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The difference between smartphone gimmick and game changer

Its hard to find a legitimately bad flagship phone these days. Sure, one peeks its head out from time to time, but on a whole most phones are pretty good. The screens, the cameras, the internals. There are always a few bits that could use improving (see: battery and durability), but the gulf between good and bad isnt any near where it once was.

And for the past several generations, most flagship devices even more or less look the same. Sure, the fingerprint reader/home button gets moved around here or there, but most casual observers probably couldnt pick a non-iPhone/Galaxy out of a lineup. Perhaps its a matter of copied intellectual property, or maybe there really is an ideal form factor for a pocket-sized communication device thats mostly screen.

Its tough to distinguish yourself when youre not a top-tier smartphone company a qualifier that, in the States at least, seems to apply to pretty much everyone who isnt a Samsung or Apple. Given how cut throat the overcrowded industry can be when youre not in the two top (and, lets be honest, even if you are), its no surprise that the many companies seem to be looking increasingly toward distinguishing factors.

Gimmicks arent bad in and of themselves. After all, once it hits mainstream acceptance, its not really a gimmick anymore. Its a standard feature. Take waterproofing. When a handful of manufacturers started dipping their phones in aquariums at trade shows, it initially seemed like a cry for attention. But we kind of all secretly wantedone. A few years later, its a no-brainer for flagships because its not just about going snorkeling, its about getting caught in a downpour and, yes, accidentally dunking the thing in the toilet.

Sometimes a bag full of dry rice just isnt enough.

The flipside of that is the Alcatels A5 LED. Its the phone equivalent of those L.A. Lights shoes from the 90s, with heels that flashed every time they hitthe ground. Its a hail Mary pass of sorts and a tacit acknowledgement that maybe smartphones arent much more than big, expensive toys.

A good gimmick, on the other hand, is one that actually brings something to the experience of owning a phone. Its a rare moment of thinking outside the box that, if pulled off successfully, can actually be a cause to rethink things. LGs own numbers have stumbled a bit, but thats not for lack of interesting ideas. The company was among the first to introduce a dual-lens camera (the V20) and to offer a taller form-factor (G6), both of which are becoming standard features in flagships.

Of course, those handsets are also great examples of how a good gimmick alone isnt enough to make a phone a success. An even more obvious example comes in the form of the G5. The handset was released at what seemed the height of interest in modular phones. But the result was downright disastrous, with the phone shouldering much of the blame of the companys resulting financial straits. That didnt, however, mean that modularity is doomed to failure. Announced not all that long after the G5, Motorola/Lenovos Moto Z line has been a marked success for the company. Its already announced millions sold an accomplishment for a line many simply wrote off at launch.

The differences between the execution of the phones is pretty stark. For starters, the Z is a solid piece of hardware, an object lesson in that fact that you cant rest on gimmick alone. The magnetic power system is also the best modular execution to date. And then theres the fact that the phone launched with multiple useful mods. Like a game console needs games, a modularity phone without mods is a pretty usefulness proposition.

Of course, singular success for Motorola does not translate to a game changer in this case. Other companies are likely flirting more with the idea of modularity, but its not like several other companies rushed out to launch their own modular solution in the past year.

The jury is still out on the HTC U11. Even more so, really, as the phone hasnt even hit the market. For now, though, Edge Sense seems like little more than a gimmick. The actual functionality it brings to the handset is limited at best. The company has promised more uses for the squeezable sides moving forward, but the ability to launch apps isnt the sort of compelling feature that drives users to buy phones.

Theres nothing wrong with a gimmick, so long as it isnt a gimmick for its own sake. To be successful, it needs to bea meaningful feature that adds usefulfunctionality to a device, executed in a way that doesnt detract from the rest of the phone experience. And its important not to be myopic. Manufacturers cant rest on its laurels and skimp on the rest of the hardware and software.

Otherwise, you might as well be selling light up sneakers.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/28/the-difference-between-smartphone-gimmick-and-game-changer/

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MakeLoveNotPorns Cindy Gallop talks about the future of love

On this weeks Technotopia I interviewed Cindy Gallop, the outspoken TED speaker and found of MakeLoveNotPorn. Cindy worked tirelessly to bring SexTech and FemTech out of the shadows and shes bringing all her attention to bear on the creation of technology that will bring us closer together and make us happier something few founders think about.

Gallop believes that the toys we see that are supposed to represent the cutting edge in SexTech are just the beginning. She is also working hard to educate the world about the difference between lovemaking and porn and how, while both have their place, lovemaking is far more fun and constructive. We teach our children to be good people in the wider world, she says, but why wont we teach them how to be good people in bed?

Gallop is currently raising a fund to help female entrepreneurs and SexTech inventors so listen in to see how you can help.

Technotopia is a podcast about a better future by John Biggs. You can subscribe in Sticher or iTunes and download the MP3 here.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/21/makelovenotporns-cindy-gallop-talks-about-the-future-of-love/

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Experts poke holes in marketing claims about fidget spinners


Teachers' worst nightmare.
Image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fidget spinners are a fun, relaxing fount of mindless entertainment. But are they really more than a cheap toy?

Some experts say no. Despite marketing claims, there’s no research that shows the wildly popular spinners are therapeutic tools for people with anxiety, autism, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

“I know there’s lots of similar toys … and there’s basically no scientific evidence that those things work across the board,” Scott Kollins, a clinical psychologist and professor at Duke University, told NPR on Sunday.

That doesn’t mean the three-pronged plastic phenomena don’t provide any real benefits, or that parents and educators are wrong when they say it helps some children focus in the classroom. But retailers may be stretching the truth when they label these devices as treatments for fidgety behavior, minuscule attention spans, or discomfort in a classroom setting.

You sure about that, Mr. Fidget Spinner Maker?

“It’s important for parents and teachers who work with kids who have ADHD to know that there are very well studied and documented treatments that work, and that they’re out there, so there’s not really quick and easy fixes like buying a toy,” Kollins told NPR.

About 11 percent of U.S. children between the ages of 4 and 17 or 6.4 million kids have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Their parents often search for help beyond the typical medication, which might make them more vulnerable to marketing efforts that falsely lump these toys in the category of evaluated, proven solutions that help students focus and learn.

Another expert had a similarly skeptical view of fidget spinners.

“Using a spinner-like gadget is more likely to serve as a distraction than a benefit for individuals with ADHD,” Mark Rapport, a clinical psychologist at the University of Central Florida who has studied the benefits of movement on attention in people with ADHD, told LiveScience earlier this month.

Still, parents and some developmental specialists have defended fidget spinners, even as teachers and schools banned them from the classroom for being too disruptive. Proponents argue that, under the right circumstances, spinners and devices like them can soothe an anxious student or calm a hyperactive mind.

Hmm, maybe not.

“These little gadgets should be called fidget tools, not toys, and they can be part of a successful strategy for managing fidgety behavior if they are introduced as a normal part of the classroom culture,” Claire Heffron, a pediatric occupational therapist in Cleveland, recently told the Washington Post.

A 2015 study found that students with ADHD performed better on a computerized attention test the more intensely they fidgeted. Children without ADHD, meanwhile, did not improve their test score with fidgeting.

But Julie Schweitzer, the study’s author and a clinical psychologist at the University of California at Davis, said it’s too early to know whether fidget spinners could deliver similar results.

“We need to study them to find if they make a difference and for whom,” Schweitzer told the Post.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/14/fidget-spinners-adhd-experts/

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‘SNL’ asks where Kellyanne Conway has gone, in fitting Carmen Sandiego sendup

After a few media missteps, the once ubiquitous Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway has all but vanished from TV.

So Saturday Night Live tasked a couple of precocious young children with answering the question, Where in the World Is Kellyanne Conway?

She hasnt been seen in weeks; no one knows where she is or what shes up to, Sasheer Zamata opened as the iconic Chief, Lynne Thigpen.

And the Carmen Sandiego sendup was complete with Rockapella, featuring Chris Pine.

But the game show didnt even make it to the first clue.

We dont wanna find her, one of the contestants said.

That makes all of us, kid.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/07/snl-kellyanne-conway-carmen-sandiego/

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8 Hilariously WTF Times People Did Cosplay In The Real World

Cosplay — we’re used to seeing it on Halloween, at comic conventions, and of course in the filthiest recesses of the internet. But while most cosplayers are content to just chill at conventions as Stormtrooper #8, some eccentric pioneers are trying to discover new ways to play their cos’es. They’re no heroes — they just dress like them.

8

Lottery Winners In China Accept Their Checks In Costume

In China, lottery winners have to appear in public to accept their giant novelty check. Many are uncomfortable doing so, as most people like to avoid letting every criminal and deadbeat cousin know they’re rich as fuck now. This results in some people who show up looking like a poltergeist in an L.L. Bean catalog:

via EgoTV
If you’ve ever wondered how Cobra Command makes their money.

But others decide to go a little crazier. After all, money’s about to become a non-issue for them. Case in point, one guy showed up as Baymax, the inflatable robot from Disney’s Big Hero 6. Either that or he’s cosplaying the Michelin Man after losing some weight.

via The Daily Dot
“I am Baymax, your personal healthcare companion. Please don’t rob me.”

Another lucky winner showed up as Mickey Mouse to collect his cheddar:

And two guys came dressed as those two Transformers trying to start up a Daft Punk cover band.

One person showed up in this baffling bear costume, which looks more like the love child of Pikachu and that blowjob-ghost from The Shining.

Though we must admit, our lives do feel richer knowing that, once upon a time, Winnie The Pooh’s meth-head cousin held a press conference to claim his gambling money.

And they say millionaires never do anything for the little people.

7

Batman And Robin Battled Spider-Man In An MMA Fight

It took longer than expected, but someone finally tried to put an end to the age-old playground debates of which superhero could kick which other superhero’s ass. Recently, a superhero-themed MMA fight from the U.K was unearthed, showing a kickboxing match between a ’60s-style Batman and a molten action figure-style Spider-Man, and the result is less of an epic war between gods than a lackluster Halloween-themed Fight Club.

In the right corner, Batman — who, being a gentleman, doesn’t dip into his utility belt, but, less gentlemanly, did bring along his youthful ward to gang up on the web-slinger.

In the left, an alternate-dimension Peter Parker who kept on wrestling after Ben’s murder and is all in on kicking some serious billionaire ass —

— destroying the Dynamic Duo almost as badly as Joel Schumacher did.

Of course, it’s a pretty sad sight to see our beloved childhood heroes brawling like common pee-wee hockey parents — so it’s important to remember that all of this isn’t real, a fact that is abundantly clear by the time a half-dressed Riddler shows up to save Batman’s bacon.

6

A British Man Had A Costume-Filled Funeral

You know what’s really depressing at funerals? Everyone’s wearing black. In 2013, a Newcastle man overturned that depressing dress code by posthumously requesting that everyone come to the funeral in costume. Meaning Batman, Super Mario, and even some Imperial goons showed up to pay their respects.

Not to mention Fred Flinstone, a strip of bacon —

— and this guy …

… who is apparently a U.K. cereal mascot called the Honey Monster and definitely not a PCP hallucination willed into existence.

All of which led to a distinctly unique and memorable funeral — and presumably a waking nightmare for any intellectual property lawyers coming to pay their respects.

5

A Shop Owner Forced Teen Thieves To Dress Like The Flintstones

With the exception of forcing sports mascots to gyrate under a scorching sun for the audience’s apathy, costumes are usually not used as punishment. That wasn’t the case for the owner of World’s Best Comics And Toys, who dealt with a gang of shoplifters so hard it knocked them back to the Stone Age.

It all started when a group of teens stole a replica of Fred Flintstone’s car from the shop — either because they were big cartoon fans or they were so wasted they thought they’d just boosted a brand new Tesla. The culprits got remarkably far, seeing as their getaway car was powered by their feet, but were eventually thwarted by police. But in lieu of criminal charges, the teens accepted the store owner’s unorthodox alternative punishment, a long and humiliating ordeal that started with him uttering “Oh, so you like The Flintstones, do ya?”

Yup, to teach these kids a lesson, they were forced to dress up as Flintstones characters and stand out front of the store trying to lure customers for Free Comic Book Day — menial work the real Flintstones would have entrusted to some poor, abused-yet-sassy animal.

The thieves didn’t even seem to mind their punishment too much, gladly seeing their prank resolved without getting a criminal record. For a story of grand larceny and technical grand theft auto, this light-hearted caper harkens back to a simpler time. A daba doo time. A gay old time.

4

A Guy Jogs Through Death Valley While Dressed As Darth Vader … Every Year

Surely, if there’s one thing you can take away from the original Star Wars trilogy, it’s that Darth Vader never runs — he menacingly walks towards you with the calm perseverance of a freight train. Runner Jonathan Rice didn’t come away from the movies with the same impression, as he became the founder of the Darth Valley Challenge, in which he runs a mile in Death Valley at the hottest possible time of year, dressed in full Darth Vader get-up.

While Rice (AKA Vader) has described the run as “pointless,” it has set the Guinness record for the “hottest verified run.” Though, to be fair, once you’ve had several limbs burnt off by the fiery molten lake of Mustafar, a light jog through a dry heat must be like a walk in the park.

The decision to cosplay as Vader was less a calculated decision to harness the powers of darkness to boost his athleticism than it was the only Halloween costume in his house. So let’s be grateful it is the Sith apprentice running a hot mile in Death Valley, and not Rice dressed like a sexy nurse.

3

Canadian Teens Dress As The Justice League To Catch Internet Predators

It’s not totally surprising that a group of people would dress as superheroes and take the law into their own hands — but a group of Canadian men did so in a surprisingly non-violent fashion. The group, who dubbed themselves The Justice Trolls, dressed up as The Justice League, but rather than dumping a ton of money into Batman-like gadgets, or throwing up their internal organs trying to run like The Flash, these guys just bust out their laptops and bait sexual predators.

In fact, they don’t just wear superhero costumes, they improve them. We bet stupid old Barry Allen never even considered slapping a fake handlebar mustache on his Flash outfit. Or holding a press conference at a McDonald’s.

The group would pose as underage girls online to lure potential child sex offenders to a rendezvous — so instead of a minor they could take advantage of, these guys instead found themselves face-to-face with Batman — or at least a guy in a Batman rental costume with sewn-on abs. Either way, you have to imagine it’d be pretty jarring.

They would film the encounter, then post the video online. Like true comic book vigilantes, they caught the attention of the police and were told to back off. Then, again like in the comic books, the cops still took credit for arresting a bad guy who they found through the super-group. At least these cops have a good explanation for why they suck — it’s all part of a narrative that will spur on our heroes to do even more good.

2

A Juror Wore A Starfleet Uniform To The Whitewater Trial

Our older readers may remember the Whitewater scandal, a real estate fraud investigation with ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Not really a scandal a lot of people know about, because it didn’t involve emails.

But back in 1996, the Whitewater trial was a big event, so it’s only natural that some members of the media took note of alternate juror Barbara Adams, probably because she was the one dressed in a Starfleet uniform from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

If you saw the documentary Trekkies then you remember Adams’ story; she wasn’t wearing the uniform for kicks, she wore it “just as any other officer in the military would wear theirs.” Pretty intense for a Trekkie, but before the internet, these guys were like the Crips of the nerd world.

Adams ended up being kicked off the jury — but interestingly enough, it wasn’t for her get-up, which everyone involved with the trial actually seemed pretty okay with. No, what landed Adams in hot water was violating a gag order by talking to the media — though you have to imagine the judge knew he was going to get annoyed by her making the “whoosh” sound every time the courtroom doors opened.

1

Quite A Few Rock Bands Shred While Cosplaying

Ever since KISS accidentally wandered into a child’s birthday and had their faces painted by a black-and-white French clown, elaborate costumes have been a staple in certain subsets of rock. But these costumes can go too far, especially when bands starts dressing up in ways that prevent them from doing sex, drugs, and even rock and roll.

Canada’s Cybertronic Spree is what you might call a Transformers tribute band, covering the soundtrack of the original Transformers movie while dressing up like said Transformers. Which is way better than just getting one Transformer to turn into a crappy boombox.

And keep in mind, this is back when the Transformers soundtrack consisted of jaunty Stan Bush and Weird Al Yankovic riffs, not the Linkin Park and trace amounts of Michael Bay’s hostility psychically burnt into the audio nowadays. And this is just the tip of the cosplay band iceberg; there’s a Klingon band that plays death metal:

And of course, there are a crap-ton of Harry Potter wizard rock bands, like The Blibbering Humdingers, The Moaning Myrtles and our favorite, As I Lay Dobby.

But winners of “Best Dressed” must be the metal band made up of Ned Flanderses. They’re pretty-diddly-iddly hardcore.

Not to mention how many Korean cosplay bands exist, but there really isn’t a part of Korean culture that hasn’t completely been taken over by geekdom, so these might just be regular bands.

Join Jack O’Brien and Cracked staffers Carmen Angelica, Alex Schmidt, Michael Swaim, plus comedian Blake Wexler for a retelling of history’s biggest moments you didn’t realize everyone was drunk for. Get your tickets here.

Also check out Cosplay Porn Is An Industry: We Talked To Its Titans and Why There Are No Winners When You Wear A Sexy Cosplay Outfit.

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_24688_8-hilariously-insane-acts-cosplay-in-real-world.html