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Palmer Luckey's Guide to Modding the Oculus Go

Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey has written a guide to modding the Oculus Go. The first mods that he performed were to change the color of the HMD from grey to black to cut down on the amount of reflected light on the optics. The next phase of modding involved removing all unnecessary weight to lower the mass of the device from 400 grams to 280 grams. He swapped the battery from a 2600mAh 18650 cell to a 3500mAh battery that lasts for 3 hours of play time. The battery now mounts at the back of the head with a magnetic pogo-pin connector to make battery swaps a breeze. He redesigned the cooling system for the SOC with a much lighter heat pipe and installed a micro-blower to cool the aluminum fins. Removing the aluminum faceplate and replacing it with a lightweight tinted/polarized plastic allows many of the inner working of the device to be seen. He gave up on adjusting the IPD of the Oculus Go as it is a fixed-IPD headset. That is the one area for concern that still causes him trouble while using the device.

I am not using GoBlack very much at the moment, mostly because of the IPD issues mentioned earlier. I am very glad Oculus Quest has IPD adjustment, and really look forward to it! For anyone who cares, wait just a little bit longer for the vestibular fix I have been talking about.

Posted by cageymaru December 17, 2018 12:16 PM (CST)

Why Apple Chose Austin for Its Next Campus

Apple recently chose Austin, Texas as the location for a major new campus. Austin is a huge tech hub, with companies like Samsung, AMD, Intel, Cisco, Applied Micro and Apple itself already having a major presence in the city. But many are still wondering why Apple chose to expand outside of its home town so aggressively. The company has long declared that its devices are "designed in Cupertino," but with a huge portion of development moving to Austin, that may no longer be the case. Recently, the Wall Street Journal drilled into Apple's reasoning behind the decision. Among other things, Apple seemingly intends to pull machine learning and semiconductor engineering talent to Austin, which is essential if they want to maintain high margins on their iDevices.

Aside from the political goodwill, the job expansion outside Silicon Valley could help Apple diversify beyond the iPhone... Traditionally, gadget makers like Apple have bought chips made by other companies. But in the past decade, Apple has expanded its semiconductor efforts to include the Bluetooth chip that powers AirPods and graphics processors for the iPhone. Its efforts helped enable the facial-recognition technology that it introduced with last year's iPhones, a feature that helped justify raising the starting price of the iPhone X by more than 50% to $999.

Posted by alphaatlas December 17, 2018 12:02 PM (CST)

Google Announces a New Campus in New York City

Google has announced that it is expanding its presence in New York City with a new $1 billion campus. The 1.7 million square-foot Google Hudson Square will be home to the company's Global Business Organization. These investments into New York City will double the numbers of Googlers in New York over the next 10 years. It also reaffirms the company's commitment to grow and invest in U.S. facilities, offices and jobs.

We'll continue to deepen our commitments in STEM education, workforce development and access to technology. This coming spring, Grow with Google--our initiative to create economic opportunities for all Americans--will come to New York City with a temporary digital skills learning center on the ground floor of our office on 8th Avenue in Chelsea. Grow with Google will host free hands-on workshops, one-on-one coaching and community events with local partners so that New Yorkers have the opportunity to gain the skills needed to thrive in today's digital economy.

Posted by cageymaru December 17, 2018 9:04 AM (CST)

Vitaminwater Offers $100K to Quit Smartphones for a Year

Vitaminwater is calling attention to itself with a stunt that will award "one lucky person $100,000 to ditch their smartphone in favor of a ‘1996-era cellular telephone’ for a full year." It isn’t clear how the company will reliably prevent an entrant from cheating (while a lie-detector test will be given at the end of the contest, those aren’t exactly reliable).

Vitaminwater will give the winner a dumb phone from the 90s, along with an accompanying phone plan, that they'll be able to use for communication during the yearlong contest. The rules state you won't be able to use or even touch any smartphone or tablet for 365 consecutive days, and you'll need to take a lie-detector test at the end of the contest to prove your abstinence. If you only last 6 months smartphone-free, Vitaminwater will give you $10,000.

Posted by Megalith December 16, 2018 3:20 PM (CST)

DICE Apologizes to Battlefield V Players for Dumbing Down the Game

In an attempt to make Battlefield V easier for newbies, DICE had altered the game’s Time to Kill (TTK) mechanic (a value that determines how long it takes to kill an enemy) by lowering the damage for most weapons, which effectively made players harder to kill. This didn’t go well with fans, who accused the studio of not communicating with core players and turning everyone into a bullet sponge. DICE has apologized and is making up for it with new playlists that utilize old TTK values.

The intent came from us observing that new players are having a very hard time with the game compared to our core players, and we wanted to see if we could improve this over the holidays so more players can have a great time. As many of our veteran players know, Battlefield games constantly evolve and change over time in our collaboration with the community. Battlefield V is no exception. We heard your feedback that many of you prefer the old TTK values...

Posted by Megalith December 16, 2018 10:50 AM (CST)

Don't Buy a 5G Smartphone, at Least, Not for a While

Ars’ latest feature supports the theory that being an early adopter rarely pays off: while 5G has the potential to offer a "10x improvement" in mobile network speeds, the first devices won’t be blessed with an SoC, but separate, larger components such as a discrete modem and multiple antenna modules. Critics suggest poor battery life and weak 5G reception are therefore inevitable, as additional hardware will result in a smaller battery, and multiple RF modules highlight how easily a user’s hands could block a signal.

In a year or two, mmWave hardware should be more mature and more integrated. A big sign to look for is if Qualcomm's 2020 SoC has an integrated 5G modem, which would bring back many of the single-chip advantages that 4G has today. The immaturity of 5G won't stop the coming advertising blitz, though. Soon you'll start seeing the launch of the first 5G phone on network X, and every carrier on Earth will be advertising 5G as the best thing since sliced bread. Don't believe the hype. For the near future, if you can buy a 4G version of a phone, you probably should.

Posted by Megalith December 15, 2018 3:20 PM (CST)

Riot Executive Suspended without Pay for Allegedly Touching, Farting on Subordinates

Riot COO Scott Gelb has been suspended without pay over alleged workplace misconduct: employees claim he has "repeatedly touched subordinates’ balls or butt or farted in their faces." While this decision suggests Riot is attempting to move on from its supposed "bro culture" and fraternity mindset, which has fostered a "culture of sexism," the punishment handed out by CEO Nicolo Laurent is merely temporary.

Throughout Kotaku’s interviews, one name kept cropping up: Scott Gelb, Riot Games’ COO, whom current and former employees allege participated in "ball-tapping" (flicking or slapping testicles), farting on employees or humping them for comedic effect. "It just became so normal," said one employee who witnessed Gelb’s behavior. Another added, "The ball grabbing and things like that -- that was absolutely well known across the board."

Posted by Megalith December 15, 2018 2:30 PM (CST)

Google Project Stream Participants Get Free PC Copy of Assassin's Creed Odyssey

Sign-ups are currently underway for Google’s Project Stream tech test, which features a fully playable version of Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Ubisoft has announced that those who are accepted will also get a free PC copy of the game linked to their Uplay account. The test, which was developed by Google to check the performance and viability of streaming a AAA video game, concludes January 15.

All game saves and any in-game items earned via gameplay or purchased with the free Helix credits will also transfer over to the free PC copy, but any unspent credits will not transfer. Players that have met the criteria for the free game will receive an email after January 15 with instructions for how to access their free copy in the weeks following the end of the Project Stream test.

Posted by Megalith December 15, 2018 2:10 PM (CST)

California Considers Plan to Tax Text Messages

The California Public Utilities Commission may vote to approve taxing text messages next month as a means of collecting additional funding for "public telecommunications programs like the 911 service and subsidized phone rates for low-income Californians." They estimate the tax would cost consumers an additional $1.40 per $20 of texting charges. Critics say the state already has enough cash.

"Taxing texts isn’t just regressive, it’s also unnecessary. The state is flush with cash, while ordinary Californians are struggling. The idea of increasing taxes on anything right now is absurd," state Assembly member Marie Waldron, a Republican from north of San Diego, said. The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, a trade organization whose members include companies like AT&T, T-Mobile USA and Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal, told NBC News they oppose the measure, as well.

Posted by Megalith December 15, 2018 10:45 AM (CST)

Verizon to Cut Oath Workforce by 1,000 Jobs

Verizon has decided to shave 10% of the Oath workforce as it invokes more cost cutting measures in its effort to cut $10 billion in costs. Over 1,000 jobs at the company's Oath media business will be lost according to anonymous sources. Just recently Verizon laid off over 10,000 workers in its core telecom business. On Tuesday, Verizon announced a write-down of Oath media business value by $4.6 billion as part of a goodwill impairment charge on a SEC filing.

The cuts come in the wake of Vestberg's decision to slash the value of the Oath properties, which include AOL and Yahoo, by $4.5 billion. The write-down cuts Oath's value in half and suggests that Verizon is conceding defeat in its foray into the digital media business. The impending job losses come amid contraction across the digital media landscape as publishers have struggled for revenue in an advertising market dominated by Facebook and Google.

Posted by cageymaru December 14, 2018 12:21 PM (CST)

Drivers Licenses are Going Digital in Louisiana

Finland announced plans for a digital drivers license this year, and several U.S. States are running similar pilot programs of their own. So far, digital drivers license systems have been fairly limited, but a report by IEEE Spectrum claims that could change in Louisiana soon. According to the report, the developers of the app LA Wallet claim that "bars, restaurants, grocery stores and other retailers" will be allowed to accept digital IDs as proof of age next week. The founder of the app company claims about 71,000 people have downloaded the app, but so far, only police offers are required to accept it as a form of ID, limiting its usage. Spectrum points out that it would be possible to steal someones digital identity in the same way that credit card info is stolen, but there are major security benefits to the system too, and Louisiana has no plans to make plastic IDs obsolete yet.

There's also a handy security feature that allows anyone with the LA Wallet app to authenticate another person's Louisiana digital driver's license. In our Bourbon Street bar scenario, the bartender and the young woman would use the app's "VerifyYou" feature. It allows the bar patron to select which information she would like to reveal to the bartender-in this case, simply the fact that she is over 21. That information is displayed on the phone with a photo and embedded QR code. The bartender scans the code with her app, which tells her that the woman seated on the other side of the bar is indeed over 21. None of the customer's personal information, such as her name, birth date, or address, is displayed or stored on the bartender's phone. Together, the VerifyYou feature and the security seal make the digital driver's license hard to fake. That's because the cryptography is time-based and can only be used once.

Posted by alphaatlas December 14, 2018 9:56 AM (CST)

New Yorkers Are Unhappy With Amazon's New Headquarters

After a long, public, and heated bidding process, Amazon finally settled on New York City and the D.C. Area as locations for their new headquarters last month. While New York allegedly fought tooth and nail for the bid, Common Dreams points out that many council members, assemblymen, and regular citizens aren't happy with the deal. They claim that Amazon, a company with a $811 billion dollar market cap that makes 10s of millions of dollars every day, doesn't need a $500 million cash grant and other breaks from the city to build the headquarters. Various politicians have some heated words for the company, claiming that they are "not a good partner," and that they have already dragged down Seattle with expensive lobbying campaigns and rising home prices. Thanks to TheCommander for the tip.

Huseman, Amazon's vice president for public policy, noted that 5,000 New York workers are already employed by the company at a fulfillment center on Staten Island-but as the hearing was underway those same employees were publicizing their effort to unionize, citing long hours, insufficient breaks, and safety concerns on the job.

Posted by alphaatlas December 14, 2018 8:43 AM (CST)