TIME How-To

30-Second Tech Trick: Stop People from Tagging You in Twitter Photos

Twitter users can now tag you in photos by default. Here's how to opt out.

TIME Video Games

Every Super Nintendo Start Screen in a Nine-Hour Video? Yes, Please

Surely you can set aside nine measly hours of your workday to watch this. Yes? Yes. Say yes.

I remember January 22, 2014 like it was only a few months ago. That was the day I published a post called Every Nintendo Start Screen in a Three-Hour Video? Yes, Please. Best moment of my life – top five, at least.

Now it’s April 8, 2014. I’m a little older and whole lot wiser. And the same NicksplosionFX YouTube user who put together the epic three-hour Nintendo montage just made it look like a second grader’s dopey science project. The Super Nintendo version is just over nine hours long. Believe it or believe it, I haven’t watched the whole thing, but it’s currently streaming along on the TV in my office like a calming drip of nostalgia.

SUPER PRESS START [YouTube via Geekologie]

TIME Social Networking

New Twitter Design Starts Rolling Out, and It Looks… Familiar

Twitter Obama
Twitter First Lady Michelle Obama's Twitter profile sports a new design.

The company says an updated look for profile pages is already rolling out but, as some users say, the top third of the page resembles Facebook since both have a big, wide background photo with a small headshot

Twitter’s blog post announcing its new profile designs begins, “Moment by moment, your Twitter profile shows the world who you are.” My brain interrupted “shows the world who you are” and blurted out “looks more and more like Facebook” before belly-laughing at its own joke like a drunken idiot. But enough about my neurological problems.

The two sites are shockingly similar now — at least the top third of each of them are. Both have a giant, wide background photo and then a little headshot box overlapping the lower left corner of the background photo.

Twitter is still Twitter, though, with a steady stream of tweets comprising the middle column. And with the new design come a few added features: best tweets, pinned tweets and filtered tweets.

Tweets that have caused more of a ruckus – called engagement just in case you’re at a dinner party full of social media experts (they’re everywhere!) – will now show up with a “slightly larger” font in order to denote their importance.

You’ll also be able to pin what you think is your best tweet to the top of your page. Twitter says this is “so it’s easy for your followers to see what you’re all about” but you and I both know it’s so you can find a suitable mate.

And finally, you’ll be able to filter which tweets you see on other people’s timelines, showing or hiding tweets that contain photos or videos and tweets along with their accompanying replies.

The new design will be rolling out gradually to existing Twitter users; if you’re new to Twitter, you’ll get to use it right away. At the bottom of its blog post, Twitter has a list of sneak-peek accounts that already sport the new design, including First Lady Michelle Obama’s account.

Coming soon: a whole new you, in your Twitter profile [Twitter]

TIME robotics

DARPA-Funded Atlas Robot to Go Tetherless in the Next Six Months

We’ve written about Boston Dynamics’ DARPA-funded Atlas robot again and again and again, but I got a chance to meet Atlas in person today and found out that everyone’s favorite terrifying humanoid is about to lose the system of cables and tubes that feeds it a steady diet of power, fluids and data.

Atlas has been handed over to CSAIL – the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory – at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Team MIT has been responsible for getting the robot in shape for the DARPA Robotics Challenge. It’s a series of competitions eventually culminating next year in a $2 million prize given to the winning team.

MIT has been rejiggering Atlas’s code to make it faster and more autonomous: In the above video, postdoctoral associate Scott Kuindersma gives a brief overview of Atlas’s various parts, and explains how the robot’s being coded so that it can make its own decisions in certain instances and operate on its own during a blackout period of up to 30 seconds.

The end of the video features a demo in which Atlas comes across an obstacle – in this case, a two-by-four – and removes it from its path. This demonstration of decision-making, along with figuring out how to get Atlas to move about untethered (the actual hardware modifications would be done by Boston Dynamics) are a couple of the tasks that the MIT team is working on for the next round of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, which takes place in December.

TIME Gadgets

Necktie with a Built-in Laser Pointer? Make It Real, Please

thinkgeek tie
ThinkGeek

ThinkGeek’s April Fools’ Day fake-product lineup is a must-see for gadget lovers – this year’s offerings included a Keurig-like beard growing machine, a NERF Nuke to end all dart-gun wars, Rosetta Stone for Klingon and more.

The only problem with these fake gizmos is that sometimes they’re cool enough that people actually want to buy them. And in a few instances, ThinkGeek has brought its April Fools’ creations to life: the Star Wars-themed Tauntaun sleeping bag and the iCade iPad arcade cabinet being two prominent examples.

The $30 Laser-Guided Tactical Necktie isn’t an actual product, but – BUT! – it could be. The pitch: it’s made of durable nylon, and sports a D-loop, a militarily-inspired MOLLE system, and two removable pouches – one for carrying small items and the other housing a laser pointer.

As you can see in this photo, the tie looks wonderfully ridiculous:

Laser Tie
ThinkGeekThinkGeek’s April Fools’ tie features a laser pointer and more.

Search your feelings. You’d either wear this or you know someone who’d wear this. And more than a few people in the comments section of the product page are trying to will it into existence, too.

I’m going to go out on a short limb and guess that this becomes an actual product. If you’ve got a hankering to accelerate the process, you can vote to have it become real (along with the other April Fools’ items) on this page here.

Laser-Guided Tactical Necktie [ThinkGeek]

TIME video

Here’s a 5-Minute Amazon Fire TV Walkthrough

TIME Software

WWDC 2014: Apple to Announce New Goodies at June Developer Conference

WWDC Tim Cook
Kimberly White--Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces iOS 7 at a keynote address during the 2013 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at the Moscone Center on June 10, 2013 in San Francisco, California.

There’s an old saying that tech bloggers like to use: “It wouldn’t be June without an Apple developer conference in the earlier part of June. Let’s wait to see what Apple announces and then either type about it or make videos about it, or perhaps both.” Ask any tech blogger about that saying, and if he or she denies it, the appropriate response is, “You’re either with us, or you’re against us.” Maintain eye contact the entire time you say that phrase, too.

Anyhoo, this year will be no different. Apple has just announced the dates of WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) – it’ll run between June 2 and June 6, almost certainly with an opening keynote where Tim Cook and friends will unveil what’s next for Apple.

The announcements skew heavily to the software side – this is a developer conference, after all – but previous WWDCs haven’t been without hardware announcements. Last year, we saw the totally redesigned and very-cylindrical Mac Pro and revamped MacBook Air models; the Retina MacBook Pro was unveiled in 2012; the iPhone 4 debuted back in 2010; there was the unibody MacBook Pro and the iPhone 3GS back in 2009; the iPhone 3G was revealed in 2008. But the point of the conference is software, software, software. Last year it was a heaping helping of iOS 7.

That’s not a bad thing, by any means. Without software, all you’ve got are paperweights. You could argue that software’s far more exciting than hardware nowadays: Phones are rectangles, tablets are rectangles, laptops are rectangles that fold down on top of other rectangles. Software is the soul of our gadgets.

We’ll have plenty of WWDC coverage right here – make sure to check back in early June.

Apple Worldwide Developers Conference [Apple.com]

TIME Amazon

Fire TV: Amazon’s Television Set-Top Box Revealed

Amazon Fire TV
Doug Aamoth—TIME

The online giant's small television set-top box, which costs $99 and begins shipping today, will stream movies, TV shows and music from users' Amazon libraries, services like Netflix and Hulu, and apps like Pandora and iHeartRadio

Amazon has announced the Fire TV, a small television set-top box for streaming movies, TV shows and music.

The box is slimmer than a dime (standing up, that is), and can either sit in an entertainment center or mount behind the television. A small Bluetooth remote has a handful of buttons for media playback and navigation, similar to an Apple TV remote, but it also has a microphone for voice search.

As with Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets, the software is partly based on Android, but it also uses HTML to support easy porting of apps from other television platforms. Apps for Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, WatchESPN, MLB.tv, NBA, Crackle, Bloomberg TV and others will be supported at launch, and of course Amazon will have its own services on board, such as Amazon Prime Instant video and a store for purchasing and renting videos.

Beyond video, Fire TV will stream music from users’ Amazon libraries and from streaming apps such as Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn. Users can view photos as well, as long as they’re stored in Amazon’s Cloud Drive services.

Kindle Fire users can see information about what’s on the TV using Amazon’s “X-Ray” feature. Users will get a notification on their tablets, letting them tap to learn about actors and other information on a video, and see lyrics for music. Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited service is supported as well, allowing parents to set time limits for their children and get recommendations on kid-friendly content.

As rumored, Fire TV will have a gaming component, and Amazon lists Disney, Gameloft, 2K, Ubisoft and Double Fine as some of the publishers that are on board. An optional Fire Game Controller will sell for $40, but users can also play games through the remote control or with a companion phone and tablet app. The games are mostly adaptations of mobile titles, such as Gameloft’s Asphalt 8, Minecraft Pocket Edition and Disney’s Monsters University; many are free to play, and the average price of a paid game is around $1.85.

Amazon did recently acquire a game studio, Double Helix, and Amazon is now building games specifically for the Fire TV and Kindle Fire tablets. One example Amazon demonstrated is Sev Zero, a third-person shooter that includes some tower defense elements. (Amazon’s website shows how a second player can use a Kindle Fire tablet to view the map, collect resources and launch air strikes.)

Fire TV’s components are similar to that of a smartphone or tablet, with a quad-core processor, a dedicated graphics processor, 2 GB of RAM and dual-band Wi-Fi. It supports 1080p video and offers Dolby Digital Plus Surround Sound via HDMI or optical output.

Amazon says it set out to fix a few common complaints with existing TV boxes: Performance can be laggy, search is too difficult on a typical remote control, and closed ecosystems don’t always offer the services users want. The Fire TV’s powerful specs and remote control microphone may solve the first two problems, but with the exception of Apple TV, many other set-top boxes are open to competing music and video services. Still, the gaming element is a unique feature, and the focus on a simple, speedy interface could help Amazon stand out.

Amazon’s Fire TV costs $99—same as an Apple TV, but twice the price of the cheapest Roku device—and is shipping today.

TIME Gadgets

BlackBerry Sends a Breakup Letter of Its Own to T-Mobile

T-Mo BlackBo
Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images A BlackBerry Bold 9900 smartphone sits on display for sale at a T-Mobile store on June 28, 2012.

Let’s talk about Seinfeld. In season three, episode 16 (“The Fix-Up”), Jerry and Elaine get in a heated argument. Kramer steps in and abruptly ends the argument by saying, “Now can’t you two see that you’re in love with each other?”

Really makes you think.

I’ll draw no such parallel between T-Mobile and BlackBerry, although with both companies pulling up the rear in their respective categories, you’d think that maybe they’d be able to find enough in common that they’d try to make it work.

Looks like the sun has set on this relationship, though. The April 1 date-stamp on BlackBerry’s press release aside (if this is an elaborate April Fools’ joke, it’s more sad than funny), BlackBerry head honcho John Chen is quoted as saying the following:

“BlackBerry has had a positive relationship with T-Mobile for many years. Regretfully, at this time, our strategies are not complementary and we must act in the best interest of our BlackBerry customers. We hope to work with T-Mobile again in the future when our business strategies are aligned. We are deeply grateful to our loyal BlackBerry customers and will do everything in our power to provide continued support with your existing carrier or ensure a smooth transition to our other carrier partners.”

Perhaps this sounds like sour grapes, but put yourself in Chen’s position. First T-Mo stops selling BlackBerry devices in its stores. Then it sends mailers out to current BlackBerry owners to try to get them to upgrade to the iPhone 5s. Then T-Mo CEO John Legere pokes fun at Chen for not having a Twitter account, suggesting he’s on MySpace instead.

Now can’t you two see that you’re in love with each other? No? Neither can we.

BlackBerry dumps T-Mobile following “ill-conceived” ad campaign [Ars Technica]

TIME Diversions

One of the Web’s Best Cartoons Finally Gets an Update

Homestar Runner has been dormant since late 2010, but it’s back. Hopefully “back” means more than this lone update, but we’ll see.

Aside from the various sites I’ve worked at over the years, I can safely say that HomestarRunner.com is the site I’ve sunk the most time into. That it hasn’t been updated in three and a half years is sad, but there’s just so much there already. I’m baffled that the Chapman brothers were able to keep it going for as long as they did.

As far as the most recent update goes, everyone’s favorite walking speech impediment plays host to a slew of additions to various blasts from the past – the payoff at the end is a pair of downloadable Homestar and Strong Bad themes for Windows 98. Yes, Windows 98 – complete with desktop backgrounds, icons, startup and shutdown sounds, and more.

We’ll see if this is a sign of more to come. I hope it is, but I’ll understand if it isn’t. If it’s an issue of funding, sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo didn’t exist back in Homestar’s heyday, and the Chapman boys could probably raise a small fortune nowadays if they wanted to resurrect the site for good.

Here’s a fun TIME-themed diversion, too: At the end of Strong Bad Email #202, click on the words “duct tape him to the ceiling” to get a peek at Strong Sad and his imaginary friend playing TIME Magazine: The Game. “Spiro Agnew’s favorite slacks! That’s right!”

Homestar Runner [HomestarRunner.com via The Verge]

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