Save 50% on a futuristic-looking plant that is sure to be the talking piece of your home or office

This isn’t your average potted plant. The luminescent Valsfer Grasslamp is guaranteed to spruce up your office or home, and it’s yours for $197.

This unique structure features a glowing light and a compact garden underneath it. The grass alone can produce almost a third of your daily needed oxygen, so it’s great to keep around. Even better, it’s really low-maintenance — a few sprays of water a day should do the trick.

Whether you want a cool new talking piece for the living room or you just like the way this peaceful plant looks, the Valsfer Grasslamp can be yours for only $197.

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Source: Boy Genius Report (BGR)

Microsoft to Cut Sales Jobs Next Week

Microsoft will reorganize its global sales group next week, laying off workers, as it refines the business to focus on selling its cloud-computing services, according to a person familiar with the plans.
Source: All Things D (Wall Street Journal)

Christine Tsai says she is now CEO of 500 Startups after Dave McClure was found to have behaved inappropriately with women (Christine Tsai/500 Startups)

Christine Tsai / 500 Startups:

Christine Tsai says she is now CEO of 500 Startups after Dave McClure was found to have behaved inappropriately with women  —  “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  —  This is the advice I give to people whenever they ask for it.  It’s aspirational, which means it is a lot easier said than done.

Source: TechMeme

3DLook launches a smartphone body scanner to help apparel retailers

Buying clothes and apparel over the internet is still a tricky business, but it is hugely lucrative. And increasingly, smartphones are driving retail growth.

In 2016 — as noted in VB Insight’s latest research — mobile devices influenced $500 billion in sales; $140 billion of that was driven directly by mcommerce.

The problem with online apparel: Accurate sizing, and the returns process that comes along with that. Consumers regularly purchase three of everything to send two back, and that cuts directly into profits.

Today, 3DLook has announced SAIA, an AI-powered smartphone body scanner that can be easily added to existing apps and mobile websites.

Here’s how it works.

The consumer uses their smartphone to take a front-facing photo. They then take a profile view. From those two images, SAIA calculates an accurate body profile, which is used to match the size of the consumer to the retailer’s products. Because SAIA can be connected across multiple labels, it is possible to get an exact match despite the sizing differences that exist between manufacturers. For example, a medium on one retailer-owned label might be an small on another.

So how do retailers incorporate SAIA into apps and websites?

“SAIA is easily installed into apparel e-commerce websites via a JS tag and into mobile applications with our SDK,” Vadim Rogovskiy, CEO and cofounder at 3DLook, told me. “Customers then will be offered to scan themselves with two photos from a smartphone camera without leaving the app or website.”

The store can then automatically suggest items based on both body measurement and shape. That helps to avoid the “order three, return two” process consumers are getting used to.

“It will not only make online shopping more personalized and effective for customers but also will save them time because they will be offered only the particular set of clothes that fit them,” Rogovskiy said.

SAIA can be integrated with an existing recommendation engine, ecommerce platform, or CRM system. Once implemented, the system provides analytics back to the retailer.

“Apparel stores and brands will get access to their personal accounts at SAIA platform, where they can track how many of their customers have scanned themselves in a given period of time,” Rogovskiy said. “They can also use a reporting API to pull all the required data from SAIA to their CRM or analytics tools. For example, they can get data about size and body shape distribution among customers, insights about their body parameters, and other important data points, and then match them with their purchase histories.”

SAIA is available to retailers via a monthly subscription with additional per scan charges. An enterprise plan exists for the largest retailers.

So what’s next for this technology, and is 3DLook investigating applications beyond the apparel retail market?

“Right now we are focused on our solution for the apparel industry, but our plans go far beyond that,” Rogovskiy said. “We see a strong interest from the health and fitness industry as well, and we plan to create a vertical solution for this soon. We are not planning to focus only on body scanning — we want to make maximum use of the data that clients will gather using our platform to create more personalized recommendations for their customers.”

3DLook’s SAIA is available from today for apparel retailers.

Source: Venture Beat

Indie dev turns Wikipedia into a text adventure game

Like a lot of people, I’ve spent hours clicking from link to link, sucked into Wikipedia’s endless void of information. Indie dev Kevan Davis apparently has as well — except he came out on the other side with a game. Wikipedia: The Text Adventure is a free-to-play piece of interactive fiction that uses real entries to create a virtual world to explore.

There are already a few informal Wikipedia challenges floating around out there, such as Wikirace. It also goes by The Wiki Game, WikiLadders, or the cheekiest name yet, Wikispeedia, and you play it just by applying certain rules to Wikipedia pages. A page serves as “home base.” Players then start on a random page and try to reach home base by leapfrogging from one page to the next. The person who reaches it in the fewest clicks or fastest time wins.

Davis’s game is different — a slow, contemplative, curated travel guide to what at first appears to be a truly lonely planet. It expands on some of the experiments and themes in one of his previous works, Around the World in X Wikipedia Articles, a 117,000-word novel based on Around the World in 80 Days and generated with excerpts from Wikipedia using software.

“At the time I experimented with autogenerating a standalone text adventure along the same lines, but even a single small city quickly ballooned into enough articles to overload the compiler,” said Davis in an email, comparing the two works. “Today’s game generates itself piece by piece, instead, as the player moves around.”

In my first playthrough, I felt an almost off-putting sense of distance to the descriptions of places. The start screen offered me a few different options for where my trip could begin. When I clicked on Austria, I got a dry description of its famous ferris wheel, a recitation of facts such as its height (it’s 64.75 meters tall) and its exact location (Leopoldstadt, the second district in Vienna). I then had a few options to go to different locations, each as plainly described as the last.

It didn’t feel like the kind of experience that tries to make itself approachable or comfortable; instead, each location I visited felt cold and alien. But on the second playthrough, I noticed that there was a terminal prompt at the bottom and realized I could interact with it beyond just shuffling from city to city.

On Easter Island, I typed: “Examine statues.” The game responded with more information — still generated from Wikipedia, still dry — but it was something.

Twitter tells me that there’s further interactions available if only I had thought to try them:

Some descriptions are accompanied by a staticky pixel art image, which Davis said is inspired by the 1980s text adventures of his childhood. “It’s also nice for making some of the bad photos and boring architecture look a bit cryptic and fantastical instead,” he said.

The low-fi art also fits the feeling of the game, since it almost looks like the details have been smudged out and all that’s left is a vague outline of this landmark or that monument. While at first, I felt like the game was about stripping away all the usual human elements of travel, the interactions made me think that maybe the point of Wikipedia: The Text Adventure is that it takes an effort to make any real sense of a place while traveling. Davis said that the game is about players setting their own challenges, defining their own paths.

“I always enjoy how different the same data can feel when you look at it from a new angle, or fit it into a framework that it wasn’t really intended for,” said Davis. “Wikipedia is always a magnificent rabbit hole of links, and the text adventure adds a few that weren’t quite there, a way to stumble into bits of history that were right next to something familiar, without otherwise having any connection to it.”

The PC Gaming channel is presented by Intel®‘s Game Dev program.

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Source: Venture Beat

Russia may launch the brightest ‘star’ in the sky

Russia is set to launch potentially the brightest artificial object in the night sky, which could outshine everything except for the Moon, starting next month.

Mayak, a Russian CubeSat (a type of miniaturized satellite) will be fitted with solar reflectors. According to experts, if the miniature satellite is launched, it could have an apparent magnitude of -10, New Atlas reports whereas the Moon ranks between -13 and -12. Celestial bodies are measured based on their brightness, with the brightest objects receiving the lowest scores.

Continue reading…

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The Life, Death, and Legacy of iPhone Jailbreaking

From a Motherboard article: Jailbreaking is the art of hacking into Apple’s ultra-secure iOS operating system and unlocking it — and thus allowing users to customize the phone, and write or install any software unimpeded by Apple’s restrictions. At the time I met with Todesco (a person who offered jailbreaking service), in December 2016, there was no known jailbreak (for the iPhone 7) — no public knowledge of this hack — for the latest iOS version that was installed on my iPhone (iOS 10.2). The world’s first jailbreaking step-by-step procedure, discovered in 2007, was posted online for all to see. Subsequent jailbreaks were used by millions of people. At one point, there was even a website — called — that was free for all to use and jailbroke your phone simply by visiting it. […] Ten years after the iPhone hit the sleek tables of Apple Stores worldwide, and the first-ever jailbreak, that Wild West is gone. There’s now a professionalized, multi-million dollar industry of iPhone security research. It’s a world where jailbreaking itself — at least jailbreaking as we’ve come to know it — might be over.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: SlashDot

DirecTV NOW is adding a bunch of local affiliate stations next week

AT&T has announced a big upcoming expansion to its DirecTV NOW television service, adding a large number of local affiliate stations. This channel expansion will take place starting next week; once it happens, DirecTV NOW’s local station offerings will cover nearly 70-percent of households in the US with television. The local stations, of course, are the same as the local … Continue reading
Source: Slash Gear