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23 Oct 15:00

Ello Formally Promises To Remain Ad-Free, Raises $5.5M

by timothy
firehose

FreshTracks Capital #twoVCsinVermont

Social media site Ello is presented as the anti-Facebook, promising an ad-free social network, and that they won't sell private data. Today, they've also announced that Ello has become a Public Benefit Corporation, and that the site's anti-advertising promise has been enshrined in a corporate charter. The BBC reports on the restrictions that Ello has therefore entered into, which mean the site cannot, for monetary gain, Sell user-specific data to a third party Enter into an agreement to display paid advertising on behalf of a third party; and In the event of an acquisition or asset transfer, the Company shall require any acquiring entity to adopt these requirements with respect to the operation of Ello or its assets. While that might turn off some potential revenue flows (the company says it will make money by selling optional features), as the linked article points out, it hasn't turned off investors; Ello has now raised $5.5 million from investors.

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22 Oct 18:16

mattfractionblog: kellysue: freaoscanlin: fordlibrarymuseum: ...



mattfractionblog:

kellysue:

freaoscanlin:

fordlibrarymuseum:

Perk up your Monday with a memo about coffee.

Staff Secretary Jim Connor’s note on this memo from Deputy Chief of Staff Dick Cheney from October 20, 1975, succinctly sums up why the coffee bill for Donald Rumsfeld’s office was over $100: "They are drinking too much coffee and have too many people drinking it!"

The Mess records showed that the bill covered 200 pots of coffee, meaning that the Chief of Staff and his eight staff members would have consumed about 10 pots per day during a five-day work week.

Too much coffee: do you agree or disagree?

I don’t know, from what I understand from the comics and Tumblr, this is probably the equivalent amount of coffee required to sustain the kellysue and mattfractionblog household. Maybe a little less.

…AND WORTH EVERY PENNY. 

Y’know that’s $449.03 in 1975 dollars.

23 Oct 16:00

Bizarro Back Issues: Wait, What's Vampirella's Deal Again? (1997)

by Chris Sims
firehose

welcome to comics

Vampirella Master Series v.1

Of all the spooky characters that I throw the spotlight on at Halloween, there’s one that I’ve never really written too much about: Vampirella. That seems like a pretty big oversight, too. I mean, I once wrote about the Tomb of Dracula anime for Halloween, you’d think I could muster up a few words for one of the most recognizable horror characters of the ’70s, right?

Well, the fact is, Vampirella’s not actually that scary. I mean, despite her name, she’s not actually a vampire. She’s an alien from planet Drakulon, a planet where water has the same composition as blood. Or at least, I think that’s how it worked, until 1997, when it was revealed that Drakulon was the product of memory implants and she was actually the daughter of Lilith, mother of all vampires, who sent her to destroy a 2,000 year-old conspiracy organized like a vampire Catholic Church (complete with a Vampire Pope) with the help of a time-traveling nun. Hoo boy. This is going to get complicated.

Vampirella Master Series v.1

Okay, so: Back in the late ’90s, Harris Comics tried to capitalize on the “Bad Girl” trend by relaunching Vampirella in a new series of scantily clad adventures. The thing is, Harris decided to go about this by getting some of the biggest creative teams in comics to do it — people who were either already well-established heavy hitters, like Kurt Busiek, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, or the up-and-comers who would pretty much spend the next decade redefining comics, like Warren Ellis.

These creators banged out a line of miniseries that would throw Vampirella into blood-soaked superheroics, and having read through ‘em, I’m pretty sure they were allowed to just do whatever they wanted. And the end result is ONE THOUSAND PERCENT BANANAS, especially when Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Amanda Conner, Steven Grant and Louis Small Jr. got in there.

Vampirella Master Series v.1

Just for context, this was happening at the same time that Morrison and Howard Porter were relaunching JLA at DC, back when he and Millar were pals and writing buddies. It’s easy to see that collaboration here, too, since there are distinct bits of each writer’s personal style that come through, but man oh man, this thing could not be more of a Mark Millar comic, at least in the dialogue. It’s like reading Kick Ass with vampires, only slightly less embarrassing.

So here’s the basic idea: You’ve got Lilith — you know, Adam’s other wife — who went off and “fornicated with demons,” which is a phrase that never really leads to anything good. In this case, it led to vampires, and while Lilith was initially cool with that, she later decided that maybe unleashing blood-drinking bat-people onto the world probably wasn’t ideal, and decided on her deathbed to send her more recent daughter, Vampirella, to kill literally all of them all by her lonesome, which she promptly sets about doing. Fortunately, Vampirella has none of the traditional vampire weaknesses. Ain’t that always the way?

While that’s going on, the vampires are attempting to take over worldwide organized crime, something that they’re just now getting around to in 1997 despite the fact that they’ve been around, y’know, for ever. To that end, they send the immortal but not vampiric bad guy with the exceptionally subtle name of Von Kreist to attack a high-ranking mob guy named “Don Fattoni” (really) who has twin daughters named Pixie and Dixie.

Pixie gets turned and joins up with the bad guys, while Dixie becomes Vampirella’s sidekick, only to be kidnapped and held hostage after Vampirella is injected with a synthetic virus that is, and I quote, “1,000 times worse than AIDS.”

Vampirella Master Series v.1

There is no way in hell Mark Millar did not write that line. I would bet everything I own on it. Anyway, if that sounds complicated, keep in mind that it’s all just setup for the part that’s really weird. See, Vampirella is rescued from certain viral doom by an order of sexy nuns in skintight “chastity latex” costumes who wear boots with crosses on the heels so that they can burn vampires by kicking them in the face:

Vampirella Master Series v.1

Yes. Chastity latex. I’ll come back to that in a minute.

This particular sisterhood wants to help Vampirella take out the evil vampire organization, which, as it turns out, is structured exactly like the Catholic Church, right down to Evil Monsignors and His Unholiness the Dark Pope, who lives in the Anti-Vatican, which is coincidentally also located in Rome.

That, to be honest, is where they lose me. I mean, if you’re going to go through all the trouble of setting up this whole evil opposite thing, you can’t just set it up in the same city! You have to find the opposite of Rome! Then again, I imagine a story where Vampirella fought vampires in Shelby, North Carolina probably wouldn’t have the same ring to it.

So, Vampirella wants to save Dixie and the Sisterhood is more than willing to help, so they hook her up with a new costume, and this is where we get chastity latex.

Vampirella Master Series v.1

Greased-up, skintight chastity latex with super-shushing powers. Oh, comics.

As it turns out, the Sisterhood’s investment in rescuing Dixie is a little more personal than just their mission to eradicate vampires. Mother Superior is actually Dixie from the future, who came back Terminator-style to prevent Vampirella’s death and the subsequent takeover of the world by vampires, but exactly how this happened is never explained, at least not in the volume collecting these stories.

It’s probably best not to worry about it, though, since there’s an even weirder plot twist yet to come. Vampirella and the sisterhood attack the Anti-Vatican, using wooden stake machine guns with cross-shaped laser sights (and never once activating their shushing field, which is kind of a ripoff), pulling off increasingly dubious vampire-killing tricks.

I’ll give them turning blood to holy water (because it has water in it, I guess), but by the time they have people blessing living human bodies to turn them into holy water with the extremely flimsy justification that the human body is 70% water, I think it’s pretty obvious that everyone involved has completely checked out.

Eventually, they get to the end of the level and fight the boss, the Dark Pope himself, who turns out to be Judas. From the Bible. Who is a vampire.

Vampirella Master Series v.1

Also maybe Jesus is a vampire too? Or maybe that’s just weird propaganda from the vampire bible, which no vampires have actually read? And he was also a child of Lilith who was sent to kill all the other vampires 2,000 years ago, so it turns out that Vampirella isn’t just killing vampires, she’s just clearing the way for a race of new and improved Vampirellas? Man, I do not even know anymore. You know, I’m starting to think it made more sense when she was an alien from planet Drakulon.

23 Oct 16:56

Photo

firehose

going on sharebattical for work purposes. See y'all again 10/28



23 Oct 04:10

Always post Grace Jones.

firehose

via Toaster Strudel
"Always post Grace Jones."



Always post Grace Jones.

23 Oct 13:36

UberHEALTH

by OnlyMrGodKnowsWhy
8d2cc425146099670fad12b892654e24
OnlyMrGodKnowsWhy

neoliberal i-don’t-even-know-anymore–based hellscape

Hey Aili,

Flu season is just around the corner and trying to squeeze in your latest immunization this fall may not be on the top of your To Do List. That's why today we're leveraging the reliability and efficiency of the Uber platform and launching a one-day pilot program - UberHEALTH. Together with our partner Vaccine Finder, we will bring FREE flu prevention packs and shots directly to you - at the single touch of a button.

HOW IT WORKS

    • UberHEALTH is available from 10am - 3pm on Thursday, October 23rd.
    • To request, choose the UberHEALTH option in your app. An SUV will arrive at your location with your very own flu prevention pack.
    • Upon arrival, you'll also have the option to request a flu shot from a registered nurse for up to 10 people.

    THE DETAILS

      • Cost: FREE
      • All vaccinations (appropriate for ages 4 and up) will be administered by a registered nurse from Passport Health. All consent information and paperwork stays between the recipient and them.
      • If you or your friends choose to be vaccinated, please arrange for a suitable indoor environment before your nurse arrives.

      — SHARE THE NEWS —

      9e927985-ff44-4186-a284-104900ddf36c.png  0bec150a-0353-4be8-bcc7-435257c58f19.png


      Even better, for every shot given, Uber will donate $5 to the Red Cross to support vaccination efforts. We know the flu is preventable, and we know our riders are always on the go. Let Uber help you outsmart the flu this fall!

      Stay healthy, and Uber on!

      Uber Boston

      Original Source

      23 Oct 16:56

      10694410_882471572904_5880498272615539211_o.jpg (JPEG Image, 2048 × 1280 pixels) - Scaled (73%)

      by russiansledges
      firehose

      via Russian Sledges

      23 Oct 16:31

      New National Park Caters To Business Travelers

      PAICINES, CA—Hoping to encourage more busy professionals to visit America’s scenic natural areas, the Department of Interior announced this week the opening of Pinnacles National Park Express, the first federally designated preserve geared spe...






      23 Oct 02:18

      Suspected murder-suicide at Ben Taub pharmacy - Houston Chronicle

      firehose

      the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun; TW: violence against women

      'It appears the woman was at her workstation when the man walked up behind her and opened fire, police said after viewing security video.

      Although the investigation was continuing, HPD homicide detectives suspect the man had made recent romantic overtures to the woman.'


      Houston Chronicle

      Suspected murder-suicide at Ben Taub pharmacy
      Houston Chronicle
      Investigators work at Ben Taub General Hospital after a shooting Wednesday in the outpatient pharmacy. Two employees died; no one else was injured, authorities said. . By Mike Glenn. October 22, 2014 | Updated: October 22, 2014 10:20pm. With her back ...

      and more »
      23 Oct 15:36

      Why was America’s top spy also a fertilizer day-trader?

      by Tim Fernholz
      U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) Director General Keith Alexander pulls out a binder before testifying at the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington December 11, 2013.

      Fertilizer is a strategic commodity, and that’s no load of manure.

      In fact, it’s potash—a mineral salt mined from the ground to add nitrogen to industrial fertilizer production. In the past several years, the production of this valued commodity has been shaken up: In 2013, an informal cartel between two companies in Belarus and Russia that had dominated the industry was shattered—probably by Chinese pressure—and the Russian company’s CEO was held hostage by the government in Belarus, at least until Russian oligarch (and NBA franchise-owner) Mikhail Prokhorov bought his freedom.

      You can imagine, between the importance of the resource and the involvement of so many state-connected companies, not to mention the long history of political intrigue around the mineral, that American intelligence would be keeping an eye on the industry. And it was, although perhaps for different reasons than you might think: In 2008, general Keith Alexander, then the head of the National Security Agency, the US electronic surveillance hub, made several specific trades of stock in potash firms while otherwise holding mostly mutual funds and American tech investments.

      The speculation included selling shares of a big Canadian producer and a Chinese, state-owned aluminum firm frequently linked to potash deals (this, six months before a major  industry downturn) and buying stock in an American producer before selling again without any apparent gain. Indeed, none of the investments, revealed in disclosure forms the NSA initially tried to protect as classified, provided much profit to Alexander, and government ethics reviews haven’t found any wrongdoing. But it is surprising that Alexander, a US official, would be investing in foreign firms in a highly opaque and politicized industry.

      Foreign Policy reporter Shane Harris, who wrote about Alexander at the time of the stock sales, suggests a trigger for the trades might have been the NSA’s growing knowledge of Russian and Chinese hacking on behalf of state-owned companies, and increasing US engagement with cyber espionage overall. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has repeatedly said that the NSA engages in industrial espionage; US officials say that any commercial information gathered by federal intelligence agencies is used purely for strategic reasons and isn’t shared with American firms.

      Alexander, who’s also been criticized for hiring an NSA official to work part-time at his consulting firm, had no comment on the Foreign Policy story and did not immediately return a message Quartz left at his firm.

      23 Oct 15:22

      Honey Boo Boo's Mama June dating sex offender who molested relative, reality ... - New York Daily News

      firehose

      amercia


      New York Daily News

      Honey Boo Boo's Mama June dating sex offender who molested relative, reality ...
      New York Daily News
      Here comes some major controversy. June Shannon (Mama June) of TLC's "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" is reportedly dating a man that was just released from a 10-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting one of her relatives, according to TMZ.

      and more »
      23 Oct 16:38

      Photo

      firehose

      sext



      23 Oct 16:24

      Senator wants Whisper to clarify privacy policy after reports of user tracking

      by Chris Welch

      Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller is calling for Whisper's CEO to clearly outline his company's privacy policy after The Guardian accused the anonymity-focused social app of quietly monitoring its users in an exposé last week. "I take this matter seriously," wrote Rockefeller in a letter sent to CEO Michael Heyward Wednesday.

      The original report claimed that Whisper tracks the location of its users — even those who've opted out of geolocation services entirely — through a system that can pinpoint messages "to within 500 meters of where they were sent." For users with geolocation disabled, Whisper uses IP address tracking to get a rough idea of their location, The Guardian said. Other claims blasted the company's executives for secretly tracking users they believe to be "newsworthy" and sharing content with media companies without a user's permission. Whisper quickly fired back and denied nearly all of The Guardian's claims. Both sides have remained in a back-and-forth since the original story was published.


      An exposé has landed Whisper in hot water

      But Rockefeller wants Heyward to clear things up for good with a staff briefing, and he's presented the CEO with a number of questions regarding Whisper's privacy practices. First, he's requested a definitive answer on whether Whisper now or in the past has tracked users with geolocation services turned off. (The company says it doesn't, noting that the nature of IP addresses allows some rough approximation of location to be made.) Rockefeller also wants to know how long Whisper holds onto user data — and where that information is kept. Another question asks Heyward to firm up the policy on sharing Whisper content with third parties. The chairman has also requested three different copies of Whisper's privacy policy: the current terms,  the original launch policy, and another for when geolocation services were added to the app.

      "While Whisper may provide its users a unique social experience, the allegations in recent media reports are serious, and users are entitled to privacy policies that are transparent, disclosed, and followed by the company," Rockefeller wrote in his letter. Unlike Facebook, Whisper (and other apps like Secret) allow people to share intimate or sensitive thoughts anonymously, and that freedom has seen them grow in popularity of late.

      23 Oct 16:21

      Austin Airport Tracks Cell Phones To Measure Security Line Wait

      by timothy
      jfruh writes If you get into the TSA security line at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, you'll see monitors telling you how long your wait will be — and if you have a phone with Wi-Fi enabled, you're helping the airport come up with that number. A system implemented by Cisco tracks the MAC addresses of phones searching for Wi-Fi networks and sees how long it takes those phones to traverse the line, giving a sense of how quickly things are moving. While this is useful information to have, the privacy implications are a bit unsettling.

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      23 Oct 07:00

      Lego Compatible Robot Frame #3DPrinting #3DThursday

      by Pedro Ruiz
      firehose

      HOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

      lego bot

      Use these core bricks to build a frame and cover it with Lego bricks, and create your action robot! The 3D designs include print supports, and they can be easily removed after printing.

      Download the files:
      http://www.herodesignstw.com/#!i-agree-frame-typea/c28e


      649-1
      Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

      Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!

      23 Oct 05:39

      Kenny G frantically disassociates himself from Hong Kong demonstrators

      by Cassandra Khaw
      firehose

      lol this fucking guy

      When famous saxophonist Kenny G tweeted a selfie from a Hong Kong protest site, he probably wasn't expecting to be rebuked by the Chinese government. The musician has since made it extremely clear that he is in no way supporting the demonstrators in Hong Kong, and that his appearance at a protest site was purely coincidental.


      Kenny G is an inexplicable phenomenon in China, where his 1989 number Going Home is played incessantly at the day's end, so much so that people have reportedly had their habits altered by its smooth melodies.

      According to The Guardian, Chinese authorities were displeased when the jazz musician tweeted a photo of himself standing in front of a pro-democracy poster, along with wishes for a "peaceful and positive conclusion to the situation." Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said to a daily news briefing on Wednesday, "We hope that foreign governments and individuals speak and act cautiously and not support the Occupy Central and other illegal activities in any form."

      The curly-haired musician has made it amply clear that he has no real knowledge of the political situation and that his impromptu visit was "part of an innocent walk around Hong Kong." He also stressed that the V-sign that he flashed in the photo should not mistaken as anything but a sign for peace, and that he loved both China and Hong Kong.

      23 Oct 10:47

      Verizon Tracking Mobile Web Use (Still)

      by Gabe
      firehose

      all carriers suck forever

      This came out awhile ago but thanks to SwiftOnSecurity retweeting, I'm linking to it today.

      From Adage:

      He noted that Precision might tap its vast subscriber base directly for first-party targeting in the future. "There's a lot you can do there," he said, before adding a disclaimer: "We haven't commercially deployed any product."

      That sounds like something that only benefits one side of the business arrangement: the business.

      Verizon does allow you to opt-out but it's per device and lots of people just got new devices. Not surprisingly, I tested based on the links in a tweet (which, of course, is always the way to go) and it looks like there's still a tracking header added to http requests when I use LTE but not on WiFi.

      Welcome to the future where VPNs are recommended even when on cellular networks.

      23 Oct 13:05

      Google Inbox impressions: Bundle of (mixed) joy

      by Sam Machkovech
      firehose

      'again, this is not a legitimate calendar app, meaning you can't look at a weekly or monthly grid of appointments and reminders built within Inbox. Worse, Google Calendar doesn't import your Inbox reminders, and there's no telling whether that will change'

      'The launch web version of Inbox includes Hangouts (really, we figure the Hangouts devotees at Google would shoehorn the chat app into stuff like Google Play Music if it could), but it's a frustrating implementation for people who like to have chat within their mail. For one, users' online status can't be seen in a minimized IM window, and when those are opened normally, status is only visible as a very thin line beneath the user's name. Currently, hitting the Tab key while typing in one IM doesn't shift focus to other IMs (which we hope will see a quick fix), while IM windows waste a lot of white space, whether between sentences or around their individual windows. In fact, the web version's general waste of space, and its lack of options to condense UI elements, makes us think this implementation wasn't Inbox's highest priority.'

      'No, you can't compose plaintext e-mails'

      'No, you can't load and browse your full contact list while composing an e-mail (surely you remember every name that you might invite to your kid's next birthday party, right?)'

      Tie a ribbon around your finger, Google Inbox. We'll be using your reminders for a while yet.

      No company rolls out the giant, invite-only drool carpet quite like Google. Doesn't matter if that comes in the form of gems like Gmail and Voice or bummers like Wave; the company's early-bird offerings always attract a ton of interested eyes, not to mention rushed conclusions from people who arrive for the mystique, not the product.

      Most of Google's limited beta launches have come from entirely new apps at a given time, which you might imagine adds to the mystique factor. But there's one bigger way to get attention: hijack and remix the look and feel of an established product like Gmail, which is exactly what Google Inbox aims to do.

      We received a Google Inbox invite within minutes of the app's announcement on Wednesday, and we didn't hesitate to load it on our Android phones and desktop Web browsers to test Android SVP Sundar Pichai's claim that the combination e-mail/task manager would help us "focus on what really matters."

      Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

      23 Oct 13:00

      Tumblr is making videos a lot more like GIFs

      by Jacob Kastrenakes
      firehose

      Yahoo is really playing Tumblr well

      Tumblr may be known for moving images, but by and large that's been the GIF — not videos. Tumblr is today trying to address that, changing what it's like to watch videos in its mobile apps and on the desktop. On mobile, Tumblr is actually making videos seem a lot like GIFs: they'll automatically start playing when you're on Wi-Fi, they'll be muted by default, and they'll loop endlessly. Tumblr also says that videos are converted to smaller sizes so that they'll start playing quickly, adding in to the impression that it shouldn't matter what format you're actually seeing.


      Dock a video, then keep scrolling

      That said, Tumblr is taking a different approach on the desktop. Rather than trying to play off of its users' love of the GIF, Tumblr is trying to create a sort of second-screen experience right on the web. The video will still play automatically, but you'll also get the option to dock it to the side of your Dashboard, almost like a picture-in-picture mode. That way, you can continue to watch the video while still scrolling through your Tumblr feed, rather than requiring you to either stay put or just move past it as it does today. Tumblr says that it's beginning to support videos in a higher quality as well, which could make it a more appealing format to use.

      tumblr video dock

      While today's update sounds like a basic feature improvement on the surface, for Tumblr this could be the start of a bigger story. Tumblr CEO David Karp says that an improved video player is "by far and away the most requested feature by our users," adding that video posts are now growing at twice the rate of photo posts. An improved video player may only further that: though you're able to embed YouTube or other video players on Tumblr, Tumblr's own video player has actually become the most used on its site.

      "It’s been pretty clear for a while that there’s been a huge huge opportunity to stretch the canvas in video," Karp says. "The opportunities in video on the internet in the mobile world jumped in the last couple years." Karp says that Tumblr's goal is to effectively be a huge canvas for people to create work on, and part of that "means staying up with the bleeding edge of technology."

      "I hope that we’re building the biggest canvas for [creators]."

      There are already a good number of successful video sites out there, like YouTube and Vimeo, that are geared toward amateur productions, but Karp sees Tumblr as being able to attract a broader audience. On Tumblr, he says, videos range from "all the stuff you would find on other platforms" to "a whole host of diverse genres." He also sees Tumblr's lack of constraints as something that's allowed users to "run a little bit more wild" than they might elsewhere, leading to an eclectic selection of content.

      Earlier this month, Business Insider reported that Yahoo, which bought Tumblr last year, wants to see Tumblr overtake YouTube as the platform that video creators use when they want to build an audience. It had even heard that Yahoo was interested in poaching stars away from YouTube, which could make today's changes seem like they're a step toward that goal. However, Karp says that Tumblr isn't interested in stealing stars. "I was pretty upset with that message," Karp says. "It really doesn’t at all represent how we look at the rest of this ecosystem. I hope that we’re building the biggest canvas for [creators] ... YouTube makes up a huge amount of content on our network we are always trying to extend support for third party platforms, you can see that in a big way."

      Karp doesn't want to see Tumblr dominated by a single medium. Video may be expanding, but Tumblr would like it to be just one of many strong options for publishing. "I worry if we over-invest in one place, if video gets too good, if GIFs ever suffer, if text ever suffers, then you’re becoming a video network," he says. For Tumblr, that also means not giving creators a specific way to monetize their content, like the ad tools they might find on YouTube. Karp says he's concerned that doing so would homogenize content as "all our users optimize for one way of making money." Instead, Karp sees the ability for Tumblr users to tap into a whole host of other services, websites, and techniques — "Kickstarting, selling merch, going on tour" — as a way to let publishers monetize their content while remaining diverse.

      "One of the things that I really cherish about Tumblr is that it’s a network of creators that include emerging talents," Karp says, "everything from Pusheen to Lawrence Lessig, everything from Grimes to Humans of New York." Karp hopes that today's update will get more people watching video on the Tumblr, ultimately giving publishers a more appealing tool to start playing with.

      23 Oct 13:43

      Christian Bale's Batman is the Steve Jobs performance we've been waiting for

      by Adi Robertson
      firehose

      I know everybody's riding the Batman role hard here, but I'm ecstatic about the casting of Patrick Bateman as Steve Jobs

      For all his brilliance, Steve Jobs was a notoriously intense man — some would say even a huge jerk. He reportedly bullied and belittled others when they failed to meet his high standards. He went beyond the reach of the law in order to achieve his own goals, believing, according to one person, that "normal rules didn't apply to him." He created a ubiquitous system capable of tracking people across an entire city. After temporarily ceding control of the company synonymous with his name, he siphoned its resources towards a campaign of terror and vigilante justice, frequently impeding actual police operations. In one of his final projects at that company, he inadvertently created technology that would allow his home city to be taken hostage by a murderous criminal mastermind.

      Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin recently confirmed that equally intense actor Christian Bale will be playing the role of Jobs in an upcoming biopic based on Walter Isaacson's 2011 biography. An early trailer, revealed by Conan O'Brien, shows that this was absolutely the right choice — Bale brings a gritty, sinister energy that exceeds even Ashton Kutcher's energetic performance. And while he doesn't look the part quite as well, he's really nailed one part of the role that Kutcher did struggle with: Jobs' trademark gravelly, emotionless voice.

      03 Oct 13:50

      Rapid manufacturing: Iteration and Industry

      by bowman
      firehose

      via Jakkyn
      hotttttttttttttttttttttttt

      Oh yes, we did.

      “Oh yes, we did.”

      For the past year we have been busy building, testing, documenting and refining the process of taking 3D printed parts and using “Lost PLA” burnout to cast for parts for more robust applications. The documentation is bordering 100+pages, with 20+ pages of brute force data. We will try to keep it simple, show off with a few shiny throwbacks, hopefully inspire ideas for the potential, and give some technical specs to boost the capabilities of those open source open hardware folks who love a good clean walkthrough.

      This is a rough sketch of how to assemble a mini blast furnace

      This is a rough sketch of how to assemble a mini blast furnace

      This design prevents the vacuum from sucking up molten metal if the plaster in the flask fails to seal.

      This design prevents the vacuum from sucking up molten metal if the plaster in the flask fails to seal.

      The sketches go through the simple breakdown of a furnace in basic parts and vacuum trap parts. More information can be found here.  Any casting plaster can be used for when investing flasks for casting.

       

      Load Kiln

      Load Kiln

       

      This is a generic burnout template, that works for most applications.

      This is a generic burnout template, that works for most applications.

       

      Clean burnout occurs ~1000-1300F

      Clean burnout occurs ~1000-1300F.

       

      Flasks are primed over a vacuum chamber before receiving the charge of molten metal

      Flasks are primed over a vacuum chamber before receiving the charge of molten metal.

       

      The test metal was scrap 6061 aluminum, and/or silicon bronze to ensure anyone could replicate the process easily.

      The test metal was scrap 6061 aluminum, and/or silicon bronze to ensure anyone could replicate the process easily.

      This is how parts look after they have been quenched, with no cleanup, simply rinsed with water.

      This is how parts look after they have been quenched, with no cleanup, simply rinsed with water.

      These parts yielded data about hole size requirements and edge cases. The goal was to quantify what was likely to succeed.

      These parts yielded data about hole size requirements and edge cases. The goal was to quantify what was likely to succeed.

       

      Casting Data

      Parts can have clean interior corners, where CNC machines would fail to accomplish because of the cutter size. Self intersecting geometry is also not a problem. Edge case castings have been hearty with 13 fins space 1.6mm apart extending 15mm up and continuous for 40mm. This means complex geometry for cooling fins has little cost to prototype.The hard part is conceptualizing how volumetric shrinkage occurs. Basically the part will shrink ~2-3% depending on the alloy, but holes will get bigger as metal contracts from the side walls of the plaster. This means that parts need to be scale up ~2% while holes need to shrink by 2%. This allows parts to be well toleranced if machined afterwards.

      The best part for testing the capabilities of any machine or process, thank you Loic.

      The best part for testing the capabilities of any machine or process, thank you Loic.

      A simple linkage cast separately and then assembled.

      A simple linkage cast separately and then assembled.

      Extremely complex parts that cannot be machined can easily be cast in production volumes allowing standard 3D print/cast parts to; withstand high temperature applications, parts have higher strength to weight ratio, parts can be custom bearing/bushing systems(when bronze is used), and parts can be used to create custom heat sinks (when aluminum is used).

      The goal was to see if multiples could be cast simultaneously to minimize cost

      Scalability for print to cast can minimize labor cost because sprue trees snap together like legos.

      Scalability for print to cast can minimize labor cost because sprue trees snap together like legos.

      Rapid manufacturing being applied to test injection molded screw caps [blue material is LDPE]

      Rapid manufacturing being applied to test injection molded screw caps [blue material is LDPE]

       

      Rapid manufacture of injection molds allows for even the smallest of shops to become competitive with standard injection molding. 3D printing adds ease and flexibility for companies to change their designs/molds faster and keep up with the demand.

      Cast bust of a 3D scan

      Cast bust of a 3D scan

      23 Oct 15:23

      A 9/11 Suspect Is Using The Hobby Lobby Ruling To Argue Female Prison Guards Violate His Rights

      A high-value Guantanamo detainee has asked a military judge to end a new policy at the detention facility that allows female guards to escort him to meetings with his attorneys. He says that according to the U.S. Supreme Court, the policy violates his religious rights.
      23 Oct 15:43

      Great Job, Internet!: Zach Galifianakis sat down with “shitty actor” Brad Pitt for a new episode of Between Two Ferns

      by Marah Eakin
      firehose

      kinda eh until about 4m in

      Praise the lord and pass that beard comb, because Between Two Ferns is back. This time, host Zach Galifianakis chats up an awkward Brad Pitt, who he both calls a “shitty actor” and says looks “like Hitler’s dream.” Perhaps boosted by his last interview, which was with the goddamn President of the United States, Galifianakis goes for the tough questions right off the bat with “Bradley Pitts,” asking him about losing his virginity, why he doesn’t take showers, and Pitt’s latest project, “Furry.” Louis C.K. also makes an appearance, because apparently Pitt couldn’t muster up enough star power to fill the episode all on his own.


      23 Oct 15:28

      How to Boycott Me, I Mean, REALLY Boycott Me

      by John Scalzi
      firehose

      'Another is with Syfy and Universal Cable Productions, which is part of NBCUniversal, which is itself part of Comcast. So for this one, some of you will have to give up cable, and possibly your Internet connection. Keep your eye on the prize! It will be worth it!'

      Ah, I see some GamerGaters are whining to Tor that I am being mean to them. Well, good luck with that tactic, kids.

      — John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 23, 2014

      So a few days ago, it was suggested to a faction of the hot, pathetic misogynist mess known as GamerGate that launching a boycott of Tor Books was a possible “action op” for them. This was quickly shot down, no doubt in part because the person suggesting it was Theodore Beale, and no one at this point actually gives a crap what he thinks about anything. However, last night I went on another Twitter tear on the subject of GamerGate, and I woke up this morning to a few chuckleheads bleating to Tor about what a terrible person I am, in order to, I don’t know, get Tor to talk to me sternly about having opinions on the Internet, because apparently Tor is my dad. So maybe this push to boycott Tor because of me has legs after all! Hooray!

      That said, my takeaway from these furtive attempts to make me shut up about the fact that GamerGate is basically a bunch of terrible human beings being shitty to women, up to and including threatening them and publishing their personal information online in an obvious attempt to silence them is to be just a little bit sad. Not because a few of these human-shaped pieces of ambulatory refuse are trying to do it, but because they’re thinking too small about it.

      I mean, seriously, boycotting just Tor Books? Why limit yourself? Sure, it’s the largest publisher of science fiction and fantasy books in North America and possibly the world, but it’s just one imprint of Tom Doherty Associates. There are several other imprints, including Forge, Starscape, Tor Teen and Seven Seas. You should boycott those, too. That’ll show me!

      But even then, you’d be thinking too small. Tom Doherty Associates is itself just one appendage of the publishing giant known as Macmillan, with offices in 41 countries! It publishes thousands of books a year! What a target! You should boycott all of Macmillan. Man, I’m quaking in my boots just thinking about it. But even then, it’s small potatoes, for Macmillan is just one part of the mighty Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, with annual sales in the billions of euros. Boycott it all! No doubt all of Stuttgart shall fall into a shambles at the thought.

      But even then you are not done, boycotters! For you see, I am crafty and have diversified my revenue stream. I have many publishers and many people I work with. You must punish them all for having me in their midst. All of them. And not just the tiny imprint or sub-company that works with me directly. That’s what a coward would do. And are you a coward? Well, yes, probably, because the tactics of GamerGate have been astoundingly cowardly right from the start. But still! Think big, my friends. Your boycott must not just take out a few targets, it must nuke them all from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

      With that in mind, here are your other boycott targets:

      In the UK I am published by Gollancz, which is part of Orion Publishing Group, which is in itself part of Hachette, which is part of Lagardère Group. Crush them!

      In Germany I am published by Heyne, which is part of Random House, which is itself owned by Penguin Random House, which is jointly owned by Pearson and Bertlesmann. Squish them!

      In audio, I am published by Audible, which is owned by Amazon. Surely it is worth giving up your sweet Amazon Prime subscriptions to make Jeff Bezos shake in his chinos!

      But wait! We’re still not done. Because as you may know I have TV deals! One is with FX, which is owned by the Fox Entertainment Group, which is part of 21st Century Fox (yes, it’s 21st Century Fox now. Look it up). You will need to boycott it all. Yes, even Fox News. Be strong! It’s for the cause!

      Another is with Syfy and Universal Cable Productions, which is part of NBCUniversal, which is itself part of Comcast. So for this one, some of you will have to give up cable, and possibly your Internet connection. Keep your eye on the prize! It will be worth it!

      My third TV deal is with Legendary TV, which is part of Legendary Pictures. And you’re thinking, whew, at least they aren’t part of a multinational corporation! True, but they make films that are distributed through a number of film studios, including Warner Bros (basically, all the DC Comics movies) and Universal. They also own both Geek & Sundry and Nerdist Industries. Noooooo! You can’t get your nerd on anymore! Stay focused! Your pain will make victory that much sweeter!

      So, in short, in order to effectively punish my business partners for me having thoughts you don’t like, all you need to do is boycott three of the five major US publishers, two of the five major film/television studios (plus selected product of one of the other ones), and the largest single online retailer in the world. Which, well. It will keep you busy, at least.

      Which, to be clear, I am fine with. While you are off whining to these corporations about me, perhaps you will be too busy to, you know, threaten death, rape and assault against women who also dare to express thoughts you don’t like. And you know what? I think that’s a fair trade.

      So please: If you’re going to boycott a company because of me, at least do it right. Do it big. There are all your targets, laid out for you. Go get ‘em! I’ll be rooting for you, kids!

      And in the meantime, just remember this:

      If you think threatening women is a legitimate tactic for anything, feel free to stop reading my work. I don't need you or your money.

      — John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 11, 2014

      Still true, people. Still true.


      23 Oct 15:23

      Homeland Security cracks down on illegal Royals panties

      by Sarah Kogod

      Kansas City Panties

      It looks like Homeland Security is in the panty business now.

      According to the Kansas City Star, Peregrine Honig was going about her day, just trying to sell some cheeky World Series panties in her store, Birdies Panties, when she got a visit from Homeland Security

      The panties, with "Take the Crown" and "KC" across the bottom, were set to be sold in Honig's Birdies Panties shop Tuesday. But Homeland Security agents visited the Crossroads store and confiscated the few dozen pairs of underwear, printed in Kansas City by Lindquist Press.

      "They came in and there were two guys" Honig said. "I asked one of them what size he needed and he showed me a badge and took me outside. They told me they were from Homeland Security and we were violating copyright laws."

      It's a good thing we have Homeland Security to protect us from the terror of bootlegged panties.

      22 Oct 14:00

      Games industry veterans bring custom, 3D printed minis to life

      by Charlie Hall
      firehose

      backed this with the hopes of them getting color printing together soon after launch. the creation tool is pretty tight, basically the same sort of thing out of a BioWare game with sliders for body parts, etc.

      Also really curious about the durability of some of these builds, especially the awesome-looking floaty weapon stances

      When Joshua Bennett went shopping for Christmas gifts for his Dungeons & Dragons tabletop roleplaying group he wanted to find miniatures that accurately represented players’ characters at the table. He couldn’t, so that’s why he helped co-found Hero Forge, a start-up that uses 3D printing technology and computer modeling to make custom miniatures.

      After a $360,000 Kickstarter campaign, his company has now partnered with the industry leader in 3D printing, Shapeways, for manufacturing and fulfillment. If all goes according to plan, Hero Forge products will begin shipping before the end of the year.

      "People have been customizing minis for years through ‘kit bashing’ for as long as there have been minis," Bennett said, referring to the practice of blending parts from multiple kits to make alternate models. "You know, melting off arms and gluing them on and poking new holes and jamming swords in and things like that. You can even get conversion kits online. But that’s a hassle."

      Even more of a hassle is getting a base model in your character’s race and gender in the first place. For instance the dragonborn, one of the most popular new races from the 2007-era 4th edition of D&D, only has one hero miniature that’s ever been officially produced. It’s currently going for upwards of $35 at online auction sites. With Hero Forge, players will be able to customize their miniatures for a little as $15 each.

      The team have or currently do work for Weta Studios, Telltale Games, Nickelodeon Animation Studios and Fantasy Flight Games.

      Creating the technology to make Hero Forge work has taken his small team the better part of a year, Bennett said. When you think about it, that’s actually incredibly quick. He credits the experience of his team, which includes co-founder Teagan Morrison, the technical art director for Naughty Dog, the studio behind the Uncharted series, and David Lenna, the chief technical officer for South Park studios. Members of his team have or currently do work for Weta Studios, Telltale Games, Nickelodeon Animation Studios and Fantasy Flight Games, and they've helped to create art and assets for The Last of Us and Pacific Rim.

      hero_forge_assets_1

      hero_forge_assets_1

      "It might be unique to LA," Bennett said. "With the game industry and the animation industry, to get these kind of super dense pockets of really talented people. There were a lot of people at hand, and we didn’t have to look far."

      Kickstarter backers now have access to the beta of Hero Forge, which consists of an online portal for designing their characters. They can switch heads, armor, weapons and poses at will, even going so far as to adjust the height, weight and facial expression of their miniatures. It’s the same kind of experience gamers might be familiar with from series like Dark Souls or The Elder Scrolls, but with the potential to hold the product in your hands.

      There have been other hopeful 3D-printed miniatures companies, Bennett said. What makes Hero Forge so timely is that the technology now exists to make the dream a viable business model. "Not long before we started researching this, Shapeways announced that they were putting out a developer API, which is this really simple interface where you can plug into their manufacturing facility and get models over to them en masse and they’d handle pricing and manufacturing and shipping and things like that."

      hero_forge_assetts_2

      hero_forge_assetts_2

      D&D isn’t the only universe supported by Hero Forge. Future improvements to the service will broaden the offering of parts and pieces available in certain genres, like western and cyberpunk. It will allow the creation of miniatures mounted on horses or motorcycles, and eventually miniatures printed in full color. But don't expect to be able to go to their service and print out a Games Workshop-licensed Space Marine. Everything his team of artists creates is original, and not based off of any other properties. Also, there's no plan to accept user-created models or accessories.

      "The hardest part is getting the system in place," Bennett said. "Once we’re finished polishing things and figure out the clipping problems — which we’re well on track to do — after that’s all squared away, the easiest thing in the world to do will be the add more parts."

      Miniatures were the second largest segment of the market, and accounted for $125 million in sales.

      The potential market for Hero Forge is much larger than you might think. Analysts at ICv2 wrote in August that the hobby games segment had grown to $700 million in 2013. Breaking down the market by category, only $15 million of that total comes from RPGs. Miniatures were the second largest segment of the market, and accounted for $125 million in sales.

      Where Hero Forge could see serious growth, Bennett says, is in the hobby wargaming market. There aficionados don't need a mere half dozen heroes to play a game. They need thousands.

      "We’ve got a lot of people interested in Napoleonic stuff. The miniature community for historical wargaming is just huge, and we’d love to cater to them as well."

      22 Oct 16:42

      'Flight of the Navigator' is a horror film about the terror of time dilation and missing children

      by Ben Kuchera
      firehose

      "Children's movies from 80s were dark, we just didn't see it at the time."

      it was fucking escapism for kids

      * no parents, no rules
      * be an astronaut thanks to funny aliens
      * travel from the present where shit sucks and you don't belong to the future where everything is cool and you totally belong
      * government sucks

      One of the better aspects of being a parent is the ability to revisit pop culture from your childhood with fresh eyes.

      My children and I have watched everything from The Princess Bride to The Dark Crystal together, and as an adult I always see things i missed as a child. Then we watched Flight of the Navigator, which is basically a horror movie if you're a parent.

      Allow me to explain.

      The horrors of alien abduction

      David is a 12 year-old kid who seems like any normal child. He's an American every-kid, and the opening scenes involve him trying to teach his dog how to catch a Frisbee, thinking about girls, and arguing with his younger brother Jeff. Then one night he goes out into the woods, falls into a ravine and later wakes up a little worse for wear. No big deal, right?

      There's only one problem: There's a weird family in his home. The scene of David trying to figure out what's going on is heartbreaking. "Please," he asks. "Where's my mom and dad?"

      That one problem balloons into a nightmarish scenario. He wasn't gone overnight, he has actually been missing for eight years. The police say he was declared legally dead. His parents are older. His younger brother is now his older brother. He's been gone for nearly a decade, and his family now has to deal with the fact a son they thought was dead is back in their lives, looking and acting as if no time at all had passed.

      Think about what the past eight years had been like for them. Their kid disappears. They look everywhere, but there's no evidence of anything one way or the other.

      A crazy story about aliens is actually a suburban tragedy.

      "They made me put [posters] up on every telephone pole and tree for years," Jeff says. "You should've seen Mom, she kept all the stuff in your room, she refused to believe that you were dead." The two boys exchange a few token insults, the same exchange we saw at the beginning of the movie.

      "I'm scared," David finally says, and who wouldn't be? This is before he's taken away by the government, mind you.

      One heart breaking scene during the opening half of the movie shows that Jeff had taught the dog how to catch a flying disc.

      Think about the tragedy of that scene for a minute. That's what David was doing when he disappeared. The brother knew that act was important to his missing sibling, and he made sure the dog learned. It's a tiny bit of character motivation, and you'll miss it if you blink, but it helped show how the brother dealt with the tragedy of what had happened.

      The film goes on to explain that he was taken by an alien intelligence and flown to another planet at near-light speeds, which caused time slow down inside the ship while it continued normally for everyone else.

      This is referred to as time dilation, which is a well-known trope in science fiction, but Flight of the Navigator is one of the few films that deals with it practically. It's one of the most clever parts of the screenplay; the idea that physics, not anal probes, is one of the scariest aspects of alien abduction. It turns a crazy story about aliens and children into a suburban tragedy.

      Most people remember the ship, or the fuzzy little alien, or the jokes about "leaking" as the alien tries to understand urination. But as a parent I get stuck on the first half of the film, and the horrible subtext of everything that's going on.

      Children's movies from 80s were dark, we just didn't see it at the time.

      23 Oct 12:00

      Civilization: Beyond Earth review: starstruck

      by Colin Campbell
      firehose

      'Beyond Earth has pulled back some of the features and clutter that have accumulated in the series. It all feels like a clever exercise in "less is more" theory. As I encountered each change in the formula I saw the good sense in its inclusion, exclusion or modification. The alterations do not come across as gimmicky. On the contrary, they feel like hard-thought innovations.'

      Game Info
      Platform Win, Mac, Linux
      Publisher 2K Games
      Developer Firaxis Games
      Release Date N/A

      Science is the hub around which Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth turns, but science also thrums within the game's every node, synapse and tendril.

      This is a very good strategy game. I expect nothing less from a franchise that has dedicated itself to turn-based strategy for more than two decades, from a developer that has consistently proven that it understands the dark mysteries of hooking players; the ineffable secret of "one ... more ... turn."

      Firaxis' 2010 release, Civilization 5, was not so much a game as a platform upon which Firaxis worked through its own discoveries about potentialities and possibilities. Beyond Earth manifests itself as the latest example of this process.

      Beyond Earth is an adventure about the future of humanity, an ode to discovery and to enquiry. It is also a work of science itself, the result of developer Firaxis' patient accumulation of data and ideas, culminating in a gameplay machine that whirrs with a fierce and quiet efficiency.

      one ... more ... turn

      The opening moments of a game of Beyond Earth almost precisely match the start of Civilization 5. In the latter, players began with a rudimentary settlement on Earth, around the time of the discovery of agriculture. Here, the game begins in the A.D. 2600s, and that first settlement is a landing pod from Earth filled with refugees seeking a new beginning.

      The techs, the soldiers, the buildings, are all of a science fiction bent. Instead of learning writing and crafting a wheel for the first time, I researched Astrodynamics and built a Thorium Reactor.

      Apart from luminescent fungal visuals, the hex-based landscape remains much the same, overlaid upon a rolling mosaic of countryside dotted with features, obstacles and resources upon which players make use of their own intelligence to gather goods and execute military victories. Any Civilization 5 player entering Beyond Earth can launch themselves into this new world immediately, without any need of guidance.

      But as I looked beyond the basic structure, I started to sense some very clever tweaks, shifts and improvements that bring new efficiencies to the formula and new pleasures to the player.

      An affinity system asks the player to choose a philosophy, from a list of three. This pseudo-personality system feeds into every part of the game, dispensing upgrades to military units, affecting diplomatic relationships with AI civilizations and offering up paths to victory, as well as special quests and unique buildings.

      Crucially, it impacts the player's scientific research decisions. At first I thought that the new tech web, which eschews the more traditional linear approach, might all be window dressing, that I would find a research path fairly quickly and stick to it, as I have done in the past with this series. But although the early game demands certain techs as soon as possible, I found myself using the tech web in a much more opportunistic and reactive way, seeking out discoveries that would resolve immediate crises while also taking a long term strategic view where possible. I was really playing the discovery system, rather than simply figuring out a most efficient path.

      Civilization: Beyond Earth review a 475

      Civilization: Beyond Earth review a 475

      Civilization: Beyond Earth takes some of the drudgery out of the process

      My passage through affinity levels gave me upgrade options on military units, which dispensed with the tedious business of spending money to update soldiers who had fallen behind the times. The game expected me to work at advancing my civilization, but it has taken some of the drudgery out of this process. Bravo for that.

      Key resources are extensively intertwined with the building of certain units and buildings so that the importance of resources to buildings and units has been expanded, splintering the potential shape and path of each civilization according to the goods it can find.

      The link between resources and happiness has also been killed. The citizens in your cities must be kept healthy through specific constructions and the management of unhealthy hexes smothered in miasma. Keeping citizens healthy is extremely challenging, but the penalties feel more on a sliding scale than the binary punishments of the previous game. I don't miss chasing around for luxury goods to keep my minions from revolting or, even worse, seeking out natural wonders as short-term boosts to happiness.

      Beyond Earth has pulled back some of the features and clutter that have accumulated in the series. It all feels like a clever exercise in "less is more" theory. As I encountered each change in the formula I saw the good sense in its inclusion, exclusion or modification. The alterations do not come across as gimmicky. On the contrary, they feel like hard-thought innovations.

      Even after many hours of play, I continue finding neat little ideas. It's as good an indication as any that, far from taking an extant game and slapping on a sci fi wraparound, Firaxis has gazed into the future and brought meaningful changes to the format.

      Civilization: Beyond Earth review c 480

      Civilization: Beyond Earth review c 480

      At this point, I feel I ought to make a confession. As someone who much prefers historical fiction to futuristic speculation, I did not expect to really love this brave new world of Civness (back in the '90s, I never really got into Alpha Centauri). For me, the discovery of the printing press is always going to feel more authentic and solid than figuring out the mysteries of collaborative thought. I am always going to take more pleasure in a Ship-o'-the-Line than a Xeno Swarm.

      This prejudice was seriously undone by Civilization: Beyond Earth. Beginning with its emotionally powerful intro video (above), and on through the new world, the aliens, the techs, the units, the cities, there is so much here to admire and to enjoy. I particularly liked the beautiful art and animation. This attention to the tiniest of details, like the way a robot worker handles a girder, brings the greater world to life.

      This plays out in the sciences that the game utilizes as it paints a vision of the future. Firaxis hasn't exactly reinvented the notion of science fiction (purple mushrooms, green aliens, spooky miasma, silver spaceships et al.) but it has obviously melded these familiars with deeply researched ideas about settling new planets, about the technologies of tomorrow and about human frailties in a strange new world.

      From the beginning, it's clear that the planet you land upon is not exactly pleased to see you. Aliens cannot be exterminated without advanced and numerable military units. Resources cannot be exploited without study. Distances cannot be traversed without significant perils.

      There is an underlying question about why you are here and what you hope to achieve, and this plays itself out in the game's multiple victory conditions, many of which demand a relationship between the player and the planet, that is absent in previous games.

      Winning, or even surviving, feels more like an act of creativity than merely of conquest. This is the chief charm of Civilization games, and Beyond Earth highlights it. The process of playing through the game exists at a nexus between mine and the designer's imaginations, allowing for infinite creative possibilities within a tight set of rules.

      Winning feels more like an act of creativity than merely of conquest
      Civilization: Beyond Earth review d 1900

      Civilization: Beyond Earth review d 1900

      There are minor irritations in Civilization: Beyond Earth. The intelligence of computer-controlled players has been improved somewhat from previous games. They don't seem quite as susceptible to prideful rage and suicide-by-pointless-invasion, although you can still expect to see their units crawling aimlessly over your territory, turn-after-turn, or an enemy refusing to come to terms when an offensive campaign has clearly ground to a halt. Doing business with them — even with the addition of a new favor bargaining chip that can be cashed in later — rarely feels like its adding much to the overall experience. Most of the time, their incursions into my consciousness just feels like an annoyance.

      The end-game can become something of a chore. If you have amassed significant resources and are playing toward a guaranteed win, it begins to feel like you're running on a treadmill. This is a standard problem with large-scale strategy games. I also do not love the simplistic visual iconic organization of units and techs. Obviously a nod to futuristic aesthetics, there were, nevertheless, times when I confused one kind of unit for another. Likewise, the Wonders are not nearly as pleasing in their presentation as in previous games and the end-game sequences seem skimpy and unsatisfactory.

      But these are quibbles about what is an entirely satisfactory strategic fantasy. Beyond Earth is a pretty play set that takes standard futuristic visuals and ideas and furnishes them with scientific relevance and strategic urgency. The game is dotted with quests and ideas that feel authentic, just like a really good sci fi novel.

      Wrap Up:

      Civilization: Beyond Earth successfully injects new life into Sid Meier's long-running strategy series

      Civilization: Beyond Earth is an immensely pleasing simulation of a future human society, struggling to survive on a new planet. It presents the player with a constant stream of challenging and intriguing choices. Packed with big ideas about science and science fiction, it meticulously interlocks dozens of strategic gaming systems that work together at a level that approaches genius.

      Civilization: Beyond Earth was reviewed using early PC code provided by 2K Games. You can find out more about Polygon's ethics policy here.

      About Polygon's Reviews
      23 Oct 12:00

      Civilization: Beyond Earth review: Buy-in Alpha Centauri

      by Alexander Sliwinski
      firehose

      'The characters are painfully dull and inarticulate. The tech and wonder voiceovers are all done by one person, but in many cases are attributed to faction leaders within the game (who do have their own voices). The experience doesn't feel luxe. Firaxis has been the benchmark in accessible strategy games and it's owned by triple-A publisher Take-Two Interactive, but I've seen stronger production values from independent European competitors.'

      Viewed through the idea that it's a standalone expansion to Sid Meier's Civilization 5, Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth streamlines gameplay in the long-running strategy series to enhance the pace of the historically-strapped franchise. As a...
      23 Oct 09:38

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