Posts Tagged ‘rave’

Quantenna promises 10Gb/s Wi-Fi in 2015

Quantenna promises 10Gb/s Wi-Fi in 2015

Quantenna’s existing MU-MIMO chipset can be found in Asus’ newest router, but its success next year promises up to 10Gb/s of bandwidth via 802.11ac’s MU-MIMO technology.

Wireless communications specialist Quantenna has announced the development of a Wi-Fi chipset capable of ten gigabit per second (10Gb/s) throughput, with plans to release it commercially next year.

Perhaps the biggest complaint regarding Wi-Fi – aside from alleged health implications, disproved by scientific rigour – is that its performance can lag behind that of a wired connection. Even if you’re right next to an access point, the actual throughput of a 1.3Gb/s 802.11n Wi-Fi link is usually well below that of a 1Gb/s wired Ethernet connection – and the further away you travel from the access point, the slower it gets. Said bandwidth is also shared between all users; if you’re on a heavily-congested access point, you can expect the performance of your connection to drop significantly.

Quantenna is hoping to resolve this problem by giving wireless connections significantly more headroom, starting with a 10Gb/s chipset based on the 802.11ac standard which improves support for Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO) connectivity. Extending the existing MIMO technology, which uses multiple antennas to isolate signals and reject noise, MU-MIMO allows for multiple connections to individual client devices which are no longer competing for the same bandwidth. The result: significantly improved performance and reliability.

Quantenna’s 8×8 architecture with adaptive beamforming demonstrates that the ‘massive MIMO’ promise of significantly higher throughput, robustness, and reduced interference can be realised in practice,‘ claimed Andrea Goldsmith, Stephen Harris Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, in support of the company’s work. ‘This architecture will also significantly enhance the capabilities of MU-MIMO, allowing it to support interference-free transmission to many more devices simultaneously. These technology advances will transform the landscape of applications and devices that Wi-Fi can support.

Quantenna’s MU-MIMO chipset is already used in Asus’ latest Wi-Fi router, but the version due for release in 2015 will be considerably improved. ‘Wi-Fi is no longer a convenience,‘ claimed Quantenna chief executive Sam Heidari at the announcement. ‘People expect it to ‘just work’ even with demanding applications like HD video streaming. With Quantenna’s 10G Wi-Fi, they’ll always get the performance they expect—even as their expectations continue to rise.

The company’s existing chipset, which supports 4×4 MU-MIMO antenna configurations, will be extended in 2015 to support 8×8 MU-MIMO setups offering a total aggregate throughput of 10Gb/s. How much such a feature will add on to the cost of commercially available routers and access points that choose to implement it, however, has not been announced.

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DayZ Standalone Early Access Review

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review

Price: £19.99
Developer: Bohemia Interactive
Publisher: Bohemia Interactive
Date Tested: 26/03/2014

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review DayZ Early Access Review

Note: Early Access Reviews are critical appraisals of games still in development which are charging money for player access to their alpha and beta stages. This review is intended to give you an idea of whether the game is currently worth investing in, but without offering a final verdict.

Take a cursory glance at DayZ and it appears little has changed in the four months since release. The major content Bohemia are planning for the mod; namely vehicles, craftable bases, and broader communication channels such as radios, are still a long way from being added. Investigate a little further, however, and you’ll discover that significant changes have been made, but they’re many and small rather than large and few.

For example, rain was added about a month ago, and now players can catch the water droplets in their canteens, making it ever so slightly easier to acquire this vital resource. In addition, players can aim their guns while sat down, enabling them to sit around a campfire with friends without completely compromising their safety, or keep watch over player prisoners in a more casual, more disturbing manner.

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review DayZ Early Access Review

There are lots of different little channels that feed into DayZ’s remarkable success since it debuted on Steam Early Access at the end of last year. But one of them is this detailed way in which players can interact with their environment and the other players they encounter in post-apocalypse Chernarus. It’s this granularity of experience which Bohemia have been chasing since the Standalone release.

To understand the importance of this, it’s necessary to grasp the basis of what DayZ is, and the developer’s intent behind it. For all its layers of complexity, your ultimate goal when playing DayZ is the most basic possible. Stay alive. Do not die. See that bucket? Avoid kicking it. This is done by seeing to your needs, avoiding the zombies scattered around the environment like organic litter, and performing the delicate and potentially deadly social dance with fellow survivors you’ll inevitably encounter during your travels.

Your objective may be simple, but achieving it is anything but. Resources are scarce, and you require lots of food and water just to keep your body functional. The first hour or so of a DayZ life are a half-terrifying, half-gleeful rush as you frantically scour the nearest village for supplies, interspersed with moments of bravely running away from the prowling zombies.

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review DayZ Early Access Review

If you’re very lucky you might find enough food and water to keep you healthy. More typically you’ll either bleed to death after being attacked by your first zombie, or find nothing but rotten food, eat that in desperation, become sick, and spend the next half hour hopelessly searching for the right medication before ultimately collapsing. This is of course an entirely hypothetical scenario and definitely not what happened to me in my first and second lives.

Learning how to cope in this extremely harsh environment is a big factor in what makes DayZ so compelling. So is learning how to navigate it. Modern games are obsessed with keeping the player oriented, ensuring they always know where they are and where they are going, and there’s something about the challenge of being lost in a wilderness that is paradoxically liberating. The moment you first find a map in an abandoned car or inside a petrol station is breathlessly exciting. Then comes the puzzle of figuring out where you are on it, googling the Russian alphabet so you can translate the town signs written in Cyrillic to match them with the map names scribed in English.

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review DayZ Early Access Review

It helps that Chernarus is an incredible foundation for a game like this. Its sweeping vistas, highly realistic terrain, foreboding climate and dilapidated Baltic settlements all contribute to the sense that this is a world where nature has wrested control back from humanity, but also as a place where hope still lingers. Trekking through one of DayZ’s many forests, watching the sunlight shaft through the canopy, listening to your plodding footfall and the twittering birds in the trees is an oddly relaxing experience, providing relief between frantic zombie combat and tense encounters with other survivors.

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Humble Bundle for Android and PC 9 goes live

Humble Bundle for Android and PC 9 goes live

The latest Humble Bundle offers games for PC and Android at a pay-what-you-want price, including the typeface-exploring title Type:Rider.

The latest Humble Bundle, offering games for Android, Windows, OS X and in all but one case Linux, has gone live, with over 62,000 copies sold within its first 24 hours.

Unlike the company’s usual Mobile Bundles, which package Android-only games in a pay-what-you-want format, the Humble Bundle PC and Android 9 includes copies of the titles for desktops, laptops and Android-based mobile devices for a single fee. All but one of the games are also fully supported on Linux, including via Steam – meaning it’s a cheap way for SteamOS fans to build up their collections ahead of the platform’s official launch.

Games included in the standard bundle are: Broken Sword 2: The Smoking Mirror, which is the sole title not to claim Linux compatibility; Bridge Constructor; Type:Rider; and Ravensword: Shadowlands. Those volunteering a payment higher than the average, sitting at $3.79 at the time of writing, will also receive Kingdom Rush and Knights of Pen Paper +1 Edition, along with as-yet unannounced bonus games typically culled from past bundles.

As usual for the Humble Bundle, buyers are encouraged to send their cash to wherever they feel most appropriate: the developers of the games, charities Child’s Play and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or the Humble Bundle organisers themselves. If not customised, the default split is to send most of the cash to the developers, a smaller chunk to charity and the smallest chunk of all to Humble Bundle.

At the same time, rival – some might say ‘clone’ – bundle provider Bundle Stars by Focus Multimedia has announced its own Steam-linked package for a fixed price of £2.99. Based on the output of Kalypso, games available are Jagged Alliance Collectors’ Bundle, Tank Operations: European Campaign, Tropico 3 Gold Edition, Alien Spidy, Sine Mora, SkyDrift, Disciples III: Resurrection, Dollar Dash, and Dungeons. All games are, however, exclusive to Winodws.

The Humble Bundle PC and Android 9 is live on the site for the next two weeks; the Kalypso Bundle, meanwhile, runs for the rest of the month.

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Tour the Milky Way in 20 billion pixels

Milky Way
(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia))

Most of us will never leave the Earth — but that doesn’t stop us dreaming of the stars. There are a few tools that let you explore, though — and NASA has just launched a killer.

Created from the Galactic Legacy Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (Glimpse) project, it’s the most comprehensive visual map of the Milky Way Galaxy released to date — and yet it only shows just over half of the galaxy’s stars. Stitched together from more than 2 million images taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope over the course of a decade, the zoomable, 360-degree image comes in at 20 gigapixels. Since its launch in 2003, Spitzer has spent a total of 4,142 hours taking pictures of the Milky Way in infrared light.

“If we actually printed this out, we’d need a billboard as big as the Rose Bowl Stadium to display it,” Spitzer Space Science Center imaging specialist Robert Hurt said in a statement. “Instead we’ve created a digital viewer that anyone, even astronomers, can use.”

When viewed in the visual spectrum, sections of the Milky Way — a flat spiral disc — are occluded by dust. By taking images in the infrared spectrum, through which stars can be seen through the dust, Spitzer allows us a more complete picture of our galaxy so that astronomers can map the spiral arms and determine the galaxy’s edges.

With Glimpse data, astronomers have been able to create the most accurate map of our galaxy’s center to date, and see star formation and faint stars in the outer, darker regions that, prior to Spitzer, were unexplored territory.

“There are a whole lot more lower-mass stars seen now with Spitzer on a large scale, allowing for a grand study,” said Barbara Whitney of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, co-leader of the Glimpse team. “Spitzer is sensitive enough to pick these up and light up the entire ‘countryside’ with star formation.”

There are two ways to view the mosaic: using Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope platform, which includes context and cross-fade to visual light; and CDA Aladin Lite, which doesn’t show the entire mosaic, but instead offers shortcuts to regions of interest, such as nebulae, and image exports.

The Glimpse data is also being used as part of a NASA citizen scientist project. People can visit the Milky Way Project Web site and help NASA catalogue areas of interest, such as bubbles, clusters, and galaxies.

You can visit the interactive image here, and download it in full resolution here.

(Source: Crave Australia via NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

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Crave Ep. 152: App lets you make music with a full symphony

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How fast can you solve a Rubik’s cube? Probably not as fast as the CubeStormer 3 Lego robot, which just set a new world record. We jam with Cadenza, an app out of Harvard that lets you play along with a full orchestra, and we get Superman’s POV using a drone, a green screen, and some really creative video. All that and more on this week’s Crave show.

Crave stories:

- Lego robot sets new Rubik’s Cube world record

- Cubli cube robot demonstrates incredible balance

- Tidy Dog: Smart toy bin trains pups to pick up

- Prepare Barbie for battle with 3D-printed armor

- Instrument reads tattoos as sheet music

- Cadenza: You play, and a full orchestra plays with you

- Superman + drone + GoPro = awesome POV footage

Social networking:

- Stephen on Twitter

- Stephen on Google+

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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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Find your first tweet: Twitter opens archive for its birthday

Craves first tweet

Crave’s first tweet was all about a CPU cooler.

Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET)

I honestly couldn’t remember what my first tweet was about. I joined Twitter back in 2010 and have generated 1,559 tweets since then. Too many to recall them all. In celebration of its 8th birthday, Twitter is making easy for forgetful people like me to discover the very tweet that started the journey. Your first tweet.

Using the site, you can enter your Twitter username and instantly pull up that intelligent, insightful, and funny first tweet you posted. In my case, it was a deadly dull journalistic inquiry asking to get in touch with a press contact for a restaurant. Scintillating! If I had known I was going to be looking at my first tweet again years down the line, I would have composed something about “Star Trek” crossing over with “Doctor Who,” or perhaps an artfully beautiful haiku.

Fortunately, doesn’t limit you to your own output. You can check on other usernames as well. CNET’s first tweet in 2009 is all about ATT increasing a bounty on fiber vandals. You’ll find that some of today’s Twitter luminaries didn’t exactly shine in their first outings. Sir Patrick Stewart’s entry is a simple “Hi World.”

Geek star Wil Wheaton, however, fares better. Not only did he sign up way back in 2007, but he tweeted out this message to kick things off: “Trying to figure out if I signed up with ‘wilwheaton’ to prevent some jerk from stealing it, or if some jerk already stole it.” It has style. It has content. It was a portent of great Twitter things to come.

Perhaps my favorite first tweet so far comes from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak back in March 2009: “Rare massage (for me), then dance practice. No pain, no gain. Awkward but fun, this dancing. I still can’t do Macarena.” That tweet conjures up some delightful imagery.

If you really like your first tweet, you can re-broadcast it from the first-tweets site. I won’t be doing that. Go look at your first tweet and report back. Tell us in the comments if it was a keeper or something you would rather keep locked away in the dusty drawer of your Internet past.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.s first tweet

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. chose his recent Daytona 500 win as his Twitter kick-off.

Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET)

(Via USA Today)

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Instrument reads tattoos as sheet music

Dmitry Morozov)

Musical instruments, by design, usually require a human agent to work (player pianos and robotic bands notwithstanding). Usually, though, this involves some kind of active intervention, such as pressing keys, plucking strings, or blowing.

“Reading my body” by Moscow-based artist, musician, and engineer Dmitry Morozov is a little different: The human becomes partially passive, the instrument active, in a strange personal symbiosis. The instrument can only play when it reads and plays a tattoo on Morozov’s arm, much as a human would read and play a score.

“This is a special instrument that combines human body and robotic system into a single entity that is designed to automate creative process in an attempt to represent the artist and his instrument as a creative hybrid,” Morozov wrote of his project. “The device consists of a railing with comfortable hand holders and two parallel, but offset from each other black lines’ sensors that move along the arm using a stepper motor. It is equipped with a 3-dimensional
Wii remote controller that uses the OSC protocol in order to give a possibility of additional expression achieved by moving hand in space.”

Morozov designed the tattoo to contain the maximum number of variable time slots between triggers. By moving his arm, Morozov can control the speed and step length of the sensors, resulting in an infinite number of patterns — and, therefore, compositions that can be produced. However, the instrument can also be programmed to operate autonomously.

The result is a soundscape that sounds alien, like a cross between the theremin sounds so popular in sci-fi films of the ’60s with the voice of a computer.

This is not the first time Morozov has played around with translating unusual signals into sounds. His work “post code” was an installation that converted bar codes into glitchy music.

We really hope someone figures out a way to combine Morozov’s instrument with Hieronymus Bosch’s Buttmusik…

(Source: Crave Australia via Prosthetic Knowledge)

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Paleontologists discover ‘chicken from hell’ dinosaur

Anzu wyliei
Bob Walters)

A 66-million-year-old dinosaur has been discovered — a birdlike creature that provides palaeontologists with a first in-depth look at an oviraptorosaurian species called Caenagnathidae (SEE-nuh-NAY-thih-DAY) — one that has long been difficult to study, since most remains have only been skeletal fragments.

Named Anzu wyliei (Anzu after a bird-demon from Mesopotamian myth and wyliei after Wylie, the grandson of a Carnegie museum trustee), the new species was put together from three separate skeletons found in North and South Dakota, forming almost one entire skeleton. The resultant dinosaur measures 3.5 metres from nose to tail-tip, weighing in at 225 kilograms (496 pounds), with sharp claws and a feathered body — resembling, according to the researchers, led by Matthew Lamanna of Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, a “chicken from hell.”

“It was a giant raptor, but with a chickenlike head and presumably feathers. The animal stood about 10 feet (3 metres) tall, so it would be scary as well as absurd to encounter,” said University of Utah biology postdoctoral fellow and study co-author Emma Schachner.

“We jokingly call this thing the ‘chicken from hell,’ and I think that’s pretty appropriate,” added Lamanna.

Anzu wyliei
Carnegie Museum of Natural History)

The three partial skeletons were excavated from the Hell Creek rock formation in North and South Dakota, a region famed for its abundance of dino skeletons, including Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops. The new dinosaur would, the researchers said, have resembled a giant flightless bird — much more so than more “typical” theropod species, such as Tyrannosaurus rex. A bony crest, similar to that found on the Australian cassowary, rises on its head, and its legs were long, slender, and strong, also like the cassowary. It had no teeth, but a strong beak, and it was found alongside fossilized feathers, heavily indicating that the dinosaur was feathered.

However, it wasn’t entirely birdlike — its forelimbs were tipped with sharp claws, and it had a long, strong tail.

The discovery is the first clear skeleton found belonging to the Caenagnathidae since the species was first discovered and described by paleontologist Charles Whitney Gilmore 100 years ago. It has allowed researchers for the first time to explore in greater detail Caenagnathid anatomy, and reconstruct the species’ evolution. Its anatomy and environment have also delivered new information about Caenagnathid diet and habitat preferences; the dinosaurs, the team believes, were omnivores that preferred humid floodplain environments.

Anzu in particular seems to have lived a pretty dangerous life; two of the three skeletons show evidence of breaks and fractures. However, the fact that these injuries had healed indicated that the hell-chickens were hardy, able to survive quite a bit of trauma.

A fully articulated cast of the dinosaur is on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the full research paper can be seen online in the journal PLOS One.

(Source: Crave Australia)

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Preserved woolly-mammoth autopsy shows cloning is a real possibility

Woolly mammoth

Woolly mammoth image by Flying Puffin, CC BY-SA 2.0

The female woolly mammoth unearthed in the Lyakhovsky Islands in May 2013 could one day become the “mother” of the first woolly mammoth to walk the earth in millennia.

The discovery of the beast caused excitement when the scientists who unearthed her found that she was very well preserved — to the point that her blood was still liquid after all these years.

Now, after a necropsy (an autopsy on an animal), the team has discovered that the mammoth’s soft tissues are in excellent condition, so much so that they may be able to extract enough high-quality DNA to perform an analysis — and maybe even a reconstruction.

“We have dissected the soft tissues of the mammoth — and I must say that we didn’t expect such results. The carcass that is more than 43,000 years old has preserved better than a body of a human buried for six months,” Viktoria Egorova, chief of the Research and Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory of the Medical Clinic of North-Eastern Federal University, Siberia, told the Siberian Times. “The tissue cut clearly shows blood vessels with strong walls. Inside the vessels there is haemolysed blood, where for the first time we have found erythrocytes. Muscle and adipose tissues are well preserved.”

The team also found migrating lymphoid tissue cells; the liver, intact, with hard fragments inside, possibly kidney stones; and the animal’s intestines, with the remains of the vegetation it consumed prior to dying still inside. The analysis of the blood, interestingly, revealed some insight into how the mammoth died: the blood was “agonized,” indicating that the animal had died an unnatural death, in pain for 16 to 18 hours. The unnatural angle of the leg leads scientists to believe the mammoth fell into an ice hole and couldn’t get out.

Cloning is something the scientists are considering — but first they have to determine if the DNA is usable for this purpose, including something called a “living cell” — the least damaged DNA; and then, of course, there’s the tricky matter of gestation.

“The next question is how to use an elephant in the cloning process,” Semyon Grigoriev, the leader of the expedition that found the mammoth, explained. “The evolutionary path of the mammoth and the elephant diverged a long time ago. So even if we could get a ‘living cell’ we need to have a special method of cloning. The Koreans are working on getting the clones from different species, but, you see, it is not so fast. If we do not get ‘living cell,’ we will have a longer route. Then we should create artificial DNA; it could take 50 or 60 years.”

And then there are the moral concerns around cloning extinct animals. Some scientists believe that such an act would be irresponsible. First of all, you have to determine how and why an animal became extinct. Then you have to examine the impact of the animal’s return on the current environment. And then you have to think about how it would affect the animal itself. Elephants, for example, are herd animals; how would the world’s only mammoth cope?

As Vice President of the Russian Association of Medical Anthropologists Radik Khayrullin said, “We must have a reason to do this, as it is one thing to clone it for scientific purposes, and another to clone for the sake of curiosity.”

But, even without cloning, the mammoth is a rich source of information to the scientists.

“Apart from cloning, these samples will give us an opportunity to completely decode the DNA of the mammoth, and we will be able to decipher the nuclear DNA, which stores a lot of information,” Grigoriev said. “So we have a unique opportunity to understand how the mammoth’s blood system worked, its muscles and the trunk. Of course, we are engaged primarily in fundamental science. It is important to us to learn all possible details about mammoth. Maybe our findings will be used by applied science, but now it is early to think of it.”

The team will present its findings at a special conference to be held in May. Meanwhile, you can see images of the necropsy on the Siberian Times Web site.

(Source: Crave Australia via The Siberian Times)

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