NVIDIA brought its new Shield handheld gaming system to Google I/O this year and showed off a near-production device. The Shield made its debut at CES this year, surprising most since it’s a consumer handheld device from a company that generally makes internal components. But it has some neat tricks up its sleeve, including a Tegra 4 chipset, 2GB of RAM, a 5-inch 720p display and 16GB of internal storage.
The Shield units available at I/O this week were all running Android and showing off Android games with hardware controller support, and none were demoing the PC game streaming that NVIDIA said would be coming to Shield as a beta when it comes to retail in June.
My experience with the NVIDIA was limited to just a few games, including the Epic Citadel demo that always gets trotted out to demonstrate amazing graphics capabilities on mobile devices. There were also a couple of playable cart racers in action, and all of the above performed well and really showed that the hardware is capable of rendering high-quality video smoothly and without any apparent effort. For a device that’s essentially a smartphone without the actual phone powers, but with more physical buttons for $349, that’s an important achievement to be able to claim.
Shield does its Android job well, and the hardware feels great to these gamers’ hands. Buttons are slightly clicky and the ergonomics are solid, and the thing doesn’t take up too much more space than an Xbox controller when the screen is folded down and it’s in travel mode. There’s mini-HDMI, which was outputting gameplay to a small HD television, and a micro-USB slot for charging. The onboard screen boasts “retinal” quality 294 PPI pixel density, which means video and games look silky smooth.
Maybe the best part is that NVIDIA has gone for a pretty near stock Android Jelly Bean experience, which a rep from the company told me was a conscious choice they made after first trying a more involved widget overlay that ended up making for a much less pleasant experience. Navigating the stock Android with hardware controls (you can also always use the touchscreen) is also surprisingly intuitive.
All that said, this is a strange device with a market that’s probably going to be pretty niche. Really, it almost seems like a reference device designed to show off the power of Tegra, but NVIDIA is actually shipping the thing, so those of us like me who actually have a hankering for this kind of hardware will really be able to buy it even if it doesn’t become a runaway success.
Continue reading here: NVIDIA’s Shield Mobile Gaming System Feels Like The Way Android Games Should Be Played
Now that Defense Distributed is on the defensive, it’s time to think a bit harder about what 3D printing really means. To that end, Michigan Tech is sponsoring a Printers For Peace contest that is encouraging designers and engineers to make amazing stuff using a 3D printer that can change the world for the better. “Unfortunately, the only thing many people know about 3D printing is that it can be used to make guns,” writes Dr. Joshua Pearce, founder of the project.
“This is an open-ended contest, but if you’d like some ideas, ask yourself what Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, or Gandhi would make if they’d had access to 3D printing.”
The deadline for the contest is September 1st and they’ll announce winners on the 4th. They are looking for designers to build things that will help, not harm, people.
The winner of best project will win a Type A Machines Series 1 3D Printer and the runner-up gets a simpler RepRap Prusa Mendel 3D printing kit.
With all the press attention on 3D printing is the gateway to firearms anarchy, it’s refreshing to see someone take a different path. By backing 3D printing engineers into a corner, DefDist and the government are simply using fear to achieve competing goals. The results will be both needlessly draconian legislation and a variant of the Streisand Effect that will spread these arguably faulty plans far and wide. When the government outlawed DVD decryption code you could buy a T-shirt with the code printed on it. The same will happen in this case, although this code, when run, could take off fingers and give legislators more ammunition for a full crackdown on home 3D printing.
Let us know if you enter and good luck. We need more weapons against poverty and fewer weapons against each other.
See the rest here: Michigan Tech Sponsors A 3D Printers For Peace Contest
Bloglovin, a site where readers can follow blogs about fashion and other lifestyle topics, is getting what CEO and co-founder Mattias Swenson said is its first major redesign.
Until now, Swenson said Bloglovin has been adding new features in a more incremental way. This time it’s getting a new look and new social capabilities that the Bloglovin team hopes will please both the hardcore users and more casual visitors.
Bloglovin raised a Series A from New York City-based incubator betaworks and others last summer, and at the time, Swenson emphasized the devotion of the Bloglovin community. For example, he said that the average Bloglovin user follows 37 blogs. He told me yesterday, however, that the team has become aware of a more casual audience, one that doesn’t follow any particular blog or author, but instead is looking for the latest content on topics that interest them.
To improve the experience for those users, Bloglovin has redesigned the page featuring “popular” posts on a given subject. Looking at the old and new pages, I wouldn’t say that it’s a dramatic change, but it allows Bloglovin to pack more stories onto the page without making things feel crowded — I’d say it looks more magazine-y. (It will probably remind some people of Pinterest, and while I think that description gets a little overused nowadays, Swenson doesn’t back away from the comparison.)
Each post on those redesigned pages also displays how many Bloglovin users have “liked” it. Visitors can expand that number into a full list of users. For bloggers, that can provide a much better sense of who likes their content, and for readers, it’s an opportunity to identify users with similar tastes, who they can then follow to find more interesting content: “So we’re turning our users into curators.”
Swenson also compared Bloglovin to Tumblr, where many users don’t produce original content but simply re-post photos that were taken and shared by others. That kind of sharing becomes a way to “express yourself,” he said, and “Bloglovin is going to be the ultimate platform for doing that,” in part because users aren’t limited to following publications on a specific platform (like they are on Tumblr).
“In the beginning, some of our investors were skeptics [about the redesign], but then they showed it to their wives and daughters, and they said, ‘Yeah, let’s do this tomorrow,” he said. I asked why they were skeptical, and he replied, “I think it was more in connection with Google Reader shutting down. … But they realized now is the right time to do these big changes.”
Swenson added that after Google Reader’s demise, the other RSS reading apps are going to be stuck in a “feature war” as they go after the tech-centric audience, whereas Bloglovin could eventually encompass everything and everyone else. For one thing, even though Bloglovin allows users to follow the RSS feeds of their favorite blogs, it doesn’t really market itself as an RSS reader. And the increased emphasis on “discovering the best content” should push the site further in this direction, Swenson said.
Ultimately, he predicted that Bloglovin’s audience, which has grown to 4.7 million monthly active users, will consist of 10 percent “heavy-duty users” and 90 percent visitors “who just have interests that they’re passionate about, like fashion, and they just want to know what’s popular.”
The app’s basic functionality is pretty straightforward. You can create lists of movies that you’ve watched (rating them between 0 and 5 stars) and that you want to watch. You can also browse lists of highly rated or popular movies in the app, as well as lists created by other users. (You can follow those users, too.) The ultimate goal, Cameron said, is to help users “organize your movie library” (library might not exactly be the right word for it, since it’s not necessarily a list of movies that you own — but I think it conveys the basic idea) and find new titles to watch.
A lot of this functionality is already available in other services. Netflix is famous for its algorithmically driven movie recommendations, and another one of my mainstays, IMDb, also has user ratings and a “watchlist” feature. But in those cases, those features are mixed in with a larger service, whereas Limelight has pared things down and is all about ratings and recommendations.
Plus, there’s a nice social component — something that Netflix, for one, is still struggling with. Similar to Amazon-acquired social reading service Goodreads, seeing your friends’ history in Limelight can be useful for finding new movies, and can also just be amusing. For example, I was appalled to discover that Verge writer Ellis Hamburger gave a five-star rating to Armageddon.
The app was built by 9:42AM, which is basically the team of Cameron and designer Marcelo Marfil. Cameron said the company’s goal is to “build simple products that work beautifully and have a defined need.” He described 9:42 (which is named after the exact time when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone) as a side project until he starts his next company. But he said this doesn’t mean he isn’t serious about these apps: “Making apps is a huge passion for me, so it’s a good way to keep creative before I start the next thing.”
As for Everyme, the startup doesn’t seem to have gotten much buzz since its big launch last year, and it launched a new service called Origami in the fall. (Everyme co-founder Vibhu Norby recently published a blog post recommending that startups avoid the big launch and instead focus on building a community, which is what he said he’s doing with Origami.) Cameron told me that he left because he was looking for a new challenge.
“I had been working on practically the same product for nearly three years, so it was time for a change up,” he said.
Today at Disrupt NY, Ken Lerer and Ben Lerer took the stage to talk about Lerer Ventures and their respective entrepreneur stories. One thing that caught the attention of the audience is when Ken Lerer talked about gun control and a new StopTheNRA.com website.
“We are going to launch StopTheNRA.com,” Ken Lerer said. The site should be up in about two weeks. They already own the domain name and it’s now just a matter of time. It will be a partnership with Mayor Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Gabrielle Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions initiatives.
The motivation behind this new site is to be more vocal about gun control. “We are doing something viral,” Ken Lerer said.
A significant gun control bill that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers was brought to a vote in the senate a few weeks ago, but the effort failed, and the government is now back to square one.
When asked about New York politics, Ken Lerer only had good things to say about Mayor Bloomberg. “Spectacular” was the word he used to describe him. “His or her successor may not be as knowledgeable as him,” he continued. That’s why he chose not to express a preference for the front-runners of the upcoming election.