Ricoh’s $999 Theta Z1 is a prosumer 360-degree camera

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Ricoh has announced a new Theta that’s the highest-end model yet in the company’s line of 360-degree cameras. The Theta Z1 should mark a big step up in image quality with dual backside-illuminated 1-inch sensors, RAW shooting capability, and lenses with variable apertures. It produces 23-megapixel images that can be shot at f/2.1, f/3.5, and f/5.6, which together with the much larger sensors are likely to make for a more versatile camera in a variety of situations.

Design-wise, not much has changed from the previous flagship model, 2017’s Theta V. The Z1 has bigger lenses inside a slightly thicker frame, as you’d expect, and there’s now a monochrome OLED screen that provides basic information, but otherwise it’s very much in the vein of…

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Fortnite dance lawsuits are bad for copyright and bad for culture

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Fortnite is one of the most popular and profitable video games in history, and its publisher Epic is copying creative work from children and independent artists without paying them. So it’s not surprising that seven people have sued the company, claiming Epic broke copyright law by turning their dance moves into Fortnite emotes. These suits are exploring interesting new legal territory. But if they succeed, it could be bad for dance, bad for copyright, and bad for the culture these lawsuits are ostensibly trying to protect.

For anybody who’s not familiar with Fortnite, emotes are short avatar animations that players can buy or earn. Like other cosmetic in-game items, they’re often fun because they’re familiar. You can get generic…

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USB 3.2 standard gets new, even more confusing names ahead of its mainstream debut

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First, the goods news: USB 3.2, the upcoming specification that the USB Implementers Forum announced back in 2017, is finally coming out this year. The bad news is that the group has also brought with it a slate of new names not only for the new standard, but also for the old versions of USB 3.0, too.

Here’s how it all breaks down:

  • USB 3.2 Gen 1: originally known as USB 3.0, and previously renamed to USB 3.1 Gen 1. It’s the original USB 3.0 specification, and it can transfer data at up to 5Gbps.
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2: Previously known as USB 3.1, and then later as USB 3.1 Gen 2. It offers speeds at up to 10Gbps.
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2×2: formally known as USB 3.2, it’s the newest and fastest spec, promising offers speeds at up to 20Gbps (by using two…

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100 knock-off magic erasers at a fraction of the normal price

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I’ve written about melamine foam (sold as Magic Erasers) before. They’re great for quickly removing mars, scuffs, and stains from almost any surface. I recommend buying 100 at a time.

Latest use case: Some old stickers on my laptop that I wanted to remove. After peeling them off, the sticky, tough, adhesive remained on the laptop. Magic eraser knockoff to the rescue! It took about 90 seconds of gentle rubbing with a damp magic eraser to remove all traces.

Before:

After:

Watch the video below to see different ways to use this wonder material.

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Save hundreds on LG OLED 4K TVs, while Sling TV subscriptions are 40 percent off

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Today’s best deals include the lowest prices we’ve seen on LG OLED 4K HDR televisions, as well as significant discounts on Sling TV subscriptions, and more.

To make room for the new LG televisions that debuted at CES, the company’s OLED televisions from 2018 have been falling in price. The 55-inch LG B8 4K HDR TV is down to $1,099.85 at Walmart (this is $200 less than the best price we saw during Black Friday) and the 65-inch version of the same TV is $1,799, also at Walmart (beating the lowest price we’ve seen by $300.)

Sling TV is offering 3-month subscription packages for far less than usual. The Orange and Blue channel packages are each discounted to $15 per month (usually $25 per bundle) or if you want more channels…

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What makes a good computer RPG

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Chester Bolingbroke on the three elements that must be well-balanced to make a good computer role-playing game: breadth, depth and immersion.

Breadth refers primarily to the physical size of the game. It can be measured in dungeon squares or tiles, or in modern games the length of time it takes to travel from one end to the other. It also refers to the length of time it takes to play and win the game …

Depth refers to the things that you find and to the things that happen within that game world. The specific elements depend on the game’s genre, but for RPGs it includes things like the backstory, lore, NPCs, quests, and character development. …

Immersion deals with the game’s capacity to make you feel like you are truly “occupying” its world, and it’s primarily a function of graphics and sound–although we must allow for skilled developers who can engage the player’s imagination in the absence of these things, as a good author does.

This is a great way to understand the limits of modern open-world games like Skyrim and RDR. Objectively they are deep compared to older games, but their vast annd realistic breadth creates a sense of relative shallowness that limits immersion and gives the uncanny sense of being stuck in a theme park full of robots.

Pictured is the map of Fate: Gates of Dawn, a 1991 Amiga RPG that exemplifies the problem with excessive breadth. Every pixel is its own square, and you can explore it all—but every step of the way, you’re trapped in a 1991 Amiga RPG. Read the rest

This website is a Hot-or-Not for fake people

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Mike Solomon, creative director at Hearst Digital Media, created Judge Fake People. Here’s what he wrote about it on his website, The Cleverest:

Like many internet addicts, I was blown away by NVIDEO’s demo using style-based Generative Adversarial Networks to generate faces. They seem to have crossed a threshold for generating artificial images that can genuinely fool our brains.

Flash forward to last week when I saw Philip Wang’s amazing single-serving website thispersondoesosxist.com.

It was fascinating to see a photo-realistic face of someone that doesn’t exist. Philip’s writeup does a great job explaining his motivations and this implications behind this groundbreaking technology.

But I just wanted to turn it into hot or not.

So I wrote a script to download an image from thispersondoesnotexist.com every 5 seconds and built up a collection of around two thousand fake people. Then I made a voting system with php/MySQL and some filters to show the highest and lowest rated faces. And I enabled comments just for fun.

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The latest marble chain reaction video is the best so far

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Blue Marble 3 is Kaplamino’s latest marble chain reaction video. I like the way that many parts of the track are formed as needed by the energy of rubber bands, deflating balloons, magnets, and even a firecracker.

From the YouTube description:

I present you my most ambitious project so far, blue marble 3 ! I’m out of my comfort zone this time because the chain reaction is taking place on two tables, and with 0 fidget spinners. It is the longest in terms of duration and the one that takes up the most space in my room. I tried to use a little bit of everything like rubber bands, magnets, and elements. I had so many failures that I stopped counting, as always only a few tricks were responsible for the majority of failures, can you guess which ones?

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New Huawei P30 Pro leaks show off teardrop notch and quad-camera array

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Huawei’s new flagship phones are slated to get announced late next month, and now today we have our first convincing renders of the device, courtesy of WinFuture. The new P30 Pro, which earlier leaks suggested would come with a “Leica Quad Camera,” does appear to have a camera lens and three sensors on the back of the device.

WinFuture reports that one of the them will be for a 10x optical zoom feature, which aligns with Huawei’s official teaser video when it announced the event date for the reveal. Another could be a time-of-flight sensor used for depth-of-field detection and potentially 3D mapping capabilities. It’s unclear what the fourth would be for, but it could be for ultra-wide shots. The P30 appears to have just a three-camera…

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Sony and Xiaomi are partnering with Light for their next multi-camera smartphones

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When Light first came out with its 16-lens camera, it seemed ridiculous to cram so many cameras into a single product. But now that flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S10 are bumping its cameras up to three or even four in a single device, multi-camera smartphones are starting to look more like the norm.

You can expect to see more of this soon, as Light has announced it will be working with Sony and Xiaomi to develop more multi-lens devices. With Sony specifically, Light is working to incorporate its multiple camera array with Sony’s image processing system to make apps that could make use out of this combination. Together, Light says it will help Sony smartphones fit four cameras or more in its upcoming lineup. Details are less specific…

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I used a Mercedes-Benz as a Mario Kart controller, and it was amazing

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The whizz-kids at Daimler Research Group have done something that’s equal parts silly and ingenious: they’ve adapted a version of Mario Kart to work on the MBUX infotainment system of a Mercedes-Benz CLA. It plays the game on the screen to the right of the driver, who can control it with the car’s steering wheel and pedals. The interior lighting system activates in sync with the starting signals in the game, the seatbelt tightens anytime you crash in the game, and the air conditioning blows cool air at you with an intensity matched to your speed in the game.

I played it and I loved it.

The game’s frame rate isn’t perfect, and by the time I got to Daimler’s MWC booth, the seatbelt integration wasn’t working, but what I saw felt so…

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There’s not enough time to play all of these online shooters

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<em>Anthem</em>.

For the past few nights, most of my time has been spent exploring the fantastical sci-fi realm of Anthem, fighting off countless alien bad guys and putting far too much energy into making sure my armor is just the right color. During that same period, I’ve been getting in regular matches of Apex Legends, Respawn’s new team-based battle royale that’s perfect for people who don’t like to talk while they shoot. Meanwhile, I’ve also been preparing myself for the impending eighth season of Fornite, wrapping up a final few quests and tracking the earthquake-induced cracks in the landscape.

I’ve also realized that I don’t have time for all of this.

Once upon a time, it was relatively simple to plot out your video game playing. Much like a book,…

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Honda’s adorable EV prototype is looking more and more like a real car

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Honda revealed more details Wednesday about the all-electric city car it first revealed back in 2017. One surprise: apparently the first version we saw, the Urban EV, was actually a prototype to the prototype; this latest version, dubbed the Honda e Prototype, will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show next week. And as you can see, it’s still cute.

This adorably retro vehicle will go into production later this year, after which it will be available for purchase first in Europe, followed by other markets, Honda says. When that happens, the vehicle will be Honda’s first compact car on a dedicated EV platform. Honda claims it will deliver a range of over 200 km (124 miles) and a “fast charge”…

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