Automagically round up your weeds with Tertill

Subject: General Tech | June 14, 2017 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: irobot, automation, tertill, Kickstarter

While the level of enjoyment that gardening instills in a person varies there is one thing we should be able to agree upon; weeding sucks.  The team that brought you the Roomba has a solution in mind and they have launched a Kickstarter for Tertill, the robotic weed destroyer.  You can contribute to the project and pick up this solar powered robotic weed eater for as little as $225 for delivery in time for next years gardening season.  Instead of using robotic vision, which can have some interesting interpretations of objects, it will munch anything short enough to pass underneath it with its spinning string trimmer, unless it has one of the provided collars around it to protect it.  The collar in the video seems to be easily replicable with some wire and pliers if you have enough baby plants you need extra.  Drop by to take a look at the campaign and the Tertill in action.

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"iRobot veteran and Roomba co-inventor, Joe Jones is a modest man with a big mission: to create robots that make agriculture more efficient, less tedious, and yes, maybe even one day feed the world. After a decade at Harvest Automation building greenhouse robots, his new team at Franklin Robotics has developed Tertill, an affordable, waterproof, solar-powered robot that continuously whacks weeds around your yard."

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Source: Slashdot

Good news Battletech fans, Paradox will publish Harebrained Schemes new game

Subject: General Tech | May 17, 2017 - 02:56 PM |
Tagged: battletech, paradox, gaming, Kickstarter

The Kickstarter for the new turn based Battletech gaming was wildly successful with 41,733 backers pledging $2,785,537 and now we have even more good news.  Paradox Interactive, they of the continual updates and addins to published games have agreed to publish the new Battletech game.  Not only does this ensure solid support for players after release but could mean we see a long lineup of expansions after release, Paradox just added another major expansion to EU4 four years after its release.  For backers there is even more news, the closed beta will kick off in June and there is a new video of multiplayer gameplay you can watch.

"The long life of these internally developed games is a core part of Paradox’s business model, but the company is also expanding as a publisher. That includes not only third-party originals like Battletech, but ports of existing titles such as Prison Architect on tablet."

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The System Shock Reboot is Unreal

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2017 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Kickstarter, system shock, unreal engine 4, Nightdive Studios

It was just announced to backers and the public that the System Shock reboot from Nightdive Studios has moved from Unity to Unreal Engine 4 and they have a pre-alpha video that shows off what that will look like.   The reasoning they gave was perhaps poorly worded, suggesting that this is because the choice was solely to make the game look good in the console version.  They gave backers, such as myself, reassurance that "PC is the main target for everything we do" and that the console version was already planned in Unity.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN feels the change makes the quality of the visuals better, but perhaps not as true to the original as the previous example they showed using Unity.  Check out the pre-alpha video below to see for yourself.

"In this matter at least, I am confident my sanity is unaffected. For as well as an apparent shift in its art direction to something more traditionally sci-fi/horror, SSR has hopped from Unity to the Unreal engine, resulting in a very different-looking game."

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If you can’t open it, you don’t own it - Macchina opens up your car's hardware

Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2017 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: M2, Arduino Due, macchina, Kickstarter, open source, DIY

There is a Kickstarter out there for all you car enthusiasts and owners, the Arduino Duo based Macchina M2 which allows you to diagnose and change how your car functions.  They originally developed the device during a personal project to modify a Ford Contour into an electric car, which required serious reprogramming of sensors and other hardware in the car.  They realized that their prototype could be enhanced to allow users to connect into the hardware of their own cars to monitor performance, diagnose issues or even modify the performance.  Slashdot has the links and their trademarked reasonable discourse for those interested, if you have the hardware already you can get the M2 interface $45, $79 or more for the hardware and accessories.

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"Challenging "the closed, unpublished nature of modern-day car computers," their M2 device ships with protocols and libraries "to work with any car that isn't older than Google." With catchy slogans like "root your ride" and "the future is open," they're hoping to build a car-hacking developer community, and they're already touting the involvement of Craig Smith, the author of the Car Hacker's Handbook from No Starch Press."

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Source: Slashdot

I see there's still an insect loose in my station ... Terri Brosius returns as SHODAN

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2016 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: gaming, system shock, Kickstarter

The System Shock reboot kicks off today in the usual place for such things and a pre-alpha demo has appeared on Steam, GOG and the Humble Store.  Chris Avellone will be a part of the project, along with several members of the Fallout New Vegas team and as mentioned, Terri Brosius will be reprising her role as SHODAN.  The $900K goal is halfway finished already but it will take $1.7M before the real game can be realized with ammo types, RPG elements and other fun things such as dismemberment.  You can take a peek at the gameplay over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN before you grab the free demo, if you so desire.

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"A modern take on System Shock, a faithful reboot; it’s not Citadel Station as it was, but as you remember it. Many improvements, overhauls and changes are being implemented to capture the spirit of what the original game was trying to convey, and bring it to contemporary gamers."

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Source: Kickstarter

Video Perspective: Retail Oculus Rift Day One - Setup, Early Testing

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 28, 2016 - 11:24 PM |
Tagged: pcper, hardware, technology, review, Oculus, rift, Kickstarter, nvidia, geforce, GTX 980 Ti

It's Oculus Rift launch day and the team and I spent the afternoon setting up the Rift, running through a set of game play environments and getting some good first impressions on performance, experience and more. Oh, and we entered a green screen into the mix today as well.

"Imagine the original Deus Ex combined with the film Die Hard."

Subject: General Tech | January 20, 2016 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Kickstarter, consortium

That is a hell of a tagline which will be hard to live up to as trying to live up to the fond memories of the original Deus Ex while figuring out how to make Die Hard playable is not a trivial task.  The original ($2.99 on GoG right now) had mixed reviews, some loving the way you are dumped into an immersive story with no introduction and others frustrated by a lack of tutorial.  It was certainly different than your usual game in 2014.  The second game in the developers planned trilogy is Consortium: The Tower and seems to be more focused on being a single person stealth/action game than the team based experience of the first but the trailer does seem to have some of the same flavour as the first when it comes to the story and dialogue.  You don't often see a player choose to drop his weapons and then attempt to dialogue with the bad guys, except in cut scenes of which there will be none in this game.  Check out the trailer, read what the gang at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN had to say about it and see if you think it is worth tossing in on the Kickstarter campaign.

We could have talked about FarCry Primal but Ubisoft is too busy being themselves by  taking down trailers and generally making it hard to have nice things.

"As pitches go, Consortium: The Tower has a bloody good line up its sleeve. Like its predecessor, it’s a science fiction game set in a single environment. You can talk, fight or sneak your way past or through encounters, and many events will happen even if you’re not there to see or influence them."

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Mow the lawn or enjoy the Internet we grew up with, kid

Subject: General Tech | January 29, 2015 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: vexbox, Kickstarter, 56k

The VexBox will bring tears to the eyes of parents and children, though only for the parents will they be tears of joy.  It is a device being Kickstarted which will connect to your main router and provide a separate connection, both wired and wireless, to the devices you assign to it.  You can then throttle the connection when you feel it is needed, all the way down to 56K modem speeds while leaving your connection unaffected.  You will need to have a tiny bit more technical savvy than your children, if they can guess your password or the main router password then obviously they can circumvent the VexBox but as long as you can manage to keep a step ahead you can slow your internet down for anyone that isn't living up to your expectations.  The KickStarter is here, one of their stretch goals is to be able to limit speeds depending on the URL being accessed so that actual online research can be performed at full speed.   You will also need to block or confiscate 4G devices to avoid excess data charges if attempts are made to circumvent the VexBox.  Join The Inquirer and "retro enthusiasts and people of a certain age" in bringing this beautiful device to the market.

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"You can't shut kids in cupboards under the stairs these days, as it just leads to Harry Potter fantasies. So parents have had to come up with new ways of getting someone to mow the lawn."

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Source: The Inquirer

KickStarter: MatchStick Is Chromecast-like with Firefox OS

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 1, 2014 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: Kickstarter, Firefox OS, web, chromecast

When Google released the Chromecast, it was a surprisingly clean solution for streaming video (my apologies if solutions existed before it). Just plug it into HDMI and connect to it with a PC or a mobile device to use the TV as monitor for content, and it is cheap. I figured that the open source community would like one of their own, but I did not think it was going to be done. Now there is a Kickstarter up, with FirefoxOS.

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I constantly struggle with whether to discuss crowdfunding because, on the one hand, you never know if something will tank. On the other hand, is it really any less sketchy than pre-release information for computer hardware or video games (especially pre-release news for video games)?

In this case, I found out that it was promoted by Mozilla on their Hacks blog. It is based on a Rockchip 3066 SoC with 1GB RAM, 4GB of storage and 2.4 GHz Wireless-N. As stated earlier, it runs FirefoxOS which means that apps are websites. The SoC has a Mali-400 GPU that is capable of OpenGL ES 2.0, so it might even be able to support WebGL if the software and drivers are certified. Don't expect jaw-dropping 3D graphics, though. The GPU is rated at about 9 GFLOPs. For comparison, the Tegra K1 has a peak compute throughput of about 365 GFLOPs; alternatively, it is fairly close to later-model Intel GMA graphics (not Intel HD Graphics... GMA). Still, it might allow for some interesting 2D (or simplistic 3D) games.

Just a day-or-so in, it is already at over 150% funding.

Source: Kickstarter

The Rift between Oculus, Kickstarter and you

Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2014 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: oculus rift, Kickstarter, john carmack, facebook

You've heard by now that Facebook has purchased Oculus and you likely have an opinion on the matter.  There are quite a few issues this sale raises for the technologically inclined.  For the Kickstarter backers, the question of the propriety of Vulture Capitalists benefiting monetarily from a project which began in part because of their donation made on Kickstarter; which still did net them a device.  For those hoping that Oculus was going to be a project designed and lead by Palmer Luckey and involving John Carmack with little oversight or pressure from a company that wants an immediate return on their investment.  For some the simple involvment of Facebook is enough to sour the entire deal regardless of any other factors.

KitGuru offers some possible benefits that could come of this deal; Facebook cannot afford to slow development as competitors such as castAR will soon arrive, nor can they really push Carmack around without risking his involvement.  Before you start screaming take a moment to think about everything this deal involves and then express your opinion ... after all you don't get reality that is much more virtual than Facebook.

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"I know guys. I know. I’m mad too. I’m sad, disappointed, even betrayed, but these are all things I’m feeling and I bet you are too. We’re having an emotional reaction to two companies worth multiple billions of dollars doing a business deal and though I can’t help but wish it hadn’t happened, I know that if I look at it logically, it makes sense for everyone."

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Source: KitGuru