Oct 31, 2012

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs Gets Horrifying Halloween Trailer

The sequel to Frictional Games’ stupendously terrifying Amnesia: The Dark Descent, subtitled A Machine for Pigs, is due sometime in 2013. What with today being the spookiest day of the year, the collaborating (as Frictional is teaming up with the chinese room) indie developers decided it was a great time to release a trailer.

A trailer that provided a nice morning scare for me.

If you watched the onset of the trailer and find yourself wondering when, exactly, the horrifying stuff starts, make sure you wait until around the one minute mark. The next bits that follow are exactly why I can’t handle games like Amnesia and its upcoming sequel.

Android Now Has Just as Many Apps as iOS

Apple recently said that there are 700,000 iOS applications in its iTunes App Store. Google’s Android platform, which has typically trailed Apple’s iOS in terms of the number of applications available to its users, is now all caught up.

AllThingsD today said that a Google source has confirmed that it now also has more than 700,000 applications. That’s impressive growth for Android, which hasn’t had an app store as long as Apple has. Meanwhile, Microsoft said yesterday that the Windows Phone Store has 120,000 applications, but that it’s also growing quickly. More here.

Google Search app for iOS Updated with new Voice Search Functionality, iPhone 5 Compatibility

Google just released an updated version of its Search app for Android devices yesterday, and it's now (aspromised) also delivered a fairly big update to iOS users. That brings with it iPhone 5 compatibility, but the bigger news is the expanded voice search functionality, which promises "faster and significantly improved voice recognition," with spoken responses à la Google Now provided alongside the search results. Those additions also extend to iPad users in addition to the iPhone and iPod touch -- get it here.

Oct 30, 2012

Tetris Ported to a Jack-o'-lantern

What happens when you gut a pumpkin and replace its insides with heat-shrink tubing, solder, 128 LEDs, eight AA batteries, an Arduino board and clever programming? You get what self-proclaimed tinkerer Nathan Pryor calls "Pumpktris." Over the years we've seen the classic puzzle game Tetris ported to some amazing things, but a piece of fruit? Just in time for Halloween, this high-tech spin on the jack-o'-lantern features a fully playable Tetris game controlled from the pumpkin's joystick stem. 

Whether you're a hardcore do-it-yourselfer, or a diehard Tetris fan hoping to top the system's high score (9,800 points), you can build your very own Pumpktris. Of course, its creator estimates it'll take around 12 hours or longer to build the custom LED matrix and joystem and carve up the gourd of your choice.

Survey of 1,200 People Reveals 52 Percent Have Never Heard of Windows 8

Out of a pool of 1,200 adults, 52 percent said they’d never heard of Windows 8 leading up to last week’s release. For all of Microsoft’s wining and dining of the tech-savvy crowd — it seems the revamped software isn’t in the average consumer conscious. The company was always going to fight an uphill battle when marketing its new OS vision.

According to The Associated Press and GfK, of those who had heard of Windows 8, 61 percent said they had little to no interest in buying a computer running Microsoft’s newest OS. About 35 percent of people who were somewhat familiar with the new system felt it would not be an improvement over Windows 7.

One 43-year-old engineer, Chris Dionne, who knew Windows 8 was coming, said he isn’t “thrilled [Microsoft is] changing things around” when Windows 7 already does what he wants it to.

Additionally, the poll highlights the lack of interest surrounding Microsoft’s Surface, which launched in conjunction with Windows 8. Of those surveyed, 69 percent admitted they had little to no interest in the device, which is a product Microsoft is hoping will fit into a tablet/laptop niche.

Microsoft’s approach to the changing market is admirable and something that strays pretty significantly from iOS and Android. The company’s task of marketing Windows 8 (and Windows Phone 8, and its two Surface tablets) was always going to be difficult. It’ll be interesting to see how consumers receive Microsoft’s new direction now that all its cards are on the table, especially since it does offer compelling features, such as a new modern user interface and full touchscreen support in laptops and PCs. More here.

Oct 29, 2012

The 16GB Nexus 7 Is Now Just $200

Google just took the lid off a 32GB Nexus 7 tablet, and dropped the price of the 16GB model from $250 to $200. The bigger version is $249.

This confirmed earlier suspicions from price leaks to third-party retailers that Google would make its flagship tablet cheaper. In spite of the cancellation of Google's event because of Hurricane Sandy, the news is still moving along—Google also revealed the 10-inch Nexus 10 to rival the iPad. The 32GB Nexus 7 also comes in an HSPA+ version for $300. The tablet goes on sale on November 13. More here.

Scientists Are Making Computer Chips of the Future Out of Carbon Nanotubes

Scientists have developed a way to manufacture a new breed of computer chips that use carbon nanotubes in the place of silicon.

Nanotubes have plenty of superior electronic properties over silicon, but until now it's been impossible to manufacture a chip with a high enough density of nanotubes to make an effective processing unit. Now, the researchers, from IBM, have cracked it.

Writing in Nature Nanomaterials, the researchers explain a new manufacturing technique that makes it possible to squeeze enough tubes on to the chip. It involves two solutions which work like a two-part epoxy: when they double-dip their chip substrate in the two, it enables them to create neatly aligned nanotube devices, with a density of a billion nanotubes per square centimeter.

While that sounds like a lot, though, it's not quite enough for the ambitious team of scientists. James Hannon, one of the researchers, explained to the BBC:
"That's one nanotube every 150 or 200 (billionths of a meter) or so. That's not good enough to make a microprocessor yet - it's a factor of 10 away... But it's a factor of 100 better than has been done previously."
So, while they've managed a step change in their production technique, there's still some tweaking to be done. The team, however, predicts that if it can bump up its density, then it could produce processors three times faster than the current state-of-the-art, that consume a third of the power. Fingers crossed. More here.

Oct 28, 2012

Sharp Announces First TVs with Moth-Eye Technology

Sharp may look like it's in trouble, but that's not stopping it bringing new displays to the market, the AQUOS Quattron 3D XL TV line. Behind the mouthful of acronyms, these LED-backlit LCD panels are the first to feature Sharp's Moth-Eye technology, designed to reduce glare and pump out bright colors, as well as a deep black. The company's 'four primary color'tech is partly responsible for the rich output, which squeezes a yellow sub-pixel in with the standard R, G and B. 

All the panels run at 1,920 x 1,080, as you'd expect, sport a 10 million to 1 contrast ratio and use five speakers to deliver audio. Prices aren't fixed, but the 46-, 52- and 80-inch models will be released in Japan on December 15th, while the 60- and 70-inch variants will come slightly earlier, on November 30th. You're going to have to be quick on launch day, though -- only 10,000 units are expected to be available in the first month. More here.

Nexus 4 Render Leaks Before Next Week’s Unveiling

We’ve seen the Nexus 4 show up for pre-order, support pages in Australia, a charging pad and even a quick-start guide, but if you want at least one more spoiler before then, take a look above. The folks over on the @evleaks account shared one more render that gives you a good look at the front, back and sides. Christmas is definitely coming early for those who can’t wait for the Nexus 4. More here.

Oct 27, 2012

ASUS Unveils RT-N12HP WiFi Router With Extra-long Antennas

If getting long-range WiFi is a perpetual battle, ASUS just started a nuclear war. Its fresh RT-N12HP router carries a pair of (thankfully removable) high-gain, 9dBi antennas and a separate signal amplifier that can jointly boost the range of the router's 802.11n wireless up to 300 percent versus challengers that reach the same 300Mbps peak speed. Beyond that, the hotspot mostly claims sheer flexibility as its virtue with support for as many as four separate WiFi networks and a fast toggle between pure router, access point and repeater modes. More here.

Giant Working Instagram Camera Is This Year’s Costume To Beat

The heart of the costume is a Nikon D800 with an Eye-Fi SD card inside transferring photos to an iPad serving as the display on the back. But since the D800 isn't fully compatible with the Eye-Fi's direct transfer mode, a portable wireless router was also added to the mix to facilitiate the exchange. Oddly enough it doesn't seem as if the costume uploads photos to an Instagram account, which leaves the door wide open for someone to come along and one-up this one too. More here.

Oct 26, 2012

This Down Jacket Keeps You Warm Even When It’s Wet

A puffy down feather jacket is one of the lightest and warmest things you can wear. But the tradeoff is that if you get it even the slightest bit wet, you'll be wearing a cold soggy mess. Not the Brooks-Range Mojave, though; thanks to a special coating on the feathers, it doesn't skimp on the warm when it's wet.

The feathers it's stuffed with are treated with a hydrophobic polymer known as perfluoroalkyl acrylate, developed by a company called Down Decor. So instead of absorbing water, the down inside the $300 Mojave repels it. And while it doesn't guarantee you'll stay completely dry, the company claims the treated feathers will only absorb about a quarter of the moisture that regular down filling would. Which means your jacket will dry five times faster and be ready to warm you again in no time. More here.

Tortilla Hexaflexagon

Oct 25, 2012

This Nexus 10 User Manual Leaks Google’s 10-Inch Tablet

A Korean gadget site has posted images of a user manual for a device called a Samsung Nexus 10 that looks much like an oversized Nexus 7. Could this—along with that new Nexus phone—be what Google is announcing on Monday?

The pictures don't offer much in the way of hard intel beyond that in terms of features, and the sketch of the phantom gadget looks like what you'd expect from a 10-inch tablet. At the very least, it supports persistent rumors that Google will reveal its flagship slate's bigger brother at some point. This tablet is said to have a 2560×1600 pixel display, more pixels per inch than the iPad, and run on Android 4.2, a.k.a. Key Lime Pie. We'll know if the so-called Nexus 10 is actually real next week. More here.

Here’s a Website That’ll Make You Instantly Feel Better

If you're having a crappy day, go grab yourself an emergency compliment at this thoughtful website which serves up, you guessed it, emergency compliments.  
Be happy! More happy things on the Internet! 

Oct 24, 2012

The Lowly Button Gets a Brilliant Upgrade

There should be a special Nobel Prize set aside for geniuses who find ways to improve the simplest things in life. And this year's award would go to Shapeways user OliveBird, whose Button 2.0 turns any shirt into a convenient headphone wrangler.

It's not to say that the traditional button design isn't useful. It's just that with the addition of a subtle clamp on one edge for holding headphone cables no thicker than two millimeters, the Button 2.0 is approximately a thousand times more useful. And this isn't some design student's thesis on how to make the world better. It's an actual product you can order from Shapeways in different colors ranging in price from $3 to $4. Expensive for a button? Yes. But this is the bleeding edge of shirt fastening/cable wrangling technology. More here.

The Placebo Effect May Be Genetic

The placebo effect seems to make little sense: get ill, take a dummy pill, and you'll recover in much the same way as someone taking real drugs. While there have been many theories bandied about over the years to explain how it works, new evidence suggests that it may be genetic.

A team of researchers at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School has published a study in PLoS One that identifies the first ever genetic difference between patients who respond to placeboes and patients who don't. If it's correct, it could completely change the way drugs are tested and prescribed.

The study looked at patients with irritable bowel syndrome who were enrolled in an acupuncture trial. Split into three groups—one that received no treatment, one that got fake acupuncture with little interaction with the caregiver, and another that received fake acupuncture with real interaction—they were also analyzed genetically.

The results show variations in the COMT, or catechol-O- methyltransferase gene, affect patient response to placebo. The gene is known to be related to dopamine release—a neurotransmitter associated with reward and positive feeling—and the study shows that variations in it are strongly correlated with placebo susceptibility.

Of course, many of the usual caveats apply: this was a modestly sized study, involivng just 104 patients, which considered just one placebo treatment used for one medical condition. If, however, the results bear out, then expect to see genetic tests being used to improve both personal care and clinical trials in the future. More here.

Oct 23, 2012

Apple’s New iMacs Are Crazy Thin

Apple has defied that assumption that the desktop is on the outs and dropped refreshed super-thin iMacs at its event today.

They were expected this summer at WWDC, but the wait might have been worthwhile—this refresh is far more significant than we thought. The new models are 80 percent thinner (just 5mm) and about eight pounds lighter than their predecessors. We didn't anticipate a redesign, but they're incredibly beautiful from what we can see. Apple will offer iMacs in 21.5-inch and 27-inch versions, the latter of which has a resolution of 2560 by 1440.

The screen has 75 percent less reflection, and a few other features like an HD camera, dual microphones, and a stereo sound system that's supposed to be much better than the previous generation. Specs got a bump too—the new machines have quad-core i5 processors (configurable up to i7), up to 32GB of RAM, and as much as 768GB of flash storage. RAM is accessible in the 27-inch iMac, but not the smaller one. Both of these guys have four USB 3.0 ports and two Thunderbolt, which is very nice. On top of that, there's an SD card, gigabit ethernet, and a now, a fusion drive—that's 128GB of flash storage plus 1 or 3 TB of hard drive combined into one hard drive. Doesn't sound half bad, although customization might be a bit more difficult with such a big update.

The smaller model starts at $1300 and ships in November, and the 27-incher starts at $1800 and ships in December.

The iPad Mini’s Guts Are Basically an iPad 2

Apple's new iPad Mini is here, with all the attendant fawning. But strip away the smaller size, and what is it really? A tiny little iPad 2.

Let's start with guts. The Mini runs on an A5 chip—the same one that's in the iPad 2. The major upgrade to the A5 chip in this year's iPad (the A5X was sold as a graphical update at the time). That's a full three generations back now, with the A6X out now. This is almost certainly the same chip design that was die-shrunk in the upgraded iPad 2.

In all likelihood, the Mini has the same 512MB of RAM as the iPad 2 as well. A few reasons there. For one, it doesn't have retina-level numbers of pixels to push. But then remember that the die-shrunk A5 that it's using has never been paired with anything but 512MB of RAM.

You'll be hearing plenty more about the screen, but for now, it's 162.03 PPI, at 7.9 inches and 1024 x 768. 

How the iPad Mini Stacks Up to the Competition

Oct 22, 2012

Microsoft Announces Skype for Windows 8

With Windows 8 going on sale in just four days, Microsoft is doing a sensible thing and releasing a version of Skype optimized for Win 8. As you'd expect, Skype for Windows 8 has the same overarching look and feel as other apps, which is to say you can swipe from left to right to see different categories, such as recent activity, favorites and a complete contacts list. But the integration with Windows 8 goes a little deeper than that. Just as you can pinch your Live Tiles to zoom out and make them easier to navigate, you can use semantic zoom to sift through a long list of contacts. And, because Skype runs in the background, you can set up your Start Screen so that the Skype Live Tile shows notifications for things like missed calls. Additionally, Skype is now baked into the People Hub, so that someone's Skype handle shows up alongside other forms of contact, like an email address or phone number.

The in-call experience has also been modified to take advantage of certain features in Win 8. For one, you can link your Skype and Microsoft account, so that when you log into your system using your Microsoft ID, you'll already be logged into Skype. While on a call, you can conduct video chats using the whole screen, at which point chat messages from that person will show up as text bubbles on the side of the screen. At any time, you can swipe to see other recent activity, which could be handy if you're juggling multiple IM conversations at once.

If you prefer, you can also dock Skype on the side of the screen, as you can with any other program in Win 8. With the Skype chat taking up just a third (or two thirds) of the screen, you can use that remaining real estate for an IM chat within Skype, or maybe a web search. Lastly, if you return to the home screen, there's a large phone icon up top where you'll find the dialer, whose number pad allow your fingers plenty of room to hit the right keys. You'll see your balance listed there, too, in the event you're not planning on making a free call to another Skype user, if you like you'll soon be able to experience it for yourself: the app will be available for free in the Windows Store on October 26th.

This Sliding Lens Cap iPhone Case Banishes Smudges

Not only do lens caps protect your camera's glass from scratches that can permanently render them unusable, they also help keep fingerprints and grease smudges at bay, which can ruin a photo. And it's no different with your iPhone, which is why this case with a sliding door that protects and cleans its tiny lens is brilliant.

Designed by Ace Display, the inside of the sliding door on the Identity case is covered in microfiber fabric. So every time it's closed and opened, it wipes away grease, smudges, and fingerprints ensuring your photos are as pristine as possible. The $20 case also protects the rest of your phone too, making it a must-have accessory for the iPhone 5 which seems like its particularly prone to being scratched up. More here.

Oct 21, 2012

Microsoft Touch Mouse Gets Pomised Windows 8 Support, Works like a Charm

Microsoft vowed that its Touch Mouse would get Windows 8 support in time for the software's big release day, and it's being very true to its word by posting the relevant update with less than a week to go.

Mouse and Keyboard Center 2.0 saves time for those not graced with a touchscreen by introducing multi-touch swipes that bring up Windows 8's Charm bar, switch between active apps and invoke Semantic Zoom. Will the Touch Mouse update trick you into thinking you have a Surface? No, but it's certainly much easier on the wallet. More here.

How to Download a Video From Kik Messenger

So, your friends sent you a video on Kik Messenger. It's a really funny or awesome video and you want to download it to your Android or iOS device. What you need: an OLD BlackBerry device (I used a BlackBerry 8520) and another device such as an iPhone or Android.

Here are 5 steps:

1. Have the Kik Messenger conversation with the video

2. Get a BlackBerry phone and make another Kik Messenger account

3. Send the video to your other Kik Messenger account by pressing where the red circle is in the picture below
4. Open the video on your BlackBerry device and it will begin downloading on to your phone/SD card

5. Enjoy and ask for more videos!

Oct 20, 2012

Would You Trim Your Eyebrows With This Bizarre Face-Hugger Stencil?

This, over course, goes hand in hand with the related question "Would you/Do you trim your eyebrows?" This stencil, apparently getting popular in Japan, is aimed squarely at men. Worth the weirdness? More here.

Toshiba Kicks off Pre-Orders for Windows 8 PCs, all due to Ship October 26th

Not to be outdone by Korean rival Samsung, Toshiba has become the latest manufacturer to announce it's now accepting pre-orders for its loaded repertoire of Windows 8 PCs. Naturally, this contains an array of options for all different types of budgets and preferences, including the Japanese company's Satellite S, P and L laptops or the U series of Ultrabooks, the Qosmio X875 for gamers and, for those who enjoy a more desktop-friendly setup, the LX815 and LX835 all-in-ones are also there for the taking. 

As expected, Toshiba will be shipping online pre-orders on October 26th, while folks who decide to go the brick-and-mortar route should be able to physically pick one up on that very same day. There's still a lot more where this came from, but you'll have to head over to Toshiba's site to see what else the outfit has to offer.

Oct 19, 2012

Insanely Expensive Carbon Fiber Fixie

They're the preferred mode of transport for flannel plaided hipsters, sure, but when a fixie is crafted from carbon fiber by a company with a mastery of the material, it's downright impossible for anyone not to lust over. Oh, UBC Coren bike, you are purdy. Even if $32,500 in a stupid amount of money to spend on a bicycle.

You've probably never heard of UBC until now, and that's exactly why they created the Coren. The company has been producing carbon fiber parts for Formula 1 and other high-performance vehicles for years, but recently wanted to develop more brand recognition outside of expensive cars. So they've branched out to expensive bikes as well, designing and now manufacturing this masterpiece which weighs in at 17 pounds and uses a belt drive system instead of a chain. More here.

This Tempered Titanium G-Shock Celebrates 30 Years of Tough Casios

The idea to create "the toughest watch in the world" came to Japanese creator Kikuo Ibe, when he dropped and broke a precious watch given to him by his father. The first G-Shocks were developed in the 80s, and 30 years on they're tougher and smarter than ever. One item in particular, "the ultimate G-Shock", has been developed to celebrate the anniversary, the MR-G.

The MR-G is made from tempered titanium, and the face is inlaid with Japanese gold. They go on sale in January for $10,000 a pop. More here.

Oct 18, 2012

Wi-Fi MicroSD Adapter Lets You Swap In As Much Storage As You Need

Unlike the Eye-Fi wireless SD cards which lock you into a set amount of storage, PQI's Air Carduses a microSD slot so that as the tiny cards get bigger and bigger, you can easily upgrade the adapter's capacity.

And like the latest generation of the Eye-Fi cards, the $50 PQI Air works with mobile devices thanks to an accompanying iOS and Android app. So you can share photos and get your snaps online without the need for a card reader or a USB connection to a PC. It works with three devices at once too, so you can send shots to your phone and tablet at the same time, and according to the PQI site it supports pretty much every popular camera on the market today. More here.

Acer’s 7-Inch Android Tablet Will Cost $230

We've known it was coming for months, but the Acer Iconia Tab A110 finally has a due date and a pricetag. It's going on sale October 30th, and it'll only cost you $230. That puts it squarely in Nexus 7 territory.

But what does that extra $30 get you? Well, more. And less.

The Iconia Tab and Nexus 7 both feature Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 processor, both have 8GB of built in storage, and both run the latest version of Android (Jelly Bean, a.k.a. Android 4.1). The Iconia has some very nice features that the Nexus 7 lacks, however, most notably, a Micro SD card slot so you can boost the device's storage capacity an additional 32 gigs. It also has a micro HDMI port, so you can watch your movies/play your games on a full-sized TV. Very nice.

The biggest disadvantage is the screen. The seven-inch Iconia Tab A110 only has a resolution of 1024 x 600 which makes for a rather paltry pixel density of 170 PPI. The Nexus 7 crams 800 x 1280 pixels into those same seven inches, bringing the pixel density up to 216 PPI. Considering that reading and watching videos are likely to be the main things you do with a tablet this size, that might just be a deal-breaker. The Nexus is also about 1.75 ounces lighter than the Iconia, and it's a bit thinner, too. More here.

Oct 17, 2012

A Sleek Scale For Your Kitchen

You want to be a precise chef, and you know that a cup is not always a foolproof cup, depending on your equipment and your method of measuring. In order to be as accurate as possible, you'll want to invest in a scale, like this one made by industrial designer Jacob Jensen.

It's no surprise that this $128 tool is beautiful and understated—Jensen is known for audio equipment he designed for Bang and Olufsen, shown at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1978. Fifteen of those pieces are a part of MoMA's permanent collection. Now that he's turned his attention to the kitchen, you can have his brushed aluminum take on an ingredient scale brighten up your countertops—and give you much more accurate measurements. More here.

The Average Twitter User Is a 28-Year-Old Female with an iPhone That Loves the Color Purple

Here are the stats on the average Twitter user: she's a 28 years old American girl who has an iPhone, has 208 Twitter followers while following 102 people, tweets a lot about fashion and family, likes the color purple and uses "love" quite frequently in her Tweets. 
Beevolve, a social media marketing firm, analyzed 36 million Twitter profiles and came up with a bevy of numbers that break down Twitter users. Like did you know the average Twitter user has tweeted 800 times? Or that only 26% of users favorite Tweets? Or that nearly two-thirds of Tweets come from Twitter apps? There are a ton of Twitter statistics left, check them out at Beevolve

Oct 16, 2012

Cardboard bicycle 'close to mass production': tough, green and just $20

Cardboard never ceases to amaze. Having been deployed in gramophones, stereos and even digital cameras, one inventor now believes it can be used to make the ideal bicycle. Izhar Gafni, from Israel, spent 18 months just folding the material every-which-way in order to discover a strong enough design, and now he claims his technique is almost ready for mass production. 

His maintenance-free bike uses a "secret" mix of organic materials to make it waterproof and fireproof, and is then lacquered to give it a friendlier appearance. It's expected to cost a mere $20 and weigh about 20 lbs (9 kg) -- that's 65 percent lighter than an average metal ride. In fact, this bicycle doesn't use any metal parts at all -- the solid tires are made of reconstituted rubber and a car timing belt is used instead of a chain. It lacks the swank of aFaraday Porteur, perhaps, but then you could buy 175 of these for the same money. More here.

This Accessory Could Make the iPhone the World’s First Smellophone

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a smell has to be worth at least a few hundred. And the next time you're chatting and come across a thought or sentiment that can't be expressed with an emoticon, maybe a specific scent could translate your feelings. At least that's what the creators of the ChatPerf are hoping.

Created by the Chaku Perfume company, ChatPerf is an iPhone accessory and accompanying app that lets you remotely trigger a small puff of fragrance, or really any smell, on someone else's iPhone. So imagine sending the smell of fresh popcorn to lure a friend to a movie, or your favorite perfume to secure a date. The possibilities are endless, except that the atomizer accessory can only hold one scent at a time. And asking someone else to refill it takes all of the surprise out of the equation. So for $63 it's kind of a tough sell when that winky emoji actually sums up how you're feeling about 95 percent of the time anyways. More here.

The Latest Tokyo Flash Watch Hides the Time in a Maze

Tokyo Flash is the go-to watch brand for people who don't care what time it is. Here's its latest creation, which hides the time in the negative space of a maze.

The Kisai Maze is labyrinthine in its complexity. It takes some patience to work out what the hell time it is—but once you've cracked it, it's actually quite satisfying. The watch is available in stainless steel or black, and is on sale for $99 until Thursday, when the price jumps to $139. More here.

Oct 15, 2012

Apple Planning to Launch 13-Inch Retina MacBook Pro This Month?

9to5mac is reporting that Apple is going to announce a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro alongside the iPad Mini at a forthcoming product announcement event.

The website cites a "consistently reliable source at a high-profile U.S. retailer", who has learned of a new, smaller version of the current 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. According to the source, a 13-inch version of the Retina MacBoook will share the thinner, lighter style of enclosure of the 15-inch version, and will be sold in two configurations—with differing processor and storage options. The source also claims that the 13-inch Retina MacBook will be sold alongside the standard 13-inch MacBook.

The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro was launched back in June to dropped jaws, and hinted at the future of Apple's laptop line: slim, hi-res displays, SSD-only storage and no optical drives. While a 13-inch version seemed inevitable, it remains to be seen with certainty if now is the time.

Still, chances are that the reason a 13-inch version wasn't launched alongside the 15-inch computer was that Apple was taking it easy on suppliers. Whether a six-month window provides enough breathing room—and whether we'll hear of a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro in the coming weeks—well, we'll just have to wait and see. More here.

No Wonder Street View Is So Good When Google Has This Army of Cars

Street View is good and getting better—and that's thanks to Google's massive fleet of cars, kitted out to capture the world around us in all its panoramic glory. This is what a parking lot full of them looks like.

Google's own Masrur Odinaev posted this picture of one of the company's holding pens: the fleet of Subaru Imprezas looks like an army of camera-equipped automatons, ready and waiting to do whatever Larry Page orders them to. Which, really, isn't far off the mark. Across the world, Odinaev estimates there are in fact 250 cars buzzing around. More here.

Oct 13, 2012

Windows 8 now Available to try at Best Buy

Microsoft's already opened up the floodgates with Windows 8 pre-orders, and it looks as if those still on the fence now have a sandbox to goof off in. Pictured above is a trio of Windows 8 notebooks from a Best Buy located in St. Cloud, Minnesota. More here.

Cavemen Would Have Killed For These Modern Stone Tools

A huge part of human history revolved around tying stones to sticks. We don't do it much any more, but if we did, we'd be super good at it. These modern stone tools prove it.

Designed by Ami Drach and Dov Ganchrow, each tool is specially engineered to fit the piece of stone or flint its paired with. Digital scans taken of the flint stones let each handle account for its blade's subtlest nook and cranny, resulting in some stylish hatchets and daggers cavemen could only dream of, if that.

The tools were put on display at the recent Budapest Design Week in Hungary. No Neanderthals were around to comment, but you can imagine what they might have said: something along the lines of "oogh!" More here.

Animal-Shaped Office Supplies Come With a Bite

Lions and tigers and bears, join models of sharks and gorillas and gators—all the best animals, in desk tool form for $78 each. Even better? All of these creatures' teeth are properly proportioned to their bodies. More here.

Oct 12, 2012

Windows 8 Packaging and Pricing Revealed

We're almost there. Just a few more days until the big reveal. But that doesn't mean there aren't still a few final Windows 8 secrets to be disclosed. Two of those are the price and the packaging, which online retailer Newegg has just let slip. There are four packages listed: Windows 8 Professional Upgrade ($69), Windows 8 Pro Pack ($69, product key card only), Windows 8 OEM ($99) and Windows 8 Professional ($139), with the latter two being available in both 32- and 64-bit versions (for the same price). 

If you go into the product page, however, we can see that the original price for the upgrade and product key card only versions is listed as "$199" suggesting that this might either be a launch offer, or subject to change. Don't forget though, there's still the chance to upgrade for an even lower price, for those who qualify. You can officially reserve your copy of Pro from today for $69.99 at all the main retailers, but if you can hold back on that impulse purchase for just a little longer, you'll be able to upgrade to Pro online for $39 (until January 31st). More here.

Guitar Skillet Lets You Cook Steak Like a Rockstar

Kitchenware might be practical, but it isn't nearly enough fun. Fortunately, cookware company Lodge has decided to change that by creating a seasoned guitar-shaped cast iron skillet at its Tennessee foundry.

Lodge refers to it as a mini skillet, and it isn't wrong: at a mere 11 inches, end-to-end, you'll struggle to fit a family's worth of steaks in the pan. But who cares about that when you pretend to play audacious guitar solos as you cook. The best bit? It only costs $18. More here.

Oct 11, 2012

Your Kids Will Never Outgrow This Drawing Desk

Designed to accomodate kids of any age and height, this Grow Table drawing desk features a sloped work surface so at one end it's low enough for little tikes, while the other is high enough for teenagers.

Made from marine plywood with Douglas Fir accents, the Growth Table encourages both young and old to work and play together at the same desk. And its simple design means the table can keep up with a growing kid without the need for complicated adjustment mechanisms. Just be careful not to misplace a pencil when you're older because it has a long way to roll. More here.

How to Tell if the Universe Is a Computer Simulation

It's a famous question among academic philosophers: how can we be sure we're not living in a gigantic computer simulation? Fortunately, researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany think they've cracked it.

Their reasoning is pretty straightforward, according to Technology Review: if the cosmos is just a numerical simulation, calculated on some insanely powerful supercomputer tucked away in another world, there should be clues around us that can reveal the truth. Glitches in the system, if you like, that give the game away.

Moving from that reasoning to the science required to find those clues isn't quite so easy. To kick things off, the team of researchers from Bonn have speculated that the problem with all simulations is that they're discretized: to model a physical phenomenon, the real world has to be represented by separate points in time and 3D space. Sure you can make the distance between those points reeeeeeally small—but you still have to have this kind of grid.

So the researchers started looking at some physics they understood—in this instance high energy processes that become smaller as they get more energetic. Interestingly, they found that the idea of a world-as-computer-simulation would impose limits on the absolute amount of energy any particle can have, a result rooted in the fact that nothing could ever exist in a simulation which is smaller than the 3D grid it's represented on.

Weirdly enough, turns out such a limit actually does exist here in our world, and dictates the amount of energy cosmic ray particles can have. But the idea of the lattices add a further complication, because it would theoretically mean that we wouldn't see cosmic rays traveling equally in all directions across the imposed 3D grid.

To finish off by blowing your mind: that's a measurement that current technology could be used to make. Of course, if the findings were negative it wouldn't rule out the fact that our world was a silicon simulation, because it might just be more complex than we could ever imagine—but if results came out positive it could mean we're all made of code. More here.

Oct 10, 2012

Cheap Third-Party Lightning Cables Could Finally Be On the Way for Your iPhone 5

If you've been wanting an extra iPhone 5 cable, but haven't wanted to pay the full $40 for one, help might be on the way: a Chinese company called iPhone5mod says it has cracked the authentication chip found in the lightning connector and is now selling the cables for $20 apiece.

According to TG Daily, the company also has a supply of real authentication chips from an official Apple supplier as well:
"We are the first company to release a different Lightning Cable from Apple that fully supports the iPhone 5 (also works with iPod Touch 5th Gen and upcoming mini iPad too). It works independently or together with the iPhone 5 Dock," says the company.
According to the company, it's got two sources of appropriate chips: a supply of the genuine article from Apple's own supplier, and cracked chips that bypass Apple's authentication functions. Both work equally well, it says.
While these aren't yet cheaper, the fact that the authentication chip has been cloned opens the doors for a wave of other manufacturers. But though the knockoff lightning cables are said to do everything the official cables do, word has it that Apple will try and block the version of this cable that iPhone5mod is peddling. More here.

Motorola RAZR HD LTE now Available in Canada Through Rogers for $100

Motorola had said its dearest RAZR HD LTE would be coming "later this fall" as an exclusive to Rogers, and today's the day that relatively thin and powerful Android handset hits shelves across the border. Available now for $100 (with the obligatory three-year commitment, of course), the RAZR HD LTE will hand interested Canadians a taste of Ice Cream Sandwich (sorry, no Jelly Bean for now), a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED HD, 720p display and a 1.5GHz, dual-core S4 CPU -- not to mention the ability to surf on Rogers' LTE waves in areas where the network's live. 

Meanwhile, those who would like to go the "outright" way will have to spend a cool $600 on Moto's Kevlar-sporting slab, but, needless to say, that's the price folks have to pay for walking out the door with a bit of leeway. More here.

The Bicymple Is a Simpler Bicycle Without Any Bike Chains

A bicycle is already pretty damn simple. Two wheels, a frame, a seat, pedals and a chain. What happens if you remove the chains though? That would give you the Bicymple—a bicycle that's even more simple than you could ever imagine.

Why would you make a bicycle without a chain? Well, aside from the answer of why not, the folks behind Bicymple explain:
By removing the chain, the number of moving parts and overall complexity is significantly reduced. A direct-drive, freewheeling hub joins the crank arm axis with the rear-wheel axis, shortening the wheelbase and minimizing the design.
More than just a stylish concept bike, the bicymple is comfortable, easy to ride, and brilliantly simple to maintain. The lightweight design and short wheelbase make for a nimble ride. The optional rear-steer mode is reminiscent of custom "swing bikes" and allows tighter turns and "crab-riding".

More here. 

Oct 9, 2012

Here’s a Humongous New 8 Terabyte Thunderbolt Hard Drive

Western Digital is really getting in bed with Thunderbolt. It already has a 2TB 10,000RPM monster, and now it's got an 8TB external drive with Thunderbolt.

The MyBook 8TB is the largest consumer level Thunderbolt drive, and it works with RAID 0 and RAID 1. It comes with a Thunderbolt cable, too, which is nice. On the downside, it doesn't have a USB 3.0 alternative, so if you have to work with an alternative machine that doesn't have a Thunderbolt port, well, you're screwed. It's $850, and available now at WD'sonline store.

This Flashlight 9-in-1 Multi-Tool Is Completely Out of Hand

Multi-tools pack everything you need into a small, convenient device. Sometimes they can go a little overboard. But this thing takes it to a whole new level.

The 9-in-1 Emergency Light stores a knife, scissors, Phillips-head screwdriver, bottle opener, carabiner, and a hammer all into the base of a flashlight/latern that also has a blinking red flasher mode.

Some multi-tools have much larger arsenals, sure. But this one's particular mix looks questionable—how impossibly difficult would it be to use a knife with a gigantic handle like that? There can't be a single way that allows you to make accurate and precise cuts. More here.

Oct 8, 2012

Feel the Force: Angry Birds Star Wars Ccoming November 8th

Rovio teased a certain film-inspired Angry Birds picture last week, and as expected, it's another new game -- Angry Birds Star Wars. Our furious feathered friends are assuming the likenesses of characters from the epic saga, with the trusty Red Bird taking on Luke Skywalker's role. 

It wouldn't be the Rebel Alliance without a dark side to fight, which is where the Pigs fit into the storyline; even the music and levels for gravity-based play will hark back to the film franchise. In addition to the software, details of related merchandise have also been uncovered, including table games, toys and costumes. The game is out on November 8th for iOS, Android and computers, and if it follows the original storyline, we wonder how Red Bird's going to feel about his porcine family history. More here.

Prove You’re a Human By Telling This Captcha You Have the Right Feelings

Everybody wants a better Captcha. Trying to type in those distorted words can be a serious pain, and it's becoming less and less of an impedance to ever-more-intelligent spam bots. The Civil Rights Captcha takes a different approach; you've got to have a little empathy.

Instead of your run-of-the-mill alphanumeric gibberish, or random selection of words, the Civil Rights Captcha presents you with a short blurb about a Civil Rights violation and asks you how you feel about it. Ostensibly robots (and trolls) won't make it through because they'll remark that a human rights activist's murder makes them feel "aroused" instead of "upset." And bots will still have to make it past standard Captcha hurdles before they can even pick one of the choices.

Code for the Civil Rights Captcha is freely available, so anyone who wants to can pick it up. It definitely makes better use of Captcha space than most traditional systems do, and it's an interesting take on a system; isn't empathy more exclusively human than text recognition? And so what if the robots learn to fake that. It could make the robopocalypse so much more comfortable for all of us. More here.

Oct 7, 2012

Apple Issues Official Statement on iPhone 5 Camera Purple Lens Flare Issue

Apple has issued a support document about the “purple lens flare” issue on the iPhone 5, but don’t expect any type of recall or fix ad it is considered a common occurrence.

Following up on an email, Apple has now released a support document about the purple lens flare issue. As the document states, Apple feels this is an issue that happens in most small cameras, and has even been present in previous generations of the iPhone. The fix is fairly simply according to the statement:

Most small cameras, including those in every generation of iPhone, may exhibit some form of flare at the edge of the frame when capturing an image with out-of-scene light sources. This can happen when a light source is positioned at an angle (usually just outside the field of view) so that it causes a reflection off the surfaces inside the camera module and onto the camera sensor. Moving the camera slightly to change the position at which the bright light is entering the lens, or shielding the lens with your hand, should minimize or eliminate the effect.
Of course the issue is that you won’t normally see the problem until you look at the picture, and by then most moments are gone. More here.

Nano-SIMs Reportedly Popping up at T-Mobile Stores, Ready to Welcome your iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 may not be ready for sale unlocked officially just yet, but that doesn't mean T-Mobile isn't ready to be your service provider. As evidenced by the photo above, the folks at TmoNews and YouTuber BigRicksChannel have confirmed that the service provider is now selling iPhone 5-compatible Nano-SIMs. Of course, these'll work just fine with the Verizon-variant of the the 4-inch device, as it's technically unlocked out of the box. More here.