Jun 30, 2012

This Combo Trackpad-Mouse Combo Is Either Twice As Awful or Half As Good As a Regular Mouse

There's no way Gigabyte's Xenon Dual Mode Touchpad Mouse, that is a trackpad and mouse in one combination, can be any good, right? The mouse looks like a complete horror show, like using an angular Magic Mouse, and the trackpad looks neutered and drooping. I don't believe.

Gigabyte says that the Xenon is world's first dual mode touchpad/mouse action, which seems sort of cool but probably foreboding on why this Frankenmouse didn't exist before. Still, there are possible use cases: balancing the touchscreen friendly Windows 8? Dabbling in some multi-touch before needing the accuracy of the mouse's 1000dpi mouse tracking? Being bipolar about mouse and trackpads?

The Xenon is pretty cheap at $40 but I can't help but think it's either ruining two independently good things or combining together to create awfulness. Works with PC, not with Mac. More here.

Jun 29, 2012

A Self-Heating Butter Knife: Genius or Overkill?

The knife, designed by Warburtons, heats up to 41.8 degrees Celsius, powered by AA batteries in the handle - and melts the butter just enough to spread smoothly, without gouging holes in the bread.

A button on the handle activates the battery-operated heating element and a flashing LED indicates it is on. The prototype can spread a slice of bread in 30 seconds - although it's not clear when or if it will be released, or how much it will cost.

At first, I thought that this electric butter knife—which heats itself to an optimum temperature (41 degrees celsius) in under 20 seconds—was nothing more than a frivolous byproduct of first-world culture. But the more I think of my epic struggles with a cold stick of butter sometimes, the more I think I like it.

The World’s Smallest 4K Camera Fits in the Palm of Your Hand

4K resolution video will be the next big technological leap as far as film and television goes. But it doesn't take a massive, expensive camera like the RED Epic to shoot 4K resolution video. In fact, Point Grey's Flea3 webcam—equipped with a Sony Exmor R sensor—is up to the task but is hardly bigger than an inch in any direction.

The technical feat here is that the camera is able to push video to any compatible, USB 3.0-equipped device in real-time—something that requires a fair amount of bandwidth. Obviously, resolution isn't everything, and you probably won't be shooting cinematic masterpieces with this diminutive beast, but if you need a little extra size and clarity from your image, this might do the trick. Though at $945, the only interested parties might be businesses with video conferencing and surveillance needs. More here.

Jun 28, 2012

Do You Still Wear a Watch?

Watches are, for the most part, a redundant technology. We have digital timekeepers in front of our faces pretty much all the time. And yet, the watch still persists—because of tradition, an appreciation for fashion and design, or straight up novelty. So why do you have a watch on your wrist ?

Jun 27, 2012

Nanoscale Microwave Transmitters Will Transform Your Phone

To pump out all the radio-frequency signals that let you make phone calls and consume the internet wirelessly, your phone uses small chunks of silicon to create microwaves. Science had pushed the little things as far as they could—but now a nanoscale version promises to make your phone smaller, cheaper and better-performing.

A team of UCLA scientists has developed a microwave oscillator that uses the spin of electrons, rather than the more conventional charge, to create radio-frequency waves. While that might not sound particularly impressive, it brings with it some major benefits.

First off, it means the oscillator can be 10,000-times smaller than those that are used at the moment. That is a pretty amazing leap in size, and it means that the devices will finally make their way on to integrated circuits—as their size and design is compatible with current chip manufacturing standards.

They also create much sharper frequency outputs. In turn, that means more data can be crammed into the same bandwidth from a device using such technology, and that there's less noise so they provide a cleaner voice and video signal.

Unlike many of these kinds of technological leaps, there's no obvious barrier which could get in the way of the science being translated directly into practice. But you can certainly expect somewhat of a wait before it makes its way off the researcher's bench and into your phone. More here.

Jun 25, 2012

Curly Hot Dog Roasters: A More Refined Take on Your Childhood Summers

For $22 you can recapture some of that childhood nostalgia in a more refined way. Made from stainless steel, the roasters have a playful, pigtail screw on the end where you stick your sausage. They're 34-inches long, so you're not going to burn yourself, and they come with a leather carrying strap. It's quite the upgrade from the improvised campfire tools of your youth. More here.

Scientists Create Wi-Fi That Can Transmit Seven Blu-ray Movies Per Second

If you think your home Wi-Fi connection is fast, think again. Scientists have been working on a new way to transmit data wirelessly, and they can now transfer a scorching 2.5 terabits of information per second.

That's over eight times faster than Verizon's fastest wired home internet connection, FiOS, that only manages a paltry 300Mbps. Or, to put it in real terms, it's the same as transmitting seven full Blu-ray movies per second. Basically, this shit is crazy fast.

The team of American and Israeli researchers have used a neat new concept, where the electromagnetic waves that usually carry data are twisted into vortex beams. ExtremeTech describes the concept well:
These twisted signals use orbital angular momentum (OAM) to cram much more data into a single stream. In current state-of-the-art transmission protocols (WiFi, LTE, COFDM), we only modulate the spin angular momentum (SAM) of radio waves, not the OAM. If you picture the Earth, SAM is our planet spinning on its axis, while OAM is our movement around the Sun. Basically, the breakthrough here is that researchers have created a wireless network protocol that uses both OAM and SAM.

The combination of the two provides some amazing possibilities. So far, the researchers, from University of Southern California, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Tel Aviv University, have twisted together eight data streams, each operating at 300 Gbps, to achieve the new record of 2.5 terabits per second. At the moment, they've only transmitted signals as far as 1 meter. That should be scaled up before long—though the researchers admit 1 kilometer is probably an upper limit.

What's perhaps most interesting is that the technique can be used to twist together an awful lot of slower data connections.

Of course, all that remains is for the team to develop the technology into something robust enough to use on a commercial scale—and there's no telling how long that might take. More here.

Jun 24, 2012

Was This Indestructible Axe Made By the Same Craftsmen Who Created Thor’s Hammer?

The best feature of this seemingly indestructible fiberglass-handled hatchet isn't that you can repeatedly drive a tractor over it without snapping the handle. No, it's that the axe can be used by anyone with $30 to spare—unlike Thor's hammer which can only be wielded by the mythical hero of Norse legend.

The reinforced fiberglass composite handle on this axe is not only light and durable, it's also molded to the drop-forged steel blade so that when you're in the heat of battle against firewood, there's no risk of it flying off the handle—literally. In fact, the hatchet is so tough it comes with a lifetime warranty, so if you do somehow manage to break it, a replacement is just a phone call away. More here.

D-Link Unveils Cloud Router 1200 and 2000 in Tube Form

One of the biggest appeals for us in D-Link's new Cloud Router 1200 and 2000 is that tube shape, which is a nice break from the amorphous blobs we're used to as our WiFi routers. Not to say that there aren't convincing technical reasons to like them. Both will let you remotely administrate the 802.11n router's devices from an Android or iOS app, and they both carry four gigabit Ethernet jacks as well as a USB port for some network media storage.

The differences lay exclusively in the wireless support, where the single-band 1200 caters to the frugal set at 300Mbps and the simultaneous dual-band 2000 hums along at 600Mbps. Thankfully, the prices of the just-shipping access points are both about right for what you get: the Cloud Router 1200 is a cheap and cheerful $60, and the 2000 won't strain the wallet much more at $100. More here.

Jun 23, 2012

Unbreakable Silicone Plates Inspired By Tropical Leaves

They're durable enough to withstand even a trip through the microwave, dishwasher, or even your oven. And besides creating an enchanting tropical feel at your next get-together, designer Nao Tamura's creations can be easily rolled up and crammed in a drawer for storage. But at $80for a set of four, you better make sure none of your guests toss one in the compost bin when they're done eating. More here.

The World’s Smallest iPhone Charger Skips The Cables Altogether

If you're a loyal iPhone user you're probably used to toting around its charging adapter and cable just in case. Apple has done a good job at making it tiny, but by cutting the cord, the JuiceBuddy looks even easier to pocket.

Like the iPhone's included charger, the JuiceBuddy packs a pair of fold-away prongs that allowing it to be plugged directly into an outlet. And hidden beneath a cap on top is the standard dock connector used by iOS devices, letting you then connect your iPhone or iPod Touch. Although, that design means it's really only going to work best when plugged into a wall outlet, so your iOS device can then perch atop the JuiceBuddy. Using it with a powerbar could be a bit of a challenge.

But for just $25—available in red, white, black, or silver—it's a nice alternative to Apple's offering when traveling. And removing the keychain portion reveals a standard USB 2 port allowing you to charge other devices as well. So it just might replace all of the charging gear you usually have to pack. More here.

Sony Patent Filing for Glasses Would Share Data Face to Face

Google might not realize it, but Project Glass isn't alone in the patent race these days. Sony has quietly applied for a patent on a familiar-looking smart glasses system whose advantage over Mountain View would be an emphasis on things in twos. Eyepieces are the most obvious, but Sony is also keen on sharing data between two friends: transmitters on a pair of glasses would send personal info through a likely very uncomfortable glance at someone else with the same eyewear. 

If your friends are more than a little weirded out from sharing by staring, the proposed glasses could still pick up information from visual tags on posters, products and virtually anything else. There's even the obligatory connection to a watch for sharing data with the rest of the world. More here.

Jun 22, 2012

Brilliant Spinning Heatsink Cools CPUs 30 Times More Efficiently

Most computers use a two-step process to cool the CPU. First, a heat exchanger pasted to the processor draws the warmth away. And then a combination of a heatsink and fans dissipate it away from the PC. But by merging those two steps into one, this spinning cooler ends up being greater than the sum of its parts.

The Sandia Cooler was developed by the Sandia National Labs who do enough research to know a thing or two about how to effectively cool a computer. The most interesting aspect of the cooler is that it doesn't attach directly to the CPU using thermal paste—which isn't possible given it's always spinning. Instead, it sits a mere thousandth of an inch above the processor, which creates what's called an air bearing that's actually just as efficient at transmitting heat.

And as the heat moves from the CPU to the cooler, it's almost immediately blasted away via a series of fins spinning at 2,000 rpm. As a result, Sandia claims the system is at least 30 times more efficient at cooling a processor than traditional heatsink and fan methods.

And not only is it also far quieter, but the blades are spinning far too quickly to ever collect dust. So while it lets you safely overclock your system, it's also automatically keeping it clean at the same time. And maybe that's the real innovation here.

Keep Your Coat Hanging on by a String

Tired of running into your laundry with the vacuum because your clothes are strewn about the floor? Even if you buy a rack to hang them on it's still going to be in the way, unless the rack itself happens to be hanging just off the ground.

Veronika Wildgruber and Susanne Stofer's amusingly named Wardrope comes with all the hardware you'll need to suspend it from your ceiling, as well as four adjustable hooks that slide up and down its length. A weight at the bottom stops it from swinging around too much, and for around $87 you can get it in a variety of color combinations. Just go easy on the thick winter coats, backpacks filled with text books, or Tarzan impersonations, because the rack's only rated to support about 30 pounds. More here.

SSDs Cost Half as Much as They Did in 2011, So It’s Time to Upgrade

While last years Thailand floods saw the cost of HDDs skyrocket, the price of solid state drives has been slowly dropping. In fact, since early 2011 prices have dropped on average by 46 percent.

Tech Report has taken a long and thorough look at the changing prices of SSDs, and the news is good: the drops in price has been steady, but significant. That's largely thanks to healthy, if aggressive, competition between big players in the market. Except on the part of Intel, which has shied away from discounting its drives.

While such competition shows no signs of stopping, that in itself is no reason to put off upgrading much longer. If you've been telling yourself you'd switch to SSD when it got cheaper, well, it did get cheaper. More here.

Jun 21, 2012

The Galaxy S III Is Trying So Hard It Catches Fire

The new Samsung Galaxy S III is a great phone that's just trying too hard. So hard, in fact, that it's bursting into flames under the pressure.

Engadget is reporting a case of the phone catching fire while being used in an in-car holster. Apparently the device sparked into white flames, before making a loud bang. What's left is a pretty substantial burn and a reasonable amount of molten plastic. Fortunately, nobody was injured. Samsung has since announced:
"Samsung is aware of this issue and will begin investigating as soon as we receive the specific product in question. Once the investigation is complete, we will be able to provide further details on the situation. We are committed to providing our customers with the safest products possible and are looking at this seriously." More here.

The World’s First Remote-Controlled (LED) Light Bulb

Don't you hate getting all bundled up under the covers, your pillows in the perfect scrunch position under your head, only to realize you didn't turn out the lamp on the opposite end of the room and there's no way you'll be able to sleep with that bright bulb shining in your eyes all night? I do.

Luckily for everyone, INSTEON, manufacturers of the best-selling and most reliable home-automation technology today, have come up with the perfect way to avoid finding yourself in the predicament ever again: the world's first remote-controllable LED light bulb.

The 60W, $29.99 bulb can be dimmed via a remote control available for both iOS and Android. As soon as the bulb is screwed in, its unique network address (which is printed on the bulb itself) is instantly recognized by the INSTEON network (or any nearby devices)—which means you'll be able to easily swap bulbs out without having to go through an annoying linking process. More here.

Jun 20, 2012

These Pixelated Glasses are the Definition of Computer-Geek

Paris-based eyewear designer Dzmitry Samalgives a whole new meaning to the idea of so-called hipster glasses, with his pixel-inspired "5DPI" frames.
These futuristic glasses have been designed with a pixelated effect, deliberately reflecting society's fascination with an "informational aesthetic". The design clearly refers for late 1980s computerized graphics and video games such as Tetris. While computer images and graphics have been revolutionized over the past two decades, these glasses are reminiscent of society's digital roots and how technology has inspired
almost everything in use today. Even something as utilitarian as glasses can be transformed using technology. Patented model.
The frames (approx. $378) are hand-made in France, using the most current technology and can be fitted with either 100% UV protection solar frames or translucent lenses. They can be order online here.

Jun 19, 2012

Giant Tie Clips Keep Your Veggies On the Grill and Out Of the Fire

Vegetables and BBQs were meant to be together, but for every piece of grilled asparagus that makes it to the table, how many fall through the grill to a fiery death? It's a terrible summer epidemic that these Grill Clips should alleviate.

They might look like oversized tie clips, but these spring-loaded grips are designed to securely hold thinner or delicate veggies that are most at risk of falling through the grill when flipped. Think of them as stainless steel insurance that guarantees your asparagus, green onions, and zucchinis all make it to the table. You can get a set of four for $15 and they might even eventually pay for themselves, if you find yourself having to buy extra grill fixings to compensate for the vegetables that get left behind. More here.

Nokia’s Mega-Major 41MP 808 PureView Phone

The41MP camera with a phone attached to it will finally wash up on America's shores at the end of this week, although like all good curios it comes at a cost.

Available exclusively through Amazon, the unlocked, off-contract 808 PureView will cost you $700, and will be compatible with either AT&T's 3G network or T-Mobile's 2G offering. That sounds like a lot of money—and it is—but it's worth remembering that unlocked phones are terribly pricey; the list price for an unshackled Galaxy Nexus is $800, for instance.

You can sign up to be notified when the Great 808 PureView US Sales Extravaganza begins; just make sure you've cleared out space for it in your menagerie of weirdo gadgets. Or just wait until they finally stick that 41MP beauty in a Lumia. More here.

Jun 18, 2012

Microsoft Reveals its own Windows 8 Tablet

Microsoft just confirmed it will sell its own Microsoft-branded Windows 8 RT tablet under the Surface badge. Measuring just 9.3mm thick, the Surface for Windows RT is built around an angled, all-magnesium VaporMg case that weighs just under 1.3 pounds, with an NVIDIA-made ARM chip powering the whole affair. 

Microsoft's hardware partner has also gone all-out on extra touches, such as a built-in stand, twin 2x2 MIMO antennas for WiFi, and a 10.6-inch optically-bonded, Gorilla Glass 2-covered HD display. Not unlike Apple's last two generations, there's a magnetically attached cover, but it's more than just a protector: here, it includes a full multi-touch keyboard and trackpad. 

As for expansion, you'll get one each of HDMI, microSD and USB 2.0 (sorry folks, no 3.0) as well as either 32GB or 64GB of storage, while software includes the usual Windows 8 accoutrements and a newly Metrofied version of Netflix. The Surface for Windows RT should arrive roughly in step with Windows 8, but Microsoft is only promising pricing "competitive" with similar ARM tablets -- and you're looking for a tablet with more grunt, you can spring for the Intel-packing Surface for Windows 8 Pro.

This Is the Healthiest Meal in the World

Take a superstore full of crazy nutritional advice, and shove it all into the biggest pot you can find. Simmer gently for months, skimming the scum off the top occasionally. Finally, reduce until you have only the best, most trustworthy claims left. What's left? The world's healthiest meal.

That's pretty much the recipe that the Leatherhead Food Research group followed in order to sort the good nutritional research from the bad. They whittled down thousands of nutritional studies until they were left with just 222 that were judged to be most scientifically convincing.

Then, they built up a menu for a three course dinner, which ticked as many of the health-giving boxes of their findings as they could manage. Course-by-course, it runs as follows:
  • Fresh and smoked salmon terrine; high-fiber multi-grain bread roll
  • Chicken casserole with lentils and mixed vegetables; olive-oil dressed mixed leaf salad
  • Live yogurt blancmange topped with walnuts and sugar-free caramel sauce
It certainly sounds healthy, and the researchers can argue that every single ingredient present is there for a reason: from Omega 3 fish oils which are good for cholesterol, through protein for muscle mass, to walnuts which "contribute to the improvement of the elasticity of blood vessels". More here.

Your Refrigerator Will Thank You For Adorning It With These Stylish Magnets

Normally, refrigerator magnets are the exclusive territory of kitschy mementos of past vacation destinations, pictures of kids that may or may not be yours, and the jumble of random words you use to assemble hilarious sentences. But the supremely tastefulsnug.magnets, may usher in a new era of refrigerator art.

With the stack of rhombuses, you can form hexagons, create the illusion of 3D, or just experiment with color combinations. Like Swiss Miss says, it's probably something you can sink hours into (initially, at least). I can think of worse ways to spend $20. More here.

Mozilla's 'Junior' iPad Browser Prototype Keeps it Simple

Love your iPad, but hate Safari? Mozilla's Alex Limi can relate, it's "a pretty miserable experience," he says. So what's he doing about it? The prototype browser eschews the traditional address bar / tab layout in favor of a minimalistic, full screen experience, flanked by only two obvious toggles -- a back button, and a plus symbol that opens a menu containing favorites, recent pages and a URL / search bar. 

Other common options such as reload, forward and print are hidden away, but accessible. The idea is a simple browsing experience that's more fun, engaging and ergonomic. More here.

Jun 17, 2012

Will Microsoft show its own Windows 8 tablet on Monday?

Redmond's "major announcement" may be just around the corner, but mum's the word on Microsoft's lips. Still, that hasn't kept the rumor mill from churning, and the latest is just in: Microsoft's next slate may be built in-house. According to sources from The Wrap and AllThingsD, the firm is planning to introduce a Microsoft-built tablet, undercutting the efforts of third-party builders to more directly compete with the iPad. 

Rumors flit back and forth between the slate running the ARM optimized Windows RT, the full on x86 version of Windows 8 or both, separated by different models. Is Microsoft building its own army of tablets to go toe-to-toe with the iPad? We'll find out Monday -- hopefully, whatever the firm announces will last longer than the Zune. More here.

Apple and Samsung Have over 55 Percent of the Smartphone Space

ABI Research just estimated that, combined, the iPhone and Galaxy creators were responsible for more than 90 percent of the profits in the first quarter of 2012 -- mostly through carving out more than 55 percent of the total market share for themselves. We already know that only a handful of companies, like HTC, were making any kind of profit at the same time; ABI, however, has underscored just how much of a mountain Nokia has to climb to reclaim its glory days. For Nokia to completely make up for Symbian's decline, shipments of Lumia phones will have to jump a staggering 5,000 percent this year. The Finnish phone maker is certainly hopeful, but with the 80 percent growth rate in China mostly being led by locals like Huawei and ZTE. More here.

Jun 16, 2012

Stylish Briefcase BBQ Turns Meetings Into a Cookout

Got a big presentation to give to the board but haven't prepared one bit? They won't even notice your complete lack of research if you show up carrying a briefcase that unfolds into a compact grill.

The $52 Darwin Triangular BBQ doesn't quite have the same capacity as your backyard griller at home, but you can still squeeze at least four burgers onto it at one time. Just don't forget to fill your suit jacket pockets with charcoal briquettes ahead of time, and when you're done feasting, it's probably best to let the whole thing cool down before slinging it over your shoulder. Otherwise, you can skip spending the night before making a lengthy slide presentation. The only projections your boss really cares about is when their mesquite chicken will be done. More here.

Make a Cut in a Shady Box with a Pair of Light-Up Dikes

Diagonal-cutting pliers, known in the electrical trades as dikes, often do their work in the shadowy recesses of a junction box. Ever clipped the wires to hook up a new ceiling fan? You can't see a thing!

That's why the introduction of an LED is a welcome gimmick on these new pliers from Craftsman. The pair comes in a set alongside a pair of needlenose pliers. Those have a light, too. Handy, but not as essential. Most of their work happens in broad daylight, and even during those pliers' dark double duty as a roach clip, man, you've got the lighter right there anyway. More here.

Why Apple Stores Tilt the MacBook Pro Exactly 70 Degrees

If you thought Apple squeezes all those dollars out of your based on product and design alone, you're giving them too much credit.

Carmine Gallo, writing for Forbes, reports on an interesting bit of consumer-behavior mindfuckery the stores employ, specifically to seduce you into a love affair with their products—the MacBook Pro with retina display, in particular. Each morning, Apple Retail employees use an iPhone app as a level to ensure each screen is titled to exactly 70 degrees.
The main reason notebook computers screens are slightly angled is to encourage customers to adjust the screen to their ideal viewing angle-in other words, to touch the computer! ... Apple wants you to see the display for yourself and to experiment with apps and web sites to experience the power and performance of the devices.
It is for the same reason, Gallo explains, that the Apple Retail Stores let you spend unlimited time playing with the devices and browsing the internet, without any pressure to leave. More here.

Jun 15, 2012

Mysterious Electric Blue Clouds Appear Again Over the Poles

Every year around this time, mysterious electric blue clouds appear over the North and South pole. They are called noctilucent clouds and they can only be seen in deep twilight, when the Sun is below the horizon. According to NASA, "their origin is still largely a mystery":
Various theories associate them with meteoric dust, rocket exhaust, global warming—or some mixture of the three.
They are the highest clouds, located almost on the edge of space at 54 miles (85 kilometers) from the Earth's surface, in the mesosphere. They are very difficult to observe, but they appear as white and blue tendrils when they are illuminated by the Sun and the rest of the atmosphere is in our planet's shadow.

These were photographed by Brian Whittaker at 35,000 feet, on a flight from Ottawa to Newfoundland. More here.

First-Ever Mixer and Crossfader Dates Back Over a Century

In 1910, the French engineer Leon Gaumant demonstrated his sound-and-film synchronizing Chronophone system at the Gaumant Palace—a 5,500 seat reconstruction of the Hippodrome, which was at the time Europe's largest movie theatre—in Paris, FR.

At the time, moving pictures with synchronized sound were limited in length by the playing time of a gramophone records—the longest was 200ft, at 16 frames-per-second.

Gaument's Chronophone had two gramophone platters, between which a deft operator could switch back and forth—a clever solution! More here.

Microsoft Is Maybe, Possibly Launching Its Own Tablet Device Next Week

Mashable is posting about what is being called a credibly rumor of a Microsoft-made tablet, running Windows RT (a version of Windows 8), intended to rival Apple's iPad.

This is a big deal, maybe!
Hollywood blog The Wrap cites "an individual with knowledge of the company", who claims the software giant would be "making a foray into a new hardware category that would put the company in direct competition with rival Apple" - tablets.
Previous attempts at a Microsoft-branded tablet have been unsuccessful and short-lived. The most recent was killed before it even got out the gate, right around the initial launch of the earliest iPad.

If the rumors are true, this Microsoft tablet will be entering a climate of already-stiff competition. More here.

Jun 14, 2012

Windows 8 Has Deep Integration With Facebook, Twitter, Google

As part of its Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Microsoft has been releasing a small selection of apps for testing. One, called People, seems particularly interesting, acting as an OS-wide social and contact tool that integrates with Facebook, Twitter and Google, amongst others.

The cloud-based app is designed to keep contacts in order, sure, by syncing details from a glut of online address books. But it also lets users view and interact directly with their Facebook and Twitter accounts, retweeting posts or liking statuses, from within the app itself. The app is also designed to sync data from Exchange, Google and LinkedIn, and has a built-in conflict management system—a little like Windows Phone—which attempts to collate contact data. More here.

Shroud Your iPod Nano In This Adorable Little Black Book

If you're bored of wearing your iPod Nano on your wrist, or on your head, or wherever else, why not wrap it up in its own little handcrafted book that you can tuck away in the miniature library that is your pocket?

This adorable little iPod nano case is the smallest member of PQ's range of Little Black Books and it's rather predictably called the Littlest Black Book. It's made of a tiny wooden frame, which is leather bound, and it features a little book plate and ribbon, too. More here.

Do You Care if The Best Laptop Ever Is the Most Impossible to Repair?

The Retina Pro's unified construction not only means damage to the screen requires replacing an entire half of the computer, it means you'd have to risk destroying the entire thing to make changes. The RAM? Soldered to the motherboard. The hard drives? Proprietary and impossible to change.

With upgrading memory and hard drive space the two most common jobs you can do on a laptop, does the fact that these are now impossible make the Retina Pro less attractive to you? Would fabulous performance and the greatest screen in computing history compensate for Apple blocking you from upgrading your rig and requiring professional repairs to it? Or does it just look like an aluminum venus fly trap?

Jun 13, 2012

Why Smart People Are Actually Dumb

The human brain is a weird old thing. When confronted with a new, uncertain situation, it virtually always abandons careful analysis, and instead resorts to a host of mental shortcuts—that almost always lead to the wrong answer. Turns out, the smarter you are, the more likely you are to make such mistakes.

A new study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggests that you can be insanely intelligent, and still fall foul when it comes simple problems because of deviations in judgment—which are known as "cognitive bias".

To work all this out, a team of researchers form the University of Toronto gave 482 students a questionnaire of classic bias problems to complete. An example question runs along the lines of:
A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
If you're rushing, you might blurt out that the ball costs ten cents. It doesn't: it costs five. If you got it wrong, your brain made some shortcuts if thought made sense, but abandoned math along the way.

The researchers also measured a phenomenon called "anchoring bias", but what they were really interested in assessing was how the biases correlated with intelligence. So, they interspersed tests with with cognitive measures, like S.A.T. and Need for Cognition Scale questions.

Turns out that intelligence makes things worse, too. Writing in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology they explain that "more cognitively sophisticated participants showed larger bias blind spots." In fact, that finding held across many different biases, and individuals who deliberated longer seemed to be even more susceptible to making mistakes. Double dammit.

So what's going on? Why are smart people seemingly so dumb some of the time? Sadly, nobody really knows. The best hypothesis yet suggests that it's tied up with the way we perceive ourselves and others. Basically, the way we process information, so some researchers suggest, makes it far easier for us to spot biases in other people than it is for us to notice ourselves making the exact same mistakes. More here.

What the Lines of a Red Solo Cup Actually Mean

Sipping too many adult beverages out of a red solo cup is a rite of passage in becoming a full-fledged human being. We've all done it. But have you ever wondered what the lines of a red solo cup mean? They're measurements for different types of alcohol.

That makes so much logical sense! A line for liquor, for wine and for a can of beer. It also makes like no real-life sense because the line for liquor is prick-specific pathetic, the line for wine would make you question why you're drinking wine out of a red solo cup and the line for beer is completely ignored, you're filling the carbonated deliciousness to the very top. Actually, let's be honest. The only line that really matters in a red solo cup is the lip line.

Anyway! The more you know. The lines have more purpose than design, grip or existing for beer pong. And even if Solo is sadly moving away from these iconic red cups for newer red cups, you can try and retroactively remember this for past house parties. More here.

Ray-Ban Foldable Aviators Make the Slickest Shades Even Better

Ray-Bans are some of the best sunglasses. The styles of are timeless and the lenses are quality. And while there have been foldable Wayfarers for years, now the classic Ray-Ban Aviators have gotten the same treatment.

A pair of these shades will run you between $195 and $295, depending on the style. Ray-Ban's been making Aviators since 1937, so they're something you can hold onto for a long time. Tom Cruise wore them in Top Gun and that was 1986, so they're not exactly going anywhere. They're coming soon on the Ray-Ban site, but in the meantime they're available in stores. There's just about nothing cooler than Aviators, and somehow now they're even better. More here.

Jun 12, 2012

Medieval Hoodie Makes You a Knight In Shining Cotton

One hit from a sword and you'll be dead faster than your social standing once you wear this out in public, but you won't find a more comfortable suit of armor than this plated hoodie created by Etsy seller Chadwick Dillon.

It comes complete with a fully retractable face plate and visor built into the hood, so you can be protected from attacking marauders, or just the rain—whichever happens to be your most pressing issue. Unfortunately you can't order one just yet, but once Chadwick (a perfectly matching medieval name) gets his Etsy shop in order, you'll be able to order thine self this fine garment and impress the damsels. More here.

Your DNA Changes as You Age

While our bodies age, scientists believe that our DNA at least remains constant. New research, however, reveals that, even though its sequence remains constant, subtle chemical changes occur to our DNA as we age—and it could explain why the risk of developing disease increases as we get older.

DNA is made up of four basic chemical building blocks, called adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine. It's the sequences of those chemicals in a strand of DNA that determines what function a gene has, and one of the ways the resulting genes are controlled is a process called methylation. That just means that a methyl group — one carbon atom and three hydrogen atom—bonds to part of the DNA and subtly change its function.

New research, published in PNAS, however, shows that as we grow older our DNA's susceptibility to methylation changes. A team of researchers from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain, extracted DNA from white blood cells of twenty newborn babies and twenty people aged between 89 and 100 years old, then compared their respective degrees of methylation.

In a newborn baby 73 percent of cytosine nucleotides were methylated, while in centenarians that figure rose to 80.5 percent. An intermediary example, taken from a 26-year-old male subject, exhibited 78 percent methylation. It's not clear why it happens, but the researchers speculate that it could be due to extremely subtle age-related changes to the DNA.

But what does it all mean? Well, taking a closer look at the samples, the researchers discovered that a third of the methylated groups which were different in the elderly compared to the young are already known to be linked to cancer risk.

If you think about the DNA strand as "hardware" and the added methyl groups as "software"—which isn't actually a bad analogy—you can think of the inappropriately placed methyl groups as software bugs that accumulate with age. It's just that, for humans, those bugs leads to increased risk of terminal disease. Fortunately, these kinds of findings should help scientists troubleshoot our internal apps. More here.

Jun 11, 2012

Finally a Left-Handed Person Can Feel Normal on the Internet

Left-handed people have it tough. Scissors aren't meant for them, the average mouse isn't shaped for them and gloves aren't meant for them. Everyday life has been all backwards. But it's okay! You can be normal on the Internet now with this left hand pointer icon.

Silvio Lorusso created a Chrome plugin that flips the hand cursor in Chrome (the thing that pops up when you hover over a link) from the traditional right-hand, to a left-hand. It's a quick and easy install to hold on to your sanity left-handed people. Install it here.

Apple Announces First Retina Display in a MacBook, 220ppi with 2880 x 1800 resolution

Apple just announced its next-generation MacBook Pro, and it comes equipped with a gorgeous 220 pixel-per-inch 2880 x 1800 display. That's quite a bit shy of the 326 ppi LCD on the iPhone 4S and the 264 ppi density of the new iPad's display, but it's still a massive improvement over the 1680 x 1050 pixels found on Apple's previous-generation clamshell. 

The new Retina is, as Apple marketing head Phil Shiller not-so-modestly pointed out during this morning's WWDC keynote, the "world's highest-resolution notebook display." It's also soon to be the highest-res LCD in any household, offering three million more pixels than your 1080p HDTV.

Jun 10, 2012

Adjustable Dividers Ensure No Book Will Ever Topple While On This Shelf

Benson's Format bookshelf uses a series ofinfinitely adjustable sliding dividers on every level to keep books upright, and to visually break up its simple form. It's great news if you absolutely hate it when books fall over, but bad news if you're into collecting bookends.

You have your choice of oak or walnut wood finishes, and a black or white lacquer if you're looking for something more modern. But the smallest version, measuring just three feet long on each side, starts at a hefty $547. And the largest version tops out at over $1,600 before customizations. But still, it's a small price to pay for peace of mind that everything on it is going to remain upright. More here.

New Windows Phone Store Lets you Wear Your 'I Heart WP' on Your Sleeve

So you love Windows Phone, but how can you let the world know? Until now, you'd either have to wave your object of desire around, or keep showing colleagues those "Smoked by Windows Phone" YouTube videos. 

Now, you can simply wear your alliance across your chest, or favorite beverage, thanks to a new CafePress store. Revealed in a Window steamblog post, the shop will let you grab mugs, t-shirts, stickers, magnets and more emblazoned with "I Heart Windows Phone" in icons. Not only that, in case all those soccer moms didn't know which side of the fence you stood, you can clear up the doubt by snagging a bodysuit for your youngest. Credit card at the ready? More here.

Jun 9, 2012

Are Double Ears a Genetic Disorder Or a Freaky Fashion Trend?

Whoa. It's probably still way too early on a Saturday to fully comprehend what you're seeing here, but artist Percy Lau has created this trippy earring design which makes it look like you've got a smaller ear growing off your lobe. Freaky.

You can get a pair for yourself from her Etsy store for around $40. But only if you like constantly being stared at while you go about your day, and freaking out everybody who walks by you. More here.

What Color Were Tomatoes Before All the Dinosaurs Died?

New research published in Nature suggests that the very same meteor that crashed into Earth 60 - 70 million years ago—the one responsible for wiping out all the dinosaurs—may also be responsible for the red color of today's tomatoes.

Parsing Nature's tomato genome analysis, PhysOrg reports that about the same time as the meteorite crash and the solar eclipse, the distant ancestor of the tomato plant tripled in size—an drastic and important response, as it is indicative of stressful growth conditions for plant life at that time.

The ancestor tomato, explains Rene Klein Lankhorst, "reacted by expanding its genome considerably in order to increase its chances of survival." When conditions on Earth improved again, explains PhysOrg, this ancestor of the plant got rid of a lot of genetic ballast, "but the genetic base for fruit formation had already been developed," including the tomato's signature red hue. More here.

Jun 8, 2012

Guy Gets Double Arm Transplant, Does World’s Best Robot Dance Move to Celebrate

I love sad stories with happy ending. This gentleman is Gabriel Granados Vergara, a 52-year-old man lost both arms below the elbows, charred beyond repair in an electrical accident. But thanks to an unnamed 34-year-old shooting victim, he got them back.

The double arm transplant was performed by Dr. Martin Iglesias at the National Institute of Medical Science and Nutrition in Mexico City. Granados, who is a government agent working for Mexico City's prosecutors' office, was very happy: "This is wonderful that after being without hands for some time, all of a sudden I see new hands."  More here.

This Desk Only Needs Two Legs

When you think about it, a two legged desk makes sense. Most of us cram our home workspace up against a wall or into a corner anyways, so why even bother with two legs that are rather redundant?

If you can curb your paranoia of your desk coming off the wall and crashing down onto the floor, Margaux Keller's Le Scriban desk is a simple desk with a classic look to it, but features like the mural console along the back give it a look that will catch the eye of anyone passing by. More here.

Jun 7, 2012

Cronus Adapter lets you Play Xbox 360 with a PS3 Controller and Vice Versa

There's nothing quite so enlightening as a solution to a problem you didn't realize you had. Cronus, a little USB stick that the company promises will "change how you look at gaming." While the little USB adapter's functionality isn't quite so grandiose (same goes for the company's assertion that it's "the greatest invention in gaming since the controller"), the peripheral offers up an interesting proposition -- being able to control your Xbox 360 with a PlayStation 3 controller -- and the other way around. Oh, and Wiimotes are in the mix, as well.

The Cronus is a black USB dongle with a small single digit display on the top and a USB input on the rear. Plug it into the console of your choice, sync it up and you should be good to go. More here.

Chrome Will Be on Windows 8 Metro Soon

Google's Chrome browser will definitely be available as a Metro app in Windows 8. It works in both the Metro and Desktop settings, but not on the ARM platform, since Internet Explorer is the only browser Microsoft allows there. You'll be able to try it out in the next Chrome Dev channel release. More here.