Thinking...

by Aaron Souppouris

Senior editor at Engadget, formerly at The Verge - opinions expressed are my own

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The Machine to be Another

Back in February I visited BeAnotherLab, a group of artists and researchers that experiment with identity through virtual reality. It was a truly powerful experience:

After I was carefully positioned in relation to the performer, the Oculus Rift was placed on my head. I was asked to close my eyes and an audio recording was played through a pair of headphones. A female voice introduced herself as Norma, a 29-year-old anthropologist from Germany and my performer for the experiment. As I opened my eyes, I was staring at the same room, but from a different perspective. My hands no longer looked like my hands, and my legs were not my legs, but as I slowly moved around, these alien limbs mirrored my every move.

I began to freak out.

Through the Oculus Rift, I saw Philippe Bertrand, one of the artists behind BeAnotherLab, approach me. He waved at me and moved in to shake my hand. As I...

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Welcome to the WWDC 2013 Keynote

A work of probably-non-prophetic fiction.

“Hi guys, I’m so pleased to have you here. We’ve sold so many iPhones, so many iPads, and so many Macs. Isn’t that fantastic? We’re pretty happy about that. Just a few weeks ago, we announced that we’ve sold loads of apps as well. Look at this graph. iMessage is more popular than other messaging services. Look at this graph. That’s enough graphs.

We’re here today to look at two things: iOS and OS X. iOS looks really different doesn’t it? We don’t have a lot of new features, unfortunately, but we’re going to show you a few exciting additions. Siri has more functionality, we’re opening up more avenues for apps to share information, and we have a new Music service that’s not quite ready, but here’s the interface and basic concept. Our new music service is just...

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Why is Google maps obscuring what Apple and Nokia’s are happy to show you?

Yesterday I published a short report on Google obscuring military sites in its maps. Since publishing it, I’ve been accused of link-baiting, Google bias (hey, it makes a change from being called an Apple fanboy), spreading FUD, and all manner of other evil activities.

Here’s the full report.

I’d hoped the report would raise some interesting questions. To me it’s an incredibly fascinating subject; what do countries hope to gain by ordering Google and others to pixelate their imagery? Any military worth a damn would surely hide sensitive equipment from their enemies’ spy planes and satellites anyway. And, paraphrasing a commenter, “nothing says ‘hey this is probably worth bombing’ like a pixelated field in the middle of nowhere.”

I wanted to answer a couple of questions in the report. First; “what prompts Google to obscure the...

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Metro: don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger

Before I begin, let me just say that the images in this article are me roughly representing ideas and concepts — I (debatably) know how to write, not design.

After spending a considerable amount of time with Metro and Windows 8, I’ve grown completely sick of it. The lack of differentiation between apps truly irks me, and I’m growing increasingly concerned with the apparent absence of vision shown in early Windows 8 apps. But Metro is not to blame.

When most people think of Metro, they think of rectangular boxes, Segoe fonts, and not much else. Sure, it looks pretty at first, but after swiping through your 132nd page of rectangles and Segoe, whether you appreciate the design or not, it does lose some of it’s novelty. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Metro, to me at least, is the idea that pages don’t have to be cluttered with buttons, menus, and...

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Nokia’s PureView is the epitome of ‘disruptive technology’

A full-fat version of this piece is now available over at The Verge, I highly recommend that over this slightly hastily-written post.

The Nokia 808 PureView is one of the most exciting phones I’ve used in a long time. So much so that, despite it’s well-detailed flaws, I’m going to be buying one. Unless you’ve had your head in the sand (or perhaps just don’t follow technology news closely) you’ll already know why: its camera.

Nokia’s PureView sensor is a 41-megapixel behemoth which makes the 808 top-heavy, ridiculously thick, and a chore to use. However, It also happens to perform better than any smartphone camera on the market by such a large margin it’s almost upsetting for me to compare the resulting images with Apple and Samsung’s best efforts side-by-side.

beer

A pretty innocuous British pint of beer. Quite a nice shot, I think...

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Housekeeping

I haven’t been around these parts for some time. Before I dazzle and amaze the world with more half-baked opinion and color, here’s a little summary of what I’ve been up to.

Say hello to one of the world’s first x86 Intel-powered smartphones. My review of the Orange San Diego — essentially a reference design created by Intel as a testbed before it tries to make it big in mobile.

The Optimus L7 surprised me. LG showed a mature, subtle restrained touch in both hardware and UI design that I’ve never seen from the company before. Is it a good phone? No; but it’s a huge step in the right direction.

My LG Optimus 3D Max review will explain my surprise.

Sony Xperia P review. I’m tired of creating a narrative now.

I got way too excited about this real-life Zombie game.

And fell in love with Anna Anthropy’s Dys4ia.

I feel cheap and tacky for...

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How to work across three devices, seamlessly

If you haven’t found it by yourself already, Paul Miller’s Verge at Work feature on managing ideas is an enlightening read. There’s a great little video that accompanies the article as well.

My ultimate concept here is that whenever I have an idea, I can easily record it, and whenever I want to write I have easy access to my ideas.

I tend to write directly into a CMS, occasionally falling back on TextEdit, or using Google Docs for collaborative projects. Miller’s article makes me feel dumb. There are times when I feel chained to my laptop — if I’m writing something longer than a few hundred words, I’d like to be able to step away, review what I’ve written and work out what needs to be changed or reworked. I simply don’t have that flexibility using a CMS, GDocs, or any single text editing service.

The Miller method is ridiculously...

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FCC drops its Google Street View data privacy case

There’s something wrong with a legal system that allows an individual not to talk. I’m sure Google will be devastated by the $25,000 fine.

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The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator

I just read Jamie Keene’s excellent article on Brandon Generator, a crowd-sourced story project by Edgar Wright and Tommy Lee Edwards.

It’s a film noir-inspired story written by Edgar Wright — the man behind Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Spaced — that follows the story of Brandon Generator, a comic book artist with a terrible case of writer’s block. The artwork comes from illustrator Tommy Lee Edwards, famous for his work on the Batman, Hellboy, and Marvel 1985 comics. Narration comes courtesy of Julian Barratt, one half of The Mighty Boosh.

The first episode sets up the premise perfectly. Brandon is a struggling, tortured writer who spends his days with his Nespresso machine and a blank laptop screen. On drinking his 13th espresso of the day, he blacks out. After waking, he’s shocked to find text on his laptop, drawings on his...

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The stock Android gallery app is storing lists of full addresses unencrypted

This is a labor of love. Hope you like it.

Clarification in reply to comments on the article:

“One thing that quite a few commenters don’t seem to appreciate: There were no photos on my device. The street addresses listed were from Picasa Web Albums marked as ‘private.’ They were synced at one point, but had been removed at least a week prior to the discovery. This isn’t data that could be gathered even if someone had my device in their hands, and a ton of time. Not without the chunk_0 file, at least.”

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