TIME Autos

Tesla’s New Models Will Be Around 50% Cheaper

CEO Elon Musk said the next generation of Teslas would retail for as little as $35,000, around half the price of existing models

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Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk revealed that the company’s next generation of vehicles would retail for as little as $35,000, or roughly half the price of existing models.

Musk unveiled the price as well as the name of the new electric vehicle, Tesla Model 3, in an interview with Auto Express.

The savings, he said, would come out of a thorough redesign of the vehicle that will cut the size down by 20% and install lighter, cheaper batteries from Tesla’s upcoming Gigafactory. It would also limit the range of the vehicle to roughly 200 miles, compared with a range of 265 miles for the Model S.

Tesla tapped British engineer Chris Poritt, formerly of Aston Martin, to oversee the design of the new vehicle, and most essentially its new battery technology, which could put electric cars in the same cost bracket as gas guzzlers.

Tesla expects the Model 3 to launch by 2017.

[Auto Express]

TIME

50 Smartest Celebrities on Twitter

Jimmy Kimmel, Samuel L. Jackson and Justin Bieber's mom are among the sharpest celebrities online, according to an analysis of their tweets.

When it comes to big brains and big followings online, Leonardo DiCaprio appears to best them all: the Wolf of Wall Street actor is the smartest celebrity on Twitter. DiCaprio scores higher than the rest when judged by a commonly used reading comprehension test. Here’s where the tweeting and famous rank, according to analysis of the reading levels of the tweets produced by the 500 most followed celebrities on the popular social network. Or test the reading level of any Twitter username.

RANKING NAME GRADE LEVEL
1
Followers
10,537,477
7.5
2
Followers
3,240,488
7.3
3
Followers
4,105,738
7
4
Followers
9,495,505
6.8
Followers
3,394,539
6.8
Followers
3,876,935
6.8
7
Followers
9,624,350
6.6
Followers
3,618,047
6.6
9
Followers
3,512,750
6.5
Followers
6,547,046
6.5
Followers
3,465,262
6.5
Followers
6,957,631
6.5
Followers
4,313,917
6.5
Followers
4,348,803
6.5
15
Followers
9,330,945
6.4
Followers
5,679,824
6.4
Followers
12,790,629
6.4
Followers
3,916,429
6.4
Followers
5,430,990
6.4
Followers
4,439,241
6.4
21
Followers
7,024,230
6.3
Followers
8,330,339
6.3
Followers
6,679,206
6.3
Followers
3,609,118
6.3
25
Followers
5,224,026
6.2
Followers
3,777,176
6.2
Followers
3,453,774
6.2
Followers
6,667,346
6.2
Followers
3,717,750
6.2
Followers
10,384,608
6.2
Followers
4,243,642
6.2
Followers
3,430,272
6.2
33
Followers
18,374,747
6.1
Followers
4,962,687
6.1
Followers
3,356,790
6.1
Followers
17,130,614
6.1
Followers
3,862,527
6.1
Followers
5,043,670
6.1
Followers
12,014,650
6.1
Followers
3,088,771
6.1
Followers
17,130,615
6.1
42
Followers
24,784,725
6
Followers
28,273,688
6
Followers
3,730,469
6
Followers
3,315,673
6
Followers
3,492,788
6
Followers
4,148,210
6
Followers
13,448,230
6
49
Followers
9,688,482
5.9
Followers
4,157,413
5.9

 

Methodology
The ranking above is based on a reading comprehension test known as Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG). The SMOG test measures the number of three syllable words used in a text to calculate the years of education required to understand it. An environmental activist, DiCaprio often tweets about “conservation” and global warming which may have helped him earn the top spot.

In a recent analysis of more than 1 million tweets, we found that messages on Twitter average a fourth-grade reading level. All of the celebrities above exceed that grade. To find Twitter’s smartest celebrities, we analyzed the last 20 tweets from the 500 highest followed celebrities (stripped of URLs and hashtags), then ran the results through the SMOG test to calculate reading level. SMOG is intended for processing English, so users tweeting in multiple languages were removed. Computer processing of natural language has its limitations. For example, the SMOG test can falsely read slang as multi-syllable words.

You can test your own Twitter grade level or anyone else’s here.

TIME Video Games

Survival Game The Long Dark Coming to Steam in September

You won't go gently into The Long Dark, but you can go early.

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You can finally lay hands on The Long Dark this September, Windows and Mac users. Developer Hinterlands just confirmed the game will be playable in prerelease form by way of Steam Early Access — a program whereby developers can sell unfinished versions of their projects in advance of final code. Buyers pay to be testers, though feedback isn’t required (some people just want a peek behind the curtain early, and this lets them have it for a price).

The game, Kickstarted last October to the tune of a quarter million bucks, was estimated to arrive in October 2014. The final release is currently set for “later in 2014.”

Hinterland

No, the game’s title has nothing to do with “The Long Dark,” a Babylon 5 episode about a phantom space creature that chows on cryonic explorers (I mention it only because that’s what comes up if you scan Wikipedia for the game). The Long Dark is rather a first-person survival simulation set somewhere in the “Northern wilderness” after a global disaster.

Speaking as a frequent visitor to said wilderness, how a post-apocalyptic version might differ from what it feels like to camp or hike through northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin or Michigan’s upper peninsula (or heck, any part of Canada) today, I have to wonder. Anyone who’s done so knows how disconnected parts of those places can seem right now, no need for a holocaust’s helping hand.

On the other hand, there’s something unmistakably romantic about being in the middle of cold, dead, godforsaken nowhere, the day fading to dusk and then blackness, the raw elements (and your hierarchy of human needs) scraping at the door. It’s part of what draws us to tabula rasa tales, that confluence of isolation, beauty, primitivism, terror and possibility. That’s the vein The Long Dark seems to be tapping, anyway.

Hinterland

As setups go, The Long Dark‘s is part of a storied tradition of survivalist fiction and films. If you’ve seen Revolution, the gist isn’t so different: a “geomagnetic event” comes along and knocks out the lights, the power, everything. Food and water are in short supply. And you’re not completely alone: there’s the wildlife to consider, and then you’ll wind up bumping into other survivors, resorting, one assumes, to the kinds of disquieting things survivors do.

The new trailer above is just a few panning long shots of the lovely-looking scenery — sunsets and starry, starry skies and an ocean of snow shrouding the world. The art team’s apparently going for a look somewhere between the austere geometric angularity of a game like Mirror’s Edge and the saturation-cranked colorific vibrance of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft.

Hinterland

The final version will incorporate two play modes: sandbox and story. Sandbox mode starts the clock ticking and drops you into a non-narrative resource management game (you have to manage body temperature, caloric intake, thirst, fatigue, windchill and so forth), while Story mode has you playing episodically as bush pilot Will Mackenzie after crashing into the wilderness (the crash is caused by the geomagnetic disaster), trying to figure out what happened and why. Sandbox mode is what you get if you sign up for Early Access, whereas Story mode won’t be available until launch to keep it from spoiling early.

TIME Money

How Much Is a Bitcoin Worth? Let Google Tell You

Google Search now includes Bitcoin in its currency calculator, lending a little more legitimacy to the cryptocurrency.

If you need to know the current value of a Bitcoin, it’s now faster than ever to figure out through Google.

The search engine’s currency calculator now supports Bitcoin, so you can type “1 Bitcoin to dollars,” “10000 yen to BTC” or “How much is 500 Bitcoin worth?”

As Coindesk points out, Google added a Bitcoin currency tracker to its finance searches last month. Currency conversion is the next logical step, given that Microsoft’s Bing started calculating Bitcoin values in February. Though Bitcoin has struggled to gain recognition from some governments, support from the major search engines may help lend some legitimacy to the cryptocurrency.

Google does caution that conversion rates may not be accurate down to the minute, but you can always consult other sources like Coindesk if you need more detailed data.

TIME

There’s Now Facial Recognition Software for Cats

Bistro

FINALLY

For too long, humans have been reaping all the rewards of facial recognition software. But no longer. Entrepreneur Mu-Chi Sung is bringing the advanced technology to cats — and while it might not help them find love online due to “facial compatibility,” or be better targeted in malls, it will help them maintain their goal weight.

Sung is the co-founder of Bistro, a smart cat feeder that has the power to recognize your feline’s face in order to distribute and then track its food intake. It can also tell your cats’ faces apart to prevent jerky tendencies of stealing the food that is rightly their brethren’s.

But the endeavor, by Sung’s Taiwanese company 42ARK, isn’t for cat vanity’s sake.

“I have three cats, and how I fed them was I put the food in the bowl and had no idea what they’re eating,” says Sung, who didn’t realize his cat Momo stopped eating food due to illness until he found her dehydrated and paralyzed on the floor of his house. The jaundiced cat was suffering from pancreatitis, and while things were looking dire for Momo, the amputation of her two rear legs saved her life.

Momo the cat Bistro

While Sung assured us that Momo is now fine and back to playing with laser pointer, an early indication of eating abnormalities would have inspired him to seek medical help faster. This uses a similar ideology as Whistle, a Fitbit of sorts for dogs, that tracks their daily activity and sleep patterns.

“A cat doesn’t speak for themselves, that’s why we need Bistro to speak for them,” Sung says. “With Bistro you get notified [via the app] if a change in feeding occurs.”

A scale eating platform tracks cats’ weight and owners can also watch live streams of their cats eating. You know, if they’re into that kind of thing. “Not many people will do that,” Sung says, greatly underestimating obsessive cat owners everywhere.

Bistro

Bistro launched an Indiegogo campaign Tuesday to bring the product to market. Indiegogo users can buy it for a special price of $179, although Sung thinks it will cost $249 in stores.

This isn’t the first attempt to incorporate cat facial recognition in every day life. The image recognition company Quantum Picture found a way to use image recognition to let the company cat inside through the pet door only if she wasn’t carrying an animal in her mouth. And in 2010, Panasonic System Networks updated FaceU so it could recognize pets’ individual faces to tag in group photos.

Last year, a company called PiP launched an Indiegogo campaign to use facial recognition to reunite lost cats (and dogs) with their owners, although it only made $2,746 of its $20,000 goal. Bistro hopes to raise $100,000 to bring the product to market, and it raised almost half its goal in half a day.

Sung has worked in image recognition for years and thinks that applying it to cats is the next step in the technology. He says that 42ARK is even thinking of using facial recognition on cats’ litter box habits, although he admits that it’s “a little bit creepy.”

TIME Rumors

Amazon Appears to Be Testing All-You-Can-Read Kindle Ebook Subscriptions

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Kindle in Sao Paulo, Brazil on March 15, 2013. Yasuyoshi Chiba—AFP/Getty Images

The "Kindle Unlimited" plan could include more than 600,000 ebooks for $9.99 per month.

Amazon loves its subscription business models, so it’s no surprise that the company might be testing an unlimited ebook plan.

The so-called “Kindle Unlimited” plan would reportedly cost $9.99 per month. It was first noticed by users on a Kindle forum, and then by GigaOM. Amazon has since wiped most the evidence from its site, but you can still see some of the test pages on Amazon’s site and on Google Cache.

While Amazon already offers ebook rentals as part of Amazon Prime, users can only take out one book per month, and can only read those books on Amazon devices such as Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets. Kindle Unlimited would apparently be available on all devices–including iPads and Android tablets–and would have no reading limits.

Unfortunately, none of the major book publishers seem to be participating, as GigaOM points out. Though there are some smaller publishers on board, many of the titles come from Amazon’s own publishing arm.

Still, some publishers are warming to the idea of ebook subscriptions, with Scribd and Oyster offering all-you-can-read books from HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. If Amazon can offer a similar service that integrates with users’ existing Kindle libraries, it could be a hit that shakes up the way people pay for ebooks. But maybe giving more power to Amazon is what publishers are worried about.

TIME How-To

10 Tips to Keep Your Digital Photos Organized

digital photos
Getty Images

Over the years, your photo collection will swell to the tens of thousands, you’ll migrate from one computer to another, you’ll go through several different cameras and industry formats will change.

Fortunately, organizing your digital photos has become easier and easier, thanks to new automation tools. But you still need to pitch in.

Follow these tips to keep track of your memories through all the changes.

1) Set your camera to the correct date and time

This simple step will permanently tag every photo with the correct date, allowing you to search and sort chronologically for all posterity. And if you often import other people’s photos to your own library, make sure their cameras are set correctly too!

2) Delete the junkers as soon as you take them

Fight the instinct that says every photo is precious, because in reality, bad photos are just clutter, making it harder to find the good ones. Delete them from the camera. Over your lifetime, you will thank yourself for keeping the collection manageable.

3) Know where your photos go

Put all your pictures in the same folder, such as your PC’s existing “Pictures” folder. One universal folder means that photos will be easy to back up and move to a new PC for years to come. Override any attempts by your camera’s software to store them in a proprietary folder on your drive.

4) Use a sub-foldering system

Within your “Pictures” folder, organize your photos into sub-folders that will make sense over the long-term. A common method is by year – 2010, 2011, etc., and inside those, more sub-folders by month, topic (Little League) and event (vacation). Or, rely on tags instead for organizing by that sub-level of detail, as explained below.

5) Back up your photos

Make sure your photos are stored in at least two locations, such as your own PC and an external drive. External drives are relatively inexpensive now. For added safety in case of fire or theft, also store photos at a reputable online photo site, such as Shutterfly, SmugMug, or Flickr, or an online backup service, such as Dropbox or Carbonite.

6) Give star ratings to your best photos

Each time you import photos from your camera, give star ratings to the best photos in each batch. Most image management packages use a five-star system. These let you quickly find your best photos in the future.

7) Use image management software to tag and find photos

Excellent image management software is downloadable for free, such as Google’s Picasa or Microsoft’s Windows Live Photo Gallery; Apple’s iPhoto comes pre-installed on Macs. These help you navigate your collection easily. You can further hone your searching with “tags,” which are keywords you apply in the software to photos, such as “Summer Vacation.” Most tags will stay with the image and remain searchable, regardless of which brand of software you’re using, thanks to emerging industry standards. Image management software is your gateway to helpful tools like face recognition, geo-tagging and more.

8) Make use of people tags

Facial recognition is a breakthrough technology included free with the image management software mentioned. It uses advanced intelligence to find faces in photos and guess who the people are—an incredible time saver. No need to manually tag every person in all your photos, and searching your archive to find someone’s photo is now a snap.

9) Print an annual photo book

Search on your star ratings to instantly call up your best shots of the year, and choose a service such as Blurb, Shutterfly, or Snapfish to print them in an annual photo book. Regardless of what happens to digital standards over the decades, the printed photo book will always be viewable by anyone, anytime.

10) Form good habits

Just like brushing your teeth or doing the laundry on a schedule, photos require basic maintenance habits. Getting in the habit means having access to all your photos in the coming years.

This article was written by Kristy Holch and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Software

BlackBerry Has a Virtual Assistant Now

BlackBerry Assistant
The BlackBerry Assistant app is meant to compete with Apple's Siri, Google Now and Microsoft's Cortana virtual assistants BlackBerry

Because you can't have a modern smartphone platform without advanced voice commands.

BlackBerry is still fighting for survival as a mobile phone maker, and its latest move is to add a virtual assistant on par with Apple’s Siri, Google Now and Windows Phone’s Cortana.

Newer BlackBerry phones already support voice commands, but the BlackBerry Assistant sounds more advanced. Users can set reminders, launch apps, send BBM messages, search through e-mail and calendars, listen to recent e-mails, set the ringer to “phone calls only” and find out what’s happening on Twitter. All of these actions happen within the app, which apparently adapts to the user’s behavior and becomes more accurate over time.

While it doesn’t sound like a major departure from virtual assistants on other platforms, the ability to use more than just a rigid set of voice commands has become table stakes on mobile devices. BlackBerry needs this kind of feature if it wants to hang onto its mobile device business.

BlackBerry Assistant will be part of the company’s BlackBerry 10.3 software. While there’s no word on when BlackBerry 10.3 will launch, it will be built into the BlackBerry Passport–a phone with a square screen and physical keyboard–when it arrives in September.

TIME technology

Here Are the Other Companies Comcast Is Gobbling Up

Comcast Headquarters
The Comcast Center, which is Comcast's Corporate headquarters, is seen in Philadelphia, Penn. William Thomas Cain—Getty Images

Recent tech acquisitions put the cable giant in a position to dominate the digital video market and expand its broadband reach

While federal regulators, Congress, and most of K Street have been focused on Comcast’s massive, $45-billion proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, Comcast has been busy snapping up smaller fare.

In the last four months, Comcast has acquired two new tech companies, PowerCloud Systems and FreeWheel Media, both of which will help the cable giant touch nearly every aspect of how we use broadband Internet in our homes and offices, and especially how we watch video online.

But while Comcast has celebrated its newest acquisitions, its competitors, as well as a handful of consumer interest groups, are bracing themselves for the worst. Comcast, which owns NBC-Universal and is already the biggest pay-TV and broadband provider in the country, will likely use these new technologies to increase its dominance in both the broadband and online video markets.

PowerCloud, which Comcast acquired on Monday, has designed new technology to help people to monitor and control how broadband Internet is consumed in their homes and offices. The company’s consumer-facing app, SkyDog, keeps track of which computers or devices are accessing the Internet, what sites they’re visiting, when, and what their bandwidth use is at different times of day.

FreeWheel, which Comcast acquired in April, is an online advertising company dedicated to placing ads in most of the biggest media conglomerates’ videos and TV shows streamed online.

Both PowerCloud and FreeWheel, while they do very different things, put Comcast in a position to take advantage of two major—and majorly lucrative—trends in the industry. The first is what’s known as the “Internet of Things.” As Internet-connected appliances—like thermostats, lighting systems, refrigerators and coffee makers—begin to proliferate in our homes, PowerCloud’s technology could be used to prioritize certain devices at certain times of day. Meanwhile, FreeWheel could, say, place coffee ads on a coffee maker just when it senses that you’re running low on beans.

The second—and even more immediate—trend is that Americans are in the process of shifting, en masse, from watching shows on their TV sets to watching them a variety of digital devices, like smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Online video consumption grew by 71% in the U.S. between 2012 and 2013, according to Nielsen. FreeWheel, which is among the biggest mobile-advertising firms in the country, is poised to do well in that market, which has grown by 83% since last year, according to eMarketer, a market research firm.

Rival media and cable companies, meanwhile, are worried that Comcast’s acquisitions give an enormously powerful company even more power. For example, FreeWheel’s client base includes most of Comcast’s biggest competitors in the broadcast and pay-TV space, including Viacom, 21st Century Fox, Time Warner, and Walt Disney. Comcast’s rivals worry that it could use FreeWheel to access a host of valuable metrics about its competition, including what demographics are viewing which of their shows, when people are watching, and how much they are being paid for ad placement.

Comcast representatives have brushed aside such concerns. “FreeWheel operates as an independent business and continues to support the needs of its broad customer base of programmers and distributors,” said Rob Holmes, a vice president of advanced advertising at Comcast. “Our goal is to accelerate their business—in fact, they’ve already added new customers this year—so it’s in our best interest to respect client data and ensure FreeWheel maintains its autonomy.”

Media executives, for their part, have mostly remained pretty quiet, griping to reporters only anonymously. Some say they are worried about publicly complaining about Comcast’s recent acquisition because survival in the pay TV space requires working closely with Comcast. After all, Viacom, 21st Century Fox, and all the rest rely on Comcast, which is by far the biggest distribution network in the country, to pay billions in retransmission fees and to deliver networks’ TV content to tens of millions of consumers’ homes.

As for Comcast’s more recent acquisition of PowerCloud, some public interest advocates have expressed concerns about how the company will use that new technology. Comcast has said it’s too early to tell exactly how it will be implemented. A company representative said one plan is to use the technology to give consumers better parental controls, so that parents keep their child from accessing certain digital content. But critics say Comcast could use that technology, as well as strategic pricing, to control how consumers access different content on different devices. The company could, for example, make it easy, convenient and cheap for subscribers to watch certain, Comcast-approved content on all their devices, while making it inconvenient—or simply more expensive—to watch non-Comcast-approved content.

As part of its merger with NBC-Universal in 2011, Comcast promised to abide by now-defunct rules governing “net neutrality”—the notion that a broadband provider must treat all content equally—through 2018. But in today’s policy and technological climate, it’s unclear what that means. In April, the Federal Communications Commission proposed new rules on net neutrality specifying that broadband Internet providers, like Comcast, would be allowed to accept payments to “prioritize” some websites’ content over others, and to stream certain videos faster than others.

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