J is for Jettison in NASA’s illustrated alphabet

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There’s no better time to build an interest in space exploration than when someone is still young and impressionable. Scientifically-minded parents and the young-at-heart may be pleased to know that NASA is working on a stunningly geeky picture book detailing the A to Zs of the Orion passenger module. Scheduled for its first manned flight in 2021, the capsule may one day be responsible for placing astronauts on Mars.

The simplistic yet eye-pleasing illustrations come with terse lines like,…

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Acer’s new Chromebook 13 offers a high-resolution screen and all-day battery life

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There are Chromebooks with Samsung processors, Chromebooks with two types of Intel processors, and starting today, Chromebooks with Nvidia processors. The new Acer Chromebook 13 is the first Chromebook to use Nvidia’s Tegra K1 processor, a mobile chip that’s already been employed in tablets and other portable devices. Its big selling point? Longer battery life than any other Chromebook on the market while still providing class-leading performance.

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Comcast Confessions: growing pains of a Goliath

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The now-infamous “Comcast Rep from Hell” recording recently sparked a conversation about the largest player in the cable industry, and it’s a timely one: Comcast is in the process of acquiring the second-largest cable provider, Time Warner Cable. Both companies are plagued by low customer-satisfaction ratings.

Comcast and Time Warner have agreed on a price, but the deal isn’t done. The Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice must decide whether a new consolidated…

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Microsoft Goes After The Ubiquitous MacBook To Boost Surface Brand Recognition

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Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 8.16.18 AM Microsoft billed the Surface Pro 3 as the device that can replace multiple pieces of Apple kit, including the MacBook and the iPad. Its latest ad spots for its Windows 8 marquee device target the MacBook directly, invoking the classic Apple Mac vs. PC ads with their visual style but focusing more on specs. Two of them feature just two guys chatting with each other naturally (read: not at… Read More

Fanmode Lets Sports Fans Share Their Emotions From The Couch To The Stadium

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Photo 102 Sport is an emotional business. But, as it stands, there arguably exists a disconnect between fans watching at home or in the many sports bars around the world, and those who are actually at the stadium during a game — as I was yesterday for the Community Shield football, as a guest of Fanmode, a newly launched startup that has set out to solve this ‘problem’. Read More

Square Targets Small Business With Launch Of Online Booking Tool “Square Appointments”

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Square Appointments Reminder Continuing its expansion beyond mobile payments, Square this morning has rolled out Square Appointments, an online appointment booking service aimed at small businesses, like beauty and hair salons, and other individuals looking to connect with their customers online. The program, previously available only to pilot testers, is now open to any merchant, whether or not they use Square to… Read More

Microsoft transforms bumpy GoPro videos into smooth works of art

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There are thousands of GoPro-powered time-lapse videos on YouTube, but most of them are a bumpy ride from a camera mounted on top of someone’s head. Microsoft is aiming to transform this type of first-person footage into smoother, less shaky, video with its own hyperlapse work. The software maker has created a method for converting helmet camera activities into hyperlapse videos thanks to its research team. Microsoft’s algorithm reconstructs a scene by using a depth map to create new frames that follow a stable path.

It’s similar to Microsoft’s Photosynth work, with the new frames stitched and blended together to recreate a scene smoothly. The result is a much more stable time-lapse video that effortless glides along frame-by-frame….

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Woah Nelly! Microsoft Not Killing Off The Super Basic Nokia Handset After All

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Nokia 130 Last month as well as culling some 12,500 Nokia staff new owner Microsoft took an axe to the Nokia product portfolio, apparently hacking off the entire low end of devices — leaving it to focus entirely on its Windows Phone based Lumia smartphones. However it’s now decided it is in fact committed to the very bottom end of the basic mobile phone portfolio for the long term. Read More

Nokia’s basic cellphones live on at Microsoft

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Microsoft might be killing off Nokia’s featurephones and Android handsets, but the company is keeping the very basic Nokia phones alive. That’s the message today as the company launches a new Nokia 130 handset that will sell for just 19 Euro ($25). It’s a basic cellphone that supports MP3s and videos along with an FM radio and flashlight. It’s designed for emerging markets and countries where smartphones are still slowly pushing down to a sub-$30 price point.

In an interview with Recode, Microsoft’s Jo Harlow says the company is sticking with its basic cellphones. “Microsoft doesn’t have any other project that can reach these consumers,” explains Harlow. Despite its latest Nokia 103 handset lacking internet connectivity, Harlow believes…

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Motionlead Makes Mobile Ads Effective Again Thanks To Interactive Design

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Billboard Ad Meet Motionlead, a French startup that wants to make mobile ads sexy again. When the team first developed a meme reader for the iPhone, it got really frustrated with the state of mobile ads. Traditional ad banners are both ineffective and ugly. That’s how Motionlead started. “On all our campaigns, we have a click rate above 10 percent for call-to-action buttons,” co-founder… Read More

Microsoft reignites Mac vs. PC conflict for new Surface Pro 3 ads

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Microsoft is bringing the Mac vs. PC battle back with full force today. While the company targeted the MacBook Air at the launch of the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft’s latest ads place both devices head-to-head. It’s a style that’s similar to how Microsoft has targeted the iPad and even Siri recently, and one that mimics Apple’s classic ads from the ‘00s. There’s three 30-second spots in total, and each focuses on the touchscreen and pen benefits of the Surface Pro 3 over Apple’s MacBook Air.

All three are a departure from Microsoft’s original Surface Pro 3 ad that centered on the features of Microsoft’s latest tablet / laptop hybrid, with a tagline of “the tablet that can replace your laptop.” With the Surface Pro 3 launching in 25 new…

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BuzzFeed Raises $50 Million From Andreessen Horowitz

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buzzfeed Not too many years ago, announcing major (positive) news on a Sunday evening in the middle of August would seem crazy. Who would read it, right?
News dropped tonight — a Sunday evening in the middle of August — that BuzzFeed raised $50 million dollars from Andreessen Horowitz. And as a shining example of just how much Twitter and Facebook have changed the way we digest news… Read More

Bendy Lego-like bricks might become the building blocks of the robot apocalypse

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The machine overlords of our dystopian future may have more in common with Gumby than the Terminator, if the field of “soft robotics” continues to expand. New Scientist reports that George Whitesides and his team in Harvard University have come up with squishy, Lego-inspired blocks that might one day lead to self-replicating robots.

The team began by creating a mould which was filled with flexible plastic in order to produce the actual click-fit elastomeric bricks, or “click-e-bricks.” The blocks have since been used to develop everything from simple structures to reconfigurable LED circuits. Ultimately, Whitesides’ team hopes to have robots that can manipulate bricks on their own, possibly allowing for on-the-fly repairs.

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At Apple University, studying Picasso helps with product design

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The New York Times has published a rare look inside Apple’s secretive training program known as “Apple University.” New recruits are encouraged to sign up for courses in the program, which was conceived by Steve Jobs in order to ensure that employees are steeped in the company’s history and culture. Joel Podolny, Apple’s VP of human resources and formerly dean of Yale School of Management, founded the program in 2008.

Among the revelations gleaned from the three class attendees that the Times spoke to:

  • Picasso’s Bull, a series of eleven lithographs in which the master artist deconstructs a bull down to its most abstract form, is shown as inspiration for Apple’s minimalist design philosophy. “You go through more iterations until you…

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Saying Goodbye To Windows 8

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jasdfjksdf (1) Considering the most recent leaks involving the Charms Bar, desktop improvements and the like, it’s becoming plain that some of what Windows 8 emphasized will be scaled back in Microsoft’s next Windows build. If Windows 8 was a dramatic lurch towards mobile computing, especially on tablets, Windows 9 appears to be heading for a more equitable balance between desktop muscle, and… Read More

CBS to make direct-to-internet TV shows for services like Netflix and Amazon

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The next hit original series on Netflix might be made by CBS. Network CEO Les Moonves revealed on an earnings call this week that CBS Studios is working on developing original television series solely for streaming video services.

CBS Studios primarily sells to CBS’ own channels and is known for such shows as NCIS, but nothing prevents it from producing series for other networks. In fact, one of ABC’s new shows this season, called The Club, is made by CBS Television Studios.

Streaming services need networks, and vice-versa

Television networks and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon are often cast as fierce competitors, but the two rely on each other greatly: studios earn big revenues by selling streaming rights to companies…

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The military is trying to build smartphone apps for waging war

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Big, beautiful touchscreens, apps as far as the eye can see, and ubiquitous LTE may be commonplace for many of us civilians, but when you work under the bureaucracy of the US military it sounds like the far-off future. DARPA is working to change that with its own multi-year program, called Transformative Apps (or TransApp), that’s worked to bring many of the benefits of smartphones — as well as an inventive startup atmosphere — to the military.

Gizmodo got a first-hand look at some of the work DARPA’s doing for the project; there are lots of Samsung devices running heavily customized versions of Android and a wild array of apps made for waging war. Apparently there are apps to help snipers calculate their shots, encyclopedias of weapon…

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