Category Archives: Technology

Daily trends and happenings in technology world

Hobbyist developers will make $30 million via 'Roblox' this year

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Roblox has exploded over the past two years. It’s not quite a game and not quite a development platform, allowing players to boot up millions of user-made projects, or create their own games and immediately publish them across all supported platforms. In September 2015, Roblox Corporation was happy to report it had 6 million monthly players, most of them between the ages of 15 and 22, across PC, Mac iOS and Android. Hundreds of developers were bringing in at least $250 a month selling items and upgrades in their Roblox games, and the ecosystem overall generated $2.5 million for creators.

Yes, that’s real-life money.

Today, Roblox has 56 million monthly players, an increase of 50 million over 2015, and it’s available on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Oculus Rift. The top echelon of Roblox developers are pulling in more than $100,000 a month, and two creators are poised to make more than $2 million this year. As a whole, Roblox is on track to pay out $30 million to its developers in 2017.

That’s still real-life money.

Here’s how Roblox works, when it comes to cash: Any player can dive in and create their own game in the Roblox ecosystem. They can then publish their projects across all supported platforms — a huge boon when it comes to indie development — and monetize them by selling things in-game. Players pay in the community’s currency, Robux, which Roblox then converts to real cash via the Developer Exchange program. Of the 56 million total Roblox players, 1.7 million are creators. Each of them can technically earn up to $1.05 million per month.

“Not every game is monetized and some games are monetized in ways different than others, so there are many games and many creators who don’t make a lot of money with their games,” spokesperson Brian Jaquet says. But, he continues, “some of our top developers are on track to make close to $3 million dollars in 2017.”

There are two main reasons for Roblox‘s growth since 2015, Jaquet says. First, the Xbox One launch was a huge help. Second, he says, “We’ve also improved our mobile experience, where we’ve been seeing the most aggressive growth on the platform. This has allowed players to jump on, create and share with friends easily, causing a network effect of growth.”

Jaquet also mentions the recent viral assistance of YouTube influencers, some of whom have created Roblox-specific channels over the past few years. There’s also the $92 million investment the company secured in March, bringing its lifetime fundraising efforts to $102 million.

The third annual Roblox Developer’s Conference takes place in San Jose this weekend, complete with panels and seminars designed to get even more people playing, developing and earning money in the game.

 

 

Throwing Shade: 7 Polarized Sunglasses for Summer Fun

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When you try a new pair of polarized sunglasses, you never know you’ve made a mistake until it’s too late. Buy them in a store or online, and your misstep becomes painfully clear just a few squint-intensive hours later.

So let us do the work for you. We got our hands on a dozen pairs of polarized shades at various prices—from $10 to $360—and tested them for days at a time. These seven sunglasses are our favorites, and while only a couple of models are perfect, just about any of them will help you enjoy the dog days of summer.

Joopin’s inexpensive shades.

Maria Lokke/WIRED

Joopin

For just $10, Joopin’s retro-styled sunglasses could easily be used as backup shades. Given the fact they cost as much as a couple of wheatgrass shots, they performed better than I expected. It’s hard to tell if they’re actually polarized (as the Amazon page claims) but if they are, these shades are clearly not made with the same quality of polarized glass as the other more expensive pairs on this list. You get what you pay for though, and these should do fine in a pinch. Major bonus points for that Blues Brothers look. $10

Maria Lokke/WIRED

Alta by Sunskis

Despite the relatively inexpensive price, the Altas were some of the best sunglasses I tested. For less than three Jacksons, you get a light and durable set of sunnies with an azure tint that will turn your world blue. The one flaw is their level of protection; because of the small round lenses, stray rays can find their way onto your eyeballs. $55

Le Specs.

Maria Lokke/WIRED

Hey Macarena by Le Specs

The Hey Macarenas are some of the most comfortable glasses I tested in this roundup. The frame’s rubber finish is so soft, I wanted to keep them on even when I went indoors. The lenses sit in pretty close proximity to the face, which keeps the sun out. And the sepia-toned lenses saturate the world with warm colors. $69

Sperry’s Seaford frames.

Maria Lokke/WIRED

Seaford by Sperry

The Seafords are comfortable and simple—and ideal for when you want to rock a retro look. The acetate frame feels sturdy and light, but the lenses fall a little short. The reflective gold lenses do a poor job of blocking out the sun. Sperry claims the mirror coating deflects light, but my constant squinting proves otherwise. Get them for the sharp fashion, not the performance. $108

Kaenon.

Maria Lokke/WIRED

Kaenon Leadbetter

If you’re spending over $200 on a pair of sunglasses, you should be getting something well-made, protective, and good-looking. The Leadbetters hit all three notes. The frame is made from highly durable plastic and coated with hand-painted finish, giving it a green and gold hue. The lenses are thick enough to withstand more than a few drops onto the sidewalk. It’s the optical quality that stood out though—the polarization and the tint are so effective, I frequently forgot the sun was blaring on the other side of the lenses. $229

Ray-Ban’s Chromance aviators.

Maria Lokke/WIRED

Ray-Ban Chromance

The Chromance aviators were my favorite sunglasses of all the pairs I tested. The uber comfortable metal frames are complimented with carbon fiber temple pieces, and the lenses block out all the glare even during the brightest hours of the day. The classic aviator style adds a needed dose of swag to any outfit. If there’s one shortcoming with these sunglasses, its durability. These are not the shades to wear on a run, and you certainly don’t want to throw them in the bottom of your backpack. They’re built to be worn to a patio reception or a beachside cocktail party. $290

Vuarnet’s aviators.

Maria Lokke/WIRED

Vuarnet Edge Pilot

The Edge Pilots justify their hefty price tag by combining elegance, comfort, and superb eye protection. The big blue polarized lenses hide your eyes from the sun while casting your surroundings in a cool, icy hue. The metal frames and acetate rims are sturdy, yet stay soft–a special combination that makes it easy to forget you’re wearing sunglasses. Perhaps best of all though, they’re the rare pair of aviators that don’t make you look like a cop. $360

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Strava's new Premium perks will insure your phone while you ride

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LC via Getty Images

Strava makes a popular tracking app for workout warriors, however many cyclists have questions about whether its $60 per year (or $8 per month) Premium package is worth the cost. Features already include personalized feedback, analysis and more, but if that’s not enough it’s adding new Perks. Those include discounts on things like shoes from New Balance, body wipes, energy gels, coaching services and so on. The most interesting perk, however, is from Sundays Insurance, which will reimburse the cost of your device — up to $600 — if it’s damaged in an accident while you’re recording data with Strava.

It covers other things too, like $50 for a taxi in case of an accident or breakdown, and you’ll want to read the terms & conditions (PDF) carefully to see exactly what it covers, but it’s an unusual benefit for an app subscription. Add-ons like bike or travel insurance can be purchased separately, and as Bicycling.com points out, there are other insurers available for your ride like USA Cycling, which charges $50 per year.

 

 

Stephen Colbert slept in the bed at the center of the pee tape

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The alleged Trump pee tape is talked about in hushed tones across every newsroom of two or more people in America. But aside from the salicious details in a leaked dossier, no-one knows much about the circumstances surrounding the events that ALLEGEDLY transpired one night in the Moscow Ritz.

In an effort to dig a little deeper, fabled late-night investigator Stephen Colbert hopped on a plane to Russia and into his jammies, and examined the one concrete detail from the dossier: the location.

As part of Colbert’s Russia Week, he decided to check out the Presidential Suite in the Moscow Ritz-Cartlon hotel. In case you’re wondering what all this is about, take a second to read through the relevant paragraph from the dossier:

The report, written by a former British spy, lays out allegations (that have not been confirmed) about how Russian authorities gathered “kopromat” on Trump. It specifies that Trump was at the Ritz-Carlton and stayed in the Presidential Suite, so that’s where Colbert went to snoop.

There’s not much else to say that Colbert doesn’t cover in his clip, so if you’ve ever been curious about the precise setting of the ALLEGED activities, dive on in.

The first trailer for Will Smith’s $100 million Netflix movie is here

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A few days ago, Netflix declared war on cinemas (more or less) by announcing that it has some 40 original motion pictures in the works. These movies will be released online on the date of their theatrical debut — that is, if theaters are even going to bother showing them. Now, the first trailer of Netflix’s most expensive original film to date is already out.

Starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, the $100 million Netflix movie is directed by David Ayer, whose previous work includes Suicide Squad, Fury, and End of Watch.

Bright is a cop movie set in an alternate universe, where humans cohabit the planet with strange creatures. For example, Will Smith’s character has an orc cop for a partner.

The three-minute video released at Comic-Con offers us a good look at this fantasy world, the plot, and the perils cops have to face. It’s like a darker Harry Potter movie, with strange creatures roaming the entire planet.

Bright will premiere on Netflix on December 22nd, right before Christmas, and just a few days after Star Wars returns to cinemas. But rather than having to fight against Disney’s The Last Jedi at the box office, Bright will be available to stream free of charge — that is, you won’t have to pay anything extra on top of your Netflix subscription.

Check out the first trailer for Bright below.

'The Defenders' Comic-Con trailer features punching, heroes

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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: There’s a threat facing New York, and a few of Marvel’s punch-happy heroes need to clean it up. Based on the new trailer shown tonight at Comic-Con — where, Deadline reports, Netflix screened the entire first episode — the plot of every Netflix Marvel series so far will remain consistent with this eight episode The Defenders mini-series that arrives August 18th.

Of course, fans have quickly devoured most episodes of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist so far, so putting them all together should flow beautifully. Speaking of Iron Fist, Netflix also announced there will be a season two of the Finn Jones project, which will also feature Misty Knight from the first season of Luke Cage. This plan has been more than four years in the making, and similar to the movie MCU, a grand meetup should close a chapter in overall book — at least until The Punisher debuts.

 

 

Google Play Music tweak adds a sidebar full of shortcuts

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As a music streaming service, Google Play Music works well enough but its user interface leaves an awful lot to be desired. Following the mobile app’s update that added persistent navigation buttons, as 9to5 Google spotted, Mountain View has added those to the web version as well. The dedicated icons for your music library, recent listening history and home tab reside on the left rail now, and hovering over the ellipses below those reveals top charts, new releases, radio stations and podcasts.

It’s a welcome addition to be sure, but still doesn’t address some of the app’s bigger design problems. Perhaps Google will kill off the Myspace Top Eight approach to displaying playlists, artists you might be interested in and new releases next. Or maybe that’s asking too much.

 

 

Spider-Man and Frank West join latest ‘Marvel vs. Capcom’ roster

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Capcom

Like comic books, fighting games are ripe for the crossover treatment. Nintendo has done it with good success in the Super Smash Bros. series, bringing characters from disparate franchises like Street Fighter and Fire Emblem together to brawl on the Wii U and 3DS. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe mixed up heroes from video games and comic books into its arenas, as well. Really, any announcement of new playable characters in upcoming fighting games are sure to please fans across the board.

Now we’re seeing a couple of big-name reveals at Comic-Con for two upcoming games, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite and Dragon Ball FighterZ. Frank West of Dead Rising fame is headed to the former, along with Spider-Man, Mike Haggar (from Final Fight) and Nemesis (from Resident Evil). Dragon Ball Fighter Z fans will be able to play both Piccolo and Krillin, longstanding characters in the anime universe.

Capcom released a trailer showing off the latest additions to Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, with cameos from the new folks as well as other characters, like Gamora, that were revealed at E3 this year. Frank West appears as his thirty-something photojournalist self from the earlier Dead Rising titles, while Haggar, Spider-Man and Nemesis each bring their familiar forms to a new arena, which appears to take place in giant-headed M.O.D.O.K.’s lair. The fighter is slated to appear on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC this coming September 19th.

Bandai Namco’s Dragon Ball FighterZ has two new characters of its own. Both characters originally appeared in the anime as antagonists for series star, Goku, but each became a trusted ally. Each has his own fighting style, according to the company, with stylish and devastating moves to master. There should be more exciting reveals for the title in the near future, with the game set to launch in early 2018 on Microsoft’s and Sony’s consoles as well as PC.

Gallery: Dragon Ball FighterZ: Piccolo and Krillin | 6 Photos

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Aphex Twin is the latest artist to open an online record store

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Kristy Sparow via Getty Images

Aphex Twin is opening an online record store. For his own music, of course. The Vinyl Factory reports that Richard D. James has started his direct-to-fans store with reissues of his back catalog including … I Care Because You Do and newer stuff like Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2. More than that, there’s a ton of digital-only and unreleased music on offer as well. What’s available today isn’t the half of it, though. “ALL Rephlex material will be going up here in due course+xtras,” a note at the bottom of the site reads.

Of course, James isn’t the first to sell direct to fans (Talib Kweli, Nine Inch Nails and Run the Jewels, for example, have been doing so for awhile), but with someone as enigmatic — not to mention prolific — as he is, this is pretty rad.

 

 

Australia's first vinyl factory in 30 years will open next year

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Getty Images/fStop

Thanks to new production technology and the support of big companies like Sony, vinyl is hot these days. Trent Reznor is releasing his Quake score for LP, the Contra soundtrack is available as a record at Comic-Con this year, and Blu-ray versions of Deadpool and Logan come with their own vinyl counterparts. Now there’s a new pressing plant set to open in Melbourne, making it the first modern record press in Australia in 30 years.

Program Records plans to open in early 2018 with “state of the art WarmTone presses made by Viryltech in Toronto, along with a new plating / stamper making system and experienced mastering and lacquer cutting.” Basically, that’s all the latest pressing technology to make vinyl records faster and more accurately than before. According to Mixdown, the Australian plant will start with 12-inch releases in both 140gm and 180gm weights, with plans to produce 7- and 10-inch discs later in 2018.

 

 

SDCC Announcement: Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie Clip Reminds Us Why We Loved Arnold

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(Via Nickelodeon)

After more than a decade, Hey ArnoldI is finally getting its long-awaited Jungle Movie conclusion. Today at San Diego Comic Con, Nickelodeon showed off some footage from the upcoming continuation. The characters look a little different, and the voices aren’t quite the same (as the original actors are now adults), but everything about it feels like Hey Arnold! The clip recaps all the nice things Arnold did for people over the course of the series. It’s funny, it’s touching, and it has everything you remember from the series. It’s like Hey Arnold! never left.

The new animation style looks great. It’s slightly more three-dimensional than the old show was, but still, retains its hand-drawn charm. It’s also different from the watercolor style featured in the theatrically released Hey Arnold!: The Movie. Even with the new style, hair and outfits, the kids are still instantly recognizable to anyone who grew up with the show.

After the video runs down some of Arnold’s best moments from the original series, the intent becomes clear. The neighborhood is trying to win him a trip to San Lorenzo so he can find his parents. When the series ended, the plan was to wrap up the final episode’s cliffhanger with The Jungle Movie. Due to a dispute between Nickelodeon and creator Craig Bartlett, it never ended up happening. Arnold found a map in his parents’ old journal… and that was it. Since then, Bartlett has returned to Nickelodeon, and Hey Arnold!’s long-awaited conclusion will air this November. Judging by the clip they showed at SDCC, they’ve nailed the feel of one of Nickelodeon’s best cartoons.

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Missing Malaysia Airlines flight search yields valuable seafloor data

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Geoscience Australia

In 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 disappeared from radar and a massive search for the missing aircraft ensued. For two years, scientists used sonar to map the seafloor where the plane was thought to have crashed, and then search for any remnants. Nothing was found and the search was officially called off this past January, but the data collected during the search has now been released.

Existing maps of the Indian Ocean floor didn’t have enough detail to allow for safe navigation during the search, so researchers first mapped the floor with much more detail than before. The researchers collected 278,000 square kilometers of seafloor topography data within the search area and 710,000 square kilometers in total, which included data collected while ships traveled from Australia to the search region. The maps they generated have at least 15 times greater resolution than the ones that existed prior to the search and provide valuable data about the topography of the ocean floor. The images included detailed looks at structures like underwater landslides and volcanoes as well as areas of the seafloor, like the Broken Ridge, that were 40 million years old (follow the links to see videos).

The data from the mapping phase of the search effort are available now as well as an interactive story map. The data collected from the second phase, which actually searched for the wreckage after the maps were generated, produced detailed black and white images, one of which, showing a shipwreck, you can see below. Those data are still being processed but are expected to be released sometime next year. Anyone can download the topography data from Geoscience Australia and you can watch an explanatory video of the project below.

[Image: Geoscience Australia]

 

 

SDCC Announcement: Blumhouse Announces Todd McFarlane’s R-Rated Spawn

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Blumhouse has made a killing (all pun intended) off of horror films that become ridiculously popular throughout the years. From Paranormal Activity to Get Out, Blumhouse Productions knows what they’re doing, and they’re about to bring an old favorite back into the spotlight.

Todd McFarlane’s creator of Spawn is set to become a film once more, written and directed by McFarlane himself. The new film will be R-rated with Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions signed on to produce. Blum has spoken highly of Todd’s vision.

“Having worked with many visionary directors, I think Todd’s unique artistic talents will only add to his role as director of this film.”

Previously, McFarlane released a video in May announcing the first draft of the script was complete. If Todd directed this Spawn, it would be his first feature film and a great one at that. It will be exciting to see how Todd brings his creation to the big screen for the second time.

The first attempt at the movie was Spawn (1997), starring Michael Jai White and John Leguizamo and directed by Mark A.Z Dippe centered around the origin story of the superhero. The film met with mixed reviews which were ultimately detrimental, receiving an 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, it’s one of the first superhero movies to feature an African American lead before Blade hit the screen and it’s truly an unforgettable film.

It’s no doubt that Blumhouse and McFarlane will make this Spawn something to remember. Now, all we have to do is sit and wait patiently for the casting and official trailer.

Published in 1992, Spawn tells the story of Albert Francis Simmons, a CIA agent, questioning the shady side of the law he finds himself in. Albert is murdered by a squad mate and sent to hell because of terrible choices. While in Hell, he makes a deal Malebolgia, an evil being from Hell because he wants to see his wife again. However, you don’t make deals with evil beings and think you’ll get away scot free. Malebolgia in return turns him into the antihero Hellspawn aka Spawn.

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The Best Harry Potter Funko Pops!

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1. Lucius Malfoy Death Eater Mask

Why they chose to cover up Jason Isaacs’ beautiful face I’ll never know. Oh, right! It’s because this Death Eater mask looks totally kick ass.

Currently $19.99 on Amazon. Purchase Here.

2. Harry Potter on Broom

It’s everyone’s favorite horcrux Harry Potter! Here’s the SDCC ’17 Exclusive with Harry on his Nimbu.

Currently $39.95 on Amazon. Purchase Here.

3. Dementor

Fun fact, Dementors can’t steal your soul if you don’t have one.

Currently $8.56 on Amazon. Purchase Here.

4. Jacob Kowalkski

Jacob is in Harry Potter canon so we’re including him also, he was the best part of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Currently $12.95 on Amazon. Purchase Here.

5. Dumbledore

Dumbledore in only his fanciest of robes and all his magical glory.

Currently $8.44 on Amazon. Purchase Here.

6. Hagrid

I know it’s supposed to be a punishment, but I’d rather have a magic umbrella than a wand.

Currently $12.71 on Amazon. Purchase Here.

7. Luna Lovegood with Glasses

Our favorite Ravenclaw. Grab her and her funky all knowing glasses now. This one is an SDCC ’17 exclusive.

Currently $49.99 on Amazon. Purchase Here.

8. Professor McGonagall

Aside from Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall may be Hogwarts’ greatest teacher.

Currently $12.56 on Amazon. Purchase Here.

9. Neville Longbottom

This toy gets hotter with age.

Currently $10.99 on Amazon. Purchase Here.

10. Fred Weasley

What’s Fred up to? This jokester is certain to play a trick or two if snatch him up now.

Currently $8.95 on Amazon. Purchase Here.

11. Cedric Diggory

This is the perfect gift for anyone with Hufflepuff pride. Cedric is the prime example of the most wonderful the badger house can be.

Currently $30.49 on Amazon. Purchase Here.

12. Dolores Umbridge

Dolores Umbridge is truly the best villain of the Harry Potter universe.

Currently $7.50 on Amazon. Purchase Here.

13. Voldemort

If Voldemort just had a nose, he’d probably be way nicer.

Currently $9.25 on Amazon. Purchase Here.

Apple is already preparing for the iPhone 9

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Even though we’re a few months removed from the upcoming iPhone 8 release, rumors involving the iPhone 9 have already started trickling in. Presumably referring to Apple’s 2018 iPhone model, a new report from The Korea Economic Daily relays that Apple has tapped LG to be the exclusive battery supplier for the iPhone 9. As the report notes, Apple’s decision here represents a slight departure from the company’s traditional operating strategy. Specifically, Apple often likes to use a multitude of suppliers for various iPhone components, a strategy that helps it secure favorable pricing while also offering a hedge against any unforeseen technical or manufacturing hurdles.

Having said that, it’s perhaps possible that the battery performance and design LG is working on is sufficiently impressive as to convince Apple to go all-in with just one supplier. The report adds that the battery on the iPhone 9 will be L-shaped, a design said to have been made in the interest of optimizing internal space, a feat which becomes increasingly more of a challenge with each successive iPhone release.

The battery that LG Chem will supply to the iPhone 9 is an “L-shape” battery, which is bent to the right at the bottom. Apple has customized it to take advantage of the space on the bottom right of the iPhone that has evolved from the development of electronic component integration technology.

Citing a source purporting to be familiar with the deal, the report adds that LG has already “invested hundreds of billions of won” into revamping its facilities ahead of mass production which is said to kick off sometime in early 2018.

Incidentally, we’ve also seen rumblings that the battery on Apple’s flagship iPhone 8 may also feature an L-shaped battery. Originally brought to the surface this past February, reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo a few months back said that the iPhone 8 will incorporate a stacked logic board design that will allow for a larger battery, as evidenced by the illustration below.

And while we’re on the topic, rumor has it that battery life on the upcoming iPhone 8 will be even greater that what the iPhone 7 Plus delivers. As a point of reference, the iPhone 7 Plus can support 13 hours of LTE browsing, 15 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, or 60 hours of wireless audio playback on a single charge. If the iPhone 8 can exceed these metrics in a relatively compact form factor, it would serve as yet another selling point on an already compelling device.