22 Jul What’s Hot on the Tech Blogs
The oRouter Is A Tor-Powered Linux Box That Secures Your Internet Connection
Longtime TechCrunch Disrupt NY hackathon participants, Kay Anar and Gilad Shai showed off their hardware hack today called the “oRouter” – a Linux-powered, Raspberry Pi-like computer offering secure Wi-Fi access via the Tor network. The idea is to offer an affordable alternative to downloading the Tor software to your computer, as well as a way to more easily connect to Tor over mobile devices like an iPhone. Read more…
‘Disrupt Taco Bell’ Hack Stretches Your Dollar On Late Night Burrito Runs
It’s 1 am, you’re hungry and you’ve only got $5. How do you figure out what the maximum amount of grub you can snag inside that budget is? You could try to do some drunk math but that’s never going to work out. Or you could try the time-honored method of rolling up to the drive through and scrounging for coins in the ash-tray because you’ve over-estimated your wallet size.
That’s what the TechCrunch hackathon Taco Bell Disrupt is all about. You shoot an email off to a special address with a dollar amount in the subject and it rips you off a menu of the maximum amount of food you can get under that limit. Read more…
3Dioo Hardware Hack Is A DIY Oculus Rift
It’s always great to see hardware hacks. This one, called 3Dioo, just demoed on stage here at the TechCrunch Disrupt New York 2014 hackathon turns a standard Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone into a 3D capture device — and a viewer, when used in conjunction with a couple of hardware add-ons.
The array for capturing the 3D is made from cardboard, held together with a few well-placed TechCrunch stickers, with a space to slot in the phone and four mirrors arranged so that they split the photo or video footage into two — enabling it to generate a basic stereoscopic output, without the need to have two lenses on your smartphone. Read more…
Capture 360-Degree HD Video With This Tiny UFO-Style Camera
Tools like Google Street View and even Apple’s iPhone allow you to view the world as captured in panoramic photos, but a new camera called Centr delivers the same kind of immersive experience in high-definition video.
Created by a team of ex-Apple employees, Centr is a beautifully designed, palm-sized panoramic camera that you can control with your smartphone or tablet (iOS and Android). Read more…
Apple’s LuxVue Acquisition Could Be the Biggest iWatch Hint Yet
Apple’s reported acquisition of LuxVue, a developer of micro-LED displays, attracted much attention — not for the purchase price (which remains undisclosed), but rather what it could mean for the Cupertino, Calif. company’s “new category” of product, frequently mentioned by CEO Tim Cook in recent months.
Is LuxVue providing the display technology for the long-rumored iWatch? Read more…
Bye-Bye Browsers: Why Facebook’s New App Links Are a Big Deal
Facebook announced a slew of new programs and initiatives for developers at its F8 Conference, but the most exciting might just be App Links.
App Links are Facebook’s attempt to make it easy for developers to link to other applications from their own apps. In other words, if I’m in a messenger app and I tap on a link to a photo hosted on Instagram, that link should take me directly to that image in the native Instagram app and not open up a mobile browsing window with the image. Read more…
Twitter Is Not Dying
Well, that’s it folks: Twitter is dead. It had a good flight. A short flight, but a noisy one. Sadly, it is now headed the way of Flappy Bird.
So claims the Atlantic in a 1,800-word “eulogy for Twitter” that packs in about 140 characters’ worth of actual evidence. Read more…
Cops Must Swear Silence to Access Vehicle Tracking System
It’s no secret that police departments around the country are deploying automated license plate readers to build massive databases to identify the location of vehicles. But one company behind this Orwellian tracking system is determined to stay out of the news.
How determined? Vigilant Solutions, founded in 2009, claims to have the nation’s largest repository of license-plate images with nearly 2 billion records stored in its National Vehicle Location Service (NVLS). Despite the enormous implications of the database for the public, any law enforcement agency that signs up for the service is sworn to a vow of silence by the company’s terms of service. Read more…
Facebook Woos Mobile Developers, but Is It Too Late?
Not so long ago, the key to building a successful app business required piggybacking on an existing big network like Facebook.
But relying on Facebook for your paycheck also meant being subject to the whims of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The “things” in Facebook’s mantra, “Move fast and break things,” frequently meant your app, your business. Read more…
Sony Crams 3,700 Blu-Rays’ Worth of Storage in a Single Cassette Tape
Stupid hipster 80s fetishism notwithstanding, cassette tapes don’t get much love. That’s a shame, because magnetic tape is still a surprisingly robust way to back up data. Especially now: Sony just unveiled tape that holds a whopping 148 GB per square inch, meaning a cassette could hold 185 TB of data. Prepare for the mixtape to end all mixtapes.
Sony’s technique, which will be discussed at today’s International Magnetics Conference in Dresden, uses a vacuum-forming technique called sputter deposition to create a layer of magnetic crystals by shooting argon ions at a polymer film substrate. The crystals, measuring just 7.7 nanometers on average, pack together more densely than any other previous method. Read more…
The Men Inside of R2-D2 and C-3PO Actually Hated Each Other
In 1975, George Lucas was casting for his upcoming sci-fi film The Star Wars (name later changed to simply Star Wars). After a joint casting session with Brian De Palma, who was looking to hire actors for his new horror movie Carrie, Lucas was able to cast many of his principal actors. He decided on two young no-names, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, as well as a friend from his previous film, American Graffiti, Harrison Ford, to portray the three main characters: Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo.
But these were the easy casting choices, the characters for whom there weren’t any special physical traits needed. For two other main characters, R2-D2 and C-3P0, Lucas decided to go to London to see if he would have any luck finding actors who would fit the unique criteria of these roles. Read more…
Navigate by Barcode and Never Get Lost Again
Libraries have terrible maps; supermarkets and department stores have bad signage; all of them have a built-in system for navigation that we don’t use: barcodes.
That’s the argument of researchers Simon Robinson, Jennifer Pearson, and Matt Jones from the Future Interaction Technology Lab at Swansea University. They’ve come up with a way to use barcodes and library call numbers for indoor navigation (here’s the whole PDF). Read more…