Hand Held Hack #26 – Video – “The Sirius Edition”

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Palm is being brought back from the dead? Ah, no. Smartphone, Tablet gaming outstrips console games, the GCW-Zero Open Source hand Held game console, ‘on body’ detection for Android devices, Sirius, the open-source Siri clone that runs on Ubuntu!

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Hand Held Hack #26 – Audio – “The Sirius Edition”

Palm is being brought back from the dead? Ah, no. Smartphone, Tablet gaming outstrips console games, the GCW-Zero Open Source hand Held game console, ‘on body’ detection for Android devices, Sirius, the open-source Siri clone that runs on Ubuntu!

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Streaming M4V Video
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Open Source Sirius Takes on Siri!

Move over Siri! Now, there’s an Open Source alternative for Linux users!

Meet Sirius, the open-source Siri clone that runs on Ubuntu

PC World – By: Chris Hoffman – “Sirius is an open-source virtual assistant, a bit like Apple’s Siri (pictured above), Google’s Google Now, or Microsoft’s Cortana. But unlike those well-known helpers—and like Linux itself—Sirius is an open platform anyone can use and contribute to, from universities to startups. It’s currently being tested on Ubuntu, and you can download and install it on your own Linux PC today… if you’re particularly adventurous.

How it works
Sirius includes speech recognition, image recognition, and text recognition components. Ask it a question, and Sirius will analyze the meaning of the words, then extract the relevant knowledge from Wikipedia.

One big feature Sirius offers is the image recognition integration. For example, you could take a photo of the Eiffel Tower and ask ‘when was this built?’ Sirius would analyze the image, determine it was the Eiffel Tower, and then go find out when the Eiffel Tower was built. The big commercial assistant programs don’t yet offer a similar feature. This University of Michigan video provides a good introduction.

Organizations like Google, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are funding this project, but don’t expect Google to replace Google Now any time soon. Instead, it’s being developed by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Clarity Lab, and technologies from it may one day make it into the commercial virtual assistants.

But Sirius isn’t just a dry research project—it’s actual software you can download and run today.

Get the code
This project is licensed under the BSD license and hosted on GitHub, so anyone can contribute and play with the code. You’ll also find a ‘Sirius Suite’ download package, which you should use if you want to install this stuff on your own Linux PC.

sirius interface from video
This isn’t a piece of ready-made consumer software, so getting it on your own PC involves compiling the code from source. Sirius is built from many other open-source projects, including Carnegie Mellon University’s Sphinx for recognizing speech and UC Berkeley’s Caffe deep learning framework software. For image recognition, it uses OpenCV’s SURF. To answer all your questions, Sirius uses Carnegie Mellon’s OpenEphyra software. All of these bits of software are included in the Sirius Suite package.

Linux desktop environments and distributions could one day integrate this software with a pretty graphical interface, providing their own alternative to Siri, Google Now, and Cortana.

Yes, you could use this stuff on your own Linux PC today and impress your friends. Cortana integration is still in development in Windows 10, and Apple hasn’t made any moves to add Siri to Mac OS X. Currently, the best you can do on Windows and Mac OS X—and yes, Linux too—is use Google Now in Google Chrome.

But Sirius isn’t just a cool little open-source program to install. It’s a long-term vision for ‘the Linux of virtual assistants,’ an open project anyone can improve and use for their own needs. That’s something worth supporting—and something worth looking forward to.”

“On Body Detection” for Android Phones

This would be cool, I don’t like having to remember to lock my phone!

New “On-Body Detection” Smart Lock Mode In Android Seems To Be Hitting Some Devices

Android Police – By: David Ruddock – “Google is currently rolling out a new smart lock mode called on-body detection. The feature, described in the screens below, uses your accelerometer to figure out when your device is in your hand or pocket, and lock when it’s not. The idea being if you leave your phone sitting on a table or forget it somewhere, it will lock, preventing would-be thieves from easily accessing your data.

Once you unlock your phone, it will stay unlocked while you’re holding it or it’s in your pocket. Once you set it down, it will lock again. Picking it back up requires you to manually unlock it (assuming you’re not using another trusted authenticator factor). If you hand the phone to someone else while it’s unlocked, it will not lock – the feature isn’t able to recognize that you specifically are holding the phone. It just knows when the phone is being held / pocketed and when it isn’t.

The device the feature was noticed on was a Nexus 4 still running Android 5.0.1, but we’re now seeing it on many devices including most Nexuses. This doesn’t seem to be a feature related to Android 5.1, but you probably need 5.0+ for it to work. We do know our tipster has the most recent version of Play Services (we tried with the same version on our Nexuses, and no dice), and we know trusted places is enabled by Google Play Services, so it seems likely this on-body detection mode is probably activated similarly, and isn’t part of the core OS.

This appears to be Google slowly launching a new feature with a small rollout to begin with, so don’t worry if you’re not seeing it yet – we’ve got multiple confirmations it’s out there.

Let us know if you’re seeing this on your devices running the most recent (7.0.97) Play Services – we’ve got confirmation that it’s showing up on non-Nexus hardware running 5.0+ as well.”

GCW-Zero – A Kickstarter Hand Held Gaming Platform

Lon Seidman has a good review of this interesting device:

They say of themselves:

“We live in a technological era where it is possible to place powerful gaming hardware that exceeds yesterday’s PCs in the palm of your hand. Tablets and smart phones are just one example of this. Their touch screens have already revolutionized casual, portable gaming. However, many gamers would agree that they are in their true natural habitat when in direct control of that experience with physical buttons and a real d-pad or authentic analog control. The world just needed these two ideas combined into one package for the gaming community.

We are developing the Game Consoles Worldwide (GCW) Zero, a handheld console built around the Ingenic JZ4770 1 GHz MIPS processor. It is powerful enough to run classic PC games, emulate the game consoles we grew up with and run homebrew games seamlessly at high frame rates.

We here at Game Consoles Worldwide believe that a company should not just capitalize and consumers should be allowed to do more than consume. Too many devices today are walled gardens, designed solely for consumption. Not ours! The GCW Zero gives you full control of your handheld. Install any application you want to run, change the operating system in any way you want. We won’t fight you; in fact we’ll encourage you.”

Their Kickstarter page goes into more detail:

The GCW-Zero Kickstarter Campaign

“Handheld Gaming Is Awesome
We live in a technological era where it is possible to place powerful gaming hardware that exceeds yesterday’s PCs in the palm of your hand. Tablets and smart phones are just one example of this. Their touch screens have already revolutionized casual, portable gaming. However, many gamers would agree that they are in their true natural habitat when in direct control of that experience with physical buttons and a real d-pad or authentic analog control. The world just needed these two ideas combined into one package for the gaming community.

We are developing the GCW Zero, a handheld console built around the Ingenic JZ4770 1 GHz MIPS processor. It is powerful enough to run classic PC games, emulate the game consoles we grew up with and run homebrew games seamlessly at high frame rates.

Open Source Software Is Awesome

We here at Game Consoles Worldwide believe that a company should not just capitalize and consumers should be allowed to do more than consume. Too many devices today are walled gardens, designed solely for consumption. Not ours! The GCW Zero gives you full control of your handheld. Install any application you want to run, change the operating system in any way you want. We won’t fight you; in fact we’ll encourage you.

Because the Zero runs Linux, a huge library of excellent, free, open source software can run on it. Our core development team is hard at work porting popular applications to provide a strong launch day lineup and we’re sure many more will follow from us and from our community.

Developers Are Awesome

We are committed to working with the open source and homebrew communities. Have an idea for the Zero? We want to help. Port your favorite game, or write your own homebrew title! How about media software? Streaming? Turn it into a server? Your ideas and creativity excite us and we want to help develop the Zero into a full-spectrum device.

The Zero’s operating system is OpenDingux, a Linux distribution which is designed to be developer friendly with SSH login, SFTP file transfer and a debugger with profiling tools already included. Both the distribution and the SDK are kept up-to-date; for example we are currently using Linux 3.7 and GCC 4.7.2.”

At about $150.00 per device, this thing looks VERY interesting!

Hand Held Device Gaming Outstrips Console Usage

It seems having our phones handy all day, every day, means we are playing more games there, than at home on consoles!

Smartphone, Tablet Gaming Far Outpaces Handheld Console Games

24/7 Wall Street – By: Paul Ausick – “At the end of 2014, the installed base of smartphones worldwide was about 2.2 billion. There are, in addition, more than 600 million tablets in consumers’ hands as well. More than a third of that total of more than 2.8 million portable devices are used for gaming: more than a billion in fact.

The installed base for Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Android-based devices is nearly 75% of the total worldwide installed base of smartphones and tablets. Android’s share of the market rose by 5.2 points in 2014, compared with a decline of 2.3 points for iOS devices from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and a decline of 2.8% from other platforms, such as Windows and BlackBerry.

The data come from IDC and App Annie in a new report on portable gaming. The number of smartphones and tablets in use worldwide far outnumbers the 175 million portable gaming devices in use. And the worse news for Nintendo and Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) is that full game software shipments and sales volumes in the fourth quarter of 2014 were down 5% year-over-year, and the installed number of devices fell by 10 million worldwide. IDC and App Annie attribute that to decreased demand for the Nintendo DS and DSi players.

Games accounted for 30% of all fourth-quarter downloads from Apple’s App Store and about 40% of all downloads from Google Play. As the chart below shows, App Store game revenue grew by more than 30% and Google Play game revenue grew by 75% year-over-year in the fourth quarter. Handheld game console software rose by just 5% for the year, and all of that came in the holiday season.

The top-selling game at the App Store was Clash of Clans, followed by Puzzle & Dragons and Candy Crush Saga. The top three sellers at Google Play were Puzzle & Dragons, Clash of Clans and Monster Strike. Worldwide the top grossing games for the year are Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga and Puzzle & Dragons.

Other highlights from the IDC/App Annie report:

  • Game spending on both iOS and Google Play exceeded that of handheld game consoles in the fourth quarter of 2014.
  • More than 80% of combined iOS and Google Play consumer app spending in the quarter came from games.
  • iOS generated about 1.9 times more revenues than Google Play games.”

Palm is Being Brought Back!?!

Palm PilotWhat? I don’t think so!

Palm is being brought back from the dead

Variety – By: Marc Graser – “Chinese electronics maker TCL, which spent considerable coin to rename Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, has acquired the rights to revive the once-dominant maker of digital personal organizers.

TCL said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week that it will re-create Palm in Silicon Valley, after having purchased the brand’s assets from Hewlett-Packard late last year. HP had paid $1.2 billion to purchase Palm in 2010, but sold off the company’s webOS operating system to LG in 2013, leaving TCL with little other than nostalgia to work with.

‘Palm has always carried a lot of affect and emotions,’ TCL said in a statement. ‘That’s why TCL has set the direction to rebuild the brand involving Palm’s very own community, making it the largest scale crowd-sourced project ever seen in the industry.’

The company will set up a new Palm Inc. in Silicon Valley. It also will back the development of new Palm products with 5,000 engineers and seven research and development centers around the world.

TCL, which is a substantial producer of electronics in China, with its line of TVs and mobile devices, is still relatively unknown in the U.S., although it’s looking to change that through high-profile placements in movies like ‘Iron Man III,’ and naming-rights deals like the one in Hollywood.

It also owns the Alcatel OneTouch brand through which it produces lower priced smartphones Stateside. The new Palm products are likely to become the company’s more high-end line of mobile devices.

Palm was founded in 1992 and had various owners, including US Robotics and 3Com. Its devices essentially established the handheld market, especially among business execs, with the Treo and Pilot, and opened the door for rivals like BlackBerry to step in and take over.

Palm isn’t the only mobile brand trying to make a comeback.

Lenovo is trying to breathe new life into Motorola after buying it last year, with three new smartphones it will launch in China this year. The new Moto X rolls out in February.”

Hand Held Hack #25 – Video – “Loads of Hand Helds!”

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A Hand-Held DNA sequencer! Malicious software spreads on Android Phones, a Hand-held device detects liquid bombs in 5 seconds, new Nintendo 3DS hack gives easy access to illegal games, Android ‘Lollipop’ disk encryption causes serious performance issues!

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Hand Held Hack #25 – Audio – “Loads of Hand Helds!”

A Hand-Held DNA sequencer! Malicious software spreads on Android Phones, a Hand-held device detects liquid bombs in 5 seconds, new Nintendo 3DS hack gives easy access to illegal games, Android ‘Lollipop’ disk encryption causes serious performance issues!

(Click on the buttons below to Stream the Netcast in your “format of choice”)
Streaming M4V Video
 Download M4V
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Android “Lollipop” Disk Encryption Causes Serious Performance Issues!

(Cross-posted from Dr. Bill.TV) If you recently upgraded your Android device to Android 5.0, known as the “Lollipop” version, you may be experiencing some strange performance issues after the upgrade if you enable encryption. It appears that the problem is caused by disk encryption of the Android device which can be turned off in the new Nexus devices. It is a “feature” and not a bug! However, users are very upset by the performance hit that this new feature causes. In testing a Motorola Nexus 6 that didn’t have encryption enabled (which is not the way it normally comes) testers at AnanTech discovered that it was, in fact, the disk encryption in the Nexus 6 that slows down the read-write disk speeds… and, unfortunately, you can’t turn it off once enabled.

During tests with a Nexus 6 running without encryption, and another one with it enabled, they saw as much is a 63% decline in read performance and a 50% decline in write performance in the device with encryption enabled. If your math impaired, in terms of understanding those numbers, that’s a big deal!

Now, if you want to turn off your disk encryption in order to see at a performance improvement; you can’t on the Nexus 6 or Nexus 9, at least not at this time.

The geeky folks over at XGA are tinkering with a new boot.img image that will disable the forced encryption, but this is annoying fix for a problem that Google should have already provided a workaround for. We should not have to rely on some hackers to fix their problem!

One would hope that Google will respond to this and give users a way to encrypt their phones and restore performance to reasonable levels!