Broken Age Brings Back a Classic Feature: Unfair Puzzles

Wired - Top Stories - 4 hours 40 min ago

Double Fine's Broken Age is a great point-and-click adventure revival, but some of its puzzles aren't just difficult---they're unfair.

The post Broken Age Brings Back a Classic Feature: Unfair Puzzles appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

The World of 3D Portraiture

Slashdot - 5 hours 35 min ago
An anonymous reader writes in with this BBC story about the niche market of 3D printed "selfie" models. By now we're familiar with tales of 3D-printed marvels, from guns to duck prosthetics. But when I traveled to a physics conference in March, I wasn't expecting to end up with a full colour printout of myself. However, at a small stall that popped up on Industry Day at the American Physical Society's March meeting — that is precisely the service that was being offered. I stepped on to a little rotating platform, tried to stand still for a few awkward minutes while a camera scanned me up and down, and then filled out a form. A few weeks later, a box has arrived in the post. Somewhere inside it, my two-inch twin is waiting for me to overcome my trepidation and show him the light of day. But I'm in no hurry; it all seems a bit... odd. The box sits on my desk for several days. Even though getting 'printed' puts me in the illustrious company of Barack Obama and Richard III, I'm unsure about my decision. What, I wonder, does someone do with a small selfie in statue form? Where does this business find its customers?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Behind Liberty Reserve, the digital currency shut down by US authorities for money laundering (Jake Halpern/The Atlantic)

TechMeme - 5 hours 45 min ago

Jake Halpern / The Atlantic:
Behind Liberty Reserve, the digital currency shut down by US authorities for money laundering  —  Bank of the Underworld … In the fall of 2011, the U.S. Secret Service orchestrated a sting operation.  The target was a Vietnamese man named Hieu Minh Ngo.

Categories: Technology

Google Insiders Talk About Why Google+ Failed

Slashdot - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 11:08pm
An anonymous reader writes in with this story about what happened to Google+ from an employee perspective. "Last month, Google announced that it's changing up its strategy with Google+. In a sense, it's giving up on pitching Google+ as a social network aimed at competing with Facebook. Instead, Google+ will become two separate pieces: Photos and Streams. This didn't come as a surprise — Google+ never really caught on the same way social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn did....Rumors have been swirling for months that Google would change its direction with Google+. Business Insider spoke with a few insiders about what happened to the network that Google believed would change the way people share their lives online. Google+ was really important to Larry Page, too — one person said he was personally involved and wanted to get the whole company behind it. The main problem with Google+, one former Googler says, is the company tried to make it too much like Facebook. Another former Googler agrees, saying the company was 'late to market' and motivated from 'a competitive standpoint.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

When Exxon Wanted To Be a Personal Computing Revolutionary

Slashdot - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 8:37pm
An anonymous reader writes with this story about Exxon's early involvement with consumer computers. "This weekend is the anniversary of the release of the Apple IIc, the company's fourth personal computer iteration and its first attempt at creating a portable computer. In 1981, Apple's leading competitor in the world of consumer ('novice') computer users was IBM, but the market was about to experience a deluge of also-rans and other silent partners in PC history, including the multinational descendant of Standard Oil, Exxon. The oil giant had been quietly cultivating a position in the microprocessor industry since the mid-1970s via the rogue Intel engineer usually credited with developing the very first commercial microprocessor, Federico Faggin, and his startup Zilog. Faggin had ditched Intel in 1974, after developing the 4004 four-bit CPU and its eight-bit successor, the 8008. As recounted in Datapoint: The Lost Story of the Texans Who Invented the Personal Computer, Faggin was upset about Intel's new requirement that employees had to arrive by eight in the morning, while he usually worked nights. Soon after leaving Intel and forming Zilog, Faggin was approached by Exxon Enterprises, the investment arm of Exxon, which began funding Zilog in 1975."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

Slashdot - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 7:25pm
An anonymous reader writes: English teacher Michael Godsey writes in The Atlantic what he envisions the role of teachers to be in the future. In a nutshell, he sees virtual classrooms, less pay, and a drastic decrease in the number of educators, but thinks they will all be "super-teachers". From the article: "Whenever a college student asks me, a veteran high-school English educator, about the prospects of becoming a public-school teacher, I never think it's enough to say that the role is shifting from 'content expert' to 'curriculum facilitator.' Instead, I describe what I think the public-school classroom will look like in 20 years, with a large, fantastic computer screen at the front, streaming one of the nation's most engaging, informative lessons available on a particular topic. The 'virtual class' will be introduced, guided, and curated by one of the country's best teachers (a.k.a. a "super-teacher"), and it will include professionally produced footage of current events, relevant excerpts from powerful TedTalks, interactive games students can play against other students nationwide, and a formal assessment that the computer will immediately score and record. I tell this college student that in each classroom, there will be a local teacher-facilitator (called a 'tech') to make sure that the equipment works and the students behave. Since the 'tech' won't require the extensive education and training of today's teachers, the teacher's union will fall apart, and that "tech" will earn about $15 an hour to facilitate a class of what could include over 50 students. This new progressive system will be justified and supported by the American public for several reasons: Each lesson will be among the most interesting and efficient lessons in the world; millions of dollars will be saved in reduced teacher salaries; the 'techs' can specialize in classroom management; performance data will be standardized and immediately produced (and therefore 'individualized'); and the country will finally achieve equity in its public school system."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Officials Say Russian Hackers Read Obama's Unclassified Emails

Slashdot - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 6:15pm
An anonymous reader points out that Russian hackers reportedly obtained some of President Obama’s emails when the White House’s unclassified computer system was hacked last year. Some of President Obama's email correspondence was swept up by Russian hackers last year in a breach of the White House's unclassified computer system that was far more intrusive and worrisome than has been publicly acknowledged, according to senior American officials briefed on the investigation. The hackers, who also got deeply into the State Department's unclassified system, do not appear to have penetrated closely guarded servers that control the message traffic from Mr. Obama's BlackBerry, which he or an aide carries constantly. But they obtained access to the email archives of people inside the White House, and perhaps some outside, with whom Mr. Obama regularly communicated. From those accounts, they reached emails that the president had sent and received, according to officials briefed on the investigation.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Google Executive Dan Fredinburg Among Victims of Everest avalanche

Slashdot - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 5:04pm
alphadogg writes: Dan Fredinburg, privacy director for the company's Google X team, and an engineer who worked on many of Google's most exciting projects during his 8 years with the company, died over the weekend in an avalanche on Mount Everest. The 33-year-old worked on projects such as Google Loon, the company's balloon-based Internet access effort and self-driving car. He also was involved in Google Street View Everest, leading expeditions to gather imagery of the Khumbu region around Mt. Everest. Fredinburg's career began in a much less glamorous fashion as a "dock rat" and as a farm hand in Arkansas.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Seeing Buildings Shake With Software

Slashdot - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 3:55pm
mikejuk writes: In 2012 a team from MIT CSAIL discovered that you could get motion magnification by applying filtering algorithms to the color changes of individual pixels. The method didn't track movement directly, but instead used the color changes that result from the movement. Now another MIT team has attempted to put the technique to use in monitoring structures — to directly see the vibrations in buildings, bridges and other constructions. Currently such monitoring involves instrumenting the building with accelerometers. This is expensive and doesn't generally give a complete "picture" of what is happening to the building. It would be much simpler to point a video camera at the building and use motion magnification software to really see the vibrations and this is exactly what the team is trying out. Yes you can see the building move — in real time — and it seems to be a good match to what traditional monitoring methods say is happening. The next stage is to use the method to monitor MIT's Green Building, the Zakim Bridge and the John Hancock Tower in Boston.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

The dearth of women in Bitcoin mirrors tech as a whole, with some women actively involved, influential, and welcomed in the community (Daniel Roberts/Fortune)

TechMeme - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 3:30pm

Daniel Roberts / Fortune:
The dearth of women in Bitcoin mirrors tech as a whole, with some women actively involved, influential, and welcomed in the community  —  Think there aren't women in bitcoin?  Think again.  —  The bitcoin community—the developers, executives, venture capitalists, policy wonks, academics …

Categories: Technology

11 Things About The Apple Watch That May Surprise You

ReadWriteWeb - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 3:22pm

Apple’s much anticipated new smartwatch has finally landed at its ultimate destination: on the arms of consumers. 

See also: There's Gold On Them Thar Wrists

As the earliest adopters get busy binding their wrists, practicing their “force touches” and updating their iPhone apps to work with the wearable, we took stock of a few interesting details that have clocked in with the Apple Watch’s arrival.

Your MagSafe charger can rat out your cheapskate purchase

Not that there’s anything wrong with picking up the Sport, the least expensive version of the Apple Watch. But if you’re touchy about it—maybe if you've even swapped out watchbands to hide that fact—then don’t plan on powering up on the go. Whipping out the plastic magnetic charger will be a dead giveaway. 

By contrast, the mid-range and super-special (read: pricey) versions of the Apple Watch—branded, confusingly, as the Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Edition—both come with metallic chargers. Fortunately, all of them work pretty fast, so the difference is really just skin deep.

Your MagSafe charger may power other devices ...

According to an Apple Insider reader named Albert Lee, an Apple Watch charger worked on his Moto 360 smartwatch, since both use the Qi wireless charging standard. Mashable confirmed this with its own tests

That’s actually a much bigger deal than it seems. Qi, the most popular among mobile makers, is just one of three wireless charging standards that’s trying to dominate the gadget world. Over the past year, the other two—the newer PowerMat and latest Rezence standards—have joined forces, making it easier for manufacturers to support both in one product.

See also: How Starbucks Could Take Wireless Charging Mainstream

At some point, the industry has to decide on one path to move forward, if it hopes to see wireless charging become as common as micro USB cables. If Apple has thrown its weight behind Qi, that could tip the scales back in its favor.

Or at least it would, if not for the following.

... but the Apple Watch can’t use other random Qi chargers (at least, so far)The Apple Watch can't receive power from other Qi chargers that aren't designed explicitly for the watch—at least not yet.

According to Mashable’s tests, the reverse scenario—with other Qi chargers sending power to the Apple Watch—doesn’t work. Now, the site only tried two charging products, and it's not clear whether the problem comes from a technical issue or if incompatible physical designs got in the way.

We don’t know which version of Qi the test chargers use, and that matters. Older versions can be notoriously fussy, forcing users to place devices on just the right spot on mats. But last year, an update brought support for a different, and much more flexible type of charging called resonance charging, which can send power from a farther distance. It’s possible the Apple Watch may eventually work with newer Qi products. If so, then these chargers could succeed in zinging the juice where others failed. 

We've already spotted third-party charging products designed for the watch—like docks and batteries (see below)—so charging doesn't look like an Apple-only scenario. 

The watch could be the beginning of Apple’s wireless charging assault

It has been a good year for Qi, which also saw IKEA pack the standard into its furniture. For Apple, stepping into wireless charging could have major implications across the company's entire portfolio of products. Take that new MacBook with just one port, for instance. If its watch experiment proves successful, an upcoming model of the laptop could boast wireless charging too, making that single port more reasonable and less aggravating. Along the way, the iPhones and iPads could get some Qi support too.

See also: How The New Apple MacBook Retired Steve Jobs’s Vision Of Computing

Apple’s tack may be "far from innovative compared with other wireless charging technologies currently in production or development,” as IHT analyst Ryan Sanderson put it in a press statement he sent me, back when Apple first announced the watch. But it doesn’t need to be innovative. Apple products tend to boost companies, tech standards and even whole industries, when they adopt them. And wireless charging, which has been on the brink of mainstream adoption for ages, could use a nudge in the right direction.

Finally, a justification for that confusing Digital Crown: underwater use!

The Apple Watch’s water-resistance comes as no surprise; it’s listed as a feature. But when FoneFox put it through a water torture test—showering and swimming with it, dunking it in a bucket—it discovered that the touchscreen couldn’t handle the waterboarding.

Fortunately, the "digital crown"—the little click wheel on the side—does, which may justify the addition of this feature. But don’t take that as a cue to try dunking the watch yourself. 

The watch could measure your blood oxygen levels (but it won’t)

When iFixit autopsied the 38mm Apple Watch, it found that the heart-rate monitor could measure more than beats per minute—it could measure blood oxygen. The approach, known to doctors as pulse oximetry, helps them ensure patients have adequate oxygen levels during surgery (or any other time they're under sedation), as well as while they’re taking lung medications or physically exerting themselves.

Naturally, that conjures certain activities—like rock climbing or, given its water tolerance, some light scuba diving. But stop right there. iFixit speculates that Apple stayed mum about this sensor due to federal regulations. Measuring oxygen levels in the blood skirts the line between quantified fitness and health, and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration can be rather particular when it comes to approving health equipment.

At this point, we don’t know whether the sensor will wind up as ResearchKit fodder for Apple's medical research initiative, or a tool to please extreme athletes. All we know for now is that it’s there, lying dormant until Apple’s ready and able to flip the switch.

Some parts are easy to replace ...

Batteries have a shelf life, often measured in the number charges they'll take throughout their life before they act up or even go completely dead. The Apple Watch’s lifespan too will eventually run out, which may spur some users to try swapping the battery on their own.

There’s good news and bad news there. The battery is relatively easy to replace, in and of itself; it's only attached with a bit of adhesive, making it easy to pop out. But you have to get to it first. The screen stands in the way. Apply heat to loosen the glue holding it down, and then unhook the display cable. The latter may be a bit tricky, judging by iFixit’s teardown.

When the site tore into the 38mm watch, it found a 205 mAh battery. The larger watch probably boasts a bigger battery, which may or may not affect how easy it is to dig the power cell out. Other parts, like the cables, speaker, buttons and the "Taptic Engine” (which deals vibration alerts) can challenge the far-sighted, with their small size and itty bitty screws, but don’t seem impossible to pluck out. The watch’s processor, however, looks like it’s practically a permanent fixture. (See below.)

Note that messing with the watch’s guts will void the warranty. This stuff is not for the faint of heart—or the poorly sighted. (There’s a reason watchmakers use a loupe.)

... but others, not so much

The Apple Watch runs off a fancy hardware nugget called the S1, which packs a processor, wireless radios, memory and sensors into one “system on a chip.” Though teensy, the technology is powerful. Apparently, so is the glue holding it together.

Few Apple Watch owners will ever stare into that wee abyss, and that’s a good thing, judging by iFixit’s experience trying to pull it apart: 

Despite rumors (and hopes) of an upgradable product, the difficulty of removing the S1 alone casts serious doubt on the idea of simply swapping out the internals.

Unfortunately, our first look is obstructed—that S1-emblazoned silver cap isn't a cap at all. It's a solid block of plasticky resin, hiding treasures deep within.

The fully encased S1 system makes board-level repairs impossible.

Just like regular watches, the straps will get nastyApple Watch straps may not ever get this nasty (unless you throw one into a campfire), but they won't look pretty forever

Even the majestic halo of Apple gadgetry can’t ward off the realities of simple chemistry. Users wear these gadgets next to their skin, which means grossness will force touch them over time—especially the straps. You can clean off metal, but you can’t bring back leather and fluoroelastomer watch bands back from discoloration and warping. 

There are already thousands of apps for the watch

Watch users can do a tremendous number of things from their wrists already. They can unlock Starwood hotel doors, read New York Times news headlines, shop, navigate the outdoors, check into Foursquare locations, stay on top of Expedia reservation updates, track packages, and many, many other things.

If that’s not enough, the IFTTT service (short for “If This Then That”) just integrated the Do Button and Do Note apps for the Apple Watch, giving users access to as many as 170 more apps. According to an IFTTT rep, "people can easily run their favorite recipes with just one tap, right from their wrist.”

It’s not clear yet how many of these features qualify as genuinely useful, or whether people really want to do that much from their wrists, but kudos to app developers for busting out their creativity caps. 

There are already a lot of accessories, and tons more are on the wayApple Watch Spigen armor case

Accessories makers have been licking their chops, waiting for the Apple Watch to hit the market. Now that it has, you should brace yourself for the new and incoming spate of fashion bands, battery bands, strap adapters, stands, power stations, portable batteries, bumper cases, and even a chunky suit of armor that also happens to hide the fact that you got the cheapest Apple Watch available. That’s just for starters.

I haven’t yet seen a skin that can disguise lower-priced Apple Watch models as one of its higher priced siblings, but as with all things watch-related, it’s just a matter of time. 

Lead photo by Shinya Suzuki; Apple Watch products and MacBook images courtesy of Apple; teardown photos screen captured from YouTube video by iFixit; photo of plastic MagSafe charger captured from YouTube video by TheMacintosh1; photo of MagSafe charging Moto 360 captured from YouTube video by Albert Lee; broken watch strap photo by theilr; Spigen armor case photo courtesy of Spigen

Categories: Technology

Intel Showcases RealSense 3D Camera Applications and Technologies In New York

Slashdot - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 2:47pm
MojoKid writes: Intel gathered a number of its OEM and software partners together in New York City recently to showcase the latest innovations that the company's RealSense 3D camera technology can enable. From new interactive gaming experiences to video collaboration, 3D mapping and gesture controls, Intel's front-facing RealSense technology holds promise that could someday reinvent how we interact with PCs. The F200 RealSense camera module itself integrates a depth sensor and a full color 1080p HD camera together with standard technologies like dual array mics, but with an SDK, on-board processing engine and 3rd party software that can allow the camera module to sense numerous environmental variables, much more like a human does. In the demos that were shown, RealSense was used to create an accurate 3D map of a face, in a matter of seconds, track gestures and respond to voice commands, allow touch-free interaction in a game, and remove backgrounds from a video feed in real-time, for more efficient video conferencing and collaboration.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Cosmologists Find Eleven Runaway Galaxies

Slashdot - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 1:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: Discovery News reports that 11 homeless galaxies have been identified by Igor Chilingarian, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and Moscow State University, and his fellow astronomers. "The 11 runaway galaxies were found by chance while Chilingarian and co-investigator Ivan Zolotukhin, of the L'Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie and Moscow State University, were scouring publicly-available data (via the Virtual Observatory) from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the GALEX satellite for compact elliptical galaxies."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Lack of women in the estimated 96% male Bitcoin community is a major hurdle to widespread adoption (Felix Salmon/Fusion)

TechMeme - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 1:00pm

Felix Salmon / Fusion:
Lack of women in the estimated 96% male Bitcoin community is a major hurdle to widespread adoption  —  Why Bitcoin's male domination will be its downfall  —  Nathaniel Popper's new book, Digital Gold, is as close as you can get to being the definitive account of the history of Bitcoin.

Categories: Technology

Woman Behind Pakistan's First Hackathon, Sabeen Mahmud, Shot Dead

Slashdot - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 12:37pm
An anonymous reader sends word that Sabeen Mahmud, a prominent Pakistani social and human rights activist, has been shot dead. The progressive activist and organizer who ran Pakistan's first-ever hackathon and led a human rights and a peace-focused nonprofit known as The Second Floor (T2F) was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Karachi. Sabeen Mahmud was leaving the T2F offices with her mother some time after 9pm on Friday evening, reports the Pakistani newspaper Dawn. She was on her way home when she was shot, the paper reports. Her mother also sustained bullet wounds and is currently being treated at a hospital; she is said to be in critical condition.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology