A LEGO Robot That Continuously Builds Itself A Taller And Taller Tower To Climb


This is a video of several different LEGO climbing robots constructed by Japanese LEGO builder muniment Bekkan, who likes to "perform physics experiments using LEGO." First up are a couple variations of pole-climbing (but not dancing) LEGO robots, then one that continuously builds and climbs a taller and taller tower using quadruple stacks of DUPLO blocks. That one is particularly clever. Obviously, now you need to construct a giant version and– "Rebuild Notre Dame." Too soon — way too soon. What’s the matter with you? Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to spot-clean my sofa so I can offer Quasimodo a place to crash for a little while like an actual decent human being.
Keep going for the video.

Thanks to Jeffrey S, who agrees even if you build it, he may not come, but he’ll at least watch the video on Youtube.

via Geekologie – Gadgets, Gizmos, and Awesome https://geekologie.com/

April 17, 2019 at 02:27PM

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Bendgate 2.0: Samsung’s $2,000 foldable phone is already breaking


  • Steve Kovach of CNBC had his Galaxy Fold die right along the display crease.

  • The Verge’s Galaxy Fold review unit had something press against the back side of the screen, killing several rows of pixels.

  • A tweet from Mark Gurman: “The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not.”

  • Gurman says, “The phone comes with this protective layer/film. Samsung says you are not supposed to remove it. I removed it, not knowing you’re not supposed to (consumers won’t know either). It appeared removable in the left corner, so I took it off. I believe this contributed to the problem.”

  • From YouTuber Marques Brownlee: “PSA: There’s a layer that appears to be a screen protector on the Galaxy Fold’s display. It’s NOT a screen protector. Do NOT remove it. I got this far peeling it off before the display spazzed and blacked out. Started over with a replacement.”

Samsung’s futuristic Galaxy Fold is launching this month, and the device has already made its way to a select group of reviewers and influencers. During the run-up to the device’s launch, there were concerns about the durability of the folding display, and now after just a few days with the public, the device is already experiencing problems. There are numerous reports of Samsung’s $2,000 device breaking after a single day, sometimes due to poor durability, other times due to user error.

First up, we have a report from Dieter Bohn at

The Verge

, who had a piece of debris get 


the Galaxy Fold display (possibly through the hinge?) and press up against the back of the display. In addition to causing an unsightly bump in the OLED panel, it eventually pressed against the display enough to break it, killing a few horizontal and vertical rows of pixels.

Since the Galaxy Fold folds in half, the flexible OLED display quickly forms a visible crease in the middle. People were worried about the durability of folding a display in half like this, and it looks like Steve Kovach of CNBC has experienced everyone’s worst fear: his Galaxy Fold display broke right along the fold crease—all the pixels in the folding area went black and the screen started flickering like crazy.

We’ve also seen some reviewers peel off a layer of the display on purpose, thinking it was a removable protective layer that many phones ship with. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman shared a gruesome photo of a removed layer of display film, saying, “The phone comes with this protective layer/film. Samsung says you are not supposed to remove it. I removed it, not knowing you’re not supposed to (consumers won’t know either). It appeared removable in the left corner, so I took it off. I believe this contributed to the problem.” The “problem” Gurman is referring to is his totally dead Galaxy Fold display. After removing the layer of the display, first the left half of the display died, then the display completely died.

YouTuber Marques Brownlee also tried peeling off this protective layer, thinking it was just a display protector for shipping. After picking at the layout a bit, Brownlee says “the display spazzed and blacked out. Started over with a replacement.”

Right now we’re at the very edge of viability for folding smartphones, and the Galaxy Fold is the first device from a serious manufacturer that is reaching the hands of the masses. For this first year, foldables are definitely first-generation, early adopter devices, with delicate plastic screen covers, visible display creases, radical new hinge designs, and a variety of competing form factors in development. So far Samsung has been suspiciously protective of the Galaxy Fold, and despite announcing it in February alongside the Galaxy S10, people haven’t gotten to even touch the device until this week.

The early hype for the Galaxy Fold seems to have struck a chord with consumers, with Samsung.com citing “overwhelming demand” and selling out of Galaxy Fold pre-orders in just a day. Devices ship to the general public April 26, so if the final production units have the same problems, we’ll see a lot more reports then. So far, Samsung has not commented on these durability problems. Place your bets on where this issue will rank among exploding smartphones or S-Pens jamming in devices.

Listing image by Mark Gurman

via Ars Technica https://arstechnica.com

April 17, 2019 at 02:41PM

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You can now download the source code for all Infocom text adventure classics


Photograph of a keyboard of a late '80s/early '90s computer.
Enlarge /

The Apple II, one of the myriad personal computers used to play Infocom games years ago.

The source code of every Infocom text adventure game has been uploaded to code-sharing repository GitHub, allowing savvy programmers to examine and build upon some of the most beloved works of digital storytelling to date.

There are numerous repositories under the name historicalsource, each for a different game. Titles include, but are not limited to, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyPlanetfall, Shogun, and several Zork games—plus some more unusual inclusions like an incomplete version of Hitchhiker‘s sequel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Infocom samplers, and an unreleased adaptation of James Cameron’s The Abyss.

The code was uploaded by Jason Scott, an archivist who is the proprietor of


. His website describes itself as “a glimpse into the history of writers and artists bound by the 128 characters that the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) allowed them”—in particular those of the 1980s. He announced the GitHub uploads

on Twitter

earlier this week.

The games were written in the LISP-esque “Zork Implementation Language,” or ZIL, which you could be forgiven for not being intimately familiar with already. Fortunately, Scott also tweeted a link to a helpful manual for the language on archive.org.

Dive in and you’ll find that things are very different now than they were then. At the time Infocom was active, personal computers did not have a widely shared architecture, so the path ZIL’s architects took was to allow game creators to write instructions for a virtual machine called the Z-machine, which was then brought to the various platforms of the day. There are interpreters available today for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android, among other platforms.

The interactive fiction community is still quite lively, and people are still making games using ZIL and the Z-machine today. But they’ve been joined by creators using new tools for spinning interactive, text-focused games like Twine and Ink, some of which are used as middleware in modern graphical game productions big and small.

The news was reported by Gamasutra, which covers news for the game developer industry. The site also noted that Activision still owns the rights to Infocom games and could request a takedown if it wanted. For now, though, historians, narrative designers, programmers, and gaming enthusiasts alike can benefit from Scott’s effort.

via Ars Technica https://arstechnica.com

April 18, 2019 at 05:35AM

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The $9,000 Surface Hub 2S Is a Gigantic Windows Screen With Special Wheels to Scoot Around on


Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

It seems like every day there’s someone in a fancy office talking about how teamwork and collaboration is the key to success. And yet, most of us are still stuck with the same infuriating video conferencing tools that make people want to give up.

But the Microsoft Surface Hub 2S feels a bit different, a bit more advanced, and it might actually deliver on the promise of making collaborating with your coworkers just a bit less painful.

Sporting a big 50-inch screen with a 3840 x 2560 resolution and a 4K webcam, the Surface Hub 2S has everything you need to see up to four teammates at approximately life size all at once in full HD. But the real advancement for the Surface Hub 2S is when you pair it with one of Steelcase’s rolling stands and a built-in battery designed by APC—well-known makers of uninterruptible power supplies. Then, the Surface Hub 2S becomes a portable screen that’s damn simple to drag around to wherever you need it.

Featuring an estimated battery life of around 100 minutes, the Surface Hub 2S should be able to make it through a whole meeting without being plugged in, though in most cases, that’s probably overkill as you’ll only need to unplug it when moving from one conference room to another. And because the Surface Hub won’t shut off when you yank out the cord, you don’t have to worry about losing your work if you need to move that big screen around.

I’m not sure if it takes this long to import images all the time, but regardless, it’s faster than drawing the original picture a second time.
GIF: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

But the most impressive thing about the Surface Hub 2S is just how slick it is. In Microsoft’s Whiteboard app, there’s a tool that can automatically read your handwriting, and then automatically “beautify” it so that anyone you work with isn’t forced to try to decipher your chicken scratch. Then there’s another feature that can import a regular picture, and then transform it into a digital drawing, as if it had been inked in the Whiteboard app.

Of course, like the rest of Microsoft’s recent computers, the Surface Hub 2S comes with full precision Windows Ink support and an included stylus. Also, I have to mention I appreciate the Surface Hub 2S’ matte screen, which does a good job of cutting down on reflections while also giving it a nice texture for sketching or jotting down notes.

Here’s a closer look at the Surface Hub 2S’ included battery, which should make moving the thing from one room to another much less of a hassle.
Image: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

And in case a 50-inch screen just isn’t enough, there’s also an 85-inch version of the Surface Hub 2S that Microsoft cleverly designed so that when the smaller version is set up in portrait mode, it lines up perfectly with an 85-inch model in landscape orientation.

No, you won’t be able to complain about not having enough screen.
Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

That said, I can’t comprehend where this tech finds its market. With a starting price of $9,000 for the 50-inch model, the Surface Hub 2S is anything but cheap, even for large businesses. And that’s before you figure in Steelcase’s wheeled $1,450 Roam stand, which with its built-in storage area for the Hub 2S’ battery, is kind of an essential accessory.

But if you’re an IT manager with a lot of money looking to gear out your office, the Surface Hub 2S might be the most ballin’ collaboration tool Microsoft has come up with yet.

via Gizmodo https://gizmodo.com

April 17, 2019 at 01:03PM

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Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini robots are strong enough to haul a box truck


How many SpotMini robots does it take to haul a big truck? Just 10, apparently. Boston Dynamics’ new video shows 10 of its canine-inspired machines attached to a box truck like sled dogs, pulling it across the company’s parking lot with a one-degree uphill slope. There was a driver behind the wheel during the demonstration, probably to prevent accidents, but the vehicle itself was in neutral.

Boston Dynamics built the all-electric SpotMini as a quadruped robot that weighs 66 pounds. The machine can run for up to 90 minutes, depending on what it’s doing — its battery life is probably a lot shorter than an hour-and-a-half when it’s hauling trucks, though. It has 3D vision cameras, as well as a suite of sensors for navigation and mobile manipulation. The robotics company said it’s the quietest machine it has ever built… and it’s now almost out for purchase.

SpotMinis are now coming off the production line and "will be available for a range of applications soon." Seeing as it can carry payloads up to 31 pounds, has an arm that can handle objects, and can go up and down the stairs, it could be used for warehouses or maybe even for search-and-rescue missions in the future.

Source: Boston Dynamics (YouTube)

via Engadget http://www.engadget.com

April 17, 2019 at 02:36AM

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Microsoft didn’t want to sell its facial recognition tech to California police


When it comes to facial recognition, it seems Microsoft truly has been trying to do good. Company president Brad Smith has revealed that the tech giant recently turned down a request from law enforcement to equip officers’ cars and body cameras with face recognition tech. The California department apparently wanted to run a scan every time an officer pulls anyone over.

Smith said Microsoft rejected the contract due to human rights concerns — it believes the technology’s use for that particular purpose could lead a disproportionately large number of women and minorities being held for questioning. Face recognition systems still struggle with gender and race bias, because they’re mostly trained on photos of white male subjects. As a result, they’re more likely to misidentify women and persons of color. That said, the tech giant has been working on improving its technology’s capabilities across skin tones and gender.

The company president made the revelation at a Stanford University human-centered artificial intelligence conference. While the company did sell its technology to an American prison after determining that its use in such an environment would be limited, Smith said Microsoft turned down a contract offered by an unnamed country. The nation, which democracy watchdog Freedom House didn’t deem "free," wanted Microsoft to install face recognition on the cameras keeping a close eye on its capital city.

Smith’s explanation for the company’s decision echoes its reasons behind its call to regulate the technology. He told the Congress last year that as the technology of the moment, facial recognition has "broad societal ramifications and potential for abuse."

Source: Reuters

via Engadget http://www.engadget.com

April 17, 2019 at 08:21AM

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Intel Exits 5G Smartphone Modem Market; Other Client Modem Businesses to Be Reviewed


With today’s announcement out of Apple and Qualcomm that the two fierce rivals have buried the hatchet for good, the situation immediately put into question the fate of Intel’s modem business. As Intel’s only major smartphone modem patron, Apple’s business and enormous order volume made Intel’s smartphone modem business an all-or-nothing affair. Now, as Apple and Qualcomm are seemingly reconciling towards Apple once again using Qualcomm’s modems, Intel has sent out an announcement this afternoon that they are bowing out of the 5G smartphone modem market entirely.

In the brief announcement, Intel stated that it was scrubbing its plans to launch 5G modems for smartphones, including modems planned for next year, i.e. the smartphone version of XMM 8160. Intel’s rationale here, while not mentioning the Apple/Qualcomm deal, is rather simple, with Intel’s CEO, Bob Swan, noting that the company doesn’t see a “clear path to profitability and positive returns.” Without a major customer, there won’t be an opportunity for Intel to make back their R&D costs.

Note however that this doesn’t mean Intel is getting out of smartphone modems entirely, at least not right away. The company’s announcement is also making it clear that Intel will continue delivering 4G modems to current customers (e.g. Apple) to meet their sales commitments. So while we won’t see any Intel-powered phones in the 5G era, Intel will remain a fixture in the 4G era – at least as long as Apple keeps buying modems from them.

Meanwhile Intel is also announcing that alongside canceling their smartphone modem plans, they’re also going to use this opportunity to reevaluate the rest of their client modem portfolio. Intel’s plans for the XMM 8160 took it well beyond smartphones, with plans for putting it in devices like PCs and broadband access gateways as well. Now the company needs to figure out if these plans still make sense – if the XMM 8160 will be competitive in these markets, and if continued development and manufacturing make sense without a large smartphone customers. At this point Intel faces an uphill battle in the rest of the client modem market, and there’s a very good chance that Intel’s reevaluation will find that there’s no place for the company in this highly competitive market.

Interestingly however, while Intel is on a path to throwing in the towel on client 5G entirely, the company is also making it clear that they intend to stay in the lucrative 5G infrastructure market, and that today’s announcement is only about client products. To use Intel’s favored buzzword here, the company is still driving hard on its data-centric approach to chips, which means they continue to be invested heavily in servers, infrastructure, and AI.

Ultimately, if this is to be the end of Intel’s client modem business, it’s certainly been one heck of a ride for the group. After supplying modems for all of Apple’s 2G and 3G iPhones as Infineon’s wireless solutions group, the modem business was sold to Intel in 2011, who largely struggled with the business since then. Intel’s 4G modems were late to market, and there are still debates over whether they’re as good as the best 4G modems available today. As a result, Intel was never able to recapture the same kind of success the group saw in the 2G/3G era.

via AnandTech http://bit.ly/phao0v

April 16, 2019 at 07:10PM

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