Posts Tagged ‘tale’
When architecture critic Justin Davidson began playing Sim City, he had long for a building an utopia. A lifetime of experience had given Davidson a concept of how to craft his dream city, but he quickly discovered Digital Arts’ city-building simulation was limiting. Not able to recreate a “chaotically useful” city like New York, he found himself paying attention to the game’s rules, marking out sets of industrial, commercial, and domestic areas, looking to fatten his budget plan and expand the populace. If a home does not work out? Knock it down and build another. Had to construct a new roadway? Bulldoze some homes and get it done.
Davidson soon found economic prosperity by partnering with his 15-year-old son, the owner of another virtual …
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Google hasn ’ t constantly been understood for making spectacular hardware, however today ’ s statement of the Chromebook Pixel — probably one of the best-looking notebooks ever made, if absolutely nothing else — means that could not be the case.
Still, you can ’ t be criticized for being cautious of shelling out a suitable portion of money on Google ’ s first venture into notebooks, not to mention a Chromebook of all things, so below ’ s an initial look at exactly how the Chromebook Pixel bundles up against 2 popular rivals in the computing area: the stock version of Apple ’ s 13-inch MacBook Air and Microsoft ’ s Surface Pro.
\* Note that we compared the base MBA and the surface Pro with upgraded storage space, to establish a better baseline in regards to comparing more similar price points and spec load-outs. Versus the 13-inch MacBook Air Compared with the base 13-inch
MacBook Air, Google ’ s Pixel has a great deal of resemblances. It ’ s priced around the exact same, however in fact is available in as more expensive that the OS X ultraportable, at $ 1299 and $ 1449 for choices with Wi-Fi only, and Wi-Fi + LTE networking. Exactly what does the Pixel offer to validate the added expense? It does have a denser display, with 239 ppi on an almost 13-inch display. Which display is touch sensitive, which isn ’ t something Apple could claim. But until now, it hasn ’ t displayed much about how touch may deal with ChromeOS, though it has actually supposedly been “ optimized ” for finger-based input. An additional location where the Chromebook Pixel falls short of its competitors is
in local storage space. 32GB on the Wi-Fi model and 64GB on the LTE version is small compared to the MacBook Air, which is already pushing it with 128GB. LTE is nice to have, but, with the frequency of hotspots and modems, arguably less important than more offline-accessible storage space. The Chromebook Pixel is very much intended at the exact same market as the MacBook Air, with Google
worrying that it ’ s an upscale device. But regardless of what looks to be a stunning screen, this shows up with a much more experimental, touch-enabled variation of an OS that has yet to show itself with general consumers, suggesting that the reasons to choose Google ’ s brave new laptop computer over the Air possibly aren ’ t as obvious as Google would ’ ve hoped. Versus the 128GB Area Pro I can ’ t assistance however consider the Chromebook Pixel in relation to something like the Area Pro, another premium computing gadget from a business that has actually historically avoided making its own pcs. Given, the differences in execution in between the two are rather staggering, however it ’ s hard not to look at both devices as fresh steps into a market significantly driven by book hardware. The Pixel certainly has the Surface Pro beat when it comes to sheer screen size and resolution (it has a 12.85 ″ display going for 2560 x 1700, contrasted
to the Pro ’ s 10.6 ″ panel going for 1920 x 1080), but the Area Pro seems to sport better touch support with its included stylus and Wacom digitizer. It ’ s too early to state whether or not one device has a conclusive benefit of the various other since of their apparently comparable processors (though the Pixel could possibly squeak by due to the fact that of its a little quicker chipset), however we ’ ll go back to that once we get our hands on an evaluation unit. Again, the Pixel could fail with its paltry 32GB of internal storage space (though individuals who spring for the LTE model will have around 64GB to play with). Sure, having a terabyte of cloud storage is orderly, but those in demand of genuine speed will like the Pro ’ s SSDs and memory card slot. The other big question mark here is Chrome OS itself. The Chromebook is an extremely good-looking little equipment that seems to have some horse power under the hood to boot, however I ’ m curious whether or not individuals will select to plunk down up-wards of $ 1299 for a computer that exists outside of the two entrenched environments that have actually dominated consumer computing. Windows 8 isn ’ t a beaming star yet either, but it ’ s far from a company ’ s side job. In the end … While the Air and Surface Pro have their share of benefits, it ’ s still a little prematurely to compose the Chromebook Pixel off entirely. It might just be the right computer at the correct time to give Chrome OS the boost it actually
requires, but for now Google
has to make a much better case for why people should spend $ 1299 on a computer that depends upon the cloud rather of, you know, anything else.
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Google hasn’t always been known for making breathtaking hardware, but today’s announcement of the Chromebook Pixel — arguably one of the best-looking laptops ever made, if nothing else — means that may no longer be the case.
Still, you can’t be blamed for being wary of shelling out a decent chunk of money on Google’s first foray into laptops, let alone a Chromebook of all things, so here’s a preliminary look at how the Chromebook Pixel stacks up against two prominent rivals in the computing space: the stock version of Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air and Microsoft’s Surface Pro.
*Note that we compared the base MBA and the surface Pro with upgraded storage, to establish a better baseline in terms of comparing more similar price points and spec load-outs.
Versus the 13-inch MacBook Air
Compared to the base 13-inch MacBook Air, Google’s Pixel has a lot of similarities. It’s priced around the same, but actually comes in as more expensive that the OS X ultraportable, at $ 1299 and $ 1449 for options with Wi-Fi only, and Wi-Fi + LTE networking. What does the Pixel offer to justify the extra cost? It does have a denser display, with 239 ppi on a nearly 13-inch display. And that screen is touch sensitive, which isn’t something Apple can claim. But until now, it hasn’t shown off much about how touch might work with ChromeOS, though it has reportedly been “optimized” for finger-based input.
Another place where the Chromebook Pixel falls short of its competition is in local storage. 32GB on the Wi-Fi model and 64GB on the LTE version is tiny compared to the MacBook Air, which is already pushing it with 128GB. LTE is nice to have, but, with the prevalence of hotspots and modems, arguably less important than more offline-accessible storage space.
The Chromebook Pixel is very much aimed at the same market as the MacBook Air, with Google stressing that it’s an upscale device. But despite what looks to be a beautiful screen, this arrives with an even more experimental, touch-enabled version of an OS that has yet to prove itself with general consumers, meaning that the reasons to opt for Google’s brave new laptop over the Air perhaps aren’t as apparent as Google would’ve hoped.
Versus the 128GB Surface Pro
I can’t help but think about the Chromebook Pixel in relation to something like the Surface Pro, another premium computing device from a company that has historically shied away from making its own computers. Granted, the differences in execution between the two are pretty staggering, but it’s hard not to look at both devices as fresh steps into a market increasingly driven by novel hardware.
The Pixel certainly has the Surface Pro beat when it comes to sheer screen size and resolution (it has a 12.85″ display running at 2560 x 1700, compared to the Pro’s 10.6″ panel running at 1920 x 1080), but the Surface Pro seems to sport better touch support with its included stylus and Wacom digitizer. It’s too early to say whether or not one device has a definitive advantage of the other because of their seemingly similar processors (though the Pixel could squeak by because of its slightly quicker chipset), but we’ll return to that once we get our hands on a review unit.
Again, the Pixel may fall flat with its paltry 32GB of internal storage (though folks who spring for the LTE model will have around 64GB to play with). Sure, having a terabyte of cloud storage is neat, but those in need of real speed will prefer the Pro’s SSDs and memory card slot.
The other big question mark here is Chrome OS itself. The Chromebook is a very handsome little machine that seems to have some horsepower under the hood to boot, but I’m curious whether or not people will choose to plunk down upwards of $ 1299 for a computer that exists outside of the two entrenched environments that have dominated consumer computing. Windows 8 isn’t a shining star yet either, but it’s far from a company’s side project.
In the end…
While the Air and Surface Pro have their share of advantages, it’s still a little too early to write the Chromebook Pixel off completely. It may just be the right computer at the right time to give Chrome OS the boost it really needs, but for now Google needs to make a better case for why people should spend $ 1299 on a computer that hinges on the cloud instead of, you know, anything else.
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Four years ago, Chris Chaney was jobless, depressed, and browsing the web when he fell upon a compromising photo of Miley Cyrus, which would dramatically alter the course of his life. The photo raised questions for Chaney; who stole this picture, how did he do it, and how hard could it be for him to do the same?
Fast forward three years. Chaney is laying in bed, his body speckled with red lasers from the guns of the federal agents that surrounded him. Now a prolific Hollywood hacker, his antics had got him noticed by the wrong crowd. So how exactly did a man that didn’t know an ounce of code, and had only owned a computer for a few years, gain access to celebrities’ private emails and photographs? With a lot of time, and very little…
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Out of the annals of history comes this doozy. A man known by the name of Theodore Gray is a co-founder of Wolfram Research, best known as the creator of Wolfram Alpha, the two-year-old computational answer engine, which Siri uses for 25 percent of her mobile searches.
Along with Stephen Wolfram, Gray helped develop Mathematica, the computational software used in technical computing that makes Wolfram Alpha, among other things, tick. He is an author, polymath, and, it seems, an amateur Chemist — or should I say, element collector. Yes, as the story goes, about 10 years ago, he built and created his own wooden “periodic table table” (presumably on company time), complete with compartments underneath in which Gray collects samples of the periodic table’s elements. This feat of carpentry, Rams-ian design, and wizardry won him an “Ig Nobel Prize” in Chemistry back in 2002.
Yesterday, a new video, or rather episode of “Bytesize Science,” emerged on YouTube wherein Gray discusses the tale behind his periodic table table. The video has been being passed around, and was tipped to us (thanks to Kirk Zamieroski). We thought it was worth sharing, based on pure awesomeness, the high quality kitsch, and DIY mastery. Luckily no radioactive elements made it into the table — or at least we didn’t spot any lead. No one was hurt in the making of the table, as far as we know, other than perhaps Schrodinger’s cat?
As the video’s uploader points out, Gray has gone on to win less Ig Nobel awards, becoming the 2011 winner of the ACS Grady Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public, and the periodic table table is a “testament” to his love for chemistry — and his compulsive eBay purchasing habits.
We hope you enjoy.
(Check out Theodore Gray’s website here.)
Image credit: Popular Mechanics
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We’re no strangers to watches here at Engadget, but smartwatches — tiny wearable computers capable of running apps with SDKs to match — are still a rare breed. The best known examples are probably Fossil’s Meta Watch, Allerta’s inPulse Smartwatch and WIMM Labs’ WIMM One, all of which are primarily targeted at developers. We recently had the opportunity to spend some quality time with both the inPulse (over the holidays) and the WIMM One (during CES), and despite some similarities, each smartwatch takes a completely different approach to running apps on your wrist. While neither product is quite ready for prime time, both show promise as “fourth screen” devices, even for those of us who don’t normally wear a watch. So go ahead — hit the break and find out how these wearable computers stack up.
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With all this talk of 360-degree customer service and Zappos ninjas who help babies out of burning buildings while taking orders for clogs, it’s nice to remember that for every heartwarming tale of customer satisfaction there is a dude like Paul Christoforo.
The tale begins with a controller accessory. It’s called the Avonger en-kontrol (my misspelling) and it’s some kind of octopus that helps you press more buttons on your game controller. We wrote it up in February 2011 so you can check it out there. A quick web search will bring up the actual product. I’m not about to give them any Google Juice.
Plenty of people pre-ordered and waited patiently for the devices to ship. One customer, Dave, emailed the company with a question:
The “marketing guru” Paul Christoforo (who runs SEO expert site OceanMarketing (amazing, right?)) eventually gets into a heated Internet exchange with Dave (read it all on Penny Arcade when it comes back up) and ends his tirade with this gem of social media marketing done right (warning, NSFW language):
If you tl;dred that, here is one of the pertinent points:
This is the 38-year-old marketing manager and LinkedIn User (and presumably president of a company that is apparently trying to make a living selling marketing accessories) responding to a customer. I doubt this strategy is in the Amazon CSR handbook.
The fact that I’m writing about this feeds directly into Christoforo’s sense that any PR is good PR, but I assure you that’s not the case. Battles against Internet tag teams that involve Kotaku, SomethingAwful, and Reddit rarely end well and products built (or marketed) by petulant 38-year-old former real estate salesmen rarely, if ever, ship. It’s easy to build a buzz on the Internet, and it’s just as easy to kill it in a few keystrokes. Wurd up.
Looks like not even our parachuting jobs are safe from the robot onslaught. Disney Research and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have joined forces to bring the world Paraswift, a plucky little robot with a penchant for scaling buildings and a thirst for thrills. The team recently posted some video of the ‘bot, which can climb a wall, deploy a parachute and then coast relatively safely to the ground. Paraswift is more than just a mechanical thrill-seeker, however — the machine has a built-in camera that can be used to record footage for use in 3D models. Death-defying video after the break.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
-Charles Dickens from A Tale of Two Cities
For people who spend most of their days within a few blocks of tech start-up epicenters such as South Park in San Francisco, University Avenue in Palo Alto or the Flatiron district in New York, last week’s jobs report must have created some cognitive dissonance. After all, we’re in a boom/bubble right? It’s really hard to hire good people isn’t it? But take a moment to step outside the world of high technology and a dramatically different picture emerges of what’s going on in America.
The number of unemployed now eclipses 14 million nationwide. Underemployment is scary too with U-6, the government’s official measure of under-utilization,rising to 16.2% in June from 15.8% in May. But the worst number of them all might be mean duration of employment (the length of time that the average unemployed person has been out of work) which has spiked to 40 weeks. As a Wall Street Journal article this week pointed out, if you factored in those who’ve dropped out of the labor market (and therefore aren’t counted in unemployment numbers), the situation would appear even worse.
Which bring us to an important question: Should Silicon Valley (and other tech clusters throughout the country) care? After all, as long as people in Nebraska or the Central Valley of California have enough money to buy virtual tractors to tend their crops in Farmville, should the tech community be worried about whether those same people are getting paid to do work in the real world? Is what’s best for Silicon Valley also good for America?
On one hand, a thriving tech sector is a beacon of hope for America and perhaps one of a shrinking number of things keeping the country from slipping from its perch as the world’s foremost economic superpower. Fast-growth companies like Facebook, Groupon and Twitter create jobs, attract foreign investment (see Sarah Lacy’s article “How We All Missed Web 2.0′s “Netscape Moment”) and generate tremendous amounts of wealth for employees and shareholders which circulates throughout the economy.
In addition, a host of technology companies enable people around the country to make money. Etsy empowers people anywhere to make money selling handmade goods. AirBnB allows anyone with a house or apartment to make money renting it out. And whether you’re talking about design communities like 99designs, crowdsourcing platforms like CrowdFlower, outsourcing sites like oDesk or an artisan food marketplace like Foodzie, tech-enabled marketplaces allow millions of dollars to flow from consumers to producers every year. (Check out Semil Shah’s article “The P2P Evolution” for more great examples of this in action.)
Furthermore, tech companies are helping to reshape how people train for and ultimately find employment. It’s easier than ever to pick up new skills online with the explosion in blogs, tutorials, screencasts and online video. For a self-motivated individual of at least average intelligence there is a shrinking number of excuses for not possessing in-demand skills. And jobs and recruiting platforms like Branchout, Jobvite, LinkedIn and Monster.com certainly help job seekers to smooth the path to employment.
But there’s a flip side to the argument that this technological innovation is good for the country. Books like A Whole New Mind, The Great Stagnation and The Lights in the Tunnel make arguments that automation and outsourcing are increasingly pushing jobs outside the country and in many cases, doing away with them altogether (you did see that crazy video of the Diapers.com warehouses didn’t you?). The rate of increasing technological innovation certainly produces new jobs but does it produce jobs at a rate great enough to replace those it might be eliminating?
In a similar vein, many of the companies in Silicon Valley are succeeding precisely because they’re disrupting existing players in their industries. Amazon is doing really well right now (almost $ 10 billion in revenue in the last quarter alone). Borders…not so much. Go iTunes and Spotify. RIP Tower Records. Creative destruction is alive and well but how many people in Silicon Valley are thinking about what happens to that displaced worker at the record store or bookstore?
Maybe something is missing in the Valley and surrounding tech communities and that’s a stronger sense of responsibility to make sure that the vast majority of the country isn’t left behind by all this cool technology that we’re building. In Paul Graham’s essay Great Hackers he points out that the more sophisticated tools become, the greater variation there is in productivity. He writes:
In a low-tech society you don’t see much variation in productivity. If you have a tribe of nomads collecting sticks for a fire, how much more productive is the best stick gatherer going to be than the worst? A factor of two? Whereas when you hand people a complex tool like a computer, the variation in what they can do with it is enormous.
If accumulation of wealth correlates with productivity then, in Graham’s view, increasing variation of wealth might actually be a sign of good things. But could this increase in variation lead to the creation of two almost completely distinct countries in America, one which continues to boom and create enormous wealth for those who reside in it and another for which long-term unemployment and underemployment and the corresponding frustration that accompanies those states becomes the norm?
Megan McArdle wrote a poignant article entitled “Why Unemployment Matters” in last week’s Atlantic where she detailed some of the crushing residual effects of being out of work. It’s worth reading and asking the questions: Can we be doing more about this? Should we even be doing anything about it? The answers to these questions matter a lot. Please share your thoughts in comments.
Image via Getty