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September 18, 2014

YouTube now has unreleased stand-up from Dave Chapelle, Louis CK and more

Chris Rock Performs At Day 3 Of The Comedy Festival

Stand-up comedians don't get to just walk onto the set of Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show and start telling jokes. Nope, like just about every other creative field they start small and work their way up -- often for free at first. Yes, even the likes of Tracy Morgan and Sarah Silverman. The Just For Laughs (JFL) comedy festival in Montreal has filmed the countless names that've graced its stage since 1987 and has teamed with YouTube juggernaut Maker Studios to start releasing unseen footage from the fest's archives, according to Variety. Right now its channel only has a handful of clips (including Dave Chapelle, Chris Rock (above) and the late Bill Hicks), but JFL promises three-time-per-week updates are en route. All told, there'll be some 500 hours of performances and when that well runs dry, the outfit plans to add footage from more recent shows. For now, at least, you'll have something funny to sprinkle between Woodstock clips.

[Image credit: Getty Images]

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Via: AV Club

Source: Variety, Just For Laughs (YouTube)

September 18, 2014

We just played with Nintendo’s New 3DS: Finally, an extra analog stick

You might have heard: Nintendo's refreshing its 3DS family with two new models. Both the New 3DS as well as the larger New 3DS XL will arrive with a diddly analog stick just above the action buttons. (Throw away your Circle Pad Pros!) Plus, there's built-in NFC for those incoming Nintendo figurines and a new microSD card reader. Unfortunately, in my fly-by Monster Hunter 4G gaming test, I didn't have the chance to try either of those features -- readers love SD slot close-ups -- but it does offer an estimation of what Japanese gamers will get in less than a month when both handhelds launch. There's still no word on an overseas release for either model, but for now, watch me prove how poor I am at Monster Hunter in our video after the break. No, far worse than that.

This time, I was handling the big-screened New 3DS LL (That's the Japanese version of the 3DS XL), and if we're honest, there really wasn't much difference from my now-obsolete 3DS XL at home on initial handling: the corners are still curved, making it, once again, far more comfortable than the OG 3DS, while both screens are bright and vivid -- perfect for the palette of Nintendo's gaming oeuvre. Now, there's no games that appropriately make the most of the analog stick (at least, not yet). Here at TGS 2014, with Monster Hunter 4G , the right stick was assigned to camera duties, a role it shared with the d-pad and, er, about a third of the touchscreen too. Understandably, the tiny stick was the better option, as it was easier to access and offered a better degree of control.

That's because the new stick has a rubbery finish, while its location means it's easy to nudge a little and then swiftly return to the X, Y, A and B buttons. Then there's those secondary shoulder trigger buttons (which should work nicely with that stick once games arrive): they're a little smaller but they're appropriately spaced enough that you're not going to hit ZR instead of the primary R trigger. It'll be interesting to see how Nintendo handles transitioning between existing 3DS hardware and these new models, which will likely require completely different controller layouts to make those new buttons worthwhile. Both models launch in Japan on October 11th -- and I bravely vow to waste hours and hours on Smash Bros. in the ensuing days to bring you Engadget's official verdict. (You're welcome.)

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September 18, 2014

How a massive black hole looks in an ultra-dense dwarf galaxy

The M60-UCD1 is a dwarf galaxy that's so dense, you'd see 1 million stars at night if you lived in it instead of the 4,000 we typically see on Earth. Now, thanks to data from Hubble, NASA found that the galaxy, which is only 1/500th the diameter of Milky Way, has a humongous black hole that takes up 15 percent of its mass. Compared to the black hole in our galaxy, which has a mass of 4 million suns, M60-UCD1's has the mass of 21 million suns. Just take a look at the artist rendering above to see how a huge black hole would look amidst a super dense collection of stars. NASA, by the way, describes black holes as "a great amount of matter packed into a very small area" with "a gravitational field so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape."

According to the agency, this discovery suggests that dwarf galaxies are actually remnants of larger ones, which collided with other galaxies in the past. Anil Seth, the lead author of the M60-UCD1 study recently published in Nature, says they "don't know of any other way you could make a black hole so big in an object this small." That could change over time, as Hawking and other great minds work to figure out how black holes actually work, because as entertaining as it is to think that they're portals to hell, they're (probably) not.

[Image credit: NASA, ESA, STScI-RCC14-41a]

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Source: NASA

September 18, 2014

You can now tinker with the code of ‘Commander Keen’s’ lost episode

Keen Dreams in DOS

It's easy to indulge your Commander Keen nostalgia with most of the game series, but the "lost" Keen Dreams episode has proven elusive outside of less-than-official copies. As of now, though, you can do something about recreating those adventures through Tuberia -- Javier Chavez and team have fulfilled a crowdfunding promise by publishing legal source code for Keen Dreams' original DOS version. If you want, you can now port the game to newer platforms and otherwise tweak the code to your heart's content. Chavez and crew have yet to get their own ready-to-play edition going, but it's already up for consideration on Steam Greenlight. Consider giving it a thumbs-up if you want to resume your fight against the spud soldiers.

[Image credit: Steve Hall, MobyGames]

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Via: Hacker News

Source: GitHub, Indiegogo

September 18, 2014

Google’s CEO is pushing for hyper-efficient airports and other moonshots

The Google we already know controls our pockets, makes sense of the web and wants to understand our behavior. That one company already has such extensive reach is pretty crazy, which also raises a weighty question: What would a Google 2.0 look like? According to a new report from The Information, CEO Larry Page has been trying to figure out just that. As the story goes, he rounded up the company's brass over a year ago to suss out what big problems were really worth tackling and to set Google's course accordingly.

Some of the concepts, like the creation of a Page-controlled research and development division, only make sense considering all the cool stuff co-founder Sergey Brin has gotten his fingers into at Google X. Still others are, as you might expect from a man worth billions, a little more out there. Consider the tedium of travel -- Page wasn't content to let Google X have all the fun trying to fix transport with its self-driving cars, so he pondered the possibility of making air travel more hyperloop-y by building a new kind of uber-efficient airport (though how it'd work is really anyone's guess). Oh, and the thought of building an entire model city apparently crossed his mind too (might we suggest a self-sufficient oil rig first?). At the very least, one of those Google 2.0 initiatives -- the company's push to make its services available to kids -- is known to be inching toward fruition.

Pushing Google to rethink its role as a major technological force in the world may seem like a big move on Page's part, but that's nothing new. He is, after all, the guy who tried to get rid of all the company's project managers (in fairness, there were only six at the time) in one shot early on in Google's life. The search giant already has a handful of moonshots under its belt, and if Page's plan sticks around, they may just be a sign of a bigger, broader Google to come.

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Source: The Information

September 18, 2014

Engadget Daily: iPhone 6 and 6 Plus review, the future of virtual payments and more!

Did you hear? iOS 8 is ripe for the picking, and lucky for you, we've already taken it for a test drive. Read on for Engadget's news highlights from the last 24 hours, including our iPhone 6 and 6 Plus review, everything you need to know about virtual payments, and more!

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September 18, 2014

Tim Cook lays out Apple’s security policies as iOS 8 arrives

Apple Untaxed Profits

Whatever you think of Apple's commitment to its user's security as of say... two weeks ago, CEO Tim Cook seems to be following up on his promise to bring more clarity to the company's efforts. Tonight he posted a letter to Apple customers on the company's website, launching a new section focused solely on "Apple's commitment to your privacy." There you'll find information information on how to use tools like two-factor authentication, recognize security threats and info on picking a strong password. Also included is the publicly available data on government requests and a little chest thumping on what Apple says it does to protect users that other companies (they mean Google) might not.

[Image credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite]



On iOS 8, Apple hides your device's MAC address when it's scanning for WiFi, which could otherwise be used to track the movement of a specific phone or tablet. Apple claims that unlike its competitors, it cannot bypass your passcode on iOS 8 to potentially unlock data from a device at the request of law enforcement. As of a couple of years ago, this was not the case. Security researcher Justin Case says current/updated Android phones can't have their passcode bypassed either, however it still may exist if the user is securing their phone with an unlock pattern.

Of course, Apple still says that whatever data it does collect on users, could potentially be transferred to another company if it's ever sold or merges -- based on the current stock price that seems doubtful, but who knows. There's a lengthy white paper available (PDF) on its iOS security policies as well, so whether you're just need help locking down some private selfies, doing serious security research or trying to decide if Apple Pay is safe, there's plenty of reading to be done.

Update: Security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski points out that Apple's new iOS 8 protections may not keep all of your data safe by themselves. While "photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders" are protected under the passcode -- that's not everything. Information that could be accessed anyway by existing tools includes your camera reel, videos, iTunes media and all third-party app data. To keep these things secure, Zdziarski recommends turning off your iThing when it's not in use, and for any computers that are set up to pair with them (a trusted computer is necessary to dump the data) to be shut down, and have strong passwords/encryption set up.

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Source: Apple.com/privacy, iOS Security White Paper (PDF)

September 18, 2014

It only costs $9,000 to join this social network

True or False: You don't go on Facebook anymore, because it's such a drag not being able to talk about your private jet's new upholstery. After all, a few of your old friends post regularly about student loan and (gasp) mortgage payments, and it'll make you look like an insensitive prick.

If you answered True, this new social network called Netropolitan hopes you'll be willing to pony up a whopping $9,000 up front to rub virtual elbows with the equally rich. Netropolitan's website describes it as "an online country club for people with more money than time" and is open to anyone over 21 with cash to throw around. There's no need to add friends, since you can see everyone else's post once you get it, but you can form groups around common interests (which, by the way, you can also do on Facebook for free).

This new social network for the elite was created by James Touchi-Peters, a former conductor of the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra, because he "saw a need for an environment where you could talk about the finer things in life without backlash," according to CNN. He promises that the website show no ads and will offer a round-the-clock tech support to help you find your way around it. Netropolitan's still in its very early stages, but if it lasts, you'll have to pay a hefty $3,000 more per year to be able to stay.

If the website's WordPress backend or .info TLD don't suit your taste, though, you can always choose from other exclusive social networks. There's ASmallWorld, which was once described as the "MySpace for millionaires" and Affluence.org, which you can join for free if you can prove a $3 million net worth. Finally, there's Topcom, which is like Facebook, Twitter and Skype combined, but only for the top 200 world leaders.

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Via: CNN

Source: Netropolitan

September 18, 2014

Amazon gives its flagship Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 a modest spec boost

Amazon gives its flagship Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 a modest spec boost

If you've ever seen a TV commercial for Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets, you know the company isn't shy about comparing itself to Apple. Indeed, the retail giant is hoping you'll buy its flagship Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 this holiday season instead of a boring iPad Air. This year, though, Amazon appears to be competing purely on specs: The company just refreshed the HDX 8.9, and while it has the same design as last year's model (20 percent lighter than the iPad, as Amazon is quick to point out!), everything under the hood is just a bit better. A bit faster. The tablet is up for pre-order today for $379, the same price as last year's HDX 8.9. Which makes sense: All things considered, this is a fairly modest upgrade.

For starters, this is the first tablet with Snapdragon's top-of-the-line 805 chip -- a 2.5GHz, quad-core processor that brings a 70 percent graphics improvement boost, according to Amazon. Raw performance aside, Amazon is claiming 12 hours of runtime this year, roughly similar to its predecessor. In addition to that 805 chip, this is also the first tablet with Dolby's Atmos surround sound technology. Naturally, Amazon is quick to say that it's twice as loud as the iPad Air, but that's not really the point. The point is that the sound feels more immersive, like it's coming at you from all directions. Indeed, after getting hands-on, I can confirm the audio is impressive -- if you plug in a pair of headphones. Preferably some over-ears. You're simply not going to get the same effect with just the tablet's speakers, and an Amazon rep admitted in an interview that even in-ear earbuds might not be the same. Still, the next time you find yourself on a plane with some noise-canceling headphones, you could have yourself quite the movie-watching party.

Moving on, the HDX still has an 8.9-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 display with a pixel density of 339 ppi. That said, Amazon added a new "Dynamic Light Control" feature, which changes the white balance of the pages in reading mode to make it look more like paper depending on the ambient light conditions. That means it can go from cool to warm, from blue to nearly yellow. This isn't the first time we've heard of such a feature -- the Samsung Galaxy Tab S works much the same way -- but it's a welcome addition here, especially since the price is staying the same. (If you disagree, Amazon says you can turn that feature off.) Finally, the new HDX has 802.11ac WiFi, a step up from 802.11n. Kind of a no-brainer upgrade, if you ask us.

Other than that, many of the HDX 8.9's improvements boil down to Amazon's new software, dubbed Fire OS 4.0. (Following Amazon's grand tradition of giving its software alcohol-themed code names, this build is called "Sangria.") New features include unlimited online photo storage, the ability to add up to six user profiles, as well as a so-called Family Library where you can share apps, games, books and videos with someone else in the family -- your spouse, say. For the first time, Amazon is also throwing in a word processing suite, WPS Office, which -- surprise -- stores files on Amazon's own Cloud Drive service.

Firefly, a feature first introduced on the Fire Phone, is also making its debut on tablets. If you recall, it basically lets you scan anything you set your eyes on -- and then buy it. Additionally, Amazon ported over its ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) feature from Fire TV, which guesses at which movies and TV shows you're searching for, and gets ready to stream them before you actually hit "play." This time around, the software is built on Android KitKat -- not that this looks anything like Android. If anything, the move to KitKat might make it a little easier for developers to bring over their apps to Amazon's own app store. But as far as the UI, this is uniquely Amazon: easy to use, but heavily skinned.

Though the software contains some useful new features, it's not reason enough to buy the HDX 8.9 specifically: Amazon's other new tablets run the same OS, and last year's models will also get upgraded to Fire OS 4.0. On that note, the 7-inch HDX will still be around, except Amazon is cutting the price by $30 to $199. Always an option if you want the user profiles, but not necessarily the Snapdragon 805 chip. (We can't blame you there.) Again, the new HDX 8.9 is up for pre-order today. Aside from the tablet, there's also a keyboard to go with it ($60) and a new folding "Origami" cover that's about 20 percent lighter than last year's case. Will we review it? Maybe we will; maybe we won't. Either way: You generally know what to expect here.

Terrence O'Brien contributed to this report.

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