Valve Index review: high-powered VR at a high-end price

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Gaming company Valve pioneered VR as we know it today, creating a sophisticated tracking system and prototyping several headsets. It runs the popular SteamVR platform, and it’s partnered with HTC on the Vive system. But it hasn’t actually produced a VR headset. That’s changing with the Valve Index: a high-end, PC-tethered headset that starts shipping today.

The Valve Index is specialized and expensive even by VR’s standards. It costs $999, which is more than twice as much as the $399 Oculus Rift or $499 HTC Vive. Like those systems, you’ll need a gaming PC to use it. If you need convenience and portability, it’s not the right choice. You can find headsets with higher resolutions or wider fields of view. But for people who spend a lot of…

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Travel and converse anywhere in the world with this Lonely Planet bundle

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The world can seem pretty splintered these days through the narrow lens of the internet, but all it takes is the right conversation in a distant cafe or remote mountain trail to show how much we have in common. For years, the professional globetrotters at Lonely Planet have been facilitating that feeling with guides that give travelers crucial info on lodging, customs, and entertainment with a personal touch.

No matter where you go, Lonely Planet has been there, gone off the beaten path and back – and nowhere is that more evident than in the Lonely Planet & Transparent Language Bundle. This massive online package of travel guides and language tutorials is essential for budding world travelers, especially now that the entire thing is on sale for potentially pennies in a pay-what-you-want deal.

Lonely Planet has been well-regarded for their travel guides since the 70s, and this bundle supplements all that inside info with some very intuitive language lessons. The primers from Transparent teach you how to speak like a native with a multifaceted approach that incorporates interactive text, audio cues, gaming and a host of visual stimuli. The full bundle gets you Transparent language lessons in French, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Thai and many more.

Once you’re ready to put your newfound fluency into practice, there’s a ton of Lonely Planet guides that show you where to do it. In all, there’s 13 countries featured in the bundle – several with multiple writeups. You’ll get full-fledged travel guides that highlight the best things to do in all the best cities, plus pocket guides that give you hotel prices, exchange rates, neighborhood maps and other essential info at a glance for cities like Paris, Tokyo, Beijing, and Rome. Read the rest

WTF is this commercial for a famous brand?

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If you haven’t seen this long commercial before, you’ll never guess what it is advertising. The reveal is at the end.

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A glossary of Silicon Valley tech-bro terms

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The Guardian‘s Julia Carrie Wong and Matthew Cantor put together a list of “53 essential tech-bro terms.” Here are a few samples:

dongle (n) A small, expensive and easily misplaced piece of computer gear. Usually required when a company revolutionizes its products by getting rid of all the ports that are compatible with the accessories you already own. See Apple.

meritocracy (n) A system that rewards those who most deserve it, as long as they went to the right school. The tech industry is a meritocracy in much the same way that America is a meritocracy. See diversity and inclusion.

microdosing (n) – Taking small amounts of illegal drugs while white. It may be possible to microdose without writing a book or personal essay about it, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

smart (adj) – A product that is capable of being hooked up to the internet – thus rendering it capable of being hacked or abusing your data.

thought leader (n) – An unemployed rich person.

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How to Upgrade Angular Packages? and?Enable the Ivy Compiler

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Updating Your Packages and the Ivy Compiler

The following post focuses on the process of updating the packages used for an Angular project as well as activating the Ivy compiler. Packages can be updated in two ways:

Auto Upgrade

The first way is the easiest one, as it undertakes to do all the work for us with the Angular CLI. You may be able to update your project using the ng update command. Before proceeding with this process, we should install the latest version of Angular so we can be sure that we will update our existing project to the latest release. To do that, we can run the following commands in the Angular CLI.

The magic theatre of High Weirdness

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In Hermann Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf we visit a mysterious and strange magic theatre, where some pretty weird things happen. Meant for madmen and madwomen only, the price of admission is nothing less than one’s mind. In High Weirdness, you are invited to enter another kind of magic theatre. It is a place of magic and madness, heaven and hell, beauty and terror. Luckily, the price of the ticket is not your sanity, but just the price of the book, High Weirdness, the latest literary exploration by Erik Davis.

Erik Davis, PhD

A long-time Boing Boing pal, Erik Davis is an intellectual of the highest caliber: a persuasive and provocative essayist, an erudite and unconventional scholar of religions, a charismatic and engaging speaker, an adventurous-minded tripster and all-around experienced explorer of the edges of our reality. Davis is one of the most admired and refined interpreters of all matters mystical, psychedelic and occult. His decades’ long travels in hyper-reality—roaming seamlessly from musical festivals to Burning Man to academia—make him a uniquely qualified cyber-anthropologist, a keen observer of our contemporary and turbulent cross-cultural mazes of techno-mystical realms, fringe subcultures, neo-shamanic practices, pop mythologies, conspiracy theories, and spiritual impulses. For those who arrived late to Erik Davis’ extensive body of work, let me single out three important contributions: his classic (and still  relevant) read Techgnosis; his musical hermeneutic homage to the Led Zeppelin IV album; and his podcast, a cornucopia of weekly interviews with artists, intellectuals and all sorts of weirdos, all concerned with the cultures of consciousness.  Read the rest

Chin pimple suddenly disappears during presidential debate

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This footage of presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard appears to show a small blemish on her chin–a pimple or bug bite, perhaps–that suddenly disappears as she’s talking. Conspiracy theorists suggest MSNBC (producers of the footage) added the pimple to make her look bad. But it’s obviously more likely that they were using filters to smooth out everyone’s meat on a live broadcast (see below) with limited time for makeup, and the pimple got through for a few seconds.

Or maybe it’s just a bug and it flew off…

If it’s a filter, the filter should go. The times are not amenable to even the most innocuous digital manipulation.

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Tech support scammer talks to a bot

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You are probably familiar with the tech support scam. You get a call from someone (usually from a call center in India) pretending to be from Apple or Microsoft. They tell you they have noticed a problem with your computer and ask you to open a web site that gives them remote access to your computer. Once they do that, they get you to log into your bank account so they can rob you blind.

Here’s one such scammer who thinks he’s talking to a woman, but he’s really talking to a bot programmed to act like a harried mother. The scammer quickly becomes frustrated, and at the 2:20 point he starts to become sexually abusive. Of course, the bot doesn’t react as he expects, which frustrates him even more. In the end, the bot wastes 10 minutes of the scammer’s time.

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This app gives you Android Q’s new Digital Wellbeing features right now

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You can now try out a key new feature from Android Q by installing a new app. ActionDash, an app that more or less clones Google’s Digital Wellbeing features, has been updated to include a “focus mode” that works exactly like the focus mode that’s being built into the next version of Android.

When you activate Focus Mode, your phone will lock you out of apps that you’ve marked as distracting. So if you go to open Instagram or your email, a message will pop up saying that you’re locked out.

Focus Mode isn’t meant to be a particularly serious way to limit usage phone usage, though It’s more of a nudge to stop you from mindlessly scrolling through one social media feed or another. Like on Android Q,…

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EA Access will launch for the PlayStation 4 next month

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EA Access will launch on the PlayStation 4 on July 24th, Electronic Arts announced today. The service — which has been available for Xbox One for nearly five years — gives players access to a massive library of Electronic Arts games.

The subscription service is $4.99 per month and includes games such as Mass Effect: Andromeda, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Battlefield V, and A Way Out. Subscribers also get access to prelaunch trials and a 10 percent discount on EA digital purchases.

EA revealed back in May that the service would finally come to the PS4 sometime in July. Subscribers who own EA Access on Xbox One will still need to pay separately for PS4 access; the service acts as a different account across various consoles.

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Three Halflings in a Trenchcoat: a homebrew fighter class for D&D

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“Three Halflings in a Trenchcoat” is Redditor Sir_Platinum’s homebrew fighter class for Dungeons and Dragons, wherein the halflings’ dexterity bonus is canceled out by the need to maintain balance and movement speed is sharply reduced, but this is offset by a “Band of Brothers” effect that — while not so good for hit points — provides an armor class bonus, as well as the ability to make three attacks at once with all six arms.

The thing that makes this so great is Sir_Platinum’s ha-ha-only-serious devotion to carrying the gag through, with all kinds of bonuses at higher levels, like the “uncanny valley” effect that kicks in at level 15, wherein your improvements to your movement increase your realism to the point where people can’t quite put their finger on what’s wrong with this picture (gain advantage on intimidation checks).

Sir_Platinum carries on in the comments, weighing in on whether they can all be called “Steve,” and providing GM tips for running a game with the class in it; his running notes are invaluable to anyone contemplating playing the class.

I intend this character to be played as a pure fighter, no multiclassing.

You could play this with any small race, I chose it because halflings have a +2 to dex racially, and if anyone can pull it off, they can. Add a minimum dex score requirement if you want.

Only light weapons are allowed for the build as they are the only type that can be easily concealed. No shields, regular, or heavy weapons.

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Experience Beatlemania this weekend with Yesterday and Yellow Submarine

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There are so many streaming options available these days, and so many conflicting recommendations, that it’s hard to see through all the crap you could be watching. Each Friday, The Verge’s Cut the Crap column simplifies the choice by sorting through the overwhelming multitude of movies and TV shows on subscription services and recommending a single perfect thing to watch this weekend.

What to watch

Yellow Submarine, a 1968 animated feature in which cartoon versions of The Beatles help the kindly citizens of Pepperland resist the authoritarian, fun-hating Blue Meanies. Based (very loosely) on a cheery, kid-friendly, sea shanty-like song that was originally released on the band’s 1966 album Revolver, the movie was the group’s third…

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It’s 2019 — where are our smart glasses?

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Phone-based augmented reality has started regularly showing up on apps like Snapchat, YouTube, and, of course, Pokémon Go. And virtual reality has found a reliable niche in gaming, film festivals, and arcades. Augmented reality glasses, meanwhile, are a rare sight in everyday life, but they hold an outsized place in our imagination. And in many ways, they’re the most exciting and scary of these three technologies.

AR glasses promise to untether us from our increasingly hated phones. Google co-founder Sergey Brin once claimed that smartphones were an “emasculating” and isolating “nervous habit,” while products like Google’s Glass headset offered the promise of freedom and connection. The “everyday smart glasses” startup North calls them a…

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Vergecast: Jony Ive leaving and public betas arriving

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What a topical show we’ve got this week on The Vergecast. I’m going to be honest, there’s a little bit more editing than usual here.

Initially, we began the episode with some overviews of the public beta software for Apple’s iPadOS, iOS 13, and macOS Catalina. The Verge’s Nilay Patel, Dieter Bohn, and Paul Miller discussed what’s different with the updates and how the iPad feels now compared to using an iPhone. My favorite part is when Dieter questions what it even means to be an iPhone.

But halfway through the show, Apple put out a press release announcing that Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer and one of the most influential people in Apple history, will be leaving the company later this year to start his own design firm.

It’s…

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Tetris Royale, a 100-player battle royale, is coming to mobile devices

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Tetris Royale, a 100-player battle royale game, is coming to mobile devices in a partnership between N3TWORK and The Tetris Company. It’ll essentially be a mobile version of the Nintendo Switch’s impossibly addicting Tetris 99.

The game is the first Tetris game to come out of N3TWORK and The Tetris Company’s exclusive multiyear partnership, which means we’ll be seeing more Tetris games for mobile in the future. Aside from the 100-player competitive mode, Tetris Royale will have other modes like a Solo marathon mode and daily challenges where players can earn rewards to gain customization options, power-ups, and boosters that can be used in battle games.

The game is currently in development and will be available for beta testing for iOS…

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One of Nintendo’s top designers says he always wanted a tool like Super Mario Maker

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When Takashi Tezuka served as assistant director on the very first Super Mario Bros. for the NES, creating levels was a laborious, time-consuming process. First, a designer would sketch out their vision for a level on graph paper. Then they would bring the drawing to a programmer, who would try to translate it into the actual game. This process would happen multiple times, as the team adjusted each stage to get them just right. “That cycle really took a long time,” Tezuka explains.

It’s a far cry from his most recent project where Tezuka served as producer on Super Mario Maker 2 for the Nintendo Switch, which launches today. Like its predecessor, it’s more of a tool than a game, an intuitive and playful way for players to craft their own…

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