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Google brings Maps’ multi-stop feature to iOS

Google is rolling out Maps' multi-stop feature to the iOS app, making it easy to plan for road trips or even for a dreary day of running errands. The tech titan introduced the ability to set multiple destinations on Android back in June. Now that it's also out for Apple's mobile platform, you can simply tap "Add stop" and even rearrange destinations by holding and dragging them around if you have an iPhone. Just like when it was initially released, you might not be able to access the feature immediately. It might take a few days or so for the update to show up -- for now, you'll just have to plot routes the old way.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/07/30/google-maps-ios-app-multi-stop/

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Curt Schilling’s defunct game studio won’t face criminal charges

Curt Schilling's 38 Studios has run into plenty of trouble since declaring bankruptcy in 2012, not the least of which is an SEC lawsuit this year. However, criminal cases won't be contributing to its headaches. The Rhode Island State Police have determined that they won't file charges over the failed $75 million loan for Project Copernicus, the massively multiplayer online game that was to have followed Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. There were "no provable criminal violations" in the way the developer secured its cash, the police say. The decision isn't completely shocking (federal officials decided against charges back in 2012), but it eliminates what chances were left of staff facing prison time.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/07/30/38-studios-wont-face-charges-over-game-loan/

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AMD’s sub-$200 gaming video cards launch in early August

The imminent launch is also shedding some light on details of the cards themselves. The RX 470 may not be VR-friendly like its more advanced sibling, but it's surprisingly close. You can expect up to 4.9 teraflops of computing power (versus 5.8 for the RX 480), and you're still getting 4GB of RAM on a healthy 256-bit memory interface. Think of it as the "good enough" card -- you can play many new games at 60 frames per second, just at 1080p instead of 1440p.

The RX 460, meanwhile, is really a budget counterpart to last year's Radeon R9 Nano. It's much less powerful than the other RX cards (just 2.2 teraflops) and starts with 2GB of RAM on a 128-bit interface, but it's also far smaller and more power-efficient -- it uses less than 75W. The desktop card is ostensibly aimed at eSports gamers who only need brisk frame rates in titles like Overwatch or Rocket League, but it's also built for small form factor desktops and even laptops.

Both cards help fill out an AMD strategy that's very different than in past years. Rather than take NVIDIA head-on in the graphics arena, it's trying to carve out a niche by offering a lot of bang for the buck. This is partly dictated by its own limitations (NVIDIA has generally led the high end for a while), but it could pay off if it gives AMD a relatively uncontested audience. Mind you, NVIDIA's newer graphics technology is becoming increasingly affordable -- it's entirely possible that the green team will encroach on AMD's turf.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/07/30/amd-radeon-rx-470-and-460-details/

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Europe’s space agency will beam your message to Polaris

This initiative is a collaboration between the space agency, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, the University of Edinburgh and researchers from John Hopkins University and the European Southern Observatory. Once the team is done putting the interstellar message in a bottle together -- the deadline for submissions is September 16th -- the ESA's Cebreros deep space antenna in Madrid will beam it to the star 434 light-years away.

You have to answer a particular question, because the team's purpose is to have people contribute "to ongoing dialogue concerning how our civilization collectively perceives its role within shaping the future of the environment and establish a means by which we may collectively analyze these perspectives for cross-cultural universals within this single, global human community." Even if you don't care about contributing to ongoing dialogue, it could still be pretty cool to know that your words are beamed to Polaris along with Sagan's famous Pale Blue Dot quote and part of "On the Origins of the Species."

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/07/31/esa-message-in-a-bottle-polaris/

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Orion spacecraft may fall behind schedule, go over budget

The report harshly criticizes the program for for failing to use best-practice methodology for its cost and schedule predictions -- warning that NASA's estimated $11.3 billion budget and 2021 unmanned launch deadline may have been informed by unreliable data. The program isn't over budget yet, but it could easily veer off course if NASA doesn't perform a new cost and schedule analysis that falls in-line with best-practice guidelines.

Much of the review reads like a back and forth praise and scolding. The GAO report praises the Orion program for mitigating challenges, such implementing a fix for problems found with the capsule's parachute system, only to then criticize the team for racking up potential cost overruns of $707 million. NASA says it's holding enough of its budget in reserve to cover these kind of unforeseen costs, but the GAO warns that "the program's ability to address other technical issues that may arise with its reserves could be limited."

Moreover, the GAO asserts that NASA aggressive schedule may cause it future delays down the line. In order to keep pace with its 2023 manned launch date, the Orion Program has made a habit of deferring work that increase the risk of straining its budget to a later date -- potentially saddling the project with an unexpected blow to the budget when those tasks are picked up again at the end of the Orion's production cycle. This could increase costs and even cause delays to the planned launch date.

It's not a glowing review, but that doesn't mean the project is doomed. If NASA performs an updated cost and schedule confidence analysis, it can develop a better idea of how deferred work and unexpected challenges will affect the program in the long-term. That's important -- with a new presidential administration on the horizon, NASA may need to defend its budget.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/07/29/orion-spacecraft-may-fall-behind-schedule-go-over-budget/

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Clinton’s campaign was also hacked in breach of Democratic Party

Nick Merrill, a spokesperson for the Clinton campaign, offered up the following statement:

"An analytics data program maintained by the DNC, and used by our campaign and a number of other entities, was accessed as part of the DNC hack. Our campaign computer system has been under review by outside cyber security experts. To date, they have found no evidence that our internal systems have been compromised."

Earlier this week, the FBI revealed that it's investigating Russia's potential involvement in the email hack on the Democratic National Convention. Reuters reports that intelligence officials also believe that Russian hackers were responsible for yesterday's attack on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. That would have given the hackers access to things like strategy memos and opposition research, as well as even more emails.

In his usual off-handed style, Donald Trump also called for "Russia or any other person or country" to find emails deleted by the Clinton campaign to "share them with the FBI." Essentially, he was asking foreign countries to hack the US government. The Clinton campaign was quick to push back, and Trump's campaign manager later said he wasn't asking anyone to hack Clinton's emails.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/07/29/clintons-campaign-was-also-hacked-in-breach-of-democratic-party/

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ICYMI: Eye exams go DIY and smartfeeding your pets

Today on In Case You Missed It: A new device can calculate people's eyeglass prescriptions without needing to see an optometrist, though whether that's actually responsible or not is up to you. Meanwhile a cloud-connected smart petfeeder that suffered from downed servers had to send a notice to owners to feed their pets manually, since the machines lost all connection and didn't release food.

There's a lot to talk about this week but we recommend reading up on NOAA's three month weather outlook, since everyone will be talking about the DNC this weekend anyway. As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/07/30/icymi-eye-exams-go-diy-and-smartfeeding-your-pets/

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Recommended Reading: Nintendo’s NX sounds weird and that’s okay

NX is different,
and different is
Nintendo's best option

Oli Welsh,

Based on the rumors so far, Nintendo's upcoming NX handheld console will be... unique. This piece from Eurogamer, a site that's been the source of some of the details, takes a look at why switching things up a bit may be the company's best bet. A touchscreen device with detachable controllers may sound strange, but if the reports are true, "we should savor and celebrate NX's weirdness" like Eurogamer explains here.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/07/30/recommended-reading-7-30-16/

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Japan’s latest humanoid robot makes its own moves

The project is an attempt to bridge the gap between programming a robot to move and allowing it to move for itself. With a neural network in place, movement is given a loose degree of flexibility, what the researchers are calling "chaos." Alter's arm movement, head and posture will adjust and change on the system's own volition. The neural network ticking behind the scenes offers multiple movement modes, switching between a longer movement mode and a more random "chaos" mode. The decision to switch is influenced by the sensors dotted around the base and take in what's happening around Alter: proximity, humidity, noise and temperature. These sensors operate like the robot's version of skin, copying our own senses, even if the system is far, far simpler. If the proximity sensors detect a lot of people nearby, for example, the torso shudders as the robot's body reacts to its environment.

Alta the robot isn't terrifying at all. #alta #robot

A video posted by Mat (@thtmtsmth) on Jul 29, 2016 at 12:40am PDT

Alter also sings -- in a horrific, nightmare-inducing way. The haunting melody that comes from the machine are sine waves vocalizing how the robot's fingers move. (The team apparently tested other noises and melodies but decided to keep things simple for this early model.)

The theory behind the CPG is based on one of the simplest artificial models for neurons, the Izhikevich neuron, which reacts in a way that's called "spiking and burst behavior": Something builds up, and the robot's system creates a signal spike, which chains together with other neurons. Professor Ikeue from Tokyo University describes the central pattern generator as "coupled pendulums" -- one bumps into another into another and a movement in formed. While not an equal, balanced rhythm, this becomes Alter's own rhythm. The researchers didn't make the movement; the robot made it itself.

Osaka University's Kouhei Ogawa, who worked on previous humanoids at the Ishiguro lab, added: "This time, Alter doesn't look like a human. It doesn't really move like human. However, it certainly has a presence." It's true. It feels like there's something alive in there that's neither human nor robot. Movement seems random -- even if it's nonsensical.

"Until now, making androids talk or interact for 10 minutes was an incredible amount of hard work -- simply to program something to react for that long. Alter, moving for itself, can do so easily." The robot will be on display to the public for a week while the Tokyo and Osaka teams hope interactions will inspire new ideas on what they should teach Alter next.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/07/30/japan-humanoid-alter-robot/

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Mini review video: Our quick verdict on the Alcatel Idol 4S

Alcatel isn't a tier-one company. And the Idol 4S, its latest creation, isn't a tier-one phone. So why did we even bother reviewing it, then? It's all about the value -- specifically, what comes in the box. For $399 (or $350, if you pre-order), you get both the mid-range phone and a simple virtual reality headset to go with it. It's true, this VR viewer isn't at the same level as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or even the Samsung Gear VR, but it's good enough for people who haven't yet experienced this whole virtual reality thing and are keen to give it a try.

As for the phone itself, we enjoyed its loud, two-way speakers and bright 5.5-inch AMOLED display. Just know that because this is a mid-range phone, after all, the performance and camera won't match any of the high-end devices we typically review. If you weren't going to spend high-end money anyway, and are also looking to get into VR, this could be the ticket.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/07/30/alcatel-idol-4s-mini-review/

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