Arduboy Business Card Plays Tetris, Might Be for Sale - TIME
TIME Gadgets

Business Card Plays Tetris, Might Be for Sale Soon

TAKE MY MONEY!

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The above video showcases a credit card-sized whatsit with a built-in screen, control pad and two buttons. It plays Tetris! If you’re not convinced by now that we’re either at or very near the pinnacle of human ingenuity, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to convince you otherwise and I’m not sure it’s worth your time to keep reading this. We should amicably go our separate ways.

For the rest of you, this project is called Arduboy. It’s about a millimeter and a half thick and apparently packs north of nine hours of battery life. Its creator, Kevin Bates, created the proof-of-concept you see in the above video and has plans to roll out a Kickstarter campaign to sell these things, complete with a website where people can share other types of software and games they create for Arduboy.

Bates writes on his site that he wants to use Kickstarter to raise $820 to cover licensing costs. I write here that he’ll probably be able to raise that amount faster than he can clear the first level of Tetris. He’ll also probably have to sell the cards without a game loaded onto them to avoid legal issues, though.

No word on how much a final version would cost, but you can visit Bates’ website to read more about how the project came together, complete with photos of the Qdoba and REI gift cards he used to test some of the early builds.

My business card plays Tetris [YouTube via The Next Web]

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One year. One city. Endless opportunities.

And We Are Not Saved

OK, so can we slow down now on the push to canonize Detroit Public Schools financial manager Robert Bobb?

Since being appointed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm as the emergency financial manager in March 2009 to control the finances of the state's largest school district, red ink is growing, according to district budget documents:

• Instead of a $17 million surplus Bobb projected for this fiscal year, spending has increased so much Bobb is projecting a $98 million deficit for the budget year that ends June 30.

• Added to the $219 million deficit accumulated from previous years, Bobb anticipates posting a $317 million deficit by this summer -- the largest year-end deficit ever recorded for the district.

Don't get me wrong. I think Bobb's a smart guy. And I appreciate that he has a bear of a job on his hands trying to right the school system's listing fiscal ship, a job that no one thinks he'll complete overnight.

Even so, from the moment he arrived, far too many (especially in the media) have sought to portray the man as everything from a superhero to a saint to the single-handed savior of our struggling school system.

To be honest, I've never understood why he's gotten such a pass. Sure, he's talked tough. And, yes, he's fired some folks and made public examples of others. And I'll admit, Bobb can give a great press conference and keynote speech.

But given the worsening budget outlook of the schools -- on his watch -- how does any of this amount to anything more than the smoke and mirrors of bureaucracy theater? And why is his brand of theater any more acceptable than the slapstick comedy that too often has been the elected Detroit school board? Because it looks cooler and sounds tougher? (I prefer Dirty Harry to the Keystone Kops, too, but neither is going to solve an actual crime.)

Detroiters, though, we love that emotional rush that comes when a new bureaucrat rides into town swearing that things are going to be different on his watch. And from day one, Bobb has played to that craving quite well. He's slapped up the petty thieves and been quick with the pink slips. He has held forth about openness and accountability, and has been quick to bring some folks into public hearings to discuss misdeeds.

But on the flip side, he's also had to turn around and re-hire many of those he canned because, well, it turns out that DPS actually does need them. And while he's been relentless in his insistence that the little people stand before his public hearings, he's been far more forgiving of the powerful (like when he backed off of asking a very influential real-estate firm to talk publicly about questionable deals it did with DPS).

Most importantly, the emergency financial manager still ain't saved a dime.

Several months ago, he promised a multi-million-dollar surplus. Then it came out last fall that he had added $21 million to the deficit. Then last month, the Wife (who broke the news about the $21 million, BTW) reported that the district was so short on cash that it couldn't even make payroll. Now, Bobb essentially just says, "Hey, things could've been worse without me."

"My confidence level has never been higher," Bobb said. Asked to grade his financial job performance, Bobb gave himself a "B plus" for efforts such as eliminating millions in inefficiencies that would have driven the deficit to more than $547 million.

He may very well have prevented the shortfall from swelling. But if Bobb believes that adding $100 million to the district's deficit after predicting a $17-million surplus is B-plus work, I can only hope that he's not thinking of applying that same grading scale to our schoolchildren.

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 Arduboy Business Card Plays Tetris, Might Be for Sale - TIME
TIME Gadgets

Business Card Plays Tetris, Might Be for Sale Soon

TAKE MY MONEY!

+ READ ARTICLE

The above video showcases a credit card-sized whatsit with a built-in screen, control pad and two buttons. It plays Tetris! If you’re not convinced by now that we’re either at or very near the pinnacle of human ingenuity, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to convince you otherwise and I’m not sure it’s worth your time to keep reading this. We should amicably go our separate ways.

For the rest of you, this project is called Arduboy. It’s about a millimeter and a half thick and apparently packs north of nine hours of battery life. Its creator, Kevin Bates, created the proof-of-concept you see in the above video and has plans to roll out a Kickstarter campaign to sell these things, complete with a website where people can share other types of software and games they create for Arduboy.

Bates writes on his site that he wants to use Kickstarter to raise $820 to cover licensing costs. I write here that he’ll probably be able to raise that amount faster than he can clear the first level of Tetris. He’ll also probably have to sell the cards without a game loaded onto them to avoid legal issues, though.

No word on how much a final version would cost, but you can visit Bates’ website to read more about how the project came together, complete with photos of the Qdoba and REI gift cards he used to test some of the early builds.

My business card plays Tetris [YouTube via The Next Web]

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 MIT Student Creates Connect Four Playing Robot for Course Final - TIME
TIME technology

This Robot Would Very Much Like to Play a Game of Connect Four With You

Game on

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When the singularity finally hits and artificial intelligence takes over everything, at least we know some of the robots will know how to have a good time — like this Connect Four-playing bot, programmed by MIT student Patrick McCabe.

Users can choose between four levels of difficulty and can even ask for a hint if needed. Head over to McCabe’s website for a detailed breakdown of how the machine works. In the meantime, watch here as the bot beats McCabe in the first round — and even taunts him a little bit before clinching the game.

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