Mobile game replaces Pokemon
creatures with Clinton, Trump
(AP) - While some voters may wish the
presidential candidates would just go away, Dartmouth College has
created an app for those who want to find them around every corner.
Two professors at
the Ivy League college worked with developers to produce “HillaryDonald
Go,” their take on the popular “Pokemon Go” mobile phone app.
searching for Pokemon creatures, those playing the new augmented-reality
game must find the nearest Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump “booth” and
send their preferred candidate “good vibes” that allow them to grow in
Once a booth has
received more than 50 percent of the “good vibes” from those who have
discovered it, it takes on the face of that candidate. Players viewing
the candidates will see them react with humorous expressions and hear
them recite soundbites from the campaign trail.
The college says
the game can be played in nearly 1 million locations in parks,
libraries, monuments, cafes and other public places across the United
States, as well as U.S. embassies around the world.
“Since the birth of
democracy in ancient Greece, modern politics has been, in essence, a
competitive game,” said professor Mikhail Gronas, a specialist in
digital humanities and Slavic studies who created the game with
Professor Joseph Bafumi, who specializes in American politics. “Games
are often considered a less serious social activity; however, elections
are some of our nation’s most important political decisions and are very
much game-like: we follow the scores or polls, and we root for our
Gronas said perhaps
the game can “inject some lighthearted competition into this election
season, lessen the acrimony and allow us to take a brief break from the
tensions of the campaign.”
Bafumi said he
hopes the game will engage more people in the political process.
Facebook’s Oculus to start selling hand controllers
hopes people find their Oculus Touch hand-held controllers more
comfortable and intuitive to use than traditional video game
controllers. Users can make gestures and grasp virtual objects within
the simulated worlds projected by Oculus Rift headsets. (Oculus via AP)
San Francisco (AP) -
Facebook says it’s working to make virtual reality more social as the
industry gets more crowded.
With a host of leading tech
companies now selling VR products, Facebook’s Oculus division is hoping
to distinguish its offerings with more interactive and social
experiences. At an event Thursday, the company announced a long-awaited
shipping date - Dec. 6 - for its Oculus Touch hand controllers, designed
to let users make gestures and grasp virtual objects within the
simulated worlds projected by Oculus Rift headsets.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg,
meanwhile, donned one of those headsets for an onstage demonstration in
which he visited Mars, played virtual cards with two other people, then
made a video call to his wife while standing in a digital simulation of
his living room.
Zuckerberg said his company has
invested $250 million to back developers building new games and other
virtual-reality programs for Oculus, and is vowing to double that
amount. He also said the company is working on a prototype for a mobile
VR headset that doesn’t have to be linked to a personal computer, which
the Oculus Rift requires, while promising a better experience than
current headsets powered by smartphones, like those sold by Samsung and
Other Oculus executives showed a
host of new virtual-reality games for their platform and new tools for
software developers to build programs in which multiple players can
In addition to Zuckerberg, Oculus
CEO Brendan Iribe and other company leaders spoke during a two-hour
presentation, but co-founder Palmer Luckey did not appear on stage.
Luckey recently made a public apology for donating $10,000 to a
political group that boasted of creating negative social media posts
about Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton.
Oculus has been showing prototypes
of its Touch hand controllers since last year, but started shipping its
high-end virtual-reality headsets without them this spring. Gartner tech
analyst Brian Blau said the controllers will let people do more with the
Oculus system, which should increase consumer interest.
But they won’t be cheap. Oculus
will sell a pair of controllers, with a sensor device, for $199. Oculus
says they’re designed to be more comfortable and intuitive than
traditional video game controllers, which can be purchased for less than
MIT’s flea market specializes in rare, obscure electronics
vintage electronic voltmeter/ohmmeter, circa 1960, is displayed at MIT’s
Radio Society flea market on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Collin Binkley)
Massachusetts (AP) - Once a month in the summer, a small parking lot
on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s campus transforms into a
high-tech flea market known for its outlandish offerings. Tables
overflow with antique radio equipment, some of it a century old.
Visitors can buy a telescope that’s the size of a cannon. One man has
hauled in a NASA space capsule he owns.
It’s known as
Swapfest, a place where tinkerers from across New England go to buy and
sell the gadgets they can’t find in stores. Some arrive searching for
parts to build robots. Others are amateur radio enthusiasts adding to
their collections. For some, it’s simply an outdoor museum of the
strange and surprising.
Vendor Chuck Ochs shows a 1921 Crosley Model 51
radio, priced at $100, at MIT’s Radio Society flea market. (AP
“You can pretty
much find all things nerdly,” said Steve Finberg, an MIT alumnus and
longtime organizer, who arrives every month wearing a cowboy hat and a
bushy beard. “The flea is where you go to buy the stuff you didn’t know
The event started
30 years ago as a campus fundraiser for student radio clubs at MIT. It
still supports those groups, but it’s grown far bigger. Sellers now
drive from hours away to hawk their goods, some arriving the night
before to claim marquee spots for their tables. Hundreds of shoppers
come to browse every month.
New England hosts
other flea markets with a high-tech spin, but this one has a reputation
for drawing the rare and obscure. Some credit it to the market’s
location, surrounded by MIT and technology companies around Boston,
whose retired equipment sometimes filters down to the sale tables.
“It’s the high-tech
community in Boston that makes it unique,” said Finberg, who’s also an
engineer at an MIT-affiliated research lab. “People will bring surplus
runs from production at some facility which dumped a project, and you’ll
find resistors that cost big bucks being sold for a dime apiece.”
Some of the vendors
are professionals, there to buy and sell electronics for a living.
Others are amateurs, mostly there to clear out their garages. They all
get the same warning: It’s considered taboo to sell furniture, clothes
or other typical yard-sale fare. The Swapfest has a charter explicitly
barring it from becoming a general flea market.
beginning, the event been held the third Sunday of the month, from April
through October. Its tables fill a surface lot next to an MIT power
plant, with dozens more in a nearby parking garage.
Among the crowd
last Sunday were Neel Shah and Sasha Berisheva, two juniors at
Northeastern University who are building a car that runs on chemical
reactions. It’s part of an annual competition at their university, and
they came to rummage through boxes of electronic baubles, hoping to find
capacitors for their project.
brought his 10-year-old son, Alec, to check out radio gear, a shared
hobby between the father and son from Needham, Massachusetts.
“My dad has gotten
me into ham radio,” Alec said, adding that he was in good company at the
sale. “I would definitely call this a geekfest.”
Among the items for
sale at the latest gathering: an ultrasound machine, like those used to
capture images of unborn infants, and a dish antenna, said to be plucked
from a 1960s fighter jet.
One man, Tom
Perera, routinely brings his collection of Engima machines, the
ciphering devices that Germans used to pass coded messages in World War
Goldberg, of Newton, Mass., browses MIT’s Radio Society flea market. (AP
Chuck Ochs has been
a regular seller since 1991, stacking his table high with vintage radios
and electronic testing equipment. His rarest item up for sale last week
was a Crosley Model 51 radio from 1921, going for $100.
Over the years,
Ochs has taken his collection to dozens of other sales, but he says none
quite compare to MIT’s flea.
slide Magic Lantern projector, circa 1930, is displayed at MIT’s Radio
Society flea market on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Collin Binkley)
“A lot of this
stuff was thousands and thousands of dollars when it came out,” said
Ochs, of East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. “If it exists in the city,
this is where you’ll see it.”
LinkedIn adding new training features, news feeds and ‘bots’
San Francisco (AP) - LinkedIn
wants to become more useful to workers by adding personalized news feeds,
helpful messaging “bots” and recommendations for online training courses, as
the professional networking service strives to be more than just a tool for
The new services will arrive just as
LinkedIn itself gains a new boss - Microsoft - which is paying $26 billion
to acquire the Silicon Valley company later this year.
LinkedIn said the new features, which
it showed off to reporters Thursday, were in the works before the Microsoft
takeover was announced in June. But LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said his
company hopes to incorporate some of Microsoft’s technology as it builds
more things like conversational “chat bots,” or software that can carry on
limited conversations, answer questions and perform tasks like making
Chat bots are a hot new feature in the
consumer tech world, where companies like Facebook, Apple and Google are
already racing to offer useful services based on artificial intelligence. As
a first step, LinkedIn says it will soon introduce a bot that could help
someone schedule a meeting with another LinkedIn user, by comparing
calendars and suggesting a convenient time and meeting place.
The new bot will be part of an online
messaging service that LinkedIn is gradually expanding to make it easier for
users to communicate without opening a new screen or switching to email.
LinkedIn is also adding more
personalized features to its news feed, where members can see articles and
announcements posted by their professional contacts. A new “Interest Feed”
will offer a collection of articles, posts and opinion pieces on major news
events or current issues.
While many people already turn to
Facebook, Twitter or individual news sites for similar updates, LinkedIn
managers suggest their feeds will be more tailored to each user’s
professional interests, by a combination of human editors and computer
algorithms. Similarly, LinkedIn says it’s begun using the online training
resources of its Lynda. com educational subsidiary to make personalized
recommendations for online courses that augment each user’s current skills
or career interests.
The new features are the latest
additions LinkedIn has made to its core service in recent years - for
example, by inviting prominent people and ordinary members to write their
own articles or essays for the site.
LinkedIn Corp. makes most of its money
from fees that job recruiters pay to use its database of more than 450
million members worldwide. But it wants to keep members engaged so they
check in regularly and keep their profiles updated. Weiner and other
executives say they want to make the site useful for more than just
The idea is to “help members be more
productive and successful in what they’re trying to do,” said LinkedIn vice
president Ryan Roslansky in an interview.
LinkedIn has measured an increase in
routine visits to its website and mobile apps over the last year, Roslansky
said, even after the company cut back on the volume of email notifications
that it sends to members. It did so, he acknowledged, after members
complained they were getting too many emails.
Microsoft Corp., meanwhile, wants to
augment its own workplace software with LinkedIn’s stockpile of information
about its members’ job histories and professional contacts. It may combine
LinkedIn’s data, for example, with online programs that Microsoft sells to
businesses for managing sales, hiring and other back-office functions.
Weiner, who is expected to continue
running LinkedIn as a semi-independent subsidiary of Microsoft, said the two
companies are working on ways to integrate some services. But he said he
wasn’t ready to disclose more details.