Telltale's 'The Walking Dead' delivers its final episode next week

The final season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series will come to an end next week, when the fourth and last episode is released by TWD creator Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Games. When Telltale Games virtually shut down and laid off everyone working on the project any release of the game’s finale seemed in doubt, but then Skybound announced plans to complete the series with participation from “many of the talented, passionate team members” who originally worked on it.

For players, they’ll be able to end Clementine’s story leading a community of lost children fighting through a world infested with zombies. After years of following along it will hopefully be a satisfying ending, despite everything that transpired at the game’s studio and its impact on developers. There’s a brief trailer that shouldn’t give away too much about the story, but you can play it yourself on March 26th when its released on Xbox One, PS4, Switch and on PC via the Epic Games Store.

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New Zealand's silver fern redrawn as Muslims praying gets plenty of online attention

Pat Campbell's reimagined Silver Fern has gathered plenty of plaudits.
Pat Campbell’s reimagined Silver Fern has gathered plenty of plaudits.
Image: The Canberra Times/Pat Campbell

In the aftermath of the Christchurch terror attack, a reimagined version of a famous New Zealand symbol has garnered plenty of online attention.

Australian cartoonist Pat Campbell, who works for newspaper The Canberra Times, drew an illustration of the silver fern showing Muslims in different stages of prayer for the publication.

Campbell first drew the image on Saturday morning, which instead of fern fronds, depicted 49 figures to represent the people who died in the attack. 

On Tuesday he added another figure to the illustration, to mark the death toll rising to 50.

The silver fern is often used to represent New Zealand, and is often used to represent the country’s sporting teams like the All Blacks national rugby team.

Campbell’s version found itself quickly spread around the internet, amassing tens of thousands of shares.

Campbell told Mashable that he “honestly didn’t expect it to be shared as much as it has.”

“It’s a bitter-sweet thing for me,” he said. “I’m happy to step back from the image and let it have a life of its own. Different people draw different meaning from the image and I’m happy to hear what they derive from it.

“I’ve had many positive messages and I’m touched that people are getting solace and a sense of solidarity from it. I hope that carries on to those in Christchurch who need it.”

Campbell’s illustration is one of a number of art tributes which have been shared widely since the Christchurch attack. 

Wellington artist Ruby Jones drew an image of two women embracing, captioned with the words: “This is your home and you should have been safe here.”

Auckland mural artist Paul Walsh unveiled a painting which features the image of Naeem Rashid, who attempted to stop the shooter in the attack.

Rashid will receive a national bravery award in Pakistan for his actions, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in a tweet on Sunday.

[h/t BuzzFeed]

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HQ's Scott Rogowsky races master painter Bob Ross — The Bob Ross Challenge

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The Quizmaster Scott Rogowsky puts his knowledge of oil panting to the test. Read more…

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Textiles become circuits in 'The Embroidered Computer'

Google and others have developed smart clothing with built-in integrated circuits, but what if the textile itself formed the circuit? That’s the idea behind The Embroidered Computer, an interactive installation from artist and researcher Irene Posch and designer/artist Ebru Kurbak , shown at this year’s Instanbul Design Biennial.

It’s a working 8-bit electromechanical computer made from gold, linen, hematite, wood, silver and copper that functions equally as a decorative textile. As Posch notes on her website, the piece explores “the appearance of current digital and electronic technologies surrounding us, as well as our interaction with them.” At the same exhibition, the artists also showed off The Yarn Recorder, a device that can record and playback sounds using steel-cored yarn.

The Embroidered Computer

The Embroidered Computer has flippable relays like those used in mainframes before semiconductors came along. While they’re not nearly as fast, you have to admit that they look a lot cooler in operation (above).

The dominant material is gold, used for its highly conductive properties, arranged in patterns to form the logic of a simple 8-bit computer. “Traditionally purely decorative, their pattern here defines the function,” the artists wrote. “They lay bare core digital routines usually hidden in black boxes. Users are invited to interact with the piece in programming the textile to computer for them.”

While the artwork brings the hidden beauty of programmed circuits front and center, it also makes a normally decorative object functional. The piece imagines a timeline where computers were developed by artisans, rather than engineers, using ancient methods and skills. “Through its mere existence, it evokes one of the many imaginable alternative histories of computing technology and stories of plausible alternatives to our present daily lives,” said Kurbak and Posch.

It’s an ironic inversion, because the Jacquard Loom, which was invented in 1804, used a crude electromechanical computer powered by punch-cards to weave complex patterns. That in turn inspired Charles Babbage in his creation of the Analytical Engine, essentially the first general-purpose computer. “The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns, just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves,” said Babbage’s contemporary and computing pioneer Ada Lovelace.

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Wearing headphones at a concert isn’t as weird as I thought it would be

One of the worst concerts I’ve ever attended in my life — in terms of pure sound quality — was at Barclays Center. I get that arena shows are never going to be known for their top-notch acoustics, but the concrete cavern that the Brooklyn Nets call home is particularly bad. It’s why I chose it as the venue to see Elton John and test out Peex Live, a service that promises to deliver an ideal music experience no matter how bad your seats (or sound engineer) are.

There’s a catch though: You have to wear headphones at a concert. That’s about the most unintuitive thing I’ve ever heard of.

Gallery: Peex rX | 4 Photos

Skepticism aside, the tech behind Peex is interesting. There are two main pieces of the puzzle. First, Peex takes a raw audio feed from the stage and mixes it down at its own dedicated console (separate from the house mix). Here the audio is split into individual tracks — in the case of the Elton John concert, it was broken down into percussion, bass, keyboards, guitar and Elton (vocals and piano).

That audio is then beamed out to the audience using the 5GHz band. Obviously this means there’s potential for interference from things like WiFi, but Peex says it works with venues to clear up the necessary channels. Plus, since information is only flowing in one direction, bandwidth is less of an issue. It’s more like a radio broadcast than WiFi.

The Peex rX

The second part of the equation is a small puck you wear around your neck called the rX. The rX is what receives the audio, pushes it out through a pair of headphones and talks to an app on your phone via Bluetooth.

On the front of the puck is a small hole for a microphone, which is used to pick up the sound coming from the stage in order to sync the feed in the headphones. Physics means the audio data actually reaches the rX before the sound coming from the speakers hits you. We’re talking a few hundred milliseconds at most, but it’s enough that it would be extremely irritating if it were pumped into your headphones live. So the mic is an absolutely essential part of the setup here. This is also why the headphones connect directly to the puck using a 3.5mm headphone jack. (Remember those?) If the feed went through your phone first or even over Bluetooth, it would introduce too much latency and the Peex would never be able to sync up the audio.

The mobile app’s primary purpose is to allow you to customize your mix. You can turn each of the five tracks of audio up or down, or even solo them. This is great if the house engineer doesn’t have the guitars turned up loud enough for you or if the bass is getting lost up in the nosebleeds. It could even potentially save the show if the engineer is having a really off night. If you’ve knocked things out of whack, it’s easy enough to slide the virtual faders back to the middle position, though a “restore default” button would be handy.

Gallery: Peex Live App | 8 Photos

All of this is, objectively, pretty neat.

But what matters is the experience of using it at a concert, and I have to say that despite my skepticism, I was pretty impressed. For one, there is absolutely zero latency. The audio was synced up perfectly the entire time, no matter where I was positioned in Barclays: Mid level directly opposite the stage, upper level to the side, down on the floor, even behind the stage, I encountered zero hiccups. I only ever lost signal when I wandered out into the halls to change locations. The mixer app is clean and functional, though it did crash on me in the middle of “Rocket Man,” forcing me to pair with the rX again, which can take some time.

Now, I’m not gonna lie: It was definitely weird to be wearing headphones at a concert. And I’m not sure I’d ever get used to it. But it wasn’t as isolating or strange as I feared. The earbuds Peex hands out are designed to let in a decent amount of ambient noise. You can in theory connect any wired headphones you want to the rX, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it. I brought two pairs of headphones with me — a pair of Sony MDR-7506 studio monitors and a set of Sennheiser CX300 II earbuds — but I ended up leaving them in my bag. The over-ear Sonys simply would have removed me too much from the concert atmosphere, and the Sennheiser buds wouldn’t have delivered a much different experience than the Peex pack-ins.

See, the balance of ambient noise and headphone audio is key to the success here. Directly opposite the stage, with the mixer tracks all set to about halfway, the effect of the Peex was subtle but noticeable. It was able to add some definition to the bass frequencies, which get muddy pretty quickly the further you are from the stage. (Not to mention that reflections off the walls and jumbotron only make things worse.) And it did so without making me feel like I was just listening to music on headphones — I still felt like I was seeing a live band.

The same was true in the cheap seats on the side of the stage. This is where I suffered through Television, the Unicorns, Dan Deacon and Arcade Fire (all bands that I love) five years ago. The sound at that show was what you might expect out of a middle school auditorium… if you were out in the hallway. Now, to be clear, the audio was much better at Elton John, even without the Peex. But it still helped clean up some of the reflections that are unavoidable when you’re right up against a concrete wall.

Things started to fall apart slightly when I got to the extreme ends of the spectrum. Behind the stage, where I was staring at the back of a giant video screen with no speakers facing me, the illusion was shattered. Here it was obvious that I was listening to music on headphones. As the quality of the sound in the arena got worse, the disparity with what was coming through the Peex became clearer. And suddenly it felt like I might as well be listening to a live album at home. To be fair, though, there were no seats behind the stage at the Elton John show, nor are there at most concerts. This was purely for demonstration purposes.

Farewell Yellow Brick Road

Down on the floor, it was a similar story. Having one of the best seats in the house means enjoying some of the best sound in the house too. Frankly here, there wasn’t much need for the Peex. And in a crowd of people dancing and singing along to “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” wearing headphones did feel a little isolating. (I’ll admit that I took them out here.)

There is still one big unanswered question right now, though, and that’s how much the Peex will cost to rent at a show. Whether or not it succeeds will depend on where the company lands with pricing. If it’s not any cheaper than simply springing for a better seat, then it’s hard to see a lot of people opting to rent headphones at a show. The company is going to have to figure it out soon. While the Peex is currently limited to VIPs and press, the company plans to start opening up to more people at more venues. (Though it was a little vague about when exactly.)

Perhaps its best chance of success, though, is with outdoor festivals. Anyone who has attended Rock the Bells or Bonnaroo can tell you that sound at these giant events is generally atrocious. And since often tickets are general admission, there isn’t the lure of buying a better seat to compete with.

It still might take you out of the moment to pop in a pair of earbuds while you’re jostling for position at Randall’s Island or Union Park. But if your number one priority at a concert is sound quality, then it might be worth the trade-off.

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