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This week, the release date for the new Xbox One console is announced and computers try to get creative. But first, I explain what Flixtapes are.

Netflix introduces “Flixtapes” also brings The Force Awakens to Canada

Remember the mixtape? It was the ultimate in personal curation. We picked and ordered songs on a cassette tape as a way to share something about ourselves. It was a way to build themes, send messages, pass on favourites.

Netflix is giving users a chance to do something similar with videos that are available on the streaming service.

Called Flixtapes, these are lists of TV shows and movies that you create based on your own criteria. Pick a name for your Flixtape, add up to 5 titles, crib a cover sheet, and voila.

Share the Flixtape with friends and family, and they can watch the titles in your list.

Here’s a Flixtape that I made.

One of the titles on my list is Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is actually playing on Netflix in Canada right now. And we’re the only country for which Netflix got these early broadcast rights for the newest film in the franchise.

Sometimes it pays to be Canadian.

Fooled you! Computers become creative artists

Earlier this year, computers were put to the test to see how well they can do things that have, until now, been the exclusive domain of humans.

Computer programs were used to assemble DJ sets and to write short stories and poetry.

The Turing Tests in the Creative Arts was an initiative by the Neukom Institute at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of the Turing Test, it was something proposed by Alan Turing, one of the world’s first computer scientists, in his thinking about artificial intelligence.

The Turing Test does not gauge whether a machine is intelligent, but only if it can fool a person into thinking they are communicating with another person.

In that spirit, the competition staged by the clever folks at Neukom asked for computer programs that could replicate the creative efforts of humans.

You can judge for yourself how well machines can do.

There are 10 arrangements of music “you can listen to online“http://bregman.dartmouth.edu/turingtests/DJPoll and try to determine whether they were created by human DJs or algorithms. There’s no answer key provided, sadly, so there’s no way to know how correct you are.

You can also take a quiz on NPR to see if you can tell whether six poems were written by humans or machines.

Apparently, the judges of the poetry competition were not fooled. Were you?

New Xbox hits stores on August 2

The new hardware design for Microsoft’s Xbox One that was revealed at E3 in June is just around the corner.

The launch edtiion Xbox One S, which comes with a 2 TB hard drive, delivers on Tuesday, August 2. Limited quantities of the console will be available for Cdn$500.

Models with smaller hard drives will also be available:
• 1 TB for $450
• 500 GB for $400

The Xbox One S is not only slimmer, but it includes a built-in power supply, it is more energy efficient, and it supports 4K video (but not games).

If you don’t mind waiting until October 7, you can opt for the Gears of War 4 limited edition Xbox One S. For $50 more, you get a console with an amazing paint job, which also comes with a vertical stand and copy of the game and its season pass.

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This week, Pokemon Go takes the world by storm, Samsung previews new high-capacity memory cards, and details on prize packs being given away on CKNW. But first, The Matrix in a single GIF.

The Matrix in a minute

Twitter has been changing things up a bit lately, and the company recently enabled support for larger file sizes for GIFs, from 5 MB to 15 MB.

Which means that you can Tweet longer GIFs than ever before.

Including The Matrix, in abbreviated form.

New tiny memory cards have as much storage space as many laptop computers

Samsung has proven that big things come in small packages. Last week, the electronics company unveiled a new memory card that it hopes will ultimately replace microSD cards.

The UFS cards that were demonstrated by Samsung come in 32 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB, and a whopping 256 GB capacities.

In 256 GB you can store more than 30,000 high quality MP3s or around 100 high-def movies.

The UFS cards are reported to be able to read and write quickly, too, as fast as solid-state hard drives. This would make them ideal for things like photography and videography.

UFS stands for “universal flash storage” and Samsung is lobbying for it to be the new memory card standard to replace SD cards. The company has created a UFS card reader that can also read from microSD cards, which will help with any future transition.

Samsung’s UFS cards aren’t in the world, yet, just in the company’s labs. There is no timeline for release.

Prize packs from Loot Crate and E3

This week, on Drex Live, we’re giving away prize packs with gear from Loot Crate and swag I picked up at E3.

Here’s what’s up for grabs:

  • Robocop t-shirt, Terminator 2 metal decal, Matrix puzzle
  • Lord of the Rings t-shirt, Terminator 2 metal decal, Matrix puzzle
  • Super Mario leggings and socks
  • Injustice 2 t-shirt and Fallout vinyl collectible
  • He Man t-shirt and socks

You’ll have to call in for your chance to win. We’re on air just after 9 p.m. PT on Wednesday, July 13.

Nintendo has a hit in Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go is not the first Nintendo game for smartphones and tablets. That was Miitomo, which was released in the spring, and which has been largely forgotten.

But Mittomo isn’t really a game, either. It’s more of a social network. And we’ve all got enough of those.

Pokemon, though, started out as a video game and is one of the most successful media franchises in history. Done properly, it had the potential to be a mobile gaming hit.

Which is exactly what’s happened.

In the first few days of a limited release, to Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S., demand is so high that the game’s servers are repeatedly crashing. The game was supposed to roll out around the world soon after it was released in the U.S. That plan has been put on hold; we have no idea when the game will officially become available in Canada.

The instant popularity of Pokemon Go resulted in a spike in Nintendo’s share price, boosting the company’s market capitalization by some $7.5 billion.

The game was actually developed by Niantic, which started as a Google project and has become its own company. One of the developer’s first projects was Ingress, which used smartphones and GPS to get players involved in a real-time game that took place in the real world.

That experience spun into Pokemon Go, which has players searching for and capturing the “pocket monsters” in the real world.

Which can lead to some difficulties, as people are too busy looking at their phones and in danger of walking into traffic or being lured by armed robbers.

Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game in which you “see” pokemon in the real world through your smartphone, and can then “capture” them by tossing “Pokeballs”. It’s a simulation of what being a Pokemon trainer would really be like.

Players are compelled to “get them all”. There are 151 creatures available to capture, and they all have particular geographies where they’re likely to be found, and times when they’re likely to be discovered.

It’s got gamers who may otherwise be spending all their time on the couch running around, with many complaining on Twitter of their sore legs.

The game itself is free to download, but includes in-app purchases of PokeCoins, which can be exchanged for things like power ups.

It’s not a new idea. Invizimals, developed for Sony’s PlayStation Portable system in 2009, had the same gameplay. But Nintendo and Niantic have caught fire with the Pokemon franchise

Just wait until Nintendo gets Mario onto your iPhone.

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Talking tech with guest host Shane Foxman last night. That man likes his Blu-rays.

I explained what Amazon Prime is, and why he might be excited about next week’s Prime Day event.

We also talked about the amazing achievement of getting the Juno spacecraft into orbit around Jupiter and the fatal crash involving a Tesla car on Autopilot.

I also mentioned that gamers in the Lower Mainland will be able to get a chance to try PlayStation VR this weekend at the EB Games in Richmond. More PS VR opportunities are coming.

Listen to the conversation

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This week, the spacecraft Juno successfully enters orbit around Jupiter and a Tesla on Autopilot is involved in a fatal crash. But let’s start with a look ahead to Amazon’s Prime Day 2016.

Amazon Prime Day is next Tuesday, July 12

Amazon’s first ever Prime Day was last year. It was successful enough – the company claims that worldwide, 398 items per second were ordered – that the online retailer is running the campaign again.

It’s a one-day shopping bonanza available to anyone with a Prime membership with Amazon. For an annual fee of Cdn$79, Prime members get free, two-day shipping on many items sold at Amazon.ca. If you do any amount of shopping at Amazon, a Prime membership pays for itself in a couple of months.

The Prime Day sales start at 12:01 a.m., Pacific Time, next Tuesday, July 12.

Every hour, new deals are revealed. Quantities are limited, and the time the deal is available is also limited.

Last year there was quite a bit of junky stuff being sold. But there were some deals to be had, too.

Tesla vehicle on Autopilot involved in fatal crash

Tesla Motors has revealed that one of its Model S vehicles was in Autopilot mode when it was involved in a crash that killed its driver.

Autopilot is the name given to the semi-autonomous driving function of the Model S vehicles. It is not fully automatic.

The accident occurred in May in Florida, and involved a tractor trailer which crossed a highway perpendicular to the Model S. Because of the bright sky, the white trailer was not detected by the Autopilot cameras, and the car didn’t stop, continuing underneath the trailer.

Tesla notes that customers are instructed to always be paying attention while Autopilot is activated, as the system is in a “public beta phase” and not perfect.

In a blog post, the company noted that this is the first known fatality where Autopilot was activated in “just over 130 million miles”. The post claims that “among all vehicles in the U.S., there is a fatality every 94 million miles,” and worldwide the number is one fatality in every 60 million miles.

The claim that Tesla vehicles in Autopilot have logged 130 million miles has been questioned.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the Florida accident.

Juno spacecraft enters Jupiter’s orbit

On July 4, NASA’s Juno mission went into a new phase, as the spacecraft attempted “Jupiter Orbit Insertion”.

Juno was moving fast, and needed to slow down or it would just zip past the solar system’s largest planet. To do that, NASA put the spacecraft into a deceleration burn. The plan was to burn for 35 minutes, slowing Juno down enough that it could be caught in Jupiter’s gravity and in an optimal orbit.

The manoeuvre was designed to slip Juno beneath the Jupiter’s radiation belt. Jupiter has an intense radiation field that is hundreds of times greater than anything on Earth. It also has a massive magnetic field, and rings of debris orbiting it.

Juno is on autopilot, so NASA engineers have no control over its flight. So after flying some 1.7 billion miles, over five years, you can just imagine what could have gone wrong.

But Juno was perfect, burning engines for 2,012 seconds, only one second off.

That mission is to get the first ever look at the surface of Jupiter, to map it and to get answers to questions about exactly what the planet is made of and how it’s constructed. Juno will complete 37 orbits in the next 20 months.

I’m embedding two videos here. The first one shows us, for the first time in real time, what it looks like when multiple heavenly bodies orbit a larger body. We’ve only been able to intuit and animate this movement before. And, as was so eloquently put by principal investigator Scott Bolton, the video shows what Galileo saw through his telescope. Which led to everything we knew being changed.

The second video is the trailer put together by NASA that outlines what the Juno Mission is all about.

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