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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Logitech is buying Blue Microphones

Logitech today announced its intention to acquire Blue Microphones, the hardware company behind popular podcasting microphones like the Yeti and Snowball. It’s a pretty logical acquisition, as far as these things goog –Logitech already operates in the audio space, with speakers and gaming headsets.

The acquisition of Blue would add an important dimension to that category and help the company take on a rapidly expanding space. Blue’s best known products aren’t high-end, exactly, but they’ve become the go-to choice for upstart podcasters looking to get in on the ground floor in the medium.

Heck, we’ve been known to use them from time to time for our own podcasts. The company offers higher end products for music producers, as well, and in recent years, Blue has begun dabbling in the gaming space, offering up microphone and gaming bundles.

“Logitech’s acquisition of Blue Microphones will accelerate our entry into a growing market, and offers another way for us to help bring people’s passions to life,” Logitech CEO Bracken Darrell said in a release tied to the news. “Joining with Blue is an adjacent opportunity for us – a new way to grow – with additional synergies related to our existing gaming, PC webcam and audio categories.”

Blue is being acquired for $117 million in cash. We’ve reached out to the companies to determine what the deal will mean for the Blue brand and its existing staff.

Update: In an emailed statement a company spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that the Blue brand is sticking around and the company’s team will be joining up with Logitech “Logitech is delighted to welcome all Blue employees plus contractors to Logitech. The brand is also welcomed into Logitech’s broader portfolio.”


Source: TechCrunch

3D-printed guns: 9 states sue Trump administration for an emergency ban – CNET

Downloadable plans for untraceable guns are on the internet, again.
Source: CNET

China’s drug rehab centers use VR to catch addicts who still want a fix – CNET

The system monitors eye movement, body heat and heart rate.
Source: CNET

Firefox is getting a new logo (or 10)

When you think of “Firefox,” you probably think of something that looks like this:

Or, perhaps, something like this:

That logo (or some iteration between the two) has been the browser’s logo since it launched back in 2002. Its time for change, Mozilla says.

In a blog post about “evolving the Firefox brand,” Mozilla Creative Director Tim Murray outlines the company’s thinking: Firefox isn’t just one browser now. With side projects like Firefox Rocket (the company’s browser for connections with less bandwidth) and Firefox Reality (Firefox, but for virtual reality), the company is finding it needs a bit more wiggle room with its design language.

While they shared a few work-in-progress potential logos, they were quick to note that none of them are final. They might tweak things over time (and they’re asking for feedback), or just go back to the drawing board all together.

The whole thing might sound a bit up-in-the-air right now, and that’s mostly intentional — it’s still pretty early days in the process. But eventually, Firefox will be getting a new logo; or, more accurately, new logos.

The work was presented in two potential “systems,” each composed of one “Masterbrand” logo and 11 auxiliary logos. The masterbrand would be the primary one used for representing the brand as a whole, while those beneath it could each represent an individual product.

The two new “Systems” of icons:

If it’s a choice between the two systems, I like System 2 — but I’ve always liked the existing Firefox logo, and that’s the set that feels like more of an update and less of a complete replacement. It’s more “Firefox”, less just “fox.”

Firefox says the branding shift should come together “over the next few months” — so if you’re a fan of the classic logo, it’ll still be hanging around for a while.


Source: TechCrunch

Samsung's second quarter stung by soft smartphone sales – CNET

Company turns in lowest profit growth in a year.
Source: CNET

Google snags Sony’s ‘Magic Lab’ VR guru

Google has hired Richard Marks, Sony’s Magic Lab head who was behind much of the company’s VR efforts, to a position in its Advanced Technology and Projects group, VentureBeat reports.

Google confirmed the hire to TechCrunch, sending along a statement from ATAP head Dan Kaufman. “ATAP is at the intersection of science and application where our goal is to solve significant problems and close the gap between what if and what is. We’re super excited about Richard joining the senior team and look forward to his contributions.”

According to LinkedIn, Marks spent the last 19 years at Sony, including time as a research fellow while getting his doctorate at Stanford. Marks has been the public face of Sony’s virtual reality efforts throughout the development of the company’s virtual reality tech, but has also worked on some of the computer vision tech behind other PlayStation products.

The Magic Lab, which Marks ran, was devoted to researching gaming technologies for future generation hardware and software. One of the big projects to emerge from the group was called “Project Morpheus,” a precursor for what would later be called PlayStation VR.

While Sony was quick to express an interest in virtual reality technologies and publicly debut its experiments with PS VR years before its 2016 launch, the technology platform has been facing an uncertain future as headset sales have failed to meet expectations.

The PlayStation VR headset debuted as a cheaper alternative to headsets from Oculus and HTC that debuted at prices that were hundreds of dollars more expensive, but after aggressive price slashing from Oculus moved hardware margins downwards across the board, the console maker seems to have had a tougher time distinguishing its efforts. Also, while it had appeared that Sony’s efforts were arriving ahead of a current-generation Xbox VR play, the company announced that it would not be pursuing a virtual reality headset for the Xbox One X, though that was initially a selling point of the more powerful system.

It’s unclear where exactly Marks will be directing his attention at Google within ATAP, though the company certainly has plenty of efforts in the AR/VR and gaming spaces that would benefit from his experience.


Source: TechCrunch

Galaxy Note 9: All the rumors on specs, price, Aug. 24 sale date and Fortnite game – CNET

Samsung’s next big phone will go head-to-head with the 2018 iPhone.
Source: CNET

Newly legal 3D-printed gun blueprints targeted by state lawsuits

Hot on the heels of the effective legalization of 3D models used to print firearm components, 21 states have filed a joint lawsuit against the federal government, alleging not only that decision is dangerous but also that it’s illegal for a number of reasons. But the lawsuit may backfire via the so-called Streisand Effect, further entrenching the controversial technology.

Earlier this month brought the news that the U.S. government dropped its case against Cody Wilson and his companies dedicated to the proliferation of 3D models of firearm parts. There are still restrictions on how guns can be made and sold, but the files containing 3D data and allowing people to print components seem to have been determined not to fall under those rules.

This was unwelcome news for those in favor of stricter gun control laws, a group apparently including the attorneys general of 21 states. Bob Ferguson, AG for Washington, announced that his team would be leading a lawsuit intended to block the federal actions that legalized this particular form of data.

“These downloadable guns are unregistered and very difficult to detect, even with metal detectors, and will be available to anyone regardless of age, mental health or criminal history. If the Trump Administration won’t keep us safe, we will,” he said in a press release issued today.

They allege that the administration needs the Defense Department to sign off on the decision, and that Congress needed to be notified 30 days in advance. The decision is also held (owing to a lack of on-record citations or consultations) to be “arbitrary and capricious,” and thus illegal under the Administrative Procedure Act.

The Tenth Amendment also gives states the right to regulate firearms, and the filers say that the federal action deprives them of this right and is therefore unconstitutional.

That’s all well in order, but the danger posed by these files is overestimated, as is the ability of the government, state or federal, to curtail their distribution. If this lawsuit is successful, it will have little or no effect on 3D printed guns at all.

“The status quo – which currently ensures public safety and national security by prohibiting publication of firearm design files on the Internet – should be maintained,” reads a letter sent from a number of AGs to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and AG Jeff Sessions.

At the risk of dipping into an extremely charged debate and sensitive political topic (I’ve added the “Opinion” tag just in case), the status quo does no such thing. It must be said that if effective gun control is the goal, there are far more important steps to pursue. Loopholes abound in existing regulations, for instance gun show purchases of unregistered firearms and “80 percent lowers,” which are a quite legal method for creating them.

Furthermore, any attempt to remove something from the internet is doomed to failure, as we have seen again and again, often enough that the phenomenon has its own nickname, the Streisand Effect. Workarounds for illegal content are numerous and effective, and presumably the type of person interested in printing their own gun will not be shy about using a VPN or torrent site. If anything, a concerted effort to remove something from the internet usually causes that thing to be permanently maintained online as a sort of middle finger to the authorities. It’s not in the internet’s DNA to forget.

While it’s true that outlawing the 3D models would give prosecutors and investigators more to work with, the nefarious actors of the world haven’t been waiting with bated breath on the outcome of the previous lawsuit. Criminals, terrorists, foreign adversaries and so on in the first place don’t even need these files to obtain or create unregistered guns in the first place, nor would their being illegal deter them in the least.

The lawsuit may, it is true, tie up and possibly bankrupt Wilson and his supporters, but that’s not much of a victory and certainly doesn’t make anyone safer. Unfortunately this particular demon isn’t going back in the box.


Source: TechCrunch

Star Trek sound-effects master Douglas Grindstaff dies at 87 – CNET

Next time you hear a Tribble coo, a transporter materialize or a phaser blast, remember the man who made it happen.
Source: CNET

Sorry, Elon Musk: NASA says plans to terraform Mars won't work – CNET

Making Mars habitable has been a staple of science fiction, which is where scientists say it will have to stay.
Source: CNET

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