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Tesla hires veteran from AMD, Apple to make self-driving tech

This doesn't mean that Keller will be designing custom silicon for Tesla. The company isn't saying much about what he'll do beyond wield his "low-power design expertise." However, someone like him is particularly well-suited here. Autonomous car technology requires a lot of computing power in a tight space, and there are a lot of unsolved problems (say, handling unexpected human behavior) where hardware could play a role. Keller may be the key to turning Autopilot from a limited-use option to a standard, broadly relevant feature.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/30/tesla-hires-chip-veteran-for-self-driving-tech/

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Yes, ‘Beyond Good and Evil 2’ is still happening

But, much like Double Fine's Psychonauts, it developed a cult following after its quiet 2003 release and even got the HD-remaster treatment in 2011. Project lead Ancel has since made other games (like the excellent reboot of the Rayman series and the upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive, Wild) but BGE 2 is the one everyone asks him about. Even Double Fine creative director Tim Schafer. The two got together for the season finale episode of Double Fine's "Devs Play" series to talk shop and play through the cult classic.

The episode starts out innocently enough, but at the 48 minute mark conversation turns to Ancel talking about the sequel's years-old teaser trailer. That's when Schafer says the only logical thing to Ancel: "Tell us everything about Beyond Good and Evil 2."

"Maybe we should continue with Beyond Good and Evil 1," Ancel said, laughing coyly.

"It's going to be great though; it's going to be amazing. Good enough for Miyamoto." Schafer prodded.

"That's the problem -- it has to be great. When we started that game [BGE] there wasn't much pressure... No other games I've made have the same aura."

The stinger after the credits roll is where the magic lies, though:

"You're still in this headpsace because you're making the sequel though, right?" Schafer asked.

"Yeah, but it's difficult because it's hard for me to do the same kind of game two times. I don't know how you manage that with Psychonauts 2," Ancel said.

As are the rest of the Devs Play videos, the whole episode is worth watching. Especially if you want to hear Ancel's answer when Schafer asked if he'd thought about putting big breasts on Pey'j the pig. This has been your update on BGE2 for the day.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/30/beyond-good-and-evil-2/

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European SpaceDataHighway’s first satellite lifts off

It will provide a quick means of communication between satellites, drones, spacecraft and ground stations. A satellite in low-Earth orbit observing the planet could, for instance, relay data to an EDRS node via laser beam. The EDRS can then immediately transmit that info to the ground, and users can access it in near-real time. Low-Earth satellites typically have to come within view of a ground station before they can relay data. That makes the EDRS extremely useful for disaster response and rescue missions, as it would allow first responders to download photos and other data they need as soon as possible.

The first node deployed on January 29th will be used by the European Commission's Copernicus Sentinel satellites that monitor our environment from above. Next year, the partners are launching a second laser-satellite combo, followed by a third one in 2020. Before the third node lifts off, though, the EDRS will start relaying data for the ISS in 2018.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/31/european-data-relay-system-first-satellite/

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Amazon’s Audible stocks up on original radio programming

Amazon really wants you to listen to its podcast and audio-book service, Audible. And it's hoping to win you over by grabbing comedians like Maria Bamford and folks from the public radio and podcast world for original content, according to Bloomberg. Audible's also looking to fill some 100 jobs around the world (there's a recruiting fair in New Jersey next week), looking for software engineers, designers, lawyers and a slew of writers. In so many words, Jeff Bezos and Co. are working to separate Audible from the myriad other places you can find podcasts and audio books by creating exclusive programming for its a la carte and $14.95 per-month subscription service.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/31/amazon-audible-original-programming/

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A brief history of open letters to Twitter

Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook share two purposes: They are information networks for high-content sharing and friendship networks for low-content social interaction. By defaulting to mostly public information sharing, Twitter has become a great information network but a horrendous friendship network. Currently, the friendship network is the price you pay for the information network. But restricting information sharing to reduce trolling will simply turn you into a second-rate Facebook and doom you for certain. Rather, Twitter, you need focus on information sharing while you gut and rebuild the friendship network, devolving moderation down to individual users.

That's why you need to rethink yourself from the ground up. Start with an information network of tweets and retweets but no replies or mentions as we currently know them. Twitter users would see what their friends post and retweet and subscribe to people they find through retweets or hashtags. Already, things are a lot better. You don't encounter anyone beyond the filter of your list of friends unless you search a hashtag. If a hashtag fills up with crap, you avoid it.

By helpfully providing advice directly to Twitter in the form of an open letter, Auerbach is following a tradition that's been around nearly as long as Twitter has been a household name.

What leads people to write these letters? Well, more than any other modern kingpin of the web, Twitter has never reached a point of happy equilibrium in which everyone agrees it's in fantastic shape. A sizable chunk of its users have always been convinced that it needs to to change—and much of the remaining chunk has consisted of people who are afraid that Twitter will change.

Moreover, the service's intensely personal feel leads many people to conclude that all Twitter needs to do to thrive is to make people like themselves happier—despite the fact that Twitter is radically different things to different users.

Herewith, some earlier letters to Twitter, dating back to the era when it was a privately owned startup with 18 million users, 30 employees, and no advertising whatsoever.

April 2009: "An Open Letter to Twitter"

In an early example of the Twitter open letter, Web developer Arthur Kay tells Twitter that it's fundamentally annoying, but—unlike many who would follow—fails to provide any advice on the matter:

What am I doing right now (in 140 characters or less)? I'm wondering why anyone cares! If anyone really wants to know what I'm doing, they should call me. If they don't have my phone number, then I'm worried they might be stalking me.

Seriously, if anyone has time to wonder what Shaq is doing right this minute then they really need to get a life. If he's doing something worthwhile, it will make the news.

Twitter—you need to stop this madness. Your friends are encouraging people to share intimate personal information about themselves with the entire world. . . and I'm really getting sick of companies and [newscasters] saying "Check us out on Twitter."

June 2010: "Get Shorter: An Open Letter to Twitter"

In no less an august venue than The New Yorker, Blake Eskin gripes that the http:// in links eats up too many precious characters, and should be replaced with a single symbol:

Winstead proposed a colon (e.g. :tmky.us/3191); Kottke suggested % or //; another correspondent floated ^ or =. My own preference would be for !, although I discovered, on a site devoted to microsyntax, proposals that the exclamation point should be reserved for "urgent or time-sensitive posts" or even as a Tweet 911, for posts "associated with a specific named disaster or emergency." In either case, it will have to be reclaimed from bubbly teens, soccer fans, and publicists.

July 2011: "Dear Twitter: Don't Change the 140-Character Limit"

Responding to Farhad Manjoo's call for Twitter to double its 140-character limit, my friend Lance Ulanoff contends that longer tweets would only encourage people to hold conversations on Twitter—and that if people want to converse, they should use something like Google+:

In the case of conversations on Twitter, they work differently. Usually someone posts something interesting and someone responds. The response doesn't have the original tweet, just a little notation that it was "in reply to...," which links to the original tweet. These conversations can go on for a while and sometimes expand to a number of Twitter members. The person outside the conversation will see a random post from this Twitter conversation in their feed and have absolutely no idea what it's about. Conversation tends to clutter up Twitter and make it far less useful. This is not to say that I do not use Twitter for crowdsourcing. I ask concise questions and get concise answers.

People who want to have conversations online have numerous options, including old-school forums, Facebook, and threaded comments on various websites. Google+ is the newest and easily most exciting one. I'm using it to say more and collect richer thoughts from all Google+ conversation participants. Oddly, I sometimes have to remind myself that I can post and respond in more than 140 characters (I see other people with this problem, too).

December 2011: "Twitter, How About Liberating Some Usernames?"

In a post which uses the phrase "An Open Letter to Twitter" as as subheading, the Royal Pingdom blog argues that too many of the good Twitter user names are in limbo, registered to people who don't use them:

It doesn't have to be complicated. If a Twitter account is completely unused for six months, go ahead and delete it. If you must, send an email to users before you do it and give them a week to sign in to avoid having the account deleted.

Granted, you'll have fewer "registered users" to boast about if you start deleting unused accounts, but this is the right thing to do. Your users will have a more positive introduction to your service and a better user experience.

Photo: Flickr user R. Nial Bradshaw

February 2012: "Dear Twitter: Don't Mean to be Rude, But Maybe It's time to Hire a Full-Time Product Guy"

Eleven months after Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey's return to the company as chairman—splitting his time with his new startup Square—Business Insider founder Henry Blodgett concludes that the company's problems are too big to be solved on a part-time basis:

So, how's Jack doing?

Well, officially, everyone raves about the amazing leadership and influence Jack has had at Twitter, and everyone gushed all over some of the recent product innovations Twitter announced under Jack's leadership.

But I have to say this.

As a massively heavy Twitter user, the recent changes that Twitter has made to my Twitter app—TweetDeck—have been all for the worse.

My old TweetDeck for iPhone stopped working, so I had to upgrade to the new one. Yes, it's buggy and crash-prone, but the old version had that problem, too. But it's the "improvements" to the new version of the TweetDeck app that bug me the most. I won't chronicle them here, but suffice it to say that I don't like them. The new version of TweetDeck is now less intuitive and harder to use than the old one. And I'm holding Jack responsible for that.

October 2013: "An Open Letter to Twitter"

Speaking on behalf of ad-deleting software Adblock Plus, Ben Williams urges Twitter to come up with ads which ABP users won't want to block:

...your users might not be too thrilled about what's in store—and that will inevitably send that many more of them running to Adblock Plus. Our numbers are swelling even if advertising revenue is growing as well. Over 200 million people have downloaded our software, and last week alone we had over 1.5 million downloads. Your current ad offerings are actually not far from what we'd consider non-annoying (see more below)—but the idea of a fundamentally changed Twitter, now with ads round every corner, may direct users to Adblock Plus for no other reason than that they want their "old" Twitter back.

So why not work together? We would like to partner with you to engineer acceptable, nonintrusive advertising that would conform to our guidelines and make it to our whitelist. That's right, we want you to advertise. But we want you to do it responsibly, by adhering to our Acceptable Ads guidelines.

March 2015: "An Open Letter to Twitter HQ"

Semil, a contributor to a site called Openlttr, basically informs Twitter that it's way too stagnant, and should consider new features such as Klout-like reputation scores:

Reward engagement with reputation—maybe similar to an eBay score or forum rating mechanism. The higher your number the more likely your engagement will be noticed via a highlight, notification, or display in streams. Or perhaps create a perks system for the highly active users. Enticing people to engage will reward content producers for their time and effort with a simple retweet or comment, and it will go a long way.

Another perk here would be to allow people to select what level of reputation score they want to see on a daily basis or maybe have highlighted to them with a notification.

August 2015: "An Open Letter to Twitter: It's Time to Advertise"

Ad man Rick Webb declares that Twitter's salvation involves goosing its user base by spending at least $100 million on...advertising itself!

Twitter has advertised on TV before, or at least made TV ads. There's another one I remember seeing that was a great sort of anthemic, inspirational piece. I can't find it online anymore. But it was really good. Like many people who dip their toes into broadcast, it was too little media time, and maybe too soon. They used some people they knew personally (I hear), and didn't really get some hardcore, outside genius experts. By the way, that's an amazing, great thing about the advertising industry — it's doesn't cost any more to hire a legend such as Lee Clow as it does anyone else. God bless good old American competition, amirite?

But Twitter is a different company now. They have the money, they have the product, they have the story, they have the mainstream potential. In advertising, that's exactly when wide-spread, go-big TV advertising becomes something you should seriously consider.

January 2016: "Dear Twitter: Please Don't Do It"

Alarmed by the latest round of rumors that Twitter might allow people to share text in way-bigger-than-140-character chunks, marketer David Meerman Scott thinks that the status quo is fine:

At its core, Twitter is a real-time medium. It's for a quick thought or a fast-paced conversation. Hashtags allow us to monitor what is #trending.

Twitter is not ideal for creating original long-form content, although it is a tool for sharing what exists on other sites and networks.

Reading through all of these, I'm struck by their confident tone. Also obvious: Today's Twitter doesn't seem to have been shaped in the least by the sort of advice doled out in open letters, with the possible exception that it continues to cling to the 140-character limit, at least for now.

And you know what? If Twitter had implemented most of the recommendations which people dispense in these letters, I bet that its current health wouldn't be radically different one way or another. And no matter what, the letters would have kept on coming. That's part of what makes Twitter, well, Twitter.

[Photo: Flickr user Alexandre Duret-Lutz]


Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/31/a-brief-history-of-open-letters-to-twitter/

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ICYMI: Printing in 4D, solar panel breakthrough and more

Today on In Case You Missed It: Scientists at Harvard have figured out how to print incredibly small, shape-shifting creations out of hydrogel that can then morph from 3D to 4D depending on water or heat is applied to them. Scientists figured out how to grow a material that could make solar panels cheaper. And a new jacket on Indiegogo captures heat from UV light then stores it in a steel mesh center to warm you up.

If you need to catch up on big stories from the week, we recommend starting with Google's donations. And as always, please share any interesting science or tech videos, anytime! Just tweet us with the #ICYMI hashtag to @mskerryd.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/30/icymi-printing-in-4d-solar-panel-breakthrough-and-more/

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Recommended Reading: Michael Jackson’s music in ‘Sonic 3’

The Michael Jackson Video Game Conspiracy
Todd Van Luling,
Huffington Post

If you paid attention to the music in Sonic 3, you likely noticed some of the audio resembles Michael Jackson's tunes. While Sega admitted the King of Pop was involved with the soundtrack, it claimed to have nixed all of his work from the final version despite obvious nods to the singer. As it turns out, that's not exactly the case and Huffington Post details the a decade-spanning search for the truth from some of Sonic's biggest fans.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/30/recommended-reading-1-30-16/

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President pledges $4 billion toward computer science in schools

Some of those leaders include companies that have already promised support for the President's educational initiatives. Apple, Cartoon Network, Code.org, Facebook, Microsoft, Salesforce and Qualcomm are all widening their education efforts, investing in programs or both to help improve computer science in the country.

Throwing cash at a problem won't make it go away, of course, and there aren't any guarantees that the money will make a difference. However, the effort at least tackles one of the core issues head-on: getting computer science into schools in the first place. Roughly three quarters of schools go without any CS programs, and 22 states don't accept these classes as credit toward a high school diploma. If the extra funding works as planned, it'll get CS courses into more schools and help create a generation of kids that know how to code before they reach college.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/30/computer-science-for-all-initiative/

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Tag Heuer Connected review: $1,500 for a smartwatch?


As you'd expect from a watchmaker with a storied history, the Connected is a remarkably well-built piece of kit. For one, it's almost shockingly light -- thanks to the fancy Grade 2 titanium Tag Heuer used for the chassis and lugs. I honestly wasn't expecting the Connected to feel as trim as it did just based on looks; it's a distinctly masculine piece that takes cues from a handful of the company's existing chronographs, specifically models like the relatively new Calibre Heuer O1. Its waistline measures a plump 12.8mm, for one, making it the thickest Android Wear watch, in addition to the most expensive.

Of course, the body had to have a little extra meat to accommodate the 1.5-inch (38.1mm) LCD display running at 360 x 360. All told, the dial measures a full 46.2mm wide. That screen is also covered with a piece of sapphire crystal that does a fine job fending off scratches, though it didn't keep the panel from getting smudgy after lots of tapping.

So yes, it's a big watch -- enough to make dainty wrists look totally ridiculous. At least the vulcanized rubber strap made for some comfortable wearing. It's dead simple to adjust the size for bigger and smaller wrists alike; you just move the titanium clasp up and down along the band to fit just about any size. In any case, I really can't overstate this: The Connected's fit and finish are the finest of any Android Wear device, even if the look won't be for everyone.

While the Connected earns points for build quality, it lacks a few of the niceties we've grown accustomed to on other Android Wear watches. It'll track your steps, for instance, but there's no heart-rate sensor on board. Other high-end watches, like the Huawei Watch, also come with speakers that will come in handy once Android Wear is updated to support them, but you won't find any here. Sorry, runners, there's no GPS, either (although, having taken the Connected to the gym a few times, I find it a little too bulky for running anyway).

Thankfully, the stuff you do get is more potent than you might expect. Rather than run on one of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 400-series chips, Tag teamed up with Intel and Google to get everything optimized for a dual-core Intel chip instead. A brief note on that silicon: It's actually a 1.6GHz Z34XX Atom processor, though Tag says it's normally clocked at 500mHz. The more you know! I'll dig into performance more in a bit, but for now, suffice to say that Tag and its partners might be on to something here. Those processor cores are assisted by 1GB of RAM, and the watch sports the industry-standard 4GB of internal storage and a 410mAh battery.

In use

If you've read any of our recent Android Wear device reviews, you already have a pretty good understanding of what the OS is capable of. In fact, it's matured quite a bit since it first debuted a year and a half ago. Still, as I've said before, there's a pervasive sense of sameness that comes with Android Wear, as watchmakers aren't able to fiddle much with Wear's design and functionality.

After you plunk down your $1,500 and receive the watch, the first thing you'll want to do is register it on Tag Heuer's website. Yes, I know, I hardly ever bother with that either. This time, though, it's a crucial step in making sure your watch gets all the functionality it's supposed to. To wit: Of the four (yes, only four) included watch faces, one called "Themed" revealed a Weather Underground theme only after registering the watch. Even better, after setting that theme, the watch absolutely refused to load any weather information. Uh, thanks?

Tag's touch is a light one, so the only other apps that come preloaded on the watch are a handsome alarm, a timer and a stopwatch. The stopwatch in particular is a neat touch, as it apes a bit of classic chronometer design by displaying multiple dials for minutes elapsed and tenths of seconds. In a bid to make the Connected more palatable, Tag also inked deals with the makers of apps like RaceChrono, Golfshot Pro, ViewRanger (for trail maps) and Insiders (for curated suggestions of fancy, neat things around you). These all run fine on other Android Wear watches too, but Tag promised that Connected owners would get free subscriptions to those apps' premium features. Unfortunately, Tag offers no instructions for how to actually claim those free subscriptions, and Insiders in particular won't even let you past a landing page without an invite code. Swell.

Of course, that's just the situation right now. Tag Heuer has said that a slew of Connected-exclusive goodies would eventually come to the watch, including watch faces customized by celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and model Cara Delevingne. No, seriously. There's no word on when those features will get added, but we'll revisit them if and when they do.

Software stuff aside, the Connected still feels like a mixed bag. On the one hand, the Intel chip powering the watch is no slouch. Normally with Android Wear devices you'll run into lag while swiping furiously through notification cards and a watch's app list. There was hardly any of that here; the few instances where I did see some stuttering only underscored how fast the watch usually is. Qualcomm's stranglehold on the mobile chip market means we're probably going to keep seeing Snapdragon used in smartwatches, but I'd be happy if more device makers started pledging allegiance to Intel.

Too bad the display is a bit of a letdown. The 1.5-inch LCD panel isn't nearly as crisp or pixel-dense as the competition's. The Huawei Watch and the smaller of the two Moto 360 variants have sharper screens, making for text that's easier to read and watch faces with a little more clarity. Even the ill-fated second-gen edition of the LG Watch Urbane had a screen that was better than what we've got here in the Connected, with brilliant colors and 348 pixels per linear inch. It was gorgeous; too bad you can't buy one anymore.

Normally, this screen situation wouldn't be such a huge deal -- it's still perfectly readable, after all-- but c'mon: This is a $1,500 watch. I don't think I'm out of line for expecting something more impressive. On the plus side, though, the screen brightness is respectable, and the Connected's ambient display also does a nice job telling you the time even in bright sunlight.

Since the chipset inside is technically capable of faster clock speeds than the Snapdragon 400s inside most other Android Wear watches, battery life probably weighed heavily on Tag and Intel as they built the watch. Thankfully, while the screen fails to impress, there's a lot of life in the Connected's 410mAh battery. During weekdays when the flow of work-related notifications seemed endless, the Connected never lasted for less than 20 hours with the ambient display turned on and screen brightness set at half. And when the relative quiet of the weekend rolled around, that number surged: I'd routinely wake up the day after a full charge and have about 20 percent left to play with.

The competition

Honestly, nothing else in the world of Android Wear comes close to what Tag Heuer is offering. Setting aside how well-designed the device is, owners have the option of trading in their watches after the two-year warranty expires for a unique mechanical Carrera designed to look like the Connected. It's a neat idea in theory, especially since it provides an escape route from the smartwatch age for Tag Heuer traditionalists. The caveat: You have to shell out another $1,500, which is what the Carrera starts at anyway. On top of that, since Tag hasn't actually shown anyone what that replacement looks like, who knows whether that $1,500 fee actually constitutes a good deal.

While they aren't as fancy as the Connected, the relatively affordable Huawei Watch ($349 and up) and the 2015 Moto 360 ($299 plus) are both strong choices if you're looking for something running Android Wear. As I've said, Huawei's watch has a sharp display, not to mention a boatload of attractive watch faces and an undeniable sense of style. Speaking of style, the Moto 360 comes in two sizes, including a 46mm variant for people who like the dimensions of the Connected's screen, and it's highly customizable, too.

Since the Connected's price is so high, I can't help but compare it to the upper-level Apple Watches. The closest thing pricewise in Cupertino's lineup is the $1,500, 42mm stainless-steel Watch with a Fauve Barenia leather cuff by Hermès. Apple's Hermès line and the Tag Heuer Connected share a sense of luxury and polish that befit their price tags, but man, their approaches seem totally different. Sure, they handle notifications, run apps and allow you to interact with connected phones with your voice. The thing is, the Connected feels more like a proper watch with additional smart features. Apple's goal was to make something that acts like an all-encompassing digital concierge on your wrist -- a smartwatch through and through.


If you're looking for a good Android Wear watch, you don't need to spend $1,500. It's completely unnecessary. That's not to say the Connected is a bad device -- far from it. Its build quality is fantastic, and it's comfortable in addition to being stylish. It's just that nothing about the experience feels worth that kind of money.

But maybe that's just me. The lure of fancy, expensive watches stretches back to the very beginning of horological history. I can't tell you how many people I've met who eagerly pull up their sleeves, itching to talk about their new Ulysse Nardin piece or the great eBay deal they found on a Rolex Submariner. For those people -- ardent watch lovers -- the Connected makes a little more sense. It's a taste of the smartphone age wrapped in a familiar package, complete with a $1,500 exit strategy in the form of a trade-in. If that's you, well, enjoy. Everyone else can stay away with no regrets.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/30/tag-heuer-connected-review/

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Ben Heck’s Steam controller-inspired concept

Kanye West has earned a time-out, but Twitter should embrace its role as the best form of reality TV.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/30/ben-hecks-steam-controller-inspired-concept/

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