reMarkable tablet: A software update makes this forgotten gadget incredibly useful

A couple of years ago, I was asked if I'd like to review the reMarkable tablet. If you're unfamiliar with it, the reMarkable is an E Ink slate and pen solution that provides a digital note taking and sketching solution that feels eerily close to writing on paper. I was excited to take it for a spin: despite the fact that I type for a living, my note taking and a good chunk of my writing is decidedly old school.

So far, I've had no luck in finding any hardware solution that serves me better than a piece of paper and a fountain pen can. Unfortunately, at its release, the reMarkable wasn't all that remarkable. While the latency of the tablet's E Ink display and pen were close to non-existent, the rest of its software felt under baked. The UI was far from intuitive. It functioned as an e-reader, but only barely. While you could export what you'd written to a smartphone or computer, there was no way to edit the text once it was there. It felt like a slog to use. I asked a colleague in Canada if he'd like to give it a try. I mailed it out to him and, a few weeks later, it came back to me, marked not "deliverable." I didn't have time to ship it out again as I was preparing to spend several months on the road. I threw it into the back of my workspace's storage cupboard. It lurked there until today. Read the rest

Samsung faked a smartphone portrait with a stock photo taken with a DSLR

Samsung's latest phones have a "portrait" mode that cleverly fakes the look of a shot taken with a fancy lens on a full-frame sensor. But a picture they used as an example in an ad turns out to be a stock photo taken with a high-end DLSR. Moreover, the photographer, Dunja Djudjic, has a blog and is currently murdering Samsung.

My first reaction was to burst out into laughter. Just look at the Photoshop job they did on my face and hair! I’ve always liked my natural hair color (even though it’s turning gray black and white), but I guess the creator of this franken-image prefers reddish tones. Except in the eyes though, where they removed all of the blood vessels.

Whoever created this image, they also cut me out of the original background and pasted me onto a random photo of a park. I mean, the original photo was taken at f/2.0 if I remember well, and they needed the “before” and “after” – a photo with a sharp background, and another one where the almighty “portrait mode” blurred it out. So Samsung’s Photoshop master resolved it by using a different background.

Huawei did exactly the same thing a while back. We wonder at the sheer stupidity of it, but I wonder if that's just confirmation bias, in that the stupid ones get caught.

Just think of all the plagiarism that's going to be exposed virtually overnight when someone turns the AIs loose on the problem. But also the false charges of such, generated by the normal and natural lines of influence and fair use it will also reveal. Read the rest

Video warns of "illuminati pyramid" clocks

16 thousand people have watched this ambient yet vaguely sinister YouTube video alerting viewers to the existence of "illuminati pyramid" clocks. I recently found a 1984 Seiko original at a garage sale for $2—my new favorite toy!—and thought I'd share the ancient wisdom.

Best of all, it preserves bacon much better than the late-2000s replica. I wish it would stop talking to me in my sleep about the Clintons, though.

Photo: Selçuk Oral Read the rest

Man arrested for rape after his Playstation mic allegedly broadcast audio from the crime to other players

Last June, 18-year-old Daniel Fabian of Pasco County, Florida was playing Grand Theft Auto Online, when he informed the other players in his team chat that he was going to take a break to "smash" (have sex with) a 15-year-old girl. Read the rest

The winners in a massive roundup of the 100 Best Pens are surprisingly affordable

The writers of New York Magazine's Strategist tested "dozens upon dozens of gels, rollerballs, felt-tips, ballpoints, and fountain pens" and published a ranked list of the top 100 pens in existence. Read the rest

150-piece Fallout 76 Pip-Boy 2000 construction kit

From Thinkgeek, the $150 Fallout 76 Pip-Boy 2000 Construction Kit, a full-sized, wearable replica of the Pip-Boy 2000 Mark VI, in a vegan leather case, with a "completely in-world instruction manual." (via Wonderlandblog) Read the rest

Pricier, more powerful Mac Mini reviewed

I'm tempted by the finally-upgraded Mac Mini (pictured above with the new 13" iPad Pro configured as its display), long the black sheep of the Mac lineup but loved for the promise of compact power it (again) justifies. Rather than make the new model smaller, as some expected, they kept the same box and filled it with powerful modern parts like 8th-Gen desktop-class i7 CPUs.

Nick Statt:

The Mac mini was simple, it was cheap, and it did its job well. So well, in fact, that it took on a second life for many owners as a home media PC, a NAS server, and even as part of a compute cluster.

But the 2018 Mac mini is a different beast. It is much more powerful — it is, without hyperbole, a miniature Mac Pro — and as a result, it is no longer all that cheap. In fact, Apple’s cheapest Mac has moved from a sub-$500 purchase to a $799 one, and much more if you want a larger solid state drive, a faster processor, or more memory. You can spec out a lowly Mac mini all the way up to $4,199 if you really desire. (This time around the RAM is user replaceable, while the SSD is not.)

With other models a generation behind, the i7 model benchmarks faster than everything in the lineup short of the iMac Pro.

The big drag, however, is the integrated graphics. At the price, there should be something more. That said, it is still much smaller than even the smallest MXM-slot game/workstation-class PCs, and it hopefully won't be long before there are external GPUs in the Mac Mini form factor (similar to the Sonnet Puck) to stack atop it. Read the rest

Thousands of sleep apnea sufferers rely on a lone Australian CPAP hacker to stay healthy

An Australian developer named Mark Watkins painstakingly reverse-engineered the proprietary data generated by Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines and created Sleepyhead, a free/open piece of software that has become the go-to tool for thousands of sleep apnea sufferers around the world who want to tune their machines to stay healthy. Read the rest

Generative adversarial network produces a "universal fingerprint" that will unlock many smartphones

Researchers at NYU and U Michigan have published a paper explaining how they used a pair of machine-learning systems to develop a "universal fingerprint" that can fool the lowest-security fingerprint sensors 76% of the time (it is less effective against higher-security sensors). Read the rest

One year later: kids smart-watches are still a privacy and security dumpster fire

A year ago, the Norwegian Consumer Council commissioned a study into kids' smart watches, finding that they were incredibly negligent when it came to security and incredible greedy when it came to surveillance: a deadly combination that meant that these devices were sucking up tons of sensitive data on kids' lives and then leaving it lying around for anyone to take. Read the rest

Toy construction set made from real bricks, wood, and concrete

Mini Materials are 1:6 scale construction toys made from brick, wood, concrete and other real construction materials: everything from breeze blocks to Jersey barriers to pine pallets (marketed as drinks coasters!). (via Super Punch) Read the rest

Kickstarting a Da Vinci-inspired, programmable, mechanical drawing robot-arm

Robert Sabuda (previously) writes, "It has long been a dream of the Leonardo da Vinci Robot Society to bring one of the Renaissance Master’s creations back to life. 2019 is the 500th anniversary of da Vinci’s death and the Society has chosen to honor his memory and celebrate his life through one of his best known inventions - the Robot Knight. This robot is an early proto-computer android whose read-only programmable memory allowed it to perform many actions. And it was also rumored that the robot’s arm could also perform an extremely complex task…draw a picture!" Read the rest

A 1990s "talking paper" technology that didn't catch on

Talking Paper was oddly similar to CueCat. A recorded message up to 50 seconds long is printed onto a photo or postcard as matrix barcode. The recipient runs a handheld reader gadget over it, which plays the message.

There doesn't seem to be much information to be found about it; the video was uploaded to Mimo's 808Crate on YouTube and shared on social media. Read the rest

iPad Pro an excellent if rather large fridge magnet

This is just a glimpse of a photo Charlie Sorrel took of a new iPad Pro affixed, by no greater power than that of magnetism, to his fridge. Read the rest

Possibly NSFW: A gadget that injects bananas with syrup

I might be 12, but my brain went straight to the gutter when I saw this weird banana-filling gadget. This thing is marketed to kids, even though it seems rather inappropriate!

So, this is how the $27 "Banana Surprise" works. You cut off the tip, just the tip. Then, you rest the fruit in the "Yumstation." Now, this is where the fun begins. You get out the tool and jam it into the end and then quickly pull out. And now, according to the directions, it's time to fill that hole with some sweet syrup, fruit puree, or cream.

Surprise, you have an oozing, dripping piece of phallic fruit!

It's just a banana. It's just a banana. It's just a banana.

Related: The phallic pop-up egg-on-a-stick cooker gadget

(Geekologie) Read the rest

Gorgeous, stylized portraits of vintage computing hardware

Docubyte's Visual History of Computing 1945-1979 is a mix of superb staging, outstanding photography, and intense nostalgia, and it just made my day. Read the rest

New iPad Pro amazing for work, but iOS not up to the job

I want the new iPad Pro, which is in a league of its own but for one thing: iOS still can't be used for work unless your job has no workflow. Nilay Patel's review sums up why it remains a poor tool for professionals who have to deal with files.

...either you have to understand the limitations of iOS so well you can make use of these little hacks all over the place to get things done, or you just deal with it and accept that you have to go back to a real computer from time to time because it’s just easier. And in that case, you might as well just use a real computer.

I had the last-gen iPad Pro and spent a lot of time trying to make it work for me, and eventually gave up.

All the workflow problems seem to result from iOS's security model, where apps live in their own sandboxes and can't access the file system or other apps' boxes. The "Files" app acts as a bridge between apps but doesn't provide access to a shared set of genuinely-accessible local files and therefore leads inexorably to headaches. For me, this situation only got worse when I started adding third-party file system apps, because they were really just complicated clones of the "Files" app or cloud/network synching services masquerading as file systems. The more I squirmed, the more annoying and frustrating it got.

If you want an iPad Pro, the sad fact is you probably need a Microsoft Surface, with its own mirror-world of compromises: complexity, slowness, pen latency, bloated OS features and general lack of fun. Read the rest

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