Consider us incepted. Ever since Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster hit theaters in July, we’ve been trying to suss out dream from reality. Now that we can bring the movie home, we can put our freeze-frame thumb to use. (Haven’t seen the movie? Stop reading. This is one big spoiler.) Nolan specializes in puzzles, and the Inception is no exception. The trick isn’t the plot—come on, it wasn’t that complicated. The challenge is picking out Nolan’s lies. Does hero Dom Cobb’s totem tell the truth about whether he’s dreaming? Is the sequence in Mombasa just good action or good action in a paranoid dream? Below, our take on what’s really going on. To make sure we haven’t lost our minds, we let Nolan himself weigh in. As they say in the Inception, the only way forward is downward—so into the rabbit hole we go.
Click on the image thumbnail below to view the full size image. Zoom in to the full infographic to see the compete layers of the Inception
Soon tables like these will be available to download and print in your home
As Christmas fast approaches, millions will opt to spare themselves the crowded high street and instead settle down in front of the computer and do their shopping there.
Yet buying online has always had one key disadvantage: you have to wait.
Not only that, but the inability to touch a product, try it on, feel how heavy it is or do anything else you would do on your typical high street excursion prevents online shopping being the perfect experience.
But technology is now coming online that could allow you to receive your goods straight away.
As the cost of 3D printing hardware begins to drop, bespoke, printable products may be about to hit the market.
Freedom of Creation is a design and research company exploring the capabilities of what, in the industry, is known as rapid prototyping.
Janne Kyttanen is the company’s founder and creative director.
“Imagine the potential of this for the fashion industry.”
“I can measure your body, in 3D, and I can make you perfectly fitting garments in the future without any sewing and stitching, making the needle and the thread obsolete.”
His company is now producing products for companies including Asics, Tommy Hillfiger and Hyundai.
This hook was printed on a RepRap machine
Away from the fashion world, 3D printing has many applications for the developing world.
The ability to produce specially designed objects from a computer offers exciting possibilities for making vital tools in poorer, hard to reach areas.
One scheme that is looking to capitalise in the technology is RepRap, short for Replicating Rapid Prototyping, which offers a cheap way of replicating objects – including the printer itself.
“It’s a 3D printer that prints out a kit of parts for another 3D printer,” explained Dr Adrian Bowyer from the University of Bath.
“It doesn’t print every last single part. There are some which, at the moment, are a little bit difficult for the machine to manage – so things like electric motors and the electronics circuitry the machine can’t do for itself – but it prints out a lot of the rest.”
In contrast to early 3-D printing machines which cost around £20,000, Dr Bowyer says a RepRap machine comes in at just £300.
And the software and hardware specifications are all open source – meaning the machine can be duplicated freely.
This low barrier to entry has piqued the interest of many entrepreneurs, keen to see how the technology can be effectively deployed.
David Flanders, a technology enthusiast and blogger based in London, has been experimenting with ways to do good with the RepRap machine.
“Imagine I print you a shoe. Your child grows, as they do. You take that shoe, you throw it back in the shredder – the shredder then processes the plastic.
“You scale up your design 0.3% and you’ve got your child’s next shoe. That’s the type of imaginative excitement that we really are talking about.”
In the past, the ability to print, burn CDs or DVDs have been seen as a serious threat to intellectual property, making the act of piracy easier.
3D printing is no different. Public Knowledge, a Washington-based public interest group “working to defend citizens’ rights in the emerging digital culture” referred to the advancements as the “next great technological disruption”.
In a paper entitled “It will be awesome if they don’t screw it up”, Michael Weinberg wrote: “The ability to reproduce physical objects in small workshops and at home is potentially just as revolutionary as the ability to summon information from any source onto a computer screen.”
He is now calling on 3D printing entrepreneurs to remain vigilant of policy debates attempts as the technology develops into the mainstream.
BBC’s Maggie Shiels analyses how Facebook has ramped up competition competition with AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google with Facebook Messages.
Facebook Messages aims to tie users more closely to the social networking site at a time when everyone is battling for their attention.
The product will merge texts, online chats, and emails into one central hub.
Facebook said traditional email is too slow and cumbersome and needs to step into the modern world of messaging.
“This is not an email killer,” Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg told reporters and analysts at an event in San Francisco.
“Maybe we can help push the way people do messaging more towards this simple, real time, immediate personal experience. Email is still really important to a lot of people. We think this simple messaging is how people will shift their communication,” added Mr Zuckerberg.
In a case of bad timing, reports surfaced hours after the Facebook launch that Gmail suffered an outage.
The new service is seen as offering an alternative to Gmail, the fastest growing web service in the past year with over 193 million users according to data tracker ComScore.
Email remains one of the most popular means of communication
The irony was that ahead of the announcement, speculation was rife that Facebook’s new product would be most crippling for Gmail. Mr Zuckerberg said he did not see it that way.
“In reality they have a great product.
“We don’t expect anyone to wake up tomorrow and say ‘I’m going to shut down my Yahoo Mail or Gmail account’.
“Maybe one day, six months, a year, two years out people will start to say this is how the future should work,” said Mr Zuckerberg.
AOL which at the weekend previewed changes to its once popular web mail service disagreed email is doomed.
“Email remains one of the killer apps on the internet,” said Brad Garlinghouse, AOL’s senior vice president of consumer products.
Industry analyst Augie Ray of Forrester agreed.
“Research we have done shows we know that in the US 90% of adults check their mail at least once a month and 59% of adults say they maintain a profile on a social networking site.
“There is a big gap between the reach social media has and the reach email has.”
Ease of use
At the heart of Facebook Messages is an effort to ensure users “see the messages that matter”.
The new feature will simplify how people communicate whether it be via text, instant messages, online chat or email. All these messages will come into one feed known as a social inbox allowing users to reply in any way they want.
All 500million plus users will eventually be offered an @Facebook.com address
Facebook said around 70% of users regularly use it to send messages to friends and and that a total of four billion messages pass across the site every day.
“We really want to enable people to have conversations with the people they care about,” Facebook’s director of engineering Andrew “Boz” Bosworth told BBC News.
“It sounds so simple. We have all this technology that should be enabling that but it’s not. It’s fragmenting that. So I have one conversation on email with my grandfather and another with my cousin on sms and all these things don’t work the same way.
“I shouldn’t have to worry about the technology. I should just have to worry about the person and the message. Everything else is just getting in the way,” added Mr Bosworth.
The new system will be modelled more on chat than traditional email which means there will be no subject lines, cc or bcc fields.
Liz Gannes of technology blog AllThingsD said she believed users will have a bit of a learning curve on their hands.
“I think the product is just different enough from what people are used to that it will feel really weird to users for a while.
“The lack of subject lines will get people upset at first and then of course they will probably realise they never wanted them anyway.”
Other features include being able to store conversations so users can have a complete archive of communications with friends and family. Mr Bosworth likened this to a modern day treasure trove of letters stored in a box.
Incoming message will be placed in one of three folders – one for friends, another for things like bank statements and a junk folder for messages people do not want to see.
The product will also represent a challenge to Yahoo with over 273 million users and Microsoft which has nearly 362 million.
“For me today represents the day when Facebook truly becomes a portal on the level of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL,” Charlene Li social media analyst with the Altimeter Group told BBC News.
“They now have to start making their inboxes more social. Friends are the new priority as opposed to the conversation. This makes Facebook so much more functional.”
The new product will be introduced slowly over a number of months
Robert Scoble technology writer and founder of Scobleizer.com said this product gives everyone something to aim for.
“This is a new kind of communications system but its not game over for Yahoo and Gmail and all the others because it will take decades to get people to stop doing traditional emails.
“However this is something new and very powerful because Facebook can tap into my social graph and ensure that only my friends are there and I won’t get spammed.”
Facebook said this product was the biggest the social networking giant had worked on to date.
The company will also offer an @facebook.com email address to every one of its more than 500 million users.
check out what’s the first reaction of the analysts here.
Android 2.3, codenamed Gingerbread, is expected to materialize this month. Little is known about Gingerbread’s features, however, because Google develops the operating system behind closed doors and doesn’t publish a roadmap. This has fueled a lot of speculation among Android enthusiasts.
Google has hinted that 2.3 could bring a user interface refresh that will reduce the need for handset makers to broadly deviate from the standard user experience. Various leaks have suggested that the platform is being overhauled to boost its suitability for tablet devices. Google’s new WebM multimedia format, which uses the VP8 codec, will likely be supported out of the box. It’s also possible that Gingerbread will include some of the music library streaming and synchronization features that the search giant demonstrated this year at the Google I/O conference.
We have some ideas of our own about what Google should be doing. We think that Android’s messaging applications need an overhaul, Google should make a stronger effort to deliver good first-party software, and the home screen could use some better widgets.
1. Fix the Android e-mail client
One area where Android is still disappointingly weak is conventional e-mail. Google’s own Gmail application is nice, but those of us who still use IMAP feel like second-class citizens. I have had all kinds of problems with Android’s mail application and have learned that I simply can’t rely on it to perform as expected. Google has some work to do to catch up with superior third-party mail applications like K-9.
One of my pet peeves is the native mail client’s lack of support for moving messages between folders—a deficiency that makes it impossible for me to use the program for triaging my e-mail. A feature request calling for the ability to move messages between IMAP folders was filed in Android’s official issue tracker in 2008 and was finally marked as implemented in September of this year. I’m going to be deeply disappointed if the fix doesn’t land in Android 2.3.
Another annoyance is the program’s inability to represent the user’s IMAP folder hierarchy as an actual tree when switching between folders. Instead, I get a massive flat list where each name includes the full path. This is especially obnoxious when I’m trying to get to a deeply nested folder, because the end of the names get truncated, making it impossible to differentiate between individual subfolders. I often have to guess and try multiple times before I find the right folder.
2. Deliver good first-party applications
Tight integration of Google’s Web services is arguably one of Android’s major selling points, yet there are still a number of important Google services that are poorly supported on Android. It’s mystifying that the search giant hasn’t built its own native Android applications for Google Docs or Google Reader. In both cases, users are forced to rely on third-party offerings that aren’t particularly compelling. I’ve also been deeply unimpressed with the buggy Google Finance application, which has never worked reliably for me. I’d really like to see those first-party application gaps closed in future versions of the operating system.
3. Unify Android messaging
Another frustration with Android is the lack of cohesion between the various messaging applications. Google Voice, Google Talk, Messaging, and the standard dialer are all little silos that don’t naturally flow together. It’s not always obvious which application the user should open to access the specific features that they want. The fact that the Talk and Voice icons are nearly identical just adds to the confusion. A more streamlined interface that brings all of the features together in a more natural and intuitive way would greatly improve the Android user experience.
4. More flexible home screen with better widgets
We recently reviewed LauncherPro, an excellent third-party Android home screen replacement that offers a lot of really impressive features and a very slick set of custom widgets that were loosely inspired by HTC’s Sense user interface. I happily paid $2.99 for the “Plus” version of LauncherPro just for the great scrolling agenda widget. It also has a really good widget resizing feature and support for a multitude of customization options. It makes the default Android home screen seem quaint or crippled by comparison.
It’s amazing that a single third-party developer can so vastly out-engineer Google at building a quality home-screen experience. I think that Android needs to match LauncherPro’s feature set out of the box in order to be competitive. I’m hoping that the rumored Android user interface overhaul will bring a superior home screen, but if it doesn’t, then I think the folks at Google should seriously consider hiring/acquiring LauncherPro’s prolific and highly talented developer.
5. Support for higher resolution and a real tablet UI
Although hardware vendors like Samsung are adopting Android for their tablet products, the platform is not designed for the tablet form factor. There seem to be conflicting views within Google about Android’s suitability for tablets in light of the manner in which the platform’s compatibility definition and APIs are structured. The early prototypes have largely failed to impress and some hardware makers like LG have said that they are waiting for future versions of the platform before they will do Android tablets.
Leaks indicate that a new tablet user experience for Android could potentially be introduced in either Gingerbread or the rumored Honeycomb version. We are hoping that it happens sooner rather than later because there seem to be a lot of gadget makers that are ready to deliver the hardware today and simply need better software.
A related issue is the need for native support for higher screen resolutions. Google’s official documentation doesn’t really address resolutions that are higher than WVGA. We’d like to see Google encouraging Android hardware vendors to move towards something like the iPhone’s retina display. There is also a clear need for more netbook-like resolutions on tablet products.
Waiting for Gingerbread
A fresh round of sketchy Internet rumors claim that Gingerbread will start hitting Nexus One handsets in an over-the-air update this week. These rumors are based on a tweet written in Spanish by someone who is thought to be a leading member of the Open Handset Alliance (the fact that he misspells both “Android” and “Alliance” in his LinkedIn profile doesn’t help the credibility of these rumors, though he does appear to have given Android-related presentations at some mobile conferences).
I think it’s likely that the SDK will emerge at some point this month or in December, but I’m a bit skeptical about the claim that the Nexus One update is going to start rolling out this week. Even if they push a test version to a limited number of developer phones, it’s highly unlikely to be the actual final build. Regardless of when it lands, we are looking forward to seeing what new features Google has cooked up.
There’s an ocean of social networking iPhone apps on the app store. However, only a handful of those are the ones that could be called the best. We’ve dug deep to come up with top five free social networking apps for iPhone.
Twitter thankfully didn’t make too many changes when they gobbled up the already-great Tweetie 2 from Atebits—same clean interface, same Tweet swiping, and the same it-feels-so-good pull to refresh mechanism.
Meebo is the king of iPhone messenger apps right now, with support for AIM, Google Talk, Facebook and the like (as well as an impressive list of smaller networks) all packed into a pretty, polished package.
Take a photo and dress it up with one of the supplied Hipstamatic-esque filters, Then you share it over the usual suspects—Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, etc —or, and here’s the interesting part, over Instagram’s built-in social networking service. It’s new and ambitious and that’s why we like it.
A 22-year-old mother from Jacksonville, Florida, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for shaking her 3-month-old son to death after his crying interrupted her FarmVille game.
The mother, Alexandra V. Tobias, was arrested in January and declared her plea on Wednesday before Circuit Judge Adrian G. Soud, The Florida Times-Unionreports.
She told investigators that she shook the baby, smoked a cigarette “to compose herself,” and proceeded to shake him again. The baby may have hit his head during one of the two shakings, she said.
FarmVille, named one of the “worst inventions” in recent decades by Time magazine, has more than 60 million members, most of whom access the game through Facebook. Some players have found it so addicting that they’ve lost their jobs and racked up debts north of $1,000.
Needless to say, it is Ms. Tobias — and not the game itself — that is responsible for the death of her 3-month-old son. This is not the first time that a virtual game has led to murder; in 2009, 28-year-old Joseph Johnson of Chicago was charged with first-degree murder after allegedly shooting his companion in the head while playing an Xbox game.
Seven out of 10 people store sensitive information such as medical and bank details on their mobile phone without any security, new research has found.
At the same time, four out of five respondents cite security as a top priority when buying or using a smartphone.
The research was conducted by security firm Juniper Networks.
“We are all living the mobile dream and the next killer app is peace of mind,” Mark Bauhaus, executive vice president for Juniper said. “Mobile phones represent the fastest adopted technology in the history of mankind – faster than video camcorders or the TV. I think the issue of security it hitting us quite quickly. As we grow the number of devices, so the bad guys increase and the sophistication of attacks also grow,” added Mr Bauhaus.
Juniper said that in the last year there had been a 250% jump in the number of threats in the mobile space from malware to viruses.
Research has shown that beyond a certain prevalence of one kind of operating system, mobiles would be subject to massive virus attacks.
In anticipation of a security market for phones that will in time run parallel to that for desktop computers, all the major security software vendors now offer a smartphone software package.
In its research covering 6,000 participants spread over 16 countries, Juniper found that 61% of all reported smartphone infections were spyware, capable of monitoring communication from the device.
A further 17% were text message Trojans that charge fees to a device’s account holder.
It is predicted that there will be ten billion mobile devices by 2013
One of the big areas of concern in the security world is the workplace.
Juniper reported that 59% of employees who use their phone for business do so without permission, representing a compromise of enterprise security.
“Smartphones have changed the very dynamic around how organisations and individuals are thinking about security as smartphones increasingly replace the laptop and the PC as the normal way for employees to do their job,” said Mark Patterson general manager of mobile data services for BT.
“But there is also an awareness that these smart devices, which have been thought of as pretty innocent, can become agents of compromise.”
As to the workplace threat, Juniper said that one Fortune 15 company discovered that 5% – or 25,000 – of its mobile devices were infected with malware.
Lost or stolen
BT’s Mr Patterson said he was not surprised and thought this represented the tip of the iceberg.
“As soon as you bring the ability to do financial transactions, make real business decisions and move information that is ‘corporate sensitive’, that creates an opportunity and a threat.
“The sophistication of the hacker threats grows because it represents too great an opportunity,” added Mr Patterson.
Industry watchers agreed mobile security is a critical problem and will only increase as more and more people rely on their mobile phone.
Gartner research has estimated that the number of mobile devices will grow to around ten billion by 2013.
“A lot of software and hardware vendors are trying to solve this issue of mobile security and the proliferation of smartphones and tablets are creating a new wrinkle in that problem,” said J. Bonasia, staff writer for Investor’s Business Daily.
“In the not too distant future, we will hear more personal hardship stories about people telling their friends about their phones getting lost, stolen or corrupted. This word-of-mouth will create a real tipping point about the issue among the public.”
Juniper revealed that in the last year in the US, two million people had either lost or had their mobile phone stolen.