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Look, an iPhone being charged by an umbilical cord

Japanese artist Mio I-Zawa creates a different kind of charging cable for your iPhone. It's a pulsating, wriggling umbilical cord, complete with strange squealing noises.

Originally posted at Technically Incorrect

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Assessing the PlayBook’s threat to the iPad

RIM is touting one potentially big advantage that its PlayBook tablet has over the iPad. It's still a big if, but it warrants a closer look.

Originally posted at Nanotech - The Circuits Blog

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Dev-Team shows jailbreak for 2nd-gen Apple TV

Shatter exploit allows the Apple TV to run non-Apple-certified apps, and the exploit might be hard for Apple to patch.

Originally posted at Crave

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Why Sega has failed me

I often look back fondly at the “old days” of gaming. It was a time that was marked by innovation, simple gameplay, and companies that were able to strike a chord with consumers through sometimes-corny mascots. One of those companies was Sega. The company’s hedgehog, Sonic, was its answer to Nintendo’s plumber, Mario. And it quickly became a legendary figure that lives on today through several different titles on a number of game consoles. But over the years, Sega made several missteps as a company. It failed to deliver a viable follow-up to the wildly popular Genesis. And its Sega Saturn was arguably one of the worst mistakes in the history of the gaming industry.

sega dreamcast

But then Sega came around towards the end of the 1990s. The company realized that it had made mistakes, it wanted to right the wrongs that it committed, and it turned to the Sega Dreamcast.

Released on September 9, 1999, the console was arguably one of the best gaming devices ever released. It was a trendsetter that helped ignite the online-gaming revolution. And it laid the groundwork for what would eventually help Microsoft, Sony, and even Nintendo capitalize on the changing gaming landscape.

During the Dreamcast years, Sega released a slew of outstanding games, including Shenmue. The title was an adventure title that, at least in my opinion, had no equal. It combined an outstanding story with fighting mechanics that worked extremely well as a body of work.

The game was a major release for Sega. And after the Dreamcast died, Ryo Hazuki continued his quest to avenge his father’s death by killing Lan Di, the game’s antagonist, on the Xbox. But that game didn’t sell as well as it could have. And Sega eventually decided to ditch the franchise before its completion.

Instead of trying to compete in the difficult hardware business, Sega is now trying to make a name for itself in the crowded software space.

But the company has had difficulty doing so. And its decision to release Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and WiiWare later this year speaks to just how badly the company has lost its way since the hey-days.

Lately, all I’ve seen from Sega is remakes of old titles. Yes, Sonic is great and having Crazy Taxi again will be nice. But the Yakuza franchise has run its course. And the company’s long line of titles outside of those main franchises are doing little to suit my fancy in any meaningful way.

Sega says it’s doing well financially. But I don’t really care about its business performance. I want the fabric of what made Sega so special in the first place back. And that can only happen with hardware and unique games.

Yes, I know my hopes for a Dreamcast 2 will fall on deaf ears, but I’d like to see Sega bring back some of its innovation from the Dreamcast days. After all, that was when the firm delivered Shenmue, Sonic Adventure, and Crazy Taxi — games that in one way or another still strike a chord with the hardcore gamer.

I guess I just don’t like today’s Sega. I want the old days back when Sega knew what it was all about and it took some chances. Nowadays, it’s a shadow of its former self.

Who’s with me?

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Notion Ink Adam UI detailed: OpenGL, magazine-inspired & mysterious new sensor

Notion Ink has been teasing us with an ongoing series on the design decisions behind their much-anticipated Adam tablet, and in their latest article they’re touching on the UI.  Based on the OpenGL engine, the Notion Ink Adam UI will be “heavily accelerated” and use various 3D effects; however, the company also says that it won’t be “glossy and web 2.0-ish,” instead being better suited to the nature of the Pixel Qi display.

Notion Ink Adam Artur Grzegowski 2 580x362

That screen accommodation is described as “contrasting” which would imply that Notion Ink have picked iconography that will show up well when the Pixel Qi display is used outdoors in its transflective mode.  As we’ve seen with Pixel Qi’s own demonstrations, in that mode the 3qi panel is certainly visible (especially with text, though color is also possible) but graphics intended for regular LCD panels can look sketchy and underwhelming.

“The UI is totally unique and calls for a very small but crucial change in the Application Architecture to use the UI to the fullest of the extent. [The] UI is largely inspired from real world metaphors like magazines, wire-frames, newsletters. Even the color you will find will remind you of paper” Rohan Shravan, Notion Ink

Of course, it also supports multitouch, and Notion Ink are teasing again about their “very new concept of multi-tasking” which is said to be very different from simply holding down the menu button on Android phones to flick between running apps.

Meanwhile, in an article for Mobile Developer Magazine [subscription required] the company reveals there’s an unannounced sensor in the Adam that seemingly works in tandem with its rotating camera; its nature is unconfirmed, but the camera itself should allow “taking live video notes (writing on videos) to advanced touch focus technologies.”  The image above, incidentally, is a render by Artur Grzegowski using one of the original Enigma UI design sketches.

Notion Ink Adam prototype demo:

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Microsoft Courier-style pen & touch patent application filed

Microsoft’s Courier project, which endeared itself to tablet-philes with its promise of dual-displays and an innovative pen-and-finger interface, but then was cruelly axed before launch, keeps spawning patent applications.  The latest – Bimodal Touch Sensitive Digital Notebook – describes the different ways in which two types of touchscreen input, using fingers and a more precise digital stylus, could be implemented for better control of a slate.

microsoft digital notebook

Basically, while Apple would have it that any need for a stylus means the interface designers have failed, Microsoft is taking a different approach.  They seemingly recognize that much general control is indeed suited to “blunt” fingers, but that there’s still a place for an accurate active stylus, for instance in text entry, editing and precise selection.  The company’s Microsoft Research arm has previously shown a video demo of how that interaction could work.

One such combined gesture illustrated in the patent application shows a user spreading a selection of files with their fingertips and then drawing out individual documents using the pen.  There’s also hovering support, which fingertip interfaces – aside from some concepts we’ve seen – don’t have.  As to whether Courier might ever be resurrected, that seems unlikely; however, we still hold out hope that Microsoft could release a Courier-style pen-and-stylus centric OS build for the growing number of tablet producing OEMs.

[via WMPowerUser]

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T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy Tab up for pre-registration

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab spawned a pre-registration page at UK retailer The Carphone Warehouse yesterday and now, not to be outdone, T-Mobile USA has rolled out their own version.  We’re still in the dark regarding exact release dates and pricing, but at least you can be among the first to know when the carrier deigns to tell us.

Samsung Galaxy Tab T Mobile USA 580x445

Samsung has confirmed that the Galaxy Tab will land in the UK from November 1st, but there’s no sign of a US release date at present.  Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile USA are all going to be offering their own versions, however.  More information on the Galaxy Tab here.

[via TmoNews]

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