Micro 3D Printer Blasts Through $1 Million on Kickstarter in a Day

Is there a market for a small, cheap, consumer 3D printer? That question was answered Monday when Micro, a $299 3D printer, hit its Kickstarter funding goal of $50,000 in mere 11 minutes and continued to raise $1.46 million less than two full days after the campaign started.

Its creator, a Bethesda, Md. company called M3D, calls the Micro the “most affordable 3D printer that can be used right out of the box.”

The Micro is a cube-shaped device, 7.3-inch wide and weighing roughly 2.2 lbs. It works with Windows, Mac and Linux, has a USB-compatible connection, and supports a number of different materials, including ABS, PLA and Nylon.

Its most important feature, however, is the price — $299 is pretty cheap when compared to most alternatives on the market. For comparison, Makerbot’s Replicator Mini, another compact 3D printer, costs $1,375.

“It’s hard to believe that only 30 hours have gone by,” said the team behind the project in an update on Kickstarter. “Thanks to your support, The Micro has received so much attention. You’ve shown the world that we are ready for a new consumer product category.”

The Micro should become available in late 2014 or early 2015. M3D claims that the huge interest for the campaign will not delay delivery schedules. “We always planned to eventually go into high-volume production. The additional pledges help us meet our production goals.”

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Posted in Tech News

Google Glass Is Great for Some Jobs, Google Points Out

Whether or not smart glasses like Google Glass ever gain mainstream acceptance, there’s no question they’re useful in many jobs. Now Google is taking the conversation about Glass in the workplace to a new level.

Google has begun a Glass at Work initiative, asking businesses how they’re working with Glass, and the kinds of applications they’re developing. Google’s post on Google+ cites the Washington Capitals’ work with PX Labs, which created Glassware, that shows fans wearing Glass real-time stats, instant replays and different camera angles on the headset.

Most Glass at Work applications, however, will probably look more like what Schlumberger has done, which was also name-checked in the Google post. The oilfield services company partnered with Wearable Intelligence to create Glassware tailored for its employees, so they’ll have access to crucial information in the field on a hands-free device.

Using head-mounted displays for specific workplace scenarios is nothing new. The military has been using the tech for years, and scores of Glass Explorers have already shown novel workplace scenarios for Glass. North Carolina firefighter Patrick Jackson, for example, is working on an app that can provide firefighters in the field with potentially lifesaving information, including building floorplans and instructions for dismantling specific cars. And the NYPD is experimenting with cops wearing Glass.

Google’s announcement of Glass at Work implies the company is interested in tailoring Glass to certain workplace needs, and will probably deploy specific tools for businesses interested in making Glassware.

It also helps shift the conversation about Glass, at least temporarily. Google Glass has been scrutinized for its implications about privacy, and it has suffered some bad press in the past few months, including an incident where a man was ejected from a movie theater and interrogated for wearing the headset, and another where a woman was apparently assaulted for wearing the headset in a San Francisco bar.

By putting the spotlight on developers like Jackson, Google can show the potential benefits of the wearable technology it’s pushing forward. Those benefits were perhaps obvious and already in if it keeps people from talking about Glass and privacy for a few days, it’s a win.

In the end, however, Google wants Glass to have mainstream appeal. Glass for Work has its place, but if it becomes the focus, the headset won’t ever reach beyond a niche market for a few specialized occupations. In addition to a hands-free camera, Glass provides instant access to Google, communication and the web just by speaking, which has lots of advantages for the everyday user as well.

Google has already begun addressing the issues surrounding privacy and fashion by first forbidding any Glassware that uses facial recognition, then through a partnership with Luxottica, maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley sunglasses, to create more stylish frames for Glass.

Source : Mashable

Posted in Tech News

Samsung Galaxy S5 Is the Upgrade You Can Skip

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is boring. While its competitors, Android flagships such as the HTC One M8 and Google Nexus 5, stake out their territory with a couple of standout features, the GS5 wants it all. Bells and whistles, however, don’t necessarily add up to a great experience.

And Samsung pulled out plenty of bells and whistles. The smartphone, which goes on sale April 11 in the U.S. on every major wireless carrier, is notable for being the first mobile device to offer a heart-rate monitor. There’s also a fingerprint sensor. The camera has a new, faster kind of autofocus. And it’s waterproof! Pretty sweet, right?

It should be. However, with each supposedly standout feature, I couldn’t help but think about how they didn’t really make the phone stand out that well. Other phones have most of them, by and large with better execution. Those phones may not have specs that are quite as good, but they’ve got more flavor.

At 5.1 inches, the screen on the Galaxy S5 is just a bit larger than the Galaxy S4. It packs a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with 2GB of RAM. The internal storage is 16GB, but you can supplement that with a microSD card. The rear camera snaps images at 16-megapixel resolution, and impressively, it can capture 4K (3,840 x 2,160) footage. The front camera is 2.1 megapixels.
If setting up yet another smartphone sounds like a nightmare to you, you’re in luck: Samsung makes it easy to get started via the Smart Switch app. It even works with iPhones by letting you log into your iCloud account to gather your Contacts, Calendar and email. And if there are Android equivalents of your apps, it’ll download those, too.

Designing Right
The Galaxy S5 gets on your good side right away with a design that’s simply outstanding. At 5.1 ounces and 0.32 inches thin, its size-to-mass ratio feels dead on. Although it’s technically wider than the HTC One M8, it’s easier to hold because it’s so light.

The grooved metallic trim on the outside may look a little retro, but as a tactile experience, it Your fingers will almost always have a sure grip, which helps considerably when operating the phone with one hand. The plastic backside of the phone, which is removable, is nothing special, although the dotted pattern is a refreshing change from Samsung’s recent design addiction to faux-leather trim.

The display is incredible. I say that with the caveat that the displays on all flagship Android phones today are incredible. They’re all around 5 inches, and they all have full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080). Colors really pop on the Galaxy S5’s Super AMOLED screen, although it tends to give whites a slightly bluish tinge.

Unlike many other Android manufacturers, Samsung opts for a home button on its Galaxy phone, and the S5 follows that pattern. It must because it needs the button for one of its marquee features: a fingerprint sensor.
Samsung’s fingerprint sensor — the first time the company has offered the feature on a smartphone — is conceptually the same as the one on the iPhone 5S. You can store multiple fingerprints, and their primary purpose is to ease the oft-repeated task of unlocking your phone 30-odd times a day, potentially saving time and hassle.

On the iPhone 5S, this typically works fine since the sensor on the home button has a large enough surface area to catch a decent fingerprint no matter how you press it. Not so on the Galaxy S5: You need to slide your finger downwards over the button to activate it, similar to the sensor on the HTC One Max.

It sounds comparable, but it’s night and day. I’d say the failure rate for my index finger and thumb was greater than 50%. The phone was constantly telling me to swipe slower, wipe the pad or simply that my digit wasn’t a match for the prints stored. For my pinky finger, the failure rate was more like 90%. Once you hit five strikes, you’re shunted to your alternative password, which is even harder to enter than a PIN.

Source : Mashable

Posted in Mobile

Was Windows 8 a Mistake? Microsoft Seems to Think So

Microsoft showed off the future of Windows this week at its 2014 Build developer conference, and it looks pretty retro. In fact, it looks a lot like Windows 7.

During a tease of some possible new features in a future update, Microsoft’s executive vice-president of operating systems Terry Myerson revealed a tool that users will recognize from previous versions of Windows: a Start menu. He also showed that users would soon be able to run Modern — aka “Metro” — apps (those apps you buy in the Windows Store with touch-oriented full-screen interfaces) within individual windows on the desktop.

In other words, it’s exactly how Windows used to work.

“Honestly I’m not really surprised,” said one Build attendee, a developer from a major software company who didn’t want to be named. “The new UI hadn’t really caught on. There was a lot of user backlash. And let’s be honest: Metro apps aren’t the biggest draw.”

Microsoft was going in this direction already. The latest Windows 8.1 Update reasserts some of the old-school desktop tools, such as the Windows taskbar, as well as buttons for close and minimize, which will now appear in Modern apps.

A new Start menu, along with windows for Modern apps, takes the Windows 8 retrograde to another level.It’s tantamount to an admission from Microsoft that the approach it took with Windows 8 was a mistake; that tiled, touch-first interfaces simply don’t work very well on traditional PCs like laptops.

That wasn’t the party line when Microsoft debuted Windows 8 in the fall of 2012. At the time, the design philosophy implied desktop tools like the Start menu and taskbar were antiquated in an ever-connected world. And signposts such as permanent icons for power and search were simply unnecessary — just noisy “chrome” that distracts you from whatever you happen to be doing.

That’s dead wrong, according to user-experience designer Jesse James Garrett, chief creative officer of Adaptive Path, a design consulting firm. Garrett believes the whole approach of Windows 8 was broken from the start.

“It was just too different,” he said. “I think they made a lot of decisions that make complete sense if you’re bringing a completely new tablet OS to market. But the PC experience is loaded with expectations that go back decades. That was completely up-ended by what they put in front of people.”

Killing the Start menu is probably the most revealing example of why Microsoft’s approach irritated users. In Windows 8, the Start screen was intended to be a supercharged version of Start menu. Adapting it for touch, with smart, visual notifications in the form of live tiles, seemed like an idea that couldn’t lose.

“The [Start menu] was a touchstone, an anchor you could always come back to,” Garrett said. “The Start screen isn’t an obvious analog to the Start menu. It’s visually so complex that people get lost. Without the anchor, it creates friction for users.”

Microsoft appears to have seen the error it made in merging a touch experience with a mouse-and-keyboard machine. It began to reverse course in Windows 8.1, bringing back the Start button (although it only served to return to the Start screen) and giving users the option to boot to the desktop.With the 8.1 Update and the future changes Myerson showed, Microsoft is separating its conjoined OS twins even further. Windows, as a desktop interface, will be more or less back to normal (tablets will remain Modern-first).

“I think the initial idea to combine desktop and tablet was a mistake because it assumed that tablets would be the next evolution of the desktop,” said Coty Beasley, a senior user-experience designer with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “That idea certainly didn’t take hold in the way Microsoft was expecting.”

Source : Mashable

Posted in Tech News

Adobe Launches Lightroom for iPad

Lightroom users can now edit images and manage their photo collections from their iPads.

Adobe launched Lightroom for iPad on Tuesday, a companion app for the desktop version of Lightroom.The app, which is backed by Adobe’s cloud service, will automatically sync selected image collections and subsequent edits from the desktop version of Lightroom to the iPad app, and vice versa.

Unlike some of Adobe’s other mobile apps, such as Photoshop Express, Lightroom’s iPad app is not meant to be used as a standalone app. Tom Hogarty, a Lightroom product manager, said the iPad app was designed to extend Lightroom’s desktop experience to mobile users.

“It’s undeniable mobile devices are playing a role in photography,” Hogarty told Mashable. “What we wanted to do is bridge the gap, and let things flow seamlessly from the desktop to the tablet or phone, and vice versa.”

The app takes advantage of Adobe’s Smart Previews, which enables users to work with large files without taking up large amounts of storage on their devices. The feature creates a proxy of the original RAW file that retains the properties and flexibility of the original, but is 2% to 3% of the original file size.

Lightroom for iPad uses gesture-based controls, such as a three-finger tap to toggle before and after, or a two-finger tap to bring up an image’s metadata. It doesn’t have all the editing tools of the desktop version, but includes all of Lightroom’s basic tonal controls, including those for adjusting contrast, saturation, vibrance, highlights and exposure.

The app is free to download, but requires a paid subscription to Adobe’s Photoshop Photography Program, which is $9.99 per month. Lightroom mobile is also available to Creative Cloud subscribers.

Lightroom for iPad is available in the iOS App Store. An iPhone version is in the works, and will be released later this year.

Source : Mashable

Posted in Mobile

Microsoft Ends Support for Windows XP

It’s the end of the line for Microsoft’s Windows XP: as of today, the company will no longer release security updates for the 12-year-old operating system.

“Microsoft has provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years. But now the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences,” wrote Microsoft in an announcement.Microsoft’s Office 2003 is another product that will not get security updates after this date.

Launched on October 25, 2001, Windows XP is one of the most successful Microsoft products ever; its successor, Windows Vista, was quickly replaced with Windows 7, and it took as long as September 2012 for Windows 7 to overtake XP as the most popular desktop operating system.

Microsoft released three Service Packs for Windows XP; the last one, SP3, was launched in May 2008. In April 2009, Microsoft ended Mainstream Support for the OS, meaning it stopped providing free technical support and accepting warranty claims. Up until today, the company provided Extended Support, which included paid technical support and security updates.

What does it mean for the end user? Simply put, you can continue to use Windows XP and Office 2003, but as time goes on, they will be more and more vulnerable to malware and othersecurity risks.

For users still running Windows XP, Microsoft recommends upgrading their PC to a model that can run the latest version of Windows, 8.1. For instructions for moving your data from Windows XP to 8.1.

Source : Mashable

Posted in Tech News

What Facebook Might Look Like Using Oculus Rift

When Facebook bought Oculus VR last week for $2 billion, many wondered if and how the social network could integrate the virtual reality experience into the social networking site.

Now, a concept video by Chaotic Moon Studios shows what an Oculus Rift-powered Facebook experience might look like. Although the headset is largely designed for gaming — thanks to its fully immersive 3D experience that makes you feel like you’re actually in games, physically dodging bullets or moving your head to see virtual panoramas — it also has huge potential for other applications, such as shopping and social experiences.

The concept video specifically looks at how a Facebook user could wear the Oculus Rift to enhance online shopping on the site.

By clicking on a Facebook ad for a purse, the person in the demo is prompted to connect his Oculus Rift headset to enter a 3D virtual Facebook market, where he could walk into an assortment of stores. The user selects Nordstrom and a satchel priced at $199. He is able to wave his hands to turn the bag to get a better look, video chat with a friend for advice and ultimately make a purchase.

Overall, the video highlights a huge opportunity for both brands and advertisers.

Following the announcement of the purchase, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg detailed why he was so eager to invest in the company, calling it a “longterm bet on the future of computing.”

Source : Mashable

Posted in Mobile

Web Design Elements

When it comes to designing and building websites, it never seems to happen fast enough.

Given this fast pace, many small details that are eventually required to build the website are often left out of the design process. While these details might be minor, they are what take a website from nice to truly awesome.

These details are often easy to miss because they don’t drive the overall look and feel of the website. The problem is that as your development team works through the design, it will be forced to design and create these elements for you anyway.

You could adjust the production cycle so that the developers have time to return these assets to you, but why not just get it all done up front so that the process is that much cleaner?

Even worse, the development team might decide to forge ahead and just create the assets as they go.

While many developers have a keen eye for design, the creative who is charged with designing the website should ultimately be the one who plans for these elements. Planning ahead for the subtlest nuances can have a profound impact on the quality of the final product.

Every element covered in this article stems from a question that a developer would ask the designer if an element were missing from the design.

Let’s dig into the 10 key elements to keep in mind as you polish your website.

 Links

While styling the various states of a link is indeed rather basic, you might be surprised by just how often all of the extra details are overlooked. Include the following states for all links on the page:

  • Normal
    This is the default state of a link; i.e. one that is not being hovered over or being clicked or pointing to a URL that the user has already visited. This is the link format that the majority of designers always cover.
  • Visited
    This is a link that is not being hovered over or clicked but whose target has been visited by the user.
  • Active
    An active link is one that is currently being clicked by the user. Most developers will replicate the hover state here if a style is not provided to them.
  • Hover
    Finally, the hover state is what the link looks like when the user mouses over it. This and the normal states are the ones most designers prepare for.

One detail that is frequently overlooked is that these various states need to be planned for all regions of a website. For example, many websites have dark body copy against a light background, but the contrast is reversed in the footer. You need to plan for all of the various contexts of links found throughout the page. Read More…

Source : Web Designer Depot

Posted in Web Design

Search Engines Dominate Mobile Product Research

Local Corporation released survey results from its latest round of consumer mobile shopping research. The company is promoting a new version of its local-mobileshopping app Havvit. The survey was conducted in March and carried out by the Chicago-based e-tailing group and consisted of nearly 1,300 US smartphone owners.

Among other questions the survey asked, “When using a mobile device for product research, how do you search?” Survey respondents overwhelmingly said “search engine” vs. the other choices:

  • Search engine: 73 percent
  • Specific mobile website: 33 percent
  • Mobile app: 24 percent

One might argue that the form of the question biased the outcome somewhat. But there’s no question that mobile search is widely used in consumer product research.

Mobile “search results listings” was also the most influential category or variable when mobile users were asked “What influences your [buying/purchase] decisions?”:

  • Search results listings: 50 percent
  • Ratings and reviews: 42 percent
  • Search results with local product availability: 31 percent
  • Email from retailers where consumer had opted-in: 30 percent
  • Group buying/coupons: 19 percent
  • Mobile apps: 9 percent

Interestingly the results showed that women were more influenced by email (33 percent [women] vs. 27 percent [men]) and men by search results (51 percent vs. 48 percent).

The survey also found that 27 percent of consumers had used their smartphones to pay for an in-store purchase at some point. It’s not clear from the data and discussion released what “in-store” means here (retail only or any offline purchase [e.g., Starbucks, QSR]?).

Reasons for not using a “mobile wallet” were security (44 percent) and privacy (36 percent). Asked what brands consumers trusted to handle or manage mobile wallets and mobile payments, consumers said Visa, PayPal and Apple but not Google:

  • Visa: 24 percent
  • PayPal: 21 percent
  • Apple: 15 percent
  • Amazon: 13 percent
  • Amex: 7 percent
  • Google: 6 percent

Mobile devices play a critical role in consumer shopping though most conversions or transactions tend to happen later on another device (PC, tablet) or offline, in stores.

Source : Search Engine Land

Posted in Search Engine

Is Rewarder The Heir Of Google Answers?

There have been a range of “answer engines” or “help engines” (Q&A sites) that have come and gone over the years. Some of them might be considered “social search.”

Yahoo Answers, Ask.com (more recently focused on Q&A), Answers.com, Askville (Amazon), ChaCha, Keen, JustAnswer/Pearl are among those that remain and still exist. Verticals with Q&A angles are also seeing success because of their more focused content.

Pearl, mentioned above, is a paid service that is reportedly doing very well focused on professional advice. But most of the other Q&A sites are struggling. Quora is a case-in-point, trying to broaden its appeal as it searches for a business model. The just-launched Jelly is also struggling for visibility but has considerable “runway.”

Google’s relatively new video advice site Helpouts is a useful and well-designed service but one doesn’t get the sense that many people know about it or that Google is actively promoting it.

Many sites in this Q&A/answer engine category have folded or been shuttered, including Google Answers, Facebook Questions, Hunch, Mosio, Mahalo Answers, Ether and Aardvark (acquired by Google) and others. For those who don’t remember it, Google Answers was a paid service that closed down in the face of a growing array of free alternatives. Yet some of those free alternatives are basically page view generators for display advertising.

Yahoo Answers, for example, was a once-decent product that fell into what might be called “disrepair.” The quality of the information there is uneven at best, as illustrated by this inspired comedic bit from the Tonight Show.

A relatively new site called Rewarder (since 2012), which just announced a partnership with eBay today, is the heir apparent to Google Answers and seems to have found a successful formula to win vs. the free sites. The service offers an expert network of more than 750,000 enthusiasts and “prosumers” who answer questions in a wide range of categories and on a diverse set of topics. It’s actually like the marriage of Aardvark and Google Answers.

With Rewarder each person offers a “reward” (usually $10 or less) for answers to questions submitted by the community. The back end figures out who should see the questions based on user profiles and histories. Users can post for free but they must pay to see the answers. The site takes a percentage of the fee and gives the rest to the community member with the “winning” answer as chosen by the person who asked the question.

The model doesn’t suffer from the challenges of building traffic to generate page views because it’s transactional and not advertising based. And the paid nature of the service frees it from the quasi-spam and lower quality content that plagues sites such as Yahoo Answers and Answers.com.

Source : Mashable

Posted in Search Engine