Crowdfunded Nanoloop synth doesn't need a Game Boy to make beats


Nanoloop

Nanoloop has been a cornerstone of chiptune music for years, but using one has meant either owning a Game Boy or making do with a mobile app. You won’t have to make those compromises for much longer. Developer Oliver Wittchow and crew are crowdfunding a dedicated, handheld version of the music-generating wunderkind. You’ll still have a gamepad-like interface, four-channel synth and 4×4 matrix sequencer, just in a form factor that frees up your other gadgets.

This version replaces on-screen visuals with LEDs, and runs on either a pair of AAA batteries (for 50-plus hours) or a micro USB connection. A microSD slot is available to help you store your projects, and 3.5mm inputs and outputs help it sync with MIDI gear in addition to analog fare.

The project has already met its funding targets, but you can still pledge €97 (about $111) to the campaign if you want a Nanoloop. It’s poised to ship in August. That may seem like a lot, but it’s a small outlay if you’re committed to your craft.

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Crowdfunded Nanoloop synth doesn't need a Game Boy to make beats


Nanoloop

Nanoloop has been a cornerstone of chiptune music for years, but using one has meant either owning a Game Boy or making do with a mobile app. You won’t have to make those compromises for much longer. Developer Oliver Wittchow and crew are crowdfunding a dedicated, handheld version of the music-generating wunderkind. You’ll still have a gamepad-like interface, four-channel synth and 4×4 matrix sequencer, just in a form factor that frees up your other gadgets.

This version replaces on-screen visuals with LEDs, and runs on either a pair of AAA batteries (for 50-plus hours) or a micro USB connection. A microSD slot is available to help you store your projects, and 3.5mm inputs and outputs help it sync with MIDI gear in addition to analog fare.

The project has already met its funding targets, but you can still pledge €97 (about $111) to the campaign if you want a Nanoloop. It’s poised to ship in August. That may seem like a lot, but it’s a small outlay if you’re committed to your craft.

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Postmates cuts its delivery fee if you join a group order


Postmates

A new feature from Postmates lets people who live close to each other score free food delivery. The popular food delivery app’s new “Party” feature groups together restaurant orders from customers who live in the same neighborhood. Hungry patrons can choose from a selection of trending restaurants that appear under the “Postmates Party” tab. They then have five minutes to join the “party” by completing an order at one of the select restaurants.

Postmate’s delivery fee ranges from $3.99 to $5.99, so omitting it could be a powerful driver for those who see the surcharge as a wasteful expense. Drivers with multiple orders could mean longer waits, but some may see the savings as worth the inconvenience. It’s unclear how omitting the delivery fee will impact Postmate drivers. Postmate drivers get paid based on a formula that takes into account the number of pick-ups and drop-offs they complete, the miles they drive, waiting time, and any tips they earn.

Postmate’s Party feature is similar to the Uber Eats Pool feature that debuted back in December. It allows Uber Eats customers to share a courier in exchange for $2 off of their order (or in some cases, free delivery.)

Postmates is only launching the Party feature in a select number of major cities. For now, you can use the Party feature in Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Seattle, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Phoenix, San Diego, Orange County and Philadelphia.

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Intel hopes to clean up toxic speech in game chat with AI and machine learning

Anyone who has ventured into online gaming knows text chat can approach nuclear-waste-levels of toxicity. But what happens when it all shifts to voice-based chat in the future? Intel says it can help. Or at least, it hopes it can.

The company said on Wednesday night it’s working with Spirit AI on ways to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to reduce the acidic speech gamers often fall back on during intense gaming sessions. Spirit AI already has a machine-based tool developers can use to help monitor forums and online chat. Intel wants to help extend the tools to the voice-based chat that’s increasingly used in gaming.

Neither company announced any firm plans on when it could be implemented. Based on the presentation PCWorld attended, it appears to be years away.

Intel said it can see the technology implemented in the cloud as well as on the client PC, phone, or console platforms down the road, once algorithms are trained up. It would ultimately be up to each game developer to use the technology.

img 20190320 095114 Gordon Mah Ung

Intel hopes to use AI and machine learning to help reduce the acidic speech in games.

Intel officials acknowledged the extreme difficulty of this lofty goal. In-game voice chat is part of an audio soup that includes effects, music, and multiple people speaking simultaneously. Add in poor sound quality, and it seems like an impossible mission.

That doesn’t even factor in larger concerns some are likely to have over how “conversations” are determined to contain hateful or abusive language, and whether such tools might feel Orwellian to some, or overstep the boundaries of free speech.

Intel officials did note that those decisions would be up to the developer. Many recognize that clamping down too hard could lead to backlash. However, because most games are played on private platforms, not open public forums, expectations of privacy or free speech would largely not apply.

While the technology might one day reach a capability where it can determine real-time that someone needs to be muted for abusing other players or making sales pitches, Intel said it would expect human interaction to be used first.

Rather than, say, a real-time bleeping of a player who bleeped too bleeping much, the chat conversation could be recorded and flagged for review by a person who would ultimately decide whether the ban hammer should fall.

Gaming platforms where the players are mostly children might be policed as well.

Either way, it’s an intriguing idea that could make gaming and chat less threatening—or less fun. 

img 20190320 094929 Gordon Mah Ung

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Intel promises 9th-gen mobile Core processors will arrive 'very, very soon'

Intel confirmed Wednesday that a mobile version of its 9th-gen H-series Core chips will  debut during the second quarter—and probably on the early side of that time window.

Frederik Hamberger, the general manager of premium and gaming notebook segments at Intel, said Wednesday that Intel would be coming out with a new 9th-gen mobile Core part “very, very soon,” accompanied by customer laptops. H-series chips are sold into premium and gaming notebooks, and generally represent the most power-hungry and least power-efficient chips in Intel’s lineup. For our analysis of how the 8th-generation Core chips top the 7th-gen mobile Cores, you can take a look at our earlier story.

Intel has said previously that its 9th-gen mobile Core chips would debut during the second quarter, a relatively small detail in a CES 2019 presentation whose purpose was to introduce its “Ice Lake” architecture and provide a stable roadmap to its troubled 10nm manufacturing node. However, until now Intel hasn’t confirmed the existence of an H-series 9th-gen mobile part, though H parts have appeared on the 7th- and 8th-gen mobile series. If history holds, we should see Intel’s new 9th-gen mobile Core chips by the first week in April.

Intel’s 9th-gen mobile parts are based on the older 14nm Coffee Lake architecture, an Intel spokeswoman confirmed, including the Core i9 variant. If nothing else, the transition to the 9th-gen mobile chips will help put to rest the confusion associated with the 8th-gen Core, which included multiple iterations of Coffee Lake and Kaby Lake chips. There’s been a steady increase of cores across successive Intel Core families, however, from four cores in the 7th-gen mobile H-series parts to six cores in the 8th-gen H-series parts. If the trend continues, the 9th-gen Core mobile chips may contain eight cores and probably 16 threads as well.

Intel Spirit AI Mark Hachman / IDG

Intel worked with Spirit AI to analyze comments made orally within multiplayer games, then analyzed them for offensive content.

Hamberger added that one of the goals with the new 9th-gen mobile products is longer battery life. Gamers may indeed use a gaming notebook to game—which you still can’t do for long on battery power—but the most frequent use of a laptop is still web browsing. In total, Intel’s goal this time around is to give gamers a “more rounded experience,” he said.

As Intel has done in the past, it’s leaning heavily on its high-speed Wi-Fi technology, which it calls Gig+, or specifically its Wi-Fi 6 AX200 chip. (Intel didn’t say much about 5G, the basis for what other laptop makers have called Always Connected PCs.) Intel’s new 9th-gen platforms will also tie themselves to Optane, the 3D XPoint technology Intel and Micron developed before the partnership dissolved

What this means to you: Intel’s briefing Wednesday at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco was primarily meant to seed enthusiasm for the discrete graphics processor it plans to launch in 2020. (Intel also launched a new update to its graphics utility, called the Intel Graphics Command Center, which we’ve covered separately, and announced a partnership with Spirit AI to use speech detection to weed out toxic voice comments that are spoken in multiplayer games.) With new mobile 9th-gen Core chips clearly on the way, you can add a fresh wave of gaming laptops to the list of things we expect in the coming months. 

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