Inside Oculus and Black Eyed Peas’ VR comic book

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 “When people view VR, it’s an over-sensory experience like “What the fuck?!” will.i.am says, wildly spinning his around as you can see in the GIF below. That was the Black Eyed Peas’ frontman’s inspiration for creating a 90-minute VR comic book that moves at your pace and lets emotion sink in instead of battering you with visuals. Today, “Masters Of… Read More

The Jamboxx is a MIDI instrument you control with your breath

See the original posting on The Verge

The Jamboxx, a hands-free wind MIDI controller, has relaunched and opened its store again after a year and a half-long hiatus off the market. The new version of the Jamboxx is retooled to include a specially developed optical sensor that should last longer and provide a better playing experience.

The Jamboxx is pretty unusual for a musical instrument. It works by registering breath blown into the front of it via a mouthpiece, similar to a harmonica. How impactful the breath is changes the velocity of the note, and moving the mouthpiece from side to side changes what note is played. There is the option to adjust the breath control to set the amount of airflow needed to play notes. The face of the instrument also has tactile bumps, similar…

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Squid wars and methane explosions: how Blue Planet II captured never-before-seen views of the ocean

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On her very first dive into the frigid waters of Antarctica, Orla Doherty’s yellow submarine began taking on water. So she did what she was supposed to — she stuck a finger in the puddle at her feet and licked it. It was salty. That meant it wasn’t drinking water spilled by one of the crew members; it was saltwater leaking into the sub — at 1,476 feet (450 meters) below the surface. “That made my heart start beating quite fast,” says Doherty, a producer for BBC America.

Doherty braved the perilous Antarctic waters for the TV series Planet Earth: Blue Planet II, which premieres in the US on January 20th. The sequel to the 2001 The Blue Planet takes viewers into a seven-episode tour of the world’s oceans, from coral reefs to the bottom of…

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Becoming a mother in a Rohingya refugee camp

See the original posting on Boing Boing

This was her third baby. She was accustomed to the harsh realities of motherhood in a life in poverty. But I wasn’t.

I’m a midwife. I was volunteering at one of the camp clinics when I was called to visit Rojinessa on the morning after her baby was born. I walked about half a mile into the sprawling refugee camps to her tent and stepped inside. The tent was smoky and very dark. I could hardly breathe. I asked one of the Bangladeshi midwives who came with me to open the flap of plastic sheeting that served as a door.

Rojinessa was sitting on the concrete floor on a thin woven mat. The remains of a small fire was inches from her “bed.” She and her husband and her now three children live in a one bedroom tent in the middle of what used to be a rice field. Cows bathe in the small polluted stream that bubbles twelve feet from the structure.

I don’t know what happened during the birth because I wasn’t there. All volunteers are required to leave the camps by 5 pm every day. Most babies are born at night, so even as trained medical personnel, we are cold comfort to the mothers giving birth in the camps. Plus, I don’t speak the Rohingya dialect. And neither, it seems, do many others. The Chittagong dialect of Bangla, I’m told, is somewhat similar, but miscommunications are all too common as we play “telephone” from English to Bangla to Rohingya.

Rojinessa’s blood pressure and pulse were normal. She didn’t have a fever. She complained of weakness, dizziness, fatigue. No kidding. She hadn’t eaten anything but rice in days. Her family could not afford to buy one of the live chickens sold at the pop-up market by the road. We had nothing to give her but a few biscuits and… you guessed it, more rice, with a few lentils mixed in. She had no menstrual pads to catch postpartum bleeding. We were able to bring her some from the clinic.

Her baby was vigorous and hungry. Good signs. She popped him on her breast to nurse like she had done it hundreds of times before. Fantastic.

Pregnant women in Ukhia sometimes walk miles to receive care at one of the women’s-only clinics sprinkled throughout the camps. The clinics themselves are tents. Only a few of them have electricity. Most of them lack the equipment to provide the most basic prenatal and postpartum care. Running a routine lab test is out of the question, much less listening to a fetus on a heart rate monitor or ordering an ultrasound. We have to use our hands, our ears and eyes, and hope for the best.

If there is a true emergency, we can refer a patient to the Red Crescent or MSF hospital tents a few miles down the road, where they have some more capabilities. But there are a number of reasons a woman might not go. Maybe her husband won’t give her permission. Or he can’t give her permission because he’s out working in the fields. Or she doesn’t have anyone to watch her other children.

Rohingya mothers grow small babies. They often have trouble producing enough milk for their babies because they don’t have enough food themselves. All of the people in the camps are malnourished. They have been trapped in a state of abject poverty since long before they fled their homes. At the clinic we give each mother a small package of high-calorie cookies and a fist-sized bag of rice with lentils at every visit – which is about once a month. The food is encouragement to come and get care. But it isn’t anywhere near enough.

Rojinessa and her baby survived birth in the camp. Not all do. Hopefully they will continue to survive and her baby boy will grow into one of the many children running and playing everywhere in the camps. They play soccer with empty plastic jugs and make kites out of bamboo sticks and plastic bags. But survival is about all they can hope for. Without a home and without access to education, without the legal right to work, her family, as well as the other hundreds of thousands of families in the camps, continues to face a desolate future.


Firen Jones is a midwife from Texas who has found her home in San Francisco. She spends her time catching babies, running her midwifery practice, and occasionally getting to travel the world and volunteer. You can find her through her website, blog, or on Medium.

A Keyboard To Stomp On

See the original posting on Hackaday

Macros are useful things. They allow one to execute a series of commands with a single keypress. There exists a wide variety of hardware and software solutions to create and use macros to improve your workflow, and now [Evan] has brought the open-source ManyKey into the fray, along with a build tutorial to boot.

The tutorial acts as a great introduction to ManyKey, as [Evan] walks through the construction of a macro keyboard designed to be operated by the feet. Based around the Arduino Leonardo and using off-the-shelf footswitches commonly used in guitar effects, it’s accessible while still hinting at …read more

Amazon adds Alexa to the Alexa app on Android

See the original posting on The Verge

Amazon is bringing its full Alexa voice assistant to any smartphone, with an update that adds Alexa to the existing Alexa app, via Android Police. Until now, it only let you manage Amazon’s assistant on other devices.

Amazon has partnered with companies to integrate its assistant onto smartphones before, but it was only a few devices, like the Huawei Mate 9 or Motorola Moto X4. Adding it to the Alexa app is the first time it’ll be freely available on almost any device.

Crucially, Android Police reports that phones still won’t be able to listen for the “Alexa” command when the app is closed. So, unless you’re willing to open up the app every time you’d like to conjure up Alexa, it’s probably not super…

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Buying Headphones in 2018 is Going To Be a Fragmented Mess

See the original posting on Slashdot

Vlad Savov, writing for The Verge: At CES this year, I saw the future of headphones, and it was messy. Where we once had the solid reliability of a 3.5mm analog connector working with any jack shaped to receive it, there’s now a divergence of digital alternatives — Lightning or USB-C, depending on your choice of jack-less phone — and a bunch of wireless codecs and standards to keep track of. Oh, and Sony’s working hard on promoting a new 4.4mm Pentaconn connector as the next wired standard for dedicated audio lovers. It’s all with the intent of making things better, but before we get to the better place, we’re going to spend an uncomfortable few months (or longer) in a fragmented market where you’ll have to do diligent research to make sure your next pair of headphones works with all the devices you already own.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Space Escape: Flying A Chair To Lunar Orbit

See the original posting on Hackaday

In the coming decades, mankind will walk on the moon once again. Right now, plans are being formulated for space stations orbiting around Lagrange points, surveys of lava tubes are being conducted, and slowly but surely plans are being formed to build the hardware that will become a small scientific outpost on our closest celestial neighbor.

This has all happened before, of course. In the early days of the Apollo program, there were plans to launch two Saturn V rockets for every moon landing, one topped with a command module and three astronauts, the other one containing an unmanned ‘LM …read more

A new trailer for Star Wars Rebels teases the beginning of the end

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Star Wars Rebels is coming to an end with its fourth season, but there’s a new trailer for the final handful of episodes, which will resume on February 19th.

Set between Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One / A New Hope, Rebels has largely followed Ezra Bridger, a young man who can use the Force. He joins the growing rebellion against the Empire, where he’s trained by Caleb Dume, one of the last surviving Jedi knights.

This trailer shows off how far he’s come since the show began in 2014, and teases what’s ahead as the series comes to a close. There are more space battles, a daring rescue to save Hera, Grand Admiral Thrawn ordering a bombardment, and Ezra coming up against another major character from the films, Emperor Palpatine…

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Amazon brings voice control to its Alexa app for Android, with iOS coming soon

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 Amazon’s slow push into mobile is getting a lot more real this morning with the addition of voice integration into its Android app for Alexa. Up to now, the app has been little more than a way to mange settings for the Echo and other smart home devices built around its smart assistant. The addition of voice commands means users can speak directly to their handset the way they would an… Read More

The HyperDrive USB-C hub / wireless charging stand might be the perfect desk accessory

See the original posting on The Verge

With new standards come new problems. Back when computers were starting to switch over to USB-C (including Apple going all in with the MacBook Pro update in 2016), tons of companies tried to figure out the best solution to bring back old ports with hubs and dongles. Now, with Qi finally succeeding as the winner of the wireless charging standard wars, we’re seeing the same rush to find the best solution for wireless chargers.

The incredibly descriptive, but somewhat inelegantly named HyperDrive USB-C Hub + 7.5W Qi Wireless Charger iPhone Stand from Hyper might be the answer to both of those problems, combining a wireless charger and a USB-C hub in one device.

Image: Hyper

We see a lot of Kickstarter projects, many…

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Sicko parents who tortured their children renew their vows in this creepy 2015 video

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David and Louise Turpin, the monsters who starved and tortured their 13 children, had a cheesy renewal wedding in 2015, which featured a bad Elvis imitator as their poor children, all dressed in matching church fashion, are forced to watch and then dance on stage in mock joy. This video has the same effect as a David Lynch movie, except it’s real.

Make A Better, Spring-Loaded SMT Tape Strip Holder

See the original posting on Hackaday

Every so often, a project is worth some extra work to see if the idea can go any further. [JohnSL] has been busy doing exactly that with his spring-loaded SMT tape holder project. Having done the original with 3D printing, he has been working on designing for injection molding. This isn’t a motorized feeder, it’s still a manual tool but it is an improvement over the usual workshop expedient method of just sticking segments of tape down to the desktop. Tape is fed into the holders from one end and spring tension holds the tape firm while a small slot …read more

One Video: Wait by Maroon 5

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Every week, a slew of new music videos hits the web. Watching them at your desk is not time theft because you deserve it; think of it as a nice reward for surviving another work week. But what if you don’t have time to watch every video — maybe you have a deadline, a hungry pet, or other grown-up concerns. In consideration of your schedule, Lizzie and Kaitlyn bring you a series called One Video. Each week we’ll tell you “one video” you need to watch, why, and for how long.

This week’s video: “Wait” by Maroon 5

Lizzie: I’m sorry to say that Adam Levine has duped us again. Maroon 5 published a Snapchat-based music video this week while everyone else was off releasing black-and-white parking garage videos and being Scientologists. So we’re…

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Where is crypto heading in 2018? We talk to some folks who might know

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Cryptomania!

This week was rough for HODLers. We took to the halls of CES and then spoke to some folks in the know about the future of crypto, the ever-changing price, and where crypto is headed in 2018. Join me, Jameson Lopp, and Michelle Tsng as we dig into cryptomania.

Credits
Written by: John Biggs
Hosted by: John Biggs
Filmed by: Chris Gates
Edited by: Chris Gates Read More

Original Content podcast: Amazon visits the paranoid worlds of Philip K. Dick

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 Amazon has already taken on Philip K. Dick with The Man In The High Castle (which is based on his award-winning alternate history novel of the same name). Now it’s using his short stories as the basis for an anthology series called Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. On the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, TechCrunch’s Jordan Crook, Darrell Etherington and… Read More

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