Mar 31, 2011

Arctic Ozone Levels Dropped By As Much As Half In The Past Year

Check out the stark difference between these two satellite images, taken on March 19, 2010 and March 19, 2011. The left image shows much more ozone (in red) over the Arctic than the right image. What's happened?

These maps come from NASA's Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI), aboard theAura satellite. The two images tell a stark tale of rapid ozone depletion. OMI uses a spectrometer that measures the amount of sunlight scattered by Earth's atmosphere and surface, which gives a sense of how much ozone exists at different levels, including the stratosphere.

In mid-March, scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute reported that Arctic ozone levels had been cut in half towards the end of winter, based on data from 30 ozone-sounding stations around the region.

The good news is, Arctic ozone levels fluctuate from year to year, and ozone "holes" don't form as consistently as they do in the Antarctic. It remains to be seen whether this ozone depletion will actually lead to increases in the intensity of ultraviolet radiation in the Arctic.

But still, the question of why ozone levels dropped so starkly this year remains, and nobody has a good answer. There are still a lot of ozone-depleting chemicals like CFCs in the atmosphere, despite their regulation by the Montreal Protocol. It'll take a long time for the concentration of these chlorines to decline, because these chemicals have a long lifespan. And the process of ozone depletion is intensified when the stratosphere is especially cold, which has been the case in recent weeks.

Netflix Beefing Up Service Center In Preparation For Global Launch

It's no secret that Netflix has grand plans to expand its global footprint that now feeds media to some 20 million North American subscribers. Hell, the company was boasting of the "significant dollars" allocated to its 2011 international expansion plans just four months ago. Notably, Netflix's customer service call center in Hillsboro Oregon is gearing up to expand its scope of operations beyond North America.

Two new job postings for a Training Supervisor and Quality Assurance Analyst both mention the need to prepare for "rapid" international expansion and "will support a specific country / region outside of North America." The Training Supervisor is being hired specifically to educate customer service reps in preparation for that future international growth. Neflix is looking for fluency in English in addition to Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian and European), and Spanish (Latin American and European), leaving things pretty wide open with regard to the countries targeted for initial launch.

Mar 30, 2011

This Year's Hottest Pocket Mirror is Also a USB 3.0 Multi-Format Card Reader

We always knew that the worlds of technology and popular culture were on a collision course of epic proportions, and if this isn't proof... well, you might say that proof simply doesn't exist. Brando has an identity crisis that Charlie Sheen would simply salivate over, but if we had to guess, we'd surmise that a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed card reader -- complete with support for CompactFlash, SDXC and M2 cards -- does a lot more #winning with a mirror slapped onto the side. Pre-order yours today for the tidy sum of $25.

The World’s Largest Wooden Structure Now Open For Business

The Metropol Parasol, located in Seville, Spain, just opened its doors to the public and is the world's largest wooden structure. Some pragmatically-minded city planners originally wanted to build a parking garage on the site, then they discovered some artifacts of archaeological significance and opted to build a museum/shopping center instead.

From the looks of it, the roof is the best part—you can actually go up there and check out views of the entire city.

Mar 29, 2011

Motorola Xoom Officially Landing in UK Next Week

Moto that its Xoom tablet will be arriving in the UK next week. The important thing is that the world's first Honeycomb tablet will be on sale in some form just as soon as the next British fiscal year gets started.

Fake Toilet Paper Roll Prank For April Fools Day

Have you ever been without toilet paper? It's a horrible sinking feeling. Disgusting scenarios run through your head: should I squabble to safety, should I use what's in the trash, maybe my underwear? It's scary! Which is is why I'm going to pull this prank come April Fools.

It's pretty easy to make too: there's one sheet of toilet paper on the exterior and a hollow cardboard clone that maintains the typical shape of toilet paper. It doesn't actually take much supplies or hard work, just some scissors, glue, cardboard and a roll and maybe an hour of time. Just make sure the person you prank can deal with the crustiness though. 

Mar 28, 2011

Accidental Inventor of Super Glue Dead at 94

Most people don't live to be 94. Most people don't receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Most people also don't invent, by accident, an extremely useful and widespread super-substance. Harry Coover, who died Saturday, did all these things.

In what must have been a very messy moment of discovery in 1942, Dr. Harry Coover of Eastman-Kodak Laboratories found that a substance he created-cyanoacrylate-was a miserable failure. It was not, to his dismay, at all suited for a new precision gun sight as he had hoped-it infuriatingly stuck to everything it touched. So it was forgotten. Six years later, while overseeing an experimental new design for airplane canopies, Coover found himself stuck in the same gooey mess with a familiar foe-cyanacrylate was proving useless as ever. But this time, Coover observed that the stuff formed an incredibly strong bond without needing heat. Coover and his team tinkered with sticking various objects in their lab together, and realized they had finally stumbled upon a use for the maddening goop. Coover slapped a patent on his discovery, and in 1958, a full 16 years after he first got stuck, cyanoacrylate was being sold on shelves.

Coover died over the weekend, according to his grandson—but not before racking up a PhD, 460 patents, and a spot in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Not bad for a guy who stumbled upon his greatest creation. So, the next time you stick together a broken plate (and not your fingers), pause and thank Dr. Coover's serendipity.

LG's 3D-shooting Optimus Pad

Japan's NTT DOCOMO just announced a March 31st retail offering of LG's Optimus Pad. The Honeycomb tablet listed as model L-06C is the same 8.9-inch 1280 x 768 pixel slab known as the G-Slate around T-Mobile subscribers. Besides its 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor and internationally compatible 3G data and GPS, the Optimus Pad's most noteworthy features are the stereoscopic rear-facing video cameras capable of 1080p 3D capture which can viewed directly on the L-06C with a pair of passive glasses. 

Mar 27, 2011

World’s Lightest Bike

A new road bike will probably cost you a grand or so. It'll also probably weight almost 30 pounds. But this featherweight specimen, made entirely out of carbon fiber, skimps on nothing—and weighs only six. Worth $45,000?

Crafted by Tucson's Fairwheel Bikes—really is a beautiful piece of engineering: titanium spokes, ten-speed rear gear, and a tough, gorgeous carbon frame you could haul around with one hand. 

Alarm Clock With Balls

It's basically an alarm clock which flings a ball at your face before going off. In order to make the noise stop, you have to find the ball and put it back where it belongs. Of course, there's no mention of an emergency snooze button so I guess you'll have to yank out the batteries if the ball is thrown out an open window or otherwise lost.

Mar 26, 2011

Sprint’s HTC Evo View Tablet Is a Big Aluminum 4G Phone


•1.5GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon® Processor
•Dimensions: 7.7 inches (195.4 mm) x 4.4 inches (112.5 mm) x 0.5 inches (13.2 mm)
•Weight: 14.88 ounces (421.84 grams)
•Display: 7-inch (177.8 mm), 1024 x 600 touchscreen display with pinch-to-zoom
•32GB internal memory, 1GB RAM; microSD slot (supports up to 32GB memory card)

It'll hit this summer, but no word on pricing. If it's stuck to a contract, it better be under $400.

Earth Hour 2011

In what has become an annual tradition now, the WWF's Earth Hour is presently sweeping across the globe, getting people to switch off non-essential lights and appliances for a sixty-minute kindness to Ma Earth and her finite energy resources. All you'll need to do to participate is power down the old World of Warcraft questing station, turn the TV off, and maybe take a walk outside so your lights don't have to be on, starting at 8.30PM tonight. Half the world's already done it.

Disaster Alert for Android Gives You Real-Time Updates on the World’s Active Hazards

If there's anything the Japan quake has taught us, it's that disaster can strike at any moment. PDC's Disaster Alert app for Android can help you cope with this scary fact by giving you real-time alerts on the world's active hazards, including earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, storms and more.

Mar 25, 2011

ASUS Lamborghini External HDD

Hot on the heels of ASUS' underwhelming Lamborghini VX6 netbook comes the equally over-hyped Lamborghini external HDD. Underneath that logo you've got either 500GB or 700GB of storage spinning at 5400RPM in the USB 2.0 model and 7200RPM in the USB 3.0 edition. The only sign of luxury in sight, however, is the price tag -- at $120 for the 500GB and $140 for the 700GB, the USB 2.0 versions are nearly twice as pricey as the non-Lambo competition.

The iPhone 4 Fits Exactly Inside the MacBook Air’s Lid Dent

A Swedish designer by the name of Mattias Östergren has a very keen eye, noticing that the iPhone 4 locks exactly with the shape of the MacBook air. Coincidence? Feature? Conspiracy? Cool? Hot? Pretty? Neat!

Qatar Will Use $500,000 Artificial Clouds for the World Cup

Apparently, the artificial clouds, developed by scientists at Qatar University, are made from a "lightweight carbon structure carrying a giant envelope of material containing helium gas." There are four solar-powered engines that will move the "cloud" (via remote control) to block the sun and make the temperature playable. 

This is cool! But this will also happen in 2022, a whole 11 years from now where we'll likely be using an iPhone 16 (which hopefully by then, will have its own artificial cloud) and seeing a dominant US soccer team win the damn thing. One or the other, at least.

Mar 24, 2011

Toothbrush-Toothpaste Hybrid

This is Twist&Brush, the toothbrush-toothpaste hybrid concept: It jams your toothpaste into its handle, so you never have to remember to bring those pesky extra tubes when you travel. An idea so tremendously obvious that it's brilliant.

The Perfect Dutch Bike For Those Who Don’t Eat Too Much Edam Cheese

Bikes with suspended seats already exist, but none as pretty as these. Sure, it might be more for the laydeeez in the house, but it'd certainly be a talking-point for whoever rides the thing.

Created by the Dutch Vanhulsteijn, the two or three-speed bikes start at 1,495 Euros ($2,110), and look to be pretty customizable in terms of what you can request it to look and ride like. 

Mac OS X Turns X Years Old Today

Whether it changed everything, made you think different, or was just a sideshow to the Windows centerpiece of your life, there's no denying version X of Mac OS has been the most successful and enduring piece of software Apple has ever produced. 

It is turning 10 years old today. And who knows, with the next iteration being dubbed Lion and the lack of any more senior big cats available, maybe this will be the last big anniversary before Apple takes the leap into version 11.

Mar 23, 2011

Gates, Bosch, And NuVinci Combine To Make Pedal-Assist E-bike Concept

There's those who want electric bikes that'll hurtle you down the road at 40mph at the twist of the throttle, and there's those who believe pedaling to be enjoyable enough, but would like a less strenuous bicycling experience.

 If you find yourself a member of column B, listen up, because Gates, NuVinci, andBosch have created an e-bike concept that'll satisfy your two-wheeled transportation needs. Gates supplied its Carbon electric belt drive, NuVinci brought its N360 infinitely variable planetary hub, and Bosch threw in a battery and control system to make a bicycle beauty.

The power train is set up to give riders pedal-assist with four settings that go from Lance to lazy, depending on your mood. At an estimated cost of €2,600 - €3,200 ($3,680 - $4,530).

Kingston's Class 10 MicroSD Family Gets Bigger, Stays Tiny

Kingston is putting an extra boost the smallest of its tiny memory cards. The popular provider of flash storage is upping its 4GB and 8GB microSDHC cards from Class 4 specifications (up to a 4 MB/s transfer rate) to a whopping Class 10 spec and all of its 10 MB/s goodness. The newly announced models join a 16GB version that has been available for several months.

By completing the family tree of Class 10 cards, Kingston is offering faster all-round performance for file transfers on smartphones, quicker write times for microSD-wielding cameras and basically a few seconds of your life back -- at lower prices than before, though you'll still be paying a premium compared to slower cards. The two memory cards start shipping at the end of March and are being offered with an available Mobility Kit, which includes an SD adapter and a USB card reader.

 But, if you want a full-fat 32GB model, you'll have to wait for Q2 of 2011 like the rest of us. Pricing starts at $22 for a 4GB model up to $138 for the 16GB model.

Xperia Play To Be Exclusive Launch Device For Gameloft's BackStab Action Game

It has begun. The Xperia Play, a device that promises to take mobile gaming to its next level of awesomeness, just scooped itself a one-month exclusive on a brand new action adventure game. BackStab, produced by mobile game makers Gameloft, has a "free roaming 3D environment" (old school 3D, not the fancy new stuff), filled with some decidedly yummy-looking graphics and what appears to be an emphasis on battling multiple enemies at once. It'll hit all of Android eventually, but for the first 30 or so days after its launch in Q2 2011, it'll be only on Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play.

Mar 22, 2011

Energizer Single-Device Inductive Charger

Standardized inductive charging with the Qi standard is a beautiful thing, last year Energizer's onlycharging pad had room for not one but two devices. Like before it supports the Qi standard and offers compatibility with a variety of devices -- if you don't mind using a variety of goofy sheaths and backpacks. No word on price or availability, but really it shouldn't take long to get this to stores.

Dolby Introduces Lighter, Cheaper 3D Glasses To Better Compete With RealD and IMAX

Dolby has been working on getting the cost of its 3D glasses down since bringing Infitec color shift technology to theaters back in '07. These should please theater operators by being cheaper than the old ones -- down to $12 or less per reusable pair from $17 last year and $27.50 the year before that -- and hopefully cinemagoers by being lighter, with a new multilayer optical film from 3M and redesigned frame to help block extraneous light. There's also RFID tags to help keep them from walking out of the moviehouse, and it claims they will fit over 98 percent of prescription glasses. So far RealD has lead the market with its cheaper glasses, multiple styles and home HDTV cross-compatibility, while IMAX is synonymous (usually) with big screens.

Tascam Outs New DR-07 Mark II Audio Recorder, Touts Adjustable Mics

If you're in the market for a quality audio recording device to capture demos somebody other than your mother would listen to, here's your chance to get those songs past her and out into the real world.Tascam, maker of professional music studio equipment, has just announced their newest addition to the recording family, the DR-07. Depending on what you'll be recording, the device allows the user to capture sound in XY or AB configuration using the adjustable dual microphones -- the XY adjustment for a tight stereo recording and AB for ambient, larger noise. The Mark II comes bundled with a 2GB microSD slot, features 17.5 hours of battery life and grabs MP3 audio at up to 320 kbps or WAV audio at up to 96 kHz. If you're interested in picking one of these up, hit up the more coverage link and drop the $150.

Mar 21, 2011

How Pee Helps Us Understand Social Media

So what exactly is the difference between how we use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare? Like most everything in life, it's easiest when you think in terms of pee.

Does This Shoe Fit You?

To publicize the Kang Shoe Company, this 3m-long electric shoe car has been driving around China at speeds of 30mph (48kmph), with one driver and a passenger at the wheel (lace?) of the car.

There are plans to build 40 of the things, so the company can have a whole wardrobe of shoe-cars to step into when a bit of hype is needed. I do wonder what the in-car hi-fi system is like—and whether there's a special radio station that plays nothing but drum & lace, and sole music?

This Tokyo Girl Levitates Daily

What do YOU do every day? Pick your nose? Argue with your girlfriend? Polish your iPad? I bet it's not as cool as this young lady from Tokyo, who photographs herself in a new levitating pose every day.

Mar 20, 2011

WD My Book Studio Edition II Goes To a Whopping 6TB Now

Western Digital's My Book Studio Edition II was already at the top of the leader board, with four interfaces (FireWire 800/400, eSATA, USB 2.0) and 4TB of storage. But now that the external hard drive comes in 6TB—for a relatively reasonably $550—and adds Apple Time Machine compatibility—it's a pro-level Mac user's dream. Assuming you don't have anything better to dream about than external hard drives.

You’re My Carbon Fiber Guitar Hero

Weighing in at 3lbs, this acoustic guitar is not like other acoustic guitars—you could almost say it's the Darth Vader of guitars. Evil to the core.

Creator Blackbird Guitars is asking $1,600 for it—quite a lot, yes, but they've done some tricky fiddling with the guitar's shape, by extending the shoulder to the 10th fret to increase the volume, and treating the asymmetrical hole as an amplifier. Just don't go playing the Imperial March on it.

Mar 19, 2011

Never Squint To Read The Time Again With This Watch

Analog watches can be terribly difficult to read, and can lead to squinting and adjusting your arm position to focus your eyes on those blasted dashed lines and watch hands. The Zoomin Watch concept fixes that problem.

The hour and minute hands are replaced by mini magnifying glasses, which makes reading the time as easy as a digital watch.

Could You Live in This Ultra Minimalist Home?

I like minimalism. But Aires Mateus's House In Leiria goes a few notches beyond being merely clutter-free—the Portuguese abode doesn't just have stark interiors but a strikingly featureless white exterior, too.

Aside from the serious white paint costs that must come with keeping this racquetball-court-of-a-home pristine throughout the year, it's just an uncomfortable space to inhabit.

The headache continues when you consider how kids, pets, guests, rodents, neighbors' pets, and various meteorological phenomena are basically all continually conspiring to dirty up your place. In an all white house, that one scuff becomes essentially impossible not to notice. So, yes, it seems like cleaning would have to be something of a constant at the House In Leiria. At least you don't have to spend any time washing the windows.

Mar 18, 2011

Leg iPad Stand

The PadPivot doesn't just work with iPads, claims the designer, with all sorts of tablets and ereaders fitting in the stand's slot of sticking to the washable adhesive grap.

I particularly like the way you can tilt the iPad for gaming, when it's used as a leg-brace. Most clever! It'll be available from April.

Books Sculpted to Look Like Their Authors

For the Dutch book week, several books were hacked into and carved to look like their author's faces. There's Anne Frank and Kader Abdolah up above, looking all wooden-headed. Which author would you choose to carve?

The Toy Tazer Is Great for Tasing Kids

Have a rowdy bunch of kids? Why not tase them a little bit to teach 'em a lesson? The Toy Tazer is perfect because for one, they're dirt cheap at only $3.40 and for two, it's not that harmful at only 3.6V per shot (versus 50,000 in police tasers). Let your kid know what it feels like before he really gets tased, you know? It's only good parenting. 

Mar 17, 2011

These Indestructible Rubber Speakers Amplify Your Earbuds to 80dB

There are plenty of situations which warrant music but aren't exactly conducive to real speakers, vacations and day trips foremost among them. Tembo Trunks, a Kickstarter project conceived by two Australian brothers on holiday in Africa, looks to be the perfect acoustic compromise.

The Trunks are collapsible silicone cones that function as amplifiers for regular iPod earbuds. They fold and stack for easy travel, require no power, and can withstand being run over by a car. Basically you toss 'em in your pack and forget about them until you need 'em.

Flaps on the back of the cones secure earbuds in place—they're designed for Apple's stock buds but presumably work with others as well—and amplify the music the buds are emitting to 80 dB, somewhere between a regular conversation and the racket made by a lawnmower. Maybe not dance party-level boom, but certainly loud enough for a group of people to enjoy.

Official LEGO Minifigs Get the USB Legs They’ve Always Dreamed Of

USB sticks and LEGO minifigs have finally tied the knot, never to be separated again, til death do them part. They run a reasonable $25 for 2GB capacity, and you'll never have one of these two things without wanting both of them in one adorable keychain item ever again.

Whoa! Your New iPad Will Stick To Your Fridge

Provided your new iPad is attached to its magnetical Smart Cover, it'll cling on to your refrigerator like a spider monkey to a tree branch. Or like something magnetic to something metal. It's true! It seems like it's all being held up by the magnets on the flap of the Smart Cover—I could definitely use it as a reference while cooking (read: doing FaceTime with my Mom while she tells me how to cook) without being too worried about slippage. Disclaimer: don't do this at home, because maybe your refrigerator isn't as magnet-friendly.

Mar 12, 2011

Google Earth Showing New Satellite Images of Japan

You're probably going to want to polish up and open Google Earth. Google has been processing new updated satellite images of Japan and they're constantly trying to find more as fast as possible. They're on top of Kushiro, Tokyo, Kamaishi, Fukushima (before outer structure collapse) and Yokohama right now.

Mar 7, 2011

I Just Bought a Bottle of Ketchup on Facebook

While I was punching in my credit card details on Facebook for a bottle of Heinz ketchup with balsamic vinegar (I'm a sucker for anything limited edition...and ketchup), it occurred to me just how strange it was to be buying anything—let alone a condiment!—on Facebook. But that's the world we live in now.

Have you ever bought anything on Facebook? As more and more people are using sites like Groupon, and taking advantage of companies' offers after following them on Twitter, it makes a lot of sense for brands to take to Facebook to properly "own" their promotions. Everything about the sale of the bottle of ketchup (which is only available to UK fans of Heinz, I'm afraid) was done on Facebook—and crucially, they included the option to share the deal with my Facebook friends.

Spamming my friends' feeds is something I wouldn't normally do—but why do we (and I say "we," because I'm seeing it regularly in my webetiquette-savvy friends) feel that sharing details of a promotion is ok? We're literally falling for the trap. We're endorsing and advertising Heinz, one of the biggest companies around. A company that needs no help selling products. If this limited edition bottle of ketchup was being sold in a supermarket, it would inevitably sell just fine, without any promotion on the social media channels.

It's a clever move of Heinz's (and its PR/marketing team), and we're going to be seeing a lot more of it in the future, whether we like it or not. You'll have to literally hide under a rock (or disconnect your router) to not notice these well-targeted plays at our pursestrings. Please "fan" my product—and welcome to the digital supermarket.

Mar 2, 2011

Olympus’ TOUGH TG-810 Camera Feels the Brute Force of 100kg Blows

Could you withstand a force of 100kg? Olympus is claiming its TOUGH TG-810 camera can. Naturally, I'd like to see video evidence of that (wouldn't we all?), but all we have for now is Olympus' word. What we can probably take them on is the three-sensor GPS, electronic compass and inbuilt manometer (ladies, that's not what you think it is—it's actually a pressure-measuring tool).

In regards to optics, the camera has a 14MP sensor, with a 5x wide zoom on the lens. ISO rangeis 80 - 1600, and it can record video at 720p. Further pushing the envelope on its "all adventurer" schtick, it also has four underwater scene modes. "Capturing escapee genitals from bathing suits" probably isn't one of them.

You'll be able to pick it up sometime this month for €299 in Europe, or $400 in the US.

Mar 1, 2011

You’d Be Hard-Pressed to Find a Cheaper Ring-Flash Than This $40 One

Looking a whole heap more professional than a DIY ring-flash, Photojojo's $40 flash is light in two ways: it weighs just 700 grams, and uses the light from your existing flashgun to illuminate your photos evenly, and strongly.

It doesn't have its own lights like expensive ring-flashes, but if you're not willing to fork out double or even triple the price of Photojojo's F160, then it's a nice compromise. 

Walk to the Beat of These Sneaker Speakers

Shoes with speakers have been heard before, but not like this. This set of sneaker speakers uses the iconic Air Force One as the housing and comes complete with a full range speaker, tweeter, amp and volume controls. The wood base that the urrforce ones stand on actually makes the set look tasteful. It was handmade by Alex Nash  for the Havana Club as an art project.

Try and Solve This 17×17x17 Rubiks Cube if You Dare

Unofficially, this is theworld's largest cube puzzle. I get a headache just thinking about how one would go about solving this functioning 17x17x17 behemoth.

Comprised of 1539 pieces and roughly 5.5-inches-long in each direction, creator Oskar van Deventer fabricated each individual part using a 3D printer, then he dyed and sorted each piece before assembling it into what your see here. The dyeing and sorting took 10 hours, while the assembling took another five. Hello, tedium!

If you'd like to dye, sort and assemble one yourself, you can spend roughly $2000 in partshere. If you want a finished product, you can check it here.