Snap reportedly buys its very own 3D game engine

Snapchat’s parent company has bought a web-based 3D game engine startup out of the UK, Business Insider (paywalled) reports.

PlayCanvas is a development tool focused on letting people easily design rich 3D environments. Unlike products from companies like Unity and Epic Games, PlayCanvas’s game engine was entirely browser-based and was optimized to run on low-power devices. The focus of the WebGL engine stretches from configuring 3D models to running entire games.

The small London-based company was founded in 2011 and raised just $590,000 in seed funding from investors including the Microsoft Accelerator and DC Thomson Ventures according to Crunchbase. We don’t know how much the deal went for.

While many of Snap’s recent acquisitions have focused on bolstering consumer-facing features, PlayCanvas seems to be focused squarely on developers. read more

Mac mini 2018: what we want to see

It’s been almost four years since we last saw a major update to the Mac mini, and while some people have taken Apple’s silence to mean we won’t ever see a follow up, we still hope that we could indeed see a new Mac mini in 2018.

The fact that a new Mac mini was not released in 2017 disappointed many people, but Apple CEO Tim Cook himself has reiterated Apple’s support of the Mac mini, so there’s hope we’ll see it this year.

While we don’t have any official indication of when – or even if – a Mac mini 2018 is coming from Apple, there has been a seemingly never-ending wave of rumors surrounding it. These include everything from the addition of a separate processor for ‘Hey Siri’ commands to the integration of iOS apps through some unbeknownst wizardry.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? A new version of Apple’s compact Mac
  • When is it out? As early as March 2018?
  • What will it cost? Hopefully around the price of previous models

Mac mini 2018

Mac mini 2018 release date

As with other upcoming Apple products, we haven’t got a solid release date for the Mac mini 2018. Rumors have been thin on the ground as well, so we’re going to have to use a bit of speculation when it read more

Proposed law would insist on work-life balance for New Yorkers

The New York Times notes that the average New Yorker works more than 49 hours per week, which is longer than those in other large cities across the US. In addition, the Times reports that workers spend an extra eight hours per week managing email after work, according to a 2017 survey.

The new bill won’t make it illegal to ask employees to check email or other electronic communications after work hours, but would allow employees to ignore such missives with no threat of retaliation. “This bill would make it unlawful for private employees in the city of New York to require employees to check and respond to email and other electronic communications during non-work hours,” says the bill’s abstract. The law would apply to any business with 10 or more employees doing business in the municipality. If it passes, other cities could potentially look at similar legislation, freeing us all up from having to stay connected, even after the workday is over.

social read more

Drew Houston on wooing Dropbox’s IPO investors: ‘We don’t fit neatly into any one mold’

Dropbox went public this morning to great fanfare, with the stock shooting up more than 40% in the initial moments of trading as the enterprise-slash-consumer company looked to convince investors that it could be a viable publicly-traded company.

And for one that Steve Jobs famously called a feature, and not a company, it certainly was an uphill battle to convince the world that it was worth even the $10 billion its last private financing round set. It’s now worth more than that, but that follows a long series of events, including an increased focus on enterprise customers and finding ways to make its business more efficient — like installing their own infrastructure. Dropbox CEO Drew Houston acknowledged a lot of this, as well as the fact that it’s going to continue to face the challenge of ensuring that its users and enterprises will trust Dropbox with some of their most sensitive files.

We spoke with Houston on the day of the IPO to talk a little bit about what it took to get read more

Spending Bill Gives Green Energy Its R&D Budget—But That’s Not All It Needs

Computers and iPhones don’t go to heaven. Instead, 80 percent of US electronic waste ends up in landfills or incineration furnaces. Materials scientist Victoria Chernow thinks that science will be able to change that. She says there might be a way to salvage the more than five pounds of gold, nearly 2,000 pounds of copper, and 55 pounds of silver hidden in a haul of 100,000 smart phones—using microbes. Basically, synthetic probiotics that act as tiny garbage collectors.

Chernow is a fellow at the Advanced Research Projects-Energy, an agency created by the Bush administration in 2007 that got its inaugural $400 million budget during the stimulus package in 2009. Its mission is to incubate disruptive energy technologies—like Darpa, but for energy instead of the military. President Trump’s proposed budgets for 2018 defunded ARPA-E. But in the spending bill Trump signed on Friday afternoon, ARPA-E got a budget bump, up to $353.3 million up from $306 million in 2017.

Which read more

Elon Musk deletes Facebook pages he didn't even know he had

Elon Musk has jumped on the #deletefacebook train, deleting the pages for SpaceX and Tesla from the disgraced social media site and erasing their millions-strong followings. In case you've been living in seclusion for the last week or so, Facebook has found itself embroiled in a scandal involving a …
social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit

A ‘Warhammer’ AR fantasy card game is coming to PC this year

Gamers may know Games Workshop’s popular tabletop game Warhammer: Age of Sigmar (the fantasy counterpart to Warhammer 40,000) is getting its own card game for PC later this year — and it’ll benefit from augmented reality. Warhammer: Age of Sigmar Champions, as it’s called, includes physical cards, a digital game and an augmented reality engine to animate the former.

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #engadget

The web will soon be a little safer with the approval of this new security standard

Hear that? It’s almost as if thousands of spooks and hackers suddenly cried out at once… The Internet Engineers Task Force has just unanimously approved a security framework that will make encrypted connections on the web faster and more resistant to snooping.

It’s called Transport Layer Security version 1.3, and while it’s not a big flashy event, it very much is the kind of iterative improvement that keeps the web working in the face of malicious actors everywhere. The IETF is a body of engineers from all over the world who collaborate on standards like this — and their approval of TLS 1.3 has been long in coming, more than four years and 28 drafts.

That’s because the internet is a delicate machine and changes to its fundamental parts — such as how a client and server establish a secure, encrypted connection — must be made very, very carefully.

Without going too deep into the technical details (I’d be lost if I tried), TLS 1.3 makes a few prominent changes that should read more