Sep 30, 2010

A Gift For The Sexy Geek In All Of Us

Play chess, or masturbate? We love both activities so much, sometimes we just can't choose. Thankfully, with Kiki de Montparnasse's vibrator chess set, we can have both at the same time...we just have to find $7k to buy it.

This May Very Well Be the First New Earth

You are looking at what could be the fourth planet on the Gliese 581 star system, 20.3 light years from Earth. If the NASA artist rendition looks very much like our Earth... it's because it is similar to Earth.

Gliese 581 is a red dwarf star. A starship traveling at near the speed of light would only take 20.3 years to get there, which is not that much. Until now, astronomers had discovered five planets around this star. Some of them were too close to it, making them too hot to be habitable. Others were too far and too cold. But now, a sixth planet has been discovered right on the "habitable zone", the fourth in distance from the star: Gliese 581g.

If the discoveries from the planet hunters at University of California Santa Cruz and the Carnegie Institution of Washington are right, Gliese 581g could be habitable.
Now, before you jump into the Enterprise and go there camping, roast some marshmallows, and get back leaving a lot of beer bottles and crap behind, being potentially habitable doesn't mean that we can just go there and thrive. It doesn't even mean that this planet is full of little green men or buxom big blue women. It just means that this is a planet that could sustain life, with liquid water and an atmosphere.

Gliese 581g has three to four times the mass of Earth, orbiting the star at an zippy 37 days. According to data gathered by the Keck I Telescope HIRES spectrometer, it's a rocky planet with a "solid surface and enough gravity to hold to an atmosphere."

More importantly, according to Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, not only their "findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet" but "the fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common."

In other words, the chances of the Universe being bubbling with life of all kinds and forms just jumped beyond our most optimistic hopes.

OMG U R NOT SERIOUS: Justin Bieber Gets His Own Headphone Line

Dr. Dre, what hath ye done? As if 3% of Twitter's racks weren't enough, tween demigod Justin Bieber can now lay claim to his own headphone line—part of the Beats by Dre series of audio gear. Totes adorbs!

The JustBeats series (geeee-eeet it?) is available in earbud or cans form—but only in purple, Justin's fave color! The press release for the phones, clearly written by someone with a strong sense of irony, laments that young music fans have "never been exposed to high-quality sound." Yes, and Justin Bieber will be the solution to this social ill. We only hope they fit snugly enough for Segway getaways.

Sep 29, 2010

What Facebook and Skype Integration Would Mean For You

Facebook and Skype integration! That's the rumor. But beyond the intermingling of two major tech companies, the important question is: how's this going to affect you?

Video Chat With Facebook Friends From Skype

Just to be clear: this wouldn't mean that you'd be able to Skype video chat through Facebook. Not yet, anyway. Instead, when this supposedly goes live in a few weeks with Skype 5.0, you'd be able to connect with your Facebook friends list through Skype. Still pretty handy! And in-browser video chat is apparently seen as a "logical progression" to the partnership, meaning it could well happen down the line.

And Text Them, Too!

According to the WSJ, the deal would also include SMS, which definitely wouldn't get annoying after a while.

Facebook Phone's Own FaceTime?

Facebook denies that they've got a phone in the works—much less two—but that's a product that would definitely benefit from deep Skype integration. Skype's currently only available on Verizon phone.

A Google Voice Alternative

Specifically, an alternative to making calls in Gmail. That's not to say that a Facebook/Skype VoIP solution would be better, necessarily. But if you for some reason want to break free of big G, or don't have a Google account to begin with, you'd have a viable alternative. Choice is good!

You'll Actually Use Skype

As wonderful as Skype is, less than a quarter of its 560 million members are active. When they add what's arguably your most comprehensive Rolodex—your list of Facebook friends—you might be tempted to actually use other parts of the service once in a while. And eventually maybe even cut that cellphone voice plan loose.

Insulate Your Brain and Body in This Sealed Off Mini-Room

If you're unfortunate enough to live in a region cursed with bitter winters (I know I am!), you know the pain of keeping your pad heated. One solution? Build an insulated room within a room to stay focused and toasty.

German architectural firm Davidson Rafailidis created this prototype, constructed out of plastic and wood, that hooks up directly to a window for both light and warmth. Probably not a great space for the claustrophobes out there, but might make for an excellent place to get some work done without having to put on a sweater. Or hide some bodies. Y'know, whatever's your thing.

Rent the Balancing Barn at Your Own Peril

Architects took on gravity and won, and now daredevils can pay almost $300 a night to stay in the "balancing barn," where 50 per cent of the building dangles precariously off a slope.

Thankfully it doesn't appear that a swing was built-in under the barn as the concept pictures suggested last year. Everything else about the Suffolk, England-located barn however matches up perfectly—albeit, scarily. The website describes the house as being "clad in elegant silver tiles," however I'd watch out on a sunny day if I were you—they look capable of reflecting some mean sunlight.

Construction has just been completed, and already the website is taking online bookings from next month. Stays of four nights cost £725 ($1,150), which works out to a little below $300 a night for the eight person-sleeper. I'd suggest packing a first aid kit just in case.

Fanboys, Time to Get Your Very Own 8-Bit Steve Jobs Bust

Come on. You know you want it. I dare you. It's only a fraction of the price of your spankylala Macbook Pro. And unlike your iPhone 4, you can hold it and caress it in any way you want.
Not only is it Jobs' bella figura, but it will be digitally created for you, on demand, using Shapeways' 3D manufacturing machines. I tell you, $128 for spending the rest of your life watched by his Steveness? That's nothing.

Sep 28, 2010

Video Box Battle Royale: Who Should Be Your TV's New Best Friend?

With new offerings from Roku and Apple, and the grand impending entrance of Google TV, the crowd of little plastic boxes that all want to stream your video is getting packed. And confusing. But we're here to help you compare.

While you know an MP3 player will play MP3s, and a DVD player will do its thing, the new breed of boxes don't wear their functionality on their sleeve. Set-top boxes, media boxes—we know they're boxes, yes, but what's inside? What are these boxes going to do for you? Some want to make renting movies a cinch, some want to help you stream the movies you already have—and some seem like they want to try to do it all. So take a look below, and see what matters most to you.

It might feel like comparing apples to oranges to turkey legs, but every device listed on the plate wants to help replace your TV.

Magnets Could Turn You From a Rightie to a Leftie

I don't know why you'd want to be a leftie, but at least we know the choice is out there if now. The magic causing the change of dexterity is called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, and is specifically intended for right-handers.

When magnets are applied to a specific part of the brain (the posterior parietal cortex region, which is involved with planning physical movements), researchers at the University of California Berkeley found that their 33 right-handed guinea pig volunteers started favoring their left hands for smaller tasks instead.

While people weren't beginning to write with their left hands, they did find that they started picking stuff up with their other hand, or pressing an elevator button.

The potential here is obviously vast, and I'm not just talking about which hand we use. Imagine if magnets could make us favor healthy food over fattier food? Earlier mornings instead of long lie-ins? I can almost see horror movies being planned using unauthorized TMS technology, that's how big this could get.

Still, it's only early days for the team in California, but I doubt I'm the only one who's on the edge of their seats over this one.

Ultimate Tablet Showdown: iPad vs. PlayBook vs. Galaxy Tab vs. Slate

The iPad's finally got some competition; in the past few weeks, the HP Slate made a brief appearance, the Samsung Galaxy Tab debuted, and just BlackBerry unveiled its business-minded PlayBook today. Here's how they all measure up:
It should be noted that there are still some things we don't know about the PlayBook, and the HP Slate specs are taken from a leaked internal document that hasn't yet been officially confirmed.

Still, the battlefield's a lot more clearly defined than it was when we first compared tablets—both real and rumored—back in January. And as its rivals catch up, the iPad's looking increasingly outgunned.

That's just on the hardware side, though. Apple's still got three major advantages that opponents haven't made up much space on: iOS, the App Store, and a huge head start. It's going to take more than a pair of HD cameras to overcome that.

Sep 27, 2010

Deceptively Packed Dalcans Lollypop Cabinet Boasts Hidden AV Goodies

The simple lines of the Dalcans high-end "Lollypop" unit hide a host of features one would not readily associate with an AV cabinet. For instance, it smells.

Yes, smells. As in fragrance. Inside the cabinet, you see, are four diffuser capsules. If you're wondering why such soothing scents would need to be emanating from your television set, you obviously did not see Steve Buscemi's sex scene in last week's Boardwalk Empire pilot on HBO.

With a starting price of $38,629 it's certainly not Glade scented candles we're talking about, of course, but in any event here's a laundry list of the other items Dalcans has crammed into their minimalist cabinet (in case you're looking):

42" HD LED TV with mirror screen
Crestron amplifier
iPod dock
Odyssée acoustic speakers (2×200W)
Four HDMI ports
mini jack stereo + VGA
network connectivity (Ethernet and wifi)

The price above is for the basic "classic" version, if one could seriously consider the price of a low-level luxury car "basic." An "automated" version sells for $51,117 and may very well control space and time for all the explanation they give about what the hell "automated" means.

Segway Company Owner Dies After Driving Segway Off Cliff

Just like the countless innovators, explorers and fine people killed in a Frankensteinian way by their own inventions, the current owner of Segway—not Dean Kamen—died yesterday after he rode off a cliff and into a river in England.

Jimi Heselden, aged 62, was found at 11.40am yesterday by the River Wharfe in North Yorkshire, with his X2 Adventure (pictured) by his side. Police believe that it was just a freak accident, with nothing suspicious about the man worth $262m falling to his death.

It's particularly poignant as his company had only just purchased the Segway company in December 2009. He sounded like a really nice guy according to reports, a chap who left school at 15 to work in the mines, but was fortunate enough to develop some interesting-sounding defense systems which made him millions.

He was one of those rare philanthropists who had given away millions to charity but didn't like to talk about it—at least £23m ($36m) in the last few years alone, it's thought.

Sep 26, 2010

Titanium Foam Builds Wolverine Bones

Eat your heart out, Wolverine. The X-Men superhero won't be the only one with metal fused into his skeleton if a new titanium foam proves suitable for replacing and strengthening damaged bones.

Bone implants are typically made of solid metal – usually titanium. Though well tolerated by the body, such implants are significantly stiffer than bone.

This means that an implant may end up carrying a far higher load than the bone it is placed next to, according to Peter Quadbeck of the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials Research in Dresden, Germany. In a worst-case scenario, the decrease in stress placed on the bone means it will deteriorate, while the implant loosens and needs to be replaced.

Spongy inspiration

Now Quadbeck and colleagues have created a titanium implant with a foam-like structure, inspired by the spongy nature of bone. The titanium foam does a better job than solid metal when it comes to matching the mechanical properties of bone, such as flexibility, and this encourages more effective bone regrowth.

What's more, the foam is porous, so the bone can grow around and within it, truly integrating the implant with the skeleton.

The titanium foam is made by saturating polyurethane foam with a solution of titanium powder and binding agents. The titanium clings to the polyurethane matrix, which is then vaporised away along with the binding agents. This results in a titanium lattice which is finally heat-treated to harden it.

Though the foam has yet to be approved for use in humans, Quadbeck and colleagues are now working with physicians to explore its suitability for treating certain injuries.

Peter Lee of the Department of Materials at Imperial College London is impressed. He says there are applications where inserting one of these titanium foams "looks like the most promising solution", such as bridging long gaps between broken bones.

Yuyuan Zhao, a materials engineer at the University of Liverpool, UK, adds that "if human bone isn't good enough, an implant could give your body better performance" than leaving bone to heal naturally or using other types of implant.

The Bra That Doubles as a Gas Mask Is Now For Sale

 It's the lovely brassiere that can save lives. How? When the bra is removed, the cup of the bra can be worn as a gas mask. I'm not joking. It's now available, here's how it works:

See, you take off the bra in event of emergency and then separate the cups from each other. After that, place your mouth and nose into the cup's interior and extend the bra strap over your head. Lastly, breathe normally. The peace of mind of wearing a bra that's ready for gas bombs will cost you $30.

Sep 25, 2010

True Acoustic Art Takes 1,400 Man Hours to Make, $320,000 to Buy

Last weekend I visited the Barnes Foundation art gallery in Philadelphia, and among my favorite pieces were the sculptures of Jacques Lipchitz. The Vox Olympian Loudspeaker hangs with them aesthetically, and it can play music, too.

The Vox Olympians, designed for superyachts, are crafted in England by a company called Living Voice. They're made with some materials you know are good, like gold, silver and bronze, and some that sound like they're good, like tellurium, beryllium and alnico. Each pair takes 1,400 man-hours to make.

The cheapest they run is £210,000, about $328,700, which is outrageously expensive, even compared to the run-of-the-mill ultra-rich-person-gear you normally come across. But if I had a boatload of money, buying speakers that were as good for looking at as they were for listening to would probably something I'd consider.

Sep 24, 2010

Facebook Fixed Yesterday's Outage By Rebooting Facebook

Facebook's two-hour outage yesterday undoubtedly left thousands of acres of Farmville crops untended and countless high school acquaintances unstalked.

 So how'd they fix it? Just like you fix your own stubborn machine: rebooting the entire system. Works every time!

If Mozilla Ever Made A Cellphone, This Is How It Might Look

Everyone's busy gossiping about a Facebook phone which may or may not exist right now, but let's pause all that and daydream about an incredibly lovely phone that very certainly won't ever become reality: The Mozilla Seabird.

The Seabird is a design created for the Mozilla Labs' Concept Series by a fellow named Billy May. It's basically a community-driven exploration of how an Open Web phone might look. The design involves an Android-based operating system, "an 8 megapixel camera, dual side pico projectors, wireless charging, and an embedded Bluetooth dongle,"

Mozilla makes it clear that this concept is just something dreamed up by its community and not a planned project, but that doesn't stop me from wishing that this potentially impossible piece of tech would find its way onto shelves instead of the FacePhone.

Sony's 6X BDX-S500U External Blu-Ray Drive Burns 25GB in 20 Minutes

Sony Optiarc's new portable Blu-ray drive is fast: it can burn single layer discs at 6x speed and dual layer ones at 4x. That means you could burn 25GB in the time it takes to watch an episode of Fraiser.

In addition to your average DVD and CD media, the BDX-S500u can also playback any 3D Blu-ray discs you throw at it with the included CyberLink Media Suite 8 software. The speedy new drive will be available soon in the ballpark of $200-$240.

Sep 23, 2010

Sonos' WD100 iPod Dock Floats Music Wirelessly to Multi-Room Systems

Designed for use with a ZonePlayer multi-room system, the WD100 iPod/iPhone docksends music wirelessly around the house. There's not much of note here, but existing Sonos users can snap up the cheap-as-chips $119 dock from next month.


New Sonos iPod accessory will be available by the end of October

SANTA BARBARA, CA - September 23, 2010 - Sonos, the leading developer of wireless multi-room music systems for the home, today introduced the Sonos Wireless Dock (WD100), an accessory to the award-winning Sonos Multi-Room Music System. With the Sonos Wireless Dock you can now play all of the music from an iPod or iPhone in every room of the house. The Sonos Wireless Dock will be available for $119 beginning by the end of October.

"The Sonos Wireless Dock is the perfect accessory for our music loving customers who own an iPod or iPhone and want to enjoy the music stored on them in any or every room of the home," said Phil Abram, President, Sonos, Inc. "This new dock reinforces our mission to provide our customers with access to all of the music on the planet, including everything available on an iPod and iPhone in the home."

The Sonos Wireless Dock accesses all of the music stored or playing on an iPhone or iPod and sends it wirelessly to Sonos ZonePlayers all throughout your home – before converting the music to analog – guaranteeing the best possible audio quality.

The Sonos Wireless Dock is compatible with the following devices: iPod touch (1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation), iPod classic, iPod nano (3rd, 4th, and 5th generation), iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G and iPhone, and has been certified by the developer to meet Apple performance standards.

For more information about Sonos or to locate an authorized Sonos dealer in your area, please visit

Why iPads Increase Wine Sales at Restaurants?

Some restaurants across the world are now using iPads to show their wine lists. Stupid and overkill, you say? Not if you sell a lot more wine because of it.

In just two weeks, Bone's—which is Atlanta's most famed steakhouse and has 1,350 labels in their catalog—sold 11 percent more wine than in the three weeks previous to the iPad introduction. Like Bone's, many restaurants around the world are having the same experience. Everyone using iPad wine lists seem to be having big sales jumps.

It's not the novelty factor, the Bone's owners and clients say. The reason is simple and logical: Reviews.

Most people don't know most vinos in a restaurant wine list. They may know that certain region and certain winery and certain grape and certain year are considered to be good or bad or just nice enough. But with so many references, most mortals don't have a single clue. Then people look at the prices and don't know what to do. It goes like this: "It's my birthday, but it's a $500 bottle of Pingus worth the expense or not?"

Now, if you had instant access to a short review for each wine from a credible source, then you can make a decision on the spot. So when Robert Parker says that a 1995 Pingus is "one of the greatest and most exciting wines I have ever tasted", then you may decide that it's well worth the price tag.

But then again, why not just print the reviews on paper? Because it's way easier to keep the iPad always updated, as entries get out of stock and new ones come in.

Sep 22, 2010

Charge Gadgets From Your Backpack Without the Sun's Help

I much prefer the look of Quirky's Trek Support backpack to Voltaic's solar-powered backpack from years ago, and if enough people agree with me and pre-order it (for $130), they'll even put it into production.

Just like the rest of Quirky's products, the backpack design has been crowdsourced, but it just needs enough people to pre-order it before putting it on the factory line. It's about half the price of a solar-powered backpack, and doesn't have the obvious panels on the front—choosing, instead, a subtle grey and blue color-scheme.

Various pockets have been stitched in, with the main compartment large enough for a 15-inch laptop. The rechargeable battery, housed in a lower compartment, can charge up the gadgets via USB. It might not be as planet-friendly as the solar backpacks, but at least you can ensure your iPod won't run out of juice on a winter's day.

Sep 21, 2010

Michael Jackson, The Online Game

Planet Michael is a massively multiplayer online game devoted to the music and life of the late Michael Jackson. No, this is not a joke.

"We put a focus on something that will truly allow fans to immerse themselves in a Michael Jackson-like universe or music-video-like world and interact with each other and then go on adventures and do gameplay stuff and socialize," Josh Gordon of developer SEE Virtual Worlds tells USA Today.

The game will feature areas based on songs like Beat It and Smooth Criminal. Players won't use violence on quests, but dancing.

Planet Michael is a free-download that claims to be "The Ultimate Michael Jackson Online Game." (Isn't it the only Michael Jackson online game?) Planet Michael is aimed at players 13 years-old and up. That is not a joke, either.
'Planet Michael' will let players build virtual Jackson worlds.

British Intelligence Agency Used Semen as Invisible Ink

A new book reveals that a member of MI6, the British spy agency, discovered during WWI that semen makes excellent invisible ink, and often deployed it in the field. The name of the man who discovered this?Mansfield Cumming.

The First 1.5TB Portable External Hard Drive Is USB 3.0 and From Seagate

SSDs might be the storage du jour for their speed, but there's still no beating regular-asshard drives for their price to capacity ratio. And now, the first 1.5TB portable hard drive, from Seagate.

The FreeAgent GoFlex looks like this, and gives you USB 3.0 connectivity (or FireWire 800, if you get the FireWire adapter instead) for an MSRP of $250. Naturally these are more expensive than the desktop, large boy versions, but you're getting a lot of space for your digital media. And if you're a photographer or just a person who has a lot of movies and TV shows digitized and want to keep it with you, it's a nice option.

Sep 20, 2010

Leaf's 80MP Camera Backs Are the Highest Resolution Yet

Things are getting freaky over at Photokina, where Leaf's showing off their new Aptus-II 12 and Aptus-II12R digital camera backs. The price: $32,000. The pixels: 80 million, the most of any camera back to date. Good stocking stuffers.

Google Earth For iOS Goes Underwater

Google Earth for iOS just got an update that adds a host of underwater and ocean surface content, as well as spiffing things up for the Retina Display. I consider it the only safe way to explore the ocean.

PlayStation Move Controller is a Cheap Cellphone, Minus Calling Capabilities

On one hand, the Move controller is a very pricey gaming controller. On the other paw, a tear-down revealed "it's quite the bang for the buck," with a processor, accelerometer, gyroscope, Bluetooth, vibrating motor and MEMS compass tucked inside.

iFixit's rip-apart didn't reveal much that we didn't already know about the spec, but apparently it was dead easy to open it up—good news for home-tinkerers. While the vibrating motor can be peeled off somewhat, it's still fastened down to the motherboard, along with the LED, charge contacts and EXT cables. The 1320mAh lithium-ion battery, however, can be disconnected.

Sep 19, 2010

Human Fiber Optics Could Give Senses to Artificial Limbs

DARPA, working with the Southern Methodist University Neurophotonics Research Center, is currently developing a system of wild new fiber optics that could give a sense of pressure and feeling to artificial limbs.

Aside from the obvious benefits that a future amputee victim might experience, the implants could also curb tremors, manage pain or treat spinal cord injuries—just to name a few.

Beyond that, DARPA (and SMU) has once again has found a way to blend the present with what was once science fiction:

"Science fiction writers have long imagined the day when the understanding and intuition of the human brain could be enhanced by the lightning speed of computing technologies. With this remarkable research initiative, we are truly beginning a journey into the future that will provide immeasurable benefits to humanity." - Dean Osark, SMU Lyle School of Engineering.

A Facebook Phone?

According to TechCrunch's Michael Arrington's sources, Facebook is creating its own cellphone. As the story goes, they're building the OS, and have tasked a hardware manufacturer to build everything else. Anyone else think this sounds like a Facebook-flavored Peek?

Scared by Google's impending Nexus One (which was announced back in January of this year), Facebook supposedly began planning their phone. Something that would integrate Facebook contacts more deeply than anything Android or any other platforms had done before.

Arrington scribed on a blog post this morning that two Facebook employees, Joe Hewitt and Matthew Papakipos are leading the charge on the OS, using their previous careers as Firefox browser creator and Chrome OS builder (respectively) to launch something Facebook can be proud of. Whether the rest of the world would be proud carrying a Facebook phone is another matter entirely—though I don't have any doubts that this would be a very affordable phone aimed at the young 'uns, if it does amount to something other than speculation.

How to Protect All Your Precious Stuff

From your latest gadgets to your expensive big TV and even your car, here's a complete guide about how to protect all your precious material things from thieves:

Sep 18, 2010

Will We Discover An Earth-like Planet By May 2011?

Using math way more complicated than I fully understand, a scientific paper predicts that we will find a potentially habitable Earth-like planet by early May 2011. Oh.

Sam Arbesman and Greg Laughlin, the authors of the scientific paper, used the history and dates of previously discovered exoplanets to develop their system. What they did was:

Using the properties of previously discovered exoplanets, we developed a simple metric of habitability for each planet that uses its mass and temperature to rate it on a scale of 0 to 1, where 1 is Earth-like, and 0 is so very not Earth-like. Plotting these values over time and taking the upper envelope yields a nice march towards habitability.

Using a simple bootstrap sampling analysis, we calculated when a logistic curve fit to such an upper envelope would get to a habitability of approximately 1. And the likeliest time is early to mid-2011, or more precisely, early May 2011.
And if not then, their data shows that there is a 75% chance that the discovery will happen by the end of 2013 (many astronomers predict this timeframe as well). In February 2011, NASA's Kepler mission will release a boatload of data that I'm assuming will help in find this Earthy planet. The universe is so big I'm surprised I didn't realize discovering another Earth-like planet was inevitable. There goes thinking that I'm a unique snowflake.

The Most Powerful Colors on the Web

These are the top 100 web brands—from computer companies to search engines to social web sites to porn sites—ordered by color. Apparently, the "top brands within categories tend to use similar color palettes."

I don't see the tendency myself, but I don't care. Rainbows are pretty!

Jebus Chris T. VS Budd A. App. Rejected by Apple

I've only skimmed Apple's App Review Guidelines, but I'm pretty sure that Moral Decay isn't exactly designed in accordance to them. But who knows, maybe Apple will approve aniPhone game that involves Jesus Chris T. gunning down sumo wrestlers, aliens, and other bad guys.

After all, it's perfectly possible that Apple will overlook that the Moral Decay app has the potential to be offensive to a group, portrays realistic violence, has realistic depictions of weapons, is probably designed to upset some users, and contains potentially offensive references to a religion.

Ah, who am I kidding. That video above is probably the closest we'll get to playing this game.

Sep 17, 2010

Boeing's New Spy Plane Will Fly For Five Years Straight

The SolarEagle is Boeing's winning design for an unmanned plane capable of continually flying for five years on reconnaissance and commutations missions above 65,000 feet. The solar-powered, propeller-driven UAV will begin test flights in 2014.

The Boeing UAV was the winning bid in a DARPA contest named Vulture II. It's another one of those peculiar projects with high ambitions designed to encourage the next level of technological development. With a goal of flying at stratospheric height for five years, Boeing's SolarEagle only has to achieve a demonstration flight of 30-to-90 days by 2014.

A product of the same Phantom Works lab behind the hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye, this slimmer eye-in-the-sky's actually propeller-driven and uses electric motors set into a "high-aspect-ratio" 400-foot wing designed to capture the sun's rays while providing little drag from the earth's atmosphere. With a 1,000-pound payload it won't be dropping bombs anytime soon, just helping the people who drop the bombs figure out where to put them.

House Your Wireless Apple Products in a Nice, Wooden Tray

Keep your wireless keyboard, Magic Trackpad, and Apple remote neat, perfectly placed, and right at your fingertips. For those of us who don't have the full collection, there are three variations of this black walnut keyboard tray, so no worries.
They keyboard-only tray runs for $69, keyboard+trackpad is $74, and the model pictured is $79. If you're on the eco side, you'll be glad to know that all parts of the tray's design and production were created using sustainable practices.

Are You Reading This During Sex?

Our undying love for the Internet has gone a bit too far, according to a recent study claiming that almost a quarter of US residents think it's acceptable to be online during sex. Are you one of them?

The study, conducted by computer security firm PC Tools, surveyed 1,012 U.S. adults in a random phone poll.

PC Tools' study also highlights some other disturbing trends in Internet connectivity. According to the poll, 29% of Americans think it's ok to be "plugged in" during a honeymoon, 26% stay connected during fancy dinners, 8% surf the web during religious services, and 6% are online during weddings.

 Is PC Tools trying to tell us that nearly a quarter of Americans are simultaneously getting it on and reading work emails? Or are they just watching Internet porn?

Sep 16, 2010

Pretend Your iPhone Is Just a Really Impressively Modded NES Controller

Instead of buying this $5 decal and pretending that your super-sophisticated 21st century smartphone is an old Nintendo controller, why not pretend that you just happen to have a magical NES controller that can run apps and make phone calls?

Kinda make phone calls, anyway—and hey, it's only an NES controller, after all! The decal, which can be had for $5 on Etsy, is made for the iPhone 4 and has a little hole for its camera.

All of our stickers are printed using solvent ink on quality vinyl and then passed through one of our giant plotters and die cut. This isn't cheap sticker paper from an office supply store, this is certifiable vinyl powered awesomeness. Rated 5-7 years of outdoor life.

I just hope that these so called angry birds don't cause my seven-year-old self to neglect that adorable Italian plumber.

Ultraviolet Laser Turns Humans Into Zombies

Apparently, firing a 405-nanometer ultraviolet laser beam to your face doesn't kill you. It just turns you into a creepy zombie, using a system called Fade Out. This is how it works.

Invented by Japanese artists Daito Manabe and Motoi Ishibashi, Fade Out creates images that glow in the dark using a 405-nanometer laser beam. First, their software analyzes the source image, turning it to grayscale and determining the intensity of each pixel. Then it fires the laser to different points in the canvas—in the case above, on a face—timing the firing so the pixels fade in synchronization. By the time the last pixel is fired, the ones fired at the beginning have already faded to the point in which they are almost gone. The process creates the highlights and the shadows necessary to create the image.

You can see it more clearly in this other video:
According to the artists, the process could be used in entertainment. Because firing ultraviolet lasers at your face is a whole lot of fun!

When and Where Can You Buy the HTC Desire HD and Z Phones?

Interested in getting one of the new HTC phones? Read on for some launch details in Europe and the US.

Vodafone was first with support of the phones, announcing at the event that they would sell both the Desire HD and Desire Z from mid-October, in Europe. While they haven't announced tariffs, it's expected to be the usual free up-front phone, on monthly plans starting at around £30 (in the UK at least).

TechRadar has reported that they've heard the Desire HD will be available on all of the UK networks except for O2, though that could change. T-Mobile has confirmed that they'll be selling the Desire HD from £40 a month—pricey, but then knowing from experience T-Mobile is generally pretty good at bargaining with.

Despite initial thoughts that these phones would be non-US launches, we heard from HTC US, who confirmed the Desire HD will be "shipping in North America later this year." No word on the Desire Z, but then it's far too similar to the G2 to warrant a launch there.

Back to the UK, and both phones will of course be sold through The Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U, plus Amazon, and various other online retailers. Amazon UK has confirmed it will cost £499 from October 18th, whereas has undercut them by £30, offering it for £470—with an earlier release date too, of October 11th.

The Desire Z is listed on for £430, with the same release date expected, and unfortunately Amazon hasn't improved its pricing for their offering of the Desire Z, which will cost £499 from the 18th.

We've waiting to hear back from all the UK networks about pricing, but if anyone spots any more deals, do get in touch. is going to sell the Desire HD for £493.50 and the Desire Z for £434.75. will offer the Desire HD for £489.96 and the Desire Z for £433.56. While the exact release date isn't mentioned, they do say that stock is expecting "week commencing 4th October." will have them in-store (online) for the 11th of October, with the Desire HD and Desire Z being £500 and £450 each.

Sep 15, 2010

Beam Your Laptop to Your TV With Veebeam

Veebeam does not do anything new. There are a variety of ways to get content from your computer to your TV. But the Veebeam does it easily. Web? Games? Movies? Hulu? With a Wireless USB dongle and receiver, you're set.

By plugging the $99 Veebeam's antenna into your computer's USB port, whatever is on your screen is shot over to your TV via composite or HDMI-connected receiver. Simply as that. No cords and no software. The cleverness here is that you don't need to worry about the permission of content providers to watch whatever online content you want on your TV. Hulu? Bring it on. ABC streaming episodes? Sure. If you can play it on your laptop or view it in your browser, it's all gravy.

Wireless USB, which powers the Veebeam, uses Ultra-WideBand technology, which, for our purposes, means those scenes from Mad Men get streamed smoothly (and in HD, if you're willing to pay an extra $40). If you don't feel like waiting around for AirPlay (or don't have any Apple devices to use it with), this might simplify your couch vegetation habits.

To Hold HTC's Desire Z Is To Love It

I've personally been waiting so long for the Desire Z, I felt like my mind would explode once I held it. Luckily I'm still alive to tell the tale of how beautiful the phone is to hold.

It's the thinness which does it for me. With its new "Z hinge" slide-out process, HTC has managed to keep the waistline down on the Desire Z, with the shaped corners helping make it appear even thinner than it is—much like the MacBook Air does.

But beauty isn't everything, as you will have noticed. Running the newly-improved HTC Sense on top of Android, the whole experience is as fast as you've come to expect from HTC's Android phones, and the responsiveness of the touchscreen is high.

A Chandelier Fit For a Mad Scientist's Lair

No, that's not a sentinel hanging from this family's ceiling. It's one hundred petri dishes attached to 15,000 feet of fiber optics, perhaps pausing for a moment before reaching down to strike at those dining below?

Bacterioptica, as the chandelier is named, is designed to be a growing, changing household organism. By interchanging different sized petri dishes, adjusting the lighting intensity, and altering stem and arm lengths, the chandelier can be reconfigured infinitely many ways. If you look closely, you can see how it would make a kick-ass Alien. Or maybe I'm just projecting.

Sep 14, 2010

Dell's Inspiron Duo Is a 10" Netbook/Tablet Transformer

What, pray tell, is this? It's Dell's new Inspiron Duo, a 10" tablet that opens up and twirls its screen to transform itself into a netbook. Craziest of all? They're saying it'll be available before the end of the year.

Dell showed off the crazy little guy, which runs Windows 7 Premium and packs a dual-core Atom N550 processor, at the second day keynote of Intel's IDF conference. There's no word if they've made any concessions to make its version of Windows 7 more tablet friendly, but this Inspiron gets kudos for audacity alone.