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John Skrhak | Gadgets, Sports and Toys Fanatic | Read about them all here.

Ouya’s keynote convo polarizes SXSW

Ouya founder and CEO Julie Uhrman in conversation with The Verge’s Josh Topolsky at SXSW 2013.

Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

AUSTIN, Texas–The annual South by Southwest conference here prides itself on being a place for “disruption,” but the only real disruption during a fairly pedestrian conversation between the founder of crowd-funded Ouya and the editor-in-chief of The Verge today were angry tweets followed by empty seats.

Ouya founder Julie Uhrman got on stage with The Verge Editor-in-Chief Joshua Topolsky to discuss her company’s enormously successful Kickstarter campaign and the product it funded: an
Android-based, open-source gaming console. The torrent of Tweets that followed revealed the audience members to be critical of just about everything except the room they were sitting in.

A brief sampling of the Tweets indicates a lot of discontent, but about many different aspects of the keynote.

The conversation itself covered a wide range of Ouya history, with Uhrman boosting the console as often as she could while playing down any mistakes that were made on the road from its Kickstarter beginnings to landing on store shelves.

One of the mistakes that Uhrman attempted to spin positively was the fact that some critics initially thought Ouya was a scam because of a glaring oversight for an Internet-based business: “I didn’t even have a Web site when we launched the Kickstarter,” she admitted. A PC Magazine article that accused Ouya (and the Pebble watch) of being a scam was the top Google search result for the console for months after the Kickstarter launched.

The crowd’s frustration with the conversation was only somewhat unjustified. Uhrman remained tight-lipped except for restating already-known Ouya facts. In addition to not revealing a firm release date in June, she danced around questions from Topolsky about manufacturing partners, the number of pre-sold consoles, and even the nature of the aforementioned mistakes. She explained not having a Web site early on because she and her team were simply too busy.

Uhrman did confirm that Ouya consoles will start shipping to Kickstarter supporters on March 28 and will be in Best Buy and Target stores in June. She also emphasized that game developers are “interested” in working with Ouya, stating that there were more than 7,000 registered developer accounts so far.

She spent noticeably less time talking about why gamers themselves would be interested in yet another console platform, at a time when mobile games are garnering the most consumer interest.

That last one might be the most emblematic of the conversation. Topolsky started soft but pushed harder as audience members bolted, with a packed room dwindling to 50 percent capacity by halfway through the keynote. Uhrman, for her part, avoided even the most tame comments that might’ve revealed more about Ouya or why she’s so passionate about it.

During a
South by Southwest Interactive conference noted for its dearth of news, the crowd seemed eager to glom onto something more tangible. But instead of feeding them a hearty meal, attendees got only the kind of lukewarm appetizer served up at so many SXSW parties.

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Blow then start: The future of alcohol & driving. CNET On Cars, Episode 13


iTunes (HD)iTunes (SD)iTunes (HQ)


We have the best from the Geneva Motor Show in this episode, including LaFerrari, Lamborghini’s Veneno and the Corvette Stingray convertible.

Car Tech 101 explains “connected cars”, which is a term that has come to mean a lot of things. You’ll understand them all.

Cooley blows hard into the current in-car booze detectors, but then shows you the future that may put alcohol lockout tech in every car: A federal initiative called DADSS that would radically change the state of alcohol and driving.

And if you’ve been envious of the latest car tech we show you here at CNET, this episode’s Top 5 is just for you: How to put the latest tech in your current car.

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3-pointer: Mavs three games out of playoff picture

At first glance, the math doesn’t look too daunting. After winning four of the last five games, the Dallas Mavericks are only three games out of eighth place in the Western Conference.

They’ve given themselves a slim chance at extending the franchise’s playoff streak to 13 years. They’ve at least earned the opportunity to make the last quarter of the season meaningful.

“We’ve got 20 games left and we’re going to let it all hang out there,” Dirk Nowitzki told reporters after Sunday’s rout of a depleted Minnesota squad. “Now, the games are going to get tough.”

Beginning with Tuesday’s road game against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Mavs will face teams in the playoff picture in 14 of their final 20 games. After leaving Milwaukee and getting a day off, the Mavs go into a stretch of four games in five days that includes matchups against the West’s two best teams – the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder.

As Nowitzki noted, for the Mavs to have any hope, they need everyone in the rotation to be “firing on all cylinders.”

As of now, the Mavs have pulled even with the Portland Trail Blazers in 10th place. The free-falling Utah Jazz are a spot ahead of them.

The question is whether the Mavs can catch any of the last three teams holding on to playoff bids.

It’s hard to see that happening with the star-loaded Los Angeles Lakers, who moved into the eighth seed Sunday. L.A. is 13-4 since the beginning of February and is three games up on the Mavs.

The seventh-seeded Rockets have a four-game cushion on Dallas. The Mavs own the tiebreaker over Houston, but the Rockets have a favorable schedule down the stretch, playing 12 of their remaining 18 games at home.

The sixth-seeded Warriors might be the team most likely to fall out of the West playoff picture despite being five games up on the Mavs. Golden State has lost 12 of its last 17 games but owns the tie-breaker over the Mavs.

“We’re definitely watching the standings,” Mavs big man Elton Brand told reporters. “We want to get in the playoffs. That’s our goal. That’s the real season. We’re trying hard to get back in there. We’re not going to quit.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ blowout of the Timberwolves:

1. Wright on: Brandan Wright, who has floated in and out of Rick Carlisle’s rotation this season, has made a major impact during the Mavs’ three-game winning streak.

Wright, the lanky, high-leaping center/forward, has averaged 13.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and shot an eye-popping 79.2 percent from the floor over the last three games.

As well as Wright is playing, his minutes might dip when Shawn Marion returns, which the Mavs hope will happen Tuesday night in Milwaukee. Wright has been getting minutes as a backup power forward, a role Marion usually fills.

2. Bench boost: Give Darren Collison credit for being professional and productive after losing his starting job yet again.

That doesn’t mean he’ll earn back the starting gig at point guard. Carlisle strongly indicated that he believes the reserve role is the right fit for Collison, who has come off the bench for each game of the Mavs’ winning streak.

“I think he’s a great off-the-bench guy in this league,” Carlisle told reporters. “Off the bench, I think he’s a special player.”

Collison has had the Mavs’ best plus-minus in both games of this road trip. He was plus-27 during his nine-point, eight-assist outing in Minnesota and plus-21 during his 11-point, eight-assist performance in Detroit.

3. O.J. OK?: The only player on the roster who has played every game this season suffered a scare when O.J. Mayo turned his right ankle after coming down on a defender’s foot in the second half.

Mayo left the game, but he soon returned and showed no ill effects while finishing off an eight-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist night. Mayo will get treatment and is expected to be in the starting lineup again Tuesday night.

“He’s pretty tough,” Carlisle said of Mayo, who has missed only one game due to injury or illness during his five-year career.

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Visualized: Apple’s iPhone development device circa-2005


Wanna see what an iPhone development device looks like before Sir Jonathan has had his way with it? Then Ars Technica’s got a treat for you at our source link.

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Early iPhone prototype sported 5×7-inch screen

This is how the iPhone looks today.

CBS Interactive)

Two years before its debut, the iPhone was as large as an iPad Mini.

A 2005 prototype of the iPhone was five inches wide and seven inches tall, according to images leaked to blog site Ars Technica through a former but unnamed Apple employee. The employee apparently worked on several hardware projects for Apple in the early 2000s and was able to check out the early iPhone versions.

Though it matched the size of an iPad Mini, the iPhone prototype wasn’t quite as svelte. The prototype was around two inches thick compared with the Mini at just over a quarter of an inch.

In contast to Apple’s “less is more” philosophy, the prototype was home to a number of ports, including an Ethernet port, a serial port, and several USB ports.

However, those ports were installed simply to help developers more easily work with the device and were never intended for the final consumer product, ArsTechnica’s source said.

Still, the phone was in an obvious state of flux during is development, and “at that early date no one knew what [the final device] would be,” the source added.

But the processor isn’t that much different than the one used in the 2007 debut version of the phone. The ARM chip in the prototype looks like a variant of Samsung’s S3C2410, according to Ars writer Andrew Cunningham, who called it “a distant relative of the chip the first iPhone ended up using, just older and slower.”

The S3C2410 is an ARM9 chip, while the 2007 iPhone used an ARM11 chip. But the prototype shows that Apple tapped into Samsung for the phone’s ARM chip right from the start.

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Volvo XC60 makes collision prevention standard

If the 2013 Volvo XC60 is any indication, the Swedish automaker’s first five years under the thumb of the Chinese company Geely has not changed a thing where it comes to product. The XC60, a mid-size SUV, retains the styling and technology course began under previous owner Ford.

Both owners have let Volvo be Volvo, which means building premium-quality, safety-conscious vehicles.

The exit of Ford may, however, have caused the stagnation of Volvo’s cabin electronics, which have not progressed much in the last five years. Although the XC60 does a solid job with the basics, such as navigation and Bluetooth phone support, connected features are limited to traffic data integrated with the navigation system.

Volvo just announced it is partnering with Parrot to offer an Android-based
head unit
, but we have yet to see how well that integration will
work out.

Where Volvo has pushed the envelope is in driver assistance technology, most effectively demonstrated by the XC60’s standard City Safety feature. This system relies on cameras to identify vehicles and pedestrians, and will slam on the brakes if it senses an imminent collision. City Safety actually prevents collisions at speeds under 20 mph; at higher speeds it will still brake, mitigating the damage.

As a safety technology, it’s a good one, as it can prevent pedestrian deaths and costly vehicle repairs.

Volvo also offers driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control and a blind spot monitor, but they were not optioned on the XC60 T6 Platinum trim car delivered to CNET.

The T6 appellation on this XC60 meant it came with a turbocharged 3-liter, six-cylinder engine, a step up from the base model with its naturally-aspirated 3.2-liter six-cylinder. The really interesting things about this powerplant are that it is an inline six-cylinder, and that it mounts transversely under the hood.

That configuration supports the car’s front-wheel-drive platform, although all T6 models come standard with all-wheel-drive. This all-wheel-drive system offers no driver controls, such as a differential lock, instead automatically shifting torque between front and rear depending on which wheels have grip.

Clever but confusing
The Platinum trim on this car brought in Volvo’s cabin electronics suite, including navigation and an upgraded audio system. The navigation system maps look good, with a nice, clean design. Stored in flash memory, the maps render quickly on the small LCD, and I never noticed the system having a problem locating the car’s position, even among urban towers or in the woods.

However, figuring out how to enter addresses, use the stereo, or make phone calls will cause some trouble. Volvo has a very baffling cabin electronics interface.

2013 Volvo XC60

This interface is not the most intuitive to use, but actually works pretty well.

Josh Miller/CNET)

The center panel holds a keypad, function buttons, and traditional volume and tuning dials. The tuning dial includes buttons labeled OK/Menu and Exit.

With the radio screen on the LCD, the tuning dial works traditionally, changing stations. But with the map on the screen, the tuning dial turns into a zoom function. Tapping the OK/Menu button brings up a destination entry screen, where the tuning dial selects entry fields.

Volvo cleverly uses the one dial for many functions, but it can be confusing, at least initially.

Choosing the street address destination option led me to the alphanumeric input for street and city names, using a rotary paradigm on the screen, again controlled by the tuning dial. Rotary inputs are particularly tedious when entering long names, but Volvo offers a couple of shortcuts. I found I could tap the keypad, which would bring up each button’s three associated letters, kind of like texting using a non-smartphone.

Voice command proved even easier, although I had to speak each part of the address, such as street and number, separately. The system also tended to give me multiple choices for each voice input, adding steps to the process.

2013 Volvo XC60

This rotary interface makes entering letters very tedious.

Josh Miller/CNET)

The system’s route guidance delivered clear turn-by-turn directions, and even showed lane guidance on the LCD in easy-to-read graphics. At one point, when I got off route, it took a surprisingly long time to recalculate, but most times it worked just fine.

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