Robot Underpants: 03.25.15 (193) “”

Baron Mat “Langley” Luschek, “Starman” Michael Gaines and “Karaoke” Bob bring you this week’s nerdtastic topics including: Vin Diesel is a moron news, CG’d Paul Walker, Star Wars news, Independence Day 2 news, Mallrats 2 news, X-Files news, and more!

 

* Vin Diesel is a Moron
* Fast and Furious CG’s Paul Walker
* TIE Fighter Short Film
* Star Wars Set is Way Station for ISIS
* Vivica A Fox Returns to ID4:2
* Mallrats 2 News
* X-Files Coming Back
* Van Halen Reunion Tour
* Super Troopers 2
* Trigger Warning: Clapping Hands
* Chrononauts
* Taco Bell Commercial

Facebook’s Messenger Platform Adds New Ways to Connect With Friends & Businesses

facebook f8One of the main announcements from Facebook’s F8 Conference yesterday was the launch of Facebook’s new Messenger Platform, which will open the Messenger SDK to third-party apps and services, as well as a new customer service initiative that allows customers connect with businesses directly over Facebook Messenger.

Users will be able to access third-party Messenger content apps via a button next to the options for adding photos or stickers. Using these apps, users can create custom GIFs, videos, and other personalized content and send their creations to friends and family through Messenger. The recipient will receive a link to download or open the third-party app to view and respond to the message with their own content. Facebook’s David Marcus emphasized that the content apps will not be included within Facebook Messenger, but will remain standalone apps that link to Messenger:

“If we added a 10th of the capabilities [directly to Messenger] that we’ve added with partners today, it would make it really slow… If you don’t want to use those things, you’re not forced to… because those experiences don’t live inside of Messenger. It’s not like the overall experience of the app is getting very bloated.”

The Messenger platform will launch with support for a wide range of popular apps, including ESPN, Bitmoji, JibJab, Legend, Ultratest, Ditty, Giphy, FlipLip, ClipDis, Memes, PicCollage, Kanvas, Action Mobile FX, Boostr, Camoji, Cleo Video Texting, Clips, Dubsmash, Effectify, EmotionAR, EMU, Fotor, Gif Keyboard, GifJam, Hook’d, Imgur, Imoji, Keek, Magisto, Meme Generator, Noah Camera, Pic Stitch, PingTank, Score on Friends, Selfied, Shout, StayFilm, Facebook Stickered, Strobe, Tackl, Talking Tom, Tempo, The Weather Channel, to.be Camera, and Wordeo. More apps will undoubtedly follow as developers have a chance to experiment with the SDK.

Facebook also hopes to improve interaction between customers and businesses by bringing the intuitive Messenger experience to the marketplace. Facebook has partnered with businesses like Zulily and Everlane to allow customers to cancel, modify, and track orders directly within Messenger. Integration with ZenDesk and other customer service platforms will let businesses to respond to customer inquiries through Messenger as well. In addition, businesses will be able to send push notifications to consumers’ devices, even if the business itself does not have its own app.

Although no monetization strategy has been announced for Messenger’s new business features, it’s likely that the information Facebook gleans from these customer-to-business interactions, such as where users shop and what products they buy, will allow for improved ad targeting, perhaps leading to more profits from Facebook’s ad platform down the line.

All in all, the improvements to Messenger seem to confirm that Facebook is continuing its efforts to differentiate from the competition and protect its substantial market share. The emphasis they’re placing on keeping third-party functionality separate from the core Messenger app also coincides with Facebook’s gradual transition from an all-in-one app to multiple apps for specific functionalities.

What do you think of Facebook’s F8 announcements? Which of Messenger’s new features are you excited to try out?

My First iPhone

Jen's new iPhone resizedAfter years of resistance, I have finally become the owner of an iPhone. It is my very first iPhone (and I presume I’ll have to upgrade to a newer one someday). No, I haven’t switched over to Apple’s popular phone from Android. Before this, I was actually using a flip-phone. That flip-phone was the very first cell phone I ever owned, and I purchased it in 2010.

My new iPhone 6 is, obviously, much more versatile than the phone I used before. There is a bit of a “learning curve” happening as I try to figure out what the iPhone can do. I’ll get the hang of things eventually.

So far, I’ve only messed around with “the basics”. My husband, Shawn (who also writes for Geek News Central), helped me to pick out a ring tone and assign another sound that would tell me if I got an iMessage from someone. I used his iPhone 6 Plus to take a photo of my iPhone 6 for this blog.

The first photo that I took with my new iPhone was of the microphone I was using while doing a podcast. (That photo became part of the show notes for said podcast). The first phone call I made was to the local government to find out more about something that was happening downtown. I haven’t taken a “selfie” yet, but I figure it is only a matter of time before I do.

The most useful thing I’ve done with my new iPhone involves an app called Paprika. Shawn and I are both using it via iTunes Family Sharing. In short, the app helps people put recipe ingredients directly into a grocery list.

GNC #1019 Gene Mutation as a Weapon

Leave it up to the scientist to come up with some crazy gene mutation schemes to change our DNA and turn us all into Zombies. Think it can’t happen read the first article in the show notes. As a reminder road shows this week only Audio, no vide for next two shows.

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Dell XPS Transition

xpsOver the past 5 weeks I have been using a Dell XPS exclusively. This in part was a challenge by the Dell team. For years I have always purchased laptops with large foot-prints. I was beyond upset when Apple cacnceled the 17 inch MacBook Pro and for the past 2-3 years have used 17 inch Windows based latop.

So I was highly skeptical when I received the 13 inch Dell XPS that the transition would go well. Not only has the transition to this laptop went well for daily use but the way I travel. Here is the list game changers with this laptop.

  • QHD Display Screen Resolution 3200 x 1800
  • Footprint
  • Keyboard & Trackpad
  • Power Supply
  • Battery Life 11+ Hours

Lets talk about each of the items on my list. The 13.3 Quad HD+ display has 5.7 million pixels (that’s over 4.4 million more than the MBA 13 with HD+)  The 13.3 inch screen border from the lid edge is incredibly narrow, and is how Dell was able to put a 13 inch screen within a 11 inch laptop footprint. The 3200 x 1800 screen resolution is simply mind blowing.

The keyboard and mouse have great response and is one of the biggest selling features for me. I am quite picky about my keyboards and I have found the XPS keyboard and trackpad a delight to use.

The power supply for the XPS is simply no bigger than most cell phone chagers its tiny and unlike most laptops that require a brick. This power supply is tiny in comparisson to most laptop power supplies.

The battery life of the XPS is simply incredible. I have been using the XPS on a regular basis for 8-9 hours daily off the power supply and still have plenty of battery charge to spare. Dell says you can get 11 hrs on QHD+ with up to 7 additional hours with the Dell Power Companion

I am not sure how they do it to be honest with you. You have this beautiful bright screen and great performance with the 5th Generation Intel Core Processor and yet the battery life is unparalled with any laptop I have ever used.

I have used the XPS continously over the past five week and it has exceded all my expectations. At this point I feel my transition to a smaller footprint laptop complete, and I look forward to using this laptop for the forceable future. I highly recommend the Dell XPS 13 to anyone considering a new laptop.

Resource Links: Dell XPS Story, Dell Store, Dell XPS Product Page

Note: Dell Provided the Dell XPS 13 for my review. Like any product reviewed at Geek News Central the product has been used as noted in the review.

Archos Creates World’s First 256GB Android Tablet with “Fusion Storage”

Archos LogoWhile tablets are overall a relatively new technology, they’ve evolved a lot since the first iPad was released in 2010. And now Archos is continuing that evolution with its new Magnus tablets, including the company’s innovative “Fusion Storage” technology.

Fusion Storage optimizes data storage by fusing internal memory with external micro SD card memory. Once activated, Fusion Storage automatically migrates data from the micro SD card and optimizes memory balance, resulting in an increase in install space for apps and games, as well as more storage for media and large files. Fusion Storage will be available on all new ARCHOS tablets and smartphones, including the new Magnus tablets, and through Over-The-Air updates on select models.

Along with this new storage technology, the Archos 101 Magnus Plus and 94 Magnus feature  powerful Cortex A17 quad-core processors capable of running apps and games smoothly while remaining energy efficient and maintaining longer battery life.

These new Archos tablets will hit the market next month. The 101 Magnus Plus 128 GB and the 94 Magnus 256 GB are expected to retail at $349.00. Archos will also be launching the 101 Magnus, the first tablet with 64 GB of internal storage for $179.

New InoReader brings full functionality RSS to mobile

rss logoWhen Google discontinued Reader it left fans of RSS in a rough spot. Fortunately there were many options to choose from, and new ones sprung up to take advantage of the situation. One service that you may have switched to is InoReader, a popular choice among the big names in the field. The service is more or less continuously updating its offerings, both web-based and mobile.

This time around it’s the mobile version that is getting a makeover. “Today we’re launching the new Inoreader web version for mobile phones – a much richer and better looking successor of our old mobile web version. Now you have the full Inoreader platform with all the content and functionality straight in your pocket”.

The company boasts a more friendly design, better access to menus (they claim to have made this more logical), better, and more mobile-friendly, article viewing and a new dashboard. “If you’re used to starting your Inoreader experience from your dashboard, you can now do that on mobile, too. You can even change your dashboard on the go – just tap the plus button to add gadgets or the gear icons of each section to update it”.

The new version is available now and compatible with all mobile devices. InoReader is free, though there is a premium model for those who require more features.

2015.03.18 Blogpost Mobile Website

Maingear DRIFT is an Ultra Compact PC and Steam Gaming System

Maingear logoWhen people think of gaming systems, they often imagine large beige or black boxes overflowing with cables and accessories. And while these types of rigs may be fine with a certain class of gamer, there are many who’d prefer something compact and sleek to take them into their preferred virtual worlds of play. For those who’d like to devote a little less real estate to diodes and PC boards, Maingear offers its new DRIFT gaming system.

DRIFT is compact but speedy with an F-1 engine featuring a stylish unibody aluminum chassis that is whisper quiet thanks to an Epic 120 liquid cooling system and superbly engineered airflow. Powered by the latest in gaming technology, including Intel Core i7-4790K CPU and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 or AMD Radeon R9 290X GPUs, the DRIFT may look small but it’s definitely a might machine.

4K gaming is possible with DRIFT and its compact design is versatile enough that it can be placed either vertically or horizontally. It supports up to 16 GB of DDR memory, can hold 2 1TB SSD’s and a 6TB HDD, and can be fully upgraded and customized with Maingear’s automotive paint finish available in many colors and combinations.

DRIFT can be configured to boot directly into STEAM big picture mode with Windows and the system is now available for purchase directly from Maingear. Pricing begins at $949.00 without an operating system.

Apple Watch Edition is a Mistake

Apple Watch EditionThe Apple Watch Edition is a mistake. There, I’ve said it. Apple fans can leave vitriolic comments below without reading any further.

The Apple Watch Edition is too expensive. Way too expensive. Apple fans can leave additional vitriolic comments below without reading any further.

The Apple Watch Edition will sell plenty. Not record breaking numbers, but well enough. Apple fans….just a sec, hold on…how can it be a mistake, too expensive and still sell? It’s because the problem is not the Watch Edition itself but rather what it represents.

In many ways, Apple and the late Steve Jobs embody the American dream. Although there were setbacks along the way, persistence, hard work and great products from the iMac to the iPod and iPhone led to success, fame and wealth.

On the other hand, Apple was egalitarian. While their beautiful, well-designed products were aspirational, they were also affordable. Not impulse buy affordable but if you too worked hard, saved your pennies, you could afford the Apple product of your dreams. The relationship was reinforced with iPhones and iPads in the hands of celebrities and fashionistas; you could have the same phone as your favourite pop star or actor. In an era of mass-produced mediocrity, you could have something a little special.

And this is why the Watch Edition is a mistake. Apple now has a product which is unaffordable for the vast majority of its fans and owners. There’s now Apple haves and Apple have nots and never wills. What you have is no longer special. The equality of product between the rich and (relatively) poor, the famous and the unknown, has been lost.

That’s why I think the Apple Watch Edition is a mistake. It’s nothing to do with its looks, functionality or value but rather the change in perception of Apple by its supporters.

What do you think? Is the egalitarian nature of Apple’s product line important?

Self-Driving Cars May Be Here Sooner than you Think

Tesla logoThe self-driving car. It’s the dream of daily commuters and crosstown drivers alike. What would you do with all of the time you could save by not having to pay attention to the road during your trip to work? Or how about those occasions when you just don’t have time to drive the kids to the mall (again)? Self-driving cars have made a lot of news over the last few years with much of the focus being placed on Google’s autonomous automobile research. But high-end electric car manufacturer Tesla may have lapped Google in the self-driving car race.

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla just announced that his company will be introducing autonomous vehicle technology as early as this summer. What’s even more remarkable is that these futuristic features won’t come by way of hardware retrofits. But rather, Tesla Model S sedans will gain autonomy thru a software update. The new software will allow these vehicles to operate in a hands-free “autopilot” mode which will initially only be available on major roads such as highways.

Other car manufacturers have already implemented some limited self-driving features in their own cars. But even in automatic mode, those vehicles still require a driver’s hands to be placed on the steering wheels. The Model S is likely to be the first truly self-driving car on American roads.

And while it is a serious accomplishment for Tesla, don’t run out to the nearest Model S dealer just yet. There is still much debate and speculation as to whether or not self-driving cars are even street legal in most parts of the country. Still, there is some good news for Model S owners who don’t want to wait for the government to work out the legalese around self-driving cars. On private property, Model S owners will be able to summon their cars using a smartphone app. Also, these cars will be able to park themselves in a driveway or inside a garage.

And even tho the dream of autonomous driving is now closer than ever, the base model for a Tesla Model S sedan will set you back just shy of $70,000. So if you were really hoping to impress your friends by showing off your car that can park itself in the garage, you may want to start saving up now and/or take out a second mortgage.