Posts Tagged ‘hands’

Antec Kühler H20 650 Review

Antec Kühler H20 650 Review

Manufacturer: Antec
UK price (as reviewed):
US price (as reviewed): $69.99

If you’ve got around £50 to spend on a CPU cooler, then you’ve got quite a decision on your hands. There are dozens of great examples – both air and liquid-cooled to choose from and most of these will fit into your average enthusiast case too. Decisions aren’t based just on cooling performance either; there’s also noise to consider and in some cases colours and bling too as we saw with the Phanteks PH-TC14PE.

Of course, all-in-one liquid coolers are still very much in the limelight and if we had the option, they’re probably where our money would go. They top our cooling graphs and many cost less than some of the large premium air coolers out there too. We recently looked at Antec’s Kühler H20 950, which received awards for both our test systems thanks to great cooling, excellent software control and easy mounting. However, if £60 is your limit but you still want to delve into liquid cooling, then Antec has a slightly cheaper option.

Antec Kühler H20 650 Review
The Kühler H20 650 is essentially a half height radiator, single fan-version of the Kühler H20 950 and retails for a more modest £55, which is one of the cheapest all-in-one liquid coolers we’ve seen. It still features the combined fan and pump assembly as its bigger brother as well as the directional blades at the rear to focus airflow.

Antec Kühler H20 650 Review Antec Kühler H20 650 Review
Thermal paste is pre-applied and there’s the same mounting mechanism employed as the Kühler H20 950 too with a ring locking onto the cooler and securing using thumb screws with a backplate used on LGA115X and AMD systems. There’s surprisingly few bits to contend with but that’s exactly the way it should be, especially with anall-in-one liquid cooler.

Antec Kühler H20 650 Review Antec Kühler H20 650 Review
The radiator as we’ve already mentioned is a half height model but while it won’t be able to keep up with full size examples like the larger Kühler H20 950, we’ve found they’re not far off in cooling terms and take up less space too. The contact plate and waterblock, being minus a pump, is very low profile indeed so this is one of the more compact all-in-one liquid coolers we’ve tested. The single fan is actually controlled using an on-board temperature monitor rather than tapping into the motherboard’s fan signals, with the temperature also feeding into an illuminated plate on top of the waterblock, which changes colour.

Antec Kühler H20 650 Review Antec Kühler H20 650 Review
When we looked in the box, we assumed there were two fans, however, the extra fan-shaped contraption is a standoff, which Antec claims reduces resistance at the rear of the radiator between it and the case, improving airflow. The extra screws provided can of course be used to mount an extra fan too. Sadly, one thing that is missing is software control – there’s no way to manually control the fan so you’re left at the mercy of the integrated firmware dishing out fan speeds based on the temperature.


  • Compatibility Intel: LGA775 and LGA1366 LGA115x, LGA2011; AMD: AM3(+), AM2(+), FM2(+), FM1
  • Radiator size(mm) 120 x 159 x 27
  • Fan size (mm) 120 x 120 x 25 (W x D x H)
  • Fan(s) 1 x 120mm, 600 -2,400RPM
  • Tubing length 300
  • Waterblock height (mm) 26
  • Stated Noise not stated

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Microsoft Build 2014 keynote: the highlights

Microsoft Build 2014 keynote: the highlights

Microsoft’s Build keynote this year included plenty of surprises, from universal apps that can run on Windows devices as well as the Xbox One to the impending return of the Start Menu.

Attendees at Microsoft’s annual Build summit last night were treated to a three-hour keynote speech in which the company announced some dramatic diversions from the norm – including free copies of Windows for phones and tablets, the return of the Start Menu, and Windows apps on the Xbox One.

It’s usual for Microsoft to queue up announcements for the Build event, which is the biggest in its calendar; it’s not usual, however, for it to have quite so many announcements to make as during its keynote session at last night’s opening. Some of the changes, in particular the release of free copies of Windows for mobile devices, will likely have a heavy impact on the future of the company – and it’s not hard to see new chief executive Satya Nadella, a man who has already bemoaned the company’s delayed entry into the mobile market, as the driving force behind much of what occurred last night.

Windows 8.1 Update 1
Microsoft announced the impending launch of Windows 8.1 Update 1, the first major overhaul for what was previously known as Windows Blue. Much of the changes are user experience oriented, rather than under-the-hood overhauls, and many will be welcomed by users: the Desktop and Modern UIs are to be more closely linked, with Modern UI apps being accessible in windowed form from the Desktop interface – allowing a mixing of old and new which was previously verboten.

The new update will also include faster access to the Windows Store – more on which later – by pre-pinning it to the taskbar, and the ability to power off or restart your PC, perform searches and access settings are now available on the main Start Screen instead of hidden off to the side. The update, Microsoft has confirmed, will launch on the 8th of April – the same date, coincidentally, that Windows XP enters official end of life (EOL) status.

The biggest change, however, will have to wait for a future update: the reintroduction of the Start Menu, the absence of which is many users’ biggest bugbear surrounding Windows 8 and newer. Based heavily on the Windows 7 Start Menu, the new version will integrated selected functionality – like Live Tiles – from the Start Screen in an attempt to create a hybrid that will appeal to all. No formal date has been offered for its availability, however.

Mobile Push
A large portion of the keynote was dedicated to Microsoft’s increasingly heavy push to mobile users, where is software is in a distinct minority. As well as new Windows Phone 8.1 devices from Nokia and Samsung, the company confirmed that the new release – a free upgrade to all Nokia Windows Phone 8 handsets – will include an Action Centre which appears to riff on the similar functionality available in Google’s rival Android platform.

The company also announced Cortana, its answer to the popularity of voice-activated assistants Google Now and Siri. Based on the artificial intelligence from the Halo series – which, as a major plot point, went crazy, so that’s an interesting marketing angle to take – Cortana will be a standard feature of Windows Phone 8.1.

Finally, Microsoft made what could possibly be the only announcement that could give it real impetus in the fight against Google: Windows will now be licensable at zero cost on all smartphones and tablet devices with a screen size of less than nine inches. Although Google’s basic Android OS is also free – and, in fact, largely open-source – the company has charged for access to the Google Play app store and other Google-specific functionality, while Microsoft’s impressive portfolio of patents has been used to ‘encourage’ Android licensees – including big names like Samsung – to pay Microsoft a fee for every handset shipped.

To put it bluntly: Microsoft’s free Windows for mobiles is cheaper than Google’s free Android – no mean feat.

Universal Apps
The final surprise of the event was confirmation of a long-held rumour that Microsoft’s Xbox One console will be able to run Windows applications. Using a new cross-platform runtime environment, Microsoft explained, developers will be able to build apps that can run on Windows, Windows RT, Windows Phone and Xbox One – and buyers can pay once to run the app on any of the aforementioned devices.

The move doesn’t exactly open up the Xbox ecosystem – apps available on the Xbox One will be even more heavily curated than those available on Windows Phone, with developers needing to seek Microsoft’s approval – but with promises that DirectX 12 will lead to similar cross-platform functionality for games, it’s hard to see it as bad news.

If the above summary isn’t enough for your appetite, the full keynote session featuring speakers David Treadwell, Joe Belfiore, Stephen Elop, Terry Myerson and new leader Satya Nadella is available for your three-hour viewing pleasure.

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Predator DLC confirmed for Call of Duty: Ghosts

Predator DLC confirmed for Call of Duty: Ghosts

Guest star Predator was teased last week in an Instagram video but rumours have been confirmed by the DLC’s launch trailer.

Call of Duty: Ghosts is soon to include Predator from the film of the same name as of a new piece of downloadable content launching this week.

The new DLC pack, Devastation, will feature an appearance by the methodical alien hunter in a jungle-based multiplayer map set in a ruined Mayan temple. The Predator’s inclusion was first teased by developer Infinity Ward last week over Instagram.

Predator’s cameo is only a small part of the Devastation pack which will also include four new multiplayer maps and part two of the four-player co-op story mode Extinction. The second part is called Mayday and will include a gargantuan Kraken for players to fight against.

A new small machine gun, the Ripper, will also be introduced to the game which Ghosts season pass holders already got their hands on earlier in March.

Devastation launches on April 3 on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The DLC is currently part of an exclusivity deal with Microsoft and it is unclear when the time limit on this expires, allowing release on other platforms.

Call of Duty: Ghosts launched in November 2013 and was one of the launch titles for both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4. Hype building up to the game’s release often focused around Infinity Ward’s decision to finally put female playable characters into the multiplayer and the inclusion of a dog in the single player campaign. Ghosts was generally well received critically bu with a few comments that the single player was tedious and derivative.

At present, Ghosts has seen its first piece of DLC, Onslaught, which was released in January. After Devastation, a further two DLC packs are planned for the title.

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AMD unveils FirePro W9100 16GB GPU

AMD unveils FirePro W9100 16GB GPU

AMD’s FirePro W9100 offers a massive 16GB of GDDR5 memory, connected to a Hawaii GCN GPU offering up to five teraflops of single-precision compute power.

AMD has announced its latest workstation-oriented graphics board, the FirePro W9100, which packs an impressive 16GB of GDDR5 memory – nearly three times that of its predecessor the FirePro W9000.

The AMD FirePro W9100 is based around a 28nm implementation of the Graphics Core Next 1.1 ‘Hawaii’ architecture, an upgrade from the GCN 1.0 ‘Tahiti’ of its predecessor. Although full specifications aren’t due to be announced until early next month, the company has confirmed an increase from 2,048 stream processors to 2,816 and from 128 texture units to 176. The result: five teraflops of single-precision compute performance, or 2.67 teraflops of double-precision.

Now, to put that into perspective, Nvidia’s latest GeForce GTX Titan Z board offers eight teraflops of single-precision performance, but requires two GPUs in which to do it – and each GPU has access to only 6GB of the shared 12GB GDDR5 memory. The FirePro W9100, on the other hand, has only a single GPU which has the entire 16GB to itself – and, the company has confirmed, the boards will support stacking of up to four cards via CrossFire for systems that require higher performance.

The board, AMD explained during its press conference, is designed for those working on ultra-high resolution projects. As well as the increasingly popular UHD and 4K resolutions, the company has claimed to be seeing demand from markets looking to work with resolutions as high as 8K – which needs a significantly larger framebuffer than the company’s previous FirePro W9000 6GB could offer.

Official pricing for the FirePro W9100 has yet to be confirmed, but those interested in getting their hands on one – or four – can expect to dig deep: as professional products the FirePros demand a hefty pricetag, the FirePro W9000 launched in August 2012 at $4,000 and the W9100 should easily smash that figure when it formally launches on the 7th of April.

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Corsair Raptor K40 Review

Corsair Raptor K40

Manufacturer: Corsair
UK Price: £52.99
US Price: $49.99

Although mechanical keyboards have dropped in price significantly in recent years, you still have to pay quite a premium for one with backlighting and other ‘gaming’ features. That’s where the likes of the Corsair Raptor K40 come in. This keyboard eschews mechanical keys in favour of multi-colour backlighting, extra programmable keys and multimedia keys, all while keeping the price just a speck over £50.

Corsair Raptor K40 Review
The Corsair Raptor K40 may look just like its more expensive siblings, the Corsair Vengeance K90, K70 and K65, with its black base, non-sunken keys and silver trim, but it’s different in one crucial way: it doesn’t feature any aluminium in its construction. The Vengeance line incorporate, to various degrees, hefty slices of brushed aluminium to give a nice premium feel. In contrast the K40 is all plastic, with its silver section being painted on.

Otherwise it’s a smart-looking well put together keyboard. The black and silver combination looks great and there’s a nice consistency to the matt finishes used – fingerprints on shiny surfaces won’t be a problem here. There’s a bit of flex if you pick it up and twist it but set flat on a table or lap it provides a secure typing surface.

Corsair Raptor K40 Review
The K40’s cable is 2m long, which is plenty, but isn’t braided and there are no routing options, with it projecting straight out the middle of the back. Meanwhile underneath there are the standard pair of extendable feet for raising the keyboard’s angle of attack. No wrist rest – squishy or otherwise – is included.

In terms of features you’ve got pretty much everything here. There are six dedicated macro/gaming keys, full adjustable backlighting that can be set to one of 16.8million colours and of course there are multimedia controls too.

Corsair Raptor K40 Review
The macro keys are ranged down the left edge, where they’re reasonably convenient. We sometimes find that we place our hands incorrectly when extra keys are added here – after all, by habit the pinky always goes on the bottom left most key – and so it is with this keyboard but with practice you learn to avoid this.

The backlighting is very good quality. Corsair has managed to ensure there is absolutely no backlight bleed from this keyboard, which makes for a very neat effect. In contrast the backlighting from, in particular, most mechanical-switch keyboards tends to flood out from underneath the keys, illuminating the base of the keyboard. This somewhat dents the visual appeal of them. This is something that particularly effected the stealthy credentials of the CM Storm Quick Fire TK Stealth for instance.

Corsair Raptor K40 Review
You can of course adjust the backlighting too. There’s a button on the top right edge of the keyboard for adjust intensity, with it cycling through four different levels, including off. For changing the colour you’ll have to download, install and open up the driver.

The 16.8 million colours can be adjusted via RGB sliders, picking from a selection of eight predefined colours or using the full colour chart. There’s also the option to have the ‘true colour’ or the nearest equivalent with maximum brightness. The lighting can also be set to pulse on and off or cycle through the colours, with a further option to have these come on only when the keyboard is idling. It’s an impressively comprehensive selection of options, though the one obvious missing feature is individual or zonal lighting – here it’s all or nothing.

Corsair Raptor K40 Review

We do have one further complaint about the backlighting, which is that it isn’t all that bright, particularly when viewed from a slight angle (i.e. the angle you type at). It’s sufficient for most scenarios but is noticeably dimmer than, for instance, the Logitech G710+. Not that we can think of a circumstance where this would be much of a problem but the point stands.

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Interview: London Evening Standard

Leto has made his entrance tonight in a black hooded coat, wielding a baseball bat; more LA drugs dealer than the politically engaged figure in an oversized bow tie he cut at the Oscars. With suitable drama, he throws off the jacket to expose the full glory of his rock Jesus look — shades, man-leggings, tunic skirt, sleeveless T-shirt — whereupon he unleashes his power-vocals on to his fans for two adrenaline-fuelled hours: jumping, grinding, sprinting and simultaneously flirting with what feels like every single member of the crowd. ‘I don’t dive into the mosh pit any more,’ he whispers to me on a break. ‘It’s the fastest way to lose your penis. And I’m proud to say mine is still intact.’

The show is part full-on rock extravaganza, part interactive Leto comedy routine. ‘Hey you,’ he cries into his mic. ‘Great mullet, man. That’s my next haircut. Business at the front. Party at the back.’ This culminates with a stage invasion and a mass selfie, his second of the week: the 42-year-old in a huddle of ecstatic Scandi teens.

It is curious, to some, that Hollywood’s man of the moment would disappear off in the vital afterglow of his Best Supporting Actor win to revel so intimately with the global masses. But then Leto doesn’t follow protocol. Six years before his return to film as Rayon, an HIV-positive, pre-operative transwoman in Dallas Buyers Club, he walked away from Hollywood to tour with his band despite consistent critical acclaim for his gritty, transformative roles. Leto has eschewed the blockbuster juggernaut to success in favour of the slow train, via occasional, challenging roles in the likes of Requiem for a DreamFight Cluband Panic Room. Plus, he has other commitments. He is not only a method actor and singer-songwriter, but a video and documentary producer-director, photographer, painter, businessman and activist. ‘I just follow my gut — as Andy Warhol said, “Labels are for cans not people,” ’ he tells me after the gig.

All this makes Leto a very busy man. After partying all night at the Oscars (‘It was pretty f***ing fantastic to see all those Hollywood dreamers letting loose with such abandon. I looked over and my mother was dancing with Madonna’), and taking a hangover hike to Malibu, he flew to Paris for meetings, the Miu Miu fashion show and more fun: his close friend the photographer Terry Richardson was in town and shot him for this magazine before Leto attended an obscure music awards in Finland, his every word and move pounced on by the global media.

Finally, at 1am, I am whisked past a line of deflated-looking groupies into his dressing room. They eye me up along the corridor, turning a pale shade of green.

‘I’m starting to come down off the week-long pink-cloud high now,’ he tells me, dishing me up some of his tomato soup and a vegetable curry (he is vegan). I can confirm that there is no beer backstage. And I’m a little disappointed that he’s come down from jacked-up flirting mode. Tonight Leto is more business at the front, party at the back.

We start sensible: he doesn’t seem the type, I say, to care about Hollywood accolades. ‘I don’t.’ He slumps down on a black leather sofa. ‘But I would never say, “I don’t give a shit about the Oscars,” because it’s not the whole truth. It’s not about the shiny, naked golden man, or the pat on the back, it’s about being able to stand on a world stage for two minutes in front of a billion people and say something that is meaningful, important to you.’ Leto name-checked his older brother, best friend and bandmate 44-year-old Shannon, his single mum, AIDS victims, outsiders in general, and those fighting for their dreams in Venezuela and Ukraine. ‘I could have really taken the piss. But I didn’t want to wing it with this one. I prepared. I wanted to keep it classy.’ By contrast, at the Independent Spirit Awards, he poked fun at the rumours that constantly trail him: by reputation he is a legendary lothario, recently linked with Lupita Nyong’o, Miley Cyrus and his ex-girlfriend Scarlett Johansson. He thanked ‘all the women I’ve been with, and all the women who think they’ve been with me’ as well as his ‘future ex-wife Lupita’. He tweeted selfies of the pair together in Paris, presumably to cause a stir. It has since been confirmed that they are not, in fact, dating.

At the Golden Globes he shared with Hollywood’s finest that he had waxed his entire body to play Rayon, but stopped short of a Brazilian and had not used prosthetics. What did he do with his male appendage, I ask now — strap it back? ‘A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. But, let’s just say, there are times when you’re not as prepared as you’d like to be…’ he answers cryptically, raising an eyebrow.

Leto seems to flit between composed, pale blue-eyed earnestness and cheeky provocation. ‘I thought about dragging up for the Oscars, going as Rayon, because I knew that she would have loved to be there,’ he says. ‘It’s so much work for girls to get ready. I was brought up by my mum, so I always had an appreciation of women. But now I have more respect for the process. It’s a lot, what women have to do to themselves. But in the end, when you put that final dash of lipstick on and your look all comes together, it really is a glorious reward.’

His sassy, fragile and very human portrayal of Rayon — ‘a hot mess’, as he calls her — and his thoughtful acceptance speech made Leto the true hero of Oscars night. The industry seems to have fallen for a man who, by playing the basic principles of hard-to-get, cannot be fully seduced by it. Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, Oprah Winfrey all approached him with open arms on the night, Stevie Nicks gave him the necklace he is now wearing, Al Pacino has since ‘reached out’ — they are due to meet for coffee — and there have been several calls from the White House. ‘There are some exciting proposals. But I don’t know how much more I’m allowed to say. I probably need to clear it with the CIA first.’ Leto is a vociferous Obama supporter and raised funds for the 2008 re-election campaign. He has protested against California’s Proposition 8, which aimed to overturn same-sex marriage, and raised money for Haitian Relief as well as human rights and environmental charities.

I wonder if he is considering another career, in politics. ‘My mum was a teenager when she had us; she used food stamps to feed us, she got helped by social services to go back to school and train as a nurse to try to give her kids some stability. So if I can help or be of service in any way…’ he says. ‘But you know what? I’m too impatient. I’d probably swear in a speech. As George Clooney says, “I’ve f***ed too many chicks and done too many drugs to be in politics.” ’

It’s hard to reconcile Leto the wild front man with the committed method actor who performs extreme feats of self-remoulding in order to morph into his dark, outsider roles. The road to this is more lonely and torturous. During filming for Dallas Buyers Club, Leto only ever appeared on set as Rayon, not ‘meeting’ his co-star Matthew McConaughey or the other actors until after they had wrapped. He even donned lipstick and a pink fluffy jumper and flirted his arse off for his first Skype meeting with director Jean-Marc Vallée. ‘Maybe if I was making romantic comedies, there’d be more immediate silliness, more hanging out in each other’s trailers,’ he tells me. ‘I’ve never really had the kind of joy I experience with the band on set, but then I’m not really looking for that.’

Leto likens his process to ‘being a sculptor’. He lost two stone, lived rough on the streets and abstained from sex with his then girlfriend Cameron Diaz to become the drug-addicted Harry Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream in 2000. He force-fed himself into obesity, putting on five stone to accurately portray John Lennon’s killer Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27 in 2007, for which he eventually suffered gout and was temporarily confined to a wheelchair (take that, Shia LaBeouf). In Mr Nobody, he underwent six hours of make-up to play a decrepit 118-year-old. Like his character Angel Face in Fight Club, who is happily freed from the prison of handsomeness when he is beaten to a pulp and permanently disfigured, Leto appears to make an effort to mask the pretty-boy looks for which, in 1994, he was cast in teen series My So-Called Life. But there is more to this, I say, something self-destructive…

‘All my roles are masochistic or… sadistic.’ His eyes flash with naughtiness. ‘Is that going to be your headline? “Jared Leto: masochist or sadist? You decide.” ’ The sexual edges of this theme can be found in his music. The SM-themed video for ‘Hurricane’, which he directed in 2007, was censored by MTV, and in ‘End of All Days’, on his new album Love Lust Faith + Dreams, he sings: ‘I punish you with pleasure, I pleasure you with pain…’

‘I have very strong self-control. There is something very seductive about it,’ he admits when we discuss his crash, three-stone weight loss for Rayon, during which the slight actor virtually stopped eating. (He used to go to the supermarket just to stare at the food.) ‘I got to understand the mentality of an eating disorder. There are the highs of losing more weight; there’s a rush of endorphins associated with that control. When you have made a severe commitment to losing weight, there is a lot of shame and guilt around eating again. I really suffered that, it’s not a nice feeling…’ But Leto found solace in self-exploration. ‘The process can be very monk-like — there is a history of people who have fasted to achieve enlightenment. There is something in that, getting to know who you are. It changed me.’

I ask him if it was easier to get into the feminine headspace because he was so close to his mum growing up. Was there already a dash of oestrogen in him? ‘Oestrogen?’ He laughs, a little offended. ‘I guess you haven’t heard all the rumours… No, I became a detective, I met with transgendered people, I asked questions: “What was it like to tell your parents?” “What’s it like to be judged?” ’ He experienced this when he first dragged-up and went into Whole Foods. ‘You don’t have to desire the surgery to have your penis cut off, but you do have to understand it. We all have issues with our identity, or know what it’s like not to belong.’

Leto grew up an outsider. His father left after he was born, and Leto never saw him again. (He committed suicide when Leto was eight.) Leto’s teenage mother and the boys eventually fled Louisiana, where they lived with her Cajun parents in a one-bedroom house, to join the hippie movement. They lived in communes, mixed with artists and musicians, and moved around a lot — from Wyoming to Virginia, Colorado, Alaska, Brazil and Haiti — constantly having to make new friends and reinvent themselves. It’s hard to pin Leto down on all of this. He prefers to keep an air of apocryphal mystique. At one point, when we talk about his forefathers, he says that most of his family ‘were probably all in prison’.

Leto grew up wanting to be either a drugs dealer or an artist. At 16, he dropped out of school, before returning to another in Washington. The Leto boys were wild and unruly; they dabbled with drugs, broke into offices and warehouses to steal booze and motorbikes: ‘Other kids went to summer camp; we stole your car.’ Leto steered himself out of the nosedive when he got into college in Philadelphia to study art, and later on to a film course at the School of Visual Arts in New York. The creative focus was his salvation. Meanwhile, Shannon descended further into drug addiction, car-jacking and trouble with the police — the kind of downward spiral that Leto brutally documents in Requiem for a Dream.

But when he moved to LA to pursue a career in music (he says acting was merely a day job to pay the rent), Shannon joined him and they formed the band in 1998. ‘Music saved his life. It was either that or prison. It saved both of us really. Shannon started drumming on pots and pans from an early age; I played a broken, second-hand piano.’

Life on the road with his brother is, after all, what Leto grew up with; it satisfies his constant need for adventure, newness, change. (Thirty Seconds to Mars recently set a Guinness World Record for the most tour dates, 309, on one album cycle.)

Now in his forties, Leto still looks and acts at least a decade younger. There are no plans to stop touring now that, after years of graft, the band has achieved global recognition: Love Lust Faith + Dreams has sold ten million copies and their shows are mainly sold out. ‘We don’t give a shit about our ages. We’re not worrying about that. There are no rules,’ he tells me. And what if he met some girl he wanted to settle down with? ‘Then she’d better have a passport… look at the Rolling Stones, they just keep on going. Maybe me and my brother will be shaking it up there in our sixties. Who knows? Or maybe I’ll just walk away.’

He is even more freewheeling about his future film plans. He’d like to direct a long-form narrative, he says. He has already won multiple MTV awards for Thirty Seconds to Mars’ videos, and a People’s Choice Award at Toronto Film Festival for his 2012 documentary Artifact. This charted the creation of the band’s album This is War and their battle in 2008 with their record label EMI, which sued them for $30 million following a dispute over royalties when, after a tour and successful album, the band found themselves millions of dollars in debt. (The case was eventually dropped.)

For now, however, Leto’s eye is set firmly on his tour schedule. His devotion to his band is almost religious. Next up is Russia, followed by Ukraine. ‘I read that they censored my speech in Russia. They cut what I said about Ukraine. But I’m fully intending to sing ‘This is War’ there.’ Leto usually accompanies the song’s lyrics ‘To fight, to fight, to fight!’ with rampant flag-waving and air fist-pumping. ‘Shit could go down. We’ve already heard some things on the ground that are concerning. Through the band, we are really engaged with young voices all over the world through our social network feeds. I’ve learned so much travelling the world these past six years, it’s changed me. It’s made me a better actor…’

More than anything, Leto is fighting exhaustion now. His eyes are glassy, like marbles, and slowly starting to shut. He only has a few hours to pack and get on a flight to Belarus. He reverts to his humble Academy Awards speech mode, and thanks me for the interview. ‘I’m sorry but I really need to crash,’ he croaks gently.

It looks like Jared Leto’s Oscars week has officially come to an end.

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Imogen Heap’s magical music gloves make for handmade beats

Mi.Mu Gloves

Mi.Mu gloves imbue their wearers with wizard-like musical powers.


Grammy-winning British artist Imogen Heap says she’s always been a bit frustrated by not being able to navigate computers and mixing boards with the same fluidity other musicians can play more traditional instruments. To solve this, she’s “joined forces with the nerd underworld, creating musical gloves using new sensor technology allowing me to compose and perform music with computers in an intuitive way.”

We first reported on the gloves back in 2011 when Heap debuted them at a TED conference. Now, the artist and her team of engineers and scientists are seeking funding for their “Mi.Mu gloves” through a Kickstarter campaign seeking to raise £200,000 (about $330,000 USD) to bring the technology to the masses.

According to the fundraising page, the gloves will work along with popular music software programs to translate body movements to music thanks to embedded sensors. “Imagine,” the site says, “that instead of turning up a fader in order to bring in a sound or add reverb, you could be raising your arms to achieve the same effect. Or to move a sound around the room, you could simply point where you want it to be.”

Not only do the gloves promise to make electronically generated music more intuitive, they should also make it more fun to watch as artists swoop around the stage conducting all those zeros and ones with their hands rather than sitting behind decks of equipment. Speaking of which, gloved artists will also have an easier time moving equipment around since making music could be done with only the gloves and a laptop, as long as they can plug into a venue’s sound system.

The gloves will recognize a variety of hand gestures, including flexed fingers and sharp movements such as those made when playing a kicking set of air drums. They have holes where the palms are to allow for hand claps and cut-off tips to allow the wearer to play other instruments. Best of all, when you wear them you have wizard-like musical powers.

I could tell you more about the gloves, but really, who wants to read more when they can listen to some amazing “handmade” music in this video of the gloves in action?

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Voice is not enough: Motion is key to Android Wear

Forget poetry, the future is wearables in motion.


Google and Motorola rolled out their joint vision of Android Wear, the Moto 360, and the future of wearables on Tuesday. (LG also gave us a taste of its upcoming G Watch.) Based on the few videos and all the information released for developers, it appears that Google’s wearable platform is a fancy port of Google Now “cards” and voice control in a pretty spiffy, new form factor.

While this is the focus of the developer preview out this week, don’t be fooled.
Android Wear will be much more than just some full-faced watches that respond to speech, taps, and swipes. For the past few years now, Google has been telegraphing that it is much more interested in how we ambulate our entire bodies, not just our index fingers and vocal cords.

Last August, I went to New York to get my hands on the much-hyped Moto X. I spent a few weeks with a review unit and then sent it back and moved on to demo the other anticipated Android phones of the season — like the Nexus 5. But when it came time for me to put my money where my mouth was and buy my next daily use device a few months later, I went with the already slightly aged and less powerful Moto X.

What sold me on the
Moto X was its integration of a few features that are almost certainly heading for the Moto 360 and likely other Android Wear devices — touchless control and activity recognition, and the seamless marriage of voice control and contextual awareness that still is not really offered on any other device.

Normally, my Moto X has an “active display” function that pulses on and off to show me the time and any new notifications. I can touch the screen to get more details on new notifications. That is, unless the phone is face down or in my pocket — then it doesn’t pulse on at all to conserve battery life. So, flipping my phone down and then back up is a very easy way to see new notifications with a flip of the wrist.

Hmmm. What other form factor might benefit from responding to such motion?

Get a move on
The Moto X also was among the first phones to take advantage of a new activity-recognition feature that lives in Location Services in Android and can discern if a user is walking, driving, or standing still, among other states. The Android Wear developer preview encourages programmers to become familiar with using activity detection and even geofencing to trigger contextual notifications on wearables. For example, if your phone detects that you’re riding a bike, apps could automatically forward all notifications to the Wear-powered device on your wrist.

If you still don’t think Android Wear is about motion and gestures as much as talking and tapping, take another look at Google’s own introductory video. There’s a rather comical scene in which a woman sprints to catch a plane, and her smartwatch detects the activity and automatically estimates how many calories she just burned; or the woman whose watch detects that she’s dancing and offers to look up the song that’s playing.

This last one in particular took me back to the floors of CES in Las Vegas this year where wearables abounded. Some of the more impressive devices were those that made use of programmable gestures. A small device called Kiwi demonstrated how it can be programmed to perform the same Shazam-like action when the user draws a musical note in the air — this is perhaps a little more intuitive than having to get jiggy with it anytime you’re curious about the title of a song.

And Google has clearly demonstrated that it is interested in merging gestures with contextual awareness as much as it is in getting us to speak to it no matter where we are.

In addition to its work on activity recognition in Android and with Motorola, Google recently bought a small Swiss app developer called Bitspin that is best known for making Timely, an Android app that is really a fancy alarm clock and makes use of — you guessed it — motion detection and gestures. What a, uh, “timely” acquisition that was for Google to make in the months leading up to the reveal of Android Wear.

Android Wear unveiled: LG G Watch and Moto 360 (pictures)

Expect Android Wear to ultimately go even further than simply responding to the flick of a wrist and figuring out if you’re walking or biking. In the full SDK, Google plans to introduce the ability to gather more sensor data. Android APIs currently include support for not just harvesting data from a phone’s accelerometer, but also from a gyroscope, and sensors for temperature, light, pressure, proximity, humidity, rotation, linear acceleration, and even magnetic fields.

That’s a whole lot of context that would be all the more powerful when paired with an arsenal of gestures.

Dick Tracy had part of the equation right — a good wearable needs to be able to be spoken to, but to be truly smart, understanding body language is just as important.

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Sony Project Morpheus revealed as virtual reality headset

Sony Project Morpheus revealed as virtual reality headset

The in-development headset will function alongside the Playstation camera and PS Move controllers.

Sony has announced its own entry into the virtual reality arena with Project Morpheus.

The virtual reality headset is destined for use with the Playstation 4 and is currently only in a prototype stage with Sony working on further development for a commercial release.

The head-mounted display will work with the Playstation camera and the PS Move motion controller to replicate head movements and physical actions made with the players hands in compatible games.

Project Morpheus will also use 3D audio technology to allow sounds to appear as if they are coming from different directions including above and below.

The prototype was shown off at GDC running Eve Online spin-off Valkyrie, the new Thief and a couple of tech demos developed by Sony. A developers kit is also being developed but is not yet ready for distribution.

‘Project Morpheus is the latest example of innovation from SCE and we’re looking forward to its continued development and the games that will be created as development kits get into the hands of content creators,’ said SCE Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida.

Sources talking to the Wall Street Journal also report that Microsoft is working on a virtual reality device of its own and has filed a patent for the project.

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Xbox head Whitten departs for Sonos

Xbox head Whitten departs for Sonos

Marc Whitten is officially leaving Microsoft after 14 years on the Xbox programme, joining network audio specialist Sonos as chief product officer.

Xbox head Marc Whitten has officially ended his 14-year career leading Microsoft’s gaming division with the news that he’s leaving to take on a new role at network audio specialist Sonos.

Whitten was a member of the original Xbox team back in 2000, and has been involved with the brand ever since. Overseeing all three generations – Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One – of Microsoft’s console programme, Whitten has decided to move on and is to become the chief product officer at Sonos.

I have had the extreme pleasure over the last 14 years to work on the greatest product with the greatest team and for the greatest community, claimed Whitten in a statement to press and customers. ‘Xbox is so special because of the amazing team I’ve had the opportunity to work with and because our fans are the most incredible fans on the planet. It has been the highlight of my career to work on a product so loved. It’s incredibly tough to leave but I am confident the best days are ahead for Xbox fans, in the capable hands of a very talented team.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Marc for more than a decade and he has always led Xbox forward with a focus on our fans and delivering a platform that developers and creators can embrace to deliver incredible games and entertainment,‘ claimed head of Microsoft Studios Phil Spencer of Whitten’s tenure. ‘We wish Marc well, while looking forward to the next chapter of Xbox.

The Xbox team will now report directly to Terry Myerson, whose expanded role now sees him leading Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox software platform development. This, however, is temporary, with Microsoft indicating it will be seeking a permanent replacement for Whitten in the near future.

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