HTC Vive announces $10 billion VR Venture Capital Alliance

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Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 5.11.19 PM VR technologies are going to be requiring a shit ton of capital as they look to make the crossover from R&D phases to mass market adoption. HTC is certainly looking to do its part to make sure that the headset technologies it is building have a broader ecosystem to fall into. Today, at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Shanghai, HTC Vive announced a $10 billion initiative to put… Read More

Great 1950s horror sci-fi novel, The Mind Thing, now on Kindle

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mindthing

When I was in junior high school, I joined the Science Fiction Book Club. One of the books I got from the club was an anthology that included several stories by Fredric Brown (who was primarily a mystery writer but occasionally delved into science fiction). Some of Brown’s stories in the anthology were a mere page or two, and I loved their humor and surprise endings. As soon as I could, I went to the Boulder Public Library to load up on as much Brown as I could find. It turned out the library had just two of his science fiction novels: Martians, Go Home (1955), and What Mad Universe (1949). They were both terrific.

Martians go home freas NewImage

In Martians, Go Home a race of cartoonish little green men invade Earth for the sole purpose of being hideously bothersome pests, behaving very much like Internet trolls and Second Life griefers. (Artist Kelly Freas perfectly captured the personality of the martians in his cover painting for Astounding Science Fiction.) In What Mad Universe a man gets thrown into a parallel universe and has to figure out how to get back home. Both books are semi-parodies of science fiction novels (the protagonists in each novel are science fiction writers), with plenty of Brown’s signature wry humor. If you’ve not read these novels, I highly recommend them both.

It wasn’t until I was in high school that I scored a copy of The Mind Thing (1961), which is probably my favorite Brown novel, even though it is not as well-known as the other two novels, and could be arguably be classified a horror novel. The Mind Thing is an alien being (which looks like a turtle shell) that has been banished to Earth for committing crimes on its home planet. It is unable to move on its own, but can hijack the nervous system of any sleeping animal within range and take control of its mind and body. To leave the body, it forces the host to commit suicide. The alien goes on a spree, hopping into people’s bodies and killing them, as it moves forward with a plan to make the Earth ripe for takeover (in the hope that its fellow creatures will forgive its past crimes and hail it a hero). Eventually, a smart fellow (an MIT professor on vacation) figures out what’s going on and takes it upon himself to save the planet from the evil space alien.

Long of of print, The Mind Thing, Martians, Go Home, and What Mad Universe are available in Kindle editions. (I don’t recommend Rogue in Space or The Lights in the Sky are Stars because they both stink, unfortunately.)

These are transparent directional glass speakers and they look amazing

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Turtle Beach sent out a press release saying it made a breakthrough, and glass-based speakers may be the future of your home audio. as strange as that may sound, the video is slightly more convincing. The speakers, which Turtle Beach is calling HyperSound Glass, are comprised of multiple layers of transparent materials and film allowing it to “generate a beam of ultrasound” according to the company.

Ultrasound beams are largely inaudible unless you’re one of the targeted listeners, making the HyperSound Glass a highly directional and very thin speaker. Turtle Beach showed off the HyperSound Glass at E3 earlier this month, but says the speakers are still in the early prototype phase, which means it’ll be some time before you’ll be able…

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Tesla Admits Defeat, Quietly Settles Model X Lawsuit Over Usability Problems

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from BGR: We can talk about how innovative Tesla is for days on end. Indeed, there’s no disputing the fact that the company, in injecting a bit of Silicon Valley ingenuity into the tried and true auto design process, has completely turned the auto industry on its head. At the same time, Tesla helped kickstart the EV revolution, even causing traditional automakers like Porsche and BMW to start taking electric cars more seriously. But in Tesla’s zeal to move extraordinarily quickly, problems have inevitably begun to creep in. Specifically, quality control issues still seem to be plaguing the Model X. According to a recent report, avowed Tesla fan named Barrett Lyon recently returned his Model X and filed a lawsuit against Tesla arguing that the Model X was “rushed” and released before it was ready for sale. Now comes word that Tesla has since quietly settled the lawsuit. “In Lyon’s lawsuit,” Fortune writes, “he claimed the cars doors opened and closed unpredictably, smashing into his wife and other cars, and that the Model X’s Auto-Pilot feature posed a danger in the rain. He also shared a video that shows the car’s self-parking feature failing to operate successfully.” Tesla’s response: “We are committed to providing an outstanding customer experience throughout ownership. As a principle, we are always willing to buy back a car in the rare event that a customer isn’t completely happy. Today, the majority of Model X owners are loving their cars.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Academy makes good on diversity promise as it invites 683 new members

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After making a pledge in January to improve diversity in its ranks, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made its first big step today in announcing its 2016 class. A grand total of 683 invitations were sent to actors, filmmakers, executives, and behind-the-scenes talent from around the world this year, including many notable women and people of color from within the industry. The decision comes as a welcome move after the lengthy backlash Hollywood faced earlier this year.

“This class continues our long-term commitment to welcoming extraordinary talent reflective of those working in film today,” wrote Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “We encourage the larger creative community to open its doors wider, and create…

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is writing a book called Hit Refresh

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is writing a book about his life, Microsoft, and how technology will shape the future. Titled Hit Refresh, the book is scheduled for a fall 2017 release through Harper Business. Nadella intends to give his proceeds to Microsoft Philanthropies.

This is Nadella’s first book, and it sounds like he wants it to be a bit different than the typical book from a business leader. Hit Refresh, he says, “is not a ‘how to succeed’ book, nor is it a memoir.” The word that pops up again and again in Harper’s description of the book is “transformation” — Nadella has made it clear that his focus at Microsoft is transforming the company into one with a focus on the future; this book, it seems, will be about the importance of…

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Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman talks VR, storytelling, and tickling ghosts

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At the opening of the Ghostbusters: Dimension virtual reality experience in Times Square today, we got a chance to sit down with Ivan Reitman, the producer and director behind the original Ghostbusters film, and a Hollywood legend. Reitman worked with Utah startup The Void as it developed its VR companion to the upcoming reboot, and we got the chance to chat with him about emotional storytelling, technology, tickling digital ghosts, and bringing pornography to high-end virtual reality. Below is a transcript of our conversation, condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

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Welcome to the future; we have noise-canceling USB-C headphones

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Hello and welcome. The year is 2017. You’ve missed a lot over the past few months. Let me catch you up: Apple nixed the headphone jack with the iPhone 7, so throw out those earbuds. You won’t be needing them anymore. Most other phone manufacturers decided not to follow Apple’s lead. Instead, they’re using USB-C. It’s great! Everything’s universal and reversible — except for everything Apple. Life is fabulous. Yeah we have some dongles, but it’s cool. Dongles are cool.

We’re getting used to Bluetooth headphones, Lightning headphones, and USB-C headphones. It’s a crazy new world out there. We’re glad you’re here. We’ve even got noise-canceling USB-C headphones. Conexant Systems introduced a single-chip active noise cancellation CODEC,…

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This human catapult looks like a very, very, very, very bad idea

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A human slingshot is a bad idea.

I admit that my career in extreme sports ended with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, so it’s possible, likely even, that I have been left behind by this new generation of thrill-seekers. Times have changed, I think, as I watch a human-being catapult into the air, traveling 0-200kph in one second, with no real destination other than “down.”

There must be better hobbies. Rock-climbing. Skydiving. Traditional BASE jumping. Anything, really, that doesn’t treat your body with the respect of an Angry Bird.

For a fraction of a second, after the man has been launched into the air, before he’s pulled the cord on his parachute, the cheers stop. That morbid quiet is what terrifies me most.

Perhaps that is why I’ve…

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Google’s giant new trans-pacific internet cable goes online tomorrow

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A new undersea internet cable funded in part by Google and connecting Japan with the US is slated to go online starting June 30th. The joint announcement, made today in a press release from NEC Corporation, says construction and testing on the trans-pacific cable, dubbed “Faster,” was successfully completed and the system is now ready for service. The whole line runs 9,000 kilometers and stretches from Oregon to Chiba and Mie prefectures in Japan. Though it lands in three distinct locations, Faster has extended connections to cover the entire West Coast in the US and every major city in Japan. It also has the capacity to connect with other major hubs in Asia.

Faster was first announced in August  2014 and it’s led by a consortium of…

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Calm your troubled soul by watching this robot arm solve Tower of Hanoi

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Maybe it’s been a rough day. Maybe you’re frazzled. Maybe you love your job, and everything’s going great, but something just feels off. Have you tried watching a robot arm slowly, painstakingly solve Tower of Hanoi?

In case you need a refresher on Hanoi, it’s pretty simple (aka I looked on Wikipedia):

The goal is to move the whole stack to another peg.

BUT

  1. You can only move one disk at a time.
  2. You can only move the top disk of a stack.
  3. You can’t put a disk on a smaller disk.

A robot arm has some extra challenges, like:

  1. It doesn’t have eyes.
  2. It was programmed by an intern named Yosef Mirsky, as his first project at the company.
  3. It can’t read Wikipedia.

Also, while I know it looks really simple, and perhaps this robot…

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Tesla is giving ‘Golden Tickets’ to random Model 3 buyers to attend Gigafactory opening

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In a not-so-subtle homage to Willy Wonka, Tesla has sent twelve “Golden Tickets” — really, that’s what they’re called — to holders of Model 3 reservations inviting them to attend the Gigafactory grand opening in Reno, Nevada on July 29th. The tickets don’t involve a great glass elevator (probably), but they do include round-trip economy class airfare, transportation, and accommodation in Reno.

A number of Tesla VIPs have already been invited to the party, including Model S owners who referred five buyers to the company, but presumably everyone else needed to pay their own way. The contest, which was first reported by Electrek, was open to the roughly 150,000 people who placed a Model 3 reservation on the first day it was available.

T…

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Google Keep now automatically organizes your notes by topic

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Google Keep, the company’s note-taking and to-do list mobile app, is getting much smarter today with a new organizational feature. Now, Google Keep will categorize your notes by topic — like food, books, and quotes — and allow you to search for those musings later by keyword. The feature is available for iOS, Android, and the web version of Keep.

While the app may not be as fully-featured as other note-taking software, Keep is a free option made better all the time by the small tweaks and intelligence Google incorporates. In fact, Evernote just this week cut features to its Basic tier, limiting upload amounts to 60MB a month and restricting access to just two devices. It also increased the prices for its Plus and Premium tiers by $1 and…

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Shasta Ventures is raising a $300 million fifth fund

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Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.00.23 PM Shasta Ventures is raising up to $300 million for a fifth fund according to a new SEC filing that lists managing director Jason Pressman and Rob Coneybeer (Coneybeer co-founded Shasta with fellow managing directors Tod Francis and Ravi Mohan in 2004; Pressman joined the following year).
Shasta appears to be sticking with its knitting with its new fund. It saw an enormous return when its… Read More

Move Loot, a YC-backed furniture resale marketplace, shuts down, sells customer list to Handy

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move loot Some closure (literally and figuratively) for Move Loot, the furniture resale marketplace that we wrote earlier this month was up for sale. The startup — backed by nearly $22 million in funding from a list of top investors that included Y Combinator, GV, Index, Metamorphic and Sherpa — has shut down its business, and it has sold access to its customer list to Handy, the home… Read More

I really love my CSA

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Dandelion Greens & Kohlrabi

One of the things I enjoy most about living in Muir Beach, California, is the amazing CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) provided to my community by our neighbors at the Green Gulch Zen Center. Their incredible program lands a wide variety of wonderful fruits and veggies in my home, weekly, for half the year.

The CSA doesn’t just provide great, healthy food for my daughter and I. It provides a weekly puzzle; how to use the wide variety of things they send? Check out this week’s list:

Hey Neighbors,

The first Green Gulch Veggie Box of the season will be delivered after 4:15 PM tomorrow!

Inside you’ll find:

  • Two Lettuce: Lollo diVino + Pomegranate Crunch
  • 1 White Vienna Kohlrabi
  • 1 bu. Top Bunch Collard Greens
  • 1 bu. Crocodile Spinach
  • 1 bu. Genovese Basil (what a treat! Basil is hard to grow in cold, foggy conditions)
  • 1 bu. Guardsman Scallions
  • 1 bu. GGF Cilantro
  • 1 bu. Catalogna Special Dandelion (a favorite among the farmers – spicy & delicious)
  • 1 bu. Thyme
  • 1 bu. Assorted Radishes
  • 1 bu. Hakurei Turnips

Click the links above for details on how to make a delicious dinner in under an hour using Kohlrabi and Dandelion 🙂

Enjoy this gorgeous weather!

Pictured above are the dandelion greens and kohlrabi, pretty much as directed in the recipes linked above, with minor changes for my daughters 9 year old tastes. We made salads last night.

Frequently, I find myself with far too much vegetable matter in my fridge. There is a lot more than 1 and a half full-sized humans can eat. I also sometimes get confused about what to do with all of it. I’ll have sauerkraut fermenting, kale chips, and radish salads, and still a mountain of something I’ve made never heard of. That is when I whip out the juicer, or beg Xeni to come stay here for a week or so and help cook it all.

If the volume gets too high, I can always email and they’ll hold off on my delivery for a week.

I really just enjoy the challenge, and I love the incredible variety and quality of the food that arrives. I highly recommend you check out your options for a local CSA.

A huge thank you to the folks at the Green Gulch Zen Center, for the hard, hard work that goes into growing, and organizing these boxes!

Quiz: can you tell which police stops are illegal?

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indianapolis

PBS has a quiz that presents a number of different investigatory police stop scenarios. You are tasked with determining which of the scenarios represent illegal stops.

The Indiscriminate Checkpoint

In 1998, police in Indianapolis began setting up vehicle checkpoints around the city in a bid to root out illegal drugs. At each checkpoint, police would stop a set number of vehicles. One officer would conduct an open-view examination of the car or truck from the outside, while another officer would walk around it with a narcotics dog. Stops were designed to last no more than five minutes.

Is it a legal stop?

AMD RX 480 Offers Best-in-Class Performance For $199/$239

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Reader Vigile writes: It’s been a terribly long news cycle, but today is finally the day reviews and sales start of the new AMD Radeon RX 480 graphics card based on the company’s latest Polaris architecture and built on 14nm FinFET process technology. With a starting price tag of $199 for the 4GB model and $239 for the 8GB, the RX 480 has some interesting performance characteristics. Compared to the GeForce GTX 970, currently selling for around $280, the RX 480 performs +/- 5-10% in DX11 games but PC Perspective found that the RX 480 was as much as 40% faster in DX12 titles like Gears of War, Hitman and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Compared to previous AMD products, the RX 480 is as fast as a Radeon R9 390 but uses just 150 watts compared to 275 watts for the previous generation. Chances are that NVIDIA will have a competing product based on Pascal available sometime in July, so AMD’s advantage may be short-lived; but in the meantime, the Radeon RX 480 is clearly the best GPU for $200.AnandTech has more details.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Risky stem cell procedure for ALS may be done safely, study shows

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A complicated procedure for transplanting human stem cells into the spinal cord of patients with a fatal neurodegenerative disease may be done safely, new research shows. Although it’s unclear whether the stem cell treatment can actually slow down the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, researchers are hopeful that one day the procedure could be used to develop a new life-saving therapy.

This is not the first time that stem cells — cells that can develop into many different cell types — have been injected into the spinal cord of patients. But in today’s study, published in the journal Neurology, researchers at three different clinical centers have injected increasing doses of stem cells in a…

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Yes, it’s possible to sneeze out spaghetti

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When I was six years old, I sneezed a noodle out of my nose.

I was at the airport with my family. We were running to catch a flight somewhere, and suddenly I stopped, sneezed, and launched the pasta into the air. I still remember the whitish noodle curled up against the black linoleum floor. We all laughed, and the “noodle sneeze” instantly became family lore.

As I grew older and repeated the story — either to distant relatives or perplexed friends — I started wondering how in the world my memorable moment was possible. When it happened, it was the morning. I had eaten spaghetti at night. Where was the noodle hidden during that whole time? Could it be the quintessential Italian thing to sneeze pasta? (I’m Italian.)

Simply, how does a…

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