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The Late Movies: SimCity

A new version of SimCity is coming in March 2013. They're not calling it "SimCity 5" -- instead, EA/Maxis is rebooting the franchise, Star Trek-style, and just calling the new game "SimCity" again. This thing looks amazing to me; I've been playing since I was a kid, and this incarnation of the game feels really exciting and fresh (partly because you no longer need to build separate plumbing lines -- roads now handle everything). Here are some clips from the upcoming game, as well as a look back at previous versions.

SimCity Demo

In this nine-minute video, designer Stone Librande builds a casino town, and dumps his city's waste in a pile on the edge of town. Sounds about right.

The Economic Loop

Here's how commercial and industrial buildings interact with workers and the larger economy...which includes the environment. Note that these are definitely not the real graphics -- but it's pretty neat seeing the crazy debug mode developers use.

How Plumbing Works

This short video shows the basics of the water simulation within the new SimCity. The interesting parts to me: no more manual plumbing, limited resources (you deplete the water table), and groundwater contamination is quite easy. A nice balance of realism (water isn't just free forever) and convenience (let it travel down roads).

How Is SimCity Like A Real City?

Joey at Vsauce3 explains how SimCity's previous models of urban density are actually pretty realistic -- though some other elements (like building power plants) take shortcuts. Because, let's face it, going through a decade-long permit process to build a power plant is nobody's idea of fun.

Magnasanti (SimCity 3000)

6 million people in one SimCity, requiring terrifying efficiency. Built by Vincent Ocasla, this is an awe-inspiring city four human years in the making.

SNES SimCity

Here's ten minutes of gameplay on the SNES version of SimCity. The music may soothe you into a deep retro sleep. If you like this, check out this guy's SNES megalopolis with 916,000 citizens. Yes, he used an emulator and a money cheat to make it.

Let's Play SimCity 4

This extremely long play-through demo explains how to work through SimCity 4.

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Somnox, Kickstarter
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technology
This Cuddly Robot Is Designed to Lull You to Sleep
Somnox, Kickstarter
Somnox, Kickstarter

For people seeking all the benefits of a human sleeping companion without the human part, there’s a new Kickstarter-backed product. As Mashable reports, Somnox, the self-proclaimed “world’s first sleep robot,” is designed to give you a more comfortable, energizing night’s rest.

The bean-shaped cushion is the perfect size and shape for cuddling as you drift to sleep. Beneath its soft exterior is hardware designed to get you to deep sleep faster. Somnox rises and falls to mimic the movements of human breathing. Lay with the pillow long enough and the designers claim your breath will naturally sync to its rhythm, thus prepping your body for sleep.

Somnox can also be set to play sounds and music. Some content, like guided mediation, lullabies, and gentle heart beats, come built-in, but you can also upload audio of your own. And you don’t need to worry about shutting it off: Once you've customized its breathing and audio behaviors through the app, the device does what it's programed to do and powers down automatically.

Having a robotic sleep aide will cost you: You need to pledge about $533 to the team’s Kickstarter to reserve one. Even with the steep price tag, the campaign surpassed its funding goal.

[h/t Mashable]

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Big Questions
What Could the Repeal of Net Neutrality Mean for Internet Users?
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What could the repeal of net neutrality mean for the average American internet user?

Zouhair Belkoura:

The imminent repeal of net neutrality could have implications for Americans beyond the Internet’s stratification, increased costs to consumers, and hindered access to content for all. Net neutrality’s repeal is a threat to the Internet’s democracy—the greatest information equalizer of our time.

With net neutrality’s repeal, ISPs could be selective about the content and pricing packages they make available. Portugal is a good example of what a country looks like without net neutrality

What people may not realize is that a repeal of net neutrality would also give ISPs the ability to throttle people’s Internet traffic. Customers won’t likely have visibility into what traffic is being throttled, and it could substantially slow down people’s Internet connections.

What happens when this type of friction is introduced to the system? The Internet—the greatest collective trove of information in the world—could gradually be starved. People who experience slower Internet speeds may get frustrated and stop seeking out their favorite sites. People may also lose the ability to make choices about the content they want to see and the knowledge they seek.

Inflated pricing, less access to knowledge, and slower connections aren’t the only impact a net neutrality repeal might have. People’s personal privacy and corporations’ security may suffer, too. Many people use virtual private networks to protect their privacy. VPNs keep people’s Internet browsing activities invisible to their ISPs and others who may track them. They also help them obscure their location and encrypt online transactions to keep personal data secure. When people have the privacy that VPNs afford, they can access information freely without worrying about being watched, judged, or having their browsing activity bought and sold by third-party advertisers.

Virtual private networks are also a vital tool for businesses that want to keep their company data private and secure. Employees are often required by their employers to connect to a VPN whenever they are offsite and working remotely.

Even the best VPNs can slow down individuals' Internet connections, because they create an encrypted tunnel to protect and secure personal data. If people want to protect their personal privacy or company’s security with a VPN [they] also must contend with ISP throttling; it’s conceivable that net neutrality’s repeal could undermine people’s freedom to protect their online safety. It could also render the protection a VPN offers to individuals and companies obsolete.

Speed has always been a defining characteristic of the Internet’s accessibility and its power. Net neutrality’s repeal promises to subvert this trait. It would compromise both people's and companies’ ability to secure their personal data and keep their browsing and purchasing activities private. When people don’t have privacy, they can’t feel safe. When they don’t feel safe, they can’t live freely. That’s not a world anyone, let alone Americans, want to live in.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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