All posts in “Tech”

You can pre-order a limited edition Xbox One X right now

The Xbox One X is now available for pre-order. Sort of.

Microsoft is doing a special limited pre-order for Xbox One X, a so-called “Project Scorpio” edition that’s a reference to the technologically beefy console’s codename. It is the same price as the standard Xbox One X ($499) and will launch the same day (Nov. 7) but has unique design elements.

For starters, the Project Scorpio name will be accented on the console as well as the controller in a green font, and the whole box will be done up with a unique premium paint finish. Apparently, there is also an easter egg on the back of the console for the ultra Xbox fan.

The insides of the Project Scorpio edition will be the same as those of the standard One X, which has some pretty intense specs capable of running games in 4K resolution and making even Xbox One games that haven’t been patched for 4K look a little shinier.

Microsoft announced that more than 100 games — including Fallout 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider — will receive special enhancements from developers to make them look even better on the One X.

This Project Scorpio edition will be available in limited quantities, and although exact numbers weren’t shared by Microsoft, Xbox Chief Marketing Officer Mike Nichols said if people want them, they should order quickly.

“We do expect demand to outstrip supply,” he said. This (hopefully) only applies to the Project Scropio edition, and not the standard Xbox One X.

Information about pre-orders for the standard version of the console will come at a later date.

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fvideo uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f80465%2f8f504795 903b 45eb b188 b5bb107a388b

Elon Musk is back to taking fans’ ideas to make Tesla ownership even better

Https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable.com%2fcms%2f2017%2f7%2f8362dad2 0c42 e9ef%2fthumb%2f00001

You can call Elon Musk any number of things, but you can’t claim that the multi-hyphenate CEO billionaire can’t take feedback on his company’s work — especially on his one-of-a-kind Twitter profile.  

Musk took a break from posting (then deleting) weird videos on Twitter for a round of crowdsourced ideas this weekend, replying to fans’ suggestions and requests to improve the Tesla owner experience.

This is far from the first time Musk has interacted with the public on the social platform for product feedback and ideas for new features, notably asking his 11.6 million strong follower base to help name his Boring Company’s tunneling machines earlier this year. He responded to suggestions published in a newspaper too, back in 2014 — so if you put an idea in front of him, he might just listen. 

Musk answered a whole slew of questions and comments, but request in particular sounds like it will make it to a future Tesla software update, which are frequently pushed out over-the-air (OTA) to the company’s cars to fix bugs and keep them current with the latest breakthroughs.

Musk did more than just promise updates, too. He explained to other curious owners exactly why their wishes aren’t exactly feasible, given the cars’ designs. 

He also teased a new cloud profile system for drivers — but didn’t provide any exact details on its rollout. 

Musk has also perfected the art of using Twitter to build up hype for his companies and projects, which was abundantly clear after his super-premature declaration that his Boring Company will expand its operations to the East Coast last month

The Tesla CEO is a master manipulator, and some might even call him a “master of deception” — but Musk’s willingness to personally respond to consumer feedback (along with Tesla’s ability to push OTA updates to its cars remotely) make the car company uniquely positioned to make the owner experience personalized unlike any other.

Https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable.com%2fcms%2f2017%2f5%2fdaec53c7 38b0 bbc5%2fthumb%2f00001

Instrumments 01 might be the best way to measure anything on the fly

How things measure up is pretty important to us. We don’t just look at objects, we automatically scale them in our minds, guessing about width, height, and how they might fit in our world.

We make these assumptions because few of us carry rulers in our back pockets (where would we put our phones?), and you better be a Property Brother if you’re in the habit of carrying a tape measures on your belt.

If only there was a subtler way to have the power of dimensioning in your pocket.

That’s the simple idea behind the Instrumments 01, a pen-sized, laser-powered measurement stick.

The $149 version, which I tested, also doubles as a retractable pen (there’s a pen-free $99 version), so there’s even more reason to always have 01 with you.

The key to Instrumment 01's measuring ease is the rolling ring on the end of the device.

The key to Instrumment 01’s measuring ease is the rolling ring on the end of the device.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

Battery-powered, the mostly aluminum 01 uses a laser, a rolling ring, and a companion app to let you measure on any surface. To use it, you pair it via Bluetooth with your iOS or Android phone, open the app, place your finger on the end for three seconds to activate the pen, and then, holding it in one hand, roll the back end along any surface to measure it. On the app, the numbers go up as the pen edge rolls along the surface. The laser shoots a precise red beam out of the 01’s back end. You use it to align with the start and finish edge of whatever you’re measuring.

If you want to measure the height and width of, say, a painting, you can capture and save both those measurements in one file. For a box, you can add height, as well. You can title these measurements — “This is a box!” — add notes, and store them in the cloud.

Getting started

Let’s begin with a few things I didn’t like about 01. First, the packaging didn’t adequately warn me about the laser, so when I powered up the pen by holding my finger on the back end for a few seconds and then removed my digit, I found myself staring directly into the red beam. I can’t imagine this is beneficial to my corneas.

The measuring stick even hides a pen. The tip can also be swapped out for an iPad stylus tip or lead pencil.

The measuring stick even hides a pen. The tip can also be swapped out for an iPad stylus tip or lead pencil.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

Second, the app wouldn’t let me finish setup without signing up with Instrumments. I get that they have a cloud-based measurement data storage service — but there’s an offline option, so I don’t have to sign up with them.

Measure this

As I mentioned above, measuring something is simply a matter of lining up the red laser line with the starting edge of the measurement subject (making sure that the double “XX” on the pen’s back is facing you), and then slowly dragging the pen to the right as the measure wheel smoothly spins on the back end. (That ring acts like a tiny contractor’s measurement wheel). To add another dimension, I simply tapped on the top of the pen and the app would switch to, say, height. You can, of course, switch the app’s measurement from standard to metric and in increments of inches, feet, yards, and even miles. (I have no idea how anyone would measure a mile with this thing).

The app tracks the rolling ring, giving you precise, digital, shareable measurements.

The app tracks the rolling ring, giving you precise, digital, shareable measurements.

Image: instrumments, Inc.

In this setting, you can see a virtual, 3D depiction of the 01 pen.

In this setting, you can see a virtual, 3D depiction of the 01 pen.

Image: instrumments, inc.

I was careful to move slowly because the faster I rolled, the more the pen roller would slide off a straight line, especially if I didn’t have a hard edge to rest against.

If I rolled past the end of my object, something I did a lot, I could carefully roll backwards, using the laser to line up with the correct edge, while the app simultaneously rolled back the measurement number.

There’s even an Apple Watch app that let me keep track of the measurement number on my wrist.

Instrumments 01 can also measure 3D objects like boxes, and capture curves. When you switch the app to 3D mode, it will recommend you attach the training wheels to the pen. This triangular-shaped attachment slides onto the pen and adds two small rubber wheels backed by two gnarled metal wheels that line up with the roller ring. To measure with the training wheels on, you have to roll them along the surface while they spin the 01’s roll ring. The rougher metal wheels help keep you from slipping around on your measurement surface.

These training wheels help you measure uneven surfaces.

These training wheels help you measure uneven surfaces.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

I had a little trouble properly positioning the training wheels. Even when I did figure it out, rolling the pen over 3D objects felt awkward. Plus, the 3D representations that appeared on-screen were useless. Often, it was a jagged line that looked nothing like the box I was trying to measure. One thing I did like is that, in the app, I could turn on a virtual representation of the 01 and watch it move in tandem with the real device (apparently, there’s an accelerometer in it, too).

The laser helps you line up with the edge of whatever you're measuring.

The laser helps you line up with the edge of whatever you’re measuring.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

You can also, according to Instrumments, use 01 to grid out measurements by having the laser blink when, for example, you’ve rolled a foot away from your start point. This could come in handy for hanging photos or finding studs (which are usually 16-inches part) in your walls. Sadly, I couldn’t figure out how that works, and information about the feature is not included in the very basic printed manual (which comes with a free Moleskin-style notebook).

The Instrumments 01 is only a little thicker and heavier than your standard pen.

The Instrumments 01 is only a little thicker and heavier than your standard pen.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

As for accuracy of the measurements, I would say that depends on the steadiness of your hand and if you can properly align the laser. When I did so, the measurements were perfect. When I got a little sloppy, the measurements became estimates, at best.

Overall, I like the Instrumments 01. Would I pay $149 (or $99) for the convenience of a pen-sized, laser-guided tape measure in my pocket? Probably not, but I could see a carpenter or home decorator using it.

Instrumments 01

The Good

Pen-sized Simple, smart app Ingenious measurement ring

The Bad

It forces you to sign up with their service. 3D measurement is disappointing.

The Bottom Line

Intrumments 01 is a great, pocket-sized measurement system for DIYers, carpenters and home decorators.

Https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable.com%2fcms%2f2017%2f8%2f87da660a 6fb4 fa4a%2fthumb%2f00001

Alexa has a new skill to help you throw away less food (and money)

[embedded content]

Those leftovers that get dumped uneaten, that tub of yogurt way past its expiration date, and the bunch of celery you ambitiously bought for a recipe that — let’s be real —wasn’t going to happen, all add up.

It might seem like clearing out the fridge doesn’t mean much, but Americans don’t eat 40 percent of their food. Consumers throwing out old bread and questionable milk cartons are throwing away an average of $1,500 every year. All this food waste adds up to $218 billion in uneaten food every year. 

To fight the growing waste, the Ad Council and Natural Resources Defense Council have launched the Save The Food campaign. This educational campaign targets consumers, who contribute up to 43 percent of all of America’s food waste. 

We can’t just blame big corporations and restaurants, though they aren’t off the hook. The NRDC reports that restaurants and food service providers make two to four times the waste of grocery stores, supercenters, and wholesale distributors combined. The nonprofit environmental advocacy group found U.S. restaurants generate 22 to 33 billion pounds of food waste each year.

To make it easier to save food at home, Amazon’s personal assistant, Alexa, can tell you how to store food, whether a vegetable should be deep-sixed, or how to revive a hopeless frozen steak situation. The Save The Food skill was added to Alexa’s repertoire earlier this year.

Image: ad council/nrdc

Alexa’s food saving skill comes with NRDC’s updated report on food waste. The report is a refresh on 2012 data about the environmental, social, and economic impacts of wasted resources.  JoAnne Berkenkamp, an NRDC senior advocate for food and agriculture, said, “Consumers should feel empowered to make a big difference on this issue.” 

Small things like smarter shopping with lists and peeking into our pantries and shelves to see what we already have, and following through on cooking plans can cut down on food waste. “Our eyes are bigger than our capacity to prepare foods at home,” Berkenkamp said.

Once we have food at home we need to better understand how to store it and how long something can last. Confusing food labels push people to throw away food unnecessarily — about 20 percent of food waste stems from labels that tell us more about peak freshness than food safety.

[embedded content]

A new video the Ad Council and NRDC released with chef Dan Barber from New York’s Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns shows how using food scraps can be part of the solution. Being resourceful and using cosmetically imperfect produce that may have some brown spots or an odd shape can contribute to slashing our food waste total. The video, embedded up top, shows how zucchini ends and cores usually thrown out after making a gourmet meal can be incorporated into a second, just as delicious meal. 

It’s not all bad news despite resources from thrown-out food adding up to the equivalent of 37 million cars’ worth of green house gas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have set national goals to cut food waste by 50 percent by 2030, similar to a UN goal. So progress is happening.

Berkenkamp said one example of many corporate improvements and efforts includes Walmart’s discount program, which launched in 2014 and lowered prices on items closing in on their sell-by dates, and saved more than 30 million food products from going to waste. 

Alexa, let’s waste not, want not.

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fvideo uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f81256%2f6b83f5c4 d044 4ba3 b156 ee00f57fdc83

Behold, the LG V30 in all its glory

LG has been revealing key details about its upcoming V30 flagship ahead of the Aug. 31 launch, but one important piece of the puzzle is missing: An actual picture of the phone. 

Well, it’s not missing any more. The image of the phone from all sides comes courtesy of leaker Evan Blass, and even though it’s not an official photo (likely a press render), it looks exactly what we thought it would look based on previous leaks. Simply put, it’s very likely the real thing. 

On the front side, the LG V30 looks a lot like the G6 with even smaller bezels, especially on the bottom and on the sides. It’s the currently prevalent trend in smartphones and I like LG’s simple approach. The back shows a dual camera, a flash and a fingerprint sensor, and it looks a bit clunkier than the G6’s symmetrical design, but still better (in terms of usability) than Samsung S8’s awkwardly positioned fingerprint sensor

Though this is hard to judge from the photo, it also looks that the V30 will have a metallic back, instead of the glass back design on the G6. Also notable is the lack of secondary screen which was so far a staple of LG’s V series of phones. With the V30, it seems that LG’s consolidated its two flagship lines into a singular design philosophy, leaving the days of wild experimentation (both with G5’s modularity and the V20’s secondary screen) behind. 

So what else do we know about the LG V30? It’ll have a 6-inch, 18:9 OLED screen, a powerful camera with an f/1.6 aperture and face recognition. And yes, if there’s anything left for LG to reveal, we’ll be there Aug. 31 to tell you all about it. 

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fvideo uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f81221%2fc4a4c6fe 4c3b 46a0 9b09 357cb51cdbfa