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01 Oct 05:28

700K of the 1.2M apps available for iPhone, Android, and Windows are zombies

by John Koetsier

Sixty percent of the 617,436 apps on Apple’s app store have never been updated and have fewer than 10 reviews. Forty-one percent of the 484,271 apps on Google Play are in the same boat, and an astonishing 69 percent of Windows Phone apps are essentially sitting by the phone, lonely, waiting for the call that will never come.

This is how developers’ dreams are dashed.

Mobile testing service StarDust released a new study today that compares total apps, publishers, rate of new apps being added, monetization details, and more about the three main global app stores: iOS, Windows Phone, and Google Play.

dead apps

In total, half of all apps will never be updated, a clear signal that they have not managed to reach a significant level of use — or a significant level of return on investment. In addition, most applications will get the vast majority of reviews — and downloads, presumably — within about two weeks. The average iOS app gets 80 percent of its reviews in the first 18 days of its public life, and this is even quicker for Android and Windows Phone: 16 days and 13 days.

In fact, 68 percent of all Google Play apps are downloaded fewer than 5,000 times — a death knell for any monetization attempts.

The staggering odds have not deterred developers, however. On average, 2,371 new apps are published each and every day.

Forty-seven percent of them are published on Android, while 41 percent are published on iOS, and 12 percent of them are launched on Windows Phone. While more apps are being published on Android, more publishers still join Apple’s developer program and publish apps daily. 90 new developers publish an app on iOS daily, versus 75 on Google Play.

app store publishers

Interestingly, developers update much more frequently on Android: While every day 806 iOS apps are updated, 2,341 Android apps are updated.

“This can be explained by a common practice of Android developers who publish an update in order to position their applications into the top ranking,” StarDust said in a statement. “It also can be due to the fragmentation of the platform that requires more maintenance and regular patches.”

Another factor, almost certainly, is Apple must vet that iOS updates, adding days or weeks to the update process. This is probably why the average update cycle for apps with at least 10 versions is over two months on iOS but just a month and a half on Android. Windows Phone is the fastest-updating, at just over a month.

StarDust’s numbers on applications for each app store are lower than self-reported numbers as well as data from alternative sources. For example, Apple said back in June that 900,000 apps had been published on the iOS app store, while Google Play likely hit a million apps last month. I’ve asked the company for an explanation, but it is likely due to the subtraction of expired apps, which have not been updated to current operating systems, or have aged off the app store due to lapsed developer status, and so forth.

While Apple’s app store is still the revenue king, with half of all apps paid compared to 32 percent for Android, Google Play is still likely growing revenue twice as fast.

Filed under: Business, Dev, Mobile

VentureBeat is creating an index of the most exciting cloud-based services for developers. Take a look at our initial suggestions and complete the survey to help us build a definitive index. We’ll publish the official index later this month, and for those who fill out surveys, we’ll send you an expanded report free of charge.


01 Oct 05:25


01 Oct 05:23

The Lannister family, illustrated in the style of The Lion King

by Lauren Davis

The Lannister family, illustrated in the style of The Lion King

Lannister lions Tywin, Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion get made over as actual lions in Disney style. They just can't wait to be the power behind the Iron Throne.



02 Aug 18:51


Well, we've really only settled the question of ghosts that emit or reflect visible light. Or move objects around. Or make any kind of sound. But that covers all the ones that appear in Ghostbusters, so I think we're good.
18 Jul 11:05

via artandsciencejournal: 3D-REX: A 3D Printed Tyrannosaurus...

via artandsciencejournal:

3D-REX: A 3D Printed Tyrannosaurus rex Sculpture

Move your wall hangings into storage, namisu from Madrid and Edinburgh has created something a bit different for your wall. Their Kickstarter project for 3D printed Tyrannosaurus rex Sculptures aims to bring together the tradition of fossil collecting and displaying with new technologies. In doing so this design team has played with nature’s creations to influence some of their own. The sculptures they have designed are wire frame fossils created with Selective Laser Sintering, which the team states “feels and looks more like something between wood and stone, rather than plastic. It actually feels like a fossil!" The project comes in two designs, one for walls, and one for tables. You can check out the rest of their Kickstarter project, and their video discussion, here

- Lee Jones 

Finally, 3D printers do the thing they were made to do!

18 Jul 11:04

Come at me, Tri.

Come at me, Tri.

18 Jul 11:00

"Biology’s cruel joke goes something like this: As a teenage body goes through puberty, its circadian..."

“Biology’s cruel joke goes something like this: As a teenage body goes through puberty, its circadian rhythm essentially shifts three hours backward. Suddenly, going to bed at nine or ten o’clock at night isn’t just a drag, but close to a biological impossibility. Studies of teenagers around the globe have found that adolescent brains do not start releasing melatonin until around eleven o’clock at night and keep pumping out the hormone well past sunrise. Adults, meanwhile, have little-to-no melatonin in their bodies when they wake up. With all that melatonin surging through their bloodstream, teenagers who are forced to be awake before eight in the morning are often barely alert and want nothing more than to give in to their body’s demands and fall back asleep. Because of the shift in their circadian rhythm, asking a teenager to perform well in a classroom during the early morning is like asking him or her to fly across the country and instantly adjust to the new time zone — and then do the same thing every night, for four years.”


Sleep and the teenage brain

That’s right, younger readers … the reason many of you are partying like the hippest of night-owls and dragging like zombie-licious molasses in the morning is because biology is battling against you.

Like so many other things in the teenage body, your late-night, sleepy-morning behavior is part of the twisted, tormented tornado of hormones that make high school so much FUN!

(via explore-blog)

18 Jul 10:01



Aquafarm was born thanks to a very successful Kickstarter campaign, it is a Self-Cleaning Fish Tank that Grows Food! It features a clever loop eco-system, with fish waste feeding the plants and plants cleaning the water. You can grow beans, basil, thyme, baby greens, oregano, mint, parsley, right on top of the fish tank, and with the science of aquaponics, the Aquafarm transforms your fish’s waste into nutrients for the plants. All this is happening without soil and without plant fertilizers! Oh, and you never need to clean the water! watch the video
16 Jul 10:42

In Japan, People Do Dumb Crap on the Internet, Too

by Brian Ashcraft

In Japan, People Do Dumb Crap on the Internet, Too

Like watching people fall out of chairs? How about lighting firecrackers in their butts? Or on their faces? Kids, don't try this at home—because people on Nico Nico already have!


12 Jul 17:06



We take a look at the latest addition to the Ziiiro family, the Ziiiro Mercury. As all Ziiiro watches the Mercury is also minimalist in design and features an unconventional dial composed of overlapping discs, one for indicating hours, one for indicating minutes. Check out some more details and photos below.

Ziiiro make unconventional watches, they have no hands or markings, instead they have a constantly changing pattern of rings indicating the passing of time. The main theme is minimalism, so there are no distracting elements in the design, and after a short time you will acquire a feel for reading the time.

The ZIIIRO Mercury displays time in a simple and unique way. The tip of the inner swirl represents the current hour, while the outer swirl displays the minutes, with a continuous gradient movement showing the passing through time.

You might be asking if it is easy to read time on this? Well, the Mercury shows you the time in an elegant and visually pleasing manner, and the technology used is actually quite simple. The face displays color-rotating layers(discs), using a semi-transparent material. By overlaying both layers, according to the time, the colors change, creating an array of stylish gradients. One disc(inside) indicates the hour the other the minutes. The bezel has marks to help give you a more accurate indication of time. You actually get used to it very fast.

You can get the Ziiiro Mercury and other models in the US at Amazon. In Europe you can get them at Ziiiro online store or Amazon UK.

- Case: Stainless Steel Case with/without PVD (Physical vapor deposition) in matte Black
- Case Back: Polished Stainess Steel with Snap-up enclosure
- Dial: Plain White with no markers
- Strap: Chrome / PVD (Physical vapor deposition) matte Black
- Crown: 3 Hour Position
- Hands: Colored Discs // Hour and Minute
- Case width: 40mm
- Case thickness: 8mm
- Tapered mesh strap: 23mm to 21mm
- 316l stainless steel
- Miyota 1l-26 quartz movement
- Hardened mineral crystal
- Snap-up case back
- Battery: sr616sw
- Water resistant - 3atm
- One year warranty

Photography: blessthisstuff

Also check out our hands-on the Ziiiro Celeste
Bracelet in the picture is from "Naimakka Paracord Bracelets", check them out here
11 Jul 10:03

7-year-old Dexter writes letter to NASA saying how much...

7-year-old Dexter writes letter to NASA saying how much he’d like to go to Mars and work for NASA, despite being, well, 7 … and NASA wrote back.

This is great.

(via Reddit)

11 Jul 09:45

The Birth Of The PS4 Is A Children's Story

by Luke Plunkett

The Birth Of The PS4 Is A Children's Story

So powerful has been Sony's messaging to date with the PlayStation 4 that, despite it not even being out yet, the console already has something of a story. And a lot of that has to do with development legend and lead architect of the PlayStation 4, Mark Cerny.

So reader Mark Hughes decided to get that down on paper, and made this wonderful children's story based on Cerny and the PS4. Being a children's book you kind of have to fill in the gaps yourself (use your imagination!), but if your kids need something to get them to sleep tonight, surely nothing will get the job done better than a tale of giant crabs and complex system architecture.

You can see the story in full - complete with narration - here, but below is just the book by itself, if you feel like ad-libbing in the details yourself.

The Birth Of The PS4 Is A Children's Story

11 Jul 09:36

Nintendo Wanted Smash Bros. Pulled From World's Biggest Tournament

by Luke Plunkett

Nintendo Wanted Smash Bros. Pulled From World's Biggest Tournament

Evo co-founder Joey Cuellar has revealed that Nintendo didn't just want to stop Smash Bros. Melee being streamed from this year's fighting game competition, they wanted to stop that part of the tournament taking place altogether.

"They were not only trying to shut down the stream", he told OneMoreGameTV, "they were trying to shut down the event, the Smash portion of the event".

It was only when Evo's organisers "wig-wammed their way through" conversations with the company's legal department that Nintendo agreed to only go after the streaming portion of the event (a decision they later reversed).

We're still waiting on comment from Nintendo of America over the matter, and will update if we hear back.

Live On Three E166 [OneMoreGameTV, via Eventhubs]

09 Jul 08:36

Ryan Davis, RIP

by Stephen Totilo
Mohammed Alnashar

A very sad day for gaming journalism :(

Ryan Davis, RIP

The news is sad and brutal. Ryan Davis, 34, longtime Senior Editor at Giant Bomb passed away last week just a few days after getting married.

Davis' passing was announced today by his heartbroken colleagues at Giant Bomb. No cause of death was given.


It's always too soon. It's always so painful. We always wish we had more time with them.

Like many of you, I got to know him through his media presence. I was late to the Gamespot shows he did with Jeff Gerstmann, but I was a loyal listener to the Giant Bombcast for years. At first I couldn't tell the difference between Ryan and Jeff's voices, which seems weird now. I figured it out quickly enough. Ryan's was the one that was quicker to laugh. Well, it was more of a giggle, wasn't it? On the show he seemed ever-cheerful. He was our affable host. He seemed eternally gracious.

A few years ago, he started letting me appear on the Bombcast. These would be the main times I would see him from year to year, and so my mental image of him is sitting behind some audio equipment, headphones on, eyes darting at whatever they need to dart at while making the best gaming podcast on the Internet.

I think I was an okay guest on Ryan's podcast. I tried to be informative. I didn't try to be funny. The other guys and guests were funny. They'd be the ones to make him laugh. Still, I didn't feel good about my showing. I saw Ryan the next day. Ran into him at E3 where he was unusually smartly-dressed (that's photo proof in the image up top). I am not an insecure person, but I told him about my doubts and second-guesses. Don't worry about it, he said. He told me I did fine. But maybe I should have been in a different segment with the newsier people? No, he told me. He wanted me in the segment I was in. He wanted that mix of personalities. It was just what he had hoped for. He had a kindness and a confidence about the whole thing that stuck with me. He was a good guy.

I've mostly interacted with Ryan through Twitter and Facebook. I was delighted to see he'd tied the knot. I'm now crushed that he is gone.

My and all of the Kotaku team's hearts go out to Ryan Davis' family and friends. I've got a couple of Bombcasts on my iPhone and now I think I may never listen to them. I like the idea that there will always be some new laughter of his to hear. So long, Ryan. I look forward to hearing you again.

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo

04 Jul 10:53

adraksethmera: eliotgarciaa:   I FEEL LIKE YOU SHOULDN’T...







02 Jul 06:55

Dinklage To Laurie Is a Perfect Power Up

by Geek Girl Diva

power up

(via The Clearly Dope)


26 Jun 05:12

Find Out How Many Creators of this Game Were Female and Who Hate Peas

by Stephen Totilo

Find Out How Many Creators of this Game Were Female and Who Hate Peas

The credits in the new Nintendo game Game & Wario are as weird as the rest of the game, but they're also possibly the best credits ever. They serve a serious, modern purpose. And they make some good jokes.

The serious purpose: they break the team down by job focus (directors, programmers, producers, etc.) and by demographics. Most of the demographics are silly, but some actually provide a fascinating snapshot of who on a big Japanese Nintendo game development team has kids, who is left-handed (okay, that doesn't really matter) and, simply, who is male and who is female.

Male developers on this game (including the entire sound department, orange; senior producers, white):

Find Out How Many Creators of this Game Were Female and Who Hate Peas

Female developers on this game (two at the director level, purple; a good number of them in graphic design, pink bordered by maroon):

Find Out How Many Creators of this Game Were Female and Who Hate Peas

The not-so-serious purpose of these credits: tell us who on the development team has a sweet tooth, is a cat person or hates peas.


Find Out How Many Creators of this Game Were Female and Who Hate Peas

The credits are interactive, as you can see in this video. The big grid shows all the developers. The Wii U gamepad lets you tap different groupings to see the various clusters of game creators.

In cast it's not clear, those aren't the game developers' faces you're seeing in all these grid shots. Each box actually shows a sketch of the developer's nose. That's why they call the credits the Schnozzipedia. Amazing.

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo

25 Jun 11:37

This Is How Japan Trolls Google Street View

by Brian Ashcraft

This Is How Japan Trolls Google Street View

Google Street View trolling is not new. People around the world love pulling hijinks when they see the Google Street View apparatus rolling down the street. Folks in Japan did some truly epic trolling.

As IT Media points out, writers at Japanese humor site Daily Portal Z got the drop that the Google Street View would be making its way through Tokyo. So, a while ago, the DPZ writers showed up near Mitaka Station, all carrying masks so they could turn themselves into "human pigeons". The result has recently appeared on Google (see for yourself here).

This Is How Japan Trolls Google Street View

They even watch you even as you make your way down the street. *shudder*

This kind of stuff isn't new for the site: Last February, PDZ did a story on wearing a pigeon mask in public. Here were the results:

This Is How Japan Trolls Google Street View

This Is How Japan Trolls Google Street View

This Is How Japan Trolls Google Street View

Googleストリートビューに謎のハト人間集団 その正体は... [IT Media]

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

25 Jun 11:29

Summer Video Game Series: The Best Of Minecraft Architecture

by AJ Artemel on architizer, shared by Stephen Totilo to Kotaku

Summer Video Game Series: The Best Of Minecraft Architecture

Minecraft is one of the most successful independently developed video games of all time, and it is now available for computers, Xbox, and some mobile devices. Perhaps what makes it so powerful is that it allows users to create entire worlds based on their own designs: Players can dig deep into virtual earth to discover caves and mine precious materials, they can build structures that stretch far into the sky, and they can explore a map that is virtually infinite.

Everything in Minecraft is based on 1-cubic-meter blocks that can be stacked according to a three-dimensional grid. Each block is wrapped in a low-res texture that suggests material properties such as stone, wood, gold, or even fire, though the fact that the game is independently produced means that there is much opportunity for modifying these textures and other aspects of the game—opportunities that have certainly been taken advantage of by the game’s hardcore fanbase.

Summer Video Game Series: The Best Of Minecraft Architecture

King’s Landing from Game of Thrones by Westeroscraft

There are two main modes of gameplay: survival mode and creative mode. In survival mode, players must fend off hunger, falls, and monsters that lurk in the woods while mining, processing, and placing materials carefully, making it much more of a game with objectives. Creative mode is more of an open sandbox experience, allowing players infinite resources and making them invincible.

These examples of Minecraft architecture could have been made in either mode, though obviously creating these things in survival mode is much more difficult. It is readily apparent just how much this game allows players to experiment, despite the pixilation arising from the grid limitation. Some have even gone so far as to attempt to recreate the entire world of Game of Thrones in Minecraft, an effort which thus far 4,000 users in collaboration have not been able to complete (although their rendition of King’s Landing is awe-inspiring). Be sure to check out the full list at Architizer.

Summer Video Game Series: The Best Of Minecraft Architecture

Neo-Charlotte, North Carolina, by Armchair Hacker

Summer Video Game Series: The Best Of Minecraft Architecture

Minas Tirith from Lord of the Rings by Cornbass

Summer Video Game Series: The Best Of Minecraft Architecture

American suburbia by nobodysharp

25 Jun 11:20

One Indie's Troubles With Microsoft

by Patricia Hernandez

One Indie's Troubles With Microsoft

The common, popular narrative is that companies like Microsoft are eeeeevil. All they want is money! Or something like that. Maybe it's not so clear-cut?

This quote in the image above comes from a piece on Rock Paper, Shotgun on Skulls of the Shogun. (Edit: the quote comes from Borut Pfeiffer, who works for Plush Apocalypse Productions—a studio that collaborated with 17-BIT on Skulls of the Shogun). The article describes the trials and disappointments that came with developing a game exclusive to Microsoft products. Instead of having that exclusivity result in more exposure and sales, the move resulted in complications and an empty bank account.

They came across as though they were institutionally incompetent. I think they’re not really set up to be a decent publisher. I do feel slightly bad saying that, because there were people there who worked hard on our behalf, but at the same time there are systemic problems with the way that division is setup and run.

Of course, the developers knew they were taking a gamble that involved releasing a game on a bunch of new products—it's probably not fair to put all of the blame on Microsoft. Still, it's kind of impressive how incompetent Microsoft sounds, at least when it comes to doing well by indies. You can read specifics here; it's well worth a read.

Granted, we've already gotten a taste of ineptitude outside of indie publishing—look at the whole Xbox One debacle. To quote our own Kirk Hamilton on it:

The company seems to lack the sort of leadership that would've stopped this kind of clusterfuck from transpiring in the first place. From the moment the Xbox One was announced, its messaging has been a mess of corporate-speak, contradictions and vaguely menacing obfuscations, wandering around aimlessly and pissing off everyone it stumbles into.

Compared to Microsoft, Sony appears poised and ready, a company with seemingly strong leadership and a number of clearly defined goals. They've set out to win over developers and land exclusive games and content, they have a robust indie recruitment strategy, and they seem to take their customers very seriously. (Or, at the very least, they take courting their customers very seriously.) Microsoft, with their bumbling TV-TV-Sports-Call of Duty announcement event, weird pre-E3 info-dump and let's-not-mention-the-elephant-in-the-room E3 press conference seems to be more of a leaderless bureaucracy.

So maybe "evil" is too strong a word? What do you think?

The Sorry Saga Of Skulls Of The Shogun & Windows 8 [Rock Paper, Shotgun]

24 Jun 12:24

Japan Underground Bicycle Parking Systems

by danny


While we do have a load of cars and public transport all over the place - the bicycle is still very much a common way to get around in Japan.
So much so that finding a place to park ones two wheeler can be a problem - its even more of a problem when folks start to park illegally.


To remedy this problem, construction company Giken have come up with a solution which stores hundreds of bicycles underground using a system called Eco Cycle - a robot system which stores bicycles underground in a 11 meter deep well.

Check out the video below to see the underground bicycle parking systems in action. The video is a snippet from my TV show Culture Japan.

This post contains a video, click here to view.


And this is what a cross section of Eco Cycle looks like.


This diagram shows how the bicycles are arranged so that its able to store 204 units.


This is how the construction is done for those of you who are considering having one in your back yard which will take only 2 months to stick in place.
If this looks impressive then the one that stores cars should impress you more.


If you want to take a look at Eco Cycle in action, you need to first get off at Shinagawa station and head towards Kounanhoshi Park [こうなん星の公園] at the location on the map below.
Or copy paste the following into your mobile device maps app.
View location with Google Maps


Shinagawa is full of offices meaning that you will encounter a load of Japanese salarymen.


If you go during lunch then you will see a load of them queue up for food.


Setting up camera equipment. This footage was shot for Season 1. For Season 2 we switched to using Sony - one of the reasons is because of the better noise reduction.


I'm terrible at remembering my lines which is why from Season 2, I got rid of the script and we done everything ad-lib.


This was taken at a time when I used to spike my hair upwards - but that wasn't too good at hiding my baldness which is why my hair is now always flat ><


Warning signs asking owners to remove things like valuables and pets from the basket before stowing their bicycle away.


There is a little chip inside this black attachment which will open the door of the loading bays when you push the bicycle near it.


My wife also appears in the short snippet too ^o^
There is a yellow line that boxes off the loading bay and for safety purposes, the speed of the arm that grabs the bicycle will either slow down or stop if you step inside the yellow lines.


The machine then pulls in the bicycle and finds and empty slot for it by whizzing around and downwards.


This whole process takes about 8 seconds - same for retrieval too.


If you watched the video you can see the footage taken from this camera we strapped to the seat.


And you also see me taking a photo of this bicycle as its pulled into the docking bay.


This payment unit is available for owners of the bicycle parking systems to charge passers-by for stowing their bicycle away.

For these ones in Shinagawa however, all folks need to have an account.
Folks who are considering to park their two wheeler here should call up the facilities first.

For students it costs 1,300 yen to park for a month and 1,800 yen for the rest of the folks.
Folks can park and retrieve their bicycles an unlimited amount of times for this price.


We get to take a peek at the security systems in place too which have cameras not only facing the door but also looking down on the silo and at many locations dotted around inside of the well.


These camera's are not only for security but for safety too.


We also interview the man in charge of everything too. He said off camera that while they are rolling more of these out in Japan, they are looking into taking this technology overseas too.
If you are interested then let me know and I'll hook you up with him!


Here are a few screencaps for folks who dont have time to watch the video now which got 240,000 views in a day on YouTube and nearly a million views on Facebook ><











The green button tells the machine that you are ready to have your bicycle stowed away.


A robotic arm comes to grab the front wheel and pulls it into the machine.



To retrieve my bicycle, I use my member card.


All I do is touch my card to the panel like so...


The robotic arm inside the well goes to the location of your bicycle...


Grabs the front wheel...


There is a window on the other side of the silo which enables you to look inside.


An within 8 seconds I have my bicycle.


Taking stuff to put underground and out of sight.


Freeing up space above ground for those who need it.


Each well can hold 200 bicycles as long as the length of the bicycle is more than 1400mm and less than 1900mm long and weighs less than 30Kg.


And I'm off!


A couple more photos taken during filming.





After filming we are back to Shinagawa station to head to the next filming location...


Which is at a high school to cover the archery club activities called Kyudo which you can read all about in this photo post.


I know where I would want to be parking my Itachari bicycle when I'm out n about ^^


Read more about Mirai Suenaga >>>

24 Jun 11:06

If Game of Thrones Characters Had Dating Profiles

by Patricia Hernandez

If Game of Thrones Characters Had Dating Profiles

What might those profiles look like? Well, the folks over at Team Pwnicorn reckon they'd look a little like this. Funnily enough, not only do important characters like Daenerys and Jaime get profiles, but so do characters like Hodor and the wall.

Yes, as in the wall that's there to keep the white walkers out. That wall. Heh. Anyway, here are a few of the profiles—make sure to check out the ads, too. They're good:

If Game of Thrones Characters Had Dating Profiles

If Game of Thrones Characters Had Dating Profiles

If Game of Thrones Characters Had Dating Profiles

If Game of Thrones Characters Had Dating Profiles

Game of Thrones Dating Profiles [Team Pwnicorn]

24 Jun 08:09

Map the iPhone Users In Any City, And You Know Where the Rich Live

by Emily Badger

Our stuff often says a lot about us, whether we own a hybrid car or a station wagon, a MacBook Pro or an ancient desktop. And this is no less true of our smart phones, sold on a sharply divided market between iPhones, Androids, and Blackberries.

Among other things, cell phone brands say something about socio-economics – it takes a lot of money to buy a new iPhone 5 (and even more money to keep up with the latest models that come out faster than plan upgrades do). Consider, then, this map of Washington, D.C., which uses geolocated tweets, and the cell phone metadata attached to them, to illustrate who in town is using iPhones (red dots) and who's using Androids (green dots):

That picture comes from a new series of navigable maps visualizing some three billion global, geotagged tweets sent since September of 2011, developed by Gnip, MapBox and dataviz guru Eric Fischer.* They've converted all of that data from the Twitter firehose (this is just a small fraction of all tweets, most of which have no geolocation data) into a series of maps illustrating worldwide patterns in language and device use, as well as between people who appear to be tourists and locals in any given city.

The locals and tourists map scales up a beautiful earlier project from Fischer. You could kill a few hours playing with all of these tools, built on the same dataset. But we particularly liked looking at the geography of smart phone devices. As in Washington, above, iPhones are often more prominent in upper-income parts of cities (and central business districts), while Androids appear to be the dominant device in lower-income areas.

These maps are also a blank canvas with nothing on them other than tweets. To the extent that you can easily make out the Washington Beltway above, or plenty of other roadway networks throughout the rest of these maps, that means people are tweeting while driving (or, preferably, sitting in the passenger seat).

Here is New York City, which has a smattering of Blackberries in Manhattan (yes, it's possible to tweet from a Blackberry). That green patch to the left is Newark:

Here is Chicago:

And Houston:


Los Angeles:

And one place that really loves Blackberries? Jakarta.

Correction: This article initially misspelled Eric Fischer's name.

All images courtesy of MapBox, Gnip and Eric Fischer.


23 Jun 07:40

Ex-BioWare writer reveals alternate endings to Mass Effect trilogy

by Mike Schramm

ExBioWare writer reveals alternate endings to Mass Effect trilogy

Potential Spoiler Warning Mass Effect fans!

Toronto's AM640 did a radio interview recently with former BioWare scribe Drew Karpyshyn, in which he chatted about some of the alternate story theories and endings that BioWare tossed around for the Mass Effect series. Eurogamer has the highlights, including the theory that the Reapers were trying to stop organic life because they were somehow making use of "Dark Energy" (an element only mentioned briefly throughout the series) to bring about the end of the universe. "It's very vague and not fleshed out," says Karpyshyn, adding that "it was something we considered but we ended up going in a different direction."

BioWare also played with the idea that Shepard might be an alien at one point, though eventually deemed that too close to the story of Revan in Knights of the Old Republic. Karpyshyn also says BioWare thought about turning Shepard into some combination of organic and cybernetic, a theme that did eventually get generally included in the ending of Mass Effect 3.

But in the end, says Karpyshyn, these ideas were just ideas, and should be judged as such. "It's like vaporware," he says. "Vaporware is always perfect, anytime someone talks about the new greatest game. It's perfect until it comes out." Karpyshyn says that even if fans are disappointed with the story as it is, a story that included these other considered ideas, "whatever we came up with, it probably wouldn't be what people want it to be."

JoystiqEx-BioWare writer reveals alternate endings to Mass Effect trilogy originally appeared on Joystiq on Thu, 20 Jun 2013 04:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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22 Jun 11:10

The Lady Vanishes

by Avi Abrams

Link - article by M. Christian

Stealing the Most Famous Painting in the World

If it had been done in this age of iphones, ipads, and the rest of our high tech ilives, the movie would have had Clooney or Willis dangling upside down over a pick-up-sticks weave of alarm lasers while a geeky cohort (maybe Steve Buscemi or Alan Cumming), face green from the digital overload bouncing up from a laptop, rattles off a second-by-second update on the imminent wee-oo-wee-oo arrival of the stern-jawed Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale.

("Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo", by Leonardo da Vinci)

But while the lady did vanish – a very, very special lady – the means of her vanishing, while maybe a tad less dramatic, is no less fascinating. While you'll no doubt immediately recognize the lady in question, you may not know her full name, or some of the more interesting details of her portrait. Begun by a certain well-known artist back in 1503, the likeness of Lisa del Giocondo wasn't finished until some years later, around 1519. After the death of this rather well known artist, the painting was purchased by King François I, and then, after a certain amount of time and other kings, it finally ended up in the Louvre. An interesting note, by the way, is that – while not a King – the painting was borrowed from the Louvre by Napoleon to hang in his private quarters, and was returned to that famous French museum when the Emperor became ... well, not the Emperor.

(visual illusion and surreal paintings by Victor Molev, Russia)

Its official title is Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo but the smile says it all, and in 1911 it was stolen – and wasn't returned until 1913.

While much of the theft is still a mystery, what is known is that on August 22, 1911, Louis Béroud, a painter and fan of the legendary Mona Lisa, came into the Louvre early one morning to study the famous work of Leonardo da Vinci, instead finding a bare wall. In a pure Inspector Clouseau bit of history, the museum staff didn't immediately put bare wall and missing painting together and instead thought the painting had been taken to be photographed. It took
Béroud, checking with the photographers themselves, to bring it to the attention of the guards that the painting had been stolen.

Suspects were many and varied: a curious one was Guillaume Apollinaire, the critic and surrealist, who, because he can once called for the Louvre to be burnt to the ground, was actually arrested. While no-doubt annoying, he was eventually cleared and released, but not before trying to finger, unsuccessfully, a friend of his for the theft, another rather well known painter by the name of Pablo Picasso.

Alas, the actual thief and the method of the robbery are almost painfully plain, though the man and the means weren't discovered until much later. In 1913, Vincenzo Peruggia, a Louvre employee, was nabbed when he contacted Alfredo Geri, who ran a gallery in Florence, Italy, about the stolen painting.

(visual illusion and surreal paintings by Victor Molev, Russia)

The story that emerged after his arrest was that on August 20th, 1912, had Peruggia hid in the museum overnight. On the morning of Sunday, the 21st, he emerged from hiding, put on one of the smocks used by employees and, with ridiculous ease, simply took what is arguably the most famous painting in the world and put it under his coat and walked out the door with it. When the gendarmes later knocked on Peruggia's door they'd simply accepted his excuse that he'd been working somewhere else the day of the theft, while the painting was hidden under his bed.

What isn't plain, though, was Peruggia's motivation for the theft.

(images credit: Marco Pece, David Eger)

Elegant Forgery Scheme with a Happy Ending

While he constantly argued he'd stolen the Mona Lisa for patriotic reasons, to hopefully return it to his native Italy, many believe a more intriguing, more nefarious, more devilishly elegant explanation – an explanation that involves one of the most legendary crooks and conmen who have ever lived: Eduardo de Valfierno.

Born in Argentina, Valfierno, who liked to call himself a Marqués, was a man with not just a plan, but a remarkably clever plan. According to those to believe he had a hand in the affair, the Marqués began by commissioning not one, not two, not three but instead six copies of the painting from the equally-legendary forger Yves Chaudron. Now there's no way anyone would buy a Mona Lisa when the real one was clearly hanging on a wall in the Louvre, so Valfierno hired the poor Peruggia to make off with the original. Once the original painting was reported missing, Valfierno took his six perfect forgeries and sold them to illicit collectors all over Europe, convincing each and every one that the Mona Lisa they were purchasing was the one and only.

(left: painting by , right image - Mona Lisa portrait made from Rubik's Cubes)

Waiting for the elegance? Well, even if Valfierno had been caught, the only thing he could have been nailed for was selling forgeries, which none of the collectors he'd sold to were ever willing to report as it would have incriminated themselves as well. What was an extra bonus, Valfierno could have sold as many copies as he'd wanted as long as the original painting stayed missing.

For those who like to tie Valfierno to the crime, Peruggia only tripped up the whole scheme when he realized that Valfierno had stuck him with the serious end of the crime – the theft – and he'd stumbled when trying to sell the Mona Lisa or, as he claimed, simply trying to return it to his native Italy.

The tale, though, does has a somewhat happy ending: Peruggia, despite the outrage over the theft of the painting in France, was given a rather lenient sentence by the Italian authorities, who felt moved by Peruggia's claim to have been motivated by patriotism. While little is known about the possible mastermind, Valfierno, considering the brains and creativity involved it's not a huge stretch to imagine him doing quite well afterward.

Meanwhile, The Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, was returned to her noble spot in the Louvre where she smiles out as us to this day: her cryptic expression as mysterious as the shadowy history surrounding her theft in 1911.

(street art by Banksy)

This article by M. Christian was originally published in "Welcome to Weirdsville": a wonderful compendium of interesting subjects and fascinating topics. This is a highly recommended book for all lovers of weird & wonderful this side of the Universe; order the Kindle edition here.


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...How would you like something that can never crash, is immune to weather, goes 3 or 4 times faster than the bullet train... it goes an average speed of twice what an aircraft would do. You would go from downtown LA to downtown San Francisco in under 30 minutes. It would cost you much less than an air ticket than any other mode of transport. I think we could actually make it self-powering if you put solar panels on it, you generate more power than you would consume in the system. There's a way to store the power so it would run 24/7 without using batteries. Yes, this is possible, absolutely.

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This sounds a lot like the futuristic ET3, or Evacuated Tube Transport Technology, we wrote up last year (pictured directly below and up top).



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