Ultrasonic object manipulation at the University of Tokyo

Ultrasonic levitation has been possible for awhile, but it's not very practical when objects must typically hover along a single axis. University of Tokyo researchers Yoichi Ochiai, Takayuki Hoshi and Jun Rekimoto have cleared this hurdle with an ultrasonic array that can push items around in 3D space. The machine creates a focal point from a three-dimensional standing wave; users just have to alter the wave's properties to move whatever is caught inside that point. The technique can manipulate a wide range of materials, and it's safe to disrupt with your hands. While the array will need to scale up before it lifts objects much larger than matchsticks or screws, it already shows that we don't need exotic technologies like tractor beams to float things through the air.

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A vendetta against a livestreamer has caused real-world havoc. A user or group identifying itself as DERP has targeted a popular Twitch streamer, calling the police on him and performing DDoS attacks against the games he was playing on December 30th.

The streamer's name is James Varga, and according to reports, the games he was broadcasting were shut down by hackers performing distributed denial of service attacks. These games included League of Legends, Dota 2, and those through Battle.net. Varga continued to communicate with DERP during this time, and either DERP or a third party escalated matters by calling 911 and claiming that Varga was holding hostages in his home. Varga was then briefly detained while the police searched his home, but he was released without charges.

This is similar to an incident earlier last month when a World of Warcraft livestreamer was arrested after someone called the police on him to interrupt his stream.

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TradeChat's Panser returns with this week's WoW Insider news recap, where we look back at the hottest news from the past week and whatever other kickin' rad things may have come our way. This week's topics include: If you enjoyed the show, make sure to subscribe to TradeChat, leave a comment, and come back next week for the next episode!

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Team Joystiq is barging into 2014 with a celebration of last year's best games. Keep reading throughout the week to see our assembly of ingenious indies and triple-A triumphs.

Dragon's Crown

Dragon's Crown is the best thing to happen to the beat-'em-up genre since Castle Crashers. Taking its inspiration from Capcom's Dungeons & Dragons games, Dragon's Crown forges its own identity with satisfying combat, a lengthy quest, and a bottomless well of character customization options.

The sheer amount of loot players accrue in Dragon's Crown keeps the experience fresh and compelling even after you've hacked your way through hundreds of owlbears. The game offers a broad selection of playable characters, all of which play very differently and require varying degrees of expertise to master. Online multiplayer is a joy as a result, mixing the game's varied cast for some gloriously chaotic battles.

It's worth noting that Dragon's Crown has seen a number of significant improvements since its initial release, as patches have consistently addressed player feedback while adding major gameplay features. The newest patch, for instance, gives hardcore players the option of skipping the game's introductory chapters, making character leveling more efficient than ever before. Oh, and it also adds a 10,000-floor dungeon. If you love beat-'em-ups, Dragon's Crown will keep you satisfied for months.

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Plex has grown rapidly over the last few years and its increased focus as a cloud service for your pictures, videos and music has resulted in a relaunching of the main website. Now hosted at Plex.tv, it ropes in the four disparate sections of the previous website, bringing features like Plex Pass subscriptions, myPlex server and account management and Plex/Web content access together. The web app has been redesigned to make access to your media remotely faster and prettier, and even ditched the previous need to sign in three times (site, web app, your server) for full access. Of course, there are some features currently missing and others that need to be tweaked in the new version, but with easy access to toggles like a Chromecast button at the top right, we think most will find it a welcome upgrade.

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Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Dawn Moore (@dawnwow) will be your host today.

Happy New Year!

I was fortunate enough to have a box of Eggo waffles in my freezer this morning when I went through yesterday's Queue looking for questions. If you didn't read yesterday's, commenter Kageokami asked ScottLeyes to spam a "Best of ScottLeyes in 2013" in the comments and he complied.

I also unlocked an achievement this morning by not getting any residual syrup on my fingers in the process of eating my delicious freezer waffles. I'm not sure what the achievement is called though, as it scrolled past too quickly and I have terrible peripheral vision. Either way, it's an excellent way to start the new year.

And given the title of today's Queue ...

ScottLeyes asked:

OK, so we need strong song suggestions for the WOW MUSICAL... I nominate:

"One Night in Halfhill" (sung to "One Night In Bangkok")
"Undercity Girls" (sung to Katy Perry's "California Gurls")

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Soul Chasing Claw is one of the most common and hated styles in Age of Wushu, and last week we went over many ways to counter it. However, on the flip side there are a lot of options for trickery. Like most ranged styles, Soul Chasing Claw is devastating as a switch to a melee style. Its main weaknesses are well-known, so cunning is needed against a skilled enemy.

Fortunately, it has a lot of advantages. The chain pull is near-instantaneous, so you only need the right opening. It's technically possible to pull people out of the startup of moves like Submerge the Lotus, though it's kind of difficult in practice since the pull has a minimum range. It's a powerful tool, and we'll discuss a lot about getting the most out of it today.

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Daniel Cooper switches holiday hats this week, opting to channel Jools Holland for a Hootenanny-style New Years edition. He's joined by Matt Brian and Sharif Sakr for a bit of prognostication, sifting through scenarios for the world of tech in 2014. Shall we see the smartwatch bloom into a hub for all our mobile devices? Will mobile computing find the processing power to deliver desktop performance in pocketable slates? Can console manufacturers finally squash all the bugs and deliver a banner year for gaming? There's a psychic sizzle in the air, a boogie woogie beat and a sampling of what's in store for the future, all waiting inside this New Year's edition of the Engadget Eurocast. For more discussion of what's to come, jump on in to the forum and add your two cents pence.

Hosts: Dan Cooper, Matt Brian, Sharif Sakr

Producer: Jon Turi

Hear the Podcast:

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Team Joystiq is barging into 2014 with a celebration of last year's best games. Keep reading throughout the week to see our assembly of ingenious indies and triple-A triumphs.

Saints Row 4 is a deceptively smart, dumb game.

The developers at Volition Inc. have successfully mated the tightest gameplay in the Saints Row series to date with its most over-the-top weapons (including flight, telekinesis and other superpowers), most drawn out, ridiculous celebrity cameos, and some of the finest funny video game writing ever scribbled down. Granted, the game has its fair share of lowbrow poop jokes (not to mention weaponized sex toys), but at the same time it's apparent that the writers at Volition are some very clever people. Saints Row 4 rarely relies on memes or easy humor, and the surprisingly deep level of satire underlying the experience is simultaneously welcome and totally unnecessary to your enjoyment of the game.

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With a new year comes a giant trade show just around the corner; CES 2014 is less than a week away! In anticipation of the excitement to come, our very own Marc Perton will be hopping on a Google Hangout with the CEA's Gary Shapiro to talk about tech trends and what announcements to expect. Head here for the live Hangout -- it's happening tomorrow, January 2nd, at 11:30 AM EST.

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Allods Online
While it may seem longer due to holidays with family and other time-crunching stresses, it has been just one short week since our last jaunt into the community-chosen Allods Online. In that first glance, we created a brand-new Arisen character, gave him a few magical abilities, and set off on a course for action and adventure. Quests were completed, loot was packed up, and enemies were destroyed.

This week, based on the results of last week's Choose My Adventure polls, we slowed things down. The community elected to stop and smell the roses and to pick up a crafting profession along the way. Taking a moment to observe details in Allods Online's character and environment design helps emphasize the title's unique and attractive aesthetic, which isn't much of a surprise. But our baby steps into the title's leatherworking profession unveiled an engaging and nuanced crafting system that's sure to deliver big payoffs down the line.

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The flood of holiday happiness continues this week with a record number of Random Acts of Uberness reported across Azeroth. This week, we start off with a note that turns the tables on the player who reported the lead story in last week's Random Acts, proving that when players reach out to build community, everybody wins.

Caught being uber: Kazekana, Hyjal (US-Horde) Well, during the Winter Festival, Mistsofjade and myself (Lucidluna) passed out free cookies, milk and ports to everyone who came up to us, then Christmas Eve night we handed out Fortune cards! We got tons of heartfelt sweet messages from people as well as thank yous and even a few gifts from players, but Misty and I both were SHOCKED to find out that we were on WoW insiders! We received a whisper while in LFR about it and tons of congratulations from the servers players.

Misty and I both really wanted to thank Kazehana from Hyjal for submitting us. Misty is actually my mom and we both were having a very less than fantastic Christmas this year, and that really meant allot to us both. It was really great of them to do that for us and they have no idea how much it lifted our spirits and made our Christmas! Thank you Kazehana for making our Christmas 100x better! -- Lucidluna and Mistsofjade, Hyjal (US-Horde)

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Moto G looking at Engadget's website

When Motorola said that a CDMA version of the Moto G would reach the US in January, it was being overly cautious. Best Buy has confirmed that it's already selling the Verizon edition of the budget smartphone in its retail stores; as soon as a store has inventory, you can pick one up. And it's cheap, too. At $100 off-contract, Verizon's Moto G is less expensive than both its GSM equivalent and many slower, smaller devices. You won't get to pick up the handset until after New Year's Day, but we have a hunch that it will be worth the wait.

Update: If you're not willing to make a pilgrimage to Best Buy, Verizon will begin selling the Moto G through its online store on January 9th at the same contract-free $100 price. Retail stores should get their units in the "coming weeks."

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path of exile
Path of Exile's team is celebrating a gangbuster 2013, but has plans for an even better 2014 starting with a new patch next week.

A forum post from the devs lists all of the accomplishments from 2013, starting with the fact that the game went from closed beta to launch during that time frame. Other significant numbers include 87 patches, 35 new team members, a peak of 70,000 concurrent players, and 3.7 million registered players.

Patch 1.0.5 is scheduled for Thursday, January 9th, and will add an Enlighten support gem, new cosmetic microtransactions, more vendor recipes, unique items, and achievements. The team said that 1.0.6 will be "even larger" when it hits.

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Team Joystiq is barging into 2014 with a celebration of last year's best games. Keep reading throughout the week to see our assembly of ingenious indies and triple-A triumphs.

If you could bring yourself to describe and spoil them, it would be much easier to write about the marvelous moments that make The Stanley Parable such a special piece of entertainment. These moments, some of which commandeer the game and some of which seem insignificant as they pass you by, shape the outcome of Stanley's story.

Whether you decide to go along with the narrator's dialog, following his every command to the letter, or completely ignore him and forge your own path, or just stand still, The Stanley Parable has something to say about your decision.

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Shamansar
Every other week, WoW Insider brings you Totem talk for the shaman. Want to be a sultan of swing healing? A champion of Chain Heal? Totem Talk: Restoration, brought to you by Joe Perez (otherwise known as Lodur from World of Matticus and InternetDragons.TV), shows you how.

I like looking back and seeing how the past year has been for us, the dedicated water healers we are. I don't know about you, but at least for me I enjoy looking back over some of my favorite moments from the year prior.

2013 was certainly a bit of a roller coaster ride for restoration shaman, both in terms of how we performed and dealt with healing in a group and the changes we had to endure between tiers of content. It was filled with many good changes and things that made this a very good year for resto shaman.

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Frindie Awards
It's time once again for me to throw out my awards for the best of free-to-play, indie, and oddball MMOs, a real niche-within-a-niche. It might seem that I am assigned many of these titles as though I were some modern day Mikey, but the truth is that I get a huge thrill out of finding a new game but get even more of a thrill when I realize that no one is covering it. I had to really think hard about the criteria for the awards this year, mainly because "indie" is quickly becoming one of those often hard-to-define words, alongside "MMORPG" and "free-to-play." Fortunately, I think I know it when I see it.

I kept my choices to games that I have actually played this year. I wanted to avoid games that appear to be really cool. If you want a more broad batch of prizes, check out Massively's best of awards. (Side note: I voted for Defiance as my game of the year.)

These awards are for games that are being created on a shoestring or independent of massive budgets. Some of them are connected to some money, of course, but instead of trying to define "indie," I will only repeat: You'll know it when you see it.

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Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about consumer technology.

It's that special time of year between holiday sales and the pre-CES hype cycle that presents an opportunity to consider some of the most innovative devices of the year. Switched On is proud to present the 2013 Saluting Wares Improving Technology's Contribution to Humanity awards, also known as The Switchies.

This installment marks the eighth annual Switchies, which are decided based on a rigorous examination of the opinion of me, and do not reflect the opinion of Engadget or its editors. For that latter honor, nominees will need to win an Engadget Award. Now, then, let's stroll past the red carpet and tear open those envelopes.

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Team Joystiq is barging into 2014 with a celebration of last year's best games. Keep reading throughout the week to see our assembly of ingenious indies and triple-A triumphs.

Puppeteer

Come one, come all, to hear the remarkable tale of Kutaro and the magical scissors, Calibrus! Come, see the evil Moon Bear King as he tries to cast the world into nonstop darkness! Come, see his 12 generals steal the power of the Moon Goddess! And see young Kutaro ... basically get mixed up in the whole thing by accident. Wrong place, wrong time, delicious-looking head. You know how it goes.

Puppeteer commits to its puppet show aesthetic with gusto, crafting every character, object and bit of scenery out of paper, wood, string, or fabric. The narrator provides the exposition with the nuanced delivery of someone who's attended one too many acting classes, and the cast does their best to remember their lines while the audience murmurs in appreciation. The entire setup is bonkers, keeping its tongue placed firmly in its cheek as you cut down the Moon Stone-hoarding generals one by one and eventually square off against the rotund MBK himself.

With sly writing, a spectacular soundtrack and gorgeously detailed locations that include neatly manicured gardens, a Halloweentown, a swamp and outer space, Puppeteer is a gaming experience to savor, rather than rush. Of course, it will take multiple run-throughs to find all of the collectible puppet heads, so you'll have more than enough opportunity to catch every joke and notice every secret.

As a PS3 exclusive at the end of that console's cycle, Puppeteer didn't get nearly as much attention as it deserved, but this is a real gem. Hunt it down and play it. Your audience awaits.

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new years party things

Welcome to 2014, a year of changes for TUAW. Stay tuned for more reviews, how-to's and analysis articles this year, plus new video and audio content. Thanks to everyone who made 2013 such a success, and we wish you the best in 2014.

We'll be back with posts tomorrow, and even more next week.

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