Tag Archives: Gadget Features

Best mobile games of 2017

Meet the drop-resistant Moto Z2 Force

The Moto Z2 Force is really thin, with a fast processor and great battery life. It can survive drops without shattering.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/pictures/best-mobile-games-of-2017/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Project Loon brings limited internet access to Puerto Rico


A Loon balloon being readied for deployment. 


Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is hoping its high-flying internet balloons can help the people of Puerto Rico, about a month after Hurricane Maria made landfall.

On Friday, the search giant announced some balloons from its Project Loon program had been deployed over Puerto Rico, in an effort to provide people with limited internet access. That will allow for basic activities like sending texts or accessing information online for some people with LTE-enabled phones.

To deploy the balloons, Alphabet partnered with ATT. Alphabet also worked with the government of Puerto Rico, and the United States government’s Federal Communications Commission, Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Loon was developed at X, formerly called Google X. The lab is responsible for the search giant’s most audacious projects, or “moonshots,” including self-driving cars and smart contact lenses with glucose readers for diabetics. The idea behind Loon, started in 2013, is to fly balloons in the stratosphere above rural areas and beam down wireless signals to those populations, essentially like floating cellular towers.

This is the second time Loon has been tested during a disaster relief effort. Last year, Alphabet sent balloons to flood zones in Peru. Last month, the FCC approved the Loon application to provide emergency cellular service to Puerto Rico.

On Friday, however, Alphabet was quick to stress that Loon is still new and unpredictable.

“Project Loon is still an experimental technology and we’re not quite sure how well it will work,” Alistair Westgarth, head of Project Loon, wrote in a blog post. “But we hope it helps get people the information and communication they need to get through this unimaginably difficult time.”

One of the challenges is becoming more familiar with the shifting winds in the region, Westgarth said.

Alphabet said it will keep the balloons flying over the island “as long as it is useful and we’re able to do so.”

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Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/alphabet-google-project-loon-brings-limited-internet-access-to-puerto-rico/#ftag=CAD590a51e

‘Golden Compass’ author Philip Pullman touts ‘darker’ prequel

Lyra Belacqua is finally back. And fans of “The Golden Compass,” both the best-selling fantasy novel and the Oscar-winning film, are no doubt beside themselves.

Belacqua, heroine of author Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, makes her reappearance nearly 20 years after “Materials” wrapped up publication, and almost a decade after “Compass,” the first book in the series, graced movie screens.

Philip Pullman's new book is out now.

Philip Pullman’s new book is out now. 

Penguin Random House

She’s at the heart of Pullman’s “La Belle Sauvage,” released Thursday. It’s the first installment in a new trilogy called “The Book of Dust,” a prequel to “Dark Materials” that Pullman promises will take readers to “quite a different part of the world.”

“This book is darker,” Pullman said Friday, during an appearance at the London Literature Festival at Southbank Centre. “I don’t know if I’m becoming cynical. I hope I’m not because I think cynicism is the death of all sorts of things. Skeptical, perhaps.”

Set 10 years before the events of “Materials,” “Sauvage” centres on Belacqua and 11-year-old Malcolm Polstead. Devotees will be pleased to hear that in addition to Belacqua, alethiometer, dæmons and the Magisterium all make a return, along with a whole host of new characters and locations.

During his talk, Pullman described “La Belle Sauvage” as “more elemental” than “Materials” and as an equal rather than a prequel — even if you’re not familiar with “His Dark Materials,” you’ll still be able to read the new book as a standalone novel.

The second installment has already been written, Pullman said, so don’t worry: You almost certainly won’t have to wait another 17 years for the next book.

Pullman also revealed that he’s a fan of the “Game of Thrones” TV series and that he’s delighted “His Dark Materials” is currently being filmed in a similar long-form format.

Out now, “La Belle Sauvage” is available in hardback, ebook and audiobook.

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Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/philip-pullman-la-belle-sauvage-the-book-of-dust/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Robert Scoble regrets being ‘really hurtful to women’


Tech blogger Robert Scoble is expressing remorse over alleged sexual harassment claims that were levied against him this week.

James Martin/CNET

Tech evangelist Robert Scoble, who is probably still best known for wearing a Google Glass headset in the shower, isn’t hiding from sexual harassment allegations levied against him this week.

“I did some things that are really, really hurtful to the women and I feel ashamed by that,” Scoble told USA Today in a story published Friday. “I have taken many steps to try to get better because I knew some of this was potentially going to come out.”

Scoble has been accused by three women — journalist Quinn Norton, ProDay founder Sarah Kunst and former colleague Michelle Greer — of actions that include groping and verbal harassment.

Greer also spoke with USA Today, telling the outlet that these actions are why women hate tech.

“There are too many talented women who get suppressed because of guys like this. We can’t just talk about it at an aggregate level. We have to call these people out,” she said.

Scoble didn’t immediately return CNET’s request for comment.

Sexual harassment issues comes up regularly in the tech industry, but the conversation was supercharged when actress Rose McGowan’s Twitter account was temporarily locked last week after she made making sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The #MeToo campaign also spread across social media this week, drawing attention to just how many women have been affected by sexual harassment and assault. 

Since then, Amazon Studios head Roy Price resigned following similar allegations.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/robert-scoble-regrets-being-really-hurtful-to-women/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Chinese phone maker Vivo entering Hong Kong, Russia and beyond


Earlier Vivo phones such as the Vivo Xplay6 looked like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

Aloysius Low/CNET

You may not have heard of Vivo, but you would have seen its phones in “Captain America: Civil War.” 

Besides making product placement cameos though, the Chinese company is actually the world’s fifth largest phone maker, as well one of the big four in China, alongside Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo.

The company’s set to become even bigger, with the announcement that it’s now selling its phones in Hong Kong, with plans to bring its devices to Taiwan, Singapore and Russia. The African market is also on its list for early next year.

“Since our first entry into the international markets in 2014, we have been dedicated to understanding the needs of consumers through in-depth research to bring innovative and stylish products that meet their lifestyle and needs,” Alex Feng, Vivo’s senior vice president, said in a press statement.

Vivo isn’t just all about making iPhone or Samsung look-alikes. The company recently launched a 24-megapixel selfie phone called the Vivo V7+. It also showed off the first phone with a fingerprint scanner embedded under the display earlier this year at MWC Shanghai.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/chinese-phone-maker-vivo-heads-to-hong-kong-russia-and-more/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Still stalking Bigfoot 50 years after the beast went big

On Friday, Bigfoot believers will descend on a remote part of Northern California to celebrate a shaky, minute-long film from 1967 that not only introduced Sasquatch to the wider world, but transformed the cryptid into a pop culture phenomenon that still captivates us half a century later.


The famous “look-back” frame of an alleged female bigfoot from the 1967 film produced by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin.


Look up the Bigfoot Wikipedia entry, and you’ll see a familiar and famous frame from the footage that Roger Patterson, aspiring filmmaker and ne’er-do-well from Yakima, Washington, claims to have shot in the wilderness outside Willow Creek, Calif., 50 years ago on Oct. 20. In the clip, a tall, broad-shouldered, long-limbed, fur-covered creature walking on two legs through a clearing glances directly at the camera for a moment, as if to briefly satisfy the relentless paparazzi before disappearing into the woods.

“It’s a fascinating piece of film,” says Jeff Meldrum, an Idaho State University anatomy and anthropology professor. He’s also the most prominent scientist performing serious Sasquatch research, though not without raising the ire of colleagues. “It’s grossly underrated and offhandedly dismissed, naively dismissed by the skeptics.”

But the naysayers didn’t stop Patterson’s film and the larger Bigfoot phenomenon from cementing themselves in a culture enthralled with the idea there are other intelligent species, on our planet and beyond, still waiting to be discovered. In the months after it was shot, the film appeared on all the major talk and late-night shows of the day, from Joey Bishop and Merv Griffin to “Late Night with Johnny Carson.”

The bashful biped has become a cottage industry that’s only grown with the rise of the internet and cable TV: conferences, expeditions, books, movies, theme park rides and TV shows in the Sasquatch search genre are just as common as fuzzy images purporting to show a glimpse of the Yeti’s American cousin.

But the modern ground zero for the legend remains the dense forests of Humboldt County, where Bigfoot enthusiast Patterson and his friend Bob Gimlin rode into the wilderness on horseback in search of the beast. That’s where this weekend’s anniversary conference and celebration takes place, featuring Meldrum and Sasquatch celebrities like Cliff Barackman from Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot.”

“Sightings are still reported to this day,” says Steven Streufert, owner of the used bookstore Bigfoot Books in Willow Creek. (A new sighting was reported on the other side of the state near Fresno just this week.)

Streufert is also one of the founders of the Bluff Creek Project, an effort by a handful of volunteers who’ve set up as many as 20 HD cameras in and around the site where Patterson and Gimlin captured their footage. Today, the project’s primary goal is simple: “to determine if Bigfoot is real.” But it grew out of the more basic task that initially brought the group together, which was to rediscover the site that had been “lost” due to the regrowth of foliage (the stream bed had been stripped bare by a flood in 1964).

Using GPS coordinates, the group identified surviving trees and other landmarks from the footage that led to the rediscovery of the film site in 2011. Since then, it’s been under near constant surveillance, despite the fact that the spot is closed to visitors from October through June.

“Our cameras are running up there 24/7, year round,” Streufert said. “If Bigfoot is out there, we should be able to find one on our HD video one of these years.”

So far, the cameras have captured cool footage of cougars, bears and the rare Humboldt marten, but no Bigfoot. The lack of any new Sasquatch sightings doesn’t bother the team.  

“I think back to the first Antarctic explorers and how their expeditions were inspired by tales of the hollow earth… that absurd idea gave inspiration and drive for those early explorers to race to the South Pole,” Jamie Wayne, the lead on the Bluff Creek Project said. “For me, Bigfoot is kinda like that, it’s very inspiring to get me out there and keep installing trail cameras.”

Bigfoot or big fake?

Skeptics have an easy time explaining the lack of Sasquatch appearances at the site of the most famous Sasquatch appearance of all time. Scientists rejected Patterson and Gimlin’s film as fraudulent within a few weeks of their trip into the wilderness.

Staff at the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Zoological Society were unimpressed when Patterson brought his film to New York City in late 1967 with the intention of having it validated.


Professor Meldrum holds a cast of a footprint believed to be left by Bigfoot, or at least by a big foot.

Jeff Meldrum

When the big-city scientists failed to give their stamp of approval to Patterson’s footage, both Life and Look Magazines backed out of conditional deals to publish major features on the find. An account of the story was eventually published in Argosy Magazine in 1968, and the BBC later paid to use the footage in a Bigfoot docudrama. Along with several other media appearances, it was enough to capture the public’s imagination and the legend has continued to grow ever since, even without the endorsement of the scientific community.

In 2004, writer Greg Long published “The Making of Bigfoot: The Inside Story” based on interviews with acquaintances of Patterson, (including Bob Heironimus, who claims to be the man in the suit). Long makes a substantial but controversial case that the famous film is a hoax, and like the story of Sasquatch itself, no physical proof such as the suit itself, or receipts or damning outtakes is presented.

Where many others have seen a hoax pulled off by a cameraman of dubious reputation and a man in an elaborate suit, Meldrum still sees humanity’s long lost (or rather, well hidden) relative.

“As an anatomist I can go from the head down to the toes (in the film) and just point out features that you would not see in a costume,” he told me. “The anatomy is appropriate and functional for a large bipedal hominid… Yet in 1967 the anthropologists wouldn’t have been able to accurately portray that, let alone a rodeo rider from Yakima who couldn’t keep a job for more than eight months at a time. He didn’t have the wherewithal to conceive of such a thing, let alone pull off the fakery involved if it were a hoax.”

Meldrum argues the creature shown in the film displays features consistent with what science has come to understand about hominin evolution in the decades since the film was shot.

Don’t stop believing

Still, half a century after the brief clip ignited a firestorm of debate, questions about its authenticity remain.

Science historian Brian Regal says that may continue to be the case because of the poor quality of the film.

“The low resolution of the original grainy 16mm footage renders it practically impossible to analyze in great detail,” he writes in his book “Searching for Sasquatch.” “We may never know whether Patterson meant it to be this way, or that it was just the dumb luck of an individual unskilled and unsophisticated in the ways of filmmaking.”

Doubters be damned, Meldrum and members of the Bluff Creek Project will be in Willow Creek presenting their latest research at the 50th Anniversary conference and celebration, They’ll be joined by a Bigfoot authority who became a believer 50 years ago — Gimlin, the surviving member of the expedition that produced the famous film. He’ll talk about what he saw that day and what’s happened since.

As for the Sasquatch herself (Gimlin and others maintain the creature nicknamed “Patty” was female and had clearly visible breasts), Gimlin told the CBC on Wednesday he believes she’s still alive because he’s heard from another “Bigfooter” who “communicated with her son.”

No word yet on if anyone managed to capture that communication on camera, though.

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Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/bigfoot-sasquatch-patterson-gimlin-film-1967-sightings-2017/#ftag=CAD590a51e