Spacecraft 3D: Nifty robotic space travel augmented-reality app from NASA JPL

I recently had a chance to visit NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory with Miles O'Brien. At the NASA center in Pasadena, engineers are readying for the long-anticipated landing of the Mars Curiosity rover on Aug. 5. During our visit, we met with the team behind a cool new iOS app from JPL: NASA's Spacecraft 3D, an augmented reality application that allows users to "learn about and interact with a variety of spacecraft that are used to explore our solar system, study Earth, and observe the universe."

Using a printed AR Target and the camera on your mobile device, you can get up close with these robotic explorers, see how they move, and learn about the the engineering feats used to expand our knowledge and understanding of space. Spacecraft 3D will be updated over time to include more of the amazing spacecraft that act as our robotic eyes on the earth, the solar system and beyond!

The app is really a ton of fun. You can download it here for free, iPad and iPhone and iPod Touch. Here's the JPL press release announcing its release.

Zelda the kitten plays with the iPad

We got a couple of kittens a few weeks ago. Louis doesn't pay much attention to Game for Cats, but Zelda (above) loves it.

Kingdom Rush available on iPhone


[Video Link] My favorite tower defense game is Kingdom Rush. You can play it online for free, and there's also an iPad version. I don't want to admit how many hours I spent playing it on my iPad. (I will say that I finally finished the game by playing it the entire time I was on a plane from Los Angeles to New York and back to Los Angeles earlier this month.)

The cartoonish art is very appealing, as are the monsters and towers. The goal of the game, like all tower defense games, is to prevent the invading hordes from making it through a gate to your kingdom at one end of the display. You do this by placing towers staffed with archers, knights, magicians, and cannoneers along the path that the monsters run down (the monsters appear from a trail emanating on the opposite side of the display). As you kill the monsters, you collect gold, which can be used to buy more towers. Even though there are a few more bells and whistles, it's a simple game -- but addictive.

Today, Kingdom Rush became available as an iPhone app. I would say that the $.99 price tag is a bargain, but if take into account the otherwise productive hours you will spend playing it, the true cost is far more.

Kingdom Rush

Wired's first issue (1993) plus 12,000 word oral history of Wired as a free iPad app

I started working at Wired in 1993 (3rd issue), but I wrote a piece for the first issue (a review of Bruce Sterling's Hacker Crackdown) so I'm excited that Wired is releasing the first issue for free as an iPad app along with a 12,000-word oral history and archival images from the original team behind WIRED.

NewImageWIRED today announced the reissue of its iconic inaugural issue on the iPad as a free download on June 1. Launched nearly twenty years ago in January 1993, the premiere issue featured science fiction author Bruce Sterling on the cover and quickly became a sought-after collectible. Re-envisioned using the latest publishing tools, the iPad version (1.1.1) is a page for page replica upgraded with annotations and perspectives on how it all happened and what became of the stories and subjects within from the founders, editors, and contributors involved.

"As far as we were concerned, making this free for all of the readers who have supported WIRED over the past 20 years was the only option,” says Howard Mittman, VP & publisher, WIRED. “We knew we wanted to revisit the first issue for our twentieth anniversary, and thanks to Adobe, we were able to make that happen. The only thing more exciting than looking back at that issue and seeing how relevant it is today is being able to share it with the WIRED community."

Bb in wiredThe issue, created through the sponsorship of Adobe, also features a 12,000-word oral history and archival images from the original team behind WIRED. Louis Rossetto, Jane Metcalfe, Kathleen Lyman, Kevin Kelly, John Plunkett, and many of the early writers, contributors, and investors recount the stories of WIRED’s birth from its inception in Amsterdam (Millennium was the working title) and initial investment pitches to the first story assignments and hot-off-the-press copies reaching hands at MacWorld in 1993.

Among the hundreds of anecdotes and stories within the stories:

· As the first editor’s letter said, WIRED was founded because “the Digital Revolution is ripping through our lives like a Bengali Typhoon.” Curiously “Internet” was only printed twice in that first issue. Then executive editor Kevin Kelly said he wanted to cover it in the broadest sense.

· WIRED issues have always been organized by numbers rather than dates (1.1 vs. January 1993). Founder Louis Rossetto didn’t want to be like everyone else so the numerical system is a nod to software with each iteration an improvement on the last.

· WIRED launched in the middle of advertising depression and many magazines hit stands without any paid advertisements at all. WIRED refused to compromise – one exception? Charity. Founders Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe donated a page each issue to a good cause.

Wired's first issue (1993) on iPad

Amtrak users, rejoice! Smartphone scans soon to replace paper tickets.

In the New York Times, Brian X. Chen reports on Amtrak's plans to use Apple iPhones as an electronic ticket scanner on several routes, including Boston, MA to Portland, ME, and San Jose, CA, to Sacramento, CA. "By late summer, 1,700 conductors will be using the devices on Amtrak trains across the country," and passengers can choose to print tickets or display a bar code on their smartphone screens for conductors to scan.

A new tradition in China: honoring the dead with paper iPads, iPhones


Paper replicas of iPads and iPhones with other gadgets for sale for the Chinese Qingming festival at a prayer supplies shop near Kuala Lumpur. Chinese people go to cemeteries during the festival to honor the dead with prayers, food, tea, wine and paper replicas of flashy cars, Louis Vuitton bags, and other bling for the ancestors to enjoy in the afterlife. Reuters/2011.

April 4 in China marks Tomb Sweeping Day (Qingming Festival), an ancient cultural tradition in which families honor their ancestors by visiting their tombs and leaving offerings of food. Not unlike Día de Los Muertos, really.

Brian Ashcraft writes at Kotaku:

Paper replicas depict items that can be used in the afterlife, such as clothing, money, and cars, are burned. Over the years, this tradition has evolved with the times as evident by a recent must-have paper replica: the iPad.

Read the rest

Heatgate or Hype? Thermal imaging of new iPad vs. iPad 2 (photo)

Apple's newest iPad, (R) and its predecessor, the iPad 2, are pictured with a thermal camera in Berlin March 22, 2012.

Consumer Reports effectively launched "heatgate" hysteria this week, when it reported test results showing that the new iPad reached temperatures of 116 degrees Fahrenheit (47 degrees Celsius) after 45 minutes of running an intense action game, or up to 13 degrees F (8 degrees C) hotter than the previous iPad under similar conditions. Consumer Reports, of course, was central to the earlier iPhone 4 "antennagate" storm.

But other reviewers have different findings on temperature/stress-tests with the 2012 iPad. Time disagrees that the issue is a problem. ZDNet has a contrary take on things also. And the Gruber. And Macworld, and The Loop, and CNET, too.

Read the rest

DODOcase's new iPad covers: pretty sweet

I'm a big fan of DODOcase's handmade-in-SF iPad cases, and the classic, restrained minimalism of their basic black line and "Essentials" collection. They've just announced a Spring/Summer series for the new iPad with vibrant two-tone colors, and the option of adding foil or black personalized lettering. And, if you like, a little hole for the iPad camera to peek through.

Apple tees up product launch for March 7: whatever could it be?

Apple today invited tech reporters to an event in San Francisco on March 7, with the following graphic suggesting that the unveiling relates to a new iteration of its market-dominating iPad.

As is the custom with Apple, no confirmed details have been released about either the event, or any future iPad. But word is the third-generation version will include an upgraded display, faster processor, and the same form factor as iPad 2. There are also rumors that AT&T and Verizon will offer higher-speed coverage for the device on their fourth-gen LTE networks.

Your photoshop remixes for the invite graphic are welcomed in the comments.

Report: iPad 4G to be offered by Verizon, AT&T

The Wall Street Journal was first to report that Verizon Wireless and AT&T will offer the next edition of Apple's iPad to run on their newest 4G wireless networks.

In former Soviet state of Georgia, an iPad knockoff for police

An employee demonstrates a "Police Pad" at the Algorithm factory in Tbilisi, Georgia, on January 11, 2012. Five thousand police officers will receive portable field computers, equipped with features that will assist them with their work, assembled at this factory, according to local media.

Update: An official response to this blog post from the government of Georgia is here. And a response from a Boing Boing reader who is a Georgian native is here.


From the Tbilisi-based Georgian language news organization Rustavi 2:

Five thousand police officers will be handed over portable computers. New police pads were produced in Georgia by the Algorithm Company. Minister of Interior Vano Merabishvili observe the process of police pad production in the factory personally. `I have an honor to inform Georgian society and the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, that in a few days five thousand police officers will be equipped with such field computers, which will allow the citizens and the police officers to provide services offered by the ministry to our citizens more comfortably,` Minister said adding Georgian police would soon become the most developed and modernized police in the world.

Says a friend who travels to the region often: "100% guaranteed those crooked, fat, lazy cops will be using these devices primarily for porn and russian gambling services."

Update: A counselor from the Georgian embassy to the United States has contacted Boing Boing to express disappointment that the quote above was included in this article. The remark is unfair, the official says, and it's something of a sore point for a country that has done so much to address the issue in recent years. They direct our attention to the Georgian government's efforts to reform police and fight corruption—with results, they say, that are a global example of success for an emerging democratic state. We've invited the government of Georgia to share those comments in longer form, and we'll gladly post them here as a guest opinion piece in entirety. It should also be noted that the source of the critical quote in this article loves Georgia, its people, and its culture, and travels there frequently to this day. Some who applaud the success of reforms still argue there's more work left to do.

(photo: REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili)

iPad 2 unlocking-by-cover vulnerability

The iPad 2 has a weird vulnerability: its PIN-based security can be bypassed by hooking up a "smart cover"

Steve Jobs bio out early for downloads; "60 Minutes" devotes entire episode to book

As every blog and news site everywhere has already reported (including Boing Boing), the definitive biography of the late Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, is out today.

Actually, it's out today in paper, but was released yesterday for download via Amazon and iTunes. I'm willing to bet it breaks some sort of download sales record.

Last night's edition of the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes was devoted entirely, 100%, to stories on Jobs and his products.

As Mike Godwin noted on Twitter, Steve Kroft asks during the segment how Jobs, "who dropped LSD and marijuana," goes off to India and returns to become a businessman. LOL @ "dropping marijuana." The show sure does know their demo. At least they didn't say he smoked acid.

Snarking aside, the 60 Minutes pieces are worth watching. Here's part 1, here's part 2, and here's 3 (!), on iPad apps for autism. In other news this week, Obama says we're bringing troops home from Iraq, and Qaddafi's dead.

Related: Dan Lyons, former Fake Steve Jobs, on the backlash.

T(ether) turns iPad into VR interface

T(ether) from Matthew Blackshaw on Vimeo.

T(ether) is a display that sees you. With motion capture cameras embedded in a special glove and headset, it tracks the user's movements and allows them to manipulate objects on-screen using gestures and movements. From Creative Applications:

The motion capture system consists of 19 cameras mounted on a frame, covering a tracked space of 14 by 12 by 9 feet, where the tracking of retro-reflective tags occurs. The cameras are connected to a server, which processes the marker data from each camera reconstructing spatial position and orientation. Apple’s iPad 2 tablets are used as a window to the virtual world.

Mr. Halliday better hurry up if he wants his haptic gear to be competitive.

Tether Cinder [Creative Applications]

Enthusiasm for tablets grows in government

Government workers are dying to get their hands on tablet computers, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act and published by Government Attic. The files show, however, that security protocols may result in a slow roll-out at some agencies.

The Federal Trade Commission, National Archives and Records Administration, Deparment of Veterans Affairs, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Tennessee Valley Authority each produced internal records which discuss the merits of iPads and similar devices.

Read the rest