GamesRead : Clever running light never needs batteries

If you go out for an early morning run to stay in shape, getting hit by a car kind of defeats the purpose. Runners often wear reflective clothing or lighting systems to make sure drivers see them, but there’s a Kickstarter going on right now for a new running light that doesn’t need batteries everKickstarter goal.

The small light attaches to your waistband, shirt, or any other clippable bit of clothing (there’s also a strap that comes with it). Each time you take a step, the four bright LEDs flash once. The lenses focus the light so it’s visible from over 200 meters (about 656 feet) away. So a driver will see a flashing light bobbing up and down on the side of the road from a good distance away, hopefully making it easy to avoid running you over.

According to the campaign page, all the design and prototyping work on the Million Mile Light is complete. The video above offers some pretty convincing demos of the device working. Just FYI, the first minute or so is a bit self-indulgent. The rest of the video makes a good case for the light, though.

The creator doesn’t go into detail about how the Million Mile Light works, but the page does note that it contains neodymium magnets. That probably means the light contains a small permanent magnetic generator. Each time you impact the ground, the magnet slides through a conductive coil and produces a little blip of power for the light.

You can preorder a single Million Mile Light for £15 (about $23) with free shipping in the US and UK. Two of them (one for your front and back) is £25 ($38.50). Delivery date is currently scheduled for January 2016, which sounds reasonable considering the product looks close to done.

GamesRead : Coffee snobs can now be their own barista while camping

Are you heading out to Burning Man but are upset about having to drink an instant cup of coffee every morning? Why can’t we have our own personal barista’s everywhere we go? One company is hoping to fix that for all us coffee snobs out in the wild. Kuju, the pourover coffee kit, hopes to revolutionize the way we make coffee on our outdoor adventures.

Of course it’s only in its Kickstarter phase right now, but something tells me this will be in the bag. It’s a fairly straight forward concept that I’m surprised hasn’t been marketed before. While there have been other types of pourover coffee kits for camping, Kuju simplifies it by putting the entire system in a single bag that sits above your mug.

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It uses fresh coffee grounds, not an instant mix, to create a nearly perfect brew of coffee. The bag, inspired by Origami, is a woven filter with some cardboard tips that latch onto your mug. It’s compact and easy to toss into your camping gear, or even your pocket if you happen to work at an office that doesn’t even have the greatest of coffee makers.

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Like most Kickstarters, Kuju is offering some pretty good reward tiers. The $15 and over funding all include packets, with the big $5,000 (which no one has claimed yet) giving you a year subscription to the coffees, a jacket, mugs and more. The only thing is that the estimated delivery on all of this is June of 2016. So until then, you may want to stock up on your favorite cold brew for your next expedition.

GamesRead : Oxford Dictionary adds new slang, gaming terms, and a verb form of ‘MacGyver’

If you are young, prepare to feel like the older generation is encroaching upon you. If you are old, prepare to feel much older. If you don’t feel young or old, chances are you are old, but maybe you can appear young by making sure you are “hip” to the “lingo.” Yes, it is once again time for the Oxford University Press to add some words to the Online Dictionary that were never considered words before. Years of accusations that a certain person was “butthurt” are now accusations made of institutionalized language according to Oxford Online Dictionary.

The good old standard of the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED for short) remains dedicated to preserving older words in the print edition, but Oxford University Press allows the online version to be much more up-to-date with the modern vernacular. Or, as the head of content development Angus Stevenson puts it: “New words, senses, and phrases are added to OxfordDictionaries.com when we have gathered enough independent evidence from a wide range of sources to be sure that they have widespread currency in the English language.”

So, the currency you always expected with words like hangry (anger caused by hunger), wine o’clock (an appropriate time of day to drink wine), and rage quit (when you give up on something because of intense anger), are now recognized by the world at large.

cupcakery, n.: a bakery that specializes in cupcakes

cupcakery, n.: a bakery that specializes in cupcakes

Not all of the added words are fun slang portmanteau like Grexit (seriously added as “a term for the potential withdrawal of Greece from the eurozone”), a lot of them have to do with representation in dialogue both online and off. Words like “mircoagression” (a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority) and Mx. (a title used before a person’s surname or full name by those who wish to avoid specifying their gender) point to how speech evolves for how minorities are perceived in the world.

Also added, some less fun but widely used gender based stereotypes like “manspreading” (the practice whereby a man, especially one travelling on public transport, adopts a sitting position with his legs wide apart), and “manic pixie dream girl”(a type of female character depicted as vivacious and appealingly quirky, whose main purpose within the narrative is to inspire a greater appreciation for life in a male protagonist).

Have no fear, fun-loving language obsessives, your normal slate of gamer words are thrown in as well from ”
“meeple” for the board gamers to “pwnage” for the online gamers. Redditors and subreddits both will be easier to define, even if it is minorly disappointing that the particular technology Reddit represents has been bound to a brand name.

mecha, n.: (in anime, manga, etc.) a large armoured robot, typically controlled by a person riding inside the robot itself

mecha, n.: (in anime, manga, etc.) a large armoured robot, typically controlled by a person riding inside the robot itself

Young or old, the adding of words to “official language” doesn’t have to be a chore, the joys can be found in simple pleasures like this actual, honest to God, truly existing, not-making-it-up addition that makes “MacGuyver” a verb:

MacGyver, v.: (US informal) make or repair (an object) in an improvised or inventive way, making use of whatever items are at hand

For a partial list of the most notable added words from Oxford University Press, click here.

GamesRead : Nielson is finally using data from Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu streaming

The business of television is currently trying to figure out how to deal with the reality that a growing number of households are using subscription streaming services to get their television programming. Streaming video services based on the internet like Netflix and Amazon don’t provide data to the public about how many people are streaming their shows and both companies are increasingly getting into content production on their own. The Nielson company has started collecting data for almost 1,000 streaming shows, and that’s not necessarily good news for Netflix.

For broadcast television, there has always been “the ratings” to set the benchmark for how well a show was doing and those ratings were the data collected by the Nielsen company from surveys and Nielsen boxes connected to a household’s TV set. The Nielson ratings continue to be collected for television broadcasts, though the diversification of TV programming with the advent of cable and the rise of DVR recording devices have changed the look of the cumulative ratings data over the years.

Nielsen data is still used to estimate how many people are watching a TV show and that estimated number dictates how much ad revenue can be made and how valuable the licensing for the show on a streaming service should be. That’s why it’s so frustrating to businesses used to having the Nielsen ratings as a metric don’t have data for online streaming services. Netflix will reportedly provide data to certain high paying collaborators, but otherwise doesn’t public release data on how many or who is watching their service’s offerings.

Netflix feels like it doesn’t need to make those statistics public because it doesn’t buy advertising or pay fees to cable operators for its programming. People interested in licensing content to Netflix would like to know beforehand what sort of demographic they would be reaching with their content before they sell it. Although Nielson isn’t a company colloquially known for being on the cutting edge of technology, it made sense that it would eventually attempt to track streaming shows — and that day is now.

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After announcing earlier in the year that they were testing a new system to gather data on the Netflixes, Amazons, and Hulus of the world, Nielson is finally making that data available and integrating it into their system. Although only covering “almost 1,000″ shows on the services, Nielson is collecting data on how many people are watching, as well as the watchers’ ages and genders. Its not totally catching all views, though, as Nielson’s data will not include subscribers outside the US or those watching on mobile devices.

Presumably some of these shows are the original programming from the streaming service, like Netflix’s House of Cards. That may end up being the part that hurts Netflix in its future content-creation partnerships. After spending significant money producing shows, it might lead to less investment if it turns out licensing a show to the streaming service produces higher ratings than producing original content. Like, if Hulu buying Seinfeld was ultimately a better use of millions of dollars than a few seasons of House of Cards, why make original programming for streaming?

At least we can all be happy for Nielson — who took several years before adding DVR numbers in any meaningful way — has begun to take streaming seriously enough to measure it. Only time will tell if this benefits cord-cutters or prices out new streaming programming.

GamesRead : Teens arrested for using Lizard Squad’s DDoS-for-hire service

One Christmas day 2014, Lizard Squad declared shenanigans on Xbox Live and the PlayStation network and took them offline with a massive DDoS attack. Then they went into the DDoS-for-hire business, which six UK teens have now been arrested for using.

Lizard Squad preferred to refer to what they offered as a “stress-testing tool.” Law enforcement agencies apparently didn’t seem too concerned with figuring out what the distinction was, though, and were all to happy to show up on doorsteps around England with arrest warrants.

So far, they’ve busted six young men, all between the ages of 15 and 18, in five different cities. More arrests could be coming, too, because the entire customer database for Lizard Stresser was reportedly stolen and dumped earlier this year. Interestingly enough, part of that data — a full list of usernames — had already been heisted just a few days earlier by a computer science student using a fairly rudimentary script.

About 14,000 accounts had been created, though security guru Brian Krebs noted at the time that relatively few users had actually paid money (just 176, by his count) to launch an attack. These six apparently had, though, and now they’re learning a valuable lesson about the UK criminal justice system from the inside. Just like three Lizard Squad members.

In December, shortly after the Christmas morning attacks, police arrested Jordan Lee-Bevan and identified him as a Lizard Squad member. Two others were brought in before the end of the month — then in January, the total climbed to four as another unnamed teen was apprehended.

GamesRead : Scientists figure out why interleaved phone books can’t be pulled apart

The humble phone book has been the subject of one of the more entertaining physics puzzles in recent years. It’s well known that two phone books with their pages interleaved are almost impossible to separate because of friction, but the exact cause was a mystery until now. A team of researchers from France and Canada have finally solved this vexing problem. It turns out the friction comes from the shape of the phone book and how pulling affects it. If this isn’t deserving of a Nobel Prize, I don’t know what is.

It would have been convenient to simply say that the unbreakable phone books are caused by friction between the pages and move on, but that didn’t tell the whole story. If you look at the amount of friction generated by two pages touching each other, then multiply by the number of pages in a given two-phone book complex, you wouldn’t have nearly enough force to match what we see in reality. The force rises geometrically with the number of pages, but why?

To solve the mystery, the team built special phone books to exacting specifications with pages of a certain size and a specific number of them. Then they interleaved the pages and pulled them apart with traction instruments to measure the amount of force required. Using the data from this experiment, the team generated a mathematical model that explains what’s going on between all those pages.

The key is in the way the pages separate when interleaved. The separation is very, very slight, but it leaves the pages at an angle compared to the spine of the book. When you pull, the pages are squeezed together as they try to “straighten out” relative to the spine. This increases the friction between the pages dramatically, making the books almost impossible to separate. They call it the geometrical amplification of friction. It’s not just about phone books, though. Similar mechanisms could be useful in nanomaterial some day.

GamesRead : Michael Fassbender is super sneaky in first Assassin’s Creed movie photo

After three years of waiting, Assassin’s Creed fans can finally get their first look at Michael Fassbender from the upcoming video game-based film. The actor who has appeared in the latest X-Men movies as Magneto as well as Prometheus and the upcoming Steve Jobs, has been attached to star in and co-produce this movie since 2012 and now you can finally get a look at him as the hooded assassin.

michael fassbender assassin's creed

The movie is said to focus on new characters that fit into the greater Assassin’s Creed mythology. Fassbender plays Callum Lynch in the film, a man who relives his ancestor Aguilar’s days of murder and mayhem through “unlocked genetic memories.” These adventures happen to take place in 15th century Spain and led into problems with the Knights Templar in modern times.

Directed by Justin Kurzel (Macbeth, The Snowtown Murders), the video game adaptation is said to start shooting on Monday and hit theaters on December 21, 2016. The cast also includes The Dark Knight Rises star Marion Cotillard, Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Kenneth Williams and Before Midnight‘s Ariane Labed. The actors and crew will shoot in Spain, Malta and London to recreate the ancient and modern settings.

Ubisoft launched a new division called Ubisoft Motion Pictures a few years back to give them more control over the movies made based on their games. The company is also working on films based on Splinter Cell, Watch Dogs and Far Cry.

While comic book films continue to make big money at the box office, the world has yet to see a huge video game-based hit. The Resident Evil and Silent Hill franchises do well for smaller horror offerings, but last year’s Need For Speed and last weekend’s Agent 47 haven’t exactly created the groundswell of interest that Iron Man or Batman Begins did less than a decade ago. However, upcoming projects like Assassin’s Creed and Warcraft might finally show the world how entertaining and profitable these stories can be when projected on the silver screen.

GamesRead : Smaller Xbox One is “Not real” says Phil Spencer

Anyone who’s been buying games consoles over the last decade or more knows all about shrinkage. Manufacturers find ways to combine components, make the hardware more efficient, and package it in a smaller case. It saves them money, and saves you money as the price typically drops as well as the new machines using less power.

For this generation of consoles Sony has already carried out one hardware revision. It’s only available in Japan so far and the console size didn’t change. However, it uses a fifth less power and runs quieter. Microsoft will eventually carry out its own hardware revision on the Xbox One. In fact, it was expected to be unveiled at their October launch event this year. It’s not happening, though.

Xbox boss Phil Spencer was asked on Twitter about an Xbox Micro launching in October. His response was simply “Not real.”

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That doesn’t mean a hardware revision isn’t under way, but we won’t be getting a smaller Xbox One in 2015. That’s a shame because Microsoft needs something to help boost sales of the Xbox One and a smaller console is always a good marketing opportunity. If Sony launches a PS4 Slim ahead of a small Xbox One, that just counts as another blow to Xbox.

With the PS4 revised model already shipping, it seems likely the next revision will allow for a smaller case. Sony would want to time that to maximize sales, so the holiday 2016 period seems likely if it’s going to happen. By then we’ll also surely have a more efficient Xbox One on the market even if it isn’t any smaller.

GamesRead : Toshiba: hard drives will be 40TB by 2020, SSDs will be 128TB by 2018

This month a major milestone was reached in the world of solid-state storage. For the first time, the capacity of an SSD was greater than that offered by a hard drive. The biggest hard drives on the market today are 10TB, but Samsung has achieved a 16TB SSD. According to Toshiba, that storage divide is going to grow massively over the next 5 years.

The 16TB SSD is a significant achievement not only because of the huge storage capacity, but because the SSD retained its 2.5-inch form factor. Anything above 2TB in a hard drive and you’re looking at a 3.5-inch drive. And the size of the storage component increasingly matters when you consider consumers continue to move away from desktop PCs and over to Ultrabooks, tablets, and smartphones. The same is true in data centers where space is always at a premium.

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So how big is the gap between HDD and SSD going to get in the coming years?

Speaking at SEMI Members Day Tokyo on August 20, Toshiba Semiconductor & Storage Company’s chief engineer Nobuo Hayasaka, predicts that hard drive capacities will reach at least 20TB by 2020. However, it’s possible they will double that to 40TB while retaining a 3.5-inch form factor. For SSDs, he paints a very different picture. Next year we can expect 32TB drives. By 2017 that will increase to 64TB, and in 2018 we’ll see 128TB drives hit the market. Beyond 2018 SSD capacity is expected to accelerate, meaning it won’t take a full year to get to 256TB and so on.

We all knew that SSDs would eventually replace hard drives as the storage format of choice, but it always seemed 5 years away to me. However, it’s happening now, and by 2018 the transition will likely be complete. Consumers will be buying in a market that mirrors how memory cards are now sold–a new, larger card hits the market and smaller card pricing falls off a cliff. Expect the same for SSDs, only when we reach 128TB drives it will be 1-5TB SSD pricing that hits rock bottom, and I welcome that day.

GamesRead : Hubble captures stunning image of the Twin Jet Nebula

The Hubble Space Telescope has been in operation for 25 years now, but it still manages to impress thanks to a series of instrument upgrades over the years. NASA has just released a stunning image of PN M2-9, more commonly called the Twin Jet Nebula or the Butterfly Nebula. We’ve never seen this object in such amazing detail, and it really is a sight to behold.

The Twin Jet Nebula is what’s known as a planetary nebula, just like the more famous Helix and Cat’s Eye nebulae. These celestial objects are marked by glowing shells of ionized gas thrown off by stars as they enter the final phases of life. The Twin Jet Nebula was discovered in 1947 and is a mere 2,100 light years away from Earth. It’s a notable object for several reasons. For one, it is believed to have only been formed about 1,200 years ago, and it has the twin jets of gas. Most planetary nebulae are roughly spherical in shape.

Astronomers believe the cause of the twin jets is that PN M2-9 is actually a binary system of two stars roughly the same size as our own sun. The larger of the pair is between one and 1.4 solar masses and is the source of the gas. It’s in the red giant phase, having nearly exhausted its nuclear fuel. The smaller star is further along in its life cycle. It’s now a white dwarf with a mass between 0.6 and 1 solar mass. The two stars likely orbit around a shared center of mass, causing the gas ejected from the red giant to be pulled into two distinct lobes before being ejected at speeds in excess of one million kilometers (621,400 miles) per hour.

Future astronomical instruments are sure to keep an eye on the Twin Jet Nebula. Its highly energetic gas jets can actually be seen to change orientation over the course of years. Make sure to check NASA’s announcement post for the full resolution image.