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Recent blog posts
A Pong cabinet at Supercade

We hope you aren't curious about Nolan Bushnell's game development history... you may find yourself sucked into a time sink. Microsoft has quietly added an option to play Pong in Bing (Bing Pong, get it?) if you search for the digital table tennis classic in your browser. It's not a novel concept, and it certainly isn't the most advanced -- Google's Cube Slam experiment is on another level. It's surprisingly addictive, however, and might offer just the right amount of '70s gaming nostalgia to tide you over when you're stuck at work.

Bing Pong

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Apple on Thursday posted a video depicting its participation in the 2015 edition of the San Francisco Pride Parade, which celebrates support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people.


This year's event took place on June 27 and 28. On the second day, thousands of Apple workers marched in unison, accompanied by friends and family. The video shows Apple staff carrying a larger banner and wearing custom-designed t-shirts, as well as a brief shot of CEO Tim Cook in the crowd.Apple products are casually featured in some segments, such as one in which a gay couple holds hands and one of the men is wearing an Apple Watch.The 2015 Pride Parade was especially momentous, following on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the country. It also marked the parade's 45th anniversary.Apple has long been a supporter of LGBT causes, for instance being one of the first American companies to offer equal benefits to same-sex partners. In 2008, Apple donated to the opposition of a California ballot measure intended to ban same-sex marriage. Cook himself is gay, and has periodically spoken in favor of pro-LGBT causes. In late June, the company promoted LGBT content on iTunes.
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Last week we had a chance to sit down with the founders of Zeta Interactive, an online marketing service — which isn’t the first company that brought CEO David Steinberg and former Apple CEO John Sculley together.

Zeta Interactive focuses on using data-mining and analytics to basically track where a customer came from. The example the pair used was tracking a car test drive from a media campaign run by a company like Ford. That kind of attribution is easy for a company like Google because it basically comes from a click on a search result page, but for traditional media like television it’s much harder to figure out — which is where Zeta Interactive comes in to inform companies of the success of their marketing campaigns.

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Vegetable growing charts and infographics are handy for both beginner and seasoned gardeners, but planting advice can also depend on where you live. This interactive tool creates a customized vegetable gardening chart based on your inputs.

The tool comes from Good to Be Home, which previously provided a similarly useful chart based in the UK. With their new tool, you choose your country (US, UK, or Australia), select what your area’s climate is like during growing season (e.g., arid and hot or hot and humid), and where you plan on growing your vegetables (greenhouse, patio garden, plot garden, and/or indoors). With those three answers, the tool generates two cheat sheets: one with growing instructions and another with a growing calendar. Handy! You can get printer-friendly PDFs emailed to you from the site as well.

Examples are below, but head to the site to generate your own.

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A DJ is a lot like a magician: You can see and hear what’s happening, but you don’t know how it happens. With the push of a button or twist of a knob, a note trembles, a word distorts, a riff blurs. There’s rarely a physical object to explain what you’re hearing—in fact, the process of making music often is hidden within a computer or mixer, where code and chips do all the work.

It’s amazing to hear but boring as hell to watch. “People make up for it with light shows, but it’s all still very stagnant,” says James Boock. Boock is a graduate design student at the Royal College of Art. For his end-of-year project, he set about making sculptures that give a physical presence to sound effects we hear but can’t quite see or understand.

Sound Revival is an exercise in what Boock calls “making the unseeable seeable.” Each of the four objects he designed accounts for a different sound effect: tremolo, reverb, delay, and voice modulation. Boock worked with musician Matt Fletcher of the band GEF to figure out how to design contraptions that alter music in the same way a digital tool might do.

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Think of Anki Overdrive as slot cars for the smartphone age. With upgrades, achievements and characters, it’s a perfect marriage of smartphones with physical toys. The system debuted two years ago and the company has steadily upgraded the system since. But today, the company revealed the ship date and price of its next generation product, Anki Overdrive.

Anki debuted the Overdrive track system earlier this year. Unlike the original system which was a massive mat, Overdrive features individual track sections similar to the slot car tracks of old. This system allows for endless track layouts and even more fun than the original.

This system will start shipping in the US, UK and Germany on September 20. The $150 starter pack will include two cars and ten pieces of track. Additional track sections can be purchased separately. The company also announced six new cars today, each with different traits and abilities.

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Last week, Tim Cushing explained that one of the bad outcomes of the recent European Parliament committee vote on Julia Reda's copyright reform report was that it recommended limiting freedom of panorama -- the ability to take pictures and make videos of public objects -- to non-commercial use. As Techdirt readers know, in the digital age, it is very hard to draw a clear distinction between commercial and non-commercial contexts online, which makes any kind of limitation to non-commercial use problematic. The person responsible for introducing the amendment to Reda's report, Jean-Marie Cavada, has written a blog post about the freedom of panorama issue (original in French), and it gives us some interesting insights into his thinking here: The fight which is being led today by Ms. Reda, in the guise of defending free access to the works that are in the public domain [public objects] on behalf of users, is actually one conducted above all to allow US monopolies such as Facebook, or Wikimedia, to avoid the payment of fees to the creators. Yes, it's all about those evil American companies again, refusing to pay when somebody dares to post a holiday picture on their Facebook page. Because, as the copyright maximalists keep on reminding us, every single use of every single owned object must be licensed every single time, otherwise civilization -- specifically European civilization -- will come crashing down.

But whatever people might think about Facebook, it's hard to see Wikipedia/Wikimedia as a "US monopoly" avoiding payment, as Cavada calls it. Indeed, Cavada goes on to contradict himself, writing: this structure is well aware that the use of works on Wikimedia pages is not questioned by the authors, even in countries where there is no [freedom of] panorama exception. Well, if it's not questioned, why is he using Wikipedia as an example of an evil "US monopoly" that wants to avoid paying licensing fees? Or does he mean that authors don't have a problem with Wikipedia using photos of landscapes with their works visible provided they are paid? Which of course ignores the fact that Wikipedia is not a company, and can't afford to pay licensing fees. Or, there again, is he perhaps advocating that Wikipedia just ignore the law, and use the pictures anyway?

Altogether, this confused post is a perfect demonstration of why people who don't understand a technology should not be allowed to make laws about it.

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After China lifted its ban on video game consoles, both Microsoft and Sony moved fast to launch their products in the country. But at least for this year, the sales will be lackluster, according to a research firm.

On Wednesday, Niko Partners, which studies gaming markets in Asia, released a report that estimated official sales of the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 in China would reach fewer than 550,000 units in 2015.

That’s not a great turnout, given that the country is one of the world’s largest markets for electronics. Microsoft brought its console here last September, and Sony delivered its product in March. And outside of China, the consoles have been shipping in the millions.

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Apple made its promotion of Jony Ive to Chief Design Officer a bit more official on Wednesday in an update to the Apple Leadership webpage, while at the same time adding executive profiles for design underlings Alan Dye and Richard Howarth.


From left: Apple VP of User Interface Alan Dye, Chief Design Officer Jony Ive and VP of Industrial Design Richard Howarth.

Ive's new executive profile now lists the star designer as Apple's Chief Design Officer, a C-level position first unveiled in May.

As previously reported, Ive's bio says he is responsible for all design at Apple, listing "the look and feel of Apple hardware, user interface, packaging, major architectural projects such as Apple Campus 2 and Apple's retail stores" as areas under his purview. Ive will also handle "new ideas and future initiatives," Apple says.

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Google's is under fire after its Photos algorithm mistakenly labeled a picture of black people as "gorillas." James Martin/CNET

Google became one of the most powerful companies on Earth because it has developed some of the best algorithms in the world for organizing information. But a gaffe this week shows the shortcomings of technology, particularly when it doesn't work just quite right.

Jacky Alcine, a Web developer who is black, took to Twitter to say Google's Photo app, released in May, labeled a picture of him and a friend as gorillas. The label showed up in a feature that automatically categorizes photos, like cars or beaches, so they are more easily searchable.

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Posted by on in Wired

The United Kingdom is among a group of several dozen countries taking steps to prevent repressive regimes from obtaining surveillance software they can use to spy on human rights workers and political dissidents. But that apparently hasn’t stopped the UK’s own spy agency, GCHQ, from spying on one of the top human rights organizations in the world.

Amnesty International recently learned that the spy agency had intercepted, stored and accessed its communications during an unspecified period, according to an email the human rights group received.

The email, from the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal, revealed that the group had been one of two NGO’s targeted by the GCHQ. The other was the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa.

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Peas in guacamole? The New York Times says yes:

Add green peas to your guacamole. Trust us. http://t.co/7imMY9c2ph pic.twitter.com/oeOMt2qgmh

— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 1, 2015

For obvious reasons this will widely be considered the worst and most irresponsible New York Times story in history. You don't put peas in guacamole. Guacamole is no ship of Theseus; you can't take out an onion here or a jalapeño there and replace them with peas. It is an unspoken law: one so obvious and essential, that upon considering even for the first time the marriage of peas and guac, one will discover the self-evident truth that the union is unholy.

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Here’s the SPF You Actually Get When You Apply Sunscreen Sparingly

A sunscreen labeled “SPF 15” should let you spend about 15 times as long in the sun before you burn. Pretty awesome, right? Unfortunately, most of us don’t get that level of protection because we don’t apply enough. What you’re likely getting: a mere SPF 2.

We should be using about an ounce of sunscreen, or almost a shot glass full, to get the recommended 2 milligrams per square centimeter of skin. That’s what the label’s SPF is based on. But most of us use a lot less: 20% to 50% of the recommended amount. That means we’re not getting the protection we think. Here’s a handy chart from the Environmental Working Group’s sunscreen tests:

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Every tech start-up dreams of being the next billion dollar acquisition success story. Tech start-ups are being acquired at an incredible rate -- companies want to own a piece of the "next big thing" and they are not afraid of throwing money at something they feel will be a home run, field goal, touchdown, or in simple layman terms, a score. Which in turn will lavishly bath the investors in tons of money and make the start-up developers filthy rich.

To get your brain juice running and possibly start about thinking of the next start-up that you can start up, I found a cool infographic that put together the BIGGEST money acquired start-ups that are in the BILLION dollar club. Wow!

Again please click on the image to see the bigger picture and then click again to read. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy!

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Posted by on in How To's


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31 Flavors of Bullshit: Your Horror Stories of Working At a Startup

We asked for your nightmare tales of startup employment. Did you ever deliver—sending narratives of woe, scams, drugs, psychotic managers, drinking at your desk and more hookers than a venture capitalist could handle.

The One With All the Drugs and Douches

K writes:

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Viral video has become a bug business. Companies like Vodio and 5by have come into to serve this space, ‘viralising’ short form video, especially for mobile. Now Minute, a new startup, has developed a new Android and web application that draws on big data and crowd data to determine the most viral part of an online video. It then turns these moments into short Vine-like clips. The company today announces that its raised a cumulative $4M in funding to develop its video technology products from unnamed investors.

On the platform users can watch engaging highlights and discover more videos. Through the mobile app, users choose video packages based on interest, and swipe through a deck of video cards to explore selected content. Like Tinder, they swipe right for videos they like and left for content they would like to skip. Highlights can be paused, repeated and shared with friends. Instead of watching a single 5-minute video, the app allows users to swipe through an entire reel of short clips in the same amount of time and return to watch a video that caught their attention.

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How Bigger Atoms Could Help Make Smaller “Lab-on-a-Chip” Devices

“Lab-on-a-chip” devices – which can carry out several laboratory functions on a single, micro-sized chip – are the result of a quiet scientific revolution over the past few years. For example, they enable doctors to make complex diagnoses instantly from a single drop of blood.

In the future, shrinking such devices to extremely small sizes, comparable to the liquid molecules themselves, will be a huge challenge; success will depend on our ability to understand how fluids behave under extreme confinement. In a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications, we came up with a new way of unveiling how fluids behave in such “superconfinement” using lumpy particles known as colloids to act as oversized atoms.

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The addition of a leap second to world clocks on Wednesday caused some networks to crash although most quickly recovered.

Some 2,000 networks stopped working just after midnight Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), said Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis with Dyn, a company studies global Internet traffic flows.

Nearly 50 percent of those networks were in Brazil, which may indicate that ISPs use a common type of router that may not have been prepared for the leap second, he said.

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"Unknown software has even more risks"

Except, people aren't talking about "unknown" software, they're talking about software that's known and can have its code fully audited.

"Does "open source" just blind you to the fact that real audits are impossible among tens of millions of lines of code?"

So, by your own standard NOBODY can effectively audit software. If it's "impossible" to audit Linux, then by your own definition it's also impossible to effectively audit Windows or Office or Photoshop or any other application used that has such levels of code.

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