Fed more upbeat on economy in Beige Book

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Economic growth in the United States picked up over the last two months and hiring showed signs of a “modest increase,” the Federal Reserve said in a report that ran counter to a growing sense of economic gloom.




Facepalm: The Wii U Games We’re Seeing This Week Are Stuck At 720p

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According to WiiUDaily (and we’re confirming), the games shown at E3 are native at 720p resolution, a considerable step down from the 1080p, 3D-pumping action coming out of the 360 and the PS3 in many cases. Although there is no absolute proof that the Wii U launch titles will all be 720p, the site noted that “the representative couldn’t confirm whether the games can be upscaled to 1080p, only that the ‘native resolution is 720p for all titles showcased.’”

Does it really matter that the Wii U is showing off 720p titles? Not particularly, but 1080p would definitely be a nice to have. Nintendo sells all over the world, even to folks who may not have HD TVs. To stymie resolution offers a cost and processor savings that can be rolled back into gameplay. But shouldn’t this be a showcase of what this thing can do out of the gate?

Does it make me particularly happy to learn that it’s showing games at 720p? Not really. The Wii has long been hampered by its standard definition roots and it’s going to piss off a lot of fanboys. Here’s hoping this is just growing pains.

UPDATED – Points fixed for clarification.

Dow, S&P 500 post biggest gains of 2012

U.S. stocks rallied Wednesday, with the Dow and S&P 500 logging their best gains of the year, as investors grew hopeful that more stimulus for the global economy is around the corner.

Google Announces New 3D Features for Google Earth, Is "Committed to Offering" Google Maps on ‘All Platforms’

In a last minute press conference, Google today shared “the next dimension” of Google Maps. The presentation, which some felt was underwhelming from a product perspective, included a lot of history around the Google Earth, Maps and Street View products, as well as a peek at what’s to come.

The announcements are particularly significant with credible rumors that Apple will be dropping Google Maps as the native maps application in iOS, in favor of its own solution at WWDC next week.

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Image courtesy The Verge

The first big announcement was related to the display of 3D buildings in Google Earth. Google is using airplanes along with a Google-designed system to photograph cities and make a 3D map of buildings. It appears to be a very similar process to the one used by C3 Technologies, a company that Apple purchased last year. The Verge offers more details on how it works:

To make the images, Google uses planes to take images at 45-degrees from four different angles — flying them in a tightly-controlled pattern with plenty of overlap. Google builds the 3D model off of these many images, using algorithms to create the shape and color of buildings. The process is “fully automated,” building the 3D images without any human interactions. The system is intelligent enough to know when a certain image is blocked or shadowed, for example. The company hopes to combine the 2D mapping and vector data with the 3D images to perhaps someday provide vertical location information.


Aside from the Google Earth developments — which will be coming to the iOS version of Google Earth in the coming weeks — Google also unveiled new technologies for Street View and offline viewing for Google Maps on Android.

Google executives also took questions from the audience. Brian McClendon, VP of Engineering for Google Maps, said Google was “really proud of Google Maps” and that the company was “committed to offering those services on all platforms”. Based on these statements, it seems likely Google will offer a standalone iOS app for Google Maps even if Apple chooses to implement its own mapping solution in the native iOS Maps app, much like it does for the existing Google Earth app.


Netflix plan seen as no big threat to content delivery firms

(Reuters) – Netflix Inc’s plans to use its own network for streaming movies and TV shows may not be as bad for content delivery companies as the initial market reaction suggested.

California voters reject raising tobacco tax

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – California voters narrowly rejected a ballot measure that would have added a $1 tax to a pack of cigarettes in the state’s primary election Tuesday, an outcome observers attributed to a $47 million ad blitz by the tobacco industry.

Venus makes last in a lifetime move across face of sun

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – The planet Venus made a slow transit across the face of the sun on Tuesday, the last such passing that will be visible from Earth for 105 years.