Archive | July 2012

Watch the mesmerizing dance of the kinetic spider robot in this striking

We love watching Theo Jansen‘s kinetic sculpture strandbeests walk about in real life, and it’s not hard to imagine them as real, sentient creatures. David Lance agrees, bringing Jansen-like robots to CG life in his beautiful short film The Future Forms of Life, in which prancing robots promenade through a city, and occasionally run amok.

What Lance’s film hits home is how animalistic Jansen’s sculptures are. The first sequence resembles a marching antelope, while the later one calls to mind the mating rituals of certain species of spider, only to go bat-like in the end. Lance makes the power of these machines slightly chilling, but undeniably lovely to watch.

Weeds: Season 8 Episode 5: Red in Tooth and Claw

Last night’s Weeds was about realization. Nancy realized she can’t keep making the same mistakes, while Andy asked himself why he’s an “effortless receiver of tail.” Who is he? A sex slave, that’s who! Overall, “Red in Tooth and Claw” was an eventful and entertaining episode.

The Players:

Episode Title: “Red in Tooth and Claw”

After seeing the positive effects of enrolling Stevie in soccer, Nancy makes a life-altering decision. Jill dabbles in extreme “couponing,” and Andy falls into the arms of another woman. Meanwhile, Shane reaches the next level with Angela.

The Good:

  • Stevie and Soccer: Nancy blackmails a nervous soccer coordinator to get Stevie on the team. He turns out to be good — really good. He puts all the little boys to shame because he’s fast as hell, and Mexican. (“It’s in their blood!”) The whole scene with Nancy sitting on a camping chair, cheering Stevie on, reminded us of the Pilot episode when Nancy’s sitting at the park yelling at Shane for sucking at soccer. This season really is coming full circle.
  • Andy’s Monologue: Poor Andy can’t figure out why women just throw themselves at him. He thinks it’s karma. We think it’s because he’s funny. But whatever. He gave an amazing and hilarious monologue last night. It’s been a while since we’ve heard Andy pour his heart out. He’s been so busy with Jill that we almost forgot how funny and charming he is. Anyway, he’s still gotit and his imagination.
  • Shane’s Horrible Date: Detective Frank Ouellette turns out to be an Obama-hater (no big surprise there). During his “ObamaCare sucks” rant, he manages to ruin Shane’s date with Angela, but it all turns out for the best because she understands drunk cops (her family is full of them). It’s interesting to see Shane be into a girl. Sometimes we forget that he’s not 10-years-old anymore. Or that he murdered someone a few years ago.
  • The Quotable: “I don’t like Mexicans either, I just happened to get knocked up by one.”

The So-So:

  • Code Breaker: After Doug slept with Celia (way back when), Dean nicknamed him “The Code Breaker.” Remember that? Well, Doug breaks the code again by sleeping with Jill. Gross! And Andy catches them. In utter disbelief, he just starts yelling “Code Breaker! Code Breaker!” It’s funny stuff, but can his friendship with Doug recover from this? After all, he actually loves Jill.
  • Robbed Blind: Silas’ stash gets jacked again. This has officially become a thing for Silas. And it’s funny as hell because he always gets that same look of desperation and surprise on his face, like it shouldn’t have happened to him. But he’s a grower so this is going to continue happening. Still, how many times will Silas have to get robbed blind before he learns to trust no one?

Overall:

Between Andy’s ridiculous monologue and Silas’ freak-out face, “Red in Tooth and Claw” is hands down, the best episode this season. Plus, seeing Stevie embrace his inner-Mexican was adorable and funny.

Rating: 8.5/10

Weeds airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime.

Gallery:

Samsung set to launch 11.8-inch tablet

Court documents in the Apple-Samsung patent trial have revealed that Samsung is looking to launch an 11.8-inch tablet some time this year.

With the much-anticipated patent trial between Apple and Samsung finally getting started in the US District Court for the Northern District of California on Monday, court documents linked to the case have revealed that Samsung is planning an 11.8-inch tablet incorporating a high-definition Retina-like display and LTE connectivity.

The tablet, codenamed P10, will apparently have a 2560 x 1600 resolution and be unveiled later this year, though there are few details beyond this.

As pointed out by The Verge, which first came across the information in the documents, there’s talk of a Samsung unveiling event in New York in the middle of August – could this be for the P10?

Samsung’s wide range of tablets is already replete with a variety of screen sizes, with the 10.1 inch Tab currently the largest of the lot. An 11.8-inch device can hardly be described as portable, but perhaps it can find a place in the home of those who’d rather relax on the sofa with a tablet than fumble about with a laptop or plunk themselves at a desk in front of a PC.

It’s not yet clear if judgments reached at the patent trial could have any effect on the design of the forthcoming tablet; with the case expected to last a month or even longer, we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.

While Samsung looks like it’s setting its sights on the launch of a bigger tablet, rival Apple is widely expected to launch a smaller iPad in the coming months, most likely at an event in September. With the recent success of 7-inch tablets from Amazon and Google, it seems that the Cupertino company is unable to resist entering the market itself, with a rumored 7.85-inch device in the works.

As for Samsung’s 11.8-inch whopper, do you think such a large tablet will be just too unwieldy, or is the idea of a super-sized tablet actually pretty appealing?

New Microsoft Mice, Keyboards Take Aim at Windows 8 with Special Keys and Gestures

On Monday, Microsoft announced several new mice and keyboards, several of which incorporate new, dedicated keys and gestures specifically designed for Windows 8. The new devices continue Microsoft’s move into Windows 8 hardward that started with the announcement of the Surface tablet in June.

One of the new devices, the Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard, includes a cover that can fold back into a tablet stand, giving existing Windows tablet owners like the Samsung Series 7 their own Surface-like tablet cover. While that’s a nice touch that users should approve of, those same users may be 

confused by the new Windows 8 touch gestures within the Microsoft Touch Mouse.

For its part, in an SEC filing, Microsoft confirmed that the new Surface tablet will be released on Oct. 26, consistent with previous statements that executives have made that Surface would be released at the same time as Windows 8. (The professional version of the Surface – aimed at businesses with an Intel Core chip and a native version of Windows 8 – is due 90 days later – or about the end of January 2012.)

Microsoft announced five new products: the Wedge Touch Mouse ($69.95), the Wedge Touch Keyboard ($79.95), plus the Sculpt Touch Mouse ($49.95), the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard ($49.95) and an update to the existing Microsoft Touch Mouse ($79.95). They all use Bluetooth to connect. All five will be released over the next “weeks and months,” Microsoft said, although it’s virtually guaranteed that all five will be in the market before Windows 8 ships to consumers in October.

Windows 8 Features

Prospective Windows 8 users will want to pay close attention to the new keyboards’ “Windows 8 Hot Keys,” as well as the new gesture features incorporated by the Microsoft Touch Mouse.

On the top row of the Sculpt Mobile and Wedge Mobile keyboards, lie four new keys: “Search,” “Share,” “Devices,” and “Settings”. These represent the new Windows 8 hot keys, taking functions that have traditionally been incorporated as mobile phones and placing them front-and-center (almost literally!) within the keyboard environment. Unlike competitors like Logitech, Microsoft hardware has traditionally subsumed the traditional “F1-F12” function keys in favor of more commonly used shortcuts, such as keys to adjust the volume or brightness. That approach continues here.

Finally, the new Windows 8 “windowpane” logo now appears on top of the Windows logo key. All of the keys are spaced across the Sculpt Mobile keyboard, which curves at six degrees for comfort.

The Wedge Mobile keyboard lacks the ergonomic curve. Instead, it comes with a durable keyboard cover that doubles as a tablet stand. When not in use, it snaps over the top of the keyboard, turning it off and saving power.

Of course, one of the innovative features of the Surface is the option of an integrated tablet cover, which includes a keyboard. While it’s too soon to evaluate the new keyboards, Microsoft’s Wedge Mobile keyboard looks similar to the upgraded Surface keyboard, known as the Type Cover.

Windows 8 Gestures

In addition to the new hardware, Microsoft also announced new Windows 8 gestures, includomg one-, two-, and three-finger positioning: basically, one finger navigation will scroll through content, two for apps and three for zooming. The latter may be a bit confusing for people used to the two-finger “pinch to zoom” gesture now supported on most mobile devices.

In fact, many of the new gestures will take some getting used to. Scrolling around a page is simple enough; one finger can swipe the page up, down, left or right, and a more forceful flick will scroll even further.

From there, it gets a bit puzzling. If you scroll right with a thumb – not a finger – Windows 8 will scroll through the available apps. Sliding two fingers to the right will navigate through open apps. A two-finger slide to the left will bring up the four Windows 8 charms: Search, Share, Devices and Settings. Sliding forward and backward – up and down, presumably – will open app commands. Sliding three fingers forward and backward will zoom in and out. Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc posted a handy cheat sheet in his blog post announcing the new hardware. It might be a good idea to print that out before attempting the new gestures.

The Windows 8 gestures will be available only on the more expensive Touch Mouse, however. The Sculpt Touch Mouse is an otherwise ordinary-looking travel mouse, while the Wedge Mouse uses an aggressively styled wedge shape that Microsoft claims is small enough to fit in a pocket. Both allow vertical and horizontal touch scrolling, which Microsoft touts as enough for navigating through the main Start screen of Windows 8.

The new hardware choices look impressive – and seem to make good use of Windows 8. But Microsoft could be getting ahead of itself by coming up with new gestures to replace those already known by many users. It sounds confusing, for example, to use a three-finger gesture to zoom in and out with a mouse that also includes left- and right-click buttons.

Overall, Microsoft’s plans for Windows 8 just got even more ambitious.

Facebook introducing ‘save for later’ feature for mobile

Facebook is reportedly rolling out an update to its mobile platform that allows users to save friends’ posts for reading later. According to iMore, users will soon see a notification letting them know that they can ‘press and hold anywhere on a story to save it for later.’ Saved stories will appear in users’ favorites folder across all their devices. The update is to Facebook’s mobile platform rather than its apps, and is apparently working through both the mobile website and iOS apps. We haven’t been able to verify iMore’s findings, so there is always the possibility that this is a limited-scale test, but hopefully the feature will roll out to users soon.

Update: We’ve now confirmed that the feature is also coming to the desktop version of Facebook. A ‘save’ button will feature beneath every update, and clicking it will send the article to a ‘saved’ subfolder inside your favorites.

Saveforlater_copy

Thanks, in91 and Lewis!

Eminem’s new record: More than 60 million Facebook ‘Likes’

Eminem has more Facebook fans than any other living person, and this week he set a new record: 60 million Facebook Likes. The 39-year-old rapper from Detroit is currently gaining some 24,000 Likes on average per day. The runner-up for the position is Rihanna, who is gaining 26,000 Likes daily.

Putting aside the totals for a second, the growth rates alone are astonishing. One has to wonder how many of these Facebook Likes are being made by fake accounts.

If Rihanna overtakes Eminem, she’ll be avenging Lady Gaga, whom Eminem passed earlier last year. That’s right: it’s been a very slow race. I hinted Rihanna may pass Eminem back in February 2011, and it still hasn’t happened.

At the time of writing, here are the top 10 Facebook Pages, courtesy of App Data (via All Facebook):

  1. Facebook for Every Phone with 116.82 million Likes.
  2. Facebook with 70.21 million Likes.
  3. Texas HoldEm Poker with 63.80 million Likes.
  4. YouTube with 61.22 million Likes.
  5. Eminem with 60.08 million Likes.
  6. Rihanna with 59.37 million Likes.
  7. The Simpsons with 53.76 million Likes.
  8. Shakira with 53.35 million Likes.
  9. Lady Gaga with 53.00 million Likes.
  10. Michael Jackson with 51.16 million Likes.

I’m always amused when reminded that the official Facebook for Every Phone Facebook Page is the most popular Facebook Page of all, even more popular than the official Facebook Pagefor Facebook itself. Sorry, that was quite a thoughtful.

Anyway, back to Marshall Mathers. The rapper probably doesn’t realize he made social networking history this week. Then again, that might be a good thing. His street cred would probably take a hit if he took a second to acknowledge his Facebook popularity.

Twitter Launches Clickable Stock Symbols, StockTwits’ Howard Lindzon Says “Hey, We Already Do That!”

Tonight, Twitter quietly rolled out another feature — one that may seem simple and straightforward at first glance but could actually have big implications. The company said via its very own Twitter account that users can now click on stock (or “ticker”) symbols in any tweet to view search results for those stocks and companies.

To make this possible, Twitter is essentially introducing a new hashtag — or what is being called a “cashtag.” Instead of the ubiquitous “#”, the addition of the symbol “$” added in front of any ticker will instantly provide context for that stock, aggregating all tweets that use the ticker under one label. Twitter gives the example of “$GE” — General Electric’s ticker symbol — although this will obviously work for any company, like Apple ($AAPL) or Google ($GOOG), allowing users to peruse conversations happening around those stocks in realtime

Drew Olanoff of The Next Web was the first to notice Twitter’s new feature, and pointed out that Twitter’s new feature closely resembles functionality that StockTwits has boasted for some time now.

This similarity was not lost on StockTwits co-founder and CEO Howard Lindzon, who as Drew pointed out, recently sold the remainder of his Twitter shares last week.

In fact, Lindzon said that Twitter’s new feature “hijacked” StockTwits’ own use of the “$” symbol to structure their internal data, even though he says that the company had told him that this was not functionality they planned to add.

In a blog post entitled “The Twitter Hijacking of Stocktwits $ … The Cashtag,” Lindzon says:

It’s interesting that Twitter has hijacked our creation of $TICKER ie. $AAPL. It only took four years to ‘fill‘ this hole, though a few months back they told me in a detailed email it was not a hole they wanted to fill.

The CEO continued on saying that the curation features Twitter is beginning to test out are similar to those that StockTwits has been thinking about for more than four years and has implemented, joking, “Twitter is about advertising dollars. They have $1 billion of venture money on the line. Lot’s of pressures I am not interested in … I wonder how well that will do for $FXCM (buying ads on twitter) converting hits from rappers into FOREX accounts.”

Lindzon said that he was “disappointed of course that Twitter is hijacking our idea and time,” and in the comments responded to fans saying that he had, to this point, seen no attribution from Twitter anywhere in regard to this feature. As to what kind of recourse is left for StockTwits, Lindzon said that they will continue to push on, taking stock (!) in the fact that Twitter has a lot of pressures and a lot of breadth (he cites its social graph and product), but StockTwits has the community, and depth and a unique approach, where Twitter so far has none.

Lindzon concludes:

I am disappointed of course that Twitter is hijacking our idea and time (will only confuse the masses), but Stocktwits moved beyond that basic functionality 4 years ago. In a dirty way, it’s the ultimate compliment so we will take it as such for the moment and keep rolling out functionality that makes us the best real-time communication platform for people that love stocks and markets.

We definitely have not heard the end of this issue as it relates to StockTwits, in particular, and Twitter’s new clickable “$” really that just scratches the surface. As Drew points out in a follow-up post, cashtags could be just the tip of the iceberg.

Unstructured data leads to a poor user experience, and Twitter has unstructured data in spades. To begin offering a search mechanism that is actually useful, the company may begin employing other symbols to use as secondary hashtags. This could do wonders for the company in a number of obvious ways, but whether directly in this way, or in other ways as it decides whether it’s a media company or a technology company, it’s not the last we’re going to see of Twitter stepping on the toes of startups (a la StockTwits).

Funny Memos Written by Nick Fury

It can’t be easy for Nick Fury to manage S.H.I.E.L.D and The Avengers, but it sounds like fun! There’s an entertaining blog called Memos From Fury that gives us some hilarious insight on what this incredible superhero team does in their downtime, and shows us how Fury deals with it in these S.H.I.E.L.D. memos.

Awesome Piece of COMMUNITY Fan Art

Last month, we brought you some great Community fan-art from the Six Seasons and a Movie art show at Pixel Drip gallery in LA. Like the show itself, the free gallery tribute had tons of fan support.  Even the show’s stars and the creator of the show, Dan Harmon, were in attendance. Here’s another piece of fan art from the show by artist Glen, which he released via his blog,TheAutumnSociety. The piece features some great little details!

As Community enters its fourth season, on a new night and sans Dan Harmon, we’re hoping the fan support pays off, and NBC lets the show continue its amazing run as one of the best shows on television.

In case you missed it, be sure to watch the entire Community panel from Comic-Con 2012.

 

 

 

G.I. Joe: Retaliation Director In Talks For Masters Of The Universe

Jon M. Chu’s first foray into big blockbuster action movies have gotten pushed back nearly a year, but that’s not stopping him from jumping at an opportunity to helm another big franchise that gained millions of fans with a classic animated series.

Deadline reports that Chu is now in talks to direct a brand new, live-action adaptation of Masters of the Universe. Geeks will remember that this actually isn’t the first time that He-Man and his pals were brought to the big screen. Gary Goddard directed a movie back in 1987 with Dolph Lundgren as the hero and Frank Langella playing Skeletor, and is largely known for being the butt of jokes and being partially responsible for the death of the toyline in the late 80s. Alex Litvak and Mike Finch wrote the script for the movie, which was initially titled Grayskull(but they have since reverted back to Masters of the Universe).

Chu is best known for his work in the dance genre, making movies like Step Up 2: The StreetsStep Up 3D and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, but Paramount decided to throw him a new opportunity last year when they hired him to direct G.I. Joe: Retaliation. While the film was originally going to be released on June 29th of this year, the studio decided to pull the movie from the schedule at the last minute, citing that they wanted to convert the movie into 3D (it was also revealed that they will now be shooting additional scenes for the film so that they can revive Channing Tatum’s character, Duke). The G.I. Joe sequel will now be released on March 29, 2013.