Essential says Android Oreo 8.0 isn’t coming to phones, but 8.1 will eventually

See the original posting on The Verge

Essential told users yesterday that they won’t be receiving a stable release of Android Oreo 8.0, even though it’s been available through the company’s beta program for the past few months. Instead, Essential says it’ll bring Oreo to phones with a public release of 8.1 because of “several stability issues” in 8.0. The company says making this change pushes the public release back a couple weeks, although it still doesn’t specify an exact date for the rollout.

For now, users can test out 8.1 through the beta program. Any Essential owner can put Oreo on their device, so long as they’re comfortable with the occasional bug. Meanwhile, Pixel owners have been using 8.1 for months now. The update, which rolled out in December, includes updated…

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There’s now an LTE version of the Nokia 3310

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HMD Global has slowly been bringing its resurrected version of the iconic Nokia 3310 to the modern age. The company first released a basic 2G version that really could only do calls and text, then came a 3G model (that included support for US networks), and now, per earlier rumors, it’s finally getting a proper LTE variant, via Pocket Lint.

The new device follows in the footsteps of the 3310 and 3310 3G as the creatively named Nokia 3310 4G, and it shares a virtually identical design to its predecessors. For now, the phone has only been announced for China in partnership with carrier China Mobile.

While the hardware may look the same, HMD Global has revamped the software, swapping the Java-based OS…

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Please do not try to bring your ‘emotional support peacock’ onto a plane

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There are three simple things to remember before you get to the airport for your flight: don’t forget your ID, don’t try to bring any weapons on the plane, and don’t buy a ticket for your pet peacock.

Yes, a woman at Newark International Airport tried to board a United flight to Los Angeles with her “emotional support peacock,” a phrase that had never been uttered in all of recorded history until yesterday. A travel show called The Jet Set posted photos of the incident on its Facebook page, which immediately went viral — you know, since someone was trying to let a peacock fly in an economy seat.

WHAT?! We’re discussing emotional support animals on an upcoming episode! Visit to find your local time…

Posted by The Jet…

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The 8 weirdest things on-screen at Sundance 2018

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Independent filmmakers don’t have a lot of security, but they do have a certain amount of freedom. Working outside the studio system, often on shoestring budgets and on personal projects, they have more leeway to barf their ids up onto the screen, sometimes with deeply bizarre results. The majority of the feature-length independent movies and VR projects that hit the Sundance Film Festival every year are looking for some form of traditional distribution, and are designed to appeal to some form of mass audience. And then there are the intensely idiosyncratic projects, the ones with feces-smeared dog-women and undulating ritualistic god-cats. Those are the ones we often remember from year to year, whether we want to, or whether we’ve been…

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So, what’s up with Amazon’s Alexa Super Bowl ad?

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 Ah, the Super Bowl. That magical time of year we gather around the T.V. set and pay just as much attention to the ads that run between plays. Increasingly, though, you can get much of that precious advertising viewing experience out of the way before the big game even starts.
After offering a brief online tease for its upcoming ad, Amazon’s gone ahead and posted all 90 seconds of… Read More

Actress Maisie Williams to launch Daisie, a social app for talent discovery and collaboration

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 Actress Maisie Williams, best known for her role as Arya Stark on Game of Thrones, is the latest celeb to venture into tech entrepreneurship, with the launch of a new company aimed at connecting creatives, called Daisie. Available later this summer as a mobile app, Daisie will offer a platform where creators can network, like, share and collaborate on projects within a social networking… Read More

Nerf’s new blasters are pretty danged badass

See the original posting on Boing Boing

Nerf has unveiled six new blasters that will ship in fall of 2018, with some pretty amazing features, as detailed in Josie Colt’s Wired roundup: the N-Strike Elite Infinius has a funnel you pour ammo into and it automagically slots them into a 30-dart magazine; the Modulus Ghost Ops Evader has a how-it-works-style transparent housing that lights up; the Zombie Strike Survival System Scravenger has twin dart-clips and a breakaway secondary blaster with two holdout shots; while the Nitro Doubleclutch Inferno fires little foam rolling cars around a tracked obstacle course.

Global Resistor Shortage, Economics, and Consumer Behavior

See the original posting on Hackaday

The passive component industry — the manufacturers who make the boring but vital resistors, capacitors, and diodes found in every single electronic device — is on the cusp of a shortage. You’ll always be able to buy a 220 ?, 0805 resistor, but instead of buying two for a penny like you can today, you may only get one in the very near future.

Yageo, one of the largest manufacturers of surface mount (SMD) resistors and multilayer ceramic capacitors, announced in December they were not taking new chip resistor orders. Yageo was cutting production of cheap chip resistors to focus …read more

Repairs You Can Print: The Zipper Box

See the original posting on Hackaday

Picture it: winter, a few years ago. [Ted Yapo]’s son is sent to the front lines of a snowball war. He rises to the task, pelting kid after kid with ease and taking down the Johnson twins with a two-fisted trebuchet maneuver. As he hunkers down to form the last snowball needed to claim victory, the unthinkable happens: the zipper box on his coat breaks and falls silently into the snow. Unaware, he leaps to his feet to take his final shot and the whole zipper unfurls, exposing him to both the cold and the enemy. They won the war, …read more

Amazon’s Super Bowl ad imagines a world where Cardi B and Anthony Hopkins are Alexa

See the original posting on The Verge

The Super Bowl isn’t for another few days, but Amazon is getting a jump on the big game with the release of a star-studded Super Bowl ad. The commercial imagines a world in which the company’s Alexa assistant has “lost her voice,” leading a frantic Jeff Bezos to seek out replacements in the forms of various celebrities.

As the minute-and-a-half ad unfolds, Alexa users discover that instead of Alexa’s neutral, semi-robotic tones, their requests to, say, get a recipe for grilled cheese are met by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, while he hurls abusive remarks at them about their inabilities to cook.

Jeff takes the news that Alexa isn’t working really well.

Cardi B shows up to play her hit song “Bodak Yellow,” instead of…

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Google Flights will now predict airline delays – before the airlines do

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 Google is rolling out a few new features to its Google Flights search engine to help travelers tackle some of the more frustrating aspects of air travel – delays and the complexities of the cheaper, Basic Economy fares. With the regard to delays, Google Flights won’t just be pulling in information from the airlines directly, however – it will take advantage of its… Read More

MIT uses Lego to prototype low-cost micro pumps

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 Lego bricks (or, if you’re not a pedant, Legos) are highly precise and highly consistent plastic objects. Anywhere you go in the world the Lego is the same. That means that scientists at MIT can use these little sole stabbers to create very precise scientific systems. Their first tests involves creating a microfluid pump and sorter using basic Lego parts. Because they can trust Lego… Read More

This is not a giant pair of jeans, it’s a sleeping bag for two

See the original posting on Boing Boing

This might very well be my new favorite thing. While the “Super Big Wrapped in Warmth Happy Furry Jeans Sleeping Bag” looks like an oversized pair of dungarees, it’s really just a giant novelty sleeping bag built for two!

It even comes with two bandana-patterned pillows, which fit adorably in the back pockets…

It’s available at Japan Trend Shop for $696. Grab one for me too and we’ll have a sleepover.


The story behind Toto’s ‘Africa’

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Love it or hate it, Toto’s 1982 soft rock mega-hit “Africa” is here to stay. But how did a band from Los Angeles get famous for a song about Africa?

Dave Simpson of The Guardian recently interviewed the song’s writer (and vocalist) David Paich and found out:

One of the reasons I was in a rock band was to see the world. As a kid, I’d always been fascinated by Africa. I loved movies about Dr Livingstone and missionaries. I went to an all-boys Catholic school and a lot of the teachers had done missionary work in Africa. They told me how they would bless the villagers, their Bibles, their books, their crops and, when it rained, they’d bless the rain. That’s where the hook line – “I bless the rains down in Africa” – came from.

They said loneliness and celibacy were the hardest things about life out there. Some of them never made it into the priesthood because they needed companionship. So I wrote about a person flying in to meet a lonely missionary. It’s a romanticised love story about Africa, based on how I’d always imagined it. The descriptions of its beautiful landscape came from what I’d read in National Geographic.

Paich told Musicradar in 2013:

“Its first inception came when there used to be UNICEF commercials on TV, showing children and families living in poverty. The first time I saw that it affected me deeply…

“I sat down and started playing and the chorus just came out like magic. I remember after I’d sung ‘I bless the rains down in Africa’, I just stopped and went, ‘Wait a minute. I might be a little talented, but I’m not that talented – God’s using me for an instrument here!’

“I realised I had a song in the making, so I started writing on the Yamaha CS-80, which you hear in the intro – that’s the keyboard playing – and then you hear the little kalimba sounds [on the Yamaha GS1] in the chorus. It was a fertile time to make music with new sounds, and that kind of defined that song.”

In 2015, Paich shared with Grantland:

“We had finished our record, so when I started writing that, they were like, ‘Dave, why don’t you save this for your solo album?’ It’s kind of the joke — when someone writes a song that doesn’t really fit into the Toto mold, the joke is, everybody says, ‘Save that for your solo album.’ So the band kind of indulged me and let me start working on this track for it. This one barely made it; it just got on the end of the Toto IV album. It’s the one that didn’t get away, you know?”

We hadn’t the faintest idea that this was going to be a hit, maybe until the head of Columbia Records called us and said, ‘You know that they’re starting to play this song “Africa”? It’s starting to become a dance hit.’ I go, ‘Are you kidding me? “Africa” is becoming a dance hit?’ ‘Yeah, they’re starting to play it in these discos and dance places in New York City.’

“I think it starts breaking there, and you know how things catch on. It became popular, kind of like a little cult thing, and all of a sudden started climbing the charts. We couldn’t believe it. I mean, we still look at each other, turn to each other with a look of amazement today, at the journey that song’s taken. Normally, things that are kind of deep and musical and kind of off the beaten path don’t make for hit records. I mean not always, for us anyway, so that was a very special record.”

The band has a new greatest hits album titled 40 Trips Around the Sun and will begin touring Europe in February.

Every phone should copy the iPhone X’s gestures

See the original posting on The Verge

The best part of the iPhone X is not its display, it’s not its camera, and it’s not its price. (Okay, fine, the price is the worst part of the iPhone X.) Nope, the best part of the iPhone X isn’t found in its hardware or spec sheet at all: it’s the gesture-based interface.

The iPhone X’s gestures, which replace the functions of the home button found on every prior iPhone, are the most intuitive, natural, and, frankly, fun interactions I’ve ever had using a smartphone. They are so useful that it takes merely a day using the iPhone X to never want to go back to a home button.

Switching from the iPhone X to another phone, whether that’s another iPhone or an Android device, is frustrating simply because I constantly want to swipe up to go…

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Amazon’s SmileCodes are QR codes users scan to get discounts and other offers

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Amazon is rolling out its own branded QR codes named SmileCodes. The SmileCodes allow mobile shoppers to activate offers from Amazon by scanning the codes when they see them in the physical world. Amazon says SmileCodes can only be activated via the Amazon app and are secure and exclusive to Amazon users.

Amazon has reportedly been testing the codes in pop-up shops and at Amazon Lockers in Europe over the past few weeks. The codes will debut in the US in magazines including Cosmopolitan and Seventeen in February, according to TechCrunch.

The SmileCode Scanner feature in the Amazon app.

The codes are essentially like the QR barcode squares you sometimes see on advertisements and magazines, but these also feature…

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