GamesRead : Vin Diesel announces Fast and Furious 8, 9, and 10

If you thought Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters drama on Twitter was something, wait until you hear about what Vin Diesel said on Facebook.

The Chronicles of Riddick and The Fast and The Furious star loves posting on Facebook. Sometimes it is about his movies, sometimes it is about his fans, sometimes it is just random Facebook things. The guy is engaged or probably has an active team of people making sure he looks engaged at all times.

Then, you have the Fast and Furious franchise, which made over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office earlier this year with Furious 7, the final film featuring founding franchise member Paul Walker. Of course, with the big money Furious 7 brought in, the not-small amount of money that Universal Pictures invested in finishing Furious 7 after Paul Walker’s unexpected death in an off-set car crash didn’t seem to be an issue anymore. James Wan, who directed Furious 7 ,was rumored to have turned down directorial duties when Universal came knocking for more Fast and Furious. Supposedly they also tried to offer the gig to Justin Lin, who had directed three Fast and Furious movies before James Wan, and he also turned it down.

Point being, it seemed like no one wanted to direct Furious 8, no matter how much Universal wanted a Furious 8. This began to put the question of Furious 8’s existence as part of the main franchise in question.

Vin Diesel would like you to question no longer. Not only is Vin going to reunite as much of the Fast and Furious family as he can, but he will personally tell the world when a director has been hired (via his Facebook, of course) and that there won’t just be a Furious 8 to wrap up the franchise, there will be a franchise-ending trilogy of films.

This is what he posted along with this smiling picture of himself:

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Vin Diesel has spoken. He insists everything I just asserted about previous Fast and Furious directors turning down the gig is wrong and he says that there will be one last trilogy to end the saga. To be fair, we might have been wrong about the directors, but very few people saw Furious 8-10 coming.

Well, maybe the die-hard fans did. In the Fast and Furious timeline, the third movie to be released (Tokyo Drift) actually takes place between after Fast 6. This would allow the lead character of Tokyo Drift, played by Lucas Black, to join the Fast and Furious family in Paul Walkers place. Black’s character Sean popped up in Furious 7 and way back in 2013, /film reported on the character being signed for a trilogy of movies.

If you were a Sean from Tokyo Drift fan, you might have seen a Fast and Furious trilogy coming. The rest of us just got the news as a benefit of being Facebook friends with Vin Diesel.

Although it may seem ridiculous to draw out the tale of Dom Toretto and his merry band of car-obsessives, a quick look at Box Office Mojo reveals that all Furious 8 has to do is fart in the direction of the box office to push the worldwide franchise gross over $4 billion dollars.

If Vin Diesel and company are sitting on a massive, 300 page trilogy script that involves more fast cars taking on tanks and/or dropping out of planes, it seems like the world is rabid to get our Vin Diesel starved eyes on it.

GamesRead : Google expected to release 10.2-inch Pixel C Marshmallow tablet this year

Google is not expected to announce a new Nexus tablet this year, but apparently that doesn’t mean you’ll be without a new Android slate from Mountain View. A leak claims Google is planning to launch a 10.2-inch tablet later this year called the Pixel C, but it won’t be running Chrome OS like past Pixel devices. It will be an Android 6.0 Marshmallow tablet.

Google never technically told us what the “Pixel” line was, but everyone assumed it was just for Chrome OS. Adding an Android device to the lineup would make it more of a first-party premium brand that could include a variety of platforms. The Pixel C is reportedly very similar in design to the Chromebook Pixel, but it will have a removable keyboard rather than being a regular laptop (similar to the Microsoft Surface). So imagine the Pixel’s screen without a keyboard permanently attached to it and you’ve got the Pixel C.

The display is expected to be 2560 x 1700 resolution, the same as the Pixel. Inside will be a quad-core 64-bit Nvidia Tegra X1 ARM chip with a Maxwell GPU. That chip is currently only used in the Shield Android TV box. Rounding out the specs will be 3GB of RAM and a USB Type-C port. Hopefully it has the cool light bar from the Pixel too.

There’s no word on pricing, but considering the Pixel is a $1,000 Chromebook, I think we can expect the Pixel C to sell for a bit more than the average Android tablet. It’s probably going to be manufactured by the same subcontractor as the Chromebook Pixel (rumored to be Quanta). Google is not expected to start selling the Pixel C until November, but it might be announced at the event today alongside the two new Nexus phones.

GamesRead : Logitech G410 is an illuminated mechanical gaming keyboard that’s 25% faster

With professional gaming now being a “thing” and eSports making its way on to TV once again, there’s ample opportunity for peripheral manufacturers to target gamers with high end or novel gear. And in gaming, it’s all about speed, which is why we have an abundance of very high DPI mice on the market. However, Logitech figures you can do the same with keyboards, and therefore has produced one that’s touted as being 25% faster.

The Logitech G410 Atlas Spectrum TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard has a very long name, but a very short key actuation. Keyboard actuation is basically the force and key travel distance required for a key press to be registered. With the G410 Romer-G switches, Logitech claims to have made this 25% faster than other mechanical keyboard switches, with the suggestion being this could give you an advantage when playing assuming your reaction times are already great.

Faster actuation is only the start of the features squeezed into the tenkeyless G410, though. It’s lightweight, 40% more durable (70 million keystrokes), and purposefully small due to the lack of a number pad and macro keys, which is meant to make it easier to transport to events or a friend’s house. Overall it weighs just 830 grams including the USB cable and measures 7.3 x 15.4 x 1.4 inches.

As for the backlighting, Logitech allows you to customize it for every key using the included software and the option of 16.8 million colors. You could spend more time adjusting colors on this keyboard than actually playing games. Logitech has also created Arx Control, a free app for iOS or Android devices that allows in-game information to be displayed on a second screen. There’s even a slide out dock hidden in the back of the G410 to allow you to rest your smartphone while running Arx Control.

The Logitech G410 requires a USB 2.0 port and Windows 10, 8.1, 8 or 7 to work. It is expected to become available at some point in October with a list price of 149 Euros (roughly $170). I also expect to see the G410 in use at some eSports events if Logitech can find a team or two willing to accept some free keyboards.

GamesRead : Privacy-focused Blackphone 2 goes on sale for $799

Once upon a time, BlackBerry was the default choice if you were looking for a secure smartphone. Today, there are alternatives like the Blackphone 2, which just went up for sale in North America.

Like the original Blackphone, the follow-up effort from Silent Circle runs a heavily-modified version of Android they call PrivatOS. It’s been tweaked to provide users with stronger security, enhanced privacy protection, and better control over app permissions.

Though the original was a bit lackluster in terms of specs, Blackphone 2 is competitive with most of today’s flagship devices. It sports a 5.5-inch 1080p display, an octa-core Qualcomm processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a 13-megapixel rear camera, and a 3050mAh battery that supports quick charging. And at $799, it’s only $50 more than an unlocked 16GB iPhone 6s Plus.

To take full advantage of the Blackphone’s privacy-protecting abilities, though, both parties in a call or SMS conversation need to be using the phones. Its encrypted calls and text messages can only keep things private if devices at both ends know how to decrypt them. If you’re looking for a way to keep things between you and your loved ones away from prying eyes, you’ll need to buy them all a Blackphone.

For the average user, that makes the Blackphone 2 a slightly less compelling purchase, even if privacy is a concern. For larger groups, however, the device makes a lot of sense. If you’re an IT manager looking to tighten up security company-wide, Blackphone’s  baked-in protections could be just what the doctor ordered.

GamesRead : Banksy’s Dismaland will be used as housing for refugees

Banksy’s latest art installation, Dismaland, has come to an end. The maudlin take on Disneyland that took place in an old public pool in Somerset, England’s Weston-super-Mare ran for 36 days and sold 4,000 tickets a day at £3 ($4.71) to the attraction itself. Major music acts like Massive Attack, Pussy Riot, and Run the Jewels played concerts at the modern art theme park as it drew tourists from all over England and the world. Now, just as fast as it had been erected in secret, the theme park is gone and will be torn down and used to shelter refugees.

The official Dismaland website was updated Monday with an announcement that the installation’s larger construction materials will be sent to the Calais refugee camp where it can be used as shelters. Below a doctored photo of Dismaland’s burnt-out princess castle amongst the tents of Calais, France, the website reads: “Coming soon… Dismaland Calais. All the timber and fixtures from Dismaland are being sent to the ‘jungle’ refugee camp near Calais to build shelters. No online tickets will be available.”

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The Jungle camp is actually a network of camps is on the North coast of France, near the entrance to the Eurotunnel and a port, where refugees who have been unable to gain passage to the United Kingdom have settled. Thousands of refugees from countries like Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Syria, and Sudan have made a makeshift town out of salvaged or donated materials as they attempt to sneak across the English Channel on a boat or through the tunnel.

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The Calais Jungle camps have been the subject of several reports over the summer as the numbers of refugees swell with both sides of the refugee debate trying to use images from the makeshift camps and its many occupants to fuel their opposing views.

The Dismaland venture actually included an installation mocking how the United Kingdom was dealing with refugees. In the style of a carnival game where you can drive remote control boats on water in a tank, the boats in this murky tank are packed to the brim with refugees looking for asylum as the dead body of one floats face down.

It’s expected that the process of dismantling Dismaland’s various structures is going to take three weeks, presumably being sent piecemeal to the camp outside Calais. Charities have previously sent building materials, plastic bags, and shipping pallets to the camps as well as basic supplies, but nothing has managed to meet the demand of the swelling number of refugees as French officials attempt to police and fence both the port and the tunnel from the constant attempts of over five thousand people.

While it was open, Dismaland is estimated to have brought £20 million worth of tourist business to Weston-super-Mare. It is unlikely to make any financial contribution to the Calais refugees, but will be at least an entire castle’s worth of building lumber and maybe a messed up looking Little Mermaid.

GamesRead : Mulder knows what he’s doing in latest X-Files promos

Mulder and Scully plan on bringing a healthy dose of truth to the new year. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reunite to find the truth in a pair of brand new X-Files trailers that aired during last night’s episode of Gotham on Fox. The following video includes both pieces in one easy to digest clip.

Though just over a minute in total run time, the commercials give you a pretty good idea of what’s to come in the new season. Mulder’s been unsurprisingly keeping the flame of truth alive on his own and seems to get to a point where he can take a next step. Who better to call at that point than Scully? Other bits include Mulder returning to his old office, a flashback to an honest-to-goodness alien crash site, and a partial appearance from the The Smoking Man (or at least a cigarette).

Series creator Chris Carter wrote and directed the first and last episodes of the season — titled “My Struggle” and “My Struggle II” — and also worked out the overarching plot of the season. In earlier interviews he noted that the half dozen episodes will feature a mix of mythology building and the monster-of-the-week style of the series. Carter is joined by writers Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan, and James Wong who all wrote and produced on X-Files or its spinoff Millennium.

X-Files returns to Fox in January for a six episode season though attendees at Cannes and New York Comic Con will be able to check out the season premiere in October.

GamesRead : Google is making its self-driving cars drive more like people

Google’s self-driving cars have already proven to be pretty capable autonomous chauffeurs. To make them even better at their job, though, Google has started teaching them to behave more like humans.

Things have actually gone pretty smoothly so far. In the six years they’ve been on the road, Google’s self-driving cars have only been involved in 16 traffic accidents. Of those, 12 have been rear-end collisions — and have been mostly found to be the fault of the human drivers who were following.

There’s plenty of room for improvement. The cars still tend to be overly cautious and can apply the brakes at odd times to avoid perceived risks, and those reactions can catch humans off-guard. When cornering, Google’s cars have tended to take a wide arc so as to avoid pedestrians who might step onto the roadway. The wide swing can confuse human drivers, who expect vehicles to make tighter turns.

There have also been times where the cars have misjudged what’s going on around them and reacted in decidedly non-human fashion. One car noticed a pedestrian walking near the curb, misread that as an attempt to cross the street, and applied the brakes abruptly in the middle of a three-way intersection.

To keep things less confusing for drivers on the road, Google’s making its cars more assertive. They’re getting more comfortable with taking risks, albeit still incredibly well-calculated ones. Some restrictions have also been relaxed. They could already exceed posted speed limits when necessary, and now Google’s cars can drive over double yellow lines in specific circumstances — like when a parked vehicle encroaches a bit too far. Prior to the change, the cars might sit and wait… and wait… if the only way to safely navigate around meant going a teensy bit left of center.

It probably won’t be too much longer before we can’t even tell the difference between one of Google’s cars and one being driven by a person. Apart from whether or not there are hands on the wheel or a butt in the driver’s seat, at any rate.

GamesRead : Fossils hold the secrets to ancient animals’ true colors

What did some ancient animals look like? What color was their fur? For a long time scientists haven’t been able to figure out the answer from the fossils left behind, leaving the task of depicting these ancient animals up to the artistic imagination. However, a team of researchers believe they’ve developed a technique to figure out the true colors of these extinct species with fossils up to 300 million years old.

The researchers realized they’ve been misidentifying some leftover microscopic structures. What researcher thought were fossilized bacteria are actually melanosomes. These organelles are found in animals and are responsible for the storage and transport of melanin — a light-absorbing pigment. In short: melanosomes are responsible for giving animals their colors.

By studying the structures of melanosomes in modern-day animals and marine life, researchers have been able to identify colors in ancient mammals, said Caitlin Colleary, a doctoral student of geosciences in the College of Science at Virginia Tech. “They all preserve melanin,” she explained, “so it’s safe to say that melanin is really all over the place in the fossil record. Now we can confidently fill in some of the original color patterns of these ancient animals.”

Jakob Vinther, a molecular paleobiologist at the University of Bristol, told Phys.org that these melanosomes are distinct in their shape and chemical make up. For instance, “reddish melanosomes are shaped like little meatballs, while black melanosomes are shaped like little sausages and we can see that this trend is also present in the fossils.” Researchers have also worked on finding out how the melanin might become chemically altered over time. In the study, researchers subjected modern hair and feather samples to the high temperatures and pressures fossils would undergo.

“It was important to bring microchemistry into the debate,” explained Roger Summons, the Schlumberger Professor of Earth Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an interview with Phys.org, “because discussion has been going on for years over whether these structures were just fossilized bacteria or specific bodies where melanin is concentrated.”

Knowing the color of these ancient mammals will help researchers piece together how some animals evolved over time. Summons says that “color is a factor in how individuals recognize and respond to others, determine friend or foe, and find mates.” It’s another piece to the history of animal life.

Image credit: Dallas Krentzel/Flickr

GamesRead : All hail the King: Jack Kirby as the artist ideal

California State University Northridge’s main art gallery is currently hosting the exhibition, Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby. The exhibit, curated by Professor Charles Hatfield, features original art, printed comics, photographs, and more from Kirby’s entire career. Anyone who does any kind of creative work owes it to themselves to pay it a visit — not because Kirby’s contributions to the contemporary pop culture landscape can’t be overstated (though they can’t), but because of Kirby’s status as a too often overlooked artistic ideal.

What do you think of when you think of an artist? More left brain than right? More Type B than Type A? Perhaps even a little flakey? The popular conception of the artist is someone who is struck by inspiration, who follows their muse at all costs, who creates art as if guided by some divine hand. It’s a fun thought, but it’s a gross oversimplification, and in the case of Jack Kirby, the King of Comics — the man who co-created Fantastic Four, X-Men, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Panther, Silver Surfer, and more — it’s an outright falsehood.

Walking through Comic Book Apocalypse, I was struck by the breadth and length of Kirby’s professional career. The exhibit — mirroring most popular appreciation of Kirby — was largely focused on The King’s later work, turning the bulk of its gaze to 1965 and onward. It’s an understandable choice to make, as the period includes much of Kirby’s ground-breaking run on Fantastic Four, as well as more idiosyncratic works at DC and Marvel and his twin cosmic epics, the Fourth World and The Eternals.

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For those who restrict their appreciation of Kirby to his later work, it’s easy to view his most popular creations in isolation. To see Kirby as that mythical artist mentioned above. To envision him simply closing his eyes and summoning up the wild characters and fantastic worlds for which is work is best-remembered. It’s a viewpoint reflected in a common sentiment, one that addresses Kirby’s age at the time of his most enduring creations: “Kirby did his best work in his 40s and 50s…I still have time to make something great too!” But that sentiment, and the view on Kirby that drives it, ignores the truth.

Wisely, Hatfield, in curating Comic Book Apocalypse, also made sure to feature a healthy sampling of Kirby’s earlier work. Included in the exhibit are not only his collaborations with Captain America co-creator Joe Simon, but also his workmanlike contributions to mostly-forgotten romance, crime and drama comics. It’s true: Kirby was in his 40s when Fantastic Four #1 came out, and he was in his 50s when he began work on the four books that made up his interlocking, convention-shattering Fourth World saga. But everything about those books — everything about all of Kirby’s work — was informed by what came before. And what came before was decades of hard work.

Kirby didn’t set out to change pop culture, art or even comic books. He set out wanting to draw and make a living for himself. The product of an immigrant upbringing in the notoriously rough and crowded Lower East Side of the 1920s, Kirby was a self-taught artist who pulled himself up by his bootstraps. But even once he made it, once he became an established comic book professional — and World War II veteran — that drive and work ethic never left him.

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The fertile creative period of his 40s and 50s was preceded by two decades of Kirby putting his nose to the grindstone and doing the work: of busting out the pages, of hitting deadlines, of refining and learning his craft on whatever books he could land, and of continuing his autodidactism in pursuit of the fastest way to draw the best. As a result, by 1965, it wasn’t unheard of for Kirby to draw five or six pages in a single day. To put that into context, the vast majority of contemporary comic book artists are unable to do that much work in a week.

Making Kirby’s speed even more impressive is that his job was far more expansive than a present-day comic book artist, who works from a full script that describes a book’s action panel-by-panel. When working with Stan Lee at Marvel, Kirby was often only given the loosest of plot ideas or outlines, which he was then expected to flesh out into a full comic. The heavy lifting that Kirby did on the writing side is clearly on display at Comic Book Apocalypse, with original Fantastic Four art that still bears the King’s penciled notes on plot and even dialogue.

Even in 1970, when he began work on the interlocking Fourth World epic at DC, Kirby’s contract required that he draw 15 pages in a week simply to stay on schedule. And of course, Kirby didn’t just hit that goal, he beat it, sometimes doing as many as 20 pages in a single week. Without a doubt, it was a workmanlike approach to making comics — an approach that is too often derided and looked down upon. But what makes Kirby truly great? It’s that this approach not only didn’t hinder his artistic development, but it played an important role in creating Kirby’s iconic, inimitable style.

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Kirby’s work evolved in a way that made it possible for him to draw, at his peak, five or six pages in a single day. The odd, wonky perspective, the blocky fingers, the impossible cosmic machinery, the faces that DC deemed ugly enough to have Kirby’s Superman redrawn by other artists; these were all conscious stylistic choices that grew, not out of Kirby’s desire to develop his own style, but out of his need to draw at a certain pace. This progression is on display clearly at the Comic Book Apocalypse exhibit, as you can chart Kirby’s move toward increasingly representational artwork — things look enough like what they are meant to depict that you understand them, while still veering away from how they would appear in the real world.

Kirby’s work is about as far from realism as you can get, which is likely why even to this day certain people are turned off by it. But to expect realism from Kirby is to miss the point of his oeuvre. In his workmanlike pursuit of speed and efficiency, Kirby developed a style that was able to convey the idea of a face, a chair, a car, a space-age suit of armor, a fantastical machine, or anything else he could think of, in as simple a way as possible, without losing the essence of what an image needed to communicate. Kirby’s artwork traded not in realistic depictions, but in Platonic forms that speak to a reader’s lizard brain.

The French poet Charles Baudelaire said that “Inspiration comes of working every day.” Nowhere is that clearer than in the case of Jack Kirby, who sat down to work at his desk every day, becoming one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, whose impact is still felt as strongly as ever in the 21st.

Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby is on display at California Statue University Northridge through October 10, 2015. For more information, visit CSUN’s website.

Aubrey Sitterson is a comics writer and would love to talk your ear off about how great Kirby’s Fourth World is. Find him on Twitter or visit his website for more information.

GamesRead : Psychological horror game Among the Sleep isn’t for babies, but you play as one

Sometimes a well-put-together movie trailer can creep me out, but that kind of reaction hardly ever happens with a video game trailer. PS4 title Among the Sleep’s new trailer certainly does, though. Not only is this a psychological horror game, it places you in the role of a two-year-old.

As developer Krillbite Studio states, this is not a game for babies, even if you are playing as one. Here’s the super creepy trailer to get you in the mood (or not) for the game, which is out on December 10.

Among the Sleep is by no means a new game having released for Windows, OS X, and Linux back in May last year. However, Krillbite has spent months completely overhauling the game in terms of visuals and audio. That means the latest version of the Unity engine has been used and the physics engine brought up-to-date. The PS4 version will also be the first to offer 60fps play.

Here’s some gameplay from the original PC version:

The original game scored 66 on Metacritic and received mixed reviews. Players said the atmosphere and presentation was great, but the game is just way too short. That’s clearly a side effect of a very small team relying on funding from the Norwegian Film Institute and a Kickstarter campaign to get it finished. Considering that, they’ve done pretty well I’d say.

There’s no mention of the gameplay being extended for this PS4 release, so it could be an equally short experience. It’s also meant to be coming to Xbox One, but I haven’t seen any new details on when we can expect it on Microsoft’s console. If the price is right, though, this could be a great, if short console experience.