A quick burst of 10 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team
NASA Billion-Pixel View from Curiosity at Rocknest
Mars in close-up:
A billion-pixel view from the surface of Mars, from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, offers armchair explorers a way to examine one part of the Red Planet in great detail.
The first NASA-produced view from the surface of Mars larger than one billion pixels stitches together nearly 900 exposures taken by cameras onboard Curiosity and shows details of the landscape along the rover’s route.
Stunning scenes, and the perfect opportunity to go pixel-hunting for some more alien lizards.
Microsoft Explored Plans to Build Amazon Rival >> Wall Street Journal
Greg Bensinger and Shira Ovide:
Microsoft Corp. recently explored rolling out an e-commerce marketplace aimed at taking on heavyweights Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc., according to people briefed on the company’s plans.
The software giant held discussions with retailers and technology companies about a marketplace, proposing to equip it with an array of merchants, as well as a unified shopping cart and broad shipping options, according to these people. To lure shoppers, Microsoft was considering subsidizing the price of goods on its e-commerce service using a portion of advertising dollars merchants spend on Microsoft’s Bing Web-search engine or elsewhere, said the people.
The scheme has apparently been shelved, for now, with Microsoft describing Project Brazil (as it was known) as "an incubation to enable a more direct commerce model between customers and brands and merchants" that would be available on Xbox consoles, smartphones and tablets as well as computers.
Reveal Labs launches a $20k crowdfunding campaign for its Tile Bluetooth device to find lost items >> The Next Web
Reveal Labs today launched a crowdfunding campaign in search of $20,000 to fund its Tile Bluetooth device. The company hopes that money raised will help show if people are interested and to get it closer to production. Tile aims to be that device people place on things such as wallets, keys, luggage, phones, or anything else to help you find it no matter where it is.
I’m all over this one, it’s a fantastic idea. I’m going to back it. Now, where’s my wall… Oh.
Apple Gaming Strategy Analysis: Apple’s plan to Crush Microsoft, Sony >> Boy Genius Report
Jonathan S. Geller:
Let’s just be honest… we are at the absolute end of the road for gaming consoles. There is no reason that you are going to need a dedicated gaming machine in the next year or two — you probably don’t even need one now. What makes this more troubling for Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 is that this big, heavy, bulky, hot and loud gaming consoles have to last for an extremely long time in order for them to be profitable for each company. We have been on a 7 to 8-year life cycle for game consoles for the last couple decades, and that model isn’t going to be sustainable going into the future.
You can predict the tone of many of the comments on this piece before reading them. RAGE. Which is exactly what the writer was hoping for, of course.
But there’s an important point in this piece about Apple setting out standards for physical game controllers for iOS devices, and thus positioning Apple TV as a console-in-waiting. "Soon, you are going to be able to play a console-quality game on your iPhone or iPad with a game controller, and you’re going to be able to see it on your big screen television without any effort…"
Pirate Bay cofounder gets two years in prison for IT firm hack | Ars Technica
As his defense attorney expected, a Swedish court has found Gottfrid "anakata" Svartholm Warg guilty of "invasion of Nordea’s mainframe," aggravated fraud, and attempted aggravated fraud. He was sentenced (Swedish) to two years in prison.
The Pirate Bay cofounder will also likely have to face related charges in a high-profile hacking case in neighboring Denmark, but the Swedish and Danish legal systems have not yet determined if or when he will be extradited.
Warg was deported from Cambodia last year, where he’d been living since disappearing amid a trial of three Pirate Bay co-founders and one of its financial backers for copyright infringement.
Netflix’s decision to renew Hemlock Grove shows its algorithms are working >> paidContent
Netflix announced this week that it is renewing its original horror series Hemlock Grove for a second season, with 10 new episodes set to premiere in 2014. The news may come as a surprise to some: Netflix has spent a lot of effort promoting Arrested Development and House of Cards, but hasn’t made a big fuss about Hemlock. Critics who watched the show hated it, calling it a dud, a flop and "the company’s first truly bad series."
And if you’re anything like me, then you have never seen Hemlock Grove pop up in your Netflix recommendations. Heck, chances are, you may have never heard about Hemlock before reading this article. But that’s OK; Netflix didn’t make the show for us. It’s aimed at an audience of teenage horror fans. And Netflix had the numbers to know that this audience was engaged enough on the streaming service to make a title like Hemlock Grove succeed.
Hemlock Grove is the 13-episode horror show made by Hostel director Eli Roth. What’s interesting here is Netflix’s data-driven commissioning. It knew a lot of its users watched horror films, with Roth the most popular director. So it went out and commissioned him, then promoted his series to those people through its recommendation algorithms.
Finally, something has united Americans: We’re not cool with killer robots >> GigaOm
Of the 1,000 people surveyed by University of Massachusetts-Amherst researchers, 55 percent said they oppose autonomous weapons, with most answering "strongly opposed." Almost 20 percent answered "not sure." Answers were consistent across political affiliations, ages, genders, regions, education and income levels, but not service status: 73 percent of active military personnel responded with disapproval. Language such as "stopping killer robots" and "banning fully autonomous weapons" garnered similar responses.
Asking people if they want to stop killer robots is a bit of a leading question. But researcher Charli Carpenter says "people are scared by the idea of removing humans from the loop, not simply scared of the label". Although in the who’s-killed-most-people league table, humans are still well ahead of robots…
Narcissism in motion: Instagram’s new video features are a vanity mirror, not a communications tool >> PandoDaily
Instagram remains one of the best-designed photo-sharing applications. But the new video tools aren’t nearly as intuitive as, say, the double-tap gesture Instagram invented to allow users to "like" a photo. Recording a video is a buggy mess. The "stand-out" features — filters, a video stabilizer, and the ability to choose which frame represents the video in your friends’ Instagram feeds — are lackluster at best. The entire thing feels like something that should have been introduced a year ago.
There was lots of praise in the tech blogosphere last night for Instagram’s move into video, but this offers a different take.
Google Glass: facial recognition blocking technology developed >> Boy Genius Report
If you’re freaked out about the thought of Google Glass users one day being able to use facial recognition technology that’s capable of spotting you wherever you go, then some researchers in Japan may have a solution for you. Engadget reports that researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics have designed a pair of glasses that obscure your face to prevent facial recognition algorithms from locking onto it.
If this turns into a tit-for-tat war of facial recognition versus facial-recognition blocking, we’ll all end up wearing robot helmets. Daft Punk are onto something…
Twitter + GNIP >> Mapbox
Fascinating map using 280m tweets posted from mobile devices, broken down by Android/iPhone/BlackBerry/"Other" (ouch, Windows Phone). The geographical differences are remarkable.
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