network and give you some privacy.Before you make the decision to use the script, however, Oliver explains that it may be illegal to run due to changes made by the FCC last year. So use the script at your own risk. You can find the complete instructions and more information at the link below.http://lifehacker.com/how-can-i-avoi…Detect and disconnect WiFi cameras in that AirBnB you’re staying in | Julian Oliver via MotherboardPhoto by Ravi Shah.

Udacity Guarantees Graduates From Its New Nanodegree Plus Programs Will Find A Job In 6 Months


TechCrunch / Frederic Lardinois

Udacity Guarantees Graduates From Its New Nanodegree Plus Programs Will Find A Job In 6 Months

 Udacity is launching a new spin on its Nanodegree certification programs today. With its new Nanodegree Plus offerings, the for-profit education company guarantees that you will get a job within six months after graduation. If you don’t, you will get all of your tuition back. Read More

VLC Is Finally Available on Apple TV


Gizmodo / Alissa Walker

VLC Is Finally Available on Apple TV

Now there shall be no more endless converting of your videos to make them more palatable to your Apple TV’s desires. VLC, the software that famously supports a wide range of file formats, is now available on the new Apple TV.We’ve known that a VLC app was coming to Apple TV for a few months. But according to a post at VideoLAN, the VLC developer blog, the team has been testing an app since November, and it’s now ready for prime time:Our mission for VLC for the Apple TV was to fulfill our claim “plays it all” and we got close: it supports virtually all formats under the sun (like the iOS version of VLC). Before demonstrating VLC’s advanced playback experience on the Apple TV, let’s discuss about ways how to actually access content!Hell yeah, let’s talk about it! There’s a full rundown at the developer site, but here are the highlights.Content discoveryYou can easily access your files and search for whatever you want to watch using SMB, UPnP media server, FTP and PLEX protocols.Remote playbackThis is probably the coolest thing: You can send your files directly from a browser or app right to your Apple TV, in a process known as “casting.”Streams that have recently played on your other devices will show up here, too.Playback controlsBeyond that, you’ll have plenty of ways to customize your viewing experience, including playback speed, chapter navigation, and the ability to add subtitles through OpenSubtitles.org.One thing that’s not on the initial release: Cloud support. However, the developers are testing it now and you should be able to get files from places like Dropbox soon. And of course, it’s only available for the latest generation of Apple TVs.This all sounds almost too good to be true for Apple TV owners. We’ll update as soon as we’ve tried it.Read the whole post from VideoLAN.

What Happens When a Popular Instagram Account with 8 Million Followers Posts a Picture


Gizmodo / Casey Chan on Sploid, shared by Cheryl Eddy to Gizmodo

What Happens When a Popular Instagram Account with 8 Million Followers Posts a Picture

As if you needed more proof that celebrities live in a different world than us: here’s what happens when an Instagram account with 8 million followers (this particular one shows the 433 soccer account) posts a picture and then gets deluged with likes, comments, emojis, and whatever other notification. There’s no sad awkward moment before your first like from your Mom, no social anxiety about social media, instead the phone becomes essentially unusable as it gets bombarded because of its popularity, like its being forced to run some sort of hacker script but it’s really just hundreds and thousands and millions of people across the world looking at their phone and double tapping on a dumb picture about nothing.Of course, this is what it looks like with notifications on (which no sane person with a gazillion followers would have on, ye amateurs). The video comes from Dutch soccer player Demy de Zeeuw.SPLOID is delicious brain candy. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

VLC Is Finally Available on Apple TV


Gizmodo / Alissa Walker

VLC Is Finally Available on Apple TV

Now there shall be no more endless converting of your videos to make them more palatable to your Apple TV’s desires. VLC, the software that famously supports a wide range of file formats, is now available on the new Apple TV.We’ve known that a VLC app was coming to Apple TV for a few months. But according to a post at VideoLAN, the VLC developer blog, the team has been testing an app since November, and it’s now ready for prime time:Our mission for VLC for the Apple TV was to fulfill our claim “plays it all” and we got close: it supports virtually all formats under the sun (like the iOS version of VLC). Before demonstrating VLC’s advanced playback experience on the Apple TV, let’s discuss about ways how to actually access content!Hell yeah, let’s talk about it! There’s a full rundown at the developer site, but here are the highlights.Content discoveryYou can easily access your files and search for whatever you want to watch using SMB, UPnP media server, FTP and PLEX protocols.Remote playbackThis is probably the coolest thing: You can send your files directly from a browser or app right to your Apple TV, in a process known as “casting.”Streams that have recently played on your other devices will show up here, too.Playback controlsBeyond that, you’ll have plenty of ways to customize your viewing experience, including playback speed, chapter navigation, and the ability to add subtitles through OpenSubtitles.org.One thing that’s not on the initial release: Cloud support. However, the developers are testing it now and you should be able to get files from places like Dropbox soon. And of course, it’s only available for the latest generation of Apple TVs.This all sounds almost too good to be true for Apple TV owners. We’ll update as soon as we’ve tried it.Read the whole post from VideoLAN.

Rumors Are Flying That We Finally Found Gravitational Waves 


Gizmodo / Jennifer Ouellette

Rumors Are Flying That We Finally Found Gravitational Waves 

Excited rumors began circulating on Twitter this morning that a major experiment designed to hunt for gravitational waves—ripples in the fabric of spacetime first predicted by Albert Einstein—has observed them directly for the very first time. If confirmed, this would be one of the most significant physics discoveries of the last century.Move a large mass very suddenly—or have two massive objects suddenly collide, or a supernova explode—and you would create ripples in space-time, much like tossing a stone in a still pond. The more massive the object, the more it will churn the surrounding spacetime, and the stronger the gravitational waves it should produce. Einstein predicted their existence in his general theory of relativity back in 1915, but he thought it would never be possible to test that prediction.LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) is one of several experiments designed to hunt for these elusive ripples, and with its latest upgrade to Advanced LIGO, completed last year, it has the best chance of doing so. In fact, it topped our list of physics stories to watch in 2016.There have been excited rumors about a LIGO discovery before, most notably a mere week after the upgraded experiment began operations last fall. Lawrence Krauss, a physicist at Arizona State University, spilled the beans on Twitter, giving it a 10- to 15-percent chance of being true. “The official response is that we’re analyzing the data,” LIGO says Gabriela González (Louisiana State University) told Nature at the time. Now it seems the rumors have resurfaced, and Krauss has been blabbing again:We’re guessing that once again, the official response will be that they’re currently analyzing the data and everyone should just be patient, because you can’t rush this kind of tricky analysis. TL;DR: They will neither confirm nor deny the rumor. UPDATE 3:18 PM: Alan Weinstein, who heads the LIGO group at Caltech, had this to say via email: “My response to you is no more or less than the official one, which is the truth: ‘We are analyzing 01 data and will share news when ready.’ I’d say that it is wisest to just be patient.” That’s good advice in general when rumors of exciting breakthroughs begin circulating. But in this case, it’s quite possible that they are true. Loyola University physicist Robert McNees pointed out on Twitter that he’d only made one prediction for physics breakthroughs in 2016: that Advanced LIGO would directly detect gravitational waves. And he certainly wasn’t the only one to do so. He also had a few things to say about this brave new world we live in, where big physics news inevitably leaks out onto social media:“I guess I’d say that rumors just reflect how excited we all get about the prospect of new discoveries. It’s natural to feel that way! But the last thing we want to do is jump the gun,” McNees told Gizmodo via Twitter DM. “The best way to support these scientists is to let them carry out their experiments and analysis the way they were meant to be done. Let them take the time to do things the right way! And as physicists, I think we need to greet the inevitable rumors with explanations of how science works and why it’s so important to be careful. Even if that means having to wait for exciting news.”Sigh. Fine. We’ll be hanging onto the edge of our seats waiting for official confirmation one way or the other. If true—well, it’s a hell of a way to kick off 2016. And it would probably be a shoo-in for this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics.Image: Visualization of gravity waves. Image Credit: Werner Benger / Wikimedia.

Math Says: Play the UK Lottery Today


Gizmodo / Mika McKinnon

Math Says: Play the UK Lottery Today

Statistically speaking, the lottery is an exciting way of separating you from your money. Except today in the United Kingdom. For the first time ever, playing the lottery is the mathematically sensible choice.Lottery tickets in the UK are £2 per play. Usually the expected payoff on a ticket is 95p. In the long term, not only will you not win the jackpot, but you’ll lose money.But today is different. Thanks to Lotto rule changes in October, today has the largest jackpot in the country’s history and it must pay off tonight. Even if no one wins the jackpot—which is still statistically unlikely at 1 in 45 million—the pot will be distributed amongst those who got closest. That means the expected payoff is jumping to around £4.50, double the cost to play. Josh White, an economist at KPMG, explains:“In mathematical terms, it’s a rare occurrence when the expected value from playing the lottery is higher than the cost of a ticket – statistically there has never been a better time to play!”The unusual situation is due to changes in the Lotto rules last October. Lotto players now need to pick six numbers between 1 and 59, instead of the previous range of 1 in 49. Wising up to the longer odds against them, fewer people played the lottery in recent months, leading to a slowly-growing jackpot as the unclaimed prize rolled over. This is where the second rule change comes in. Once the prize is over £50 million, it must be distributed. At £58 million, today’s prize is being distributed one way or another. If no one wins the jackpot with all six balls, it will be distributed amongst people who got most of the numbers. Anyone with five balls plus the bonus has 1 in 7.5 million odds of winning tonight. If that’s also unclaimed, the prize is distributed amongst the 1 in 144,000 people who have five matching balls. The odds are so good that even my old roommate, and economist in the UK, is buying a lottery ticket for the third time in his entire life.This isn’t unexpected: White and his colleague Adam Rivers worked with Camelot, the company running the UK lottery, to rework the lottery rules last year. They simulated out the expected behaviors of real humans under different possible rules, including these ones. The objective of the redesign was simple: which rules would increase the number of new millionaires each week? Doing that was simple—make a raffle where a million-pound prize awarded each lottery draw. But that meant that the odds on everything else needed to change.The prize payout ratio hasn’t changed. The odds on winning the jackpot are longer, and the rollovers mean the jackpots are growing bigger. But at the same time, more smaller prizes are being handed out more often. The exact expected payoff will depend on how many people play. If it’s the average number of lotto players, the expected payoff will be £4.50. If it’s more players, like the numbers that turned out for Wednesday’s draw, that drops to £3.20. But Rivers, also with KPMG, explains it’d take Lotto fever to drop that payoff below the ticket price:“You’d need close to all 50 million eligible people in the UK to purchase at least one ticket in order for the expected value to go below the £2 purchase price – pretty unlikely, and a big queue at the newsagents!”All this does hold a little white lie: the expected payoff only happens in the long run. Yet this is a one-time-only special circumstance. Next week, the Lotto return to normal as the jackpot resets, and gamblers can expect to get back just 92p for every ticket they buy.The draw is at 9:55pm UK time, so time is running out to buy a ticket.[The Guardian]Image credit: Nando Machado / Shuttershock

Math Says: Play the UK Lottery Today


Gizmodo / Mika McKinnon

Math Says: Play the UK Lottery Today

Statistically speaking, the lottery is an exciting way of separating you from your money. Except today in the United Kingdom. For the first time ever, playing the lottery is the mathematically sensible choice.Lottery tickets in the UK are £2 per play. Usually the expected payoff on a ticket is 95p. In the long term, not only will you not win the jackpot, but you’ll lose money.But today is different. Thanks to Lotto rule changes in October, today has the largest jackpot in the country’s history and it must pay off tonight. Even if no one wins the jackpot—which is still statistically unlikely at 1 in 45 million—the pot will be distributed amongst those who got closest. That means the expected payoff is jumping to around £4.50, double the cost to play. Josh White, an economist at KPMG, explains:“In mathematical terms, it’s a rare occurrence when the expected value from playing the lottery is higher than the cost of a ticket – statistically there has never been a better time to play!”The unusual situation is due to changes in the Lotto rules last October. Lotto players now need to pick six numbers between 1 and 59, instead of the previous range of 1 in 49. With longer odds against winning the jackpot, it slowly grew as the unclaimed prize rolled over. This is where the second rule change comes in. Once the prize is over £50 million, it must be distributed. At £58 million, today’s prize is being distributed one way or another. If no one wins the jackpot with all six balls, it will be distributed amongst people who got most of the numbers. Anyone with five balls plus the bonus has 1 in 7.5 million odds of winning tonight. If that’s also unclaimed, the prize is distributed amongst the 1 in 144,000 people who have five matching balls. The odds are so good that even my old roommate, and economist in the UK, is buying a lottery ticket for the third time in his entire life.This isn’t unexpected: Lottery operators reworked the game last year with a simple objective: which rules would increase the number of new millionaires each week? Doing that was simple—make a raffle where a million-pound prize is awarded each lottery draw. But a guarantee of two million-pound prizes each week meant that the odds on everything else needed to change.The important part is that the prize payout ratio hasn’t changed. The odds on winning the jackpot are longer, and the rollovers mean the jackpots are growing bigger. But at the same time, more smaller prizes are being handed out more often. The backend behind the details required intense game theory to understand the different possible outcomes. Although unlikely, this situation was anticipated under the new rules.The exact expected payoff will depend on how many people play. If it’s the average number of lotto players, the expected payoff will be £4.50. If it’s more players, like the numbers that turned out for Wednesday’s draw, that drops to £3.20. But Adam Rivers, also with KPMG, explains it’d take Lotto fever to drop that payoff below the ticket price:“You’d need close to all 50 million eligible people in the UK to purchase at least one ticket in order for the expected value to go below the £2 purchase price – pretty unlikely, and a big queue at the newsagents!”All this does hold a little white lie: the expected payoff only happens in the long run. Yet this is a one-time-only special circumstance. Next week, the Lotto return to normal as the jackpot resets, and gamblers can expect to get back just 92p for every ticket they buy.The draw is at 9:55pm local time, so time is running out to buy a ticket.Update: After a surge in ticket sales (up to 400 per second in the final hours), the jackpot grew to £66 million. Two winners matched all six balls and will split the prize.[The Guardian]Image credit: Nando Machado / ShuttershockCorrection: An earlier version of this article stated fewer people were playing the lottery under the new rules, leading to fewer jackpot wins. Instead, the same numbers played but odds against winning the jackpot increased. Our apologies for mixing causes to the same end result!Contact the author at mika.mckinnon@io9.com or follow her at @MikaMcKinnon.

Use These Secret Codes to Unlock Netflix’s Hidden Categories


Gizmodo / David Nield on Field Guide, shared by Adam Clark Estes to Gizmodo

Use These Secret Codes to Unlock Netflix’s Hidden Categories

Here’s a trick that’s been around for a while but may have passed you by: secret category codes added by Netflix engineers that can help you narrow down your on-demand video choices. From classic war movies to Brazilian dramas, here’s how to dig deeper into the Netflix library.Whenever you dive into a genre on the Netflix website you get a URL that looks something like www.netflix.com/browse/genre/6839—and if you play around with that end number you can discover some hidden gems. How about visually striking films for ages 5-7? Or period pieces? We’ve found two unofficial lists online, here and here.Not all of these codes work, which isn’t surprising given the hidden nature of the feature, the constantly shifting Netflix catalog, and the variations between countries, but a lot of them do. It’s fun turning up a few obscure films that you might not otherwise have discovered.If you’ve got time on your hands then it’s not difficult to build up your own list of sub-genres by changing the number at the end of the given URL. If you’re interested in how Netflix organizes its content and what these categories are for, read this Atlantic article where Alexis Madrigal first happened upon them.

Ford’s Autonomous Research Vehicle Is Actually Really Impressive


Gizmodo / Mario Aguilar

Ford’s Autonomous Research Vehicle Is Actually Really Impressive

I’m not what you would call a “car guy,” but upon strolling up to Ford’s flashy new autonomous research vehicle today, I found myself nodding my head with great satisfaction like, “huh, this shit’s really gonna work!”The tricked-out Fusion Hybrid is on display at CES, and it’s set up to illustrate the technology that’s actually going to make autonomous cars possible. http://jalopnik.com/ford-is-tripli…The car has four LIDAR sensors that are spinning super fast……the data is crunched by loads of computing power that’s in the trunk……and then it’s used to create a real-time map of the area around the car.Self-driving cars are coming, I know that. But it’s always felt like a far-off fantasy that won’t arrive until I’m long gone. It took seeing this in action for me to really comprehend the reality that I might one day get around in car that drives itself.Gizmodo’s on the ground in Las Vegas! Follow all of our 2016 CES coverage here.Contact the author at maguilar@gizmodo.com.

Samsung’s Quest to Kill the Bezel on Televisions


Gizmodo / Mario Aguilar

Samsung’s Quest to Kill the Bezel on Televisions

Today, Samsung’s showing off its newest line of SUHD TVs, which if you can believe it, are outrageously beautiful. They’ve got some performance improvements and new blah blah connectivity features, but really what’s most striking is the way that Samsung’s creeping towards that platonic ideal of a bezel-less design: A television whose picture is hanging there in the air without any frame around it at all.Indeed, Samsung touts its new 88-inch KS9500 SUHD TV flagship as the world’s first bezel-less television, which—spoiler alert!—is not really true. Here look, a bezel:But to Samsung’s credit, it is a very impressively small bezel for a television this size. And if you want to see where Samsung is going with this, the company is showing off a prototype of an “ultra-slim” model. Which is not just beautiful…It’s practically invisible from the side. (Company reps declined to tell me exactly how slim the thing is, and I couldn’t get close enough to really measure.)Yes, one day the pixels will just float in the air! The company has quite a history of impressive industrial design on televisions, and I must admit, I’m sort of enthralled by its relentless pursuit of design perfection. It makes sense, you see, because the impressiveness of 4K displays is wearing off. Design is a great way to distinguish yourself from an increasingly homogeneous 4K pack.Oh, and while we’re speaking of distinguishing ourselves, what new stuff is Samsung bringing to the table this year? Two big features: A superbright 1000 nit display capable of HDR reproduction, and built-in smart home features. With the former, Samsung is trying to keep with other top manufacturers that are offering high-dynamic range reproduction. With the latter, Samsung is trying to carve itself a niche in the forthcoming internet of things word.But on TVs, nothing is more exciting than design these days. And Samsung is leading the pack. Death to bezels.Photos by Mario Aguilar/Gizmodo Contact the author at maguilar@gizmodo.com.

Samsung Just (Almost) Killed the TV Bezel


Gizmodo / Mario Aguilar

Samsung Just (Almost) Killed the TV Bezel

Today, Samsung is showing off its newest line of SUHD TVs. If you can believe it, they’re outrageously beautiful. They’ve got some performance improvements and new blah blah connectivity features, but what’s most striking is the way that Samsung’s creeping towards that platonic ideal of a bezel-less design: A television whose picture is hanging there in the air without any frame around it at all.Indeed, Samsung touts its new 88-inch KS9500 SUHD TV flagship as the world’s first bezel-less television, which—spoiler alert!—is not really true. Here look, a bezel:But to Samsung’s credit, it is a very impressively small bezel for a TV this size. And if you want to see where Samsung is going with this, the company is showing off a prototype of an “ultra-slim” model. Which is not just beautiful…It’s practically invisible from the side. (Company reps declined to tell me exactly how slim the thing is, and I couldn’t get close enough to really measure.)Yes, one day the pixels will just float in the air! The company has quite a history of impressive industrial design on televisions, and I must admit, I’m sort of enthralled by its relentless pursuit of design perfection. It also makes sense, because the impressiveness of 4K displays is wearing off. Design is a great way to distinguish yourself from an increasingly homogeneous 4K pack.Oh, and while we’re speaking of distinguishing ourselves, what new stuff is Samsung bringing to the table this year? Two big features: A super-bright 1000 nit display capable of HDR reproduction, and built-in smart home features. With the former, Samsung is trying to keep with other top manufacturers in offering high-dynamic range reproduction. With the latter, Samsung is trying to carve out a niche in the forthcoming internet of things world.But on TVs, nothing is more exciting than design these days. And Samsung is leading the pack. Death to bezels.Photos by Mario Aguilar/Gizmodo Contact the author at maguilar@gizmodo.com.

Mark Zuckerberg’s 2016 Resolution: Build An AI To Run His House


Gizmodo / Andrew Liptak

Mark Zuckerberg’s 2016 Resolution: Build An AI To Run His House

Mark Zuckerberg just revealed his 2016 resolution: build a simple AI to help him run his home.Here’s his Facebook post:Every year, I take on a personal challenge to learn new things and grow outside my work at Facebook. My challenges in recent years have been to read two books every month, learn Mandarin and meet a new person every day.My personal challenge for 2016 is to build a simple AI to run my home and help me with my work. You can think of it kind of like Jarvis in Iron Man.I’m going to start by exploring what technology is already out there. Then I’ll start teaching it to understand my voice to control everything in our home — music, lights, temperature and so on. I’ll teach it to let friends in by looking at their faces when they ring the doorbell. I’ll teach it to let me know if anything is going on in Max’s room that I need to check on when I’m not with her. On the work side, it’ll help me visualize data in VR to help me build better services and lead my organizations more effectively.Every challenge has a theme, and this year’s theme is invention.At Facebook I spend a lot of time working with engineers to build new things. Some of the most rewarding work involves getting deep into the details of technical projects. I do this with Internet.org when we discuss the physics of building solar-powered planes and satellites to beam down internet access. I do this with Oculus when we get into the details of the controllers or the software we’re designing. I do this with Messenger when we discuss our AI to answer any question you have. But it’s a different kind of rewarding to build things yourself, so this year my personal challenge is to do that.This should be a fun intellectual challenge to code this for myself. I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn over the course of the year.Mark, just remember the three laws of Robotics:A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.[Facebook]

Mark Zuckerberg’s 2016 Resolution: Build An AI To Run His House


Gizmodo / Andrew Liptak

Mark Zuckerberg’s 2016 Resolution: Build An AI To Run His House

Mark Zuckerberg just revealed his 2016 resolution: build a simple AI to help him run his home.Here’s his Facebook post:Every year, I take on a personal challenge to learn new things and grow outside my work at Facebook. My challenges in recent years have been to read two books every month, learn Mandarin and meet a new person every day.My personal challenge for 2016 is to build a simple AI to run my home and help me with my work. You can think of it kind of like Jarvis in Iron Man.I’m going to start by exploring what technology is already out there. Then I’ll start teaching it to understand my voice to control everything in our home — music, lights, temperature and so on. I’ll teach it to let friends in by looking at their faces when they ring the doorbell. I’ll teach it to let me know if anything is going on in Max’s room that I need to check on when I’m not with her. On the work side, it’ll help me visualize data in VR to help me build better services and lead my organizations more effectively.Every challenge has a theme, and this year’s theme is invention.At Facebook I spend a lot of time working with engineers to build new things. Some of the most rewarding work involves getting deep into the details of technical projects. I do this with Internet.org when we discuss the physics of building solar-powered planes and satellites to beam down internet access. I do this with Oculus when we get into the details of the controllers or the software we’re designing. I do this with Messenger when we discuss our AI to answer any question you have. But it’s a different kind of rewarding to build things yourself, so this year my personal challenge is to do that.This should be a fun intellectual challenge to code this for myself. I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn over the course of the year.Mark, just remember the three laws of Robotics:A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.[Facebook]

Holy Crap, We Really Want to Play Some Quidditch Beer Pong


Gizmodo / Germain Lussier on io9, shared by Darren Orf to Gizmodo

Holy Crap, We Really Want to Play Some Quidditch Beer Pong

As fans who grew up with the Harry Potter books gets older, ways to enjoy their fandom get more adult. The latest example might be the best yet, a blending of Quidditch and beer pong.A site called unofficialquidditchpong.com has created the rules and also has the necessary materials for purchase. Unfortunately, as of press time, they were sold out. Fingers crossed for a restock.The game is essentially the beer pong you played in college, mixed with the rules of Quidditch. Obviously. Shots made without the rings are played as normal, but if someone makes a shot through a ring, the opposing team can defend it with a beater bat. If it goes in though, you get two cups instead of one. There’s also a snitch cup set off to the side that will end the game. That’s the basic gist. From there, the site offers lots of more in depth options such as multiple spells you can cast based on house distinction. If you choose to go that route.It sucks we discovered this after New Year’s Eve but maybe now you have an excuse to do another party as soon as possible.[Unofficial Quidditch Pong, H/T Entertainment Weekly]Contact the author at germain@io9.com.

The Books About Artificial Intelligence That You MUST Read, According to Ex Machina’s Alex Garland


Gizmodo / Charlie Jane Anders on io9, shared by Andrew Liptak to Gizmodo

The Books About Artificial Intelligence That You MUST Read, According to Ex Machina’s Alex Garland

Ex Machina remains a strong contender for the best science fiction film of 2015. It’s jam-packed with ideas along with all that psychosexual weirdness. And now at last, writer-director Alex Garland has unpacked where some of those ideas come from.In case you missed it, Ex Machina is a film where Poe Dameron invites General Hux to his secluded bunker, to meet a lifelike android (who isn’t played by anyone from Star Wars, weirdly.) General Hux is supposed to be testing the android to see if she’s “alive,” but the situation turns out to be a lot more complicated. Basically, it’s a trap.In an interview with Esquire, Garland lists the books and films that influenced his acclaimed film. And there are some surprises on there. Like, not only two Ray Kurzweil books, but also Machine Language for Beginners by Richard Mansfield. And The Emperor’s New Mind by Roger Penrose. And Wittgenstein! Plus Steven Levy’s profile of Google’s Demis Hassabis. There are also two films on the list: 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Altered States.http://www.amazon.com/The-Emperors-N…Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, coming in January from Tor Books. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.

Uber Hits One Billionth Ride; Gifts Free Year


TechCrunch / Katie Roof

Uber Hits One Billionth Ride; Gifts Free Year

 Rapidly expanding car service startup Uber says it has driven its one billionth ride. Launched in June 2010, it took the company 5.5 years to reach this milestone. Uber trip number one billion took place in London on Christmas Eve. The company says that the lucky rider, Marvin, has been gifted free Uber for a year.
To further commemorate this benchmark, driver Ara has also been given an… Read More

The McDonald’s Of The Future Opens In Hong Kong


Gizmodo / Brian Ashcraft on Kotaku, shared by Adam Clark Estes to Gizmodo

The McDonald’s Of The Future Opens In Hong Kong

Hong Kong is now home to the newest and neatest McDonald’s around. Say hello to McDonald’s Next, the McDonald’s of the future. According to Trend Hunter, Contemporist, and Hong Kong Navi, design firm Landini Associates joined forces with the fast food chain to create this oh-so slick McDonald’s in Hong Kong, located near Admiralty Station.Photographer Ross Honeysett took these terrific photos:[Photo: Ross Honeysett][Photo: Ross Honeysett][Photo: Ross Honeysett][Photo: Ross Honeysett][Photo: Ross Honeysett][Photo: Ross Honeysett]The restaurant features those Create Your Taste touch screens that previously launched in Australia. [Photo: Hong Kong Navi]The ingredients sure look fresh. [Photo: Hong Kong Navi][Photo: Hong Kong Navi]What a fancy-looking McDonald’s. Top image: Ross HoneysettTo contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter@Brian_Ashcraft.Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond.

The McDonald’s Of The Future Opens In Hong Kong


Gizmodo / Brian Ashcraft on Kotaku, shared by Adam Clark Estes to Gizmodo

The McDonald’s Of The Future Opens In Hong Kong

Hong Kong is now home to the newest and neatest McDonald’s around. Say hello to McDonald’s Next, the McDonald’s of the future. According to Trend Hunter, Contemporist, and Hong Kong Navi, design firm Landini Associates joined forces with the fast food chain to create this oh-so slick McDonald’s in Hong Kong, located near Admiralty Station.Photographer Ross Honeysett took these terrific photos:[Photo: Ross Honeysett][Photo: Ross Honeysett][Photo: Ross Honeysett][Photo: Ross Honeysett][Photo: Ross Honeysett][Photo: Ross Honeysett]The restaurant features those Create Your Taste touch screens that previously launched in Australia. [Photo: Hong Kong Navi]The ingredients sure look fresh. [Photo: Hong Kong Navi][Photo: Hong Kong Navi]What a fancy-looking McDonald’s. Top image: Ross HoneysettTo contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter@Brian_Ashcraft.Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond.

Audi Could Show Off A Hydrogen Fuel Cell SUV Concept Soon


Gizmodo / Alanis King on Jalopnik, shared by Maddie Stone to Gizmodo

Audi Could Show Off A Hydrogen Fuel Cell SUV Concept Soon

Audi’s had some, uh… issues lately with its diesel engines, to put it kindly. And as it and parent company Volkswagen reel from an environmental scandal, the luxury automaker might be looking to burnish its green creds at the Detroit Auto Show next month with a new hydrogen fuel cell SUV concept.Reports from the German media hint that the new Audi Q6 h-tron concept will debut at the show next month, according to Autocar. If true, the car would be similar to the all-electric Audi Q6 e-tron quattro concept pictured above and slated to go on sale in 2018. The h-tron will feature a few changes to the exterior and, of course, be powered by fuel cells.Though reports suggest that the new Audi will go hydro at the show, we don’t exactly have confirmation yet. From Autocar:Although an Audi spokesman stopped short of revealing the car’s identity, it’s been confirmed that “a concept car with new drive technology” is scheduled to be unveiled at January’s show.Autocar claims the Q6 h-tron will also have a similar zero-emissions driving range to the Q6 e-tron: 311 miles. The car would join competition like the Toyota Mirai, which already has a waitlist, and the Honda FCV in the hydrogen realm, as well as Honda’s widespread (and ambitious) goal to sell practical hydrogen vehicles less than a year from now.The concept wouldn’t be Audi’s first venture into hydrogen power, as the manufacturer brought an A7 h-tron quattro to the LA Auto Show in 2014.Whether or not the Q6 h-tron will show up in Detroit, well—we’ll just have to wait another month to see.Contact the author at alanis.king@jalopnik.com.

Spotify Now Has Professionally Mixed Playlists to Get Your Party Started


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

Spotify Now Has Professionally Mixed Playlists to Get Your Party Started

Spotify certainly has enough music to keep you entertained, but its playlists can lurch from one track to the next with little finesse. Now, it’s launching a new Party feature that includes mixed, beat-matched songs so that things feel a little more professional.The new playlists, part of a feature that will be known as Spotify Party, will be put together by what Spotify refers to as ‘experts.’ They’ll feature original content, from the likes of producer Diplo, as well as better-known party bangers, nut unlike most of the playlists you’ve probably endured at Spotify-based parties, the tracks will be beat-matched and actually mixed together. So it should feel (a little) more like a club and less like someone’s apartment. One particularly neat feature is what Spotify’s calling a ‘mood slider.’ The idea is that you can change the atmosphere of the upcoming tracks—maybe to transition from dinner with friends to some outrageous sofa dancing.Party rolls out today on Android and iOS, with a total of 120 curated tracks available in the first instance. More content is set to be added in time.Image via Shutterstock

House of Cards Season 4 Gets a Release Date and a Fantastic Campaign Website


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

House of Cards Season 4 Gets a Release Date and a Fantastic Campaign Website

Possibly the best thing to happen during tonight’s GOP debate was this ad for House of Cards’s next season. Netflix isn’t a giant tease, either—we’ve got a release date, and a campaign website to tide us over for the next few months.In a followup tweet, Netflix revealed the new season will land for our binge-watching pleasure March 4th.Until then, go look at Underwood’s campaign website, which is chock-full of Easter Eggs and House of Cards in-jokes.

Google’s Self-Driving Car Unit Will Be A Standalone Company In 2016, Could Challenge Uber 


Gizmodo / Patrick George on Jalopnik, shared by Adam Clark Estes to Gizmodo

Google’s Self-Driving Car Unit Will Be A Standalone Company In 2016, Could Challenge Uber 

If you thought of Google’s adorable panda-like driverless car as a glorified science experiment until now, get ready to change your mind. According to reports within the company, Google is set to make its driverless car program a standalone “Alphabet” business in 2016—the biggest sign yet that driverless cars are something Google wants as a source of revenue.http://jalopnik.com/googles-new-ca…A report in Bloomberg indicates Google is eyeing launching a driverless car service sometime next year, probably in one of the cities where the cars have done extensive testing like Austin or San Francisco. That would be a huge challenge to human-driven (for now) ride-share services like Uber and Lyft, not to mention traditional taxi cab services.Here’s what they reported:Google and Alphabet co-founder Sergey Brin suggested in September that self-driving cars could first appear in the form of a service, saying it would let a lot of people try the technology and that having “the vehicle come back to us every day” meant Google could rapidly update the machines.Besides offering its own ride-for-hire service, Google probably will to try to capitalize on self-driving research in two other ways, said Mark Boyadjis, an analyst at IHS Automotive. First, the company may pump the same ads into self-driving cars that appear on Google’s search engine, and second, it may be able to profit through licensing arrangements that let traditional automakers participate in its ride-sharing and other self-driving services, he said. That presents the automakers with a difficult choice, Boyadjis said.Earlier this year Google reorganized under the Alphabet name and announced several units would be spun-off as their own companies. Currently the self-driving car program, which has logged more than 1 million miles on public roads, is under the X research division.But with automakers and tech companies racing toward autonomous vehicles, sometimes together and sometimes not, Google’s unit was unlikely to stay a research project for long.As Bloomberg notes, and as we noted this fall, one of the most important yet curiously under-the-radar car industry stories this year was former Hyundai CEO John Krafcik’s move to the Google driverless car program. With a seasoned and respected car industry veteran like Krafcik on its side, Google’s car unit could be a truly disruptive force in how we address driving and mobility.The autonomotive singularity is coming, and the tip of its spear looks like a panda.Photo credit APContact the author at patrick@jalopnik.com.

Google’s Self-Driving Car Unit Will Be A Standalone Company In 2016, Could Challenge Uber 


Gizmodo / Patrick George on Jalopnik, shared by Adam Clark Estes to Gizmodo

Google’s Self-Driving Car Unit Will Be A Standalone Company In 2016, Could Challenge Uber 

If you thought of Google’s adorable panda-like driverless car as a glorified science experiment until now, get ready to change your mind. According to reports within the company, Google is set to make its driverless car program a standalone “Alphabet” business in 2016—the biggest sign yet that driverless cars are something Google wants as a source of revenue.http://jalopnik.com/googles-new-ca…A report in Bloomberg indicates Google is eyeing launching a driverless car service sometime next year, probably in one of the cities where the cars have done extensive testing like Austin or San Francisco. That would be a huge challenge to human-driven (for now) ride-share services like Uber and Lyft, not to mention traditional taxi cab services.Here’s what they reported:Google and Alphabet co-founder Sergey Brin suggested in September that self-driving cars could first appear in the form of a service, saying it would let a lot of people try the technology and that having “the vehicle come back to us every day” meant Google could rapidly update the machines.Besides offering its own ride-for-hire service, Google probably will to try to capitalize on self-driving research in two other ways, said Mark Boyadjis, an analyst at IHS Automotive. First, the company may pump the same ads into self-driving cars that appear on Google’s search engine, and second, it may be able to profit through licensing arrangements that let traditional automakers participate in its ride-sharing and other self-driving services, he said. That presents the automakers with a difficult choice, Boyadjis said.Earlier this year Google reorganized under the Alphabet name and announced several units would be spun-off as their own companies. Currently the self-driving car program, which has logged more than 1 million miles on public roads, is under the X research division.But with automakers and tech companies racing toward autonomous vehicles, sometimes together and sometimes not, Google’s unit was unlikely to stay a research project for long.As Bloomberg notes, and as we noted this fall, one of the most important yet curiously under-the-radar car industry stories this year was former Hyundai CEO John Krafcik’s move to the Google driverless car program. With a seasoned and respected car industry veteran like Krafcik on its side, Google’s car unit could be a truly disruptive force in how we address driving and mobility.The autonomotive singularity is coming, and the tip of its spear looks like a panda.Photo credit APContact the author at patrick@jalopnik.com.

Watch YouTube’s Most Popular Videos of 2015


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

Watch YouTube’s Most Popular Videos of 2015

Have some time to kill? YouTube has just announced its most popular videos of 2015, which include everything from dance crazes to Justin Bieber doing karaoke in a car. You can watch them here.It’s worth noting that YouTube has chosen the most popular clips not just on the absolute number of views, but by taking into account shares, comments, likes and other indicators of popularity to identify what it calls the ‘top trending’ videos. Regardless, they still racked up a whole lot of views: YouTube claims that these ten videos alone accounted for 25 million hours of viewing this year. So watching them once more shouldn’t hurt.1. Silento- Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) #WatchMeDanceOn2. Clash of Clans: Revenge (Official Super Bowl TV Commercial)3.Crazy Plastic Ball PRANK!!4. Love Has No Labels | Diversity & Inclusion | Ad Council5. Lip Sync Battle with Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart and Jimmy Fallon6. Justin Bieber Carpool Karaoke7. 6ft Man in 6ft Giant Water Balloon – 4K – The Slow Mo Guys8. Golden boy Calum Scott hits the right note | Audition Week 1 | Britain’s Got Talent 20159. Dover Police DashCam Confessional (Shake it Off)10. Mean Tweets – President Obama Edition[YouTube]

Digital ad spending will overtake TV as biggest category by 2017 or 2018, forecasts say (Sydney Ember/New York Times)


Techmeme /

Digital ad spending will overtake TV as biggest category by 2017 or 2018, forecasts say (Sydney Ember/New York Times)

Sydney Ember / New York Times:
Digital ad spending will overtake TV as biggest category by 2017 or 2018, forecasts say  —  Digital Ad Spending Expected to Soon Surpass TV  —  Television has lost its longtime grip on advertising budgets as digital ad spending continues to surge, according to some of the advertising industry’s …

Apple plans March Apple Watch 2 event, 4-inch ‘iPhone 6c’ possible (Mark Gurman/9to5Mac)


Techmeme /

Apple plans March Apple Watch 2 event, 4-inch ‘iPhone 6c’ possible (Mark Gurman/9to5Mac)

Mark Gurman / 9to5Mac:
Apple plans March Apple Watch 2 event, 4-inch ‘iPhone 6c’ possible  —  Apple is currently planning a March 2016 event to unveil the second-generation Apple Watch, according to sources with knowledge of the plans.  The second version of the Apple Watch would then ship by April, nearly a year after the original model first went on sale.

Uber’s Testing A New Mass Transit Alternative


TechCrunch / Megan Rose Dickey

Uber’s Testing A New Mass Transit Alternative

 Uber is gearing up to pilot a new ride-sharing service in Seattle called uberHOP, in an attempt to get “more butts into the backseats of fewer cars,” according to an Uber blog post from today. Uber already has uberPOOL in place, which makes up almost half of Uber’s rips in San Francisco, but the company calls that a “first step.” With uberHOP (pictured above), the… Read More

This Australian Says He and His Dead Friend Invented Bitcoin


Gizmodo / Sam Biddle and Andy Cush

This Australian Says He and His Dead Friend Invented Bitcoin

A monthlong Gizmodo investigation has uncovered compelling and perplexing new evidence in the search for Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin. According to a cache of documents provided to Gizmodo which were corroborated in interviews, Craig Steven Wright, an Australian businessman based in Sydney, and Dave Kleiman, an American computer forensics expert who died in 2013, were involved in the development of the digital currency.Wired reported this afternoon that Wright and Kleiman were likely involved in creating Bitcoin. Gizmodo has been following a similar trail for weeks, one that in recent days has included face-to-face confrontations with Wright’s business partners in Sydney and interviews with Kleiman’s closest associates in Palm Beach County, Florida. Gizmodo also obtained confirmation from on-the-record sources that Wright claimed on at least two occasions that he and Kleiman were both involved in the creation of Bitcoin.In early November 2015, Gizmodo received a series of anonymous tip emails from someone who claimed to not only know the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, but who also claimed to have worked for him. “I hacked Satoshi Naklamoto [sic],” the first message read. “These files are all from his business account. The person is Dr Craig Wright.” What followed was a package of email files apparently pulled directly from an Outlook account belonging to Craig Wright, an Australian academic, computer engineering expert, and serial entrepreneur with a litany of degrees and corporations to his name.Last year, Wright publicly announced his plan to establish the “world’s first Bitcoin bank.” Wright’s LinkedIn page lists him as the CEO of DeMorgan Ltd, a company whose website describes it as “focused on alternative currency, next generation banking and reputational and educational products with a focus on security and creating a simple user experience.” Among DeMorgan’s subsidiaries, also listed on its website, are C01n, a Bitcoin wallet company; Coin-Exch, a Bitcoin exchange; and Denariuz, the aforementioned Bitcoin bank, and one of the top supercomputers in the world.Several of the emails and documents sent to Gizmodo point to a close relationship between Wright and Kleiman, a U.S. Army veteran who lived in Palm Beach County, Florida. Kleiman was confined to a wheelchair after a motorcycle accident in 1995, and became a reclusive computer forensics obsessive thereafter. He died broke and in squalor, after suffering from infected bedsores. His body was found decomposing and surrounded by empty alcohol bottles and a loaded handgun. Bloody feces was tracked along the floor, and a bullet hole was found in his mattress, though no spent shell casings were found on the scene. But documents shared with Gizmodo suggest that Kleiman may have possessed a Bitcoin trust worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and seemed to be deeply involved with the currency and Wright’s plans. “Craig, I think you’re mad and this is risky,” Kleiman writes in one 2011 email to Wright. “But I believe in what we are trying to do.”Writing about Satoshi Nakamoto, the Bitcoin originator’s pseudonym, is a treacherous exercise. Publications like the New York Times, Fast Company, and the New Yorker have taken unsuccessful stabs at Satoshi’s identity. In every instance, the evidence either hasn’t added up or those implicated have issued public denials. And then there was Newsweek, whose 2014 story “The Face Behind Bitcoin” is easily the most disastrous attempt at revealing the identity of Satoshi. The magazine identified a modest California engineer, whose birth name was Satoshi Nakamoto but who went by Dorian, as the creator of Bitcoin. The story resulted in a worldwide media frenzy, a car chase, and—after Dorian’s repeated denials and legal threats—a great deal of embarrassment for Newsweek.All of which means that the real Satoshi Nakamoto is still out there. And although Bitcoin has yet to upset the free market and establish the crypto-libertarian monetary utopia that its boosters once anticipated, the currency doesn’t appear to be going away: its users span the globe, with some analysts predicting 5 million worldwide by 2019. Bitcoin isn’t just some cryptographic niche. It’s an outrageous, brilliant phenomenon concocted by either a single subversive genius or a group of them. The digital currency went from being worth fractions of a penny in 2009 to $1,200 per coin just four years later, built on a network that makes wiring money anywhere as simple as sending an email, and that aims to singlehandedly render the entire global financial system obsolete. If Satoshi Nakamoto revealed himself to the world, he (or they) would be lauded as one of the greatest living minds of computer science—and the target of incessant, global scrutiny.Craig Wright is not modest. On the website of Panopticrypt, one of his many companies, Wright describes himself as “certifiably the world’s foremost IT security expert.” In a May 2013 blog post titled “Morning Manifesto,” Craig proclaims to himself and the world:I will make a solution to problems you have not even thought of and I will do it without YOUR or any state’s permission! I will create things that make your ideas fail as I will not refuse to stop producing. I will not live off or accept welfare and I will not offer you violence. You will have to use violence against me to make me stop however.And at an October 2015 panel discussion with fellow Bitcoin experts (including Nick Szabo, long suspected by many as being the real Satoshi), Wright is asked to introduce himself. “[I do] a whole lot of things that people don’t realize is possible yet,” he replied. When asked by the moderator for clarification, Wright said that “I’m a bit of everything…I have a masters of law…I have a masters in statistics, a couple doctorates, I forget actually what I’ve got these days.” When asked how he got involved in Bitcoin, Wright pauses before replying: “uhh, I’ve been involved in all of this for a long time…I try and stay…I keep my head down.”That’s all circumstantial evidence. But the hacked emails and other documents, if authentic, show Wright making repeated claims to being Satoshi Nakamoto over a period of years starting in 2008, before Nakamoto published the now-legendary white paper introducing the world to Bitcoin.The most persuasive evidence from the apparently hacked account is a message dated January 8th, 2014, which shows Wright emailing three colleagues from satoshi@vistomail.com, the email address that Nakomoto used to regularly communicate with early Bitcoin users and developers. In this thread, with the subject line “Fear of the future,” Satoshi@vistomail.com strategized about lobbying Australian Senator Arthur Sinodinos on the matter of Bitcoin regulation:The email includes a signature with the name Satoshi Nakamoto and a phone number that belongs to Craig Wright. The reply-to field, which determines where responses to the message will be sent, lists an email address that, according to Google, belongs to Craig Wright. Also included in the cache of messages is this reply from Andrew Sommer, a partner at Sydney-based law firm Clayton Utz, which represented Wright at the time the emails were exchanged:The hacker-tipster also included multiple PDF files that contain what appear to be a transcript of a meeting about Bitcoin regulation between Wright, his attorney, and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), as well as the minutes of a subsequent meeting of the ATO and Wright’s attorney. Wright appears to have been trying to persuade the Australian government to treat his Bitcoin holdings as currency, as opposed to an asset subject to greater taxation. Without this regulatory move, his business interests would be scuttled. During an interlude in one such meeting, Wright makes an oddly casual admission of his identity as Satoshi (highlighting added):A request to confirm the authenticity of the document sent to Auscript, the transcription service whose logo appears at the top of the file, was denied on the basis of company policy. A request sent to the ATO was also denied on the basis of state confidentiality.Multiple phone calls to Wright suggest that the material is, at the very least, not fabricated: In an initial call placed in November, he said he “couldn’t talk about” the documents we’d received, or the suggestion that he is Satoshi Nakomoto. On a subsequent call, in which lines from his purported emails were read back to him, an audibly unsettled Wright asked “how did you get that?” and stated “you shouldn’t have that.” He also confirmed that the people CCed in the first email were his attorney, accountant, and a coworker at one of his companies, DeMorgan Ltd. After those two calls, Wright stopped answering the phone, did not respond to emails, and made his Twitter account private.Andrew Sommer, the attorney, refused to comment on the contents of the email or meeting transcripts, but did confirm that Wright was his client. Contacted by phone, Wright’s ex-wife Lynn recalled her husband working on Bitcoin “many years ago,” but noted that he “didn’t call it Bitcoin” at first, but rather “digital money.” She also confirmed Wright’s friendship with Dave Kleiman: “I knew Dave…I knew they were friends and they talked about stuff, different things that were happening in the geek world…half the time he was taking I wouldn’t listen, hence the ex.” When asked specifically if Wright was the inventor of Bitcoin, Lynn replied “I’m not going to comment on things that we talked on.”Ramona Watts is Craig Wright’s wife, a director at his company DeMorgan, and a recipient of Wright’s apparent email from Satoshi@vistomail.com. Reached by Gizmodo at their home in an moneyed suburb north of Sydney and asked about Wright’s role in creating Bitcoin, Watts at first only smiled, shook her head, and began to close the door. When asked if Wright was the inventor of Bitcoin, she smiled coyly again and shut the door.John Chesher was Wright’s accountant, a recipient of his Satoshi email, and was present at one of the ATO meetings. When reached at his apartment via intercom and asked whether he’d ever received an email from Craig Wright using Satoshi Nakamoto’s email address, Reached at his home and asked about Wright’s role in creating Bitcoin, Chesher responded, “I might’ve…that was a year ago.” When asked if he had ever told the Australian Tax Office that Wright was in possession of a Satoshi-sized Bitcoin sum, he replied, “I may have.”Ann Wrightson, a former employee of Wright’s who was also present at an ATO meeting, confirmed to Gizmodo that the meetings took place. She noted that she has cut all ties with Wright and Watts and is much happier for it: “Personally, he’s a nice fella, but, um, business-wise, I don’t believe he’s… He’s not a model to aspire to.” We asked Wrightson directly whether Wright had invented Bitcoin, and she demurred: “I’d prefer not to actually incriminate himself or incriminate myself…I’m sure if you’re a reporter, you can find other people to answer that for you.”When a Gizmodo reporter visited the office of DeMorgan, Wright’s firm, Ramona Watts attempted to steer employees away from speaking to him, as seen above.A purported email from March 28, 2008, months before Satoshi Nakomoto published the white paper that laid out the Bitcoin framework, appears to show Wright divulging the idea of a “new form of electronic money” to Kleiman for the first time. “I need your help and I need a version of me to make this work that is better than me,” the sender wrote, seemingly presaging the Satoshi persona.Several years later, after Bitcoin’s value had exploded and the currency had permeated mainstream consciousness — and months before online accounts associated with Satoshi Nakomoto went dark — Wright wrote to Kleiman, with apparent fatigue, about the secrecy around his identity: “I cannot do the Satoshi bit anymore,” he wrote. “They no longer listen. I am better as a myth.”The hacker also provided a PDF file of what appears to be an unfinished draft of a legal contract between Wright and Kleiman forming a secret Bitcoin trust in the Seychelles, a notorious tax haven in the Indian Ocean. The contract shows Dave Kleiman in receipt of 1,100,111 bitcoin, to be repaid to Craig Wright on January 1, 2020. Several reports, including an oft-cited technical analysis by Bitcoin expert Sergio Demian Lerner, estimate Satoshi Nakamoto’s legendary Bitcoin fortune at around 1 million BTC — a figure that nearly matches the amount in the Seychelles trust. It also lists five PGP keys — files that are used to establish encrypted lines of communication over email — that will be used to manage the trust. Searching for those keys in a public database reveals that one belongs to Wright, one belongs to Kleiman, and two belong to Satoshi Nakamoto.The contract also contains a clearly incomplete sentence fragment and several other strange details and inconsistencies. On June 9, the date on the document, one bitcoin was valued at roughly $31, meaning that the million-bitcoin cache would have been worth about $31 million U.S., but the document values the sum at just $100,000. The contract also claims that Wright is facing bankruptcy. According to Australian public records, Wright filed for personal insolvency in 2006 and was denied, but records make no reference to an insolvency petition in 2011.The contract stipulates that if Kleiman should die, “Dr Wright will be returned shares in the Tulip trust and company 15 months after my death at his discretion.” Perhaps most bizarrely, it includes a similar stipulation for Wright’s death, bequeathing all holdings to Ramona Watts, his wife and colleague, minus a sum that would be used “to show the ‘lies and fraud perpetrated by Adam Westwood of the Australian Tax Office,” an Australian government employee whom he blamed for an unfortunate regulatory ruling against one of his Bitcoin-related companies.In the contract, Kleiman also vows not to divulge “the origins of the satoshin@gmx.com email,” an email account used by Satoshi Nakamoto to publish the research paper announcing Bitcoin the world.Patrick Paige and Carter Conrad, who run a Palm Beach County business called Computer Forensics, LLC, in which Kleiman was also a partner, formed their own suspicions about Satoshi’s identity after receiving a string of bizarre communications from Wright following Kleiman’s death in 2013.Days after their friend and partner died, Paige and Conrad sent an email about his passing to a group of associates who may have only known Kleiman through a computer screen. He was rendered paralyzed from the chest down by a motorcycle crash while working for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department in 1995, and spent the final years of his life hospitalized with a deadly infection of the bacterium MRSA. Against his doctors’ recommendations, Kleiman left the hospital and returned to his home after nearly three years of treatment in 2013, Paige and Conrad said. The infection stopped his heart and killed him just weeks later.Kleiman’s hospitalization only exacerbated what was already an isolated, sedentary lifestyle. “That motherfucker was on the computer nonstop,” said Paige, meaning that many of Kleiman’s relationships were strictly digital, and those friends wouldn’t be immediately aware of his death.Among the recipients of that 2013 email was Craig Wright, a man whom Paige and Conrad understood to have a casual working relationship with their late friend. Wright and Kleiman had authored a paper together five years earlier on the mechanics of overwriting hard drive data, and they corresponded sometimes about other technological esoterica. So it was a surprise when, days after sending the email, they came across a mournful video about Kleiman on Wright’s YouTube channel. In the video, Wright narrates footage from Kleiman’s various TV appearances, growing increasingly emotional. By the end, Wright is audibly choking back tears. “I’m proud to say I knew Dave Kleiman,” he concludes. “I’ll miss you, Dave. You were my friend, and I’ll miss you.”Paige didn’t know what to think of the video, but it wasn’t a total shock that Kleiman had maintained such an intense and largely secretive bond with a peer in a different hemisphere. Stranger, however, was a document that Paige and Conrad received in their business mailbox several months later, which bore an Australian return address and informed them that their late partner was no longer legally affiliated with a company called W&K Info Defense Research. The name was totally unfamiliar to both men, and, because the notice didn’t seem to require any action from them, they ignored it.According to public records, W&K was founded in Palm Beach County in 2011, with Dave Kleiman as its registered agent and Kleiman’s home address as its place of business. In 2014, after Kleiman’s death, it was reinstated as an LLC with a new registered agent, a new place of business, and Coin-Exch, one of Wright’s companies, listed as an “authorized person.” A document purporting to show minutes of a meeting between Wright’s attorney and the ATO, which was provided to Gizmodo by Wright’s apparent hacker, also makes reference to W&K. In the minutes, Wright’s accountant John Chesher calls W&K “an entity created for the purpose of mining Bitcoins,” and states that Wright and Kleiman founded the company together.The document also shows Chesher speaking about Wright’s spectacular Bitcoin fortune and indicating that Kleiman may have amassed a similar amount. It reads in part:Craig Wright had mined a lot of Bitcoins. Craig then took the Bitcoins and put them into a Seychelles Trust. A bit of it was also put into Singapore. This was run out of an entity from the UK. Craig had gotten approximately 1.1 million Bitcoins. There was a point in time, when he had around 10% of all the Bitcoins out there. Mr Kleiman would have had a similar amount. However, Mr Kleiman passed away during that time.According to Jeremy Gardner, a longtime Bitcoin investor and co-founder of the College Cryptocurrency Network, it is doubtful that anyone but Satoshi could’ve amassed Bitcoin holdings of that size: “I don’t think anyone comes that close, honestly.” However, Gardner also doubts that even Satoshi would still have that many coins:The only person who could really have a million, and I imagine it’s much less than that, if any at all, is Satoshi. Anyone else who ever came close to owning that much, which I don’t believe ever happened, has long since liquidated a substantial portion of what they held (as the value of their holdings would have have gone up well over 250x).The only thing zanier than Satoshi Nakamoto’s fabled Bitcoin vault would be the thought of another person possessing “a similar amount”—unless the stockpile was being held in some sort of secret monetary trust.The next communication that Paige and Conrad received from Wright was stranger still. Emails provided to Gizmodo, the authenticity of which were confirmed by Paige and Conrad, show that in February 2014, 10 months after Kleiman’s death, Wright emailed the pair to tell them about a mysterious project he’d been working on with their friend. As part of this undertaking, Wright wrote, Kleiman had mined an enormous amount of bitcoins—an amount “too large to email.” Wright asked them to ensure that Kleiman’s computers were safe, and to check whether their hard drives contained wallet.dat files, the pieces of software that contain bitcoins and their owners’ account information. On a subsequent phone call with Wright, a baffled Paige asked for more information about the partnership with Kleiman. After that, he said, Wright assumed a clandestine tone. “Can I trust you?”According to Paige, Wright eventually told him that Kleiman was the creator of Bitcoin. Later, he clarified that the cryptocurrency was invented by a group of people which included Kleiman. If that was true, Kleiman was likely sitting on a fortune when he died in April 2013—even if he were in possession of only half of Satoshi’s fabled million-bitcoin stockpile, that would have been worth about $65,000,000 at the time of his death. Wright made clear to Paige that he wasn’t after the money—he only wanted to make sure that it made its way into Kleiman’s estate and didn’t sit gathering dust in a digital vault.Paige was stunned by the idea that his friend had achieved such an amazing feat, but when he considered it further, it didn’t fall apart entirely. Paige regularly refers to Kleiman as a genius in conversation, and his expertise in computer security aligns with the skill set that would have been needed to build—or at least contribute to—the bitcoin protocol.Still, there were major questions. Another 2014 email provided to Gizmodo shows Paige telling Wright that Kleiman mentioned Bitcoin to him just once, and this month said he doesn’t recall the digital currency coming up any other time in his daily conversations with his partner. And according to those who knew him well, Kleiman needed money badly—his house was under foreclosure and he spent nearly three years in a VA hospital before he died. If Dave Kleiman were Satoshi Nakamoto—or one of several Satoshis—wouldn’t he have cashed out at some point?Shyaam Sundhar, a computer security professional who coauthored an academic paper with Kleiman and Wright in 2008, doubted and expressed dismay at the idea that either man was involved in Bitcoin’s creation. “Our conversations has only been pertaining to HDD project,” he responded to an inquiry via email, referring to their research on hard drive data. “I would hope that what you have stated is mere rumors, since I have never heard any such thing about Craig or Dave.”Paige and Conrad left the matter unresolved, and Wright stopped calling and emailing them after he made contact with Kleiman’s brother, the executor of Kleiman’s estate. “We knew one day a reporter would come calling,” Paige said. “But we left it at that.”In November, after being contacted by Gizmodo, Paige emailed Wright to ask whether he planned to release any information about Kleiman’s—and by extension, his own—involvement in creating Bitcoin. “Not yet. We are in the process of finalising some of the research. I was hoping we could be at the point of release before the reporters started sniffing,” Wright responded. He added in a later email, “When it all comes out, there is no way Dave will be left out.”While he was alive, Kleiman kept an aluminum-encased USB drive on his person at nearly all times. If there really is a cache of Kleiman’s bitcoins or anything else linking him to Satoshi, Paige said, “I guarantee that drive has some shit in it.” According to Paige, when Kleiman died, his brother, Ira Kleiman, took possession of it.Ira Kleiman declined to speak on the record about whether he is in possession of his brother’s hard drives. Described by acquaintances as guarded and private, Ira Kleiman also refused to meet with a reporter in person or speak over the phone, opting instead to send dozens of cagey and cryptic emails and SMS messages in an exchange that lasted several days. He claimed that after his brother’s death, Wright contacted him and told him that he and Dave Kleiman were involved in creating Bitcoin, and also alleged to possess documents provided to him by several sources that might corroborate the information provided to Gizmodo by Wright’s apparent hacker. However, Kleiman declined to provide any concrete information about those documents or their sources, and would not answer when asked if he believed that Wright had been telling him the truth.Additional reporting from Sydney by Daniel StrudwickTop image by Jim Cooke. Contact the authors at andy@gawker.com and biddle@gawker.com.·Andy Cush public PGP keyPGP fingerprint: 35B1 D6A7 BCED 9F9C C7D3 C9D7 65FA 8F8C 5B62 4809Sam Biddle Public PGP keyPGP fingerprint: E93A 40D1 FA38 4B2B 1477 C855 3DEA F030 F340 E2C7

This Australian Says He and His Dead Friend Invented Bitcoin


Gizmodo / Sam Biddle and Andy Cush

This Australian Says He and His Dead Friend Invented Bitcoin

This story was originally published on December 8, 2015. Shortly thereafter, Craig Wright scrubbed much of his digital presence and disappeared for months—until May 2, 2016, when he publicly announced that he is the creator of Bitcoin.A monthlong Gizmodo investigation has uncovered compelling and perplexing new evidence in the search for Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin. According to a cache of documents provided to Gizmodo which were corroborated in interviews, Craig Steven Wright, an Australian businessman based in Sydney, and Dave Kleiman, an American computer forensics expert who died in 2013, were involved in the development of the digital currency.Wired reported this afternoon that Wright and Kleiman were likely involved in creating Bitcoin. Gizmodo has been following a similar trail for weeks, one that in recent days has included face-to-face confrontations with Wright’s business partners in Sydney and interviews with Kleiman’s closest associates in Palm Beach County, Florida. Gizmodo also obtained confirmation from on-the-record sources that Wright claimed on at least two occasions that he and Kleiman were both involved in the creation of Bitcoin.In early November 2015, Gizmodo received a series of anonymous tip emails from someone who claimed to not only know the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, but who also claimed to have worked for him. “I hacked Satoshi Naklamoto [sic],” the first message read. “These files are all from his business account. The person is Dr Craig Wright.” What followed was a package of email files apparently pulled directly from an Outlook account belonging to Craig Wright, an Australian academic, computer engineering expert, and serial entrepreneur with a litany of degrees and corporations to his name.Last year, Wright publicly announced his plan to establish the “world’s first Bitcoin bank.” Wright’s LinkedIn page lists him as the CEO of DeMorgan Ltd, a company whose website describes it as “focused on alternative currency, next generation banking and reputational and educational products with a focus on security and creating a simple user experience.” Among DeMorgan’s subsidiaries, also listed on its website, are C01n, a Bitcoin wallet company; Coin-Exch, a Bitcoin exchange; and Denariuz, the aforementioned Bitcoin bank, and one of the top supercomputers in the world.Several of the emails and documents sent to Gizmodo point to a close relationship between Wright and Kleiman, a U.S. Army veteran who lived in Palm Beach County, Florida. Kleiman was confined to a wheelchair after a motorcycle accident in 1995, and became a reclusive computer forensics obsessive thereafter. He died broke and in squalor, after suffering from infected bedsores. His body was found decomposing and surrounded by empty alcohol bottles and a loaded handgun. Bloody feces was tracked along the floor, and a bullet hole was found in his mattress, though no spent shell casings were found on the scene. But documents shared with Gizmodo suggest that Kleiman may have possessed a Bitcoin trust worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and seemed to be deeply involved with the currency and Wright’s plans. “Craig, I think you’re mad and this is risky,” Kleiman writes in one 2011 email to Wright. “But I believe in what we are trying to do.”Writing about Satoshi Nakamoto, the Bitcoin originator’s pseudonym, is a treacherous exercise. Publications like the New York Times, Fast Company, and the New Yorker have taken unsuccessful stabs at Satoshi’s identity. In every instance, the evidence either hasn’t added up or those implicated have issued public denials. And then there was Newsweek, whose 2014 story “The Face Behind Bitcoin” is easily the most disastrous attempt at revealing the identity of Satoshi. The magazine identified a modest California engineer, whose birth name was Satoshi Nakamoto but who went by Dorian, as the creator of Bitcoin. The story resulted in a worldwide media frenzy, a car chase, and—after Dorian’s repeated denials and legal threats—a great deal of embarrassment for Newsweek.All of which means that the real Satoshi Nakamoto is still out there. And although Bitcoin has yet to upset the free market and establish the crypto-libertarian monetary utopia that its boosters once anticipated, the currency doesn’t appear to be going away: its users span the globe, with some analysts predicting 5 million worldwide by 2019. Bitcoin isn’t just some cryptographic niche. It’s an outrageous, brilliant phenomenon concocted by either a single subversive genius or a group of them. The digital currency went from being worth fractions of a penny in 2009 to $1,200 per coin just four years later, built on a network that makes wiring money anywhere as simple as sending an email, and that aims to singlehandedly render the entire global financial system obsolete. If Satoshi Nakamoto revealed himself to the world, he (or they) would be lauded as one of the greatest living minds of computer science—and the target of incessant, global scrutiny.Craig Wright is not modest. On the website of Panopticrypt, one of his many companies, Wright describes himself as “certifiably the world’s foremost IT security expert.” In a May 2013 blog post titled “Morning Manifesto,” Craig proclaims to himself and the world:I will make a solution to problems you have not even thought of and I will do it without YOUR or any state’s permission! I will create things that make your ideas fail as I will not refuse to stop producing. I will not live off or accept welfare and I will not offer you violence. You will have to use violence against me to make me stop however.And at an October 2015 panel discussion with fellow Bitcoin experts (including Nick Szabo, long suspected by many as being the real Satoshi), Wright is asked to introduce himself. “[I do] a whole lot of things that people don’t realize is possible yet,” he replied. When asked by the moderator for clarification, Wright said that “I’m a bit of everything…I have a masters of law…I have a masters in statistics, a couple doctorates, I forget actually what I’ve got these days.” When asked how he got involved in Bitcoin, Wright pauses before replying: “uhh, I’ve been involved in all of this for a long time…I try and stay…I keep my head down.”That’s all circumstantial evidence. But the hacked emails and other documents, if authentic, show Wright making repeated claims to being Satoshi Nakamoto over a period of years starting in 2008, before Nakamoto published the now-legendary white paper introducing the world to Bitcoin.The most persuasive evidence from the apparently hacked account is a message dated January 8th, 2014, which shows Wright emailing three colleagues from satoshi@vistomail.com, the email address that Nakomoto used to regularly communicate with early Bitcoin users and developers. In this thread, with the subject line “Fear of the future,” Satoshi@vistomail.com strategized about lobbying Australian Senator Arthur Sinodinos on the matter of Bitcoin regulation:The email includes a signature with the name Satoshi Nakamoto and a phone number that belongs to Craig Wright. The reply-to field, which determines where responses to the message will be sent, lists an email address that, according to Google, belongs to Craig Wright. Also included in the cache of messages is this reply from Andrew Sommer, a partner at Sydney-based law firm Clayton Utz, which represented Wright at the time the emails were exchanged:The hacker-tipster also included multiple PDF files that contain what appear to be a transcript of a meeting about Bitcoin regulation between Wright, his attorney, and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), as well as the minutes of a subsequent meeting of the ATO and Wright’s attorney. Wright appears to have been trying to persuade the Australian government to treat his Bitcoin holdings as currency, as opposed to an asset subject to greater taxation. Without this regulatory move, his business interests would be scuttled. During an interlude in one such meeting, Wright makes an oddly casual admission of his identity as Satoshi (highlighting added):A request to confirm the authenticity of the document sent to Auscript, the transcription service whose logo appears at the top of the file, was denied on the basis of company policy. A request sent to the ATO was also denied on the basis of state confidentiality.Multiple phone calls to Wright suggest that the material is, at the very least, not fabricated: In an initial call placed in November, he said he “couldn’t talk about” the documents we’d received, or the suggestion that he is Satoshi Nakomoto. On a subsequent call, in which lines from his purported emails were read back to him, an audibly unsettled Wright asked “how did you get that?” and stated “you shouldn’t have that.” He also confirmed that the people CCed in the first email were his attorney, accountant, and a coworker at one of his companies, DeMorgan Ltd. After those two calls, Wright stopped answering the phone, did not respond to emails, and made his Twitter account private.Andrew Sommer, the attorney, refused to comment on the contents of the email or meeting transcripts, but did confirm that Wright was his client. Contacted by phone, Wright’s ex-wife Lynn recalled her husband working on Bitcoin “many years ago,” but noted that he “didn’t call it Bitcoin” at first, but rather “digital money.” She also confirmed Wright’s friendship with Dave Kleiman: “I knew Dave…I knew they were friends and they talked about stuff, different things that were happening in the geek world…half the time he was taking I wouldn’t listen, hence the ex.” When asked specifically if Wright was the inventor of Bitcoin, Lynn replied “I’m not going to comment on things that we talked on.”Ramona Watts is Craig Wright’s wife, a director at his company DeMorgan, and a recipient of Wright’s apparent email from Satoshi@vistomail.com. Reached by Gizmodo at their home in an moneyed suburb north of Sydney and asked about Wright’s role in creating Bitcoin, Watts at first only smiled, shook her head, and began to close the door. When asked if Wright was the inventor of Bitcoin, she smiled coyly again and shut the door.John Chesher was Wright’s accountant, a recipient of his Satoshi email, and was present at one of the ATO meetings. When reached at his apartment via intercom and asked whether he’d ever received an email from Craig Wright using Satoshi Nakamoto’s email address, Chesher responded, “I might’ve…that was a year ago.” When asked if he had ever told the Australian Tax Office that Wright was in possession of a Satoshi-sized Bitcoin sum, he replied, “I may have.”Ann Wrightson, a former employee of Wright’s who was also present at an ATO meeting, confirmed to Gizmodo that the meetings took place. She noted that she has cut all ties with Wright and Watts and is much happier for it: “Personally, he’s a nice fella, but, um, business-wise, I don’t believe he’s… He’s not a model to aspire to.” We asked Wrightson directly whether Wright had invented Bitcoin, and she demurred: “I’d prefer not to actually incriminate himself or incriminate myself…I’m sure if you’re a reporter, you can find other people to answer that for you.”When a Gizmodo reporter visited the office of DeMorgan, Wright’s firm, Ramona Watts attempted to steer employees away from speaking to him, as seen above.A purported email from March 28, 2008, months before Satoshi Nakomoto published the white paper that laid out the Bitcoin framework, appears to show Wright divulging the idea of a “new form of electronic money” to Kleiman for the first time. “I need your help and I need a version of me to make this work that is better than me,” the sender wrote, seemingly presaging the Satoshi persona.Several years later, after Bitcoin’s value had exploded and the currency had permeated mainstream consciousness — and months before online accounts associated with Satoshi Nakomoto went dark — Wright wrote to Kleiman, with apparent fatigue, about the secrecy around his identity: “I cannot do the Satoshi bit anymore,” he wrote. “They no longer listen. I am better as a myth.”The hacker also provided a PDF file of what appears to be an unfinished draft of a legal contract between Wright and Kleiman forming a secret Bitcoin trust in the Seychelles, a notorious tax haven in the Indian Ocean. The contract shows Dave Kleiman in receipt of 1,100,111 bitcoin, to be repaid to Craig Wright on January 1, 2020. Several reports, including an oft-cited technical analysis by Bitcoin expert Sergio Demian Lerner, estimate Satoshi Nakamoto’s legendary Bitcoin fortune at around 1 million BTC — a figure that nearly matches the amount in the Seychelles trust. It also lists five PGP keys — files that are used to establish encrypted lines of communication over email — that will be used to manage the trust. Searching for those keys in a public database reveals that one belongs to Wright, one belongs to Kleiman, and two belong to Satoshi Nakamoto.The contract also contains a clearly incomplete sentence fragment and several other strange details and inconsistencies. On June 9, the date on the document, one bitcoin was valued at roughly $31, meaning that the million-bitcoin cache would have been worth about $31 million U.S., but the document values the sum at just $100,000. The contract also claims that Wright is facing bankruptcy. According to Australian public records, Wright filed for personal insolvency in 2006 and was denied, but records make no reference to an insolvency petition in 2011.The contract stipulates that if Kleiman should die, “Dr Wright will be returned shares in the Tulip trust and company 15 months after my death at his discretion.” Perhaps most bizarrely, it includes a similar stipulation for Wright’s death, bequeathing all holdings to Ramona Watts, his wife and colleague, minus a sum that would be used “to show the ‘lies and fraud perpetrated by Adam Westwood of the Australian Tax Office,” an Australian government employee whom he blamed for an unfortunate regulatory ruling against one of his Bitcoin-related companies.In the contract, Kleiman also vows not to divulge “the origins of the satoshin@gmx.com email,” an email account used by Satoshi Nakamoto to publish the research paper announcing Bitcoin the world.Patrick Paige and Carter Conrad, who run a Palm Beach County business called Computer Forensics, LLC, in which Kleiman was also a partner, formed their own suspicions about Satoshi’s identity after receiving a string of bizarre communications from Wright following Kleiman’s death in 2013.Days after their friend and partner died, Paige and Conrad sent an email about his passing to a group of associates who may have only known Kleiman through a computer screen. He was rendered paralyzed from the chest down by a motorcycle crash while working for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department in 1995, and spent the final years of his life hospitalized with a deadly infection of the bacterium MRSA. Against his doctors’ recommendations, Kleiman left the hospital and returned to his home after nearly three years of treatment in 2013, Paige and Conrad said. The infection stopped his heart and killed him just weeks later.Kleiman’s hospitalization only exacerbated what was already an isolated, sedentary lifestyle. “That motherfucker was on the computer nonstop,” said Paige, meaning that many of Kleiman’s relationships were strictly digital, and those friends wouldn’t be immediately aware of his death.Among the recipients of that 2013 email was Craig Wright, a man whom Paige and Conrad understood to have a casual working relationship with their late friend. Wright and Kleiman had authored a paper together five years earlier on the mechanics of overwriting hard drive data, and they corresponded sometimes about other technological esoterica. So it was a surprise when, days after sending the email, they came across a mournful video about Kleiman on Wright’s YouTube channel. In the video, Wright narrates footage from Kleiman’s various TV appearances, growing increasingly emotional. By the end, Wright is audibly choking back tears. “I’m proud to say I knew Dave Kleiman,” he concludes. “I’ll miss you, Dave. You were my friend, and I’ll miss you.”Paige didn’t know what to think of the video, but it wasn’t a total shock that Kleiman had maintained such an intense and largely secretive bond with a peer in a different hemisphere. Stranger, however, was a document that Paige and Conrad received in their business mailbox several months later, which bore an Australian return address and informed them that their late partner was no longer legally affiliated with a company called W&K Info Defense Research. The name was totally unfamiliar to both men, and, because the notice didn’t seem to require any action from them, they ignored it.According to public records, W&K was founded in Palm Beach County in 2011, with Dave Kleiman as its registered agent and Kleiman’s home address as its place of business. In 2014, after Kleiman’s death, it was reinstated as an LLC with a new registered agent, a new place of business, and Coin-Exch, one of Wright’s companies, listed as an “authorized person.” A document purporting to show minutes of a meeting between Wright’s attorney and the ATO, which was provided to Gizmodo by Wright’s apparent hacker, also makes reference to W&K. In the minutes, Wright’s accountant John Chesher calls W&K “an entity created for the purpose of mining Bitcoins,” and states that Wright and Kleiman founded the company together.The document also shows Chesher speaking about Wright’s spectacular Bitcoin fortune and indicating that Kleiman may have amassed a similar amount. It reads in part:Craig Wright had mined a lot of Bitcoins. Craig then took the Bitcoins and put them into a Seychelles Trust. A bit of it was also put into Singapore. This was run out of an entity from the UK. Craig had gotten approximately 1.1 million Bitcoins. There was a point in time, when he had around 10% of all the Bitcoins out there. Mr Kleiman would have had a similar amount. However, Mr Kleiman passed away during that time.According to Jeremy Gardner, a longtime Bitcoin investor and co-founder of the College Cryptocurrency Network, it is doubtful that anyone but Satoshi could’ve amassed Bitcoin holdings of that size: “I don’t think anyone comes that close, honestly.” However, Gardner also doubts that even Satoshi would still have that many coins:The only person who could really have a million, and I imagine it’s much less than that, if any at all, is Satoshi. Anyone else who ever came close to owning that much, which I don’t believe ever happened, has long since liquidated a substantial portion of what they held (as the value of their holdings would have have gone up well over 250x).The only thing zanier than Satoshi Nakamoto’s fabled Bitcoin vault would be the thought of another person possessing “a similar amount”—unless the stockpile was being held in some sort of secret monetary trust.The next communication that Paige and Conrad received from Wright was stranger still. Emails provided to Gizmodo, the authenticity of which were confirmed by Paige and Conrad, show that in February 2014, 10 months after Kleiman’s death, Wright emailed the pair to tell them about a mysterious project he’d been working on with their friend. As part of this undertaking, Wright wrote, Kleiman had mined an enormous amount of bitcoins—an amount “too large to email.” Wright asked them to ensure that Kleiman’s computers were safe, and to check whether their hard drives contained wallet.dat files, the pieces of software that contain bitcoins and their owners’ account information. On a subsequent phone call with Wright, a baffled Paige asked for more information about the partnership with Kleiman. After that, he said, Wright assumed a clandestine tone. “Can I trust you?”According to Paige, Wright eventually told him that Kleiman was the creator of Bitcoin. Later, he clarified that the cryptocurrency was invented by a group of people which included Kleiman. If that was true, Kleiman was likely sitting on a fortune when he died in April 2013—even if he were in possession of only half of Satoshi’s fabled million-bitcoin stockpile, that would have been worth about $65,000,000 at the time of his death. Wright made clear to Paige that he wasn’t after the money—he only wanted to make sure that it made its way into Kleiman’s estate and didn’t sit gathering dust in a digital vault.Paige was stunned by the idea that his friend had achieved such an amazing feat, but when he considered it further, it didn’t fall apart entirely. Paige regularly refers to Kleiman as a genius in conversation, and his expertise in computer security aligns with the skill set that would have been needed to build—or at least contribute to—the bitcoin protocol.Still, there were major questions. Another 2014 email provided to Gizmodo shows Paige telling Wright that Kleiman mentioned Bitcoin to him just once, and this month said he doesn’t recall the digital currency coming up any other time in his daily conversations with his partner. And according to those who knew him well, Kleiman needed money badly—his house was under foreclosure and he spent nearly three years in a VA hospital before he died. If Dave Kleiman were Satoshi Nakamoto—or one of several Satoshis—wouldn’t he have cashed out at some point?Shyaam Sundhar, a computer security professional who coauthored an academic paper with Kleiman and Wright in 2008, doubted and expressed dismay at the idea that either man was involved in Bitcoin’s creation. “Our conversations has only been pertaining to HDD project,” he responded to an inquiry via email, referring to their research on hard drive data. “I would hope that what you have stated is mere rumors, since I have never heard any such thing about Craig or Dave.”Paige and Conrad left the matter unresolved, and Wright stopped calling and emailing them after he made contact with Kleiman’s brother, the executor of Kleiman’s estate. “We knew one day a reporter would come calling,” Paige said. “But we left it at that.”In November, after being contacted by Gizmodo, Paige emailed Wright to ask whether he planned to release any information about Kleiman’s—and by extension, his own—involvement in creating Bitcoin. “Not yet. We are in the process of finalising some of the research. I was hoping we could be at the point of release before the reporters started sniffing,” Wright responded. He added in a later email, “When it all comes out, there is no way Dave will be left out.”While he was alive, Kleiman kept an aluminum-encased USB drive on his person at nearly all times. If there really is a cache of Kleiman’s bitcoins or anything else linking him to Satoshi, Paige said, “I guarantee that drive has some shit in it.” According to Paige, when Kleiman died, his brother, Ira Kleiman, took possession of it.Ira Kleiman declined to speak on the record about whether he is in possession of his brother’s hard drives. Described by acquaintances as guarded and private, Ira Kleiman also refused to meet with a reporter in person or speak over the phone, opting instead to send dozens of cagey and cryptic emails and SMS messages in an exchange that lasted several days. He claimed that after his brother’s death, Wright contacted him and told him that he and Dave Kleiman were involved in creating Bitcoin, and also alleged to possess documents provided to him by several sources that might corroborate the information provided to Gizmodo by Wright’s apparent hacker. However, Kleiman declined to provide any concrete information about those documents or their sources, and would not answer when asked if he believed that Wright had been telling him the truth.Additional reporting from Sydney by Daniel StrudwickTop image by Jim Cooke. Contact the authors at andy@gawker.com and biddle@gawker.com.·Andy Cush public PGP keyPGP fingerprint: 35B1 D6A7 BCED 9F9C C7D3 C9D7 65FA 8F8C 5B62 4809Sam Biddle Public PGP keyPGP fingerprint: E93A 40D1 FA38 4B2B 1477 C855 3DEA F030 F340 E2C7

Uber’s Testing A New Mass Transit Alternative


TechCrunch / Megan Rose Dickey

Uber’s Testing A New Mass Transit Alternative

 Uber is gearing up to pilot a new ride-sharing service in Seattle called uberHOP, in an attempt to get “more butts into the backseats of fewer cars,” according to an Uber blog post from today. Uber already has uberPOOL in place, which makes up almost half of Uber’s rips in San Francisco, but the company calls that a “first step.” With uberHOP (pictured above), the… Read More

Digital ad spending will overtake TV as biggest category by 2017 or 2018, forecasts say (Sydney Ember/New York Times)


Techmeme /

Digital ad spending will overtake TV as biggest category by 2017 or 2018, forecasts say (Sydney Ember/New York Times)

Sydney Ember / New York Times:
Digital ad spending will overtake TV as biggest category by 2017 or 2018, forecasts say  —  Digital Ad Spending Expected to Soon Surpass TV  —  Television has lost its longtime grip on advertising budgets as digital ad spending continues to surge, according to some of the advertising industry’s …

Everyone Is Too Busy Watching Netflix To Pirate Content


Gizmodo / Kaila Hale-Stern

Everyone Is Too Busy Watching Netflix To Pirate Content

Streaming video services now comprise 70% of Americans’ Internet use at night—which means that hardly anyone is using BitTorrent anymore. RIP, piracy. Arise, Sir Netflix. According to the results of a survey by broadband services company Sandvine, Netflix is ascendant with a whopping 37% of downstream traffic. Nipping at its heels is YouTube (18%), Amazon Video (3%) and iTunes (2.8%). This has been a massive year for the streaming market, which has more than doubled its percentage of Internet traffic in the last five years. An intriguing number now lurks at the margins of the Sandvine report. Per the Christian Science Monitor:While the file-sharing service BitTorrent once occupied 31 percent of the total Internet traffic in 2008, this year it occupied 5 percent of the total Internet traffic during the entire day.Holy shit. Piracy, we barely knew ye. That’s an incredible drop in BitTorrent usage, demonstrating that people are willing to pay for media services so long as they’re fast, reliable, and host prime content. As our media overlords roll out more plans to access their content without a cable box and companies like YouTube and Amazon make streaming revenue a priority, the field is only going to grow. It’s hard to foresee a future where Netflix isn’t king, however: they just announced that they’re nearly doubling the amount of original content scripted series next year, from 16 to 31. Will we soon tell war stories of a time of piracy long since past? “In my day, we had to go to great, treacherous lengths to watch our Game of Thrones,” we’ll say, and the kids will look confused: “Was that a Netflix Original?”[Sandvine, Christian Science Monitor, Wired]Top image via Shutterstock

Everyone Is Too Busy Watching Netflix To Pirate Content


Gizmodo / Kaila Hale-Stern

Everyone Is Too Busy Watching Netflix To Pirate Content

Streaming video services now comprise 70% of Americans’ Internet use at night—which means that hardly anyone is using BitTorrent anymore. RIP, piracy. Arise, Sir Netflix. According to the results of a survey by broadband services company Sandvine, Netflix is ascendant with a whopping 37% of downstream traffic. Nipping at its heels is YouTube (18%), Amazon Video (3%) and iTunes (2.8%). This has been a massive year for the streaming market, which has more than doubled its percentage of Internet traffic in the last five years. An intriguing number now lurks at the margins of the Sandvine report. Per the Christian Science Monitor:While the file-sharing service BitTorrent once occupied 31 percent of the total Internet traffic in 2008, this year it occupied 5 percent of the total Internet traffic during the entire day.Holy shit. Piracy, we barely knew ye. That’s an incredible drop in BitTorrent usage, demonstrating that people are willing to pay for media services so long as they’re fast, reliable, and host prime content. As our media overlords roll out more plans to access their content without a cable box and companies like YouTube and Amazon make streaming revenue a priority, the field is only going to grow. It’s hard to foresee a future where Netflix isn’t king, however: they just announced that they’re nearly doubling the amount of original content scripted series next year, from 16 to 31. Will we soon tell war stories of a time of piracy long since past? “In my day, we had to go to great, treacherous lengths to watch our Game of Thrones,” we’ll say, and the kids will look confused: “Was that a Netflix Original?”[Sandvine, Christian Science Monitor, Wired]Top image via Shutterstock

Report: YouTube Red Might Become More Of a Netflix Competitor


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

Report: YouTube Red Might Become More Of a Netflix Competitor

At the moment, YouTube Red is basically just regular YouTube, but with no ads and the option to save videos offline. But if a WSJ report is to be believed, YouTube is seeking streaming rights to TV series and movies, in the hopes of creating one video service to rule them all. The Journal’s sources have said that YouTube is in the process of meeting with Hollywood execs to “consider pitches and negotiate licenses for new content”. Presumably, that means current TV shoes and movies, the kind of stuff that’s under license, and therefore not available on YouTube for free. It’s worth noting, though, that YouTube has long had a smattering of pay-per-view movies available, so it’s not quite a stranger to licensing content. Netflix-style streaming of content would be a big change for YouTube. Since its founding, it has stuck fairly rigidly to the model of user-uploaded videos, paid for by ads. But YouTube’s already shaken that model up with Red, and with premium-only original content already on the way for next year, it’s no big leap to assume YouTube might want to integrate streaming as well. If it manages to secure streaming rights, Google might well have a killer media package on its hands: YouTube represents the very best of user-made content on the web, Google Play Music (included in the $10 a month charged for Red) is a very decent streaming service; chuck in binge-watching TV fodder, and you’d have a media full house. [Wall Street Journal]

How Chan Zuckerberg’s LLC differs from a charitable trust: no lobbying limits, can turn a profit, ease of joint ventures, and avoids giving rules (Suzanne Woolley/Bloomberg Business)


Techmeme /

How Chan Zuckerberg’s LLC differs from a charitable trust: no lobbying limits, can turn a profit, ease of joint ventures, and avoids giving rules (Suzanne Woolley/Bloomberg Business)

Suzanne Woolley / Bloomberg Business:
How Chan Zuckerberg’s LLC differs from a charitable trust: no lobbying limits, can turn a profit, ease of joint ventures, and avoids giving rules  —  Four Reasons the Facebook Fortune Is Going Into an LLC  —  A for-profit charity is highly unusual, but it comes with big advantages.

Apple’s Swift Programming Language Is Now Open Source


TechCrunch / John Biggs

Apple’s Swift Programming Language Is Now Open Source

 Swift, Apple’s programming language aimed at OS X and iOS developers, has gone open source under the Apache License. This means all of the source code including the code for a new package manager will be available to edit and compile and programs can be created without attribution. Apple is also revealing further plans for the language on their new site, swift.org. Creator Chris… Read More

How the Chan Zuckerberg LLC differs from a charitable trust: may lobby, can turn a profit, allowed to form joint ventures, avoids 5% annual spending rule (Suzanne Woolley/Bloomberg Business)


Techmeme /

How the Chan Zuckerberg LLC differs from a charitable trust: may lobby, can turn a profit, allowed to form joint ventures, avoids 5% annual spending rule (Suzanne Woolley/Bloomberg Business)

Suzanne Woolley / Bloomberg Business:
How the Chan Zuckerberg LLC differs from a charitable trust: may lobby, can turn a profit, allowed to form joint ventures, avoids 5% annual spending rule  —  Four Reasons the Facebook Fortune Is Going Into an LLC  —  A for-profit charity is highly unusual, but it comes with big advantages.

The iPhone May Ditch the Headphone Jack…For Real This Time


Gizmodo / Darren Orf

The iPhone May Ditch the Headphone Jack…For Real This Time

Apple cultivates a unique kind of rumor mill, one that often gets fixated on an idea and just keeps bringing it up year after year. Because eventually, it’s bound to be right…right? That’s the case with a new rumor suggesting Apple’s going to ditch the trusty 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone. But unlike past speculation, this time it has a little more weight behind it.Technology is filled with all kinds of rumors and speculation — real and fabricated.BitStream collects all those whispers into one place to deliver your morning buzz.The reason that this rumor is more believable this time around is the source, a reliable Apple-obsessed Japanese site Macotakara, claims insider sources confirm Apple will be ditching the 3.5mm port to shave off one millimeter of the iPhone. Instead, the iPhone will rely on bluetooth headphones and a new audio-enabled lightning port, which some headphone makers like Philips already make. This means Apple’s usual earpods will be replaced with Lightning-enabled ones, and if you want to use your old, trusty, non-Bluetooth headphones, you’ll need a converter (which I’m sure Apple will happily sell you.)With more convincing specifics on why Apple would ditch the port, along with Macotakara’s good record of accurately predicting and reporting on other Apple rumors, this one might actually come to pass. The iPhone 7 is also the year the phone will see significant physical changes in comparison to its “S” years. So, no more 3.5mm jack. Add it to the already-growing pile of iPhone 7 rumors that won’t be put to rest until Tim Cook takes the stage in early September next year. [Macotakara]Amazon on Apple TV?: There was a bit of a commotion over Amazon’s decision to remove Apple TV, along with other set-top devices, from its online store. However, the technical team confirms that it’s working on an app for the Apple TV and that it’ll be appearing in the app store “within a few weeks.” [Mac Rumors]Keeping up with Moore: Intel has stumbled in an effort to make ever smaller chips year after year, as the manufacturing process has become more difficult. But Intel is determined to play a little bit of catchup. According to Intel exec Bill Holt, the promised 10nm processor, codenamed Cannonlake, will be coming in 2017. The predictable tick-tock is disrupted, but progress continues all the same. [PC World]Samsung’s photo future: Samsung’s camera division is seeing some changes. It’s already been reported that the division is being split into smartphone and tablet sections to help improve those components. But SamMobile says Samsung has a “major camera announcement” coming at CES 2016. Luckily, we’ll be there tell you all about it. [SamMobile]

Your Poker Face Doesn’t Stand a Chance Against This BS-Busting Machine Algorithm 


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

Your Poker Face Doesn’t Stand a Chance Against This BS-Busting Machine Algorithm 

Think you’re a good liar? Well, soon, the jig might be up: Researchers have developed new technology that reads subtle facial expressions to sniff out bullshit better than humans can.Machines that can read human facial expressions aren’t new. But machines are getting a lot better at reading human microexpressions. “Microexpressions” are what psychologists call extremely slight, fleeting facial movements that flicker across someone’s visage, like when they’re lying through their teeth. Now, researchers at Finland’s University of Oulu say they’ve produced and tested the first AI system that’s better at spotting microexpressions than humans are. The paper was submitted earlier this month, released on arXiv, and is awaiting publication.“Microexpressions tend to occur when individuals hide their feelings under conditions of relatively high stakes,” MIT Technology Review reports. To make AI that can suss out those expressions, the researchers assembled a database of footage of 20 people watching an emotionally charged video, who were forbidden to show any emotions on their faces. Using a powerful camera that captured images at 100 frames a second, the team scrutinized subjects’ faces for the exact moment that even tiny changes appeared.The researchers snapped 164 of those valuable, rapid, involuntary, less obvious microexprssions from the group’s faces, and then matched each one to the content from the video that elicited it. Voila: A machine algorithm that can spot microexpressions similar to the ones the team teased out from the experiment. Later, 15 humans were shown images of the captured microexpressions, and were then asked to ID them in raw video of the subjects’ faces. The machine significantly bested them.One does have to be a bit skeptical, though. While emotion-reading robots are all the rage in robotics right now, can a machine really do a better job sizing up human emotions than another human could? It seems farfetched, but the algorithm’s precise detection capabilities might come in handy for psychotherapists and law enforcement. And maybe one day, it could help you at the poker table, too.[Cornell University Library via MIT Technology Review]Top image via Shutterstock

Your Poker Face Doesn’t Stand a Chance Against This BS-Busting Machine Algorithm 


Gizmodo / Bryan Lufkin

Your Poker Face Doesn’t Stand a Chance Against This BS-Busting Machine Algorithm 

Think you’re a good liar? Well, soon, the jig might be up: Researchers have developed new technology that reads subtle facial expressions to sniff out bullshit better than humans can.Machines that can read human facial expressions aren’t new. But machines are getting a lot better at reading human microexpressions. “Microexpressions” are what psychologists call extremely slight, fleeting facial movements that flicker across someone’s visage, like when they’re lying through their teeth. Now, researchers at Finland’s University of Oulu say they’ve produced and tested the first AI system that’s better at spotting microexpressions than humans are. The paper was submitted earlier this month, released on arXiv, and is awaiting publication.“Microexpressions tend to occur when individuals hide their feelings under conditions of relatively high stakes,” MIT Technology Review reports. To make AI that can suss out those expressions, the researchers assembled a database of footage of 20 people watching an emotionally charged video, who were forbidden to show any emotions on their faces. Using a powerful camera that captured images at 100 frames a second, the team scrutinized subjects’ faces for the exact moment that even tiny changes appeared.The researchers snapped 164 of those valuable, rapid, involuntary, less obvious microexprssions from the group’s faces, and then matched each one to the content from the video that elicited it. Voila: A machine algorithm that can spot microexpressions similar to the ones the team teased out from the experiment. Later, 15 humans were shown images of the captured microexpressions, and were then asked to ID them in raw video of the subjects’ faces. The machine significantly bested them.One does have to be a bit skeptical, though. While emotion-reading robots are all the rage in robotics right now, can a machine really do a better job sizing up human emotions than another human could? It seems farfetched, but the algorithm’s precise detection capabilities might come in handy for psychotherapists and law enforcement. And maybe one day, it could help you at the poker table, too.[Cornell University Library via MIT Technology Review]Top image via Shutterstock

Bluetooth Will Have Twice the Speed and Four Times the Range in 2016


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

Bluetooth Will Have Twice the Speed and Four Times the Range in 2016

Since Bluetooth was given an overhaul in 2010 with the 4.0 standard, it’s surged in popularity. Now, it’s about to get another serious spec bump, providing four times the range, twice the speed and even mesh networking.The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has announced its plans for the future of the wireless standard, and they sound promising. First, it plans to bump its speed by 100 percent without increasing energy consumption. Second, it will increase the range of the low-power Bluetooth Smart standard by up to four times. Elsewhere, it also wants to introduce mesh networking to Bluetooth. That’s actually a pretty stunning idea, that would allow devices to used the wireless connection to form building-wide networks, rather than one-to-one links.All told, those features will make the system way more useful. It’s worth bearing in mind that this is just the Interest Groups’s plan, and it can sometimes take longer for these features to filter through into commercially available products. But as spec bumps go, this is certainly one to be excited about.[Business Wire via VentureBeat via Verge]Image by Tsvetomir Tsonev under Creative Commons license

Bluetooth Will Have Twice the Speed and Four Times the Range in 2016


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

Bluetooth Will Have Twice the Speed and Four Times the Range in 2016

Since Bluetooth was given an overhaul in 2010 with the 4.0 standard, it’s surged in popularity. Now, it’s about to get another serious spec bump, providing four times the range, twice the speed and even mesh networking.The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has announced its plans for the future of the wireless standard, and they sound promising. First, it plans to bump its speed by 100 percent without increasing energy consumption. Second, it will increase the range of the low-power Bluetooth Smart standard by up to four times. Elsewhere, it also wants to introduce mesh networking to Bluetooth. That’s actually a pretty stunning idea, that would allow devices to used the wireless connection to form building-wide networks, rather than one-to-one links.All told, those features will make the system way more useful. It’s worth bearing in mind that this is just the Interest Groups’s plan, and it can sometimes take longer for these features to filter through into commercially available products. But as spec bumps go, this is certainly one to be excited about.[Business Wire via VentureBeat via Verge]Image by Tsvetomir Tsonev under Creative Commons license

Watch Alanis Morissette Sing An Updated “Ironic” for the Internet Age


Gizmodo / Kaila Hale-Stern

Watch Alanis Morissette Sing An Updated “Ironic” for the Internet Age

It’s a traffic jam, when you tried to use Waze. A no smoking sign, when you brought your vape. It’s like swiping left on your future soul mate. On the Late Late Show with James Corden, Alanis Morissette gamely gave the lyrics of her 1995 hit “Ironic” a 2015 spin. Appearing in a red ski hat and braids in a wink at the original music video, Morissette was joined by a similarly coiffured Corden to sing refrains like “An old friend sends you a Facebook request / and you only forget they’re racist after you accept.”“It’s free office cake on the first day of your diet / It’s like they announce a new iPhone the day after you buy it,” they sing. “It’s a Snapchat that you wish you had saved / A funny Tweet that nobody faves.” Delightfully, Morissette even makes fun of the fact that “Ironic” contains almost no ironies, as my frustrated 7th grade English teacher kept trying to teach us.[Vulture]

Architects Say This Apartment Complex Is the Year’s Best Building–Here’s Why


Gizmodo / Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan

Architects Say This Apartment Complex Is the Year’s Best Building–Here’s Why

What do villages look like in a world where most people live in cities? Can close-knit communities even exist in the megapolis of the future? The Interlace, an unusual apartment building that was just crowned Building of the Year, thinks so. The Interlace is an apartment complex in Singapore designed by Ole Scheeren, a German architect who spent many years as a partner at OMA (where he masterminded Beijing’s CCTV building). Today at the World Architecture Festival, it was chosen as Building of the Year after two days of presentations from finalists vying for the award.Awards aside, it’s easy to see the future in the Interlace. This is a building that anyone who has ever lived in a city–and felt alone there–can relate to. It’s an attempt to make tall, dense apartment buildings capable of harboring healthy communities, like barnacles clinging to a concrete wall. And it does so with some really, really clever ideas about massing. A little backstory. In the 20th century, many cities tried to remediate the problem of overcrowding and housing shortages by razing tenements and building apartment blocks lined up along wide, open spaces. The problem with this idea–as we’ve seen time and time again–is simple: In these towers, there’s really no public space. There are individual apartments, there are hallways and elevators, and there are grass patches at their bases, which are themselves often dangerous, ill-maintained, and unpleasant to hang out in.In short, these tower blocks don’t give communities room to grow. They don’t give anyone a sense of place–they all look the same–and they eliminate the parts of the city where relationships used to thrive–namely, sidewalks, courtyards, and parks. Yet, high-density housing is an increasing necessity in cities where housing in high demand. They’re needed. Scheeren’s office explains how it responded to that dilemma it with a diagram.In their hands, those towers became play blocks–they picked them up, split them into small pieces, and stacked them at different angles to created a unique pattern of 31 different blocks of varying heights and floors that cluster around eight different beautiful courtyards. Every space is different: Some include community gardens, others have pools or ponds, you might find a reading room or a theater or a dog run at the base of your particular tower. This turns “vertical isolation into horizontal connectivity and reinstates the notion of community as a central issue in today’s society,” the firm explains. They also have their own names–another crucial way to make spaces feel unique and special. And the pathway up to your apartment doesn’t just lead from the street to the elevator to your door; it might wind through a bamboo garden, through a BBQ, or across a workout session. The idea is to create moments in space where people interact–whether than means bumping into someone you know or even just saying hello. “The diversity of the various offerings and atmospheres of natural environment encourage social interaction with the freedom of choice for different gradients of privacy and sharing, contributing to the overall sense of community,” the office says. They call it a “vertical village.” It goes against all of the 20th century’s conventional knowledge about high-density housing–stuffing as many apartments arranged exactly the same way as possible within a given footprint–to create something that’s both dense and human-scale. There were plenty of great buildings built in 2015, but few of them go as far to solving one of the biggest dilemmas in modern cities. Check out more images here. Lead image: World Architecture Festival via Bustler. Contact the author at kelsey@Gizmodo.com.

Apple Prophet Divines That a 4-Inch iPhone Is Coming


Gizmodo / Darren Orf

Apple Prophet Divines That a 4-Inch iPhone Is Coming

Yeah, Apple has prophets, but considering that Apple Stores are basically modern-day temples, it kind of goes with the territory. This particular tech soothsayer, Ming-Chi Kuo, accurately predicted 9 months in advance that Apple was creating a stylus, and he’s been called the “Best Apple analyst on the planet,” so listen up: a 4-inch iPhone is coming.Technology is filled with all kinds of rumors and speculation — real and fabricated. BitStream collects all those whispers into one place to deliver your morning buzz.Ever since the iPhone upgraded to a 4.7-inch screen (still relatively small compared to other smartphones out there), some have bemoaned the passing of the last truly great and truly small smartphone. But Kuo says that Apple will resurrect the form factor by upgrading the iPhone 5s (sans plastic unlike the iPhone 5c).He also predicts that in order for the OS to run smoothly, Apple will have to pack in an A9 processor. The new sixth-generation iPod Touches have an A8 processor, so this seems pretty likely. If Apple does decide to go through with it, they’ll have a nice little iPhone family of past and present.[Mac Rumors]That’s Fast: The Galaxy S7 is shaping up to be quite the smartphone with the latest rumor saying Samsung’s greatest will support LTE Cat. 12 connectivity. That’s downloads speeds topping out at 600Mbps with uploads coming in at about 100Mbps…all on your phone. Those are theoretical max speeds and your carrier will need to support it, but most phones don’t even have LTE Cat. 9 let alone Cat. 12. [SamMobile]Notify Is Coming: Facebook wants to be more like Twitter, and Twitter wants to be more like Facebook. Twitter changes its stars to hearts, and Facebook gears up for the launch of Notify, which is reportedly coming next week. With Notify, you can subscribe to specific news organizations and receive notifications (hence the name) when news breaks. [Financial Times]Use Apple Pay, Please?: Walgreens just launched the first rewards program in partnership with Apple Pay. You can tie together a Walgreens reward card in Apple Pay so that you get points every time you use your iPhone’s mobile payments option. You still need to hunt for the digital card and use it separately (would kind of be cool if it was automatic), but it is a big step forward to getting not just your credit cards out of your wallet, but all those other pieces of plastic, too. [MacRumors]

Google’s “RankBrain” AI system is used for a “very large fraction” of queries and is now the third most important signal in the search ranking algorithm (Jack Clark/Bloomberg Business)


Techmeme /

Google’s “RankBrain” AI system is used for a “very large fraction” of queries and is now the third most important signal in the search ranking algorithm (Jack Clark/Bloomberg Business)

Jack Clark / Bloomberg Business:
Google’s “RankBrain” AI system is used for a “very large fraction” of queries and is now the third most important signal in the search ranking algorithm  —  Google Turning Its Lucrative Web Search Over to AI Machines  —  ‘RankBrain’ uses artificial intelligence to filter results

Google’s “RankBrain” AI system is used for a “very large fraction” of queries and is now the third most important signal in the search ranking algorithm (Jack Clark/Bloomberg Business)


Techmeme /

Google’s “RankBrain” AI system is used for a “very large fraction” of queries and is now the third most important signal in the search ranking algorithm (Jack Clark/Bloomberg Business)

Jack Clark / Bloomberg Business:
Google’s “RankBrain” AI system is used for a “very large fraction” of queries and is now the third most important signal in the search ranking algorithm  —  Google Turning Its Lucrative Web Search Over to AI Machines  —  ‘RankBrain’ uses artificial intelligence to filter results

What’s the #1 Predictor of Success in Love?


Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis / noreply@blogger.com (Mike Mish Shedlock)

What’s the #1 Predictor of Success in Love?

Here’s an interesting article that just came my way from the Washington Post. It’s about success in love. Please consider The One Number that’s Eerily Good at Predicting Success in Love. When people are looking for a significant other, they often try to find someone whose values, education, earnings, hobbies and even height match their own. But new research suggests there’s one promising measure for finding a committed partner that most daters overlook — credit scores.A new working paper from the Federal Reserve Board that looks at what role credit scores play in committed relationships suggests that daters might want to start using the metric as well. The paper analyzed a large proprietary data set of 12 million randomly selected U.S. consumers from the credit reporting agency Equifax over a period of about 15 years. Researchers used an algorithm to find a swathe of committed couples, including some who live together and are not legally married.They found that people with higher (i.e. better) credit scores are more likely to form a committed relationship, as the chart below shows. This was true even after controlling for other differences between partners, like education level, race or income.The researchers also found that having higher credit scores when they started the relationship meant that couples were less likely to separate over the next few years, as the chart below shows. In fact, for every extra 100 points in the couple’s average credit score when beginning the relationship, their odds of splitting in the second year fell by around 30 percent. Couples in general are more likely than two randomly selected people to have similar credit scores. Over time, the credit scores of couples actually tend to converge, the study found, from about 55 points to about 22 points over the first four years of the relationship. But if the gap between the individual credit scores was wider at the beginning of their relationship, the couple was more likely to break up as time went on, the researchers found.Trust But Verify”What’s your sign?" is so 60ish passé. Today, you need to ask "What’s your credit score?" in some sort of polite manner, of course.You could also get right to the nitty-gritty and pay for a credit search.Practical TipIn the "trust but verify" category I offer this tip on what not to say: "Sweetie, what’s your social security number? I need it to do a credit check on you."Mike "Mish" ShedlockMike "Mish" Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction.
Visit http://www.sitkapacific.com/account_management.html to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.

Adobe’s Monument Mode Removes People Waking Through Your Frame in Real Time


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

Adobe’s Monument Mode Removes People Waking Through Your Frame in Real Time

At last night’s MAX conference, Adobe gave a sneak-preview of a real-time camera feature it’s been working on called Monument Mode. It seems to remove people walking through the frame of your picture, there and then, as if by magic. While removing people from an image is certainly achievable in Photoshop if you have multiple images, this is a real-time feature that could, as Adobe shows, become a standard feature for smartphone cameras and remove the need for post-processing. Details of how it works are scant, other than the fact that it uses some new algorithms to distinguish between still and moving objects. You can see it in action in this video, presented by Adobe engineer Ashutosh Jagdish Sharma.It’s worth pointing out that this is a technology preview rather than a real working product, so there’s no guarantee that it’ll become a consumer product. But we sure hope it does.[Adobe via Peta Pixel]

Ancient Mars Was Wetter and Warmer Than We Ever Realized


Gizmodo / George Dvorsky

Ancient Mars Was Wetter and Warmer Than We Ever Realized

New data collected by the Curiosity rover shows that Mars was once quite Earth-like, featuring river deltas, lakes, and a warm climate. What’s more, the Red Planet may have been able to sustain liquid water at the surface long enough for life to emerge and evolve. Late last month, NASA stunned the science world by announcing the likely presence of liquid water on Mars. The revelation was one in a series of discoveries highlighting the prominent role played by liquid water in the geologic history of the Red Planet, both in the past and today. The latest finding by NASA’s John Grotzinger and his team at the Mars Science Laboratory contributes significantly to this line of thinking. Evidence uncovered by the Curiosity rover shows that ancient Mars once featured river deltas, long-standing lakes, a climate much warmer than it is today, and it could sustain surface water for surprisingly long periods time—long enough for life to have potentially emerged and taken root. The new findings were published today in the journal Science.Stacks of CluesThe notion that Mars was once able to sustain large bodies of liquid water at the surface is nothing new. What is new, however, is evidence supporting the idea that large impact craters were once capable of collecting and storing water for substantial periods of time. Unlike observations from space-based cameras, Grotzinger’s team was able to leverage the power of Curiosity’s on-site presence to discover basin surfaces, or clinoforms. With Curiosity right there, it’s like having an actual geologist on the Martian surface.Clinoform sandstones on Mars (J. P. Grotzinger et al., 2015/Science)Curiosity has been romping around the Gale Crater looking for clues left behind in the sedimentary rocks. These tightly packed layers of rock, which formed from the steady accumulations of tiny sediment grains, provide an historical snapshot of the surface. And as we know from studying sedimentary rocks on Earth, these rocks often include evidence of life, such as fossils and microscopic biosignatures. The researchers analyzed sediments along the clinoforms, observing that—in spite of erosion—the basin surface had risen over time. This indicated to the researchers that the land had gotten higher, likely due to the steady accumulation of sediment deposits, a process known to geologists as aggradation. As Gale Crater’s northern crater wall and rim gradually eroded, gravel and sand were transported southward in shallow streams. Over the course of time, these stream deposits moved progressively closer toward the crater’s interior, where it transformed into finer grains downstream. In other words, the researchers discovered traces of ancient river deltas. These deltas represented the boundary of an ancient Martian lake where fine, mud-sized sediments had once accumulated.Prolonged PeriodsEvidence suggests that these individual lakes, which existed billions of years ago, were stable for 100 to 10,000 years at a time— long enough to spark and sustain life (though astrobiologists aren’t entirely sure of this). Evidence for extraterrestrial life has yet to be discovered on Mars, but this latest finding shows that key ingredients were once available for microbial life to originate and evolve. Map showing the location of Curiosity’s journey and key study areas (J. P. Grotzinger et al., 2015/Science)The area being studied by Curiosity required at least 10,000 to 10,000,000 years to accumulate, which means these transient lakes were likely fueled by a common groundwater table. “This intracrater lake system probably existed intermittently for thousands to millions of years, implying a relatively wet climate that supplied moisture to the crater rim and transported sediment via streams into the lake basin,” write the researchers in their study.To age these transient water bodies, the researchers compared physically similar depositional systems on Earth, for which we have radiometric chronologies.“These estimates are imprecise, order-of-magnitude in their quality,” explained California Institute of Technology geobiologist Woodward W. Fischer to Gizmodo. “But the important thing is that we can, beyond a single snapshot in time, identify a lake on Mars to recognize that these systems were sufficiently long lived that they left a strong fingerprint in the form of a thick package of sedimentary rocks.”A More Temperate Climate?Given that Mars was once able to sustain water for extended periods, it’s reasonable to wonder about the Red Planet’s ancient climate. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to say. “We don’t know exactly what the surface temperature of Mars was during that time,” says University of Utah Geologist Marjorie Chan. “Many people think overall Mars was warmer and wetter.”Chan says that Mars could only likely sustain that climate if the atmosphere was thicker back then.“We can tell that these bodies of water had to last for a while because of how the sediment grains are sorted and laid down in multiple layers showing that the environmental conditions allowed sediment accumulation (thickness) over time,” she told Gizmodo.Fischer says that all our current understandings of Martian climate can’t explain why early Mars was so warm and wet, but the geology has just become much more compelling. “We don’t have a great paleothermometer—so to say—for Mars at this time, but all of our observations of the sedimentary rocks show that there were river systems that moved sediment into deltas and ultimately to lakes in the crater,” noted Fischer. “And that this water-driven sediment transport and deposition system was fed by a hydrologic cycle sufficiently wet that lasted for a rather substantial amount of time.”Fischer likens the problem to the early days of understanding continental drift. Geologists knew that continents were slowly moving, but they didn’t understand why. “It often takes observations of exceptional quality to rule out other possible interpretations, to spur serious efforts to explain a fundamental discordance between data and theory,” Fischer told Gizmodo. “Mars now has that degree of discordance. There is simply something very fundamental about the climate of early Mars—and perhaps even planetary climates more broadly—that is missing from our understanding.”Read the entire study at Science: “Deposition, exhumation, and paleoclimate of an ancient lake deposit, Gale crater, Mars”.Email the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him at @dvorsky. Top image: Artist’s impression of what Mars may have looked like billions of years ago, by Ittiz/CC BY-SA 3,0

Adobe’s Monument Mode Removes People Walking Through Your Frame in Real Time


Gizmodo / Jamie Condliffe

Adobe’s Monument Mode Removes People Walking Through Your Frame in Real Time

At last night’s MAX conference, Adobe gave a sneak-preview of a real-time camera feature it’s been working on called Monument Mode. It seems to remove people walking through the frame of your picture, there and then, as if by magic. While removing people from an image is certainly achievable in Photoshop if you have multiple images, this is a real-time feature that could, as Adobe shows, become a standard feature for smartphone cameras and remove the need for post-processing. Details of how it works are scant, other than the fact that it uses some new algorithms to distinguish between still and moving objects. You can see it in action in this video, presented by Adobe engineer Ashutosh Jagdish Sharma.It’s worth pointing out that this is a technology preview rather than a real working product, so there’s no guarantee that it’ll become a consumer product. But we sure hope it does.[Adobe via Peta Pixel]

Adidas Wants to 3D-Print  Running Shoes That Perfectly Fit Your Feet


Gizmodo / Adam Clark Estes

Adidas Wants to 3D-Print  Running Shoes That Perfectly Fit Your Feet

What if you could walk in a store, jog on a treadmill, and walk out with a pair of shoes that are custom manufactured for your feet and gait? That’s exactly what Adidas wants to do with its Futurecraft 3D project. And unlike most of the trash produced by 3D printing, the shoes look pretty awesome.Adidas teased a prototype of the new shoes which feature a personalized 3D-printed midsole and a handsome, woven upper. For Futurecraft 3D, the company is partnering with Materialise, a Belgian company with two-and-a-half decades of additive manufacturing experience. Adidas sounds serious about turning this project into the future of running shoes, too.“Creating a flexible, fully breathable carbon copy of the athlete’s own footprint, matching exact contours and pressure points, it will set the athlete up for the best running experience,” reads a release. “Linked with existing data sourcing and footscan technologies, it opens unique opportunities for immediate in-store fittings.”So that’s pretty futuristic. Still, Adidas is a little late to the 3D printing shoes trend, since there are entire companies that have launched to do just that. Nike is even talking about making it possible for people to 3D-print shoes in their own homes. But there’s a chance that Adidas will be the first to offer that incredible-sounding, bespoke experience. [Adidas]Contact the author at adam@gizmodo.com.Public PGP keyPGP fingerprint: 91CF B387 7B38 148C DDD6 38D2 6CBC 1E46 1DBF 22A8

Holy Freaking Crap: The Top Gear Guys’ New Amazon Show Is Doing The LaFerrari, Porsche 918 And McLaren P1 Test


Jalopnik / Michael Ballaban

Holy Freaking Crap: The Top Gear Guys’ New Amazon Show Is Doing The LaFerrari, Porsche 918 And McLaren P1 Test

The new car show on Amazon starring Jeremy Clarkson, James May, Richard Hammond, just began its full day of shooting, and it’s looking to be a modest affair. There appears to be just barely over 50 people participating. Oh, and also a Ferrari LaFerrari, a McLaren P1, and a Porsche 918.Read more…

Adidas Wants to 3D-Print  Running Shoes That Perfectly Fit Your Feet


Gizmodo / Adam Clark Estes

Adidas Wants to 3D-Print  Running Shoes That Perfectly Fit Your Feet

What if you could walk in a store, jog on a treadmill, and walk out with a pair of shoes that are custom manufactured for your feet and gait? That’s exactly what Adidas wants to do with its Futurecraft 3D project. And unlike most of the trash produced by 3D printing, the shoes look pretty awesome.Adidas teased a prototype of the new shoes which feature a personalized 3D-printed midsole and a handsome, woven upper. For Futurecraft 3D, the company is partnering with Materialise, a Belgian company with two-and-a-half decades of additive manufacturing experience. Adidas sounds serious about turning this project into the future of running shoes, too.“Creating a flexible, fully breathable carbon copy of the athlete’s own footprint, matching exact contours and pressure points, it will set the athlete up for the best running experience,” reads a release. “Linked with existing data sourcing and footscan technologies, it opens unique opportunities for immediate in-store fittings.”So that’s pretty futuristic. Still, Adidas is a little late to the 3D printing shoes trend, since there are entire companies that have launched to do just that. Nike is even talking about making it possible for people to 3D-print shoes in their own homes. But there’s a chance that Adidas will be the first to offer that incredible-sounding, bespoke experience. [Adidas]Contact the author at adam@gizmodo.com.Public PGP keyPGP fingerprint: 91CF B387 7B38 148C DDD6 38D2 6CBC 1E46 1DBF 22A8

Adobe’s Photoshop Fix Is One of the Free Best Mobile Apps For Fixing Selfies


Gizmodo / Leah Becerra

Adobe’s Photoshop Fix Is One of the Free Best Mobile Apps For Fixing Selfies

For a long time, Adobe has been a name designers and photographers could name drop to let you know they’re serious. And because the software wasn’t cheap and required some know-how to use it well, it usually worked. But Adobe’s free new iOS app, Photoshop Fix, significantly lowers that technical barrier.Adobe’s Photoshop Fix is an app built for beginners, which you might remember from a demo at Apple’s September event (yeah, the kinda sexist one.) And for the past few days, I’ve given the app a test run. I’ve altered a few smiles and taken some unsightly objects out of photos while using a third-gen iPad. And Fix has been pretty impressive.But let me be clear on one point, Photoshop Fix is not a substitute for the full version of Photoshop. What it is, though, is a powerful editing tool that I’m honestly amazed Adobe is making free.Using ItOK, here’s a quick disclaimer: I’ve been using Adobe programs since CS3 was the latest and greatest. But that didn’t exactly prepare me for trying out Fix because it’s so unlike any of its desktop iterations.For example, finding the tool I wanted to use to apply a certain effect took some guesswork at first. All the tools for editing line the bottom of the screen, like so:After selecting a tool, options for changing things like size, opacity or color pop up on the left. Moving your finger (or stylus) higher or lower will let you make the size of a tool you’ve selected larger or smaller. Choosing a color works the same way, except you get a nice spectrum to select from.With color selection, editors have the option to choose from an RGB palette for web use or CMYK for print. The app lists a short history of colors you’ve used before, making it easy to swap colors if you need to go back and forth a lot. Also you can save your own swatches as “themes” in your color library.The one thing I kept forgetting to do after applying an effect was actually saving it. That’s because in the desktop version of Photoshop, you could quickly switch back and forth between editing tools. But in Fix, after applying one edited layer you’ve got to hit a small check mark/circle in the bottom right corner before the app will save your work. Old habits die hard, I guess.Overall, the app was pretty intuitive and didn’t slow down, even on the iPad 3’s dated A5x processor.Let’s LiquifyLiquify’s most useful feature is its face warping tool, and getting to it in Photoshop Fix is super easy. After hitting “liquify” from the main set of tools, there’s an effect simply called “Face.”The app identifies parts of a face it can alter and places small circles on those areas. Tapping a circle reveals the options for widening, shrinking, smiling and more. Tapping outside the face and then directly on the center of the face again will get you back to where almost all the face’s features can be tweaked.I tried it on a blurry photo, a selfie and a high-resolution image where everything was sharp and in focus. It worked best on the high-res image, probably because features were easier for Fix to identify.There are other effects within liquify too, but when you use them on a face…Well, let’s just say it all takes an ugly turn. Healing Power“Healing” is another big win for Fix, and true to its medicinal underpinning, this feature basically “heals” whatever just messed up your perfect shot. It enlists the power of few goodies from the desktop software in one tool. I decided to try fixing this image from my friend’s wedding, where I had taken—what I felt was—an amazing photo of the two newlyweds walking out of the church to the wedding-mobile.Unfortunately though, their wedding photographer ruined the shot by standing behind their electric blue Cadillac. Luckily, Healing did a pretty good job of removing the pesky photog. Not perfect mind you, but good enough.Zooming out, it’s not too obvious that the photo was doctored. So for Instagram or Facebook, Photoshop Fix does the job perfectly. But if I were that pesky photographer shooting the wedding, this edit wouldn’t quite cut itWorth It?Yeah. It’s free with an Adobe ID (which is also free if you don’t have one). For hardcore Photoshoppers out there, you can also export your projects from Fix in layers to Photoshop CC for further editing, so it’s a nice little tool to have in your mobile editing arsenal.As nice as that option is, the point of Fix isn’t to get more serious designers editing on tablets. It’s so Adobe can finally get into the apps game in a big way. And for an app to succeed on mobile, it has to be easy to use, inexpensive and somewhat useful. Also, being addictive doesn’t hurt. Photoshop Fix, to a certain extent, is all of these things.The app’s available today for iPad and iPhone.

SOLS Lets You Buy 3D-Printed Insoles, Customized To Your Feet, Right From An iPhone App


TechCrunch / Sarah Perez

SOLS Lets You Buy 3D-Printed Insoles, Customized To Your Feet, Right From An iPhone App

 SOLS, a company taking advantage of 3D-printing techniques to custom print shoe insoles that help alleviate foot and back pain, among other ailments, is today making its product available directly to consumers with the launch of SOLS Flex, a modern-day alternative to Dr. Scholl’s inserts which are personalized to the individual customer. SOLS previously worked with doctor’s offices… Read More

A Decade After Being Founded in SF, Kiva Turns Its Focus Toward Zero-Interest Loans For Bay Area Entrepreneurs


TechCrunch / Kim-Mai Cutler

A Decade After Being Founded in SF, Kiva Turns Its Focus Toward Zero-Interest Loans For Bay Area Entrepreneurs

 When online donors overloaded the requests of Kiva co-founders Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley more than a decade ago, they were targeting some of the world’s poorest borrowers in places as far away as East Africa and India. But 10 years later, Kiva is shifting its focus back home with a program called “Keep the Heart in San Francisco.” It’s taking its longstanding… Read More

Apple and Google are the world’s top two most valuable brands


VentureBeat / Ken Yeung

Apple and Google are the world’s top two most valuable brands

Consultancy firm Interbrand has released its latest listing of the world’s most valuable brands, and Apple, Google, Microsoft, and IBM have placed at the top of the chart for at least the fifth consecutive year. Apple and Google remain in the top spots  –  the third year in a row that they’ve been in first and second position, […]

The Apple Watch Hermès Collection Is Now Available For Purchase


TechCrunch / Matt Burns

The Apple Watch Hermès Collection Is Now Available For Purchase

 #Fashion! The Apple Watch Hermès models are now available for purchase. But not online. These options are only sold in a handful of Apple Store and Hermès retail locations. Prices start at $1,100 for the 42mm single strap option, which is available in black and brown (noir or gauvre), and a red strap (capucine) is available in the 38mm size. The iconic Hermès double strap band costs $1,250… Read More

Photoshop Fix Is One of the Best Free Apps For Fixing Selfies


Gizmodo / Leah Becerra

Photoshop Fix Is One of the Best Free Apps For Fixing Selfies

For a long time, Adobe has been a name designers and photographers could name drop to let you know they’re serious. And because the software wasn’t cheap and required some know-how to use it well, it usually worked. But Adobe’s free new iOS app, Photoshop Fix, significantly lowers that technical barrier.Adobe’s Photoshop Fix is an app built for beginners, which you might remember from a demo at Apple’s September event (yeah, the kinda sexist one.) And for the past few days, I’ve given the app a test run. I’ve altered a few smiles and taken some unsightly objects out of photos while using a third-gen iPad. And Fix has been pretty impressive.But let me be clear on one point, Photoshop Fix is not a substitute for the full version of Photoshop. What it is, though, is a powerful editing tool that I’m honestly amazed Adobe is making free.Using ItOK, here’s a quick disclaimer: I’ve been using Adobe programs since CS3 was the latest and greatest. But that didn’t exactly prepare me for trying out Fix because it’s so unlike any of its desktop iterations.For example, finding the tool I wanted to use to apply a certain effect took some guesswork at first. All the tools for editing line the bottom of the screen, like so:After selecting a tool, options for changing things like size, opacity or color pop up on the left. Moving your finger (or stylus) higher or lower will let you make the size of a tool you’ve selected larger or smaller. Choosing a color works the same way, except you get a nice spectrum to select from.With color selection, editors have the option to choose from an RGB palette for web use or CMYK for print. The app lists a short history of colors you’ve used before, making it easy to swap colors if you need to go back and forth a lot. Also you can save your own swatches as “themes” in your color library.The one thing I kept forgetting to do after applying an effect was actually saving it. That’s because in the desktop version of Photoshop, you could quickly switch back and forth between editing tools. But in Fix, after applying one edited layer you’ve got to hit a small check mark/circle in the bottom right corner before the app will save your work. Old habits die hard, I guess.Overall, the app was pretty intuitive and didn’t slow down, even on the iPad 3’s dated A5x processor.Let’s LiquifyLiquify’s most useful feature is its face warping tool, and getting to it in Photoshop Fix is super easy. After hitting “liquify” from the main set of tools, there’s an effect simply called “Face.”The app identifies parts of a face it can alter and places small circles on those areas. Tapping a circle reveals the options for widening, shrinking, smiling and more. Tapping outside the face and then directly on the center of the face again will get you back to where almost all the face’s features can be tweaked.I tried it on a blurry photo, a selfie and a high-resolution image where everything was sharp and in focus. It worked best on the high-res image, probably because features were easier for Fix to identify.There are other effects within liquify too, but when you use them on a face…Well, let’s just say it all takes an ugly turn. Healing Power“Healing” is another big win for Fix, and true to its medicinal underpinning, this feature basically “heals” whatever just messed up your perfect shot. It enlists the power of few goodies from the desktop software in one tool. I decided to try fixing this image from my friend’s wedding, where I had taken—what I felt was—an amazing photo of the two newlyweds walking out of the church to the wedding-mobile.Unfortunately though, their wedding photographer ruined the shot by standing behind their electric blue Cadillac. Luckily, Healing did a pretty good job of removing the pesky photog. Not perfect mind you, but good enough.Zooming out, it’s not too obvious that the photo was doctored. So for Instagram or Facebook, Photoshop Fix does the job perfectly. But if I were that pesky photographer shooting the wedding, this edit wouldn’t quite cut itWorth It?Yeah. It’s free with an Adobe ID (which is also free if you don’t have one). For hardcore Photoshoppers out there, you can also export your projects from Fix in layers to Photoshop CC for further editing, so it’s a nice little tool to have in your mobile editing arsenal.As nice as that option is, the point of Fix isn’t to get more serious designers editing on tablets. It’s so Adobe can finally get into the apps game in a big way. And for an app to succeed on mobile, it has to be easy to use, inexpensive and somewhat useful. Also, being addictive doesn’t hurt. Photoshop Fix, to a certain extent, is all of these things.The app’s available today for iPad and iPhone.

A Decade After Being Founded In SF, Kiva Turns Its Focus Toward Zero-Interest Loans For Bay Area Entrepreneurs


TechCrunch / Kim-Mai Cutler

A Decade After Being Founded In SF, Kiva Turns Its Focus Toward Zero-Interest Loans For Bay Area Entrepreneurs

 When online donors overloaded the requests of Kiva co-founders Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley more than a decade ago, they were targeting some of the world’s poorest borrowers in places as far away as East Africa and India. But 10 years later, Kiva is shifting its focus back home with a program called “Keep the Heart in San Francisco.” It’s taking its longstanding… Read More

Apple and Google are the world’s top two most valuable brands


VentureBeat / Ken Yeung

Apple and Google are the world’s top two most valuable brands

Consultancy firm Interbrand has released its latest listing of the world’s most valuable brands, and Apple, Google, Microsoft, and IBM have landed at the top of the chart for at least the fifth consecutive year. Apple and Google remain in the top spots  –  the third year in a row that they’ve been in first and second position, respectively. Other […]

Meet the electric bus that could push every other polluting bus off the road


Engadget / Fast Company

Meet the electric bus that could push every other polluting bus off the road

By Adele Peters
This article originally appeared on Fast Company and is reprinted with permission.
Electric cars might be sexier. But Ryan Popple, who was an early employee at Tesla, is now convinced that electric buses are more interesting.Slideshow-324933
Proterra, the startup Popple runs, designed a sleek new electric bus that drove 258 miles on a single charge in a recent test. That’s farther than most tiny electric cars can go and also farther than a daily city bus route.
That means it’s ready to start to replace the hundreds of thousands of diesel buses in the country, most of which average less than five miles to the gallon and pump out carbon pollution, soot, and carcinogens like arsenic.

Because the bus saves on fuel, it’s actually cheaper over a lifetime of use than alternatives, including hybrid-diesel buses or those running on natural gas. And it’s something that anyone can use, democratizing the most advanced alternative transportation technology.
“We’re taking a technology that’s used to power $100,000 sports cars, and we’re putting it into the absolute most accessible transportation asset in the country," says Popple.
Like Tesla, Proterra designed its vehicle from scratch. "I think it’s important to cut ties with the legacy technology," he says. "If you tell your engineering group one of the rules they have to stick by is they have to use all the old parts from the parts bin, you’re going to end up with a terrible product."

Because electric vehicles work in a fundamentally different way than something that runs on gas or diesel, the old designs don’t make sense. The engine is no longer the heaviest part, and you don’t have to worry about exhaust or a tank of flammable liquid. New parts—like battery packs—need to go in different places.
Some parts of the new design that were optimized for electricity also have other advantages. The bus is made from carbon fiber so it’s ultra-lightweight, so the battery system doesn’t have to be as big. But because it isn’t made of metal, it also doesn’t rust and lasts longer on the road. The weight is distributed more evenly than on a regular bus, so it’s also better at acceleration and turning.
It’s even easier to manufacture. "Long term, we have a huge advantage over steel bus manufacturers," Popple says. "They’re building buses like you’d build a house. They build a steel frame, they rivet things onto it. At our factory, we take in a composite body just like an aircraft fuselage."
An earlier model of the bus, designed for airports or other short routes, only went 30 miles on a charge; a special battery inside could recharge in just 10 minutes. The new version uses the same technology that cars like Tesla use for long-range storage.

In the recent test, the company was hoping that the new bus would drive 200 miles on the track. But it did more than 50 miles extra, and the designers say it will keep improving. "The next milestone I think we’ll hit is 300," says Popple.
In real conditions—loaded with passengers, on rough roads, and different weather—it won’t go as far. But it only needs to go about 130 miles to cover an average bus route. Then the bus can charge at night. It’s also designed to plug into the fast chargers that cities may have already installed along some routes.
"We think we’ve now hit the range that really removes any sort of range anxiety," Popple says. "There’s no physical reason why you couldn’t deploy zero-emission, quiet, high-tech buses."
As the battery technology improves, cities can swap in upgrades. The first buses will be sold next year to Foothill Transit, which runs routes in Southern California. Five or six years later, by the time the batteries need to be replaced, the replacements may have a range that’s 100 miles or more better.
Popple is convinced that every bus will eventually run on electricity, and the question is just how soon that can happen.
"The business case works today for replacing diesel with electric, but the scale of the problem is so big," he says. "There are diesel bus companies that build 50 buses a week. We can get there—Tesla grew from building a couple cars a week to today a hundred or 200 cars a day. We know technology companies can scale faster than anyone ever expected."

Right now, he talking to a number of U.S. transit agencies. In five years, he hopes he can reach all of them. "We want to talk to that last agency that’s about to buy that last set of diesel buses," he says.
He’s most excited about the fact that the bus brings clean tech to everyone, rathern than making it a luxury item. When the oil industry recently rolled out a PR campaign fighting higher gas prices in California—saying that it would hurt lower-income families—Popple started thinking that the argument needed to change.
"I don’t know why we’re encouraging people to buy cars," he says. "It’s a terrible investment, you’re exposed to oil prices, you have insurance costs. What we should be doing is putting out low carbon mass transit, and helping people get back to work for pennies a day as opposed to dollars."
[All Images: via Proterra]
More from Fast Company:

Why Sweden Is Shifting To A 6-Hour Workday
Fukushima Four Years After The Nuclear Disaster Is A Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland
A Universal Basic Income Is The Bipartisan Solution To Poverty We’ve Been Waiting For

Meet the electric bus that could push every other polluting bus off the road


Engadget / Fast Company

Meet the electric bus that could push every other polluting bus off the road

By Adele Peters
This article originally appeared on Fast Company and is reprinted with permission.
Electric cars might be sexier. But Ryan Popple, who was an early employee at Tesla, is now convinced that electric buses are more interesting.Slideshow-324933
Proterra, the startup Popple runs, designed a sleek new electric bus that drove 258 miles on a single charge in a recent test. That’s farther than most tiny electric cars can go and also farther than a daily city bus route.
That means it’s ready to start to replace the hundreds of thousands of diesel buses in the country, most of which average less than five miles to the gallon and pump out carbon pollution, soot, and carcinogens like arsenic.

Because the bus saves on fuel, it’s actually cheaper over a lifetime of use than alternatives, including hybrid-diesel buses or those running on natural gas. And it’s something that anyone can use, democratizing the most advanced alternative transportation technology.
“We’re taking a technology that’s used to power $100,000 sports cars, and we’re putting it into the absolute most accessible transportation asset in the country," says Popple.
Like Tesla, Proterra designed its vehicle from scratch. "I think it’s important to cut ties with the legacy technology," he says. "If you tell your engineering group one of the rules they have to stick by is they have to use all the old parts from the parts bin, you’re going to end up with a terrible product."

Because electric vehicles work in a fundamentally different way than something that runs on gas or diesel, the old designs don’t make sense. The engine is no longer the heaviest part, and you don’t have to worry about exhaust or a tank of flammable liquid. New parts—like battery packs—need to go in different places.
Some parts of the new design that were optimized for electricity also have other advantages. The bus is made from carbon fiber so it’s ultra-lightweight, so the battery system doesn’t have to be as big. But because it isn’t made of metal, it also doesn’t rust and lasts longer on the road. The weight is distributed more evenly than on a regular bus, so it’s also better at acceleration and turning.
It’s even easier to manufacture. "Long term, we have a huge advantage over steel bus manufacturers," Popple says. "They’re building buses like you’d build a house. They build a steel frame, they rivet things onto it. At our factory, we take in a composite body just like an aircraft fuselage."
An earlier model of the bus, designed for airports or other short routes, only went 30 miles on a charge; a special battery inside could recharge in just 10 minutes. The new version uses the same technology that cars like Tesla use for long-range storage.

In the recent test, the company was hoping that the new bus would drive 200 miles on the track. But it did more than 50 miles extra, and the designers say it will keep improving. "The next milestone I think we’ll hit is 300," says Popple.
In real conditions—loaded with passengers, on rough roads, and different weather—it won’t go as far. But it only needs to go about 130 miles to cover an average bus route. Then the bus can charge at night. It’s also designed to plug into the fast chargers that cities may have already installed along some routes.
"We think we’ve now hit the range that really removes any sort of range anxiety," Popple says. "There’s no physical reason why you couldn’t deploy zero-emission, quiet, high-tech buses."
As the battery technology improves, cities can swap in upgrades. The first buses will be sold next year to Foothill Transit, which runs routes in Southern California. Five or six years later, by the time the batteries need to be replaced, the replacements may have a range that’s 100 miles or more better.
Popple is convinced that every bus will eventually run on electricity, and the question is just how soon that can happen.
"The business case works today for replacing diesel with electric, but the scale of the problem is so big," he says. "There are diesel bus companies that build 50 buses a week. We can get there—Tesla grew from building a couple cars a week to today a hundred or 200 cars a day. We know technology companies can scale faster than anyone ever expected."

Right now, he talking to a number of U.S. transit agencies. In five years, he hopes he can reach all of them. "We want to talk to that last agency that’s about to buy that last set of diesel buses," he says.
He’s most excited about the fact that the bus brings clean tech to everyone, rathern than making it a luxury item. When the oil industry recently rolled out a PR campaign fighting higher gas prices in California—saying that it would hurt lower-income families—Popple started thinking that the argument needed to change.
"I don’t know why we’re encouraging people to buy cars," he says. "It’s a terrible investment, you’re exposed to oil prices, you have insurance costs. What we should be doing is putting out low carbon mass transit, and helping people get back to work for pennies a day as opposed to dollars."
[All Images: via Proterra]
More from Fast Company:

Why Sweden Is Shifting To A 6-Hour Workday
Fukushima Four Years After The Nuclear Disaster Is A Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland
A Universal Basic Income Is The Bipartisan Solution To Poverty We’ve Been Waiting For

Elon Musk Clarifies His Plan to “Nuke Mars”


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Elon Musk Clarifies His Plan to “Nuke Mars”

Remember a few weeks back, when Elon Musk explained how we ought to nuke Mars to warm it up? Well, the billionaire was really just speaking off the cuff, and so during a SolarCity launch event in Times Square yesterday, he decided he ought to clarify.The founder of SpaceX doesn’t want to nuke the surface Red Planet. He wants to use fusion bombs more powerful than any explosives we’ve ever built to blast the sky every few seconds, creating a temporary “sun” over each pole. “What I was talking about,” said Musk, “was having a series of very large, by our standards, but very small by calamity standards, essentially having two tiny pulsing suns over the poles. They’re really above the planet. Not on the planet.“Every several seconds,” Musk continued “send large fusion bombs over the poles. A lot of people don’t appreciate that our sun is a giant fusion explosion,” he added, to a reportedly silent audience. What Musk keeps trying to explain here is a scheme for heating up the surface of Mars quickly, in order to make the planet hospitable to plant life. There’s a lot of carbon dioxide locked up in Mars’ poles as dry ice, and CO2, as we know, is a powerful global warming agent. If we release enough energy over the poles, we might just be able to send all that CO2 skyward, warming the atmosphere enough to kickstart a positive feedback loop and a runaway greenhouse effect. (Check out my detailed explainer on Martian terraforming here).In the end, however, the billionaire’s attempts to explain Martian terraforming to the masses seem to only be solidifying his mad supervillian image. For now, it might be best if Musk stuck with crashing rockets into the ocean.[Mashable]Follow the author @themadstone

Elon Musk Clarifies His Plan to “Nuke Mars”


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Elon Musk Clarifies His Plan to “Nuke Mars”

Remember a few weeks back, when Elon Musk explained how we ought to nuke Mars to warm it up? Well, the billionaire was really just speaking off the cuff, and so during a SolarCity launch event in Times Square yesterday, he decided he ought to clarify.The founder of SpaceX doesn’t want to nuke the surface Red Planet. He wants to use fusion bombs more powerful than any explosives we’ve ever built to blast the sky every few seconds, creating a temporary “sun” over each pole. “What I was talking about,” said Musk, “was having a series of very large, by our standards, but very small by calamity standards, essentially having two tiny pulsing suns over the poles. They’re really above the planet. Not on the planet.“Every several seconds,” Musk continued “send large fusion bombs over the poles. A lot of people don’t appreciate that our sun is a giant fusion explosion,” he added, to a reportedly silent audience. What Musk keeps trying to explain here is a scheme for heating up the surface of Mars quickly, in order to make the planet hospitable to plant life. There’s a lot of carbon dioxide locked up in Mars’ poles as dry ice, and CO2, as we know, is a powerful global warming agent. If we release enough energy over the poles, we might just be able to send all that CO2 skyward, warming the atmosphere enough to kickstart a positive feedback loop and a runaway greenhouse effect. (Check out my detailed explainer on Martian terraforming here).In the end, however, the billionaire’s attempts to explain Martian terraforming to the masses seem to only be solidifying his mad supervillian image. For now, it might be best if Musk stuck with crashing rockets into the ocean.[Mashable]Follow the author @themadstone

The New Version of OS X Arrives Today, and You Should Probably Update


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

The New Version of OS X Arrives Today, and You Should Probably Update

OS X El Capitan is officially arriving on the interwebs today, complete with a pretty new background picture, and a boatload of new features. If you’ve got a compatible Apple computer (which you probably do), you should get ready to download. http://gizmodo.com/hands-on-with-…The best news about El Cap is that it’s free, and your MacBook probably supports it. If you are running Yosemite (or actually, any version of OS X since Mountain Lion), you’re good to go. You don’t even need to be on Yosemite — you can update from older versions too. The complete list of compatible machines looks like this: MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later), (12-inch, Early 2015)MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later), (17-inch, Late 2007 or later)MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)iMac (Mid-2007 or later)However, to use some of the cooler OS X features like Airdrop and Handoff (which appeared in Yosemite), you’ll need to be running a machine from 2012 or later. While Apple has officially confirmed that the update is going to land today, September 30 in the Year Of Our Lord 2015, we don’t have a time. But, previous software updates have hit at 1PM Eastern/10AM Pacific, so that’s as good a time as any to start hitting refresh. When the update becomes available, you just need to go to the App Store and grab the updater. Make sure you’ve got a little spare drive space, and a good internet connection: the installer is 6GB. If you want to start anew, you can download the installer, create a bootable USB drive, and install from that; otherwise, just follow the installer’s instructions, and make sure you have an hour or so of free time to kill. And, as ever, remember to back up first: shit happens.

Elon Musk Says Tesla Cars Will Reach 620 Miles On A Single Charge “Within A Year Or Two,” Be Fully Autonomous In “Three Years”


TechCrunch / Connie Loizos

Elon Musk Says Tesla Cars Will Reach 620 Miles On A Single Charge “Within A Year Or Two,” Be Fully Autonomous In “Three Years”

 Tesla CEO Elon Musk sat down with a Dutch TV show last week and had some interesting predictions to share.
Asked, for example, when he thought the company could produce a car that can “break 1,000 kilometers” (or 620 miles) on a single charge, he said his guess would be “within a year or two,” adding, “2017 for sure.” Read More

Uber announces UberEVENTS, letting event hosts pre-pay for rides for guests, starting in New York (Megan Rose Dickey/TechCrunch)


Techmeme /

Uber announces UberEVENTS, letting event hosts pre-pay for rides for guests, starting in New York (Megan Rose Dickey/TechCrunch)

Megan Rose Dickey / TechCrunch:
Uber announces UberEVENTS, letting event hosts pre-pay for rides for guests, starting in New York  —  Uber Has A New Pre-Paid Ride Service Called UberEVENTS  —  Uber just announced UberEVENTS, a new service for event organizers to pre-pay rides for their guests.

Uber announces UberEVENTS, letting event hosts pre-pay for rides for guests, starting in New York (Megan Rose Dickey/TechCrunch)


Techmeme /

Uber announces UberEVENTS, letting event hosts pre-pay for rides for guests, starting in New York (Megan Rose Dickey/TechCrunch)

Megan Rose Dickey / TechCrunch:
Uber announces UberEVENTS, letting event hosts pre-pay for rides for guests, starting in New York  —  Uber Has A New Pre-Paid Ride Service Called UberEVENTS  —  Uber just announced UberEVENTS, a new service for event organizers to pre-pay rides for their guests.

Oculus partners with Netflix, Hulu, Twitch, Vimeo, Lionsgate, and 20th Century Fox to provide content for Gear VR and Oculus Rift (Ben Gilbert/Tech Insider)


Techmeme /

Oculus partners with Netflix, Hulu, Twitch, Vimeo, Lionsgate, and 20th Century Fox to provide content for Gear VR and Oculus Rift (Ben Gilbert/Tech Insider)

Ben Gilbert / Tech Insider:
Oculus partners with Netflix, Hulu, Twitch, Vimeo, Lionsgate, and 20th Century Fox to provide content for Gear VR and Oculus Rift  —  You can watch Netflix in virtual reality starting today  —  Netflix is heading into virtual reality.  —  The streaming giant is partnering …

Oculus partners with Netflix, Hulu, Twitch, Vimeo, Lionsgate, and 20th Century Fox to provide content for Gear VR and Oculus Rift (Ben Gilbert/Tech Insider)


Techmeme /

Oculus partners with Netflix, Hulu, Twitch, Vimeo, Lionsgate, and 20th Century Fox to provide content for Gear VR and Oculus Rift (Ben Gilbert/Tech Insider)

Ben Gilbert / Tech Insider:
Oculus partners with Netflix, Hulu, Twitch, Vimeo, Lionsgate, and 20th Century Fox to provide content for Gear VR and Oculus Rift  —  You can watch Netflix in virtual reality starting today  —  Netflix is heading into virtual reality.  —  The streaming giant is partnering …

10 awesome bloopers that actually made it into the final cut of the movie


Gizmodo / Casey Chan on Sploid, shared by Casey Chan to Gizmodo

10 awesome bloopers that actually made it into the final cut of the movie

There is so much preparation that goes into a movie and so many takes captured of any given scene and so much work that goes into the camera work and so much practice for the performances but yet, things don’t always go as planned. Mistakes happen, lines are forgotten, and bloopers are created. But sometimes those happy accidents end up being better than what the filmmakers originally intended. Here are 10 movie bloopers that ended up in the final cut courtesy of Screen Rant.SPLOID is delicious brain candy. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Facebook’s Ad Chief Boz Announces “Click To Message A Business” Ads


TechCrunch / Fitz Tepper

Facebook’s Ad Chief Boz Announces “Click To Message A Business” Ads

 Today at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015, Facebook ad chief Andrew “Boz” Bosworth sat down with Josh Constine to discuss the state of advertising on the social network.
Boz started by discussing Instant Articles and emphasizing how the feature was built to improve the user experience of traditionally waiting 6-8 seconds for content to load. Read More

Facebook’s Ad Chief Boz Announces “Click To Message A Business” Ads


TechCrunch / Fitz Tepper

Facebook’s Ad Chief Boz Announces “Click To Message A Business” Ads

 Today at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015, Facebook ad chief Andrew “Boz” Bosworth sat down with Josh Constine to discuss the state of advertising on the social network.
Boz started by discussing Instant Articles and emphasizing how the feature was built to improve the user experience of traditionally waiting 6-8 seconds for content to load. Read More

Apple’s Electric Car Could Ship Within the Next Five Years


Gizmodo / Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan

Apple’s Electric Car Could Ship Within the Next Five Years

Apple’s electric vehicle project, once a blurry rumor, is coming into increasingly clear focus. A major scoop from the Wall Street Journal today gives us details about the car’s team, manufacturing, and a ship date–of 2019.The sources of the Wall Street Journal’s Daisuke Wakabayashi are anonymous—he citied “people familiar with the matter”—but Wakabayashi has already given us most of what we know about the project. His sources say Apple is not only accelerating work on its car, but that car could hit the market as soon as 2019. The company has given the so-called Project Titan team a mandate to triple in size, which would put the team at 1,800 employees based on its current 600-member-strong size. What still isn’t clear is whether Apple plans to manufacture the car itself, which would represent a shift for the company, which normally contracts out the actual making on its devices. There are many unanswered questions about Apple’s automotive foray. It isn’t clear whether Apple has a manufacturing partner to become the car equivalent of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the Taiwanese contract manufacturer that builds most iPhones and is known by the trade name Foxconn. Most major auto makers build and run their own factories, but that hasn’t been Apple’s strategy with iPhones or iPads. Contract manufacturing in the auto industry usually is limited to a few niche models.But back in February, Wakabayashi pointed out that Apple is one of the few companies on Earth with the cold, hard cash to do it. One not-altogether-surprising detail of the report is that the first iteration of the vehicle won’t be totally autonomous. That’s no surprise, given the ship date cited–another detail that the WSJ is careful to hedge, pointing out that this terminology could simply represent the finalization of the product, rather than an in-store sell-by date; what’s more, “there is skepticism within the team that the 2019 target is achievable.” So we’ve got plenty of caveats to these specifics–but Wakabayashi’s report isn’t the only new evidence we’ve got about the project. Over the past few months, we’ve seen evidence of major movement happening on Project Titan, and just a few days ago, reps from California’s DMV said they had met with Apple about the project. Apple’s car is coming–the question, now, seems to be when. [Wall Street Journal]Contact the author at kelsey@Gizmodo.com.

Apple TV Games Will Have to Work With the Siri Remote


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

Apple TV Games Will Have to Work With the Siri Remote

Apple’s upcoming set-top boxes will support third-party controllers for gaming, which is good news for anyone (everyone) who doesn’t like gaming with a touchpad. But that still doesn’t mean you should expect hardcore games from your Apple TV. In the App Programming Guide for tvOS, Apple outlines requirements for game developers — including, unfortunately, a requirement that all games work with the Siri Remote:Your game must support the Apple TV remote. Your game may not require the use of a controllertvOS games that support controllers must support the extended control layout. All controllers for tvOS are nonformfitting extended controllersGames must be playable using standalone controllers. If you support an extended controller, the game must be playable solely with that controller.The policy is understandable: Apple doesn’t want people downloading games that they then can’t play, because they don’t have the right controller. But equally, it’s limiting if every game has to be controllable with a touchpad. [9to5Mac]

Ahead Of WatchOS 2.0 Unveiling, Developers Built Nearly 11,500 Apple Watch Apps


TechCrunch / Sarah Perez

Ahead Of WatchOS 2.0 Unveiling, Developers Built Nearly 11,500 Apple Watch Apps

 Ahead of today’s Apple event, where it’s expected the company will officially introduce the next version of Apple Watch’s software, watchOS 2.0, among other things, app store analytics firm App Annie has released new data on the status of the Watch App Store today. Specifically, the company finds that there are now 11,469 Apple Watch apps live in the iOS App Store.… Read More

The iPhone’s New 3D Touch Is the Future of Apple User Interaction—Here’s How It Works 


Gizmodo / Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan

The iPhone’s New 3D Touch Is the Future of Apple User Interaction—Here’s How It Works 

It’s official: The new iPhone 6S will have force feedback. But the new feature, called 3D Touch, won’t be quite like any other haptic feature Apple has used before.While a few Apple products and competing smartphones have featured forms of force feedback before, make no mistake: Apple throwing the weight of the iPhone behind this emerging form of interaction is a big deal. It’s “unlike any experience you’ve ever seen in an iPhone,” said Schiller, also calling it “profound and new.”So what, exactly, does that mean?What You’ll See and FeelHere’s what we know about this new feature from the user’s perspective. 3D Touch adds two new distinct levels of interaction to your fingers. There’s a “peek” and a “pop,” each of which will activate discrete modes of functionality. The peek is the one you’ll probably use the most. It opens up a preview-style window into whatever you’re touching, be it a link to a website or a map. Pop lets you actually go to that content. Together, the idea is to make the way you interact with your phone far simpler and far faster, cutting away excess taps.The first use case Craig Federighi gave us was the email inbox. You can “peek” at an email to see the content, but if you press deeper—a “pop”—to really open it. Peek will also open up content like Safari pages and flight information, right within the “peek.”Another example: Within Maps, you can use peeks and pops to drop pins, grab directions, and other direct routes to functionality within the app.Third party app developers will be able to leverage 3D Touch too. Instagram, one example onstage today, lets you “peek” at a photo in your Explore tab without fully opening them, or pop into the full post. Each of these interactions will be accompanied by haptic feedback—little vibrations that let you know what you’re doing on the screen.What’s Inside Having secondary and tertiary forms of touch on such a small screen is a risk—it could easily confuse some users, and if it isn’t consistent, it could be a massive headache for everyone. That’s why the hardware matters so much.First the glass screen, which like all screens, bends and deforms on a microscopic level when you tap it. According to Jony Ive, the system interprets the force of your fingers by measuring the distance between the glass and the phone’s backlight, using a layer of capacitive sensors that are embedded against the backlight of the phone itself. When you press the screen, the super-sensitive capacitors can actually measure the “microscopic” change in distance between the glass and the backlight.So 3D Touch is basically just measuring how much your taps (whether hard, enraged, my-flight-just-got-cancelled taps or calm, slight, I-just-woke-up-and-am-browsing-Instagram taps) are displacing your phone’s screen.Now for the hardware that provides the feedback.Those buzzes come from an embedded haptic actuator—or as Apple has rebranded it, the “Taptic Engine”—which is similar to the one that provides vibrations in the Apple Watch. This is essentially just a linear actuator, which creates a single buzz with each firing, but this one is very, very fine-grained. Ive says that it only requires a single oscillation to reach full power, compared to the ten oscillations that your current phone probably needs to produce a vibration.Translation: This engine can provide force feedback very, very quickly—and stop it just as fast.Together, both of those hardware features are meant to create a more deft form of user interaction using haptic feedback. When you peek, your finger will get a response buzz of 10 milliseconds. A longer look will gain you 15 millisecond buzz. Presumably, over time, those haptic responses will get more varied and diverse. Theoretically, a finer actuator could be programmed to provide customized and detailed responses—likewise, we may see the capacitor layer of the 6S get more sensitive and provide even more new levels of touch interaction.And that’s why Apple using haptic feedback matters: More than anything else, this company is a heavyweight of hardware design. The smallest details of these new nuts and bolts inside your device, which you’ll never actually see, have been refined and refined again in a way that most companies can’t afford. Those tiny hardware details matter. Apple wasn’t first with haptic, but with its hardware and manufacturing expertise, it’s trying to be the best.Contact the author at kelsey@Gizmodo.com.

Periscope Is Secretly Building An Apple TV App


TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Periscope Is Secretly Building An Apple TV App

 Periscope is developing an app for the new Apple TV, according to multiple sources. It will allow users to watch livestreams on their television that are broadcasted from Twitter’s Periscope app. You could consider it a coming of age moment, considering the acquired startup’s website is Periscope.tv Tomorrow, Apple will unveil an upgraded Apple TV set-top box that includes an Apple… Read More

Report: Apple Rejected Justice Department Demands for Encrypted iMessages


Gizmodo / Kate Knibbs

Report: Apple Rejected Justice Department Demands for Encrypted iMessages

The fight between law enforcement and tech companies about encryption and privacy is getting nastier than ever. According to a report from the New York Times, the Justice Department obtained a court order for real-time messages between suspects using iPhones to communicate, but Apple didn’t comply. The Times reported on the “standoff” between Apple and the DOJ over encrypted iMessages: Government officials had warned for months that this type of standoff was inevitable as technology companies like Apple and Google embraced tougher encryption. The case, coming after several others in which similar requests were rebuffed, prompted some senior Justice Department and F.B.I. officials to advocate taking Apple to court, several current and former law enforcement officials said.The fight between Apple and the DOJ hasn’t come to a lawsuit yet, but tensions have been high for a while. In the past, the DOJ has tried to use the All Writs Act, an antiquated law from the 18th century to force Apple and other companies to comply with requests for users’ data.In some cases, Apple can’t comply even if it hires a team of law enforcement superfans: Encryption on phones and tablets running Apple’s newer (iOS 8) software means that the company can’t access password-protected data, whether or not there’s a search warrant. In the case this summer, the Times reports that Apple did eventually turn over certain stored iMessages it was able to access through the cloud, but it wasn’t the real-time snooping the government wanted. This is another chapter in an unfolding and likely long-term fight, and Apple’s not the only tech company at odds with the government and law enforcement over who gets to see data. Microsoft is currently in a similar legal battle with the DOJ. Image via AP

Snapchat now draws 4B daily video views, putting it on par with Facebook, and doubling its views in just 3 months (Los Angeles Times)


Techmeme /

Snapchat now draws 4B daily video views, putting it on par with Facebook, and doubling its views in just 3 months (Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Times:
Snapchat now draws 4B daily video views, putting it on par with Facebook, and doubling its views in just 3 months  —  Snapchat’s video push clicks with users  —  Snapchat’s aggressive push into curated video appears to be paying off.  —  The social media app, popular with young users …

Snapchat now draws 4B daily video views, putting it on par with Facebook, and doubling its views in just 3 months (Los Angeles Times)


Techmeme /

Snapchat now draws 4B daily video views, putting it on par with Facebook, and doubling its views in just 3 months (Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Times:
Snapchat now draws 4B daily video views, putting it on par with Facebook, and doubling its views in just 3 months  —  Snapchat’s video push clicks with users  —  Snapchat’s aggressive push into curated video appears to be paying off.  —  The social media app, popular with young users …

New iPhone 6S/6S Plus to retain same storage tiers as iPhone 6: 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB, despite 4K video, increased photo resolution, and other improvements (Mark Gurman/9to5Mac)


Techmeme /

New iPhone 6S/6S Plus to retain same storage tiers as iPhone 6: 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB, despite 4K video, increased photo resolution, and other improvements (Mark Gurman/9to5Mac)

Mark Gurman / 9to5Mac:
New iPhone 6S/6S Plus to retain same storage tiers as iPhone 6: 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB, despite 4K video, increased photo resolution, and other improvements  —  Apple Event: New Apple Watch bands, 16GB iPhones confirmed with 7000 series aluminum  —  Starting with the iPhone 3GS …

A Clever Google Algorithm Could Make 4K Video Half the Size


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

A Clever Google Algorithm Could Make 4K Video Half the Size

Viewers of Silicon Valley will appreciate the earth-shattering importance of compression algorithms. To most everyone else, it’s a geeky bit of math that’s of no particular interest. But when Google promises an algorithm that can cut the bandwidth needed to stream a video in half, things get a little more interesting. In an interview with CNET, Google engineering product manager James Bankoski laid out the details of the upcoming VP10 codec, the successor to the VP9 codec that is already making your YouTube sessions go better. Among a whole bevy of performance improvements is the headline feature: more efficient compression, so that a 4K video file is half the size compared to VP9. http://gizmodo.com/why-you-should…Google is hoping to have the VP10 standard up and running by the end of next year; after that, it’s up to other hardware and software companies to integrate the (free) codec into their products. The fact that Google’s codec is free-to-use will likely give it a leg up in the world: rival codecs, like the H.264 alternative favored by Apple, charge device manufacturers a small fee ($0.60) for every H.264-compatible device they ship. [CNET]Contact the author at chris@gizmodo.com.

Nest’s Got a New Thermostat


Gizmodo / Darren Orf

Nest’s Got a New Thermostat

It’s been quite the four-year journey for Nest Labs, launching two big smart home gadgets and eventually drawing the eye of Google in January of 2014—and it all started with the Nest Learning Thermostat. Today, Nest Labs, now under the Alphabet umbrella, is announcing the 3rd generation of the thermostat that started it all.Technology is filled with all kinds of rumors and speculation — real and fabricated. BitStream collects all those whispers into one place to deliver your morning buzz.Looks can be deceiving, especially since the new Nest looks damn similar to the two before it, but it comes with new capabilities that make it a true successor. For one, the thing is 40 percent bigger and with a sharper display. But the real addition is a new feature called “Farsight.” Before, Nest’s small profile and lower resolution meant you needed to be about three feet away to see what was on the screen. Now, Nest promises “across the room” viewing, so you don’t have to squint to see what your thermostat is up to. “Furnace Heads Up” is another new feature that will run a kind of diagnostic on your heating system twice a year to make sure it’s running properly. This will also make its way to the first and second generation thermostats.That’s about it. Maybe the most exciting news out of all of this is that the second generation thermostat will drop 50 bucks to $200 (while supplies last) and the new one adopts the old $250 price. If you want to get started on a smart home, now might be the time. Apple Strengthens Its AR Future: You know Hololens? Microsoft face-puter that’s one-part prototype and one-part pure future? Apple just pulled one of its top engineers, suggesting that it might finally start taking AR and VR seriously. Apple has AR-like features planned for Maps in iOS 9, but these next-level hires would suggest more could be on the way. [9to5Mac]Remember When Microsoft Had Phones?: Microsoft hasn’t had a flagship Windows Phone in quite awhile, but finally the time is nigh. According to Nokia Poweruser, Microsoft is gearing up to launch the Lumia 940 and 940XL along with the Band 2 and Surface Pro 4 on October 19th. Now that Windows 10 software is out there, let’s get some MS hardware to run it. [Nokia Poweruser]Why Apple, why: According to a leaked user information sheet, Apple will keep the 16GB model of the iPhone for at least one more year. This seems even more ludicrous than last year because new rumors suggest that the new iPhone camera will be able to shoot in 4k. 16GB? Forgettaboutit. [Cult of Mac]What You Might Have Missed on GizmodoApple TV Rumor Roundup: Everything We Think We KnowAmazon Prime Is About To Get WorseAshley Madison Code Shows More Women, and More BotsThe Steve Jobs Documentary Apple Doesn’t Want You to SeeNASA Just Sealed Six People In a Dome For a Year to Practice Mars

Reserved Tesla’s Top-Line Model X SUV? You Can Start Customizing It Now


TechCrunch / Connie Loizos

Reserved Tesla’s Top-Line Model X SUV? You Can Start Customizing It Now

 If you reserved a “Signature Series” Model X,  the $132,000 version of Tesla’s new crossover SUV, you can start modifying it to your heart’s delight. Earlier today, the company began opening up the ordering process, enabling early adopters to pick out their interior and exterior colors, and to throw all kinds of add-ons into their respective shopping carts, including… Read More

McDonald’s Will Serve Breakfast All Day, Thanks to Kitchen Upgrades


Gizmodo / Adam Clark Estes

McDonald’s Will Serve Breakfast All Day, Thanks to Kitchen Upgrades

It’s been just over two years since Gizmodo wondered publicly why McDonald’s didn’t serve breakfast all day. And that was already years after hungry citizens everywhere wondered why they could eat Egg McMuffins for dinner. Now, McDonald’s has heard our call: All day breakfast will be available across America on October 6.So why didn’t McDonald’s do this years ago? Well, pushing breakfast items past the traditional 10:30am cutoff requires a bit of kitchen shuffling, and there’s invariably some risk involved in asking staff to prepare more types of food at the same time. It’s now a risk that McDonald’s franchise owners are willing to take since they’ve agreed to rollout the new all day breakfast at over 14,300 restaurants in the United States. Because the consumer is always right.“This is the consumers’ idea. This is what they want us to do,” McDonald’s USA President Mike Andres told the press. “That’s why I think this could be the catalyst for our turnaround.”Exactly how they’ll pull this off with kitchens that have been designed to handle breakfast and primetime separately is key to making that turnaround happen. Any given McDonald’s restaurant is a fine-tuned machine with each gadget doing a very specific task. Naturally, in order to streamline the new combined process, new gadgets will be required. The Wall Street Journal offers this toaster example:Operators also needed new toasters, because existing units can only be adjusted to warm either hamburger buns or muffins, which toast at different temperatures. Now, most restaurants are being outfitted with two toasters connected together that can toast both buns and muffins at the same time.And yes, it will cost money:Altogether, the investment can range from $500 to $5,000 per restaurant, depending on what equipment franchisees already have, a McDonald’s spokeswoman said. Many franchisees have already installed the new equipment.The radical but welcome change in operations comes as McDonald’s is trying to restore its relevance in a world that starving for anything but fast food. The Big Mac slingers have been dealing with declining sales for years, and despite efforts to wow us with fancy touchscreen technology and cursing Happy Meal toys, McDonald’s has continued to suffer. So it started testing all-day breakfast at select locations earlier this year, and now the chain is giving customers what they want. And you believe you’ll be able to eat a McGriddle for dinner in a little over a month?![Wall Street Journal]Image via Flickr

Google’s Logo Killed Serifs Because Serifs Had It Coming


Gizmodo / Alissa Walker

Google’s Logo Killed Serifs Because Serifs Had It Coming

Google debuted a serif-free logo today—the first real change to its logo since 1999. And although it’s much prettier than the 16-year-old wordmark, the company claimed it was more about functionality than looks: The Google logo has become more and more problematic throughout its existence, and it had everything to do with those serifs.First, a quick primer on serifs: The text you’re reading right here, has serifs, the tiny decorative lines attached to the edges of many of the letters. They help your eyes with readability when you’ve got a lot of text. But serifs are not as useful on text that needs to be shown at many different sizes, like, um, logos. Here’s the before and after of Google’s logo. See the serifs disappear?So if you watch the evolution of Google’s logo in this video, it’s all serif for 17 years. You can see it getting simpler and simpler, but through mostly stylistic decisions. First, that so-90s inflated balloon type. Then the Y2K-era version with the beveled edges. Then the same logo, flattened, thanks to Google’s own Material Design language evangelizing flat design.But after a tiny tweak a year ago, it was clear the designers were kinda stuck. Google’s logo had a big problem.Serifs don’t scaleFirst and foremost, scalability. Google’s old logo did not shrink well. A serif-y “Google” with all those nubbins is not going to be readable at small sizes, for the same reason that Helvetica sucks for screen text. The spindly letterforms start to disappear, and when it’s really tiny, it’s essentially useless. The G almost turns into a C. The l looks like i. Coogie!Old favicon (it looks like an 8!) and the new sans serif G, which looks like a G even at half the sizeThis is the same problem that many logos have on smartphone and smartwatch screens, of course, so designers make a version of the wordmark that’s just a single letter, known as a favicon. Google had a blue lowercase serif “g” for just these occasions, but it had the same problems as the wordmark (nubbins, spindly). Now, the new singular primary-colored capital “G” will be used as a favicon, and different applications (Google+, Google Maps, etc.) each have their own customized G:Old serif Google Plus (what the hell is that half-g?) and the new Google Plus logoAgain and again, you’ll see—serif begone.Serifs suck up bandwidth So the new sans serif G favicon takes care of the scale issue. But the logo itself—the wordmark—still needed to be fixed. When viewed at low resolution, the logo started to degrade in the same way. Google actually has known this for years and had even implemented a workaround for their own identity. Those using low-bandwidth connections would see not the image version of the logo but a close text approximation. Well, not even that close!Instead of giving their low-bandwidth users a crappy experience, a choice was made to not only redesign the logo but also generate a new logo using a vector-based file type called a Scalable Vector Graphic (SVG), which was populated across the company for consistency. SVG is the best file format for logos; it’s the way all logos will appear soon. But Google’s designers also claim that without the serifs, the new logo was a smaller file size, meaning it can be viewed just fine by Google’s low-bandwidth friends:Losing the serifs is a big part of makes Google more accessible to all users, writes the Google Design team. No more giving the low-bandwidth users the short end of the typography stick:This helps us make the design pixel perfect everywhere it’s used, and it allows us to optimize these assets for size and latency, including building a special variant of our full-color logo that is only 305 bytes, compared to our existing logo at ~14,000 bytes. The old logo, with its intricate serifs and larger file size, required that we serve a text-based approximation of the logo for low bandwidth connections. The new logo’s reduced file size avoids this workaround and the consistency has tremendous impact when you consider our goal of making Google more accessible and useful to users around the world, including the next billion.So that last part sounds a little BS. Google has been busy pushing its “next billion” agenda with tools for people with connectivity issues, like optimizing websites for text and offline browsing capabilities for videos and maps. It sounds humanitarian—and it has great intentions, I’m sure!—but it is all just a plan to get more Google products into more hands in more emerging economies, of course.Is redesigning the logo really just so the next billion can have the same experience as the current billion (which I’m pretty sure no one really cared about)? It’s also reminiscent of when Facebook simplified its logo ever so slightly (and they also like to make these kinds of “next billion” announcements).So… are serifs over?But Google could have simply redrawn the serif typeface as an SVG, right? Did they really need to shave off the serifs from a performance perspective? I asked designer Khoi Vinh, who recently joined Adobe as Principal Designer. He sees it as yet another example of Google’s engineering-driven decisions.“I think part of what Google, as a massive organization populated by incredibly smart people (read: nerds), needs to do in order to make a big subjective shift like this is to root it in objective benefits,” he says. “So what makes sense to an engineer when you’re redoing a logo? You’ll save time and bytes.”Remember that story from a few years back about Google testing 41 shades of blue for its search bar, and going against the recommendation of its designers because a certain blue was deemed more clickable by the data? This is a more advanced version of that, says Vinh. “I frankly think that if they went with a more gut instinct approach it would have been fine,” he says. “But the bigger story about Google and design for the past several years—since Larry Page took over—has been if they can retrofit design into their org. This is a great example of how they grok design.”Yes, Google is taking great strides to embrace design—the designers talk about how these choices fits into the Material Design ethos, Google’s larger push for making design more robust—but they still have to rationalize all of it with data.Still, there’s something to be said about serifs and readability. Is the age of the serif logo over? Why would a company add the typographical equivalent of bells and whistles when those superfluous spindles will have to be shed eventually for screen optimization? We’ve seen the same changes happening in other tech logos, especially the ones that will need to be summoned on a smartphone or smartwatch: simpler, streamlined, always sans serif.But Vinh doesn’t think serifs will ever be completely gone. “Serifs are sort of like men’s neckties. Movies have long predicted their demise because in the future everything would be about efficiency,” says Vinh. “But they never go away, because they remind us that we’re human.”Follow the author at @awalkerinLA

The Tesla Model X Does 0 To 60 MPH In 3.2 Seconds, Costs Over $100,000


Jalopnik / Michael Ballaban

The Tesla Model X Does 0 To 60 MPH In 3.2 Seconds, Costs Over $100,000

The Tesla Model X is on the way, and though the electric car company hasn’t “officially” released any information yet, a huge amount of news just dropped courtesy of the Tesla website. It’s going to get 240 miles on a charge, hit 60 MPH in 3.2 seconds, and come with those sweet , sweet doors.Read more…

A Clever Google Algorithm Could Make 4K Video Half the Size


Gizmodo / Chris Mills

A Clever Google Algorithm Could Make 4K Video Half the Size

Viewers of Silicon Valley will appreciate the earth-shattering importance of compression algorithms. To most everyone else, it’s a geeky bit of math that’s of no particular interest. But when Google promises an algorithm that can cut the bandwidth needed to stream a video in half, things get a little more interesting. In an interview with CNET, Google engineering product manager James Bankoski laid out the details of the upcoming VP10 codec, the successor to the VP9 codec that is already making your YouTube sessions go better. Among a whole bevy of performance improvements is the headline feature: more efficient compression, so that a 4K video file is half the size compared to VP9. http://gizmodo.com/why-you-should…Google is hoping to have the VP10 standard up and running by the end of next year; after that, it’s up to other hardware and software companies to integrate the (free) codec into their products. The fact that Google’s codec is free-to-use will likely give it a leg up in the world: rival codecs, like the H.264 alternative favored by Apple, charge device manufacturers a small fee ($0.60) for every H.264-compatible device they ship. [CNET]Contact the author at chris@gizmodo.com.

Nest’s Got a New Thermostat


Gizmodo / Darren Orf

Nest’s Got a New Thermostat

It’s been quite the four-year journey for Nest Labs, launching two big smart home gadgets and eventually drawing the eye of Google in January of 2014—and it all started with the Nest Learning Thermostat. Today, Nest Labs, now under the Alphabet umbrella, is announcing the 3rd generation of the thermostat that started it all.Technology is filled with all kinds of rumors and speculation — real and fabricated. BitStream collects all those whispers into one place to deliver your morning buzz.Looks can be deceiving, especially since the new Nest looks damn similar to the two before it, but it comes with new capabilities that make it a true successor. For one, the thing is 40 percent bigger and with a sharper display. But the real addition is a new feature called “Farsight.” Before, Nest’s small profile and lower resolution meant you needed to be about three feet away to see what was on the screen. Now, Nest promises “across the room” viewing, so you don’t have to squint to see what your thermostat is up to. “Furnace Heads Up” is another new feature that will run a kind of diagnostic on your heating system twice a year to make sure it’s running properly. This will also make its way to the first and second generation thermostats.That’s about it. Maybe the most exciting news out of all of this is that the second generation thermostat will drop 50 bucks to $200 (while supplies last) and the new one adopts the old $250 price. If you want to get started on a smart home, now might be the time. Apple Strengthens Its AR Future: You know Hololens? Microsoft face-puter that’s one-part prototype and one-part pure future? Apple just pulled one of its top engineers, suggesting that it might finally start taking AR and VR seriously. Apple has AR-like features planned for Maps in iOS 9, but these next-level hires would suggest more could be on the way. [9to5Mac]Remember When Microsoft Had Phones?: Microsoft hasn’t had a flagship Windows Phone in quite awhile, but finally the time is nigh. According to Nokia Poweruser, Microsoft is gearing up to launch the Lumia 940 and 940XL along with the Band 2 and Surface Pro 4 on October 19th. Now that Windows 10 software is out there, let’s get some MS hardware to run it. [Nokia Poweruser]Why Apple, why: According to a leaked user information sheet, Apple will keep the 16GB model of the iPhone for at least one more year. This seems even more ludicrous than last year because new rumors suggest that the new iPhone camera will be able to shoot in 4k. 16GB? Forgettaboutit. [Cult of Mac]What You Might Have Missed on GizmodoApple TV Rumor Roundup: Everything We Think We KnowAmazon Prime Is About To Get WorseAshley Madison Code Shows More Women, and More BotsThe Steve Jobs Documentary Apple Doesn’t Want You to SeeNASA Just Sealed Six People In a Dome For a Year to Practice Mars

Ride This One-Wheeled Gyro Skate They Call A “Hoverboard”


TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Ride This One-Wheeled Gyro Skate They Call A “Hoverboard”

 The mad scientist who started Hoverboard Technologies calls his vehicle an “earned experience.” That means it’s hard to ride. Despite the name, this hoverboard* doesn’t levitate. Instead, it uses gyroscopes like a Segway to help you balance with your feet on either side of one giant rollerblade-style wheel in the center. Read More

Google’s Logo Killed Serifs Because Serifs Had It Coming


Gizmodo / Alissa Walker

Google’s Logo Killed Serifs Because Serifs Had It Coming

Google debuted a serif-free logo today—the first real change to its logo since 1999. And although it’s much prettier than the 16-year-old wordmark, the company claimed it was more about functionality than looks: The Google logo has become more and more problematic throughout its existence, and it had everything to do with those serifs.First, a quick primer on serifs: The text you’re reading right here, has serifs, the tiny decorative lines attached to the edges of many of the letters. They help your eyes with readability when you’ve got a lot of text. But serifs are not as useful on text that needs to be shown at many different sizes, like, um, logos. Here’s the before and after of Google’s logo. See the serifs disappear?So if you watch the evolution of Google’s logo in this video, it’s all serif for 17 years. You can see it getting simpler and simpler, but through mostly stylistic decisions. First, that so-90s inflated balloon type. Then the Y2K-era version with the beveled edges. Then the same logo, flattened, thanks to Google’s own Material Design language evangelizing flat design.But after a tiny tweak a year ago, it was clear the designers were kinda stuck. Google’s logo had a big problem.Serifs don’t scaleFirst and foremost, scalability. Google’s old logo did not shrink well. A serif-y “Google” with all those nubbins is not going to be readable at small sizes, for the same reason that Helvetica sucks for screen text. The spindly letterforms start to disappear, and when it’s really tiny, it’s essentially useless. The G almost turns into a C. The l looks like i. Coogie!Old favicon (it looks like an 8!) and the new sans serif G, which looks like a G even at half the sizeThis is the same problem that many logos have on smartphone and smartwatch screens, of course, so designers make a version of the wordmark that’s just a single letter, known as a favicon. Google had a blue lowercase serif “g” for just these occasions, but it had the same problems as the wordmark (nubbins, spindly). Now, the new singular primary-colored capital “G” will be used as a favicon, and different applications (Google+, Google Maps, etc.) each have their own customized G:Old serif Google Plus (what the hell is that half-g?) and the new Google Plus logoAgain and again, you’ll see—serif begone.Serifs suck up bandwidth So the new sans serif G favicon takes care of the scale issue. But the logo itself—the wordmark—still needed to be fixed. When viewed at low resolution, the logo started to degrade in the same way. Google actually has known this for years and had even implemented a workaround for their own identity. Those using low-bandwidth connections would see not the image version of the logo but a close text approximation. Well, not even that close!Instead of giving their low-bandwidth users a crappy experience, a choice was made to not only redesign the logo but also generate a new logo using a vector-based file type called a Scalable Vector Graphic (SVG), which was populated across the company for consistency. SVG is the best file format for logos; it’s the way all logos will appear soon. But Google’s designers also claim that without the serifs, the new logo was a smaller file size, meaning it can be viewed just fine by Google’s low-bandwidth friends:Losing the serifs is a big part of makes Google more accessible to all users, writes the Google Design team. No more giving the low-bandwidth users the short end of the typography stick:This helps us make the design pixel perfect everywhere it’s used, and it allows us to optimize these assets for size and latency, including building a special variant of our full-color logo that is only 305 bytes, compared to our existing logo at ~14,000 bytes. The old logo, with its intricate serifs and larger file size, required that we serve a text-based approximation of the logo for low bandwidth connections. The new logo’s reduced file size avoids this workaround and the consistency has tremendous impact when you consider our goal of making Google more accessible and useful to users around the world, including the next billion.So that last part sounds a little BS. Google has been busy pushing its “next billion” agenda with tools for people with connectivity issues, like optimizing websites for text and offline browsing capabilities for videos and maps. It sounds humanitarian—and it has great intentions, I’m sure!—but it is all just a plan to get more Google products into more hands in more emerging economies, of course.Is redesigning the logo really just so the next billion can have the same experience as the current billion (which I’m pretty sure no one really cared about)? It’s also reminiscent of when Facebook simplified its logo ever so slightly (and they also like to make these kinds of “next billion” announcements).So… are serifs over?But Google could have simply redrawn the serif typeface as an SVG, right? Did they really need to shave off the serifs from a performance perspective? I asked designer Khoi Vinh, who recently joined Adobe as Principal Designer. He sees it as yet another example of Google’s engineering-driven decisions.“I think part of what Google, as a massive organization populated by incredibly smart people (read: nerds), needs to do in order to make a big subjective shift like this is to root it in objective benefits,” he says. “So what makes sense to an engineer when you’re redoing a logo? You’ll save time and bytes.”Remember that story from a few years back about Google testing 41 shades of blue for its search bar, and going against the recommendation of its designers because a certain blue was deemed more clickable by the data? This is a more advanced version of that, says Vinh. “I frankly think that if they went with a more gut instinct approach it would have been fine,” he says. “But the bigger story about Google and design for the past several years—since Larry Page took over—has been if they can retrofit design into their org. This is a great example of how they grok design.”Yes, Google is taking great strides to embrace design—the designers talk about how these choices fits into the Material Design ethos, Google’s larger push for making design more robust—but they still have to rationalize all of it with data.Still, there’s something to be said about serifs and readability. Is the age of the serif logo over? Why would a company add the typographical equivalent of bells and whistles when those superfluous spindles will have to be shed eventually for screen optimization? We’ve seen the same changes happening in other tech logos, especially the ones that will need to be summoned on a smartphone or smartwatch: simpler, streamlined, always sans serif.But Vinh doesn’t think serifs will ever be completely gone. “Serifs are sort of like men’s neckties. Movies have long predicted their demise because in the future everything would be about efficiency,” says Vinh. “But they never go away, because they remind us that we’re human.”Follow the author at @awalkerinLA

McDonald’s Will Serve Breakfast All Day, Thanks to Kitchen Upgrades


Gizmodo / Adam Clark Estes

McDonald’s Will Serve Breakfast All Day, Thanks to Kitchen Upgrades

It’s been just over two years since Gizmodo wondered publicly why McDonald’s didn’t serve breakfast all day. And that was already years after hungry citizens everywhere wondered why they could eat Egg McMuffins for dinner. Now, McDonald’s has heard our call: All day breakfast will be available across America on October 6.So why didn’t McDonald’s do this years ago? Well, pushing breakfast items past the traditional 10:30am cutoff requires a bit of kitchen shuffling, and there’s invariably some risk involved in asking staff to prepare more types of food at the same time. It’s now a risk that McDonald’s franchise owners are willing to take since they’ve agreed to rollout the new all day breakfast at over 14,300 restaurants in the United States. Because the consumer is always right.“This is the consumers’ idea. This is what they want us to do,” McDonald’s USA President Mike Andres told the press. “That’s why I think this could be the catalyst for our turnaround.”Exactly how they’ll pull this off with kitchens that have been designed to handle breakfast and primetime separately is key to making that turnaround happen. Any given McDonald’s restaurant is a fine-tuned machine with each gadget doing a very specific task. Naturally, in order to streamline the new combined process, new gadgets will be required. The Wall Street Journal offers this toaster example:Operators also needed new toasters, because existing units can only be adjusted to warm either hamburger buns or muffins, which toast at different temperatures. Now, most restaurants are being outfitted with two toasters connected together that can toast both buns and muffins at the same time.And yes, it will cost money:Altogether, the investment can range from $500 to $5,000 per restaurant, depending on what equipment franchisees already have, a McDonald’s spokeswoman said. Many franchisees have already installed the new equipment.The radical but welcome change in operations comes as McDonald’s is trying to restore its relevance in a world that starving for anything but fast food. The Big Mac slingers have been dealing with declining sales for years, and despite efforts to wow us with fancy touchscreen technology and cursing Happy Meal toys, McDonald’s has continued to suffer. So it started testing all-day breakfast at select locations earlier this year, and now the chain is giving customers what they want. And you believe you’ll be able to eat a McGriddle for dinner in a little over a month?![Wall Street Journal]Image via Flickr

Apple Patents Earbuds With Noise-Canceling Sensor Smarts


TechCrunch / Natasha Lomas

Apple Patents Earbuds With Noise-Canceling Sensor Smarts

 Apple continues looking at ways to improve its earbuds — including potentially ditching the iconic white cables which had such a starring role in iTunes ads, back in the day. According a patent published this week, Cupertino is eyeing up making wireless earbuds which also incorporate bone-conduction technology in order to improve voice communications. Read More

The iPhone 6s’ Biggest Upgrade Is All About That Camera


Gizmodo / Darren Orf

The iPhone 6s’ Biggest Upgrade Is All About That Camera

The iPhone 6s seems to be a boring upgrade as far as aesthetics go. Surprise! It’s going to look almost identical to the year-old iPhones already out there. But as we approach ever closer to that September 9 Apple event, more leaks are fleshing out what exactly the 6s is going to deliver on the inside. And it looks like it’s all about that camera.Right now, the iPhone 6 has an 8-megapixel camera with no ability to shoot video in 4k. That last fact is quite the bummer for a smartphone in 2015. But according to 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman, Apple’s going to change that with the iPhone 6s by adding 4k recording along with an improved 12 megapixel sensor. Gurman also says that the front-facing camera will get some attention with a better sensor for FaceTime recording and selfies, and that the camera app will be updated so that the screen flashes white when you take a picture. This refutes earlier rumors that the iPhone 6s camera would have a separate LED flash on the front. The front camera may also receive panoramic selfies and slow-mo 720p video as well.Apple’s next iPhone will likely come with lots of other neat additions like Force Touch and a faster A9 processor, but it’s the camera that’s getting the most attention. It’s one of the biggest upgrades to the iPhone’s camera in years and will most likely be the main focus of Tim Cook and company’s chat in Cupertino in a few weeks time. [9to5Mac]

Tesla’s Model S P85D Just Broke Consumer Reports’ Ratings System, Scoring 103 Out Of 100


TechCrunch / Connie Loizos

Tesla’s Model S P85D Just Broke Consumer Reports’ Ratings System, Scoring 103 Out Of 100

 Well, this is something you don’t see every day. According to a new report out of Consumer Reports, the Tesla Model S P85D,  all-wheel-drive electric sedan, performed “better in our tests than any other car ever has, earning a perfect road-test score.” Actually, it did better than that, scoring 103 points in a scoring system that, “by definition,” doesn’t… Read More

Instagram Isn’t Only Square Photos Anymore


Gizmodo / Alissa Walker

Instagram Isn’t Only Square Photos Anymore

Starting today, Instagrammers no longer have to crop their latte art shots to the app’s creatively restricting square aspect ratio. Now users can choose one of two additional layouts—portrait and landscape—to add horizontal or vertical real estate to their images. Finally!This is the latest in a series of big changes for the app that include saving photos larger than the standard 640px resolution and a streamlined redesign for in-browser viewing. All of these changes seem to nod at the fact that professional photographers are using the service more and more, and want more control over how their images appear.I’ve often wondered how strange it will be for someone to look at all the photographs posted over these last few years and wonder, why are they all square? This was definitely what set Instagram apart at first—the square was also kind of a throwback to a Polaroid’s dimensions—and it has become something that the app has become known for. It’s probably not as important anymore, from a branding perspective. It also shows that Instagram is listening to its users, who have whined about this since the beginning.While those of us who have been struggling with ways to squash that REALLY AWESOME SUNSET into a square (by using third party apps to add white borders, mostly) are thrilled with this development, it’s not a plus for all users. Smartwatches, for example, frame a square image perfectly; these new shapes will probably have to be shrunk significantly to be seen. The different sizes will also distort our feeds, so Instagram has a fix to help keep our them clean: “Your post will appear there as a center-cropped square.”Happiest of all, however, will be filmmakers, who no longer have to hack off the edges of their videos to fit in frame. Meaning we’ll have a lot more Instagram experiences that look like this.Also, bonus: You can upload vertical video a la Snapchat. Or if you’re NASA, you can provide the full Hubble view.[Instagram]

Stephen Hawking’s New Theory on Black Holes is Fantastically Insane


Gizmodo / Maddie Stone

Stephen Hawking’s New Theory on Black Holes is Fantastically Insane

Black holes have a rap for being hopeless vortexes of destruction, but what would really happen if you fell into one? According to Stephen Hawking, you might end up in another universe.That’s the celebrated physicist’s latest answer to the so-called “information paradox” — the conundrum that black holes appear to swallow matter, which, according to the laws of quantum mechanics, is totally batshit insane and not possible. At a public lecture in Stockholm this week, Hawking offered these comforting words to any would-be deep space travelers: “If you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up. There’s a way out.” According to Hawking’s new theory, described in a blog post by the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, there are two ways this terrible situation could end: One, you become permanently stuck in a 2 dimensional hologram on the black hole’s edge (shitty, brah). Two, you bust right through into another universe.“The existence of alternative histories with black holes suggests this might be possible,” Hawking said. “The hole would need to be large and if it was rotating it might have a passage to another universe. But you couldn’t come back to our universe.”Personally, I’m pretty okay with this turn of events. Sure, winding up in some other universe where the laws of physics are different and all the bonds between all the atoms in your body suddenly break would really suck, but I’ll still take that over getting compressed into an infinitesimally small spec of mass for the rest of eternity.[KTH via The Guardian]Contact the author at maddie.stone@gizmodo.com or follow her on Twitter.Top image: Artist’s concept of a black hole, via Wikimedia

Facebook Goes Nuclear On The Messaging War With Its M Assistant


TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Facebook Goes Nuclear On The Messaging War With Its M Assistant

 All messaging apps are the same no more. A few years ago, there were few differences between SMS and a slew of chat apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, Kik, Line, KakaoTalk and Facebook Messenger. But each have slowly defined themselves differently, whether through simplicity, connections to businesses, media, stickers, games, location, and other features. Read More

Facebook Goes Nuclear On The Messaging War With Its M Assistant


TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Facebook Goes Nuclear On The Messaging War With Its M Assistant

 All messaging apps are the same no more. A few years ago, there were few differences between SMS and a slew of chat apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, Kik, Line, KakaoTalk and Facebook Messenger. But each have slowly defined themselves differently, whether through simplicity, connections to businesses, media, stickers, games, location, and other features. Read More

Uber investor finds using Uber is cheaper than owning a car in London or San Francisco (Megan Quinn/Medium)


Techmeme /

Uber investor finds using Uber is cheaper than owning a car in London or San Francisco (Megan Quinn/Medium)

Megan Quinn / Medium:
Uber investor finds using Uber is cheaper than owning a car in London or San Francisco  —  I Don’t Own, I Uber  —  A year after selling my car and going full Uber, I crunched the numbers.  Guess what I found.  —  A little over a year ago, I moved to London and as part of the move, I sold my car.

Pepsi Made a Blimp That Helps Friends Find Each Other at a Music Festival


Gizmodo / Andrew Liszewski

Pepsi Made a Blimp That Helps Friends Find Each Other at a Music Festival

When you’re truly enjoying yourself at a music festival, it’s all but guaranteed that at some point you’ll get separated from your friends. So to make it easier to find them again, Pepsi made an app-connected blimp that helps guide lost and lonely revelers back to their pals.Created by UK ad agency AMV BBDO, the half-blimp-half-drone was first deployed at London’s New Look Wireless Festival where attendees could download a free smartphone app and use it to request a little help in tracking down their friends amongst the giant mob of people.Using a pixelated display that wrapped almost all the way around the floating sphere, the blimp would provide visual cues as to which direction someone needed to head in order to find who they were looking for—or they could simply follow it as it floated above the crowd.It’s a publicity stunt, no question there, but also not a terrible idea. How often have you struggled to find where your friends are sitting in a darkened movie theater? An overhead drone could definitely help there. Or when you’re trying to find a specific store at a shopping mall., instead of trying to decipher some complicated map, you could simply follow a drone to your destination. Pepsi, you might be on to something here.[YouTube via Taxi via Ads of the World]

Pepsi Made a Blimp That Helps Friends Find Each Other at a Music Festival


Gizmodo / Andrew Liszewski

Pepsi Made a Blimp That Helps Friends Find Each Other at a Music Festival

When you’re truly enjoying yourself at a music festival, it’s all but guaranteed that at some point you’ll get separated from your friends. So to make it easier to find them again, Pepsi made an app-connected blimp that helps guide lost and lonely revelers back to their pals.Created by UK ad agency AMV BBDO, the half-blimp-half-drone was first deployed at London’s New Look Wireless Festival where attendees could download a free smartphone app and use it to request a little help in tracking down their friends amongst the giant mob of people.Using a pixelated display that wrapped almost all the way around the floating sphere, the blimp would provide visual cues as to which direction someone needed to head in order to find who they were looking for—or they could simply follow it as it floated above the crowd.It’s a publicity stunt, no question there, but also not a terrible idea. How often have you struggled to find where your friends are sitting in a darkened movie theater? An overhead drone could definitely help there. Or when you’re trying to find a specific store at a shopping mall., instead of trying to decipher some complicated map, you could simply follow a drone to your destination. Pepsi, you might be on to something here.[YouTube via Taxi via Ads of the World]

This App Shoots VHS Quality Video That Bob Saget Would Be Proud Of


TechCrunch / Drew Olanoff

This App Shoots VHS Quality Video That Bob Saget Would Be Proud Of

 If you long for the shitty quality videos of pre-2000, the ones shot on a camcorder, then this iOS app is for you. Fittingly, it’s called VHS Camcorder and it costs $3.99. It’s kind of worth it, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t pay for a lot of apps. Not only does your video get turned into something with zero HD quality whatsoever, it also sounds like… Read More