Microsoft Translator Can Now Translate Text From Images

Isn’t it just annoying when you go away on Holiday or spot something and sit there for five minutes wondering what the text even says? Microsoft is looking to make it a little easier on us with a Translator that won’t just do text but can also translate text from images.

While it was available on the Windows Phone since 2010 and managed to provide quick and accurate translations from just looking at a menu. Now the feature is coming to Android (with iOS getting the feature back in February), giving you the ability to quickly load and understand any of the 21 languages the app supports.

The Android app is getting a few other boosters alongside the new feature, with inline translations giving you the ability to hover over text and translate to any of the 50+ online libraries while an additional 30 libraries bring the offline language count to 43 in total.

While Google’s translate app has had the feature since 2012, the fact that even more apps are getting translators built it, for both text and Skype getting to translate calls via its universal translator, it could be only a matter of time before languages online mean nothing but a setting on your PC.

What Happens When a Neural Net Colourizes Images?

We’ve already seen what happens to images when neural networks attempt to process them with Google’s DeepDream providing results varying from weird to nightmarish. This time, a neural network has been let loose with a far less potential for horror, the task? To colourize a number of black and white images with what it believes to be the correct colours based on analysis of a large number of similar images. This is the work of a team of University of California at Berkeley researchers who experimented with the neural network, with the findings being published in a paper titled Colorful Image Colorization.

The results are a mixed bag, with many of the images with simpler or more limited colour palettes seeming almost spot on, while some of the most complex images, such as the Monarch butterfly, are very impressive. Primarily, the algorithm follows simple rules that seem obvious to us, such as areas identified as “sky” will be blue, as will water or that dirt will be brown and developing from this a coloured picture. There are some clear flaws in certain images, though, with colours following outside of the “lines” in more detailed and complex images, and some difficulties with white, resulting in a rather discoloured heron.

The images were also put through a “colorization Turing Test”, where the images were able to fool human observers into believing that they were not originally monochrome images 20% of the time, which may not sound impressive, but when 50% is the expected rate was it almost impossible to distinguish, it is much more so. With neural networks already producing such results from image analysis, you can’t help but image what wonders (or horrors) they will produce next.

Google Makes Photography Tools Free

Google has lots of software under its belt, one of which was the mobile editing app Snapseed. They gained control of this back in 2012 when it acquired the German Developer Nik, creator of Snapseed and several other photography tools. In its latest move with the software, Google has made the photography tools it acquired free.

The photography tools are part of the Nik Collection, a grouping of desktop plug-ins aimed at helping photographers with their images. Below is a list of the tools which integrate with Lightroom, Aperture, and Photoshop:

  • Analog Efex Pro
    • “Explore the look and feel of classic cameras, films, and lenses.”
  • Color Efex Pro
    • “A comprehensive set of filters for color correction, retouching, and creative effects.”
  • Silver Efe Pro
    • “Master the art of black-and-white photography with darkroom-inspired controls.”
  • Viveza
    • “Selectively adjust the color and tonality of your images without complicated masks or selections.”
  • HDR Efex Pro
    • “From natural to artistic, explore the full potential of HDR photography.”
  • Sharpener Pro
    • “Bring out hidden details consistently with the professional’s choice for image sharpening.”
  • Dfine
    • “Improve your images with noise reduction tailored to your camera.”

You can grab the collection from here for free, and if you purchased it (for the previous price of $149) this year you will automatically be rewarded. While the move suggests there will no future support for the tools, the fact that everyone can use them will surely only improve interest in the product and services the company provides.

Images courtesy of Ivan Slade and Saurabh Paranjape

Facebook Acquiring The Masquerade App In Hopes Of Rivaling Snapchat

When it comes to socialising with technology, few haven’t heard of Snapchat. The popular mobile app has over five and a half million reviews average at 4 stars for the popular app. It looks like another social giant will be stepping into the ring though with Facebook acquiring the Masquerade app in hopes of stealing some of Snapchats thunder.

Masquerade (MSQRD) provides similar features to Snapchat, but like its name has a very particular focus. While Snapchat lets you “face swap”, taking your friends face and switching its place with your own, Masquerade can do that with a list of prepared “masks”. From a tiger or a monkey to your favourite celebrities, if you are a looking at swapping faces the App has what you need.

This is only Facebook’s first step, with plans being reported to integrate this technology into the Facebook toolset. Don’t worry if you are a user of Masquerade because the App will remain a free standalone app, it just means that you could soon swap out your friends faces for a monkey or Leonardo DiCaprio at the Oscars.

In a post on their website Eugene Nevgen, CEO of Masquerade, stated that even with they’re partnering with Facebook they will “keep adding fun features”.

Image courtesy of MaximOnline.Ru

Choose Your Cabin Next Time You Go On A Cruise

Cruises are meant to be relaxing times, the natural motion of the ocean flowing against the bow of the ship as you enjoy the sun and sea. The problem is as with most things, there are a lot of things you can’t control when it comes to booking your cruise. Cruisedeckplans.com hope to give you a little more option in choosing your cabin.

Remember when you book cinema tickets, or some flight tickets and you get given the choice about where you sit, knowing if you are against the isle or wedged between two people who have booked but a single seat. Cruisedeckplans is looking to offer you just that for when you are cruising.

While they can’t offer you the ability to customise your own ship, they will let you view what your cabin will look like, and the surrounding area. Don’t like being above the kitchen or under the overhanging deck that will ruin your sunbathing on the balcony? You can now see all of those in a simple interactive service.

If that wasn’t enough, there are 2,800 videos of the cabins available, with over 98,000 pictures of the staterooms to help you decide on your dream experience. With the ability to get paid 50 cents for every stateroom picture that you submit after your holiday, a few holiday pictures could quickly pay back what you spent on that lobster dinner.

Explore Google Maps As Link

When a game gets released there is normally a hype around, helped only by the extra content and materials that are released alongside it. From short videos or web series to limited edition events or releases, but rarely do you see external companies get involved but that’s what’s happened as Google has made it so you can explore Google Maps as Link, the brave adventurer.

The little hero is here to celebrate the release of the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD on the Wii U in Europe and North America today. If playing as the young adventurer isn’t enough for you, then you can now drag the little adventurer anywhere in the world on Google Maps.

As a person who grew up saving the kingdom of Hyrule, fighting off Mario and stopping the moon from destroying the clock tower, being able to do little things like drag Link over the ocean is strangely rewarding.

You will be able to explore with Link till the 10th, the day the game will release in Japan, so for five days feel free to go on adventures but don’t forget to pick up your copy of the game to experience the real adventure.

GALAX Teases Upcoming HOF PCI-E SSD

GALAX, formerly known as GALAXY, is well-known for their amazing graphics cards that push the hardware to the limits of what’s possible and we have also seen them create the same great things with memory modules. The next logical step for the company is to branch out and enter the SSD market.

During our visit to CES in January, we had a first look at the HOF PCI-E SSD although the details were sparse at the time and we didn’t find out when it was to be released either.

What we do know is that it is a PCIe Gen3 x4 interface and the drive is using NVMe rather than AHCI for its connection. This in return results in a much better performance and the officially given ratings will allow the drive to read with up to 2600 MB/s and write with up to 1300MB/s. The random performance is equally impressive with 300K IOPS at 4K read operations and 200K at write operations.

The PCB itself was hidden from us at the time and we could only see the beautiful casing with signature HOF engravings. That changed today as GALAX published more photos, renderings, and real benchmark results on their Facebook page. While the information still is sparse, we get some more information from just looking at these newly shared pictures.

While the finished product is a full-sized card, the PCB itself seems to fit the HHHL standard (half-height, half-length) which should make it compatible with low-profile brackets. Whether such a solution will be released is another matter, but it does open up the options for modders.

Below are the officially released benchmark results which look pretty good to me, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be tweaked a little more with firmware optimizations. There’s still a little work to be done by GALAX and the HOF PCI-E SSD is now officially classified as “near completion”.

Are you looking forward to this storage drive or do you prefer something less extravagant and smaller such as the newer M.2 type drives? Let us know in the comments.

Youtube Adds Handy Blurring Tool to Video Editor

We all use Youtube. We watch everything from funny cats playing musical instruments to the latest music videos. The problem being is that once it’s uploaded to Youtube you can sometimes quickly find that you’ve left something important in. From your friends license plate, to maybe even your address or phone number on a piece of paper hiding in the corner of the screen. What could you do? For just that scenario Youtube has added a Blurring Tool.

While they previously had a blur tool, it was only really built for people who wanted to hide their faces, but now you can go all out and blur anything you feel might require a little bit of privacy. The cool part of the feature is it’s pretty much automated, all you need to do is draw a box around the part of the video you want to hide and the software will do it all for you. If that’s not what you were after you can just lock the box in place and blur even just a part of the screen.

Understanding that the tool has many uses, Amanda Conway, the privacy lead for this tool, stated that they “built the feature with visual anonymity in mind”. Blocking everything from number plates and faces to phone numbers and bank cards, the new tool could save people time with their post video editing.

A Visual Photographic Collage Of China’s Air Pollution

China’s air quality is poor to say the least, recent reports of families having to use an air purifier in their own homes to avoid breathing the air is quite shocking. The atmosphere in China has become worse over time to the point whereby it is difficult to recall a situation when the countries skies were not full of pollution, luckily, China and its Weather Network has produced a visual representation and it’s certainly worth a look.

Below is a series of snaps which has been stitched together and conveys the Beijing sky conditions most for most of the time in 2015, it is quite revealing when you consider how toxic the pollution is and is particularly evident when you look at images labelled 2015-12-1 and 2015-12-25.    

Image Below appears to be a colour chart of images that represent around 300 days of 2015, how do I know? yes I did count them and I came to around 290 days which I rounded up to 300, so give or take it is close to a year in total. The image also conveys the levels of extremes that exist and how it can be a danger to anyone’s health.

Below is an image which is quite fascinating, the sky here looks pretty natural and there is a good reason for this,  “during the Chinese People’s Anti-Japanese War and the World Anti-Fascist War commemoration of the 70th anniversary of victory” celebrations, the government  imposed air “quality protection measures”, this included a shutdown of factories and a ban on cars and high emission facilities. The result was a dramatic change that started from August 20th and continued until August 24th, 2015.

These images are interesting because tech has been used to document a hot topic climate issue in today’s world.

Image courtesy of geonews

VTech Leak Contained Headshots of Kids and Chat Logs

Recently it came to light that VTech had been hacked, potentially revealing thousands of emails and usernames. The hacker has revealed more information though on what was contained and revealed within the hack, the information which was revealed yesterday.

The data that was obtained from the hack contained around 4.8 million users details, but the scope of the information is nothing compared to what the hacker was able to obtain. 200GB’s of images were downloaded from the server containing images of both the parents and child of the registered accounts, coupled with the chat logs between parents and children (some of which are recording of conversations).

VTech suggests using the image so that it’s easier for parents and children to talk and interact through their services. The hacker provided Motherboard with 3,832 image files and at least one audio recording to prove that the information they obtained was legitimate and the scope of the risk from such an amount of data.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the photos, chats and recordings were often linked to usernames, something that normally wouldn’t be a problem but with usernames, address and emails being revealed and even their security questions and answers (meaning that resetting your password would have been an easy task).

While the service has been stopped by VTech while they investigate. The hacker stated, “it makes me sick that I was able to get all this stuff” and I think it’s fair to say that no matter what they do VTech has a lot to answer for.

Facebook Is Sued (Again) This Time For Storing a Billion Face Prints

Facebook’s business model is a paradox for consumers who yearn for privacy yet share their selfies, intimate images and sometimes bizarre postings within its borders. How much privacy would you expect from a company built on making a substantial profit from your data? Facebook has decided to push the storage of your information even further and has subsequently been handed a class action complaint over consumer biometric retention.

So what and who, have Facebook violated this time? According to the filed complaint, Facebook “has created, collected and stored over a billion ‘face templates’ (or ‘face prints’)”, which, ostensibly, are as uniquely identifiable as fingerprints. These have been gathered “from over a billion individuals, millions of whom reside in the State of Illinois”. It is alleged that by harvesting this sensitive data, Mark Zuckerberg is in violation of the state of Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which was passed by the state legislature in 2008.

Now for the punchline, as noted in the complaint, under BIPA a private entity such as Facebook is prohibited from obtaining or possessing an individual’s biometrics unless it achieves suitable consent, which is constituted by the following:

  • Informing that person in writing that biometric identifiers or information will be collected or stored
  • Informing that person in writing of the specific purpose and length of term for which such biometric identifiers or biometric information is being collected, stored and used
  • Receiving a written release from the person for the collection of his or her biometric identifiers or information
  • Publishing publicly available written retention schedules and guidelines for permanently destroying biometric identifiers and biometric information

The group of plaintiffs state that they have not and never had a Facebook account, but their images were uploaded onto the site which resulted in the creation of a biometric template which was then stored by Facebook..

It’s difficult to imagine the social networking giant complying with the current legal and acceptable definitions enshrined in law. If Facebook loses this case then it would effectively open the door to millions of possible claimants who would seek damages for breaches of privacy. This stand-off is very much a .com terms and conditions VS real world laws and consequences, Facebook will no doubt argue that consumers shared this information voluntarily regardless of who actually shared it for the corporation to handle as they wish, one thing is certain; the outcome could pinpoint the paths which define consumer protection in the face of a growing will to collect more and more info by large corporations.

Who owns your image once it’s uploaded onto Facebook or any other site?

Thank you theregister for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of 1en

Japanese Company Wants to Build a Stunning 3D Holographic Display

We’ve been talking about holograms like something out of sci-fi movies, but with today’s technology, it really is possible to make a holographic display. We’ve previously seen this as a DIY project, where a guy showed you how to build your own pyramid-shaped display and use it with your smarphone. Now a Japanese company named ‘SSS’ seems to take it even further and started a crowdfunding project on Indiegogo for a 3D holographic display, dubbed ‘Holo case’.

As with the DYI project, the display is shaped as a pyramid for a full 360 degree holographic effect. The company already has a lot of useful real-world applications for it, from meeting your favourite characters in the ‘real-world’, to displaying expensive jewelery and minimize the risk of it being stolen from the showcase.

“Our mission is realize that thinking about how to interact with the characters. VR is the way we go through the world of character. However, there isn’t the only one answer for it. One of these is studying how to ” invite character into this world ” and we’ve realized it.”

“Here’s the example of exhibiting “authentic” ring in “Holo case”. Although the ring itself is just $10, you can display it just like expensive one by giving effect to the ring. Here’s the mini figure set in Holo case. We can display snowing scene.”

The company says that making an app for the Holo case is easy too. It just takes some animations to display on all sides of the pyramid, and you’re all set! They even say that using a game engine such as Unity3D or Unreal Engine 4 will make life even easier for you. You can find more information about the project over on Indiegogo.

Twitter Removing User Backgrounds

Twitter has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the social media revolution; the ability to tweet updates to millions of followers has revolutionized the world as we know it. But, have you noticed something slightly different about your profile? No, ok, moving on. Seriously though twitter has seemingly removed wallpapers from users home and notifications timelines as of Monday 20th July 2015.

Twitter confirmed that users will now see a stark all-white background in place of their usual customized backgrounds, when viewing their profile, ntifications, and main timeline. A Twitter spokesman stated that “background images are only available where logged-in users will see them publicly i.e. Tweet pages, list pages, and collections pages.”

Safe to say people did not take this well and voiced their opinions on, yes Twitter, with one person pointing out that this was similar to the actions of Myspace before its decline. This decision is also not entirely new considering the social media giant did start to remove backgrounds from new users as of last year, only difference this time is that they have rolled out this idea to everyone.

It seems rather odd and pointless to artificially create a storm over a feature which could so easily have been kept. Whether consumer’s care enough about this news is another story, considering for example Facebook has also had multiple redesigns ranging from the popular to the awful and still retained a significant number of consumers, only time will tell.

Thank you Mashable UK for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of El Dia

Tech Influence In Abandoned Shopping Malls

This may not be the typical tech story, but this links into a potential disaster which is sweeping the colossal shopping malls of the US.

Many years ago shopping malls were the quintessential symbol and a church to the excesses of consumerism. These glorified shopping centres stretched out over much square footage with the aim of offering consumers just about anything under one roof. But over the years, consumers have found it much easier to point and click on an item they wish to purchase online before having it delivered to their door.

The decline of shopping malls has been chronicled by a photographer by the name of Seth Lawless who has written a book entitled “Black Friday” This excellent photographer has included images which he has taken of abandoned shopping malls in the Rust Belt states of Ohio and Michigan. As the image below demonstrates, the desolate shopping malls are akin to games such as Bioshock and Fallout.

That same shopping mall has also been snapped in the midst of winter; the image looks beautiful but obviously answers the question of the stability of the roof. Shopping malls for me will be extinct in time to come, as consumers, we have become accustomed to the simplicity which shopping has become, why would we plod around a mall for four hours while looking for the same thing. The Internet is becoming bigger and bigger but those same items which are available in the real world are shrinking.

Images Courtesy of CNN Money, Seth Lawless and pinterest

Thank you CNN Money for Providing us with this information

Wikipedia Wants to Stop the EU From Banning Photos Taken in Public Places

Do you like to read about public places and see how they look like? Wikipedia is full of the latter information, giving its users a chance to read about all sorts of places of interest. The thing is, Wikipedia is the main source of information when searching for just about anything nowadays.

However, the law that protects sites such as Wikipedia when posting public images is now threatened to be removed by the European Parliament. By the looks of it, Wikipedia is making use of the images while also protecting the respective artists’ rights to the photos, which makes it a win-win for both parties. So why take it down?

By revoking the law, thousands of images will be taken down and I personally consider the move to be a big blow to the access of information. For example, if a student would like to document himself about a certain style of architecture found in a place he cannot visit, why not view a picture of it online?

Freedom of panorama status around the world

The law that allows websites to post images taken in public places is named Freedom of Panorama and you can read more about it over on Wikipedia. They are also urging people to take action and block the EU Parliament’s decision to remove the law. More information about the latter can be found here.

Thank you TheNextWeb for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Add a Rainbow To Your Facebook Picture

The Internet responds in a myriad of ways to current events, from reactions to England winning the world cup for the second, sorry, could not press enter without laughing, to topical memes which serve up a withering critique of current culture. This time around both Google and Facebook have graphically responded to the legalisation of gay marriage in all 50 states with a fun and colourful display of unity.

On a side note, just to veer off topic for a second, I seemed to be under the impression that the USA has 51 states, apparently not, it’s actually 50 states. Back to the topic in hand now, to illustrate the Supreme Court’s decision to bring to an end the ban on same-sex marriage, Facebook have released a feature that will turn your profile picture into a colourful image. If you are logged into Facebook and then click this link, a rainbow will be overlaid onto your Facebook profile pic.

Google has also added this feature within the search engine, if you type “gay marriage” without the quote marks, you should be greeted to a rainbow heart and other colourful artwork. Mark Zuckerberg has released a statement in support of this decision with the following comments which were written on his Facebook profile, go figures that.

“Our country was founded on the promise that all people are created equal, and today we took another step towards achieving that promise. I’m so happy for all of my friends and everyone in our community who can finally celebrate their love and be recognized as equal couples under the law. We still have much more to do to achieve full equality for everyone in our community, but we are moving in the right direction.”

I think this is a clever but fun way to make a bold statement in support of equal marriage rights for same-sex partners.

Thank You Mark Zuckerberg Facebook page for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of Daily Tech

Play Twins or Not With Images and Face API

If you’re being told that you look like someone famous all the time, or just want to check up how familiar you look yourself, then there is a new website for you. The TwinsOrNot.net site allows you to upload and match two images and get a percentual answer on how much the two match.

The site is created by Mat Velloso, the same guy that was behind the how-old.net site. The new site uses the Face API in Project Oxford, a platform of intelligent services, one of the many available in the Machine Learning APIs. The most impressive of all, it was built in just four hours from idea to the finished site function.

People have been using it not just to match with famous people, but also their own family. What side of the family does the new baby resemble the most. Did you grandfather look like you or not? There are many possibilities. People are also having fun by uploading new and old photos of themselves to check how accurate the algorithms are and how much you have changed over the years.

This comes after the initial, and somewhat pointless, method demonstrated to guess the age based on a photo that you provided. If you’d like to check this out yourself, then head on right over to twinsornot.net and start the fun. Upload any two images.

Turn any Image into Lego

Lego, those magical blocks that turned children into amazing creators and sent adults to the foot doctor, has been around for many years. You can buy a random box of Lego and build whatever you want until you run out of bricks, or you could buy a kit and follow the instructions.

This new fan-made website allows you to upload absolutely any image you want and convert it into a Lego instruction kit; telling you how many bricks you need and line by line instructions to the placement.

I personally love Lego, I’m 24 and still buy the occasional set, so I ran a little test to see how it worked. With our logo, it shows me a shopping list of all of the Lego bricks needed to complete in a one block thick creation and the instructions of a row by row construction. Our logo might only be 30 rows high, but it is 200 bricks wide.

This could be a nifty little tool if you ever wanted to show off some awesome Lego skills (well not really awesome as you’re following instructions). Imagine the creations that could be made if this tool enabled image stitching for 3D models.

Would you be interested in using this web site? Let us know in the comments what sort of creations you could make or like to see be made.

Thank you to TechCrunch for providing us with this information.

NVIDIA GTX 980Ti Pictured

The GTX 980Ti, a hot topic for the last few weeks for NVIDIA to try to claw some of the limelight from AMD and the proposed graphics cards. We have heard about specifications, possible release dates, but now we have pictures.

There isn’t much to shout about there, the cooling shroud is that of a typical reference GTX branded graphic card; ‘GTX 980Ti’ smashed in the usual place, a black heat sink and a PCB that look very familiar to the Titan X.

Sadly, when we turn the card over, we can see the very absent backplate, Jensen says “they are not adding backplates, because it would affect tri-SLI airflow.” Just give me my backplate and I will shut up, seriously just give me my own personal engraved backplate.

Early benchmarks can tell us a lot about a graphics card, but the Ti range is slightly odd. Remember back to the GTX 780Ti, when that was released; it pretty much dethroned the original Titan. Let’s hope NVIDIA have reeled this in enough for the Titan X to still deserve the top spot.

With the imminent launch of the GTX 980Ti, are you waiting for the release to choose your new graphics card or will you be waiting on AMD? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to VideoCards for providing us with this information.

Meet the Camera That Uses Light to Power Itself

If you think solar panels are the only thing that use photons to produce power, you might need to read this. Scientists from Columbia University seem to have developed a camera that uses light to power itself.

The camera appears to have been developed in the university’s Department of Computer Science by researchers Shree Nayar and Daniel Sims in collaboration with Mikhail Fridberg, the head of ADSP Consulting in Sharon, Massachusetts.

As for the camera itself, it looks like it uses a simple pixel circuit where its photodiote is used to measure light as well as convert it into electrical energy. This has been made possible by a sensor architecture, which first captures and reads the image and then is used to harvest energy for the sensor’s power supply.

To test it out, the researchers used off-the-shelves components and made two models. One was made using a single pixel based on the design at hand and used it to capture scene images. The next one was made as a fully self-powered camera that outputs 30×40 pictures, using a supercap power supply rather and an external source.

The fully fledged camera was then used to take images in environments with light measuring in at around 300 lux. This resulted in the camera harvesting enough power to keep the supercap above the minimum needed for the camera to take an image per second… forever.

In order to test this out in different lighting environments, the scientists used an adaptive algorithm used to adjust the framerate of the camera based on the voltage of the supercap and the environmental brightness. In the end, the final results got the researchers hyped about the future of fully self-powered solid-state image sensors.

What does this mean for future camera models? Well, post probably it would mean infinite battery life! Or this could even lead to a way to power up your handheld gadgets that feature a camera? Who knows! What we do know is that it is awesome!

Images and videos courtesy of Columbia University

Microsoft “Office Lens” Document Scanner App for Android Beta Released

Microsoft just released the Android beta app for “Office Lens”, an app that allows you to capture notes, business cards, receipts, and other printed material to be saved as a digital file. The app can also capture things like whiteboards and save them as a digital file, a useful tool for capturing meeting notes in the office.

The written text will be recognized with OCR, transforming what was written into text that you can edit. Using the app is very simple, and to start you just open the app and use the camera to capture your image.  The app takes care of the rest by framing, cropping, and enhancing the image. The resulting file can be saved to your gallery, Word, PowerPoint, OneDrive, OneNote, or as a PDF. To get started with the app you will need to join the beta community on Google+ and sign up to test the app.

Source: Android Police

Production Image of the Upcoming Mass Effect Title Revealed

Ken Thain, Bioware’s Cinematic Director, has tweeted a production image of the upcoming Mass Effect title. The tweet states that the team is getting their “motions on at TheCaptureLab in Vancouver. A very cool scene for the next #MassEffect.”

The image shows two actors in motion capture suits getting the animations ready for the game. An image of the game can be seen, though faintly, on the left side of the image. Though the image is not so great and does not reveal a whole lot about the title, it does seem to be a start for Bioware revealing some more content and information about the next Mass Effect.

Bioware’s latest Mass Effect title should be revealed at E3 in June, where the developer is expected to reveal some gameplay footage. Until then, producer Michael Gamble states in his tweet that the title is reaching another milestone soon.

“The ‘Mass Effect’ team is finishing another milestone soon? It’s almost like we are building a real game or something.”

While Gamble seems pleased with the end of the milestone, it still does not reveal what the milestone is exactly. Also, the producer has requested that a race selection should be added for the next iteration in the Mass Effect saga, since its universe was created to be so vast and features a variety of races.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7mX2_163cg

Thank you WCCF for providing us with this information

Battlefield: Hardline Ultra vs Low Graphics Comparison

It looks like GreenManGaming has provided DSOGaming with some Ultra vs Low graphic comparison for Visceral’s Battlefield Hardline. Below you can see the comparison. Note that the Ultra screenshots are the top ones, while the Low are right below the Ultra screenshots.












Thank you DSOGaming for providing us with this information

OkCupid Follows in Facebook’s Footsteps, Admits to be Experimenting on Humans

After the Facebook fiasco and their little research on human behaviour, it seems that its time for OkCupid, the online dating service, to do the same. The service is said to have admitted that it too had manipulated what is shows users in order to see what would happen.

Three examples of the experiment are said to have been posted by OkCupid’s co-founder, Christian Rudder, in an article entitled “We Experiment On Human Beings!”. It can be viewed over at the site’s OkTrends blog.

“OkCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing,” said Rudder. “Neither does any other website. It’s not like people have been building these things for very long, or you can go look up a blueprint or something. Most ideas are bad. Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out.”

It is said that when talking about Facebook and its experiment that involved manipulating users’ news feeds in order to study their real-life reactions, Rudder stated the following:

“Guess what, everybody,” he says, “if you use the internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.”

The first experiment is said to have happened in January 2013, when the website removed all user images and called it “Love is Blind Day”. The user count is said to have been low on that day, but those who were online proved to have responded 44% more often to messages.

The second one involved the user’s rating, a score given to them by other users. Rudder attempted to see how much the user’s profile image counts when rating someone by presenting a small subset of users with their profile text hidden. He stated to have found that only 10% of the typical user’s score is based on what they write about themselves, while 90% is based on the profile image.

The final experiment is stated to have been more “controversial”, having OkCupid tweak with the users’ “match” rating. It is basically used to show people’s “compatibility” rating based on the information given by the user.

“In the back of our minds, there’s always been the possibility: maybe it works just because we tell people it does. Maybe people just like each other because they think they’re supposed to? Like how Jay-Z still sells albums?” Rudder stated

OkCupid has then tweaked the compatibility ratings for most of its users and noticed how many single messages led to a full conversation. The experiment noted that most users do not talk to each other due to the low compatibility ration, for example 20% or 30%. Change those to a 90% and it seems that ‘weird things happen’.

All in all, what Facebook and OkCupid did are far from ethical, but it still underlines a solid truth in all. When information is available on the internet, we tend to trust it more than we trust ourselves. Do we really need a webpage or app to tell us who to love or what to believe in?

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of The Guardian

Reddit Launches its Live-Blogging Platform, Reddit Live

Reddit has officially launched its own live-blogging platform by the named of Reddit Live. The platform was previously in ‘open beta’ for a few months, having covered Twitch Plays Pokemon and the conflict in Ukraine up until now.

It is said that only Reddit employees were able to create live streams and authorize trusted users to contribute to them during its beta stage. However, now anyone can user Reddit Live and submit their own threads to a dedicated subreddit. Compared to normal Reddit posts, these Live posts are said to automatically update in your browser in real-time. The Reddit Live feeds are said to feature embedded support for tweets, which can eventually host images, YouTube videos and article links.

While Reddit is not a traditional publisher, the new addition could become the default platform for user-credited live blogs. The Reddit platform has proven to be an effective crowdsource of online information, but with some difficulties since April 2013 when the website received some harsh reactions to the Boston Marathon bombings. Reddit should be careful in future endeavors if it wants its latest Live platform to steer away from such incidents in the future.

Thank you TheNextWeb for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of TheNextWeb

Smartphone AMOLED Panels Said to be Cheaper than LCD in Two Years

LCD panels have been previously used in smartphones and are still being used in most smartphones today. However, the newest display technology on the market is the AMOLED panel, used in smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 or Note 3, providing improved image quality, but at a much higher price than the LCD panels.

Manufacturers still use the LCD panels in order to bring smartphones at a much cheaper price, having the AMOLED panel’s price at 10-20% higher than the LCD. In an example, it is said that a 5-inch 1080 x 1920 pixels AMOLED panel is said to be 16% more expensive than the LCD counterpart. The good news is that as time passes, new technology becomes more demanding and prices drop. This is said to be the case for the AMOLED panel as well, having said that it will even out or be even cheaper than a LCD panel within two years.

“Until recently there have been few breakthroughs in the production of AMOLED displays, and the OLED industry seemed to be facing hard times,” said DisplaySearch’s Jimmy Kim. “If AMOLED costs fall below LCDs, as expected, it would lead to more opportunities for the OLED display industry, greater competition with LCD, and more choices for consumers.”

It is said that AMOLED production has recently started in China as well as Korea, with expectations for higher demand in the near future. Also, Korean manufacturer, Samsung, is said to have made significant achievements with its Quad HD 1440 x 2560 pixels screen by improving its grayscale and color accuracy, along with its brightness.

Thank you Phonearena for providing us with this information