There are 3D-printing pens that let prolific doodlers turn their drawings into three-dimensional sculptures, but all users are really left with is a piece of art. Polaroid’s taking 3D-printing pens one step further by replacing extruded plastic with melted candy so that when your masterpiece is complete, you can eat it.
The Polaroid CandyPlay 3D Pen isn’t an entirely new idea; we’ve already seen 3D printers upgraded so they extrude edible material instead of PLA plastic, and kids have had access to a printing pen that extrudes melted chocolate since 2015. What sets the CandyPlay 3D Pen apart is that it’s entirely freehand, so anyone can dive right in and start creating without having to learn to use software to design or prep a 3D model first. And unlike the chocolate pen, the candy material used here is rigid enough when cool that it can be layered to slowly build up 3D models.
Out of the box the CandyPlay 3D Pen, which sells for about $50, comes with four strawberry-flavored candy cartridges that appear to be much easier and cleaner to load than trying to dump a handful of sugar into the pen. In fact, while there are six different sweet flavors to choose from (strawberry, orange, apple, grape, lemon, and cola) the edible printing material is apparently sugar-free.
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The candy cartridges don’t look especially large, maybe the size of a couple of Jolly Ranchers, which means that if 3D candy becomes your artistic medium of choice, you’ll probably go through them rather quickly. Refills for each flavor are available, but at about $28 for 40 candy cartridges (or around $32 for the multi-flavor 48-pack), it sounds like Polaroid is taking the inkjet printer route and making most of its money on the refills. If the device catches on, however, you can expect to see cheaper third-party refills become available at more competitive prices.
Using Polaroid’s CandyPlay 3D Pen seems easy enough: You plug it in (there’s no rechargeable battery), wait for an LED to tell you the heating mechanism is warm enough, and then press a button to intermittently extrude the sticky material, or set it to flow freely until you tell it to stop if you don’t feel like holding down a button all the time. What you create is completely up to your imagination and skill level, but Polaroid recommends starting with some traceable stencils it will provide for download on its site so users can familiarize themselves with how the pen works. It’s likely not as easy as using a ballpoint pen or a Sharpie, but the payoff seems more delicious than trying to lick ink off a page.
Apple decided to forgo having a plug included in their new iPhone 12 line this year, for environmental reasons. However, in order to use their MagSafe charger effectively, one still needs to use a 20W charger, and any plugs you have had from Apple previously won’t fulfill that.
This is where the Anker Nano Charger comes in, where you can easily plug into your USB-C to Lightning Charger, or the MagSafe accessory, and reap the benefits of fast charging. It’s the smallest 20W charger and can be used with your fave Apple phones, or with Androids, up to you.
Just a few months after rolling out what can probably be called the first privacy-preserving news reader, the folks at Brave are taking a stab at creating their own search engine to complement their namesake browser.
Brave Search, which the company announced on Wednesday, is poised to become the “privacy-preserving alternative” to, say, Google search, whose massive market cache is built—in part—off of hoovering data from every search that its users make, even when those searches are happening in incognito mode. And as others have pointed out in the past, if you try to use Google search within Brave’s browser, there’s still all sorts of data being collected on Google’s end about the number of search ads you’re seeing or clicking on.
DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg has previously said that the only surefire way to keep your searches private is…to use a pro-privacy search engine. Brave, for its part, gives its users more than a dozen different search engines to choose from as their default, including privacy-preserving options like DuckDuckGo and Qwant, whose tagline is literally “the search engine that respects your privacy.”
Brave’s planning to align itself with these sorts of players for its own search engine, but it stands out from them—and from more mainstream competitors, like Google—in a few ways. First, the company says that it’ll be giving its users two options: an ad-free paid search option, or a free-to-use option that’s supported by the same Brave-centric ad network that jumps through tons of hoops to keep consumer data as far away from advertisers’ prying eyes as possible. And unlike the somewhat arcane and opaque metrics that Google uses to determine what sites get ranked within its own search engine, the team at Brave has already put out a proposal for the way its search engine might rank results in a freely browsable format.
Folks that want to give Brave’s new search engine a spin when it gets rolled out can sign up for the official waitlist here.
Just six months after the first e-readers featuring E Ink’s color electronic paper technology arrived, the next generation of devices is already here with upgraded color screens. The improvements E Ink has made are minor, but the new PocketBook InkPad Color has a larger screen that offers a much improved reading experience over the original PocketBook Color.
When E Ink announced the next-generation Kaleido 2 color electronic paper displays just months after the first version of the product became available to consumers, we weren’t expecting it to solve all of the issues we had with color E Ink devices like the original PocketBook Color—and it doesn’t.
E Ink has improved the color filter array, which is an extra layer that sits atop the company’s black-and-white Carta HD displays to produce color images. Kaleido 2 promises better color saturation with screen-lighting, but color mode still offers just a third of the resolution of black-and–white mode—300 PPI compared to 100 PPI, which is even lower resolution than what entry-level Kindles offer. That limitation will continue to make color E Ink devices like this a tough sell, particularly as they grow in size and become more expensive than tablets.
E Ink still manages to outperform display technologies like LCD and OLED when devices are used outside in bright sunlight, and that’s once again where color electronic paper really looks its best.
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Colors on the Kaleido 2 display appear beautifully saturated with the sun’s rays bouncing off the InkPad Color’s reflective screen, and contrast levels mean that if you’re headed to the beach, these are still the types of devices you’ll want to bring with you for reading. Indoors, however, even if you’re seated directly beneath a light source, you’ll be relying on the InkPad Color’s 24 LED sidelights to adequately see its screen.
The extra layers needed to make the current implementation of color E Ink possible necessitate the use of a front-lit screen. E Ink now acknowledges that with improvements made to Kaleido 2 to specifically address that use case, but the improvements aren’t night and day. Sitting side-by-side with the original PocketBook (with screen lighting turned all the way up on both devices), colors on the the InkPad Color do look slightly more saturated and accurate (or as accurate as they can with just 4,096 colors), but you really have to be looking for a difference.
Looking directly at each device on its own, I probably couldn’t tell which one was using the original Kaleido screen, and which the newer one. But the difference gets more obvious when viewing each screen from the side. The viewing angles on the Kaleido 2 color e-paper are vastly improved, with colors staying mostly accurate even as you rotate the device from side to side. It’s a baby step, but a baby step in the right direction.
But there remains one big downside to E Ink’s Kaleido color screens that will be especially obvious to those using black and white-only e-readers like the Kindle and Kobo. While the InkPad Color’s black and white Carta HD panel displays plain text at 300 PPI (1872 x 1404 pixels at 7.8-inches) so it looks crisp and sharp, the color filter array darkens the background quite a bit and reduces contrast, making it hard to read regular ebooks without a bright light over your shoulder or the screen’s lighting turned on.
By comparison, the Carta HD panel on its own in the Kindle and Kobo looks considerably brighter and closer to the appearance of printed text on a page. I’m not necessarily against turning on the InkPad Color’s screen lighting—the battery life can still lasts a few weeks with it on—but it does make the device appear more like it’s using an LCD than a screen technology that was originally developed to simulate the appearance of printed paper so it’s easier on the eyes. That, and the fact that the lighting used with color E Ink screens doesn’t allow for color temperature adjustments late at night when cooler shades can keep you awake, are some of the bigger trade-offs of E Ink going color.
That being said, the bump in size from the six-inch PocketBook Color to the 7.8-inch PocketBook InkPad Color really does make a big difference in usability and the types of media you can read on it.
Even with a reduced screen resolution in color mode, the text in most graphic novels is now easy to read without any zooming required, which is still a stuttery process on a device running a dual-core 1 GHz processor, just 1GB of RAM, and a screen with a slow refresh rate. Magazines, on the other hand, which often feature finer print than comic books, are still a challenge to read in color mode on the InkPad Color. If that’s what you tend to read the most, you might want to wait for the even larger 10.3-inch color e-paper screens that E Ink has promised are arriving later this year.
Even with a larger and upgraded color e-paper display, the PocketBook InkPad Color still feels like it’s a few upgrades away from really giving tablets some a run for their money. The newest $399 iPad Mini, which now supports the original Apple Pencil for note-taking, is just $70 more than the InkPad Color. The iPad Mini runs more apps, can access more media, and features a user interface that rarely has you tapping and waiting for something to happen. And then there’s the screen. Sitting side by side, a backlit LCD screen that can display 16 million+ colors makes a side-lit screen that can muster just 4,096 look like an antique, not a next-generation product.
If you’re really excited to try out a color e-reader, or are just an early adopter in general, the PocketBook InkPad Color is now the best device using the latest and greatest version of E Ink’s color electronic paper. It’s more expensive than the original PocketBook Color by about $100, but the larger screen size is better suited for color documents like graphic novels or illustrated children’s books. But if you can wait, E Ink’s already got newer versions of its color e-paper technology en route that will further address the problems with the new display technology. There’s a reason the company is iterating so quickly, and hopefully it won’t take long for it to resolve all these problematic trade-offs.
Even if you’ve been using Google Chrome since it first rolled out back in 2008, the browser is capable of some tricks you may have not discovered yet. Google adds new features on a regular basis, while older features get lost and forgotten about if you’re not using them every day. Here are 12 things you might not have realized you can do in Chrome.
1. Switch to guest mode
If someone needs to borrow your computer temporarily, you probably don’t want them browsing through your bookmarks and checking out all the sites that you’re logged into, which is where guest mode comes in handy. Click your Google account avatar in the top right corner, then choose Guest to make the switch. It’s not at all difficult to get out of guest mode, but it does add a basic layer of protection and privacy for your own Chrome profile.
2. Play audio and video files
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Chrome can do more than just open up websites. If you drag an audio file or a video file into a new tab then you’ll be able to play it right inside your browser, as long as it’s in a reasonably popular and well-known format. It’s unlikely that Chrome is going to replace your default media player anytime soon, because the playback controls and features you get are fairly basic, but it can help when you want to quickly open up a file on your system.
3. Cast your screen or desktop
If you open the main Google Chrome menu via the three dots up in the top right corner of the interface, you’ll see a Cast option, which you can use to beam individual browser tabs or even your entire desktop over to a Chromecast device on your current network. On some streaming sites, including Netflix and YouTube, the video content will get streamed rather than the tab or desktop. It works well for showing off presentations, photos, and so on.
4. Group tabs together
One of the features most recently added to Google Chrome is tab grouping, which lets you organize your tabs into collections with labels and colors. Right-click on the header of any open tab and choose Add tab to new group to get started. Open the same right-click menu and you’re able to add new tabs to a group, take tabs out of a group, and so on. Click and drag the label of a tab group to move it; click once to show or hide the group.
5. Send tabs to other devices
If there’s a webpage you want to look at on your phone or another device, right-click on the URL in the address bar at the top of the Chrome interface, then choose Send to your devices. In this case, “your devices” are any devices where you’ve installed Chrome, signed in with your Google account, and turned on sync. Pick one of the options from the list that appears, and the URL in question is instantly sent across to the other device.
6. Start up where you left off
You don’t have to keep Chrome open to avoid losing all your tabs, because the browser can open with the same windows and tabs that it had when it closed, if you’d like it to. Open the browser menu, choose Settings and then On start-up, and pick Continue where you left off. Note too that if Chrome quits unexpectedly (your computer crashes, for example), it will also try and recover all of the webpages you were last looking at.
7. Open up the task manager
You perhaps haven’t ever realized that Chrome has its own task manager, which can come in handy for diagnosing browser problems and monitoring the performance of Chrome. To access the task manager, open Chrome’s menu and then pick More tools and Task manager (or just hit Shift+Esc). You can see how much memory, CPU time and internet bandwidth is being used by each of your open tabs, as well as any background processes.
8. Customize the New Tab shortcuts
You probably spend a lot of time on the New Tab page, so it makes sense to set it up in a way that works for you. By default, the eight shortcuts shown on the standard New Tab page point to websites you visit frequently, but you can click Add shortcut if you want something specific on there. You can also click the three dots to the side of any shortcut then Remove to delete it, as well as click and drag the shortcuts into a different order.
9. Get fast results from the omnibox
The omnibox up at the top of the Chrome interface is more powerful than you might think—try running calculations or conversions in the box and you’ll see the results before you’ve even hit Enter. You can also just type “weather” to see a quick forecast pop up instantly, no websites or web searches required. You can also get brief word definitions right in the omnibox too, if you type in “define” followed by the word you want to look up.
10. Change the theme of Chrome
The standard Google Chrome look is no doubt fine for most of us, but you can tweak some of the aesthetics of the browser if you feel like a change. Open the browser menu and pick Settings, Appearance, and Theme to browse the Chrome Web Store for new themes. You’ll find all kinds of color themes and artwork here, from artists and from users and from Google itself, and you can always go back to the original look again with a click.
11. Enable reader mode
Chrome has a distraction-free reader mode similar to Instapaper or Pocket, but it’s hidden behind a flag: Open up chrome://flags, find the Enable Reader Mode option, and turn it on. Once you’ve relaunched the browser, if you open the Chrome menu you’ll see there’s a new Enter reader mode option that pops up when you’re on a compatible page. Click on it to strip down web articles to just the most important text blocks and images.
12. Look for harmful malware
Chrome comes with its very own malware scanner that you can use if you’re experiencing sluggish browser speeds, seeing a lot of pop-up ads, or noticing anything else suspicious. If you open up the Chrome browser, then click on Settings and navigate to the Advanced section, you can choose Reset and clean up then Clean up computer to look for anything weird. After the scan has been completed, Chrome will report back on its findings.
We recently asked our readers to tell us their favorite projectors and it’s clear that a really good one will run you over $1,000. That’s not exactly cost-friendly if you’re just hoping to try one out casually. If you want to test the waters without going all out, Vankyo’s Leisure 3W Mini Projector is currently down to $80 at Best Buy. This portable, bluetooth system can be hooked up to any mobile device and project your screen with ease. It’ll work with screens anywhere from 33″ to 176″ (thanks to our readers for pointing out that despite the listing saying it’s a 1080p projector, it’ll ultimately scale images down to 480p). The portability is really the key selling point here. The idea that you could just move this to different rooms in your house without hassle or take it to a friend’s place easily once you can do that again is certainly appealing. It’s a good starter option for those looking to see if a switch to projector life is right for them.
In the latest in a string of security-related headaches for Microsoft, the company warned customers Tuesday that state sponsored hackers from China have been exploiting flaws in one of its widely used email products, Exchange, in order to target American companies for data theft.
In several recently published blog posts, the company listed four newly discovered zero-day vulnerabilities associated with the attacks, as well as patches and a list of compromise indicators. Users of Exchange have been urged to update to avoid getting hacked.
Microsoft researchers have dubbed the main hacker group behind the attacks “HAFNIUM,” describing it as a “highly skilled and sophisticated actor” focused on conducting espionage via data theft. In past campaigns, HAFNIUM has been known to target a wide variety of entities throughout the U.S., including “infectious disease researchers, law firms, higher education institutions, defense contractors, policy think tanks and NGOs,” they said.
In the case of Exchange, these attacks have meant data exfiltration from email accounts. Exchange works with mail clients like Microsoft Office, synchronizing updates to devices and computers, and is widely used by companies, universities, and other large organizations.
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Attacks on the product have unfolded like this: hackers will leverage zero days to gain entry to an Exchange server (they also sometimes used compromised credentials). They then typically will deploy a web shell (a malicious script), hijacking the server remotely. Hackers can then steal data from an associated network, including whole tranches of emails. The attacks were conducted from U.S.-based private servers, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Customer Security Tom Burt said Tuesday that customers should work quickly to update associated security flaws:
Even though we’ve worked quickly to deploy an update for the Hafnium exploits, we know that many nation-state actors and criminal groups will move quickly to take advantage of any unpatched systems. Promptly applying today’s patches is the best protection against this attack.
The situation was originally brought to Microsoft’s attention by researchers at two different security firms, Volexity and Dubex. According to KrebsOnSecurity, Volexity initially found evidence of the intrusion campaigns on Jan. 6. In a blog post Tuesday, Volexity researchers helped break down what the malicious activity looked like in one particular case:
Through its analysis of system memory, Volexity determined the attacker was exploiting a zero-day server-side request forgery (SSRF) vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange (CVE-2021-26855). The attacker was using the vulnerability to steal the full contents of several user mailboxes. This vulnerability is remotely exploitable and does not require authentication of any kind, nor does it require any special knowledge or access to a target environment. The attacker only needs to know the server running Exchange and what account from which they want to extract e-mail.
These recent hacking campaigns—which Microsoft has said are “limited and targeted” in nature—are unassociated with the ongoing “SolarWinds” attacks that the tech giant is also currently embroiled in. The company hasn’t said how many organizations were targeted or successfully compromised by the campaign, though other threat actors besides HAFNIUM may also be involved. Microsoft says it has briefed federal authorities on the incidents.
The new company’s name is a nod to the black and yellow Serve delivery robot developed by Postmates X, the startup’s original robotics division. The robot, designed to patrol neighborhood sidewalks bearing gifts of burritos and fries, will likely remain a key element of the newly-formed company.
“While self-driving cars remove the driver, robotic delivery eliminates the car itself and makes deliveries sustainable and accessible to all,” Ali Kashani, co-founder and CEO of Serve Robotics, told TechCrunch.
In 2017, Postmates acquired Kashani’s startup, Lox Inc, and began developing its sidewalk delivery bots in earnest. The thinking is pretty straightforward: The world — and gig work in particular — is becoming increasingly automated, and cutting cars out of the delivery equation will undoubtedly be a way to reduce overhead costs in the long run.
“While self-driving cars remove the driver, robotic delivery eliminates the car itself and makes deliveries sustainable and accessible to all,” Kashani said. “Over the next two decades, new mobility robots will enter every aspect of our lives — first moving food, then everything else.”
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Then everything else!
The decisions to acquire and consolidate Postmates comes as part of a renewed push towards profitability: Particularly in light of the financial pressure its been facing since the Covid-19 pandemic began, Uber has been increasingly interested in streamlining the focus of its business to include mostly ride-hailing and delivery ventures. In 2020 alone, Uber opted to offload a number of its holdings across the transportation sector, including the shared scooter and bike unit, Jump; a stake of its logistics spinoff Uber Freight; its autonomous vehicle unit, Uber ATG; and its air taxi venture, Uber Elevate.
Facebook’s so-called “Supreme Court” is reportedly planning to seek the company’s permission to review the underlying machine-learning models that determine which posts are given the most prominence in each Facebook user’s feed.
Alan Rusbridger, former editor of Britain’s Guardian newspaper and one of 20 people Facebook handpicked to sit on its Oversight Board, said Tuesday that, after only five months in operation, some members were already vexed by the constraints of reviewing controversial Facebook decisions on a case-by-case basis. In response, the board may try to shift some of its scrutiny over to how Facebook is itself influencing users, he said.
“We’re already a bit frustrated by just saying ‘take it down’ or ‘leave it up’,” Rusbridger told members of the House of Lords, Britain’s upper house of Parliament.
He continued: “What happens if you want to make something less viral? What happens if you want to put up an interstitial? What happens if, without commenting on any high-profile current cases, you didn’t want to ban someone for life but wanted to put them in a ‘sin bin’ so that if they misbehave again you can chuck them off?”
Rusbridger, whose remarks were first reported by the Guardian, went on to suggest the Oversight Board may seek direct access to “the algorithm” employed by Facebook to curate individual users’ feeds.
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The Guardian quotes Rusbridger, who stepped down as editor in 2014 following the paper’s explosive coverage of the Edward Snowden leaks, as saying: “At some point, we’re going to ask to see the algorithm, I feel sure, whatever that means. Whether we’ll understand when we see it is a different matter.”
Facebook did not respond when asked if it would consider granting the Oversight Board access to the algorithm or whether it would allow the board to select its own experts for such a review.
The board, which only began hearing cases last fall, is already facing intense pressure to hold the multi-billion dollar company accountable for what experts in online extremism call a veritable deluge of hate speech, disinformation, and conspiracy theories on its platform. U.S. civil rights leaders have accused Facebook executives of ignoring the problem—despite being repeatedly presented with evidence of violence and other real-world consequences affecting, disproportionately, religious minorities and communities of color.
In October, Democratic Reps. Anna Eshoo and Tom Malinowski accused Facebook of directly facilitating extremist violence across the country, saying the company’s inaction has resulted in U.S. citizens being deprived of their constitutional rights.
The lawmakers pointing specifically to the algorithm, which many researchers—and one of Facebook’s own internal studies—say divides users along ideological and political lines solely to purposefully drive up engagement, and thus profit. (Asked for comment at the time, Facebook did not respond.)
Rusbridger on Tuesday sought to portray the Oversight Board as fully independent from Facebook’s corporate structure, saying the board did not exist “to please” the company. The board has even ejected Facebook staff in the past, he said, when they attempted to sit in on its meetings.
When we think of drones, we imagine massive, quadrotor machines that buzz around like manic seagulls. But what if your drown was small enough to accidentally swallow?
That’s what MIT Assistant Professor Kevin Yufeng Chen has built: a set of tiny drones with elastic actuators that power insect-like wings. The entire package weighs 665 mg or about the “approximately the mass of a large bumble bee,” according to Chen.
Chen created the drones alongside MIT PhD student Zhijian Ren, Harvard University PhD student Siyi Xu, and City University of Hong Kong roboticist Pakpong Chirarattananon. The goal is to use these tiny, soft drones to explore close spaces where rigid drones will break on contact with hard surfaces. It’s also very agile.
The team calls the drones “hybrid soft-rigid,” a design that ensures the drones can flap their wings 500 times per second but can also survive the various frictions and forces that could snap a normal drone to bits.
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“You can hit it when it’s flying, and it can recover,” said Chen. “It can also do aggressive maneuvers like somersaults in the air.”
Chen expects the drones to be used in tight spaces like engines and machinery.
“Think about the inspection of a turbine engine. You’d want a drone to move around [an enclosed space] with a small camera to check for cracks on the turbine plates,” Chen said to MIT’s Daniel Ackerman.
The drones are currently square, but Chen intends to make them look more like dragonflies, further increasing the robot’s ick factor. Luckily, there are no plans to unleash these on an unsuspecting public any time soon.