Navigating Bill Gates’ brain with Netflix filmmaker Davis Guggenheim

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Photo by Saeed Adyani / Netflix

This week on our Vergecast interview series, The Verge’s editor-in-chief Nilay Patel chats with filmmaker Davis Guggenheim on his new documentary Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates, which premiered on Netflix earlier this month.

Davis talks about the two years he spent filming with the Microsoft co-founder, as well as how he got Gates to participate in the film, the structure of the documentary, the most surprising things he learned about the man, and much more. Below is a lightly edited excerpt of the conversation.

Nilay Patel: I thought the most interesting part of the entire thing is when you were alone with him during his “Think Week” and he’s alone in the house and he’s reading books, and over time you see the Diet Coke cans…

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Pandora overhauls mobile app to focus on hyper-personalization

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Pandora has revamped its smartphone app to focus on personalization, leveraging the data from its Music Genome Project to serve up custom-curated music and podcast recommendations.

There’s now a dedicated “For You” tab, which features a feed that dynamically updates throughout the day with new and different content broken down into “modules.” These modules are categories like Moods, Decades, or Artists on the Rise. Pandora says over 35 of these modules will roll out in the coming months, and more are planned for the future.

Image: Pandora

Based upon your previous interactions with Pandora, the “For You” section could prioritize styles of music, breaking news podcasts, or push new music from artists you frequently…

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Make: a Halloween “Useless Machine” with a skeleton inside it

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We’re big fans of useless machines around here: those boxes with one or more switches, that, when toggled, trigger some kind of arm that pops out and puts the switch back in the off position, before retreating to the inside of the box.

Greg Zumwalt’s RIP Skeleton Instructable brings some much-needed Halloween boo-spookery to the genre, with a little, 3D printed electromechanical glowing-eyed skeleton who pops out of a coffin and turns the switch off before returning to its eternal rest.

The design is reminiscent of the electro-mechanical pinball machines I repaired for a local entertainment distributor while attending college some 40 years ago (we still have a fully functional electro-mechanical “Captain Fantastic” pinball machine, circa 1976, in our game room). Instead of a using a micro controller and servos, this electro-mechanical model uses a single motor and a two lobe camshaft to control the simple animation and lighting via two micro roller switches following the camshaft lobes. This approach greatly extends the battery life as when the model is idle, it draws no current from the twin AAA battery power supply. Note that RIP Skelton does not actually “press” the red button as his arm is too frail. He simply uses “mind over matter” (e.g. a roller switch on a cam lobe) to press the button.

RIP Skeleton [Greg Zumwalt/Instructables]

(via Hackaday)

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TiVo’s Edge DVR arrives with support for Dolby Vision and Atmos

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Image: TiVo

First leaked earlier this year, the TiVo Edge DVR is now official. As expected, it includes support for both the Dolby Vision and Atmos standards, which will benefit any services that support them, such as Netflix.

There are two TiVo Edge models to choose from. The TiVo Edge for cable gets you a 2TB hard drive and six TV tuners, while the TiVo Edge for antenna has the same size hard drive, but drops the number of tuners down to four. The cable model costs $399.99, and requires an additional service plan that costs $14.99 monthly, $149.99 annually, or $549.99 with a one-off payment. Meanwhile, the antenna model is cheaper at $349.99, and its service plan costs $6.99 monthly, $69.99 annually, or $249.99 as a one-time purchase.

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A test to determine the best masking tape

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Project Farm is one of my favorite YouTube channels. They thoroughly test different products and methods for solving common problems that farmers, and just about everyone else, have. In this video, Project Farm tests a bunch of different brands of masking tape to see which one is the best at keeping paint from seeping under it. The bottom line: Frog Tape is the best in almost every circumstance.

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Consent in Gaming: a guide for GMs and players to difficult subjects for amazing games

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Sean K Reynolds’ and Shaunna Germain’s free, short ebook Consent in Gaming (from Monte Cook Games) is a beautifully thought-through exploration of how game-masters and players can negotiate their own boundaries before, during and after playing RPGs, in a way that allows everyone to be mindful and respectful of those boundaries without sacrificing fun or intensity of game-play.

Reynolds and Germain set out a concise and thorough set of explanations for why some players might be averse to some scenarios — not just sexual ones, either — and then move on to a set of practices and principles for GMs and other players to keep those limits in mind, and to recover gracefully when there are slipups.

RPGs are intense, wonderful ways to explore your imaginative limits and to create and deepen your friendships. But that same intensity and deepness meant that they can put people in difficult and even traumatic emotional states. Consent in Gaming is a marvellous resource for keeping things fun for everyone.

Consent in Gaming [Sean K Reynolds and Shaunna Germain/Monte Cook Games]

(via Fuck Yeah DnD)

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Xbox Game Pass Ultimate now comes with six months of Spotify Premium

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Microsoft has started a special promo for new subscribers to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, its all-in-one service that combines Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass for both console and PC. If you sign up, you’ll get six months of Spotify Premium ad-free music streaming as a complementary bonus along with the subscription.

Microsoft has been pretty tight with Spotify in recent years, replacing its own defunct Groove Music app with Spotify as the default music player on Windows 10. For Xbox One players, the Spotify app lets you listen to music in the background of your games, so it’s a good fit on console as well.

There are a few catches to keep in mind before you leap at this deal. It’s only available for new Game Pass subscribers, not current or…

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GoPro’s new Hero 8 Black does more of the work for you

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Photo by Brent Rose for The Verge

GoPro has announced its newest camera, unsurprisingly called the Hero 8 Black. The California camera company has packed a lot into the same flagship price point of $399, with a new integrated mounting system, a refreshed software experience that requires fewer taps, and the ability to shoot up to 4K footage at 60 frames per second or capture startlingly steady footage, thanks to an improved version of the company’s HyperSmooth digital image stabilization.

The Hero 8 Black is available to order today, October 1st, and it starts shipping on October 15th. It will sit alongside GoPro’s new $499 360-degree camera, the Max, and the Hero 7 Black, which now costs $299. The Hero 7 Silver will round out GoPro’s lineup at $199, while the Hero 7…

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GoPro’s Hero 8 Black has new ‘Mod’ accessories made for vloggers

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Images: GoPro

GoPro has officially pulled the cover off its newest camera, the Hero 8 Black. Available to order starting today, the flagship action camera costs $399, and offers a number of improvements over last year’s Hero 7 Black in terms of image quality, image stabilization, updates to the software, and more.

But one of the biggest changes comes in the form of a new line of accessories that GoPro is calling “Mods,” which let users attach a higher-quality microphone, a small (but powerful) LED light, and a flip-up display. They all seem potentially useful in their own right, but viewed together, they are an obvious attempt to capitalize on the rise of vlogging by offering a more integrated solution than the hacked-together rigs that content…

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Adobe’s Character Animator is getting keyframes to give artists more control

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Adobe

Adobe’s Character Animator is getting keyframes later this year, which will allow users to tweak movements and create more controlled animations. The new keyframe feature will let the characters move around the screen and give artists more control over what’s happening in the scene.

Character Animator may be one of the lesser-known Creative Cloud apps, but it’s still a powerful tool that lets users create puppet animations with real-time motion capture using a microphone and a webcam. The app is streamlined for making videos quickly, so until now, it hasn’t been equipped with features beyond making simple characters that talk and move in one place. Keyframes, which place markers on the timeline to signify the beginning of a transition,…

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Leak reveals Windows 10X, Microsoft’s new OS for dual-screen devices

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Yesterday brought the leaks of several new Surface products that may be announced at Microsoft’s big hardware event, including the Surface Pro 7, Surface Laptop 3, and an ARM-powered Surface 2-in-1 laptop. Now, leaker Evan Blass has spilled details about Windows 10X, said to be Microsoft’s fork of Windows 10 that’s built for dual-screen devices.

Of course, a dual-screen Surface product (codenamed “Centaurus”) is rumored to make its debut at the big Surface unveiling event tomorrow. And based on Blass’ tweet, it will run on Windows 10X, which has been previously referred to as Windows Lite.

While the tweet shared no images of the software, it states that Windows 10X is made to run on dual- and folding-screened devices. And that, compared…

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Mushroom Délicieux! is a demented glitchy Pico-8 game

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I can’t rightly say I know what’s going on in Mushroom Délicieux!, a demented glitchy Pico-8 game by Rémy Devaux. But I had plenty of fun racing around the woods chomping shrooms, avoiding crawlies and getting high, for as long as it lasted.

Walking through the forest feels great! But sometimes you get a little hungry… You’re in luck though, because the forest is here for you in… Mushroom Délicieux!

It’s free to play online, and you can donate to Devaux on their itch.io page.

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This foldable carry-on bag expands into a full-size suitcase

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Everybody’s an expert when it comes to packing before a vacation. It’s great that you squeezed all that stuff into a carry-on. Now, what happens when you find that must-have pair of shoes or holiday gift? Your options are paying to ship the items or getting an extra bag, and neither of those is ideal.

Turns out there’s a travel bag that solves that problem so easily, it’s kind of embarrassing that no one’s done it before. At least, not as well as the Rollux 2-in-1 Expandable Suitcase:

The simple folding design means you can convert this carry-on bag into a full-size suitcase, more than doubling its carrying capacity in seconds. It’s intuitive enough for even the busiest traveler to collapse or expand without instructions, and that extra space can be a godsend for long trips. When you get to your destination, just fold it up and save yourself extra space in the hotel closet. While in its carry-on mode, it can even be worn as a backpack if you’re hoofing it for awhile.

This isn’t a one-trick pony, either. There’s plenty of thought put into the polypropylene material, which has durability and flexibility to spare. Need to pack a few extra shirts in? Feel free to stretch it out. And it’s water-resistant, too – a big plus for long hikes in unfamiliar territory.

The modular design doesn’t stop with the interior. The wheels are sturdy but can be easily removed if you need that extra inch or two of space in the overhead compartment. Read the rest

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