Nov 30, 2011

TED Goes Mobile with New iPhone App

Sure the free TED app has been available on the iPad since last year but—gasp!—not everybody owns an iPad. Now, those of us without tablets can enjoy brilliant conversations on the go with the new TED iPhone app.

The iPhone version has the same access to TED's library of lectures as its large-screen brethren and allows users to bookmark and download—via Wi-Fi—videos for playback. They can even be streamed to a home television using Airplay or listened to through TEDRadio, an audio-only version of the discussions. Its available free from iTunes here.

Nov 29, 2011

YouTube Got Nearly 21 Billion Hits in a Month

The latest report from comScore makes for eye popping reading -- Google's video sites, of which YouTube is the most important, received 20,933,113,000 views in October. To put that into some context, that's roughly three videos watched by every person alive on the planet. According to the statistics, YouTubers spent an average of seven hours watching the month's hottest videos (such as Community's Beetlejuice easter egg and Naughty Fenton). Surprisingly, Facebook came second, but viewers spent an measly average of 18 minutes watching last night's karaoke. In other news, Hulu came top for online advertising and Vevo was the most watched partner site, you guys obviously love your Lady Gaga.

Seagate Outs Second-gen Momentus XT: a 750GB Hybrid Laptop Drive for $189

Seagate was quick to jump into the hybrid HDD/SSD fray last year, with the decently priced and capableMomentus XT. Now we have a successor with identical branding, but with the HDD upped to 742GB, NAND storage slightly increased to 8GB, plus a faster SATA III 6Gb/s interface. The 'flash-assisted drive' promises to cut boot-up and lag times compared to a standard laptop hard disk, by gradually learning which of your files are popular enough to deserve a spot in that solid state VIP lounge. We're looking at a price of $189, including a five-year warranty, and availability from today.

Nov 28, 2011

The Droid 4 Looks Like a Big RAZR and Will Be Here Soon

We've been expecting Motorola's Droid 4 for a while, but now official images and specs have leaked into the wild. And it looks a lot like a bigger version of the recent RAZR.

In terms of specs, Droid Life report that we can expect: a 4-inch screen (though it's not clear if it's LCD or AMOLED), 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, a 5-row slide out keyboard, 4G LTE, and an 8MP camera.

It's not setting the world on fire with innovation, sure, but it sounds like a powerful device, and it could be just the phone if you want Android and a decent physical keyboard.

Droid Life also report that Verizon have been training shop staff ready for the Droid 4 launch, and even speculate that it could launch on 8 December. Let's wait and see.

Apple’s Got Free Shipping on Everything Until Dec. 22nd

Okay, so it's not exactly a Cyber Monday blowout. But Apple's dangling a small shopping incentive today, offering free shipping on any and everything you can buy online or through the Apple Store app from now until December 22nd.

Cupertino already offered complimentary shipping on bigger ticket items, so this isn't a huge deal for you MacBook and iPad buyers.

Nov 27, 2011

Unlocked Nokia Lumia 800 now Available on Expansys, Plays Nce with AT&T

You could sit there and twiddle your thumbs while you wait for the Lumia 800 to arrive on US shores. Or you could just head over to Expansys, where you can grab an unlocked version of Nokia's new handset, for $789. The Mango-soaked device comes packed with 16GB of internal storage and is primed for use on AT&T, so if you're prepared to shell out the dough, check it here.

Nov 26, 2011

Tamagotchi Celebrates 15th Birthday and Is Still Available For Your Loving Embrace

You might remember those pesky virtual petkeychain things, which managed to successfully spawn out of Japan to populate the world, and annoy the hell out of parents everywhere. They were launched 15 years ago, November 23rd 1996.

I have to hold my hands up and admit, I had not one, but two of these things when I was a kid. When it landed in 1997, so I hope you can forgive me, right? But a quick look on Amazon tells me you can still buy them. Why on Earth anyone would obsess over such a basic toy when you've got the likes of Nintendogs to take care of these days, is beyond me. Still, if you fancy a nostalgia trip that'll likely last for about 35 seconds before you realise once again, why you hate them — an authentic one will set you backfrom $15.

Nov 25, 2011

Why Your Thanksgiving Meal Makes You Tired

Today, you're gonna shovel one hell of a lot of turkey and pie down your throat, then collapse in a food-coma in front of the TV. But why does your huge meal make you feel like snoozing?

As you'd expect, science has some answers. It turns out that there are two big factors that make you fancy a snooze soon after the pumpkin pie is polished off.

First, when the food starts to arrive in your belly, the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system increases and the activity of the sympathetic nervous system decreases. Huh, what does that mean? Well, the sympathetic nervous system provides our fight-or-flight response. The parasympathetic system gets your organs ready for digestion. Basically, your body wants you to stay still in order to sort out the contents of your stomach. That's why you choose not to move too much after your meal.

Next, when you start digesting your food, you get a big rush of glucose into your blood stream. If you don't have diabetes, your body creates insulin to help the body's cells absorb the glucose. The insulin works by affecting the uptake of a bunch of amino acids in the body — stick with me here! — except for one called tryptophan. So the concentration of tryptophan increases relative to other amino acids. Turns out that in the brain, tryptophan is converted to serotonin, which is itself converted to melatonin — both of which result in sleepiness.

Voila! Your nervous system and your brain both want you to sleep. So I say go with it.

Incidentally, there's a myth that turkey contains a lot of tryptophan. That's kinda rubbish, though, as turkey doesn't contain any more than chicken, beef, or plenty of other meats. So don't blame the turkey too much. Blame your gluttony instead.

Can Scientists Make a Battery That Will Survive 40,000 Charges?

The one problem with gadgets is power. Even if batteries start off long-lasting, after 12 months they start to struggle. But a new material might change that.

A team of researchers from Stanford have developed a new battery electrode that can survive 40,000 charge cycles. That's about a hundred times more than a normal Lithium-Ion battery, and enough to make it usable for somewhere between 10-30 years.

So how does it work? It's down to what it's made from: copper hexacyanoferrate. The structure of the material lets charge-carrying ions move in and out of the electrode easily, and it's extremely rugged, so it degrades at a much slower rate than Li-On batteries. That all means it can charge and discharge rapidly, and lasts for ages.

Nov 24, 2011

Modular USB Flash Drive Concept Offers a New Way to Sort Your Data

USB drives may come in all shapes and sizes these days, but they all basically give you one of two choices: you can buy one big drive to store as much of your data as possible, or juggle a bunch of drives if you want to keep things separate. Designer Hyunsoo Song has proposed an alternative with this so-called Amoeba modular USB flash drive, however, which let you sort your data on individual drives that can be used both on their own or together as one large drive. The idea there being that you can keep the drives together most of the time, and just detach the appropriate section if you want to share only your photos or videos with someone. Of course, the keyword here is "concept," but it's not exactly as far beyond the realm of possibility as some others we've seen.

Nov 23, 2011

Cornstarch Plastic and Aluminum Make These Headphones Recyclable

Eco-friendliness isn't my biggest concern when it comes to buying headphones, but I guess even Greenpeace likes listening to music, so designer Michael Young has created these recyclable over-the-ear cans as a follow-up to his cornstarch earbuds.

While you can't just chuck 'em in the recycling bin when you tire of the music scene, the headphones are made from repurposable materials like stainless steel, aluminum and cornstarch bio-plastics. Created as part of a joint effort between EOPS, Michael Young, and online store Collette, the Noisezero O+ Eco edition ear goggles are also as good for discerning ears as they are for the environment.

For $159 the headphones even feature a three button inline remote with microphone for taking calls when used with a smartphone, and are available in a gray anthracite or gold finish. I know they're not exactly at the highest end of the headphone pricing scale, but for close to $200 I'd at least expect them to have a single cord design. More here.

Microsoft Thinking About Buying Yahoo. Again

Seems like only a few years ago Microsoft was courting Yahoo. Yeah, that didn't work out so hot. Well, Microsoft is back to kicking Yahoo's tires. And this time Yahoo isn't telling at Redmond to get off its lawn.

The New York Times reports that Microsoft has signed an NDA that allows it to peer into Yahoo's financials. Yahoo is currently searching for a new daddy, and every company that's expressed interest has been asked to sign an agreement that lets it peek at Yahoo's books, but not talk to any of the other companies who are looking. NBD: Microsoft got around this restriction by speaking with potential partners before signing the agreement. Sneaky.

Currently, Microsoft and Yahoo have a lucrative partnership: Yahoo sells ads against Microsoft's Bing search engine results. An investment in Yahoo would not only keep that deal alive, it could also allow Microsoft to leap further into the search-engine ad space. Microsoft has had its sights on Google's ad dollars for years and a Yahoo acquisition could give Redmond another piece of ammunition to take on the Mountain View company.

Nov 22, 2011

Tascam Unveils iM2 Microphone add-on for iOS Devices

Sure, audio recording via the stock mic and iOS app is pretty serviceable for most tasks, but what about capturing that next Avett Brothers gig? You need look no further than Tascam's iM2 stereo microphone for your Apple handheld or slate. Equipped with a pair of condenser microphones -- the same kit as the outfit's DR-series recorders -- the iM2 plugs right in to the dock port of your iOS device.

The duo is adjustable over 180-degrees for the perfect capture and it sports its own preamp and analog-to-digital converter to cut out unwanted coughs and increase those vicious banjo chops. Since the peripheral doesn't use the stock iPhone preamp, it is capable of capturing up to 125dB levels without distortion. And don't worry about that 4S dying mid-set, as the iM2 features a USB input that enables charging through the encore. If you're jonesin' for a closer look, grab yours for $80 here.

The Biggest Advancement in Potato Chip Technology Since the Invention of the Ruffle

Pringles thinks it's so slick with its stackable chips and pop-top lids. Well, consider the playing field leveled, Lays aficionados, with this universal, resealable bag cap.

The Bag Cap by Copco uses a two-part design wherein the lower section installs around the open end of the bag and the upper cap snaps into place. The cap works with any bag (not just potato chips) and is refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher safe so you can protect your peas from freezer burn without having to hunt for rubber bands. The Bag Cap comes in both medium and large sizes—for family size feed bags—and retail for $7-12 on Amazon.

Nov 21, 2011

The Real Facebook Phone Is Finally Coming?

You might remember the AT&T Status, the "Facebook phone" that didn't quite live up to its name. Now, AllThingsD claims, the rumors will finally bear fruit: a Facebook Phone made by Facebook. The real deal. And it sounds pointless.

ATD says "the phone is planned to run on a modified version of Android that Facebook has tweaked heavily to deeply integrate its services." Now, if that means a Kindle Fire take on Android—basically making it unrecognizable—that could be a great thing. But if it means stuffing Android with lots of Facebook links, it could be a race car wreck.

But here's a more urgent point—do we need this? Don't we already have this? "Facebook has worked to take things a step further," AllThingsD alleges, "allowing users to upload photos directly from the picture-taking app, or to integrate Facebook contacts with the phone's address book." You mean like Windows Phone 7 does? You mean like WebOS did from day one? What hole is Zuckerberg trying to fill here?


Vivitar’s 3D Camcorder Is Only $99

I don't know how good or bad is the Vivitar ViviCam 790HD 3D camcorder, but it has an insanely low price: $99. If you have a 3D TV, it's going to be hard not to pick one for the holidays.

The 790HD is a 5.1-megapixel video camera with 4x optical zoom and 2.7-inch display capable of capturing in 3D. They are also releasing the ViviCam VT135, a 12.1-megapixel compact camera that takes 3D stills, it will cost $99 at Target.

The Galaxy Nexus Outperforms the iPhone 4S

In the SunSpider Javascript Benchmark (version 0.9.1) the Galaxy Nexus scored a very speedy 1879 versus the iPhone 4S's 2250. Obviously, lower is better in this test. The Nexus also outperformed the 4S in the Rightware BrowserMark test, scoring 98,272 versus the 4S's 87,841 (higher is better). The translation of this clusterflock of numbers is that page rendering on the Galaxy Nexus should be faster. The thing is the processor on the Galaxy Nexus is nothing otherworldly, which means that Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) has made some serious software enhancements. In other words, when ICS comes to a phone or tablet withbeefier specs it's going to give you whiplash.

Nov 20, 2011

Nook Tablet Gets Rooted, Bootloader Stays Under Lock and Key

Jealous of that root-ready Kindle Fire, but not ready to trudge through the Amazon to get it? Don't worry, you can stay huddled up with your Nook Tablet and get all the device rooting you want -- with a few caveats. Although the good folks on the XDA Forums haven't unlocked the slab's bootloader just yet, they've managed to root the tablet all the same. Jumping through a few technical hoops (or stumbling across forum user Indirect's one-click Windows utility) will score you access to the Android market and another way to sideload apps on the souped up slate. Custom ROMs? Not yet; in addition to killing the root with every device reboot, the locked bootloader is keeping the Nook's tweaked build of Android 2.3 front and center. More here.

Apple Patent Application Aims to Keep iPhones Shatter-proof With Shock Mounted Glass

From 'smart' pens to a smarter Siri, Apple's always attempting to find new ways to improve the iPhone, and the company's latest patent application wants to keep its crack-prone glass blemish free. Aptly named a "shock mounting cover glass in consumer electronic devices," the invention claims a tunable shock mount sandwiched between the phone's glass and other hardware.

There's also plans for a sensor that can distinguish a "drop event" from normal phone movements and an actuator to prepare the shock mount for impact. Given that it's only at the application stage, we won't be seeing bombproof iPhone displays any time soon, but here's hoping it'll become a product reality someday. Mostly so we can see just how much of a beating it can take.

Siri, Coming To Android?

We already know that Siri does most of its processing server-side, and that Apple's claims of hardware as a limiting factor are tenuous at best. But new research from French developer Applidium reveals that Apple is truly full of it.

They've managed to completely reveal the entire process used for communications between the iPhone 4S and Apple's servers. In doing so, they discovered that the only thing keeping Siri from running on Android (or just about anything with a microphone and an internet connection) was a single line of code. Furthermore, they suggest that it's entirely possible to create a third-party Siri client that could fool Apple's servers into thinking they were talking with a normal iPhone 4S. Unfortunately, it's that single line of code that could severely hobble any attempt to capitalize on this discovery.

As it turns out, that code is unique to each individual iPhone 4S and as of now, there's no way to replicate it. So in order to get a third party-client working, you would either have to sacrifice a large number of iPhones, or risk easy detection by the Apple Gestapo. Basically, the only thing standing between you and a Siri-equipped refrigerator is a string of random characters.

Nov 19, 2011

Most of Einstein’s Brain Is Now Concentrated in New Jersey and Philadelphia

What, you didn't think academia would just let the finest mind in science rot do you? When Einstein died in 1955, his grey matter was preserved for posterity. Now, 46 slivers of his thinking cap have been donated to Philadelphia's Mütter Museum.

Lucy Rorke-Adams, a neuropathologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, donated the slides yesterday to the museum, part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Rorke-Adams received the slides in the mid-1970's from the widow of a physician who helped arrange their preparation.

While some of the slide sets have been lost over the decades, a majority of his brain remains at Princeton University where the autopsy was performed and where researchers have spent the better part of 50 years inspecting them for physical clues to Einstein's genius. The Mütter slides "are a very important part of medical history," said Rorke-Adams.

Kingston HyperX is an SSD Soul Stuck in a Flash Drive's Body

The performance is pretty impressive, getting 225MB/s read and 135MB/s write -- making it Kingston's fastest ever flash drive (and a tempting shot at expanding the solid state storage on a laptop). The setup is capped off with a sturdy rubber cover and keyring hook, although we wouldn't fancy putting gear this expensive at the mercy of our car keys. Kingston isn't saying when the devices are coming out, but expect the 64GB model to set you back $193, with 128GB running up a tab to the tune of $377.

Nov 18, 2011

I Want to Take a Bite Out of the Most Insane-Looking Camera Ever

Pentax, longtime king of the hideous/genius technicolor DSLR, has lost its throne. This custom job looks like someone took a Canon and dipped it in Willy Wonka's exposed brain. Only... delicious!

It has sprinkles, chocolate sauce, advanced imaging circuitry, and perhaps some sort of homage to Dippin' Dots? At any rate, it's extremely rad looking, and I wish more cameras dared to be more than black or grey. Maybe not candy store nervous breakdown, but a tad more expressive. More here.

Yup, Some People Are Already in Line for Black Friday

I don't know what's in the water in Florida but the same exact Best Buy location that got ridiculously early Black Friday line ups last year is getting ridiculously early Black Friday line ups this year. Yep, people are in line RIGHT NOW.

More than a week early! Skipping Thanksgiving! Who needs to work? YAY WE GET LAPTOPS AND TVs FOR A LITTLE BIT LESS EXPENSIVE THAN USUAL. The magical Best Buy where they must pump fairy dust and heroin through their vents is located near the Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg, Florida. Last year, that Best Buy awarded the family who camped out early free iPads for their dedication. There's no mention of such luxurious treatment this year. Aww.

Christine Orta actually set up her tent (and motorcycle?) on Wednesday and is coordinating a stakeout strategy with three other families. Orta and her cohorts are all students which well explains a lot—save money, waste time, be crazy.

Self-Healing Plastic

By adding some extra ingredients and a pinch of a zinc compound to a traditional epoxy resin, a team of French researchers have made a plastic whose chemical bonds continually break and reform. When it's cold, the material is pretty rigid, maintaining its shape. Warm it up, though, and the plastic becomes malleable, allowing the material to heal small scratches and dents.

Normally synthetic plastics fall into two types: thermoplastics and thermosets. The former can be heated and remoulded but are weak, and the latter can only be processed once but are strong. This new plastic sits in the middle: it's possible to remould it, but it's also strong. It even maintains its properties when it's ground up and recycled.

It sounds too good to be true. Maybe it is. But I want everything plastic I own from now on to be made out of it.

Nov 17, 2011

Your Next Phone Might Be Fuelled by Liquid Metal, More Like Terminator

This week rumours have circulated about HTC launching a blisteringly quick 2.5GHz quad-core phone. But that will soon seem paltry, when our mobile devices are fuelled by liquid metal.

IBM have been working out how to use liquid to simultaneously fuel and cool processors - and they've managed it. In their Zurich Research Laboratory, the team have taken their inspiration from the human brain.
"The human brain is 10,000 times more dense and efficient than any computer today. That's possible because it uses only one, extremely efficient, network of capillaries and blood vessels to transport heat and energy, all at the same time," IBM's Bruno Michel told New Scientist.
First, this bunch of IBM engineers stacked hundreds of silicon wafers on top of each other to create three-dimensional processors. Nothing particularly new there: after all, Intel's new Ivy Bridge processors, to be launched in 2012, do just that.

But IBM have created channels between the wafers which allow liquid metal - vanadium, to be precise - to run through the entire processor. Because the liquid is metallic, it can be used to carry charged particles that power the chip. As the vanadium loses its charge, it also absorbs heat, meaning the fluid acts as a coolant, too.

The knock-on effect? Far high efficiency, and far higher clock speeds in tiny devices. Which could leave the 2.5GHz HTC quaking in its boots.

Nov 16, 2011

Google Music Drops beta, MP3 Store and Google+ Integration Along for the Ride

Been dutifully uploading music to Mountain View's cloud since Google I/O? Might want hit pause for just a sec, while you tune to Google's beat here in Los Angeles, as it's just gone and launched its own music store integrated with Android Market. Best part is, the service still free, though you can now purchase millions of songs from the store to expand your collection of tunes. 90-second track previews are available, and all songs are high quality 320kbps MP3s. And for those with an aversion to waiting, which should be all of you, uploads can now be nixed entirely, provided tracks in your possession jive with Google's master copies. The company is now on equal footing with Cupertino and Amazon's music offerings, who both offer direct sales coupled with a cloud component that allows for unlimited redownloads. Yet it more closely resembles the latter, as unlike the former there isn't a $25 yearly free as all tracks can be streamed for free.

Naturally, a new version of the Google Music app is already available in the Android Market, and a fresh look for Music Manager will follow in the next few hours. Unsurprisingly, Google Music sans beta brings tight integration with Google +. You can now share songs on your friend stream, and not just samples, either -- your buddies can listen to full tracks or albums one time through without ever leaving your profile.

Nokia to Release Windows 8 Tablets This June, top Drawer Lumia in the Works?

There's some intriguing Nokia news coming out of France this morning, thanks to Paul Amsellem, head of the company's Gallic outpost. In a recent interview with Parisian daily Les Echos, Amsellem described Nokia's aspirations to regain some of the market share it's lost within France, explaining that his firm is squarely targeting the 60 percent of French users who currently don't own a smartphone. More salient, however, is what the exec had to say about Nokia's plans for future releases. 

According to Amsellem, Espoo will unveil a new Windows 8 equipped tablet by June 2012. Unfortunately, that's about all he had to say on the subject, but it's certainly enough of a carrot to raise our heart rates -- as are Amsellem's comments on the Lumia 800, which hit French stores yesterday. Comparing the handset to a BMW 5 series, the chief went on to say that Nokia "will soon have a full range with a 7 Series and 3 Series." 

Nov 15, 2011

Ballmer didn't say Windows 8 is Coming to Phones

Oh, what a difference punctuation makes. Speaking at the company's shareholders' meeting earlier today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a remark that set more than a few geek hearts aflutter. According to various reports, he said "We've got broad Windows initiatives driving Windows down to the phone with Windows 8."

Turns out, that's not how he said it. A Microsoft rep confirmed to us that if transcribed correctly, Ballmer's remarks (documented in the recording below) should read, "We've got broad Windows initiatives driving Windows down to the phone. With Windows 8, you'll..." By "Windows," then, he meant the overarching family of software bearing the Windows name, and not Windows 8 specifically. 

This Edison Bulb with an LED Heart Makes Us Love Incandescents Again

Like an obnoxious great uncle who's overstayed his welcome, horribly inefficient incandescent bulbs are still lingering around because we're just used to them. So Panasonic has designed a new LED alternative with a visible filament and clear glass that looks like the classic Edison bulb, while still being remarkably more energy efficient.

There's no word on when you can get your hands on one, or how insanely expensive they'll initially be, but Panasonic's new LED bulb goes a long way to bridging the psychological gap that keeps people buying inefficient incandescents because they prefer the way they look. Using just 4.4 watts of power, the LED filament in this bulb is rated for up to 40,000 hours of use. So if you were to install one just after you were born, you wouldn't have to change it until your 40th birthday, with just a few hours of use every day.

Besides the energy saving benefits, LEDs aren't as harmful to the environment as CFLs, which contain mercury and need to be disposed of properly. And they reach full intensity as soon as they're turned on, making them better suited in places like bathrooms where you don't necessarily want to have to wait for the lights to warm up. The development won Panasonic a2011 Good Design Award, and hopefully convinced the powers that be that these are certainly worth putting into production. Even if only those of us on the bleeding edge are willing to spring for them.

Nov 14, 2011

Shimano Showcases the Ultegra Di2 Electronic Bike Gears

How much would you spend for an upgrade to smooth shifting on your next road bike? If $8,000 is in the ballpark, then Shimano-powered electronic shifters may be in your future. Outfitted with the company's newest Ultegra 6770 Di2 series of gears, the shifters give a taste of technology normally reserved for Tour de Francers -- at new, more affordable pricing. So what was it like to be the envy of cyclists everywhere?

Many aspiring Lance Armstrongs will tell you that the future of bike technology is all about electronic gear-shifting. Unlike the traditional lever shifter, the electronic variety uses a motorized derailleur to move the chain from cog to cog. Thought by many to be faster, smarter and easier to use than a regular shifter, the electronic version only requires the click of a mouse-like button. The handlebar controls move both the front and the rear gears, giving the rider enhanced control over the ride with minimal effort. The shifter is powered by a removable lithium ion battery, which requires a 90-minute charge every 1,250 miles or so.

Even an amateur bike rider will be able to feel the difference between Shimano electronic gears and those on a standard road bike. The super sensitive shifter only requires a light press to move the chain in the front or rear derailleur and find the perfect gear. There's no sticking or bumpy shifting, making the action smooth and effortless -- getting the shift right every time. Of course, moving between gears may not be that big of a deal for those of us used to a Huffy, but when it comes to winning triathlons and road races, a smooth shifter is one of the key components to copping a gold medal to compliment your Lycra bodysuit. Expect to see Shimano's new line of electronic gears in various bikes in the coming months.

Impossible to Destroy Hardshell Backpack

This super slick hard shell backpack, called Solid Gray and made in the Netherlands, is cut and shaped from a single sheet of polypropene block copolymer. It's supposedly so strong that even if you bend it a million times it will never break or tear.

The material made to create the Solid Gray backpack was previously only used for industrial purposes but is now finally being used in a consumer product for the first time. The Solid Gray backpack has a special strap to hold a laptop in place (15.6" and under) and is water resistant. Get it here.

Sunken Pedestrian Bridge Parts The Waters Without a Miracle

Designed for tourists visiting a fort in the Netherlands, instead of being a means for the ancient Israelites to escape the Egyptians, this Moses Bridge sits below the water line of a moat so it visually disappears. Recreating what the fort and surrounding area would have looked like back in the 17th century,

Originally built in the early 1700s to protect the Netherlands from invasion by France and Spain, Fort de Roovere was surrounded by a shallow, muddy moat that prevented armies from crossing it, even with boats. But now that those threats are mostly gone, the fort is opened to tourists. And since an elevated bridge would have taken away from the aesthetics of the fort's design, this sunken bridge was designed instead.

It's made from sustainable Accoya wood treated with a non-toxic waterproof coating that protects it from decay, and since the moat is too shallow for boat traffic, there's little risk of waves splashing up over the side. But, it also finally provides both France and Spain with an easy way to cross the moat, so I'm hoping that the Netherlands hasn't let their guard down too early.

Nov 13, 2011

Apple iPhone 4S now Available for $99 in Puerto Rico

Sure, you can now purchase an unlocked iPhone 4S within the US officially, but folks in the outlying territory of Puerto Rico have some tempting options if they'll go the long-term contractual route. The region's division of carrier, Claro, is now selling the Siri-packed device starting at the low, low price of $99 for the 16GB model on-contract -- those scared of commitment can also snag it unlocked, albeit for a slightly pricey $670 (which as 9to5Mac points out, is up $20 from Apple). 

The carrier also lists the 32 and 64GB variants as "expected soon," marked to sell at $199 / $299 with a two-year commitment and $770 / $870 unlocked. Notably, you'll have a choice of four monthly plans featuring unlimited talk and text ranging from about 65 to 85 bucks, with data allotments starting at 250MB and peaking at "unlimited." Apparently, Claro isn't offering the 4S for purchase online, but it does list a number of retail locations you can grab one from if you're interested. More here.

These Keychain Multi-Tools Prove That Nothing Is Cooler Than Milled Titanium

I couldn't tell you why, but CNC-milled titanium seems to invoke the same testosterone pumping response as watching a grizzly bear fight a bald eagle. 

At first glance I'm not quite sure what to make of these supposed 'multi-tools.' Despite having edges designed for prying and a nonadjustable wrench on the Barbar, neither of them have any dedicated screwdrivers, pliers or even a blade. So they don't appear to be particularly useful as actual tools. But at the same time, they're friggin' beautiful! It's as if someone gave Picasso a CNC machine, a chunk of titanium, and told him to make a keychain. Plus, there's a bottle opener, and let's be honest, that's the only tool you really need. Get them here.

Nov 12, 2011

Genius Vented Candleholder Provides Easy Access For a Lit Match

Since your fancy gooseneck lighter always seems to be out of fuel, you might want to pick up a set of these vented tea light holderswhich are a stroke of genius. They feature a slit down the side that lets you easily light a candle with even the shortest of matches, reducing those burns that have become a holiday tradition for me.

Created by Form Us With Love, the Match Candleholders are fortunately actually available from Design Within Reach in green, blue, purple, and grey. But unfortunately, a set of four will set you back a whopping $75. So with an ever growing credit card bill around Christmas time, I think I'm going to stick with bandaged fingertips and an extra $75 in my pocket this year. Get them here.

HTC Rezound Starts Shipping Early Because you can't Stop the Beats

When HTC took the wraps off the Rezound, it tipped us all off to a November 14th launch for Verizon'sBeats Audio-branded device. Now, it appears that those of you who jumped on the pre-order bandwagon are getting premature access to the red-and-black-tinged goods, with some units arriving as early as today. 

How'd this come about? Well, it seems a few eager beavers lucked out during the purchasing process, selecting overnight delivery and receiving the phones toute de suite. I have a feeling Dr. Dre would approve.

Nov 11, 2011

Why Do Crocodiles Eyes Shine So Beautifully at Night?

Those little bright lights belong toyacarés—caiman latirostris. They are broad-snouted caimans, crocodilian reptiles typical of eastern and central South America. Why do their eyes shine in such a pretty way?

It's the crystals inside their retina, inside a layer called tapetum. This tissue reflects light in such a way that makes these yacarés and the rest of the crocodiles have night vision. Oh, little crocodiles, you are so pretty!

These were photographed by Daniel Fox at the Yacaré Pora farm in Ituzaingo, Argentina. He probably thought they were too pretty to ignore. Lewis Carroll agrees:
How doth the little crocodile
Improve upon his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!
Next time you are in the zoo, don't forget to put your hand between the bars of the crocodile cage and give them whatever food you have. They like it all and they are such gentle, grateful beasts!

It’s 11:11 11-11-11! You Know What That Means

In binary, 1111 11 11 11 means "The world is ending right now and I'm still in bed wearing my Wolverine underpants." Good bye my friends.

Apparently nothing happened. Maybe it will mean that tonight at 11:11pm. STAY TUNED.

Adobe Releases final Flash Player Version for Android, BlackBerry PlayBook, Promises Future Updates

When Adobe announced the death of Flash Player on mobile devices earlier this week, it did so while promising to issue a final version for Android devices and the BlackBerry PlayBook. Now, that promise has come to fruition, with the release of version 11.1. Like pretty much every Adobe update, this latest refresh promises to patch up a host of security flaws -- 12 "critical" ones, to be exact. More intriguing, however, are Adobe's plans for future security support. 

In a blog post published Wednesday, company exec Danny Winokur confirmed that Adobe will "continue to provide critical bug fixes and security updates for existing device configurations." This sentiment was echoed in a Twitter post yesterday from Brad Arkin, senior director of product security and privacy: "Adobe will continue to ship security updates for Flash Player mobile after the final feature release." But neither Winokur nor Arkin have specified how long this patch distribution will continue, and the company has yet to offer any sort of timeline for future tablet and smartphone updates. For more information on the latest release, check out the source link below, or hit up the coverage link to grab the Android version for yourself.

Nov 10, 2011

Pork Molded into a Piglet Is Disgusting and/or Awesome

I love pork. I like pigs. They're cute, and fun to eat, and intelligent among mud-dwelling beasts. But what I don't like is for my dinner to artificially resemble the killed animal from which it was derived. This is gross.

Or is it amazing? The shrink wrapped pseudo-pig, a pork roast molded into the vague form of its prior self, is certainly a feat of food engineering. I'd expect nothing less from Costco, the Ikea of edibles. But will pork taste more like pork when it's compressed into animal form? Chicken nuggets are absolutely better in dinosaur shape, but there you have a sort of perverse species incongruence. Would the pork roast be delicious and aesthetically acceptable if it were molded into the shape of, say, a cat, whale, or amoeba? Does anyone out there have a hydraulic press and an ample supply of raw meat?

Stanford Is Building the World’s Biggest Digital Camera

So just how much can a digital camera the size of a Hyundai see? Hopefully, if you're the Stanford team building it, enough to answer some fundamental questions about our galaxy.

It will be the world's largest digital camera by a good margin, built by the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope—a large aperture survey telescope designed to find and photograph faint astronomical objects from its perch high atop a Chilean mountain. Specifically, the LSST will investigate astronomical phenomena including dark energy, dark matter, and near-Earth asteroids, as well as inventory the solar system and explore the transient optical sky.

The features and specs of the new LSST surpass any current telescope, either land-based or orbital. Its 8.4-meter-diameter mirror will be able to scan large swaths of the night sky while generating 3D maps via 800 15-second exposures every session—nearly 50 times as much area as the moon takes up in the sky. The LSST's 3.2-gigapixel camera will consist of 189 CCD ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light-sensitive sensors, cost roughly $170 million, and have enough resolution to spot your car's headlights at a distance of 400 miles.

Nov 9, 2011

Apple Says Siri Never Coming to Older Phones

If you've been looking forward to a non-jailbroken build of sassy Siri to land on your old iPhone, abandon hope. Apple officially has no plans to take Siri beyond the 4S, says Michael Steeber. It's Apple bullshit, but totally expected.

After one Cult of Mac reader pestered Apple tech support over a paid Siri upgrade for non-4S iPhones, he says he received this in response, which he forwarded to CoM's Steeber:
Engineering has provided the following feedback regarding this issue:
Siri only works on iPhone 4S and we currently have no plans to support older devices.
Which, as noted, is bullshit—we've seen proof that Siri can run just fine on older hardware. Apple's 4S restriction is an arbitrary roadblock. But should we expect anything else? Siri is the big 4S hype factor, and without that, Apple would have a hard(er) job convincing anyone the upgrade is worth it. Without any physical difference between the 4 and 4S, being able to bring up Siri at a party and ask her to count your farts is the 4S owner's only way of standing out. Apple's not going to give that up.

Tango Video Calling app Prances its Way into Windows Phone Marketplace

The video calling service finally hit the Marketplace today, more than a year after launching on iOS and Android, and barely a month after expanding to PCs. Compatible with Windows Phone 7.5 or higher, Tango for Mango allows users to make free phone and video calls over 3G, 4G and WiFi connections, including free international calls to fellow Tangonians. Users can also chat with Tango members across other operating systems and platforms, which should help tide them over until that Skype integrationbecomes a reality.

Nov 8, 2011

Ziiiro Celeste Watches Tick off the Hours in Multi-hued Fashion

Ziiiro is one of those companies that consistently finds its way on to the wish lists with watches like the Orbit and Gravity. Celeste is its latest offering, which represents your linear travel through the fourth dimension as a pair of overlapping colored disks. As the partially transparent bands circle about, they blend together to create dynamic hues of blue and gray, on the Mono models, or green and blue, on the Colored editions. The watches are housed in matte-finished stainless steel in chrome, gunmetal or black. You can pre-order the Celeste Mono and Celeste Colored now for €149 ($205), and they'll start shipping on November 18th here.

Scientists Create the Definitive Flu Killer

University of Texas Southwestern's scientists have created a new flu vaccine that can protect us against any kind of flu, not just one type. Unlike the current type of vaccines, this can even protect us if the virus mutates.

That's the big problem of the current vaccines: every year, medical experts guess what's going to be the dominant flu strain and create a vaccine using a weakened version of that virus. When it gets injected, our body gets to know the weakened virus safely, producing cells that can neutralize that virus if a real attack occurs. The problem is that, if that virus mutates, this prevention becomes useless. That is why people may get the flu even when they are vaccinated.

The team led by Dr. Beatrice Fontoura took a completely different approach:

What we are doing is something different. We are actually stimulating our own response which is already there – boost it – to fight an infection.

Their solution boosts our natural immunological system, targeting a protein in our bodies called REDD-1. Fontoura's team discovered that, when REDD-1 levels are low in a cell, the flu virus can easily infect the cell. The vaccine increases the protein's levels, creating a shield that is impossible for the virus to penetrate.

According to the team, the new vaccine is so effective that it can even protect us against the Spanish Flu, the H1N1 influenza virus that killed between 50 and 100 million in 1918, mostly healthy young adults. Another deadly H1N1 virus was the Swine Flu, which may have infected 11% to 21% of the world's population in 2009.

Sadly, the vaccine is still not ready for mass distribution yet. They have to complete the usual FDA procedures to be introduced in the market, a process that may take years.

HAL Suits Could Help Support Nuclear Cleaners

A Tungsten vest provides its wearer fantastic protection from radiation's damaging effects. Problem is—said vest also weighs about 132 pounds. So how does the Haz-Mat crew of tomorrow gird their loins in this radiation-resistant element? Exo-suits, obviously.

Cyberdyne (the real Japanese company, not the fictional LA firm responsible for Skynet) has adapted their Hybrid Assistive Limb, or HAL (oh, come on), to support these heavy tungsten tunics. HAL suits monitor the body's electrical impulses and attempt to support the user by anticipating his movements. "This new type of HAL robot suit enables their wearers to work on the site without feeling the burden," the company said in a statement. "It is hoped that this will reduce risks of working under harsh environments and contribute to early restoration operations by humans in the wake of disasters."

And, when used in conjunction with the conventional Tyvek suit, which is designed more for keeping radioactive materials from melting into your skin than protecting you from actual radiation, workers will be effectively protected. The company has not said whether these devices will be used at the Fukushima plant where roughly 2,000 workers daily struggle to sanitize the site.

Nov 7, 2011

EZmouse Packs a Backup So It Never Runs Out of Batteries

They lost their annoying USB cables, but in the process wireless mice also gained an appetite for batteries. Recently they've been put on a power diet, but Digitz's EZmouse goes double deuce on the rechargeable batteries so you never need to hunt down a fresh AAA ever again.

The mouse's main rechargeable battery is good for about four to five weeks of use before it needs to be removed and connected to a USB port on your computer for charging. And to ensure you can keep on wirelessly mousing while the main battery's powering up for two hours, a smaller, non-removable backup provides up to three days of additional use. When the main battery is topped off and re-inserted into the $50 mouse, the backup then automatically recharges itself so it's ready for the next time it's called upon. A feature I wouldn't mind seeing added to digital cameras and other devices with removable rechargeable batteries.

LG's thin and Mighty P330 Laptop Surfaces at Korean Retailer

The Core i7 processor has been replaced by an i5-2435M running at 2.4GHz, but that's hardly a deal breaker -- and it's possible a higher specced variant will eventually see daylight too. The other key credentials are all intact: an NVIDIA GeForce GT555M taking care of the visuals, a 40GB / 640GB SSD and HDD combo for snappier performance, and an IPS display built into an all-metal 1.7kg (3.6-pound) chassis. The price is listed as ₩1,364,000, which converts to a hefty $1,220

Nov 6, 2011

iOS 5 Battery Help Is Almost Here

A few days ago, Apple admitted that there's an unknown issue with the iPhone 4S's battery performance, and two days ago it seeded a beta for iOS 5.0.1 to developers to try to address the problem. Now Beta 2's already been pushed out, which shows that Apple's taking this battery business seriously.