Virtual Reality, a tech geek dream for decades, was long hobbled by high latency, clunky hardware, and perennially absurd reports on network news. That all changed in 2011, when Palmer Luckey, then 18, built the first Oculus Rift prototype in his parents' garage with iPhone repair money. Awed by its powerful sense of presence, developer John Carmack became a fan and demoed it at E3. The ensuing Kickstarter campaign shattered all fundraising goals, and Facebook controversially bought the rights for a whopping $2 billion -- alienating erstwhile partner Valve Software, the iconic creators of Half-Life/Portal/Steam. A Cambrian explosion of headsets followed: Morpheus, HoloLens, Google Cardboard, Gear VR. But perhaps most interesting is Valve's own counter-project: a breathtaking "room scale" VR set-up with Tron-like "Chaperone" and tracked motion controls called the HTC Vive. With this week's commercial launch of Rift and Vive bringing us to the threshold of a new interactive medium, look inside for guides, notes, and killer apps for this, the stunning arrival of consumer VR. [more inside]
Marcin Wichary writes (among other things) articles about crazy, complicated computer bugs and what they say about the world. Come to read about how a bug in Google's famous Pac-Man doodle led to all manner of chaos, stay to learn how a confluence of history, typography, and OS weirdness broke the Polish S (previously), or how a fluke of CSS unearthed a decades-old font. [more inside]
Google will be folding its Chrome operating system into Android, according to The Wall Street Journal and independently confirmed by The Verge. Google is denying this, according to The Guardian, saying it is "committed to Chrome OS and it is likely Android and Chrome OS will co-exist with tighter integration between the two for the foreseeable future". Chromebook-like small laptops running Android such as the Pixel C are not uncommon, though they tend to dual-purpose as tablets and be more expensive than machines running the browser based operating system.
An international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) is a unique number, usually fifteen digits, associated with Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) network mobile phone users. An IMSI catcher is a device, used by the NSA drone program, the police, criminals, Chinese spammers and spies all around Washington DC and the world to spoof the identity of a GSM cell tower and intercept cellular voice and data communication. They come in all sizes and flavors, from tiny or body-worn professional surveillance devices, to easy to order off the shelf solutions, to Chinese DIY (links in Chinese) and have spawned efforts to retaliate with an IMSI-catcher-catcher. IMSI-catcher technology has become increasingly widespread, with far-reaching constitutional and technical implications.
“But what shall we dream of when everything becomes visible?” Virilio replies: “We’ll dream of being blind."
Following on the heels of Phonebloks, a Google/Motorola formed a design group called Project Ara. The Verge recently interviewed Paul Eremenko, the project lead, about progress made towards modularization of mobile phone components, overcoming engineering issues, and the group assigning itself an ambitious timetable to succeed in delivering a sellable product within two years, or disbanding.
DevArt: An exhibition of art created with code - skywriting quadcopter drones programmed with c++, room dividers reimagined as 3D screens for psychedelic projections, using raspberry pi to rename WiFi networks as lines of poetry. They are collaborating with the Barbican in London for the Digital Revolution exhibition and are currently seeking an emerging creative coder to be funded to present at the exhibition alongside world-class interactive artists Zach Lieberman, Karsten Schmidt, and the duo of Varvara Guljajeva & Mar Canet.
Auto Correct — Has the self-driving car at last arrived? From The New Yorker, November 25, 2013.
I turned around to face an approaching figure. It was Larry Page, naked, save for a pair of eyeglasses. “Welcome to Google Island. I hope my nudity doesn’t bother you. We’re completely committed to openness here. Search history. Health data. Your genetic blueprint. One way to express this is by removing clothes to foster experimentation. It’s something I learned at Burning Man,” he said.
On the 23 of June, 2011 a secret five hour meeting took place between WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who was under house arrest in rural UK at the time and Google CEO Eric Schmidt. We provide here a verbatim transcript of the majority of the meeting; a close reading, particularly of the latter half, is revealing.[more inside]
I used Google Glass - "But what’s it actually like to have Glass on? To use it when you’re walking around? Well, it’s kind of awesome."
Rebecca Solnit on how Silicon Valley corporations are transforming San Francisco: I weathered the dot-com boom of the late 1990s as an observer, but I sold my apartment to a Google engineer last year and ventured out into both the rental market (for the short term) and home buying market (for the long term) with confidence that my long standing in this city and respectable finances would open a path. That confidence got crushed fast. It turned out that the competition for any apartment in San Francisco was so intense that you had to respond to the listings – all on San Francisco-based Craigslist of course, the classifieds website that whittled away newspaper ad revenue nationally – within a few hours of their posting to receive a reply from the landlord or agency. The listings for both rentals and homes for sale often mentioned their proximity to the Google or Apple bus stops. [more inside]
NASA will send you an email or text alert when the International Space Station is visible from your area. IBM scientists have recently made significant advances in nanotechnology. A mathematician thought a poorly-encrypted headhunting email from Google was testing him, but he had actually discovered a major security hole. All of this found via The Brief: A Daily Briefing of Technology News Worth Caring About from MeFi's own nostrich. [via mefi projects]
The iEconomy: Apple and Technology Manufacturing. Since January, the New York Times has been running a series of articles "examining the challenges posed by increasingly globalized high-tech industries," with a focus on Apple's business practices. The seventh article in the series was published today: In Technology Wars, Using the Patent as a Sword. Related: For Software, Cracks in the Patent System and Fighters in the Patent War. [more inside]
The Google Cultural Institute is the portal for an effort to digitally preserve and present vital historical information using the latest web technologies. Highlights include the World Wonders Project, a geographical tour of UNESCO Heritage sites; Google Art Project (previously), curating 50,000 years of human cultural expression; the Palace of Versailles in 3D and a digital archive of the Dead Sea Scrolls (previously)
Following a jury finding that Google had not infiringed upon Oracles patents, a development described as a near disaster for the database company, Judge William Aslup has ruled that the Java APIs cannot be copyrighted. That leaves Oracle with only the 9 lines of rangeCheck code and a handfull of decompiled test files to show for the massivecourt case. CEO Larry Ellison remains confident, claiming that the aquisition of Java creator Sun has still paid for itself.
Is Webkit, the web browser engine used by Safari and Chrome, turning into IE6? Concern is growing that reliance on proprietry CSS features marked by vendor prefixes could be breaking the web.
We expect even more rapid innovation in the web media platform in the coming year and are focusing our investments in those technologies that are developed and licensed based on open web principles. To that end, we are changing Chrome’s HTML5 <video> support to make it consistent with the codecs already supported by the open Chromium project. Specifically, we are supporting the WebM (VP8) and Theora video codecs, and will consider adding support for other high-quality open codecs in the future. Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies. - Google's Chrome is will be joining Firefox in no longer licensing the MPEG-LA H.264 video codec favoured by Apple and Microsoft for use in the HTML5 <video> tag (previously). Not everyone is seeing this as a good thing.
Google's sheer size and power is staggering - and of course a little disconcerting. But ultimately are they ensuring the internet remains open and user friendly? CBC Radio had a great piece on the Algorithm That Changed World on how Google has helped keep the internet useful and spammers at bay. As a user, I have not found any other search engine that come close in giving me useful results. Intelligent Life's take on Apple vs Google, shows how this open system vs closed system philosophical differences plays itself out with product strategy. Of course, Google's user-centric world can suck if you have ever written a book.
Google's pilot program for Chrome OS is well underway, with the new operating system being distributed on free Cr-48 Notebooks, to generally favourable impressions. Chrome OS relies heavily on cloud computing, where software and data live on servers and are accessed by a client, and product manager Caesar Sengupta going as far as to say they will have failed if cloud computing does not become the norm. Not everyone is happy about that thought through, with Richard Stallman warning it may be a trap. Like the Cr-48s attractive design but not so sure about ChromeOS? You could always sneak Ubuntu onto it.
"With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches," [Google CEO Eric Schmidt] said. "We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about... We can look at bad behavior and modify it." The Atlantic's editor James Bennet discusses with Schmidt how lobbyists write America's laws, how America's research universities are the best in the world, how the Chinese are going all-out in investing in their infrastructure, how the US should have allowed automakers to fail, and ultimately Google's evolving role in an technologically-augmented society in this broad, interesting and scary interview (~25 min Flash video) [via]
With the unveiling of the BlackBerry Playbook, a 7" iPad competitor solidly aimed at business, are the tablet wars heating up?
Google's Earth by William Gibson.
The Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) Lab is an organization dedicated to enriching the public domain through the research and development of creative technologies and media. You may know them from such projects as How to build a fake Google Street View car, public domain donor stickers, internet famous class, the first rap video to end with a download source code link, or their numerous firefox add-ons (such as China Channel, Tourettes Machine, or Back to the future). FAT members have been hard at work standardizing various open source graffiti-related software packages, including Graffiti Analysis, Laser Tag, Fat Tag Deluxe and EyeWriter [previously] to be GML (Graffiti Markup Language) compliant. Fuck Google. Fuck Twitter. FuckFlickr. Fuck SXSW. Fuck 3D. FAT Lab is Kanye shades for the open source movement.
Revealed: the environmental impact of Google searches - "Physicist Alex Wissner-Gross says that performing two Google searches uses up as much energy as boiling the kettle for a cup of tea."
In the same spirit as the Open Net Initiative and Committee to Protect Bloggers that both track global internet filtering, Sami ben Gharbia's Access Denied Map tries to track the blocking of sites like Blogger, Flickr, YouTube and others by governments, as well as efforts by activists to keep them accessible or to challenge their blockage.
Where's my Gphone? "Despite all of the very interesting speculation over the last few months, we're not announcing a Gphone. However…"
How to Read 600 RSS Feeds a Day for Pleasure and Profit. Video of Robert Scoble showing how he culls 600 RSS feeds a day for his weblog, Scobleizer, using Google Reader.
"Sense your customer's eyes from up to ten metres." Xuuk's eyebox is a long-range an eye-counting video camera. The device "simply shines a beam of IR light and counts how many times it sees redeye in the ensuing images, indicating that the subject was looking right at the camera". "We decided not to incorporate iris scanning," says inventor Roel Vertegaal. "We don't need to know the identity of the people looking at the ad. That's for other companies to do. And when that happens, we're happy to tag along, but we're not interested in moving in that direction if it's not necessary." Note: Some sites imply that Google is partnering with Xuuk, but that is a mistake. The device simply mimics Google's highly successful business model.
Google buys a 5% stake in AOL. For ... one billion dollars.
Google blacklists CNET reporters? An article about privacy issues that highlighted the potential for abuse if logs of search terms linked with IP addresses are combined by search companies with address and phone data, angered Google CEO Eric Schmidt enough to blacklist CNET reporters for a year, at least according to the bottom of this CNET story. The article begins with information about Schmidt found via Google searches, and goes on to "question Google's ability to adequately balance the heavy burden of safeguarding consumer privacy rights with the pull toward intermingling and mining data for ever more lucrative targeted advertising."
"A look at the average number of page views per title reveals that Microsoft gets about half as many page views per title as compared to Google and Apple" a strong indication of where reader interest actually resides." - ZDNet. Intelliseek's Blogpulse reveals similar numbers: #1 Google: 473K, #2 Apple: 381K, #3 Microsoft: 262K. Venture capitalist, Ed Sim, says: "While the OS is important, Microsoft has lost its complete and utter dominance as we move to a service-oriented world where broadband is everywhere, apps are in the cloud, and the browser becomes king."
It's not Yahoo, it's not Google... it's Yagoohoogle! Quickly prove or disprove your favorite search engine conspiracy theories!
Pupna is "the search engine puppy that retrieves EXACTLY what you are searching for (and absolutely nothing else!)" ;-)
This is a simple yet rather humorous search engine parody - are there any other good ones out there?
This is a simple yet rather humorous search engine parody - are there any other good ones out there?
Google's sorcery You use it, I use it some 30-40 times a day, but did you ever wonder exactly how they do it? The numbers are staggering:
# Over four billion Web pages, each an average of 10KB, all fully indexed. # Up to 2,000 PCs in a cluster. # Over 30 clusters. # 104 interface languages including Klingon and Tagalog. # One petabyte of data in a cluster -- so much that hard disk error rates of 10-15 begin to be a real issue. # Sustained transfer rates of 2Gbps in a cluster. # An expectation that two machines will fail every day in each of the larger clusters. # No complete system failure since February 2000.Is Google God? (via /.)
Google, Yahoo, Alta Vista, others under attack? Despite all the big IPO news about Google, the bigger news today is that it doesn't work. Slap on an age-discrimination suit while we're at it, and potential trouble for the IPO. Have Larry and Sergei finally pissed off the wrong people?
The John Markoff of the New York Times [registration required] reports that Google plans to roll-out a text and file search tool code-named Puffin for finding information stored on PCs. The move is seen as a defensive one; Microsoft plans to include PC searching in its new operating system, scheduled to be released in 2006 (at the earliest).
CNN reports that Google is developing email ad service. As if I don't get enough spam in my inbox! Google, please don't turn evil... please.