Life Extension Science Live Forever and Don’t Pay Taxes – Nanalyze

They say there are only two things in life you cant avoid taxes and death. For our U.S. readers, you can actually avoid taxes by staying out of the country for 335 days or more. Its called a Foreign Earned Income Exclusionand it gives you about100K in tax-free income every single year. Youre welcome. As for death, we cant tell you how to avoid that yet but were going to let you know when that nut gets cracked becauselife extension science is the hip thing for billionaires to invest in at the moment.

In an article last year, we touched on the topic of aging which is an easier theme to discuss than death, but we didnt quite get into the bigger picture of extending life. There is actually a field on extending life called life extension science in which anti-aging is one of just many broad themes. Life extension sciencecomes in many names such as anti-aging medicine, experimental gerontology, biomedical gerontology, and indefinite life extension. Heres the textbook definition:

Life extension science is the study of reversing or slowing down the processes of aging to extend the average or maximum lifespan.

According to Zion Market Research, the global demand for the anti-aging marketwas valued at $140.3 billion in 2015, and is expected to reach $216.52 billion by 2021. Medical experts, however, declared that the use of these products has not proven to have any effect on the aging process, a reason medical practitioners do not want to equate life extension science to the anti-aging industry identified closely with cosmetics and dermatology.

There seem to be two major schools of thoughts on dealing with prolonging life expectancy: life prior to death and life after clinical death. Life prior to death seem to have the most investment support, probably because its easier to invest in andwrite a check yourself while youre still alive. There are many ways to approach life extension including the following:

Curing age-related diseases or attacking the root cause of aging seem to hold the most promise because of the recent advances in genetics. Curing cancer is still in the detection and diagnostic era with a real cure still years to go. There will likely never be a single cure for cancer, but many different advancements such as earlier detection which reduces the mortality rate by up to 90% for some cancers. In the future, your smart toilet will read your urine in the morning and detect the cancer while your smart smoothie maker will automatically mixin aproper prescription so that by the time you get to work fire up your virtual reality simulator, youll be cured.

Digging deeper into nanotechnology, cloning, genetic modification, and SENS, you will realize, it is all about attacking the challenge of aging at the molecular or cellular level. (The exception is cyborg technology where you replace partly or wholly the human body with robotic technology). Were going to just dive right into 7 companies that are attacking the root cause of aging.

We last wrote about Human Longevity (HLI)in April of last year when they officially became a unicorn after taking in a $220 million Series B round bringing their total funding to $300 million. Last month they hired Cynthia Collins as their new Chief Executive Officer replacing Craig Venter, Ph.D., Co-founder and former CEO, who will remain at HLI as Executive Chairman and will continue to guide scientific vision and strategy. HLI unveiled their genome search engine last October 2016, in which they were exploringindividual human genomes in great detail. At that time, they had already sequenced 10,545 human genomesand went on to state:

The 10,545 human genomes are part of the HLIs database, which currently contains more than 30,000 high-quality genomic and phenotypic integrated health records. HLIs goal is to have one million integrated health records in the database by 2020.

With $300 million, theyre well on their way to building the worlds largest and most comprehensive database of whole genome, phenotype and clinical data.

Just last month, Google Alphabet took in a whopping $800 million investment into their life sciences branch Verily which makes us feel better about the fact that we havent heard squat lately from Calico. We first discussed theCalifornia Life Company (Calico) back in 2014 and since then this stealth mode startup has murmured very little about what they are doing with the staggering $1.5 billion in funding they have on hand. Since Larry Page of Google, its main advocate, is more driven by the technical challenge of solving the mysteries of ROI rather than aging, informing the public of Calicos progress isnt really on the top of his agenda.

One interesting anti-aginglife extension science company we covered before wasElysium Health. Unfortunately,the only news this startup is turning out lately isbad news. The only supplier of the two key ingredients (pterostilbene and nicotinamide riboside) in Elysiums anti-aging pill, Basis, just filed a lawsuit against Elysium this January 2017, for failing to make payments and for breach of royalties and trademark agreements. Added to this is a growing public criticism of Elysiums general marketing campaign which consumers believe ismisleading. Apparently, Basis which seem to be the only unique value proposition for Elysium is not the only company marketing pills containing the key ingredients pterostilbene and Nicotinamide Riboside (NR). ChromaDex, Elysiums only supplier of these ingredients, is also a supplier (probably the only supplier) of these same ingredients to dozens of other anti-aging brands under the trademark NIAGEN. Since they have 30 of the worlds top scientists on staff they should be able to think of a wayto clean this mess up.

Unity Biotechnology, Inc., a startup incorporated in 2009, is in the business of preventing, reversing, and halting the various diseases attributed to aging by working on senescent cells. Heres how they describe it:

Cellular senescence is a biological emergency brake cells use to stop dividing. Its an important anti-tumor mechanism, because it prevents cells from multiplying out of control. But after this brake has been pulled, senescent cells remain in the body, accumulating with age. And unlike normal cells, these cells secrete inflammatory molecules that harm neighboring cellsand tissues

And heres their pipeline:

The Company completed a Series B funding of $116 millionin October 2016 so they have plenty of funds to execute. Not surprisingly,Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPalis an investor alongside some big names like Fidelity, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and Paul Allen of Microsoft.

SENS Research Foundation or Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Research Foundation is not actually a business startup but a 501(c)(3) public charity founded in 2009 by Aubrey de Grey. Peter Thielputs in $600,000 a year, while its founder and chief science officer, Aubrey de Grey, provides $5 million annually for this research foundation. SENS Foundations research emphasizes the use of regenerative medicine to age-related disease, with the intention of repairing damage to our bodys tissues, cells, and molecular processes.

Speaking of Peter Thiel, we all know whathes been up to and it makes some people question just how groundedthe man really is. Hes all over the news because of something thats downright uncomfortable for us to think about. Thats right, Peter Thiel is said to be thinking about getting blood transfusions from young men to help stop the effects of aging. Its a life extension science called parabiosis which is currently being investigated by at least two startups.

Mr. Thiel presently sits on the board of a startup called Alkahest which is studying the effects of parabiosis. $4.5 billion Spanish plasma company Grifols (NASDAQ:GRFS) owns 45% of the Company so theres a way for retail investors to get a bit of exposure. Theyre operating in stealth mode so not a lotof information available except for recent news that they appointed a Chief Medical Officer.

Alkahest isnt the only startupexploring parabiosis. According to an article by Vice Magazine, a Silicon Valley company called Ambrosia is working on human clinical trials. They charge $8,000 for the privilege of participating in the study and apparently at least 600 people signed up.Sounds like those young bloodshave something to offer us after all.

So there weve given you 7solid companies looking to extend your life span. Maybe you should slap some dollars in a robo-advisor like Betterment just in case you live to be 130 because soon thats going to happen. Of course this opens up a whole can of worms about sustainability of our planet. For those of you who are going to be nice and just die so the rest of us can live longer with more resources, we will still hook you up.

There are those who believe the possibility of life after you are clinically dead. These are advocates who put up companies that build facilities for cryonics and for uploading your mind into some machine. Mind uploading is an exciting space to explore because of the possible merging of current technologies such as brain activity mapping, AI, BCI, and machine learning. Still, there are companies catering to those who simply believe in being remembered and having a purpose even after death such as Bios for its environmentally friendly burial urns and Capsula Mundi for its burial pods. That whole mind uploading thing sounds amazing so we may have to cover that in a future article. Stay tuned and enjoy all those tax-free $$$.

Looking to buy shares in companies before they IPO?A company called Motif Investing lets you buy pre-IPO shares in companies that are led by JP Morgan. You can open an account with Motif with no deposit required so that you are ready to buy pre-IPO shares when they are offered.

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Life Extension Science Live Forever and Don’t Pay Taxes – Nanalyze

DICE 2017: Squanchtendo Says ‘We Have a Long-Form’ VR Game in Development – UploadVR

At the D.I.C.E. 2017 Summit, developers, press, and entertainment industry veterans gathered from around the world this week to discuss cutting edge technology and design principles. One of the most applicable discussions thus far for our audience took place today as Geoff Keighley hosted a live interview session with both Tanya Watson and Justin Roiland of Squanchtendo. The duo discussed their views on the budding VR industry, what made their debut effort in Accounting(created in collaboration with Crows Crows Crows) so special, and most interestingly, what theyre working on next.

Tanya Watson brings years of AAA game industry experience, having worked at Epic Games, and Roiland, a self-described student of gaming his entire life, is the co-creator of Rick and Morty and possesses one of the most iconic comedic personalities in the entertainment scene today. Their combination led to the creation of Squanchtendo, a brand new game studio, last year.

During their talk, Watson and Roiland issued very slight and minor teases about their next project. According to Watson, We have a long-form game, a traditional game length game that I cant talk too much about that we are in development on for VR, she said. But we would also love to make more of those dense, short-form experiences like Accounting as continued experiments.

Judging by the hilarity and innovative interactivity of Accounting, were putting our money on this larger game retaining that same sense of humor. In last years interview, they also alluded to their next project being something of a comedic-action RPG, but thats all we really know. It certainly sounds like it will no only be quite robust, but also likely just as witty and clever as wed expect.

But that may not have always been the case.

There was a period of time where I was going away from comedy and thinking about making a VR experience that was more eerie said Roiland. Even going down that road it kept going back to comedy for me. Im so drawn to absurd comedy I realized pretty quickly we shouldnt try to do that.

Accounting was released and marketed as a Vive-exclusive title, although it seems to work just fine when played with an Oculus Rift and Touch controllers through Steam. Designing the game with Vive in mind wasnt meant to anger non-Vive owners, but rather was meant to make the game as good as it can possibly be.

There is something to love about every piece of VR hardware, explained Roiland. My thought is, How can I use these constraints as a benefit, what can I do with these limitations? All of this stuff is in my sketchbooks: game design, stories, charactersWe have pitches that work for seated gamepad, some are designed for roomscale, there are some experiences that you cant port over properly.

Elaborating on that point, Watson said, Designing bespoke for a platform is important and taking advantage of what makes the platform special. How do you put the player in the world? Thats been the thing weve been approaching for all of our pitches. Making it more than just a screen on your face.

There are no tentative release plans for Squanchtendos next project, but well keep you posted as we find out more information. In the meantime, you can check out Accounting for free on Steam right now. And keep an eye out for more details on Owlchemys upcoming Rick and Morty VR game(teased above), built with feedback and input from Justin Roiland himself.

Tagged with: accounting, DICE, Justin Roiland, squanchtendo, tanya watson

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DICE 2017: Squanchtendo Says ‘We Have a Long-Form’ VR Game in Development – UploadVR

If You Copy The Contents Of Your Brain To A Computer, Does It Become You Too? – Forbes

If You Copy The Contents Of Your Brain To A Computer, Does It Become You Too?
From this point of view, mind transfer is no different from continued existence. The state of consciousness identifiable as you now gives rise to a state identifiable as you tomorrow inside the computer. It's not the same state whether it is inside

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If You Copy The Contents Of Your Brain To A Computer, Does It Become You Too? – Forbes

‘Agents of SHIELD’ recap: ‘Self Control’ – EW.com

Last weeks cliffhanger promised a coming stand-off between Fitz, Simmons, and a group of LMDs that replaced their team. Before we check back in on that, though, this episode begins with a look at those S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in their suspended animation, and then at the Superior himself. Anton Ivanov survived his battle with Daisy, but just barely. Hes now laid out on an operating table, where AIDA is getting ready to fix him. Ever the Darwinian eugenicist, he makes her promise not to mess with his mind or upload him to the Framework like the others. She agrees, but the changes she has in mind sound even more extreme than that. She soon picks up a chainsaw and fires it up.

Now we get a look at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, where Fitz and Simmons are figuring out how to interact with their newly replaced teammates (including the repaired Director Mace). Mack LMD wants to bring all Inhuman S.H.I.E.L.D. assets to base, presumably to kill them. He also suggests splitting up, but Fitz and Simmons insist on sticking together.

In Coulsons office, he and the resuscitated May LMD are talking about snow, leading May to realize that even though theyre both LMDs, theyre substantively different. Whereas the May LMD was ignorant about her true nature and only realized it gradually, Coulson knows hes a robot, and hes fine with it. Proselytizing for the Framework, he tells May its a place where you can wipe away your big regrets. His, for instance, was committing to the spy game in the first place, instead of pursuing a more normal civilian life. May LMD seems to consider picking Andrew over Phil one of her big regrets, and Coulson LMD tells her that in the Framework, they can be together.

As they go to the lab together, Fitz and Simmons realize that Radcliffe must have used the Deathlok eyes in the May LMD to study everyones biological data, enabling him to prepare their LMD bodies ahead of time and then switch them out during last weeks operation. Unfortunately, as they talk, FitzSimmons head through another LMD detector, and it goes off. Each naturally suspects the other of being the robot, but Simmons is the one who draws a gun. She insists that Fitz cut his wrist (non-lethally) to prove hes not a robot. He does so, but he starts tearing up and worrying that he accidentally severed a key artery. This gets Simmons to lower her guard, and Fitz attacks, revealing himself as the LMD. So much for that you and me against the world vibe they had going.

Fitzs LMD transformation is confirmed in the next sequence, which finds Radcliffe waking up from the Framework and glimpsing the real Fitz strapped in beside him. Hes mad at AIDA for waiting more than 24 hours to wake him up, but she says she didnt. Seems the Framework has a bit of time distortion going on. Combined with the fact that its hard to separate from the real world, Framework trips pose a real danger of losing oneself doubly so because AIDA has specifically rejiggered the Framework to take its inhabitants through their greatest regret. Radcliffe is opposed, but he spends most of his time these days in the Framework anyway. In his absence, AIDA is slowly asserting more authority and vision. Their conversation ends with AIDA off-handedly revealing the other S.H.I.E.L.D. member not yet in their possession, and its Daisy, not Fitz.

NEXT: Ka-me-ha-me-ha

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‘Agents of SHIELD’ recap: ‘Self Control’ – EW.com

Qualcomm and Intel reveal LTE modems with 1Gbps download speeds – Android Authority (blog)

Even as wireless carriers and smartphone makers hype up their plans to offer 5G speeds sometime in the future, the current 4G LTE technology continues to get refined and improved. Today, ahead of the 2017 Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, chip rivals Qualcomm and Intel have both announced new LTE modems with support for faster network speeds.

November 24, 2016

The Qualcomm Snapdragon X20 LTE chipset is the 7th such product from the company to support LTE networks, and the second that uses itsGigabit LTE technology. According to Qualcomm, the modem can support download speeds up to1.2Gbps. It can achieve these kinds of speeds through the use of carrier aggregation, which allows a device with the modem to access as many as12 unique streams of data, each with speeds of up to100Mbps. Upload speeds with the Snapdragon X20, while not as fast as its download rates, are still pretty solid at up to 150Mbps.

Sounds good, doesnt it? However, there are a few things to keep in mind. The biggest one is that theSnapdragon X20 LTE chipset has just started sampling to phone makers, and they are not expected to be put inside new handsets until mid-2018. Another thing to keep in mind is that current LTE networks will likely not be able to handle 1.2Gbps speeds in the real world.

Intel is not sitting down and letting its big competitor have all the LTE fun today. The company also announced its new smartphone modem, the Intel XMM 7560, which is its 5th such product to support LTE networks. TheXMM 7560 is supposed to handle download speeds exceeding 1Gbps and upload speeds up to225Mbps. Like Qualcomms new modem, theIntel XMM 7560 also uses carrier aggregation to achieve these new speed records.

As with Qualcomms solution, the claimed speeds on Intels chips sound good but likely wont be able to be reproduced in the real world on current LTE networks. Intel says theXMM 7560 will start sampling to smartphone makers sometime in the first half of 2017. Once again, that means we wont likely see any devices with Intels hardware inside until sometime in 2018.

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Qualcomm and Intel reveal LTE modems with 1Gbps download speeds – Android Authority (blog)

Breakdown In Immigration Screening: The Devil Is In The Details – Daily Caller


As the activist and their judges in the 9thCircuit Court wrestle with President Donald J. Trump over immigration and executive orders, one of the most dangerous mistakesconsistently being repeated by politicians and academics is still being overlooked. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) with real, recent operational experience are not consulted and detailed solutions are rarely considered.

Perhaps this is best exposedwhen considering the immigration screening issue. Call them immigrants, refugees or asylum seekers. it really doesnt matter because there is a breakdown of epic proportions when it comes to fingerprinting immigration applicants and collecting data of any type in their country of origin and uploading and running that data through the Department of Defense (DOD) secured data basis that contains information on an unknown number of dangerous people that have been caught and released in a war zone, or people that may be associated with them.

Currently in the United States there arehundreds ofongoing investigations of individuals that have come to the US (some as long as 10 years ago) that were originally caught by the DOD in the Middle East making bombs, planting IEDs etc. The DOD fingerprinted these individualsbut that information was neverput in databases that are shared with State Department or Border patrol. Because remote locationswhere immigrants are submitting their applications for admission into the US oftendo not offer the technologyto scan fingerprints or upload data, individuals are not fingerprinted in places like Djibouti whereindividuals from Somalia get screened when they seek to immigrate to the US.

Even in the places where immigrantsare fingerprinted, those prints are not uploaded to databases fora total and complete scanof their history. Even phone numbers are not beingrun properly through DODdatabases during this process they go unknown as well. Yet many immigrants are still put on a plane by our State Department and sent to the US.

When these immigrantsdoarrive in the USit is ensured that they are fingerprinted, but in most cases thoseprintsand other important dataare still not ranthrough the classified DOD databases.Yet the process continues and they are processed and cleared to enter into the US from whatever holding facility in which they arrive.

Interestingly, the one time when the DOD systems can be accessed isntuntil years laterwhen immigrants approach ICE to get benefits. That is apparently when information is finallyranthrough the DOD system.

Now, hundreds of cases are being investigated involving immigrants that have been residing inside the US for long periods of time (in some cases over 10 years) that areconnected to bombings and other crimes from war zones the Middle East. Their information had been collected by DOD operators in the field, and uploaded to DOD databases with no plan to share with other agencies.

There are more details to this story butit is problematic in that no one really knows exactly what is screened and at what point and it is a problem that has largely been overlooked, even by the current administration.If President Trumps administration concentrated on these types of details that subject matter experts working on the ground understand, these gaps could be closed and our immigration security could take a huge leap forward.

As a former FBI special agent, my investigative mind tells me these issues will continue to plague immigration screening because so much attention is being placed on executive orders and hiring more Customs Officers and not on these types of simple solutions.

The Devil is always in the details, thats why simple issues always cause such massive problems. Dont believe me? Just ask someone that is working at the ground level, like the policy makers should be doing!

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Breakdown In Immigration Screening: The Devil Is In The Details – Daily Caller

The Rules To Getting Clients Online (Part 2) – Above the Law

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the first three rules to getting clients online. Here are a few more to help you get started.

Dont Flaunt Pointless Awards

I think I found a good lawyer to help us with our case that will shape the outcome of our lives. I hope hes Martindale Hubbell A/V rated, said no one ever. There are ratings that are important to the public, like having that big A in your window from the health department if you sell food. People know what that is. It also has a logical rating scale. Telling your potential clients that on a scale of 0 to best, you are AV means nothing. Lawyers are the only ones who know what an AV rating is, and not all of them. In fact, the same can be said for a lot of lawyer awards.

Im not saying dont mention your awards. Im saying dont mention them in a way that assumes your client base understands what it means and dont assume they appreciate the significance of the award. Dont just put in your bio A/V rated lawyer. That means nothing. Say received highest ranking for ethical and professional standards by one of the nations most prestigious attorney ranking systems or something.

Be Wary of False Awards

I routinely get letters in the mail from some form of national lawyer association telling me that out of the 1.2 million lawyers in the United States, I am in the top 30 of something and I just need to pay $5,000 to be listed in their magazine and website. I was flattered the first time I got one of those letters that a 4th year lawyer would be recognized in such a way. Then, I took 30 seconds to Google that organization and found out that it was a total scam. If I had paid the $5,000 to get that award and listed that on my website, imagine if a client saw that award and decided to google it. That would do more harm than good.

Claim Your Online Presence

Ive talked about having a robust social media presence too many times to count. For those of you with no social media presence at all, dont worry. You dont need to worry about investing lots of attorney time into all the snapchats and the twitters. You should, however, claim your Twitter, Facebook Business page, Avvo, and Yelp profiles. If your website says you are the best, but when I google you, I cant find any other information about you, Im going to be suspicious. Thats just how people shop around these days. They expect to find things about you online. Would you buy a TV on Amazon if it said it was the best, but had no reviews, while virtually every other TV has lots of reviews? That would make you suspicious that its maybe not the best TV like it claims. Fill out your basic contact info and upload a picture. Clients are much more likely to trust you enough to reach out to you if they know what you look like.

How often should you update your social media? As often as you can, but even if you dont update it, at least claim your pages. I would personally rather hire a lawyer with zero tweets than 45,000 tweets because I would need someone who could focus for most of the day and not chat online with their friends for an hour a day on Twitter.


Remember to always focus on your audience. How are they going to find you? What are they going to think when they do find you? Are they going to be impressed or bored and skeptical? Target your efforts to keep the audience in mind and youll do fine.

Jeff Bennion is a solo practitioner at theLaw Office of Jeff Bennion. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of San Diegos plaintiffs trial lawyers association,Consumer Attorneys of San Diego. He is also the Education Chair and Executive Committee member of the State Bar of CaliforniasLaw Practice Management and Technologysection. He is a member of the Advisory Council and instructor at UCSDsLitigation Technology Managementprogram. His opinions are his own. Follow him on Twitterhereor on Facebookhere, or contact him by email atjeff@trial.technology.

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The Rules To Getting Clients Online (Part 2) – Above the Law

Optus Switches On 1Gbps 4.5G Network In Sydney – Lifehacker Australia

Macquarie Park in Sydney is the first suburb getting access to Optus’ new 4.5G network that is capable of 1.03Gbps maximum theoretical download speeds. Here’s everything you need to know.

Telstra was the first to launch a 4.5G network, dubbed 4GX, and now Optus is following suit. After testing out 4.5G technology and achieving 1.03Gbps speeds in tests, the first suburb to get a taste of the Optus 4.5G network is Macquarie Park, where the telco’s headquarter is based.

According to Optus, there are 95,000 residents and 400 businesses in Macquarie Park that will be able to take advantage of the 4.5G network.

The network uses 4CC/5CC carrier aggregation, 4×4 MIMO and 256QAM technology. Huawei has helped Optus develop the 4.5G technology that is being rolled out.

Bear in mind that 1Gbps is the theoretical maximum; in reality, individual connected devices will only get a fraction of the speed. Factors that will determine speed include the device you’re using and how many people are on the network;

Another thing to consider is only newer devices that support 4.5G will be able to enjoy a significant speed boost. Commercial devices that can support 1Gbps on the 4.5G network aren’t even available yet; Optus said they will become available later this year. However, Optus network managing director Dennis Wong said that those who don’t have 4.5G ready devices will still experience benefits:

Putting this new technology in Macquarie Park is not just about speed. Having this new technology in existing networks actually brings up capacity and performance by two to four times.

Even if you don’t have the latest device, you can still enjoy capacity and performance Now we have an ecosystem, the kind of speed and bandwidth for innovators and partners to come and try to develop new technologies and services for our customers.

The plan is to rollout 4.5G in selected capital cities in the next 12 months; 4.5G is expected to reach over 70% of the Optus network in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. There are currently 5600 4G mobile sites across Australia.

All this is part of Optus’ strategy to eventually move onto a 5G network by 2020. The 3.5GHz spectrum has been harmonised as a 5G band and Optus has 90MHz of this. The company is continuing to look at using and acquiring spectrum.

Optus will also be starting trials of its massive MIMO 128T128R base station antenna technology which will significantly bolster speeds and provide around eight times more capacity, according to the telco.

Last month, Telstra announced it was now capable of delivering 1Gpbs download and 150Mbps upload speeds over its 4G LTE network. It teamed up with Netgear to launch a new mobile router, the Nighthawk M1, to let customers tap into those speeds.

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How much can a family living in a four-bedroom house save by using the Tesla Powerwall and good ol’ solar power? The figure has come in at $2110.46 a year for the Pfitzner family. Here are the details.

As we’ve opined in the past, burritos are the perfect fast food. They’re even more perfect than pizza (case in point. you can’t wrap a pizza in foil and stick it in your jacket pocket.) This infographic from Fairmont Hotels breaks down everything you need to know about seven popular burrito styles – from their storied history to the ingredients you need to make your own.

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Optus Switches On 1Gbps 4.5G Network In Sydney – Lifehacker Australia

Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin Review: A Middling Misfire – UploadVR

I really want to deliver you some good news, here. I want to tell you that the Psychonauts, long thought lost to the fabled realm of cult classics, have made their triumphant return in a game thats truly worthy of their twisted world of psychic agents. I want to tell you about a mind-bending VR experience that plays with your psyche in clever, astonishing ways, just as Raz did when he climbed into the heads of characters in the first game.

Sadly, Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin is not that experience.

There are things to love in this brief spin-off to the 2005 platformer that developer Double Fine made its name with. The cast, for example, is back together and writer and development legend Tim Schafer hasnt lost his grasp on them. Rhombus of Ruin is VRs first introduction to the wit, soul, and sheer creativity of Double Fines world building, and in that respect it doesnt disappointment. Id chuckled to myself multiple times within the first scene, and some of the games sights are truly spectacular. No one does weird quite like these guys, and it shows here.

Back in control of Raz mere minutes after the cliffhanger ending of the first game, the developer has crafted a 2-3 hour adventure in which youll attempt to save the father of your maybe-girlfriend, Lili. Its seen clear opportunity in translating the first games psychic power-infused platforming into a VR puzzler that more closely resembles one of Schafers classic point-and-click adventure games like Grim Fandango or Day of the Tentacle.

As well intentioned and respectable a throwback this might be clearly influenced by the design challenges of VR that can cause simulation sickness it ultimately leaves this chapter in the Psychonauts saga feeling decidedly inessential, restrictive, and dated.

Many of the games core mechanics are incidental, and not anywhere near as satisfactory to use as they should be. If youre familiar with VR, then youve probably picked things up and moved them with your mind before. Its a mechanic as old as the first full retail VR games like Lands End on Gear VR; you look at an item, you press a button to bring it towards you, and then you move it by steering your head.

Its a necessary component of the game, but it would have you think its novel and empowering, when really its a somewhat laborious way of shifting items around. As harsh as that sounds, its consistent with most of the powers you can use; serving a design purpose more than a genuinely fun mechanic to utilize. Body-hopping clairvoyance, for example, is much the same, a mesh of mechanic and locomotion that doesnt excuse the fact everyones rooted to the same spots.

Pyrokinesis, meanwhile, suggests sections in which you can giddily burn your surroundings to the ground, but these never materialize. Its reduced to often redundant actions like burning specific items that block your path, and feels almost totally useless once the more satisfactory Psi-Blasts come into play, which at least give a kick to their use.

I just never felt like the more powerful psychic agent Raz had grown to become by the end of the first game. Theres an argument to be made for Double Fines intentions to deliver a different kind of experience, but it comes off as overly limited.

There are glimpses of what the game could have been, which occur when the puzzle-solving is at its spontaneous best. Rapidly flinging suitcases down a corridor to block a door, or shattering the glass of a fish tank to snap someone out of a trance were impulse-based actions where I reacted naturally to the world around me. When I stumbled with working out which power I needed to use where, however, characters would repeat unhelpful lines of dialogue ad-nauseum.

Psychonauts In the Rhombus of Ruin never really gets inventive with VR, at least not until two sequences towards the end in which you visit the mind of a fan favorite character. Though this involves a trite boss fight, theres an element of storytelling here that truly capitalizes on the connections VR can enhance with characters, and the clever spins it can take with scale and environments. I had hoped for the trippy, surprising ride these precious few moments delivered right the way through, but ultimately this was all it could muster even in the short run time.

A missed opportunity for sure, then, made all the more bitter by the fact the series didnt need to radically reinvent itself to fit VR. Luckys Tale and Wayward Sky show third-person platforming works in VR, and the latters mix of first-person gameplay proves Double Fine could have had the best of both worlds here. Ultimately, its just like PSVRs Batman game, missing crucial elements of what makes the IP so compelling.

Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin gives fans a reason to be excited for Psychonauts 2, if only because it shows Double Fine hasnt lost is grasp of the wonderful world it concocted 12 years ago now and not much else. As a VR game this is most often dated and only rarely the eye-opening adventure that a VR game about characters that can climb inside your psyche should be. Im happy that the Psychonauts are alive and well, however anyone but the series most devoted fans should wait until next year for what will hopefully be the coming home party they so truly deserve.

Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin will be available on PlayStation VR for $19.99 on February 21st 2017.Read our Game Review Guidelinesfor more information on how we arrived at this score.

Tagged with: double fine, Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin

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Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin Review: A Middling Misfire – UploadVR

Star Citizen May Still Get VR Support, But Framerate is a Concern – UploadVR

Considering over 1.7 million people contributed $143 million to make the game a reality, its no surprise that painting doubt over one of the games coveted features cancause a bit of an uproar. Most recently, Star Citizens senior graphics programmer Ben Parry had the community up in arms when he seemingly squashed the potential of Star Citizen coming to virtual platforms.

As reported on Gamecrate, Parry responded to a question in the RSI forums that asked if the switch to the Amazon Lumberyard game engine would facilitate VR support and he responded with this:

Sorry to say, do not hold your breath for this. Ignoring the render tech for VR itself (which given the work weve done, would definitely be a read-and-rewrite job, not a merge-this-file job), making a game properly VR-compliant takes a lot of work at the design and testing level regardless of the engine used. Wed probably need to get the framerate up a bit higher too, come to think of it.

VR support was etched in stone when the game reached the $12 million mark in their funding even though, at that time, it only promised Oculus Rift support for the hangar module where you can explore your ships in a closed environment. More VR rumblings happened from that point and, in early 2016, lead dev Chris Roberts declared there was a refocus happening to make VR support a reality and that the game would support all major headsets eventually. Keep in mind that the game was running on CryEngine at that time and a complete engine shift would probably raise a few new obstacles in VR integration, but Parrys statement made it seem like a really long shot entirely. A couple days later, though, he took to Reddit to clarify:

Hi, I should probably let this lie, but I wanted to clarify that, If at all was definitely NOT what I was getting at. I was answering a simple does X mean we get Y type question, from a tech perspective, and the answer is no it doesnt, because thats not the main hurdle. I didnt in any way intend to suggest it had been removed from the plan.

Star Citizen is one of the most ambitious gaming undertakings of recent years and maybe ever, shaping up to contain a massive swath of gameplay experiences that bring outer space to life for gamers inside and outside of a ships cockpit. Its not impossible that the game will launch with VR support for a couple modules. Though Parry did say its not off the table entirely, it may be time to reel expectations in a bit and not expect full VR implementation until well after the launch of the full game.

Tagged with: chris roberts, flight sim, roberts space industries, Star Citizen

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Star Citizen May Still Get VR Support, But Framerate is a Concern – UploadVR

Report: New Gear VR Planned For Galaxy S8, Comes With Single Hand Controller – UploadVR

We wont see Samsungs next Galaxy smartphone, the unannounced S8, at Mobile World Congress next week, but it shouldnt surprise you to hear that, when we do see it, it might well come with a new version of the Gear VR.

That is according to smartphone industry leakster, Roland Quandt, who today noted that the next model for the Gear VR, dubbed SM-R324, is on its way, and will largely be the same as the previous model, only changed slightly to fit Samsungs new phone. You might remember that the last model was leaked early on an Indian import website, but we couldnt find any such information to corroborate this version and Quadnt doesnt cite any sources, so take the next with a pinch of salt for now.

Samsung Gear VR SM-R324 is coming same as SM-R323 for S7, but gets different front cover to hold Galaxy S8 and a single hand controller.

Roland Quandt (@rquandt) February 20, 2017

But heres one very interesting aspect of Quandts tweet; he says it will be coming with a single-hand controller.

Previously, Gear VR has utilized an on-board touchpad for control, and supported Bluetooth gamepads for titles that require more elaborate input. While this will likely be the case with any proposed new version of the device, the alleged addition of this controller is hugely interesting. Not only could it mean Gear VR gets its first dedicated external input method, but theres room for deeper speculation here too.

Daydream, the mobile VR ecosystem from Google, uses a single-hand controller too. Samsung itself has partnered with Google to make a Daydream-compatible mobile phone, which could well be the Galaxy S8 should it fall in line with Googles reference specs. Could it be that this controller is a Daydream remote similar to the one that ships with the Daydream View? If so that has some pretty big implications for the device but, again, thats only speculation at this point.

With the S8 expected to skip out MWC, were not quite sure when Samsung is planning to show it off. One things for sure; with the distaster that was the Galaxy Note 7 still fresh in the mind, the company is going to need to pull out all the stops to win back its audience.

Tagged with: Galaxy S8, gear vr, samsung

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Report: New Gear VR Planned For Galaxy S8, Comes With Single Hand Controller – UploadVR

How to Run a Rogue Government Twitter Account With an Anonymous Email Address and a Burner Phone – The Intercept

One of the first things Donald Trump did when he took office was temporarily gag several federal agencies, forbidding them from tweeting.

In response, self-described government workers created a wave of rogue Twitter accounts that share real facts (not to be confused with alternative facts, otherwise known as lies) about climate change and science. As a rule, the people running these accounts chose to remain anonymous, fearing retaliation but, depending on how they created and use their accounts, they are not necessarily anonymous to Twitter itself, or to anyone Twitter shares data with.

Anonymous speech is firmly protected by the First Amendment and the Supreme Court, and its history in the U.S. dates to the Federalist Papers, written in 1787 and 1788under the pseudonym Publius by three of the founding fathers.

But the technical ability for people to remain anonymous on todays internet, where every scrap of data is meticulously tracked, is an entirely different issue. The FBI, a domestic intelligence agency that claims the power to spy on anyonebased on suspicions that dont come close to probable cause, has a long, dark history of violating the rights of Americans. And now it reports directly to President Trump, who is a petty, revenge-obsessed authoritarian with utter disrespect for the courts and the rule of law.

In this environment, how easy is it to create and maintain a Twitter account while preserving your anonymity even from Twitter and any law enforcement agency that may request its records? I tried to find out, and documented all my steps. There are different ways to accomplish this. If you plan on following these steps you should make sure you understand the purpose of them, in case you need to improvise. I also cant guarantee that these techniques will protect your anonymity there are countless ways that things can go wrong, many of them social rather than technical. But I hope youll at least have a fighting chance at keeping your real identity private.

For this exercise, I decided to pick a highly controversial political topic: Facts. I believe that what we know about reality is based on evidence that can be objectively observed. Thus, I created the completely anonymous (until publishing this article, of course) Twitter account @FactsNotAlt. Heres how I did it.

Threat model

Before we begin, it helps to define a threat model, that is: what we need to protect; who we need to protect it from; what their capabilities are; and what countermeasures prevent or mitigate these threats.

Basically, its impossible to be completely secure all the time, so we need to prioritize our limited resources into protecting what matters the most first. The most important piece of information you need to protect in this case is your real identity.

Law enforcement or the FBI might launch an investigation aimed at learning your identity. It may be to retaliate against you getting you fired, charging you with crimes, or worse. Your Twitter account might also anger armies of trolls who could threaten you, abuse you with hate speech, and try to uncover your identity.

If the FBI opens an investigation aimed at de-anonymizing you, one of the first things theyll do is simply ask Twitter and every other service that they know you use for information about your account. So a critically important countermeasure to take is to ensure that none of the information tied to your account phone numbers, email addresses, or IP addresses youve used while logging into your account lead back to you.

This is true for all accounts you create. For instance, if you supply a phone number while creating your Twitter account, the phone service provider associated with that number shouldnt have information that can lead back to you either.

Another concern: The FBI also might go undercover online and try to befriend you, to trick you into revealing details about yourself or to trick you into clicking a link to hack you. They might make use of informants in the community of people who follow you on Twitter as well. Organized trolls might use the same tactics.

Hiding your IP address with Tor

An IP address is a set of numbers that identifies a computer, or a network of computers, on the internet. Unless you take extra steps, every website you visit can see your IP address. If youre using Twitter while connected to your home or office Wi-Fi network, or your phones data plan, Twitter can tell. If they hand these IP addresses to the FBI, you will very quickly lose your anonymity.

This is where Tor comes in. Tor is a decentralized network of servers that help people bypass internet censorship, evade internet surveillance, and access websites anonymously. If you connect to Twitter while youre using Tor Browser, Twitter cant tell what your real IP address is instead, theyll see the IP address of a random Tor server. Tor servers are run by volunteers. And even if any of the servers bouncing your data around are malicious, they wont be able to learn both who you are and what youre doing.

This is the primary benefit that Tor has over Virtual Private Network, or VPN, services, which try to help users hide their IP addresses. The FBI can go to a VPN service to learn your real IP address (assuming the VPN keeps a record of its users IP addresses, and cooperates with these requests). This isnt true with Tor.

To get started with Tor, download Tor Browser. Its a web browser, like Chrome or Firefox, but all its internet traffic gets routed over the Tor network, hiding your real IP address.

Using Tor Browser is the easiest way to get started, but its not perfect. For instance, a hacker who knows about a vulnerability in Tor Browser can discover your real IP address by tricking you into visiting a website they control, and exploiting that vulnerability the FBI has done this in the past. For this reason, its important to always immediately update Tor Browser when you get prompted.

You can also protect yourself from Tor Browser security bugs by using an operating system thats designed to protect your anonymity, such as Tails or Qubes with Whonix, (Ive written about the latter here). This is more work for you, but it might be worth it. Personally, Im using Qubes with Whonix.

Getting an anonymous email address

Before you can create nearly any account online, you need an email address. While popular email services like Gmail or Yahoo Mail let anyone make an account for free, they dont make it easy to do so anonymously. Most of them require that you verify your identity with a phone number. You can in fact do that anonymously (more on that below), but I prefer using an email provider that is happy to give addresses to anonymous users.

One of these providers is SIGAINT, a darknet-only service that forces all its users to login using Tor to read or send email. The people who run it are anonymous and it contains ads for (sometimes very sketchy, sorry) darknet websites. However, you do end up with a working, anonymous email address.

If you prefer not to use SIGAINT, another good choice is Riseup, a technology collective that provides email, mailing list, VPN, and other similar services to activists around the world. Accounts are free, and they dont ask for any identifying information, but you do need invite codes from two friends who already use Riseup in order to create an account.

Yet another option is ProtonMail a privacy-friendly email provider based in Switzerland that asks for minimal identifying information and works well over Tor. However, to prevent abuse, they require Tor users to provide a phone number (that they promise not to store) to receive an SMS during account creation. So, if youd like to use ProtonMail instead (or any other email service that requires a phone number when creating an account over Tor), follow the steps below to create an anonymous phone number first.

I decided to use SIGAINT. In Tor Browser, I went to SIGAINTs onion service address, sigaintevyh2rzvw.onion, which I found on their public website. This is a special type of web address that only works in Tor Browser, and not the normal internet. From there, I filled out the form to create a new account.

Thats it. Ive now created a brand new anonymous email address: factsaretrue@sigaint.org.

Getting an anonymous phone number

While attempting to create a Twitter account, I quickly hit a snag. Even if I provide my (anonymous) email address, Twitter wont let me create a new account without first verifying my phone number. (You might get lucky and get the option to skip entering your phone number it doesnt hurt to try but if youre coming from a Tor node that isnt likely.)

This is a problem, because I obviously cant use my real phone number if I want to remain anonymous. So to proceed, I needed to figure out how to get a phone number that isnt tied to my actual identity. This is a common problem when trying to stay anonymous online, so you can follow these instructions any time you need a phone number when opening an account.

There are other ways to do it, but I chose a conceptually simple option: Buy a burner phone anonymously, use it to verify my new Twitter account, and then get rid of it. I wandered around downtown San Francisco looking in convenience stores and pharmacies until I found what I was looking for in a 7-Eleven.

Using cash, I bought the cheapest TracFone handset I could find (an LG 328BG feature phone as in, not a smartphone) as well as 60 minutes worth of voice service, for a total of $62.38 after tax. You might be able to find cheaper cell phone handsets if you look long enough.

If youre going to get a burner phone and want to maintain your anonymity, here are some things to keep in mind:

After buying phone service, youll need to activate the phone. This process will be different with different phone companies. TracFone requires you to activate your handset either by calling their phone number from a different phone obviously not a good option for someone trying to remain anonymous or by activating online at their website. I activated my burner phone online using Tor Browser.

Once youve activated your phone, you can use the phones menu system to learn what your new phone number is. On my LG 328BG, I pressed Menu, selected Settings, and finally Phone Information to find it.

Creating a Twitter account anonymously

Finally, armed with an email address and phone number that arent in any way connected to my real identity, I could create a Twitter account.

Before making an account, grab your laptop and burner phone and go to a public location that isnt your home or office, such as a coffee shop. When you get there, power on your burner phone. Keep in mind that this location is now tied to your burner phone, so you might wish to do this step when youre traveling in another city.

Using Tor Browser, I navigated to https://twitter.com/signup and signed up for a new account. The new account form asked for my full name (Facts Are True), my email address (factsaretrue@sigaint.org), and a password.

After clicking Sign up, I was immediately prompted to enter my phone number. I typed my anonymous phone number and clicked Call me. A Twitter robot called my burner and read out a six-digit number, which I typed into the next page on Tor Browser. It worked great.

With the phone number verification step complete, I powered off my burner phone. Once youre sure you dont need your burner phone anymore, its a good idea to get rid of it.

Toward the end of the signup process, Twitter prompted me to come up with a username. After many tries, I found one I liked: @FactsNotAlt. After clicking through the welcome screen, I was finally logged into my new anonymous account.

I went ahead and confirmed that I control my factsaretrue@sigaint.org email address.

And there you have it. I set up my new account and began tweeting about things that are true.

Maintaining the Twitter account over time

If youre following along, youve now created a completely anonymous Twitter account as well. Congratulations! But your work has only just started. Now comes the hard part: Maintaining this account for months, or years, without making any mistakes that compromise your identity. I wont be following these tips myself with the @FactsNotAlt account Ive already outed myself as the owner. But for anyone who is trying to anonymously maintain a popular Twitter account, here are some things to keep in mind.

Be careful about how you interact with people:


Many successful Twitter accounts have a team of people who run them instead of a single individual. If youre part of such a team, or thinking of sharing access to your existing account with someone new:

And finally, keep in mind that after all this, Twitter can always kick you off for their own reasons. And if your account gets hacked and the email address associated with it is changed, youll have no way to recover it.

Good luck!

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How to Run a Rogue Government Twitter Account With an Anonymous Email Address and a Burner Phone – The Intercept

Crazy Videos on YouTube That No One Can Explain – Thrillist

For as long as humans have had a way of committing moving images to tape, pixelated frames have been used to document the sinister, the peculiar, and the downright unexplainable. YouTube has long been a repository for some of the creepiest mysteries of the modern age ever caught on camera, and the endlessly obsessive and curious internet hive mind has ferreted out the truths lurking behind many of these eyebrow-raising videos. But occasionally, that is not the case.

These are six of those stories.

One of the most notorious pirate broadcasts of all time, preserved well beyond its intended lifespan, occurred on November 22, 1987, during a Chicago station’s nightly local news broadcast. After turning black for 15 seconds, the picture reappeared but now showed a person wearing a Max Headroom mask, situated in front of a rotating piece of corrugated metal and accompanied by a humming noise. Technicians at the station managed to halt the pirated broadcast by switching the microwave transmitter they were using to broadcast, suggesting a hack by a strong pirate microwave signal nearby.

That same night, PBS member station WTTW fell victim to the same hackers during a broadcast of the Doctor Who episode “Horror of Fang Rock.” This time, the pirates were able to cut in for a full 90 seconds, and used the time to spout advertising slogans and seeming nonsense. The clip ended with the Max Headroom mask-wearer pulling down his pants, receiving a spanking from an unidentified person in a French maid outfit, and yelling “They’re coming to get me!” The WTTW broadcast was being sent from the Sears Tower microwave dish and because there were no technicians on duty at the time, they were unable to trace the signal.

The identity of the hackers and what the videos mean beyond a simple joke remain a mystery to this day. Occasionally, the wide world of the internet will stumble across a character that seems like they could have pulled off the Max Headroom hack, only to dismiss the theory later. The most current thinking on the subject suggests it was someone within the Chicago Broadcasting Community because the technology required to pull off a huge microwave hack wasn’t available to the average consumer in the late 1980s.

One of America’s most well-known conspiracy theories — that an alien ship crash-landed in Roswell, New Mexico, in the 1950s — is still giving willing theorists thrills more than 50 years later. In 2011, a new YouTube user named “ivan0135” uploaded a series of four videos that claimed to have been culled from leaked classified material. The uploaded information and film footage introduces us to a purported test subject known as “Skinny Bob,” who appears to be an eerily realistic alien life form.

Is it real? The videos claim the footage was collected between 1942 and 1969, but post-production techniques seem to have been applied. If you look at the bottom left of the Skinny Bob video, the timecode appears to be flashing at a different rate than the footage, suggesting a digital post-production trick.

Even if the ivan0135 tapes probably aren’t actual aliens (just like Roswell was most certainly not an extraterrestrial craft), the computer animation skill on display is an impressive work of special effects that has still gone uncredited for five years.

In 2008, on a 4chan board for paranormal posts, a user put a link into the “unsecured webcams” thread that showed a live-stream of a woman who was unconscious — possibly even dead — in a contorted position. The stream was coming from Seoul, South Korea. The woman woke up 10 hours later, and revealed that she had merely been sleeping in an odd position, but the attention of the internet had been piqued.

The woman, dubbed Chip-chan, was constantly broadcasting on webcam and falling asleep at odd times and in odd positions. She kept a blog and a YouTube channel where she told her odd story. The woman apparently never left the apartment and started making signs that were translated into various paranoid accusations like: “Don’t get tricked, don’t get fooled. Early every morning. If someone comes that paralyzes the person. I can’t be stopped.”

Over years, internet detectives pieced together a dossier of information on Chip-chan, including her contact e-mail and exchanges with the woman herself. She claims that a Korean police officer she calls “P” implanted something called a “Verichip” in her that keeps her forcibly in her apartment and can cause her to fall asleep at will. After Chip-chan’s apartment was found via Google Earth sleuthing, concerned parties contacted the police in Seoul who said they were aware of a mentally disturbed woman who kept to herself except for occasional appearances at anti-government protests where she would photograph police officers.

In March 2015, a YouTube user named “unfavorable semicircle” sprang into existence and began uploading videos a month later. Most of them were only seconds or minutes long. Some included distorted voices uttering a letter or number. But the most notable quirk of the account was the sheer number of videos it uploaded: tens of thousands, causing YouTube to shut it down for violating the spam-related portions of its terms of service. Since then, the unfavorable semicircle project has continued on Twitter and a new YouTube account that continues to release videos to this day.

Most speculation about what unfavorable semicircle is trying to accomplish is centered on finding a reliable way to decode the videos. A similar YouTube channel that had puzzled online sleuths in the past had specialized in uploading videos featuring colored geometric shapes and tones, and it was eventually revealed to be the still active Google test channel Webdriver Torso. Unfavorable semicircle’s return after the first channel was blocked has led most theorists to suspect it is some sort of coded art project or even an electronic numbers station.

More than likely just an amateur film about two students’ exploration of an abandoned asylum, the “Pennhurst Found Footage” has yet to be attributed to a filmmaker or individual. It also hasn’t been reliably connected to a real-life crime, which casts doubt on its claim that the footage involves “missing” college students. Nonetheless, the film’s two parts are prefaced by intentionally creepy text stating that the students seen in the video have never been found.

The mysterious part of the video is its ending, which cuts suddenly from a staircase inside the abandoned mental institution to a scene in the surrounding forest in daytime, even though the time code on the camera shows only 32 seconds elapsing (which wouldn’t have been enough time to exit the facility from the stairwell where the students had been investigating).To date, no one has stepped forward to claim responsibility for this likely hoax, even as internet mystery-hunters are still trying to find answers.

An “ARG” is the abbreviation for an “Alternate Reality Game,” or a fictional experience that extends its narrative into real life. There have been ARGs to promote products like movies and albums, and there have been ARGs that exist purely as an experience you have offline. Because of the nature of these types of games and experiences, sometimes it’s hard to tell which parts of them are real and which aren’t.

Such is the case with “deeper,” a channel that uploaded cryptic videos with distorted audio and old camcorder footage in 2016. The hive mind of internet sleuths, particularly on 4chan, quickly set about trying to decode the mysterious videos by running the beeps that appeared at the end of certain clips through a spectrogram — a process that revealed the names of actual cold cases from the state of Colorado in the 1980s. Different codes have continued to be hidden in the videos and their associated descriptions, but nothing has led to a big reveal, nor have any of the cold cases referenced been solved.

It’s unlikely that this ARG was posted by a murderer who grew a conscience and decided to confess through YouTube ciphers that use old Daniel Johnston songs, but then again… The last video was uploaded two months ago.

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Dave Gonzales is a frequent contributor to Thrillist Entertainment and loves internet mysteries.

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Crazy Videos on YouTube That No One Can Explain – Thrillist

Tax Software: The Basics Work, but Peace of Mind Costs Extra – The … – New York Times

New York Times
Tax Software: The Basics Work, but Peace of Mind Costs Extra – The …
New York Times
These programs have gotten much better, and are now selling added, and perhaps unnecessary, features. What's next? Tax reviews over cocktails?

and more »

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Tax Software: The Basics Work, but Peace of Mind Costs Extra – The … – New York Times

The Owl at the Window review: They the living – Irish Times

Carl Gorhams grieving memoir of his partners death is most effective when it focuses on their daughter, writes Molly McCloskey

Carl Gorham: Days. Weeks. Months. Faster and faster. We have no time to lose. Because life is uncertain. We dont wait. We do.

Book Title: The Owl at the Window: A Memoir of Loss and Hope

ISBN-13: 978-1473642324

Author: Carl Gorham

Publisher: Coronet

Guideline Price: 14.99

It may be middle age, but it seems to me that everyone is talking about death. On the one hand are the transhumanists, proponents of radical life extension, mind uploading, and cyrogenics the latter in the news recently when a terminally ill 14-year-old in the UK won the right to be cyrogenically preserved.

Then there are those who exhort us to live well and accept death. In this camp are the death doulas, the death positivity movement, and the Order of the Good Death (Accepting that death itself is natural, but the death anxiety of modern culture is not). Death cafes where strangers gather to discuss death are springing up around the world.

I cannot imagine these salons and I wouldnt want to try one, though as Raymond Tallis notes in The Black Mirror, a work in which he observes himself from the imagined vantage point of being dead, talking about death may be even more evasive than remaining silent: we cant but sound portentous or hollowly laconic.

While transhumanists want to live forever, or at least for a lot longer, many of us (and I include myself here; few things cause me greater anxiety than the thought of thawing out, defenceless, in an unimaginable future) want to fear death less and die feeling human. Atul Gawandes hugely successful Being Mortal is about improving the quality of end-of-life, as is the well-known work of BJ Miller, a triple amputee and hospice and palliative medicine physician.

Perhaps the increase in people narrating their own last days Christopher Hitchens, Jenny Diski, Oliver Sacks, Tom Lubbock, Paul Kalanithi is a reflection of the growing desire to claim ownership of this final process. Of course, it may also be the logical next step to our having narrated every other aspect of our existence.

What also proliferates are the memoirs of those left grieving. One of the latest is The Owl at the Window by Carl Gorham, the award-winning creator of the animated sitcom Stressed Eric and numerous other sitcoms and film scripts.

In 1997, Gorham and Vikki Sipek are two thirtysomethings living the dream she flying high in the fashion industry and he enjoying a US bidding war for his work, their lives a living, breathing Sunday supplement. Then Vikki finds a lump in her breast. So begins 10 years of operations, chemotherapy and scans, awaiting results, fearing the worst.

[W]ere in a different race now, Gorham writes. Were running, running, trying to stay ahead of it. And time feels different. It seems to race by. Days. Weeks. Months. Faster and faster. We have no time to lose. Because life is uncertain. We dont wait. We do.

They give birth to a daughter, Romy, who is three when her mothers cancer returns. On a family trip, passing through Hong Kong, Vikki lapses into a coma. While she lies in hospital, Gorham and his daughter wander, dazed, through the surreal landscape. A friend of a friend offers them a house. Imagining a luxurious refuge, they instead find themselves in a ramshackle cottage, its environs distressingly apposite: to get there they must walk through an unlit wood and across a graveyard where snakes and Komodo dragons lurk.

Vikki dies in Hong Kong, and Gorham embarks on the business of grieving and of single-parenting, the day-to-day of keeping Romy connected to her mother: too much talk of Vikki sounds false and hectoring, but too little and Romy may lose the sense of Vikki altogether.

Grief, like all abstract nouns, is difficult to narrate, and when such a narration has power it is because an intense particularity has been brought both to the day to day and to the person being mourned. Vikki, unfortunately, remains frustratingly distant. She is always quiet and unassuming but also bustling with brilliant energy, and she never quite assumes dimensions. Grief itself falls victim to too much telling and too little showing: I cant accept it. Not now. Not yet. I cant contemplate it. The thought of never seeing her again. Its too much. Too utterly terrifying.

It is Romy who animates the narrative, enacting her grief in a way that seems instinctive, primal and delicate. Nine months after her mothers death, Romy constructs a cardboard reproduction of Vikki, which she christens Cardboard Mummy. Cardboard Mummy is one of the family, watching TV, propped up at the dinner table, belted into the passenger seat on trips to the supermarket. Romy talks to Cardboard Mummy about all manner of things and solicits her advice.

When Romy decides to bring Cardboard Mummy to school for show-and-tell, her father fears the worst bullies tearing Mummy to pieces, his daughter a laughingstock. But Romy manages the performance with exceptional poise, telling the class about her mummys illness and everything that happened in Hong Kong . . . and how Mummy is in the ground at the church now and how we are all so sad and how we will always be sad.

This turns out to have been an astonishingly intuitive act of catharsis, because after that, Cardboard Mummy begins to recede. She sits in the hall, and Romy doesnt pick her up as often, though shes happy Mummy is there. Mummy is now spoken of with fondness and nostalgia, like an old friend who has moved away to the other side of the world.

In exteriorising her mothers presence through a cardboard effigy, Romy seems to have marked for Vikki a territory in her own life and psyche. It is a reminder of how, with our sophistication and our lack of ritual, we have lost the hang of being with the dead.

It also reminds us of what we all vaguely know and which may give us solace or pause as we contemplate our own demise: that biological death is an endpoint to existence on one plane only. The impact we have on others doesnt cease when we do.

As philosopher Gabriel Rockhill noted in a recent New York Times column on discussing death with his son and how these psychosocial dimensions of ourselves persist: In living, we trace a wake in the world.

Molly McCloskeys new novel, When Light Is Like Water, will be published by Penguin Ireland in April.

Originally posted here:

The Owl at the Window review: They the living – Irish Times

How to Install WordPress in Under 30 Minutes – AllBusiness.com

WordPress is the most popular blogging and CMS platform in the world. Everyone whowants to have control over their website without spending a lot of money on maintenance should look to WordPress.

Ive personally installed hundreds of WordPress installations for clients in my past jobs. In fact, all of the web properties we manage at Bacic Media Group currently run on the WordPress platform, and we have no intentions on changing to anything else right now.

In this article, well go over how to install a fresh copy of WordPress on any host with cPanel in under 30 minutes.

Keep in mind that if your web host has a 1-click option to install WordPress, then you should use that as it does all the work for you. But for those that do not have that option, follow these simple instructions to get the job done.

The first thing you will need to do is download the WordPress files on WordPress.org. My preference is tar.gz version because it is smaller in filesize, but the zip version works just as well.

The next thing we need to do is create a MySQL database. To do that, we need to log in to our cPanel account. Once were in the cPanel dashboard screen, we will click on MySQL Database Wizard and follow the steps in order to create the database and database user.

Step 1

In the first step, we simply create a database by specifying what name we want it to be. Just make sure you write this down as we will need it later when we run the WordPress installation.

Step 2

The second step is creating the actual MySQL user by specifying the username and password. You will also need to write down these credentials somewhere for later use.

Step 3

The last step is to associate the database user with the database. The easiest way is to simply check off the All Privileges checkbox and click next.

The next step is to upload the WordPress files we downloaded in the first step.

So again, login to cPanel and click on File Manager. As an option, you may also upload using FTP, but for simplicitys sake, we will use the cPanel File Manager.

Step 1

When youre in the File Manager, click on the public_html folder, which will take you to the root of your website.

Step 2

Once inside the public_html folder, click on the Upload button in the File Manager toolbar and select the WordPress zip file we downloaded in the first step.

Step 3

Once uploaded, click on the Go Back link to go back to the File Manager.

Step 4

Click once on the file we uploaded to highlight it, and then click on Extract button in the File Manager toolbar. If you would like to install it in a specific folder, specify it in the textbox in the confirmation dialog. Otherwise, just leave that setting unchanged.

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How to Install WordPress in Under 30 Minutes – AllBusiness.com

Dear Angelica Review: If Someone Cries in a VR Headset, Does Anyone See It? – UploadVR

Its been almost a year since the latest round of VR headsets were released, and while hardware and technology is all fine and dandy, it doesnt mean squat without solid experiences. Thats what 2017 is all about: content, content, content. While 2016 saw creators doing some amazing stuff in VR, 2017 is already shaping up to be the year that defines and advances the medium, and thats exactly what Oculus Story Studio has done with Dear Angelica.

With a run time of about 12 minutes, Dear Angelica is a brief yet powerfully emotional journey like no other Ive experienced in VR. The story of the relationship between a child and mother isnt overly unique or full of surprises, but it is a universal narrative of connection, comfort, joy, sadness and eventually loss that everyone can relate to, and that makes for an engaging and far-reaching piece.

Dear Angelica begins in a sparse, dark room, with Jessica (Mae Whitman) burrowed in her bed writing a letter to her late mother actress Angelica (Geena Davis) as Jessica watches her old movies on a seemingly weightless television, a set piece that pops up again and again and acts as Jessicas lifeline to her mother. You stand over Jessica as ribbony script appears before you, syncing with Whitmans voiceover. Its simultaneously intimate and detached, serene and unsettling, and I felt as if I was both an unwelcomed intruder yet trusted confidant in both Jessicas room and mind as I heard her deepest thoughts.

While the scenes in Jessicas room are placid and subdued, as Jessica reminisces about her mothers movies and the time they spent together, you are hastily enveloped by a torrent of vibrant, colorful brushstrokes. Frantic images appear all around, and its as if youre in the middle of a painting during creation. Tying in with the calligraphic style of the script, illustrator Wesley Allsbrook uses a ribbon-like style in her artwork which draws the eye across vast spaces, compels you to look to and fro and conveys a sense of frantic motion. Its beautiful and overwhelming all at the same time, and I felt as if I was surrounded by an ever-growing paint tornado.

Because of her mothers time in the limelight, Jessica admits that she cant always remember what was a personal family experience and what was part of one of her movies. As such, Dear Angelica moves between impossible scenes to more mundane settings such as a mother-daughter ketchup fight in a diner. The art itself even fits the emotional feeling of the piece as an ephemeral, dreamlike memory as individual ribbons contract and break up as you get closer to them, giving a sense that you can never really touch what is there. Its all very intense and powerful. Ive been fairly unimpressed with realistic 360-video experiences in VR thus far, but Dear Angelicas use of animation and illustration in VR is magical. Because of this constant movement and the fact that the art is all-encompassing, I never felt at a loss for where to look nor did I feel like I was missing anything.

I was also impressed with the little details in Dear Angelica. Crouching to look under Jessicas bed revealed a nest of dirty clothes and junk shoved in the corner, which is something youll never see in a flat-screen experience, and I noticed some smaller Jessicas tucked away yet still overlooking the action in certain scenes that compelled me to watch Dear Angelica multiple times to see what else I could find.

Ultimately, Dear Angelica is an emotional vehicle meant to stir the brain and heart, and the illustrations, voice acting, music, story and direction all come together impeccably to build on the poignancy of the piece. The transition from dim, quiet and mournful to vivid, chaotic and bustling then back again takes you up, up, up only to slam you forcefully into the concrete and make you face the inevitability of what Jessica is going through. The use of scale also plays a big part in the emotional impact as the colorful, movie-like scenes are portrayed with gigantic figures and the real-life, somber scenes appear as tiny, desaturated dioramas.

Dear Angelica is beautiful and brutal, heart-warming and gut-wrenching. Experiences like Dear Angelica show the power of the medium to be a conduit for emotion and empathy, and perfectly exemplify why VR is the most immersive, transformative, transportive, and powerful storytelling medium to date. This is a must-see experience, and one you should share to display the piquancy of VR storytelling.

Dear Angelica was released on January 20th, 2017 and is available for free at the Oculus Store. Check out our Review Guidelinesfor more information on how we arrived at this score.

Tagged with: Dear Angelica, oculus story studio, vr review

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Dear Angelica Review: If Someone Cries in a VR Headset, Does Anyone See It? – UploadVR

Become Tech Savvy: How to save your data manually with iPhone, iPad, and Mac – 9 to 5 Mac

9 to 5 Mac
Become Tech Savvy: How to save your data manually with iPhone, iPad, and Mac
9 to 5 Mac
… have to have an external device, you can access your data from any device that you're logged into your iCloud account or any computer from icloud.com. Just keep in mind it does use your iCloud storage and is usually best for uploading one file at a
The State of iBooks in Early 2017TidBITS

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Become Tech Savvy: How to save your data manually with iPhone, iPad, and Mac – 9 to 5 Mac

7 VR Horror Games to Look Forward to After Playing Resident Evil 7: Biohazard – UploadVR

The combination of technology and genre focus that led to the creation of VR horror games feel like a match made in Hell(for horror buffs, thats a good thing). After all, horror games are most effective when you feel immersed in their dark, threatening worlds. And theres no better way to immerse yourself in a game than to strap on a VR headset and just jump right in.

A number of fine horror games are already available, with Resident Evil 7 [Review: 9/10] being the most notable and recent. But maybe youve played through them all by now. Maybe youre itching for another fright-fest you can dive into in VR. Luckily for you, a number of VR horror games are currently in the works. Here are some of the most promising ones youll be able to play in the near future.

Visage is a Kickstarted game from SadSquare Studio that wears its inspiration on its sleeve. That inspiration is P.T., Konamis playable teaser for the doomed game Silent Hills. The difference is that you wont be playing Silent Hills anytime soon (or P.T. for that matter, unless you downloaded it while it was available on the PlayStation Store). Visage, on the other hand, will actually materialize.

Like P.T., Visage promises to make chilling use of horror imagery, jump scares, mystery, and tension as you make your way through an abandoned house thats been the scene of many gruesome deaths. As you progress, the stories of those who died will bubble up to the surface in all-too-horrifying ways.

The developers promise a single play-through of Visage will last between six and seven hours, with replay value added by way of certain randomized events. Look for Visage on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR sometime in 2017.

Developed alongside the horror movie of the same name, Dont Knock Twice is VR game based on an urban legend about a witch who resides in a decrepit old manor. You play as a mother searching the house for your daughter, who made the mistake of you guessed it knocking twice on the front door. As you soon find out, the house contains mysteries youll have to solve and horrors youll have to face before you can come to your daughters aid.

You can play a Dont Knock Twice demo now on HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. The full game is set to launch in April on both headsets, as well as PlayStation VR and non-VR platforms.

Its hard to know quite what to make of Get Even, an upcoming VR game from Bandai Namco and The Farm 51. Thats because the trailers dont make a whole lot of sense, and the developers are keeping their lips sealed. What we do know is that you play as Cole Black, a man apparently trapped in a run-down asylum, who has to save a teenage girl with a bomb strapped to her chest.

The terrifying things you see as you try to figure out whats going on may or may not actually be happening. All you really know is that you have a camera and an array of weaponry on hand to ward back the forces of evil. Or do you?

Whether the developers can turn this mind-bending premise into a killer VR game remains to be seen, but its worth keeping an eye on. Look for Get Evenaround May 26, 2017 for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR.

If you consider yourself a horror fan, youre probably familiar with the Paranormal Activity movies. This game is based in that universe, which is to say that it brings demons into everyday settings. When we tried it last, we saw someone literally throw off their headsetit was so scary.

Like many other upcoming horror titles, Paranormal Activity puts you in a spooky abandoned house and has you wander around, trying to figure out whats going on. Meanwhile, a pall of terror and tension presses down on you as strange things begin to happen. Doors slam, lights flicker, bloody letters spelling out Lucifer appear on the wall. Basically, things start to get weird.

Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul will land in Early Access on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive on March 14, 2017, with a final version landing a little later on those headsets as well as PlayStation VR.

Were used to controlling VR games using gamepads, motion controllers, and head movement. Stifled adds another method: sound. The game world is completely black until you either make noise into your microphone, or your character makes noise in the game. When that happens, your surroundings materialize thanks to echolocation. In other words, you experience the world like a bat. We were enamored with how it comes together when we went hands-on with the demo.

Theres a catch, though. Youre not alone in the darkness, and when you make sounds, enemies can hear you, too. It seems like a creative and unique setup for an intense horror experience. Watch the video to see it in action, and look for Stifled on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR (along with non-VR platforms) sometime in 2017.

If you have an Oculus Rift and an appreciation for Hollywood talent in your horror games, Wilsons Heart deserves a spot on your radar. This black-and-white psychological thriller stars Rosario Dawson, Alfred Molina, and Peter Weller (yes, RoboCop himself) as characters in a mysterious hospital in the 1940s.

You play as Robert Wilson, a man who wakes up to discover his heart has been replaced by some kind of strange gadget. Your job is to make your way through a hospital filled with era-appropriate horrors to retrieve your vital organ. Wilsons Heart is slated to release on Oculus Rift with Touch in 2017.

Haunted houses and abandoned asylums are scary and all, but few places on earth are more perilous than the bottom of the ocean. Thats where you find yourself in Narcosis, a game about an industrial diver whos stranded on the seafloor, with nothing but a few tools, a flashlight, and a limited supply of oxygen. The goal is to find a way to the surface before you die or go insane.

The idea behind Narcosis was to create a survival horror game using no supernatural elements. The enemies you encounter are actual deep-sea creatures, and the dangers you face are all too real for divers. Narcosis is scheduled to launch on Oculus Rift sometime this year, and other platforms later.

Tagged with: Don’t Knock Twice, PSVR, Resident Evil 7, rift, Visage, Vive, VR, wilson’s heart

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7 VR Horror Games to Look Forward to After Playing Resident Evil 7: Biohazard – UploadVR