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5 Animals Playing Video Games

To make your Monday complete, I present you with a variety of videos featuring animals playing video games, along with analysis of whether they are good at the games. BEHOLD:

1. Real Lizard Eats Virtual Ants

A bearded dragon plays "Ant Smasher," an Android phone game. He or she is excellent, clearly differentiating between ants and other insects in the game, but seems to do a little unnecessary lip-licking. Best YouTube comment: "Thumbs up? if you are an Ant and you find this offensive."

(Via Kottke.org.)

2. Bonobo Plays Ms. Pac-Man (With Help)

With some encouragement by researcher Susan Savage-Rumbaugh, this bonobo plays Ms. Pac-Man. Skill level: low -- ghost avoidance strategy needs work. (See a bit more of this in Savage-Rumbaugh's excellent TED Talk; a snippet of this Pac-Man video is shown at the very end, minus narration.)

3. Cats Play "Game for Cats" on iPad

Two cats attempt to master an iPad game called, appropriately, Game for Cats (iTunes link -- the game is free). The cats seem generally confused by the notion of a screen, and attempt to go underneath the iPad, with unsatisfactory results. Their claws also keep getting stuck on the carpet; for optimal play, perhaps a carpet isn't a great idea. In general, the cats seem pretty interested in smacking those mice, though their technique isn't optimal.

Related: there's a similar app in which cats "paint" as they stomp on virtual mice (iTunes link; app costs $1.99).

4. Cat Frustrated By Duck Hunt

This poor cat does a great job playing Duck Hunt, but lacks the Nintendo Zapper Light Gun -- so that obnoxious in-game dog keeps popping up and mocking the poor feline's apparent failure. Skill level: excellent. Virtual dog's conduct: unsportsmanlike.

5. Hamster Inhabits Real-World Platformer

While not a video game per se, some industrious hamster owner has put together a diorama version of a platformer game (reminiscent of 8-bit NES games like Super Mario Bros.) and unleashed his hapless hamster into it. The hamster does a pretty good job traversing the maze, but takes a few breaks to do some adorable self-grooming.

Got More?

Leave comments with any videos I missed! (Note: the "dog playing Tony Hawk" you see all over YouTube is fake.)

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Live Smarter
Beware of This New Phishing Scam Targeting Netflix Customers
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iStock

Between binge watching 30 Rock, Louie, and all the other TV shows soon leaving Netflix, keep your eyes peeled for a sneaky phishing scam that’s currently targeting the streaming platform’s customers.

As WGN-TV reports, subscribers have reported receiving fake (yet very official-looking) emails that appear to come from Netflix, informing them that their account has been temporarily disabled due to billing problems. To “reactivate” it, they’re occasionally instructed to update their payment information by clicking on a link that leads them to a fake website. Other times, they’re asked to send these details by email.

For the uninitiated, schemes like these are designed to give hackers direct access to your personal banking details, and can lead to a case of credit card or identity theft. So if you’ve received a billing email that appears to be from Netflix, take the time to vet it to see if it’s legit. Always check who the sender is by hovering your cursor over their email address, and above all, never click on any links that are included in the message's body. (Bad grammar and typos are also a giveaway that some "customer service" emails aren't 100 percent real.)

If the message is, indeed, suspect, log into your Netflix account directly. Then, you'll able to see whether or not the warning was real. If you have fallen victim to the scheme, don’t despair—but do remember to keep a close eye on your bank transactions, change your passwords, and touch base with your bank if anything fishy (or phish-y) occurs.

In the meantime, Netflix has advised members to learn more about keeping their personal info safe against phishing scams by visiting Netflix.com/security, or by contacting customer service directly, according to Good Housekeeping.

[h/t WGN-TV]

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Design
IKEA’s New Augmented Reality App Lets You Test Out Virtual Furniture in Your Home
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IKEA

No matter how much measuring and research you do beforehand, buying a piece of furniture without knowing what it will look like in your home is always a gamble. With its new augmented reality app, IKEA hopes to take some of the guesswork out of the process. IKEA Place features more than 2000 items in the Swedish retailer's inventory, and visualizing them in the space where you live is as easy as tapping a button.

As WIRED reports, IKEA Place is among the first apps to take advantage of Apple's ARKit, an augmented reality platform that debuted as part of iOS 11. iPhone and iPad owners with the latest update can download IKEA's new app for free and start browsing through home goods right away.

To use the tool, you must first select the product you wish to test out, whether it's a loveseat, a kitchen table, or a dresser. Then, with the camera activated, you can point your device at whichever space you want the item to fill and watch it appear on the screen in front of you.

According to IKEA, the 3D models are scaled with 98 percent accuracy. Factors that are hard to analyze from photos online, like shadows, lighting, and textures, are also depicted as they would appear in real life. So if a sofa that looks great under the lights of a store looks drab in your living room, or if a desk that seems tiny online doesn't fit inside your office, the app will let you know. It's the closest you can get to seeing how a piece of furniture complements a room without lugging it through the doorway.

IKEA isn't the first company to improve interior design with computerized images. Several hardware stores and furniture outlets offer their own AR apps. Other services like Modsy let customers pay to create full virtual models of their homes before populating them with 3D furniture. Even IKEA had a basic AR app prior to this one, but it was glitchy and not always accurate. This newest iteration aims to provide a more seamless shopping experience. And with the latest iOS update placing a greater emphasis on AR, you can expect to see more apps using the technology in the near future.

[h/t WIRED]

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