March 31, 2017

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Android Wear 2.0 is hitting more watches today

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Android Wear 2.0 is hitting more watches today

Yesterday, Google said that an unspecified bug was delaying the Android Wear 2.0 rollout yet again. It looks like the delay hasn’t been too severe though. The company says that Wear 2.0 is now available for five more watches: the Polar M600, Nixon Mission, Fossil Q Wander, Fossil Q Marshal and Michael Kors Access. That’s in addition to the Fossil Q Founder, Casio Smart Outdoor Watch WSD-F10 and TAG Heuer Connected, which Google said were already receiving the update. All told, that’s almost half of the 19 older watches that’ll get the Wear 2.0 update.


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Report: EPA Investigates EPA Head Scott Pruitt For His Climate-Denying Bullshit 

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Report: EPA Investigates EPA Head Scott Pruitt For His Climate-Denying Bullshit 

We all hoped EPA head, Scott Pruitt, would eventually face consequences when he falsely claimed that there was “tremendous disagreement” about whether human activity cause global warming.

The time may have finally arrived.

Reuters reports that EPA’s internal watchdog, the Scientific Integrity Office, is reviewing Pruitt’s patently false statements. In early March, Pruitt said that the global community “need[s] to continue the debate” on global warming on CNBC:

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.””But we don’t know that yet. … We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”

Pruitt’s comments may violate EPA “scientific integrity” policy which requires that the agency respects the consensus of the broader scientific community, rather than dismissing it.

From Reuters:

The EPA Inspector General’s office responded to the Sierra Club on Thursday in an email, saying it had referred the matter to the EPA’s Scientific Integrity Officer, Francesca Grifo, for review. “If after the SIO review, she concludes there is some aspect of the letter itself, or her findings or conclusions that she believes are appropriate for further consideration by the OIG [Office of Inspector General], she will so notify the OIG,” the email stated.

Humans are already seeing the effects of global warming, so it’s hard to imagine what could be less respectful to the scientific community than to dismiss copious peer-reviewed research on climate change and act as if this is a matter of debate or opinion. We’re not discussing which drapes would match the decor of a living room. We’re talking about the greatest environmental threat of our time.

There’s no word on how long the investigation will last, but, if nothing else, maybe Pruitt will think twice (maybe even a third time?) before casually spouting insanity.

[Reuters]


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You Have No Idea How Mysterious Whale Vaginas Are

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You Have No Idea How Mysterious Whale Vaginas Are

mfw I see a whale vagina (Image;
Wwelles14/Wikimedia Commons)

Whale vaginas are an enigma.

That’s because research on cetacean genitalia (dolphins and whales are both cetaceans) is pretty biased towards penis-havers. Comparatively less work has been done studying cetacean lady-bits. So, a team of scientists decided to break down the cetatriarchy in order to really understand these poorly-explored parts.

As it turns out, cetacean vaginas have unusual folds with unknown functions that differ between species. In order to really get deep into what’s going on here, the researchers collected 59 cetacean reproductive tracts from twenty species of cetaceans that had washed ashore and died of natural causes. They sliced the parts up, and measured and counted the vaginal folds.

The researchers found lots of interesting tidbits about the porpoise parts: the average vaginal length was 21 centimeters in their specimens, though the length scaled with the size of the animal. This might not sound surprising, but it actually hadn’t been established—genital size is far more often studied in male cetaceans and male mammals in general.

Let me repeat this last point. There wasn’t enough data to compare cetacean vaginal length, because scientists spend all their time measuring penises instead.

There’s actually a reason for that, though.

“We know a lot less about vaginal morphology in general than we know about penile morphology,” said Diane Kelly, assistant research professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst who used to blog about sex for Gizmodo. “Part of it is that penises are easy to get to. They’re out in front,” she said. “Vaginas are more complex. they’re 3D tubes with complex wall anatomy. For a long time there was this assumption that vaginas are simple—but that’s clearly not true.”

Here comes a picture of a bisected dolphin reproductive tract, because this is science and sometimes science looks like a bisected dolphin reproductive tract.

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‘Skylanders’ learns what Amiibo knew all along: drop the portal

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‘Skylanders’ learns what Amiibo knew all along: drop the portal

If you buy Skylanders Imaginators on the Nintendo Switch, it won’t come with the series’ iconic “Portal of Power” peripheral. Instead, the game chooses to piggyback off of the NFC technology Nintendo built into the console’s controllers. Rather than placing characters on a wired base to transmit figurine data into the game, players merely need to tap their Skylander toys against the thumbstick on the right-hand Joy-Con. That’s it. No more setting up a USB peripheral every time you want to play the game or making sure it’s in reach of the couch. Instead, you just tap and play. Easy.

Although this is a simple, straightforward change that seems like a long overdue evolution to the toys-to-life experience, though it wasn’t really something that could be done until now. Not because the technology didn’t exist, but because it simply wasn’t available on most platforms. Neither the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 have built in NFC readers, and only one of the Wii U’s controllers (the included GamePad) supported the feature. The Switch is the first console to standardize NFC communication in every controller configuration. Finding another way to scan in the Skylanders toys was also necessary to serve players that use the Switch in portable mode.

While it’s certainly easier to play Skylanders without the cumbersome portal accessory, its absence fundamentally changes the game into a more traditional experience. Changing characters in Skylanders typically meant placing a figure on the portal and leaving it there — but after you scan a character into the Nintendo Switch version of the game, you don’t even need the figure anymore. Scanning a toy more than once turns it into an “Instant Skylander” that can be summoned from the game’s menu at any time. This is perfect for players that want to take the game on the go without carrying around a bunch of toys, but it calls the entire concept of the series into question. If you can scan your figures once and play the game without them, does Skylanders even need a toy component at all?

Technically, the game could get away without the physical toys, although that’s not the point. For Skylanders (and other toys-to-life) fans, collecting is part of the fun, and the developer isn’t offering any toy-free options at this time. The portal-free approach doesn’t work for all toys-to-life games, either — LEGO Dimensions features several puzzles that require players to move toys to different portions of its connected figure base, a gameplay element that wouldn’t work with the Nintendo Switch’s single NFC touchpoint.

Still, for Skylanders Imaginators, the change feels like a massive improvement, one that feels a lot like the Amiibo system it’s piggybacking off of. By making the figures a little less necessary, Skylanders on Switch now comes close to mirroring Nintendo’s toy-optional approach to the genre. It’s a less tedious experience. It’s still probably not the future of the Skylanders franchise though.There are far too many figures and portals leftover from previous games to expect Activision to throw away the conceit of the series on other platforms — but if you’re looking for a more minimalist toys-to-life experience, it can be had on the Nintendo Switch.

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Next-gen RAM will be twice as fast … whenever it arrives

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Next-gen RAM will be twice as fast … whenever it arrives

DDR5 memory should have double the bandwidth and density of its predecessor, as well as improved channel efficiency, making it faster and more power-efficient. It will likely find its way into high-end gaming PCs and laptops first, allowing gamers to squeeze every last frame rate out of the most graphically-intensive titles. But a mobile version could also boost battery life and performance in portable devices as well.

JEDEC says it plans to publish the new standards sometime in 2018, which means DDR5 RAM won’t be available to consumers any time soon. Computer manufacturers will need time to build support for the new chips as well, and that could take years. In the meantime, Intel is working on its own memory option called Optane, which combines extremely low latency with the speed of a solid state drive to boost your desktop PC’s performance. ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo are already planning to release Optane-equipped systems sometime this year. If it takes off, DDR5 could be obsolete before it steps off the assembly line.


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Orlando Bloom Is Looking Very Crusty in New Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Footage

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Orlando Bloom Is Looking Very Crusty in New Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Footage

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Reserve with Google will let you book your next yoga class from Maps – GSMArena blog

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Reserve with Google will let you book your next yoga class from Maps – GSMArena blog

Google has announced a new service called Reserve with Google, which, for now, will be able to help you book your next fitness class from your Google Search or even Google Maps app.

With this service, you can look up places around you. If they are signed up for this service, you will be able to book a class with them from within the Search or Maps app. Alternatively, you can search for something like “yoga” and the apps will show you places around you that match your preferred activity and then you can sign up for it. This works on the mobile as well as on the web.

Google is working with top scheduling providers, including MINDBODY, MyTime, Genbook, Full Slate, Front Desk, Appointy, and more to bring you real-time class inventory across the U.S. For now, this service is only available in the US, with variable degree of success depending upon your location.

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Gadget Lab Podcast: Samsung, Baselworld, and the Tablet PC | WIRED

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Gadget Lab Podcast: Samsung, Baselworld, and the Tablet PC | WIRED


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BlackBerry-branded wearables and appliances might soon be a thing – The Verge

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BlackBerry-branded wearables and appliances might soon be a thing – The Verge

BlackBerry announced today that the number of BlackBerry-branded gadgets might soon expand. Although the company doesn’t release much of its own hardware anymore, its name still appears on new smartphones, and now, its licensing practice will apply outside of mobile devices. This could mean the eventual release of branded tablets, wearables, medical devices, appliances, and point-of-sale terminals, all of which will have a touch of BlackBerry DNA. A spokeswoman confirmed to The Verge that every product will feature tech or code from BlackBerry, likely in the form of its security-minded version of Android or enterprise services. In fact, it’s calling this strategy an expansion of the “Enterprise of Things,” which might be the only thing worse than the actual Internet of Things.

So what does this all mean for the once-prolific brand? Well, things are pretty much just keeping on like they have been. The company announced in December that TCL had acquired the global rights to brand its phones with the BlackBerry name. The most recent BlackBerry phones, the DTEK50 and DTEK60, were already made by TCL using parts from the Alcatel Idol 4. With BlackBerry holding such a small share of the smartphone market, it wasn’t a surprise it decided to get into licensing. Now we just have to get used to the idea of seeing the company’s name on everything, like Polaroid.


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