Alphabet X’s new Everyday Robot project wants to build robots that can learn from the world around them

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Image: Everyday Robots

Today, Alphabet’s X moonshot division (formerly known as Google X) unveiled the Everyday Robot project, whose goal is to develop a “general-purpose learning robot.” The idea is that its robots could use cameras and complex machine learning algorithms to see and learn from the world around them without needing to be coded for every individual movement.

The team is testing robots that can help out in workplace environments, though right now, these early robots are focused on learning how to sort trash. Here’s what one of them looks like — it reminds me of a very tall, one-armed Wall-E (ironic, given what the robots are tasked to do):

Here’s a GIF of a robot actually sorting a recyclable can from a compost pile to a…

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This money management app does more than just crunch numbers

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Paying for things is all too easy online these days, and that’s why managing your money has gotten so hard. We’ve all done it: You sign up for a streaming subscription or gym membership, blow past the free trial date, and it becomes a part of your monthly expenses. Some of us juggle so many accounts, we may not even notice.

That’s just one example of modern information overload bleeding into actual financial consequences. And as much as money management apps try to help, too often they’re just one more account we have to deal with.

There are exceptions, however. Truebill is one notable example. It does all the things you come to expect from a money managing app, like tracking your spending, making a budget, and checking multiple bank accounts. Plus, with 256-bit SSL encryption, the security is rock-solid.

But, it also takes a more active role in your financial health, not just by showing you the drains on your income but plugging them up. Got a subscription you forgot you were paying for? Truebill will highlight it, and cancel it on your behalf. Got a cell service that’s gouging you? Truebill will negotiate a lower rate for you. It really takes the petty stuff off your plate and allows you to focus on hitting those savings goals.

All this functionality, and it’s free. Check it out now at truebill.com. Read the rest

Here’s how to make a “computer on a card” from the 1960s

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Michael Gardi says, “There were probably millions of CARDIACs (CARDboard Illustrative Aid to Computation) distributed to high schools and colleges in the late 60s and early 70s. Heck even my little high school in Northern Ontario got a bunch of them. But they are all but impossible to find now, so here is the next best thing.”

The CARDIAC Instructable presented here is not a computer, it’s a device to help you understand how a computer works. You the user will:

decode instructions by sliding panels up and down,
move the program counter “lady bug” from one memory location to the next,
perform the duties of an arithmetic logic unit (ALU),
read inputs from one sliding strip,
and write output results to another (with a pencil).

Along the way you will you will learn the internal workings of a typical Von Neumann architecture computer. Some fairly sophisticated programs can be executed (by you manually remember) on the CARDIAC. Stacks, subroutines, recursion, and bootstrapping for example can all be demonstrated.

Image: Instructables

Previously on Boing Boing:

CARDIAC: Bell Labs’s old cardboard computer
CARDIAC paper computer emulator
CARDIAC paper computer unboxing
New-old stock of Bell Labs’s cardboard teaching computer, the CARDIAC Read the rest

How to use Alexa to turn on the lights

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Dan Seifert / The Verge

Deploying smart home technology is one of the more appealing promises of voice control systems like Alexa. It’s tempting (and maybe inevitable) to fall down a rabbit hole of complexity when you’re setting up a smart home because there are so many options and possibilities. If you’re just starting out, it might be a good idea to keep it simple for your first step into creating a smart home. For example, let’s begin by installing a single light bulb that you can ask Alexa to turn on and off.

There are many brands of smart light bulbs, and as a result, setup procedures may differ from brand to brand. I picked a Philips Hue bulb because they’re easily available, quick to set up, and well supported.

Initial setup

The first step is to screw in…

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Half-Life: Alyx minimum specs mean you may need to upgrade your gaming PC

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Valve

If you’re excited about the first new Half-Life game in 12 years and you’re seriously thinking about a VR headset, you should know that it may not be your only expense. In fact, some people who already use headsets may need to shell out extra cash. That’s because, as Ben Kuchera at our sister site Polygon notes, the minimum system requirements for Half-Life: Alyx are higher than what VR has traditionally asked for.

While the VR minspec has stayed relatively stable ever since the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive first appeared on the scene in 2016 — a fast dual-core CPU, Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD Radeon RX480 or better, and 8GB of RAM — Alyx now demands a quad-core Core i5 chip or better, a GTX 1060 or better with 6GB of video RAM, and 12GB of system…

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Google Assistant will now help you read to your kids from across the world

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Image: Google

Google today launched a nice new Assistant feature called My Storytime that lets parents simulate reading to their kids when one parent is away from home. A parent will be able to record themselves reading chapters of stories, and the other parent (or babysitter) can ask Google Nest to read those recordings to the kids.

Google says that, once the feature is set up, the person at home just has to say “Hey Google, talk to My Storytime” to their Google Nest, and they will be able to pick the recording of the chapter they want to listen to with their children.

Recording a story takes a bit of initial setup, but it’s pretty easy to do. Visit the My Storytime website, log into your Google account…

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Samsung knocks $200 off the entire Galaxy S10 and Note 10 lineups ahead of Black Friday and includes free Galaxy Buds

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

If Samsung’s Galaxy S10 or Note 10 phones and some truly wireless earbuds are on your holiday shopping list for this year, there are some pretty incredible deals happening right now ahead of Black Friday.

At several retailers, Samsung has marked down the unlocked Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus to the lowest prices yet, with free Galaxy Buds headphones included along with six months of Spotify Premium. The S10 lineup of phones is cheaper, too, matching their lowest prices since Prime Day 2019. If you missed out on that deal, these phones also include free Galaxy Buds. The S10E is cheaper, too, but unfortunately, that device is omitted from the free Galaxy Buds promotion.

Starting with the Note 10, there are several configurations and…

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AK-3DP: 3D printed AK receiver

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I’ve been semi-seriously joking about “AK-3DPs” (3D printed assault rifles) for years, and while the attempts to limit the spread of 3D printed guns have been sloppy and poorly formulated (as have the Trump admin’s attempt to roll them back) the state of the art is still progressing.

That said, Ivan the Troll 12’s design for a 3D printed AK receiver is not making me lose any sleep, given how many times it has basically shattered while he was firing it.

This is front receiver v5 mated to rear receiver v10. The rounds counts are as follows:
Front receiver v5: 568 (and counting)
Rear receiver v10: 120 (and counting)

Previous rear receivers failed:
Rear receiver v9: 200 (failure imminent)
Rear receiver v8: 120 (failure)
Rear receiver v7: 128 (failure)

Rear receiver v10 features a fiberglass patch heat welded to the rear of the receiver (just smushed into it with a soldering iron but heat welding sounds cool), as well as a 45 degree print angle (other receivers were upright). I’m hoping these updates will get the rear receiver over 250 rounds. The v11 rear receiver will remove the top rear trunnion pin hole (that’s where the cracks were starting for the rear receivers that failed), and reinforce the printed rear trunnion support to take up the slack. v11 will be tested without fiberglass reinforcement as well, just to establish a baseline.

“Plastikov” 3D Printed AK Receiver [Ivanthetroll12/Bitchute]

(Thanks, Emma Goldman!)

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Catan is the latest game to make the jump to AR

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Settlers of Catan is an iconic, 24-year-old board game in which players compete to establish colonies on a fictional island called Catan (the game board). It’s easy to learn, deeply strategic, and now, it looks like it’s coming to AR. As TechCrunch reported, it seems like work has begun on a new version of the classic game, called Catan: World Explorers. It would, as the game’s site put it, “[transform] the entire Earth” into a game board. (Which, in this case, probably doesn’t mean the return of colonialism?) And yes, Niantic — the company behind Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, two popular augmented reality games — is involved.

While Niantic has been tight-lipped about the whole thing, it did confirm to The…

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A good pocket-sized magic trick – The Imp Bottle (includes imp)

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Only you can make the Imp Bottle lie on its side. When spectators try, they will discover that the bottle stubbornly refuses to stay down. This trick has driven many people insane throughout the years. The secret is a tiny imp inside the bottle that is loyal to you alone. It requires no feeding or care.

The Imp Bottle is on Amazon with free Prime shipping.

Performance video below.

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What’s your favorite Half-Life fan work?

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half-life

Image: Valve

Okay, let’s acknowledge this: the Half-Life series was mechanically and narratively transformative for the first-person shooter genre and gaming as a whole. Many among us loved the first two games, are still bitter about the loss of Half-Life 3, and are tentatively optimistic about the upcoming Half-Life: Alyx, the first full-length game in the series since 2004. But now that we’ve gotten those plaudits out of the way, let’s talk about Half-Life’s other glorious afterlife: the fan works.

Half-Life 2 was extraordinarily extensible. Its modding system was an accessible way to learn game design, and the popular Garry’s Mod let people pose and move characters to make videos and comics. Half-Life was moddable as well, and over time, fans have…

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Keywee introduces a new Loyalty Score to help publishers reach the most valuable readers

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I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but here’s the truth: Not all readers are created equal. At least, that’s how things look from a user acquisition perspective, where publishers running ad campaigns to reach new readers might end up bringing in a whole bunch of random visitors who are unlikely to ever return their […]

You can stay in this Japanese hotel for $1 if you agree to be livestreamed on YouTube

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Business Ryokan Asahi is a hotel in Fukuoka, Japan. They will let you stay in a room for 130 yen ($1.20) if you agree to be livestreamed on its YouTube channel.

From Oddity Central:

It’s not as bad as it sounds, though. While the camera covers the entire tiny room, leaving occupants no place to hide, it doesn’t come with a microphone. The lack of audio coverage is designed to avoid copyright infringement complaints for music that could be heard from the in-room TV, but guarantees that no one will hear you talking to yourself or others, snoring, or making other embarrassing sounds.

Photo: Business Ryokan Asahi

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Valve says it would ‘love to continue pushing forward’ on new Half-Life games

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Half-Life Alyx

Today, Valve finally unveiled Half-Life: Alyx, its first full-fledged VR game and, more importantly, the developer’s long-awaited return to the Half-Life series. The game will be out in March 2020, and it marks the first new Half-Life title since Episode 2 in 2007. And according to Valve, we might not have to wait another decade to see the series continue — but that depends on the success of Alyx.

“It’s probably no surprise that many people at Valve have been wanting to get back to the Half-Life universe for a long time, and this experience has only reinforced that,” Valve’s David Speyrer tells The Verge. “In the process of creating Half-Life: Alyx,…

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Half-Life: Alyx: everything you need to know about Valve’s return to Half-Life

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Half-Life Alyx

Half-Life is back. After more than a decade, Valve is returning to the iconic sci-fi universe with a brand-new VR game called Half-Life: Alyx. The new experience takes place before the events of Half-Life 2, and it marks not only the long-awaited continuation of the story, but also the developer’s first full-fledged VR title to date. It’ll be out in March 2020, and Valve says the game will be compatible with all PC-based VR headsets. In the meantime, you can keep up with all of the latest developments right here.

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Microsoft delays its new Surface Earbuds launch to spring 2020

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Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Microsoft had been planning to launch its new Surface Earbuds “later this year,” but the company is now delaying the wireless earbuds to spring 2020. “Product-making is about the relentless pursuit to get all the details right, which takes time… sometimes more than we planned on,” explains Microsoft’s chief product officer, Panos Panay, in a tweet today. ”To ensure we deliver the best possible experience for you, our fans & customers, Surface Earbuds will now launch worldwide in spring 2020.”

Panay hasn’t revealed exactly why Microsoft is delaying the Surface Earbuds, but it’s clear testing or manufacturing didn’t go to plan for a December launch. Microsoft is now planning to release the Surface Earbuds in the spring in both grey and a…

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