The ultimate driving EV? BMW launches all-electric i3 | The Verge

BMW i3 hero

This is the automaker’s first genuine, built-from-the-ground-up electric vehicle. As you’d guess, the car introduces a number of other firsts for the German company. Chief among them is a passenger compartment made from carbon fiber-reinforced plastic — a breakthrough design element that results in a weight of only 2,600 pounds. Today, at simultaneous events held in New York City, London, and Beijing, the company finally took the wraps off its production model i3. BMW says the EV is capable of maximum distances ranging between 80 to 100 miles, powered by a 170-horsepower electric motor. The i3 will arrive in the US in the second quarter of next year priced at $41,350 to start, but European drivers will begin seeing it this November.

  • On the eve of its public unveiling, the production BMW i3 remains hidden beneath a white cover. (Image credit: BMW Group)

  • BMW’s reveal of the i3 EV draws near as press begin to assemble for the company’s New York City event.

  • BMW held a live simulcast connecting New York, London, and Beijing to showcase the production model i3.

  • The cover finally comes off BMW’s i3 electric car, providing the first glimpse at a production model of the hatchback. (Image credit: BMW Group)

  • BMW’s senior executives were joined by a future driver for the i3 unveiling.

  • One of the BMW i3’s most unique features isn’t visible from the outside. Its passenger compartment is made entirely of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, leading to a much lighter vehicle that doesn’t sacrifice on safety.

  • BMW’s iconic logo is surrounded by the chrome wheels of the new i3 hatchback EV.

  • As soon as the white cover was pulled away, members of the press began snapping photos of the BMW i3.

  • On the roof of its New York City venue, BMW showed off another of the i3’s available finish options.

  • Backed by a 170-horsepower electric motor, the BMW i3 can take you from zero to 60 in seven seconds.

  • Unfortunately for journalists eager to sample the BMW i3’s interior, the car was locked.

  • BMW executive Peter Schwarzenbauer fields one of many press questions about the production i3 and its $41,350 price tag.

  • Back downstairs, BMW continues to showcase its brand new i3 EV as a special guest arrives.

  • Mayor Michael Bloomberg was on hand to praise the BMW i3’s environment-friendly engineering.

  • Bloomberg revealed that he once owned a BMW — before the private car that came with his current job.

  • Bloomberg, a major proponent of green initiatives, congratulated BMW on the i3’s unveiling.

  • BMW’s designers will tell you that the i3 is a vehicle built for the future, but blue accents are an immediate reminder of the automaker’s legacy.

  • From a performance standpoint, BMW’s i3 ranks similarly to the electric competition.

  • BMW finally opens the doors on the i3, granting onlookers a tour of the new EV’s interior.

  • There’s no shortage of electronics mixed in with the i3’s wood paneling and other refinements, but by designing an EV from the ground up, BMW has afforded the car a spacious interior.

  • When it comes to navigation, automakers still prefer building their own software rather than integrating a native Google Maps experience.

  • A touch display near the i3’s steering column offers quick access to gear selections and keyless ignition.

  • It’s not exactly a sports coupe, but the BMW i3’s hatchback design offers plenty of storage space.

  • BMW’s executive team and Mayor Bloomberg after B

Source: The Verge.

Microsoft pushes HomeOS further with Lab of Things, but where’s the mobile angle? — Tech News and Analysis

Microsoft has launched what it calls its Lab of Things, a cloud-based framework that links to the company’s HomeOS, which monitors and controls connected devices inside home environments. The Lab of Things arrived Monday at the Microsoft Research event, and apparently HomeOS has been around for a while. A quick trip through the Microsoft research page shows examples of the HomeOS efforts going as far back as 2010 and a big media push from last spring.
But in digging into HomeOS and the Lab of Things news today, I’m struck by how odd Microsoft’s vision seems to be with regard to the connected home. For example, Microsoft’s HomeOS vision centers around a home PC (it can be a netbook or a laptop) that the devices talk to — something that seems more at home in 2003 than in 2013. However, Lab of Things looks like part of an evolution to that disparity, by tying the HomeOS to Microsoft’s Azure cloud.
From the documentation around the Lab of Things:

Lab of Things is a shared infrastructure designed to help researchers develop and evaluate technologies in the home environment. Lab of Things provides a common framework to write applications and has a set of capabilities beneficial to field deployments including logging application data from houses in cloud storage, remote monitoring of system health, and remote updating of applications if needed (e.g. to change to a new phase of the study by enabling new software, or to fix bugs).

Microsoft’s HomeOS supports Z-wave devices as well as sensors built using Microsoft’s Gadgeteer hardware. Since this is a research-oriented project, the idea is pitched to academics who want to try to set up connected home environments. They use the HomeOS and Lab of Things to set up the connected devices on a home network (in this case the laptop running HomeOS is akin to any number of hubs out there on the market) and then tell the devices what they want them to do.
Read more @ GigaOm.

It’s (Mostly) Official: Yahoo Buying Tumblr Youth Serum for $1.1B

Cash! The WSJ says “the Yahoo board has approved a deal” to make this happen, and it’s hard to imagine Tumblr turning this down. One of the most unpopular companies in the world will soon own one of the most popular in history, and we’ll all find out if you really can buy cool.

A billion dollars for a company with a massive, young, ad-averse, GIF-swapping user base and an open disdain for revenue—Yahoo’s shareholders are probably a little puzzled, if they aren’t prima facie dazzled by how often Tumblr is characterized as “cool” and “young”—that demographic elixer Yahoo will now try to vampire-suck out of Tumblr. Cool, cool, cool, young, young, so young.

Tumblr’s investors won’t be so dazzled, as they were hoping for a hell of a lot more than a billion dollars. Then again, these same investors poured millions into a company that, as mentioned, never made making money a priority—Tumblr should consider itself lucky to have this deus ex Marissa Mayer, the ultimate bail-out.

Read more @ ValleyWAG.

Google H840 Media Player Spotted In FCC Testing

Google H480 FCC EUT

Earlier this year, Google decided to discontinue the social streaming media player known as the Nexus Q.  However, a new Google media player gadget has been spotted in FCC testing documents with the product name H840.  The product code is the H2G2-42, which is a play on the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The wireless report confirms that the device “functions as a media player.”  Some of the specs of the device includes a 2.4GHz WiFi b/g/n connectivity.  The FCC report does not contain test photos so we do not know what the device looks like.  It is likely that the H840 will support Google Play Music All Access and will have similar functionality as a Sonos media player that can be connected to external speakers.

The Google H840 will likely have a much more friendly user interface than the Nexus Q with more features.  The Nexus Q was essentially a way to play YouTube videos, music, and other content to a TV using Android-powered phones and tablets.  Essentially, the Nexus Q was Google’s own Apple TV.  Earlier this month, Google Play stopped supporting the Nexus Q after the All Access subscription music services was integrated into the marketplace.  Another disadvantage of the Google Nexus Q is that it was manufactured in the U.S., causing it to have a high price.  The Apple TV retails for around $99 currently and the Nexus Q was priced at $299 when it was launched.

Another reason why the Nexus Q had low demand is because it was linked exclusively to Google Play content.  There were no options to connect to Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Instant Video.  This is why I suspect that the upcoming H840 will have options to connect to these other video services.

FCC Sample Label:

Google H480 FCC Sample Label

Read more @ Pulse 2.0.

BBC News – Ray Harryhausen, visual effects master, dies aged 92

Visual effects master Ray Harryhausen, whose stop-motion wizardry graced such films as Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, has died aged 92.

The American made his models by hand and painstakingly shot them frame by frame to create some of the best-known animated sequences in cinema.

His death in London was confirmed to the BBC by a family representative.

“Harryhausen’s genius was in being able to bring his models alive,” said an official statement from his foundation.

“Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray’s hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right.”

Born in Los Angeles in June 1920, Raymond Frederick Harryhausen had a passion for dinosaurs as a child that led him to make his own versions of prehistoric creatures.

Films like 1925’s The Lost World and the 1933 version of King Kong stoked that passion and prompted him to seek out a meeting with Willis O’Brien, a pioneer in the field of model animation.

During World War II Harryhausen joined director Frank Capra’s film unit, which made the Why We Fight series to back the US war effort.

After the war, he made stop-motion versions of fairy tales that prompted his idol, O’Brien, to hire him to help create the ape in Mighty Joe Young – an achievement that won an Academy Award.

Harryhausen went on to make some of the fantasy genre’s best-known movies, among them One Million Years B.C. and a series of films based on the adventures of Sinbad the sailor.

He is perhaps best remembered for animating the seven skeletons who come to life in Jason and the Argonauts, a sequence which took him three months to film, and for the Medusa who turned men to stone in Titans.

Harryhausen inspired a generation of film directors, from Steven Spielberg and James Cameron to Peter Jackson of the Lord of the Rings fame.

Spielberg said Harryhausen’s “inspiration goes with us forever” while Cameron said Hollywood science fiction film-makers had been “standing on the shoulders of a giant”.

Meanwhile, Star Wars creator George Lucas, paid tribute by saying: “The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much.”

Director John Landis described Harryhausen as a “true giant of the cinema” and said his creations were “not only the stars of those movies, but the main reason for those movies to exist at all”.

Peter Lord of Aardman Animations was quick to pay tribute, describing Harryhausen as “a one-man industry and a one-man genre” on Twitter.

Harryhausen inspired a generation of film directors

And Nick Park, Aardman’s Oscar-winning creator of Wallace and Gromit, told the BBC: “I’ve followed the work of Ray Harryhausen all my life.

Source: BBC News.

Lerer Ventures’ Ken Lerer: “We Are Going To Launch StopTheNRA.com” | TechCrunch

Today at Disrupt NYKen 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.

Read more @ TechCrunch.

Spyware used by governments poses as Firefox, and Mozilla is angry | Ars Technica

Mozilla has sent a cease-and-desist letter to a company that sells spyware allegedly disguised as the Firefox browser to governments. The action follows a report by Citizen Lab, which identifies 36 countries (including the US) hosting command and control servers for FinFisher, a type of surveillance software. Also known as FinSpy, the software is sold by UK-based Gamma International to governments, which use it in criminal investigations and allegedly for spying on dissidents.

Mozilla revealed yesterday in its blog that it has sent the cease and desist letter to Gamma “demanding that these illegal practices stop immediately.” Gamma’s software is “designed to trick people into thinking it’s Mozilla Firefox,” Mozilla noted. (Mozilla declined to provide a copy of the cease and desist letter to Ars.)

The spyware doesn’t infect Firefox itself, so a victim’s browser isn’t at risk. But the spyware “uses our brand and trademarks to lie and mislead as one of its methods for avoiding detection and deletion” and is “used by Gamma’s customers to violate citizens’ human rights and online privacy,” Mozilla said. Mozilla continues:

Through the work of the Citizen Lab research team, we believe Gamma’s spyware tries to give users the false impression that, as a program installed on their computer or mobile device, it’s related to Mozilla and Firefox, and is thus trustworthy both technically and in its content. This is accomplished in two ways:

1. When a user examines the installed spyware on his/her machine by viewing its properties, Gamma misrepresents its program as “Firefox.exe” and includes the properties associated with Firefox along with a version number and copyright and trademark claims attributed to “Firefox and Mozilla Developers.”

2. For an expert user who examines the underlying code of the installed spyware, Gamma includes verbatim the assembly manifest from Firefox software.

The Citizen Lab research team has provided us with samples from the following three instances that demonstrate how this misuse of our brand, trademarks and public trust is a designed feature of Gamma’s spyware products and not unique to a single customer’s deployment:

  • A spyware attack in Bahrain aimed at pro-democracy activists;
  • The recent discovery of Gamma’s spyware apparently in use amidst Malaysia’s upcoming General Elections; and
  • A promotional demo produced by Gamma.

Each sample demonstrates the exact same pattern of falsely designating the installed spyware as originating from Mozilla. Gamma’s own brochures and promotional videos tout one of the essential features of its surveillance software is that it can be covertly deployed on the person’s system and remain undetected.

The Citizen Lab report provides pictorial evidence of the impersonation:

FinFisher doesn’t just masquerade as Firefox. The Citizen Lab report says it has also been used to target Malay language speakers by “masquerading as a document discussing Malaysia’s upcoming 2013 General Elections.”

Read more @ Ars Technica.

Gigabit internet finds a new home in Omaha, Nebraska

When it comes to gigabit internet, the headline buzz usually involves Google and some mid or south western American locale. But not today. No, today, the ridiculously high-speed internet spotlight falls on Omaha, Nebraska where local provider CenturyLink is poised to launch a pilot service. Starting Monday, the telco’s Lightspeed Broadband package ($150 a month for standalone service or $80 a month as a bundle) will go live for nearly 10,000 subscribers and continue to rollout to a footprint just shy of 50,000 residential and enterprise subs by October. Further expansion plans for the greater metro area all hinge upon whether CenturyLink can turn a profit on the service, but the company will continue to sign-up enterprise subs outside of this pilot zone for the next two years. The path forward — at least, to us — is pretty clear, Omahans: vote with your wallet if you want to preserve the gigabit bragging rights.

Source.

This Amazing Lego Instant Camera Even Pops Out Lego Polaroids

This Amazing Lego Instant Camera Even Pops Out Lego Polaroids


We couldn’t be happier that Lego master Chris McVeigh—aka Power Pig—is continuing to use his formidable skills to create brick versions of iconic cameras. Following up on his Leica M9-P he brings us this gorgeous Lego version of the Polaroid Land Camera 1000.

And going above and beyond the call of duty, McVeigh even made this Polaroid semi-functional with a small Lego photo that can be ejected from the front-loading slot. If real Polaroids were this adorable, they might still be around. [Chris McVeigh via The Brothers Brick]

Source: Gizmodo.