May 31, 2012

Can Exercise Actually Be Bad For You?

Not many of us actively enjoy it, but at least we know exercise is good for us. Right? Well, perhaps not: a team of well-respected scientists say that, actually, exercise might not be good for everyone after all.

The researchers studied how 1,687 people reacted to rigorous exercise. They found that 10 percent of the participants got worse, based on one or more measures of heart disease, including blood pressure and levels of insulin and HDL cholesterol. In fact, 7 percent got worse on at least two measures. Those results are published in PLoS One.

The weird thing is, nobody knows why. Claude Bouchard, one of the researchers and professor of genetics and nutrition at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, could only muster that the finding "is bizarre" when quizzed by the New York Times.

In fact, there's a bit of a problem with studies about the benefits of exercise on health. While many have shown in the past that exercise can have an affect on measures of health—usually in a way that we'd think of as positive—very few of them carry through the analysis to see if participants suffer fewer heart attacks or live longer lives.

It might shock you to hear that most of the guidelines that recommend how much exercise you should take are based largely on such studies. While they've shown that exercise causes somepositive change to some biomaker that in the short-term makes you medically "healthier"—they don't necessarily guarantee longer life.

Is that enough to stop exercising? No, absolutely not. This one study is interesting in so much as it may be the case that for a small number of people not exercising is better for them. But it's not a general rule.

In fact, even the authors of the study agree. As they explain, no medical intervention works for 100 percent of people. If you think of exercise as a medical intervention, then it's bound not work for a tiny percentage of the population—but for the rest of us, it can make a huge difference. More here.

Windows 8 Release Preview

Windows 8 Release Preview is among us and, boy, is it lovely. It's so much dreamier than the Consumer Preview, and makes the Developer Preview look like something cobbled together out of two-by-fours, electrical tape, and rebar. It also is quite boring.

Windows 8 is Microsoft's next-generation operating system, due to ship this fall. It adds lots of touch-based gestures to the old familiar Windows, and introduces an entirely new notion of how apps should look and run with its Metro interface, where single apps take over the entire screen and run free of clutter from buttons and menu bars. It's a dramatic leap forward. But while the Developer Preview was a grand unveiling, and the Consumer Preview was its first big meet and greet, this version of Windows 8 is all about refinements. The new Release Preview is an iterative update, inching us closer to final release. It's more mature maturity, increasingly refined, and already possesses a subtle elegance. Get it here.

Recycled Vinyl Records Become Bases for Beautiful Lamps

Brooklyn-based Orlando Dominguez of GIN Art & Design debuted his simple yet gorgeous lamps, whose bases are made of recycled 45 vinyl record, at the recent annual New York Design Week.

Picking up the colors in the vinyl—the glowing columns of light look almost like cut glass. More here.

May 30, 2012

Death to the Dock Connector Is Imminent, Suggests Apple Job Opening

Apple has posted on their jobs pages a job opening at Cupertino for a Connector Design Engineer, which only strengthens thegrowing speculation that the 30-prong dock connector we've all grown accustomed to is on its way out the door.

Rumors of a new iPhone with a smaller dock connector have proliferated recently, with images of alleged prototypes leaking out across the internet. And The job description itself all but confirms the rumor:
The Connector Design Engineer will be responsible for managing multiple connector designs and developments in support of the iPod product lines. Cross-functional development and consulting will be a major part of your daily work. As a Lead Engineer you be responsible for identifying appropriate connection technology requirements for new products and follow through with selection and development of suitable interconnect products. This will often involve adaptation of existing connectors or completee new designs. Interfacing with connector suppliers to direct and implement the necessary design changes or creation of completely new designs will also be a major part of your daily work.
A smaller connector doesn't seem like much of an upgrade, and actually it will be prettyannoying for those of us with a plethora of 30-prongs circulating amongst our devices. More here.

Is This Finally a Toughphone Worth Buying?

Sony has just announced that it's launching a new toughphone, called the Xperia Advance. Unlike previous examples of hardy handsets, though, this one actually looks normal—and its specs aren't too shabby either.

It packs a 3.5-inch 480 x 320 display, dual-core 1GHz processor, 5-megapixel camera and runs... well, it runs a Gingerbread version of Android. Android 4.0 will, apparently, find its way to the device soon though. One excellent little feature is something called "wet finger tracking" which means that the screen is still useable when it's raining or when your hands are covered in water. More here.

May 29, 2012

They’ve Finally Perfected the Ice Cream Scoop

This fine piece of gastronomical engineering could very well be the perfect ice cream scoop. And if you've ever battled to get ice cream out of a container with a more traditional looking scoop, you'll appreciate the extra thought that's gone into this one's design.

First off, the leading edge is serrated like a knife, so it can slash its way through even the most solid of frozen treats. And that fancy faceted design on the scoop? That's not just for futuristic looks. No, that texture prevents a scoop of ice cream from sticking like a suction cup, so it's easier to deposit onto a cone. You'd expect such innovation to be priced at a premium and only available to professionals who make their livelihood scooping, but you can get one for your own kitchen for a mere $10 here.

Early iPad Prototype With Two Dock Connectors Sells For $10,200

Since its launch in 2010 the iPad has only ever featured a single dock connector, despite being used frequently in landscape orientation. There were, just before launch, rumors that the device might have two connectors—and now a prototype which has just sold on eBay further suggests that such plans were considered.

This prototype 16 GB original iPad is plastered in prototype identification numbers and, while it's always difficult to say for certain if such items are real, the accompanying documentation and images certainly make it appear to be a genuine Apple prototype. Certainly, one person was convinced enough to spend $10,200 to secure the item.

It does raise the question as to whether two dock connectors might have been a good idea. It would, of course, have taken up more internal space, and looked ugly and asymmetric—but would the extra convenience have been worth it? More here.

Watching Injections Makes Them Hurt More

If you're one of the hard core of hospital-goers who chooses to watch while hypodermics are shoved into your arm, here's some news that might make you reconsider: the act of watching an injection actually makes it more painful.

A team of researchers from St. Hedwig Hospital, Berlin, has been investigating how we react to the pain of shots based on what we're looking at, and the results are extremely interesting.

In a series of experiments, researchers simulated needle pricks by giving participants a small electric shock on their hand. At the same time, the volunteers were shown videos of a needle pricking a hand, a Q-tip touching a hand, or nothing happening to the hand at all.

Across the board, participants who saw a hand being pricked by a needle found the pain of the shock far more intense. Not just that, though: in extra experiments, if participants were told that the Q-tip would cause more pain than the hypodermic, the Q-tip video was associated with higher levels of reported pain. Essentially, seeing something that you're primed to think will be painful makes the experience hurt more. More here.

May 28, 2012

A Clever Pot Holder That Disappears Before Your Eyes

A kitchen gadget is only as useful as it's easily accessible while you're cooking. So with that in mind, designer Chih Ching Yang created this adorable Gasper pot holder that's designed to forever haunt your kitchen counters.

When not in use, Gasper looks like a cartoon ghost floating next to your stove. But since he's made from soft, heat-resistant silicone, when you place a pot on him he'll easily flatten into a safe place to put your hot cookware. So in addition to protecting your countertops, he takes up a minimal amount of counter space when not in use. More here.

May 27, 2012

Specially Sculpted Pot Creates a Whirlpool When Cooking So You Never Have to Stir

A Japanese dentist, of all people, has invented a sculpted pot that will automatically stir its contents as they heat up. It promises to completely revolutionize cooking, at least for the world's laziest chefs.

The Kuru-Kuru Nabe (aka the 'Pot Round and Round') was invented by Hideki Watanabe, who came up with the design after experimenting with dental plaster at his practice. The pot relies on thermodynamics to create a whirlpool motion as liquids heat up. It not only saves you from having to stir, but it allows for a more efficient and even heating process, and has the added benefit of compacting foam so the pot is less likely to boil over.

It's certainly not going to work for particularly thick recipes, like say a pot of chili, but for soups and such it seems downright genius. More here.

May 26, 2012

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker

Slapping a dollop of ice cream between two cookies is the best thing to happen to that frozen treat since chocolate syrup. But there's nothing quite as satisfying as the soggy chocolate wafers of an ice cream sandwich, which this brilliant machine lets you churn out by the hundreds.

It might look like one of George Foreman's grills, but this machine is all about packing on the pounds with indents for making round or rectangular chocolate wafers. For $25 it also comes with moulds for your ice cream so it's perfectly shaped to sit between the cookies. More here.

Solar Impulse Takes off for Morocco on First Sun-powered Transcontinental Flight

The sun-powered Solar Impulse plane is gradually working up to a trip around the globe, with the most recent benchmark being its first international flight in 2011. Now Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg are taking the jumbo jet-size plane on its first transcontinental journey. The Solar Impulse set off for Morocco, and its pilots will stop in Madrid along the way. 

The goal is to complete the 1,554-mile trip by next week, and the big challenge will be crossing cloudy regions like the Pyrenees mountains separating France and Spain. In a 2010 test flight, the Impulse's 12,000 solar cells soaked up enough rays to keep the plane going through the night, but in case something goes wrong this time, the pilots are prepared with parachutes. If all goes well on this trial run, Piccard and Borschberg will be just one step away from their goal of circumnavigating the world in 2014. More here.

May 25, 2012

iOS 5.1.1 Untethered Jailbreak Is Out Now

So here's some good news: The Chronic Dev Team has released the untethered jailbreak tools for all of the post-A4 Apple devices. That means your iPhone 4S, 2012 iPad, iPad 2, and other, older devices can be jailbroken without having to boot into "tethered" mode (connecting to your computer) every time you restart.

Untethered jailbreaks are much more convenient, but also take longer to code after a release. Further, the newer devices like the iPad 2 and 2012 model, and the iPhone 4S, do not have the same hardware defect that allows super fast tethered cracks for older devices. That means folks with newer phones and tablets have to wait longer for their jailbreaks.

As always, back up your phone and data before moving to a new jailbreak. Full instructions for the process can be found here.

Behold the Meatiest Sandwich in Human History

Genghis Khan. Alexander the Great. Dagwood. Men of insatiable appetites, all. But none of them came close to creating—much less consuming—a sandwich of this magnitude.

British chef/madman Tristan Welch created the flesh-pile in honor of the UK debut of Man Versus Food, a popularish US show that features a large, affable man who travels from town to town, engaging in food challenges while being cheered on by locals who are excited to be on television. It's a triumph of conspicuous consumption, and there really couldn't be a more fitting tribute than a sandwich the size of a three year-old human person. More here.

The full rundown of ingredients:
120g Ndjua
260g roast beef
120g boiled ham
160g Proscuitto
150g honey-roast ham
90g cooked turkey
155g cooked chicken
155g garlic chicken
180g smoked duck breast
120g cooked pork
120g roast ham
280g corned beef
150g German salami
150g Italian sausage
240g cured ham
80g French peppercorn salami
70g Saucisson Sec de Provence
70g herbed Saucisson Sec de Provence
360g chorizo
70g serrano ham
80g pastrami
140g pancetta
150g bacon
70g garlic salami
70g Italian salami
80g dry-cured Proscuitto
380g Bratwurst sausage
150g breaded ham
100g Mortadella
100g Speck
150 Parma ham
65g Jambon Iberico de Bellota
140g Finocchiona
70g wild boar pork salami
100g smoked venison
250g beetroot, sliced
110g assorted salad leaves
1 large red onion, sliced into rings
680g gherkins, sliced
1 large loaf of bread

May 24, 2012

A Single Strap Can Turn Your Bike’s Frame Into a Basket

If you've ever wished for some more storage space on your bike without resorting to adding a hipster basket on your handlebars, you'll appreciate this alternative solution from designer Yeongkeun Jeong. It's a simple strap system that turns the bike's own frame into extra storage.

A long elastic strap is strategically woven around the inner triangle formed by the bike's frame, which creates a basket that's flexible enough to let you insert and remove items, but strong enough to keep them secure while you're riding. And to ensure the straps don't shift over time, a set of soft silicone stickers are used wherever it makes contact with the frame so they aren't able to slide around. As long as you don't overstuff it so it interferes with your pedaling, it's a rather brilliant idea. More here.

Calcium Supplements Double Your Risk of Heart Attack

Calcium supplements—previously thought to help prevent heart disease and stroke—have now been shown to almost double the risk of heart attack. Doctors are now warning that such supplements should be taken with caution, and even then only for vital medical reasons.

The new finding is based on a large-scale study of 23,980 men and women in Heidelberg, Germany. The participants were part of a cancer and nutrition study, but the results also allowed researchers to assess how calcium supplements were linked to heart disease.

The team of researchers, from Zurich University's institute of social and preventative medicine, found that people who used calcium supplements regularly were 86 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who did not. Those who obtained their calcium just from supplements were 2.7 times more likely than non-users to experience a heart attack. The results are published in the journal Heart.

While calcium is required for bone growth, it is also used by other organs such as the heart. While there is clear evidence that some calcium supplements should be taken to protect bones—in certain medical situations—this new research points to the fact that such action should be taken only under close consultation with a doctor. Dr Claire Bowring, of the UK's National Osteoporosis Society, explained to the Guardian:
"This study further highlights the need for care when considering taking calcium supplements. If you get all of the calcium that you need from your diet then a supplement will not be necessary. Boosting calcium beyond recommended levels has no extra benefit for bones.
"Supplementation may be warranted if you are unable to get enough calcium in your diet, but it needs to be done with consideration."
The message is clear that patients should consult a physician before taking calcium supplements—especially if they are at risk of a heart disease or heart attack. More here.

May 23, 2012

R2-D2 Hoodie

Some Star Wars apparel requires a bit of 'courage in a bottle' to purchase and wear in public. But not this forthcoming R2-D2 hoodie from Mad Engine apparel.

Available sometime near the end of August for $70, the hoodie features a full-zip design so you can even recreate R2-D2's cyclops dome when it's completely done up. But how you're actually supposed to walk around dressed like that without avoiding objects using the force is a mystery. More here.

The Curious Case of the Upside Down Apple Logo

Joe Moreno spent nine years working at Apple during the Steve Jobs era. Today, he writes about something that bothered Steve Jobs for a long time: the problem of the upside down Apple logo.

Why was upside down from the user's perspective an issue? Because the design group noticed that users constantly tried to open the laptop from the wrong end. Steve Jobs always focuses on providing the best possible user experience and believed that it was more important to satisfy the user than the onlooker.

Obviously, after a few years, Steve reversed his decision.

Opening a laptop from the wrong end is a self-correcting problem that only lasts for a few seconds. However, viewing the upside logo is a problem that lasts indefinitely. More here.

Grow an Indoor Garden on Your Wall With a Sleek, Magnetic Planter System

From its humble beginnings as an—ahem—Kickstarter project, Urbio has parlayed a successful fundraising drive into actual indoor gardening products that actual people can buy.

On display at ICFF 2012, the Urbio system makes use of planter bins and wall tiles formed of polypropylene, and held together by neodymium magnets, the Urbio system combines a clean look with modern lines, resulting in a product that will fit in most homes. Fill em with your favorite succulents, or inanimate objects; either way, it'll look great. More here.

May 21, 2012

Google Chrome Just Beat Out Internet Explorer as the Most Used Browser

It appears that Google Chrome finally overtook Microsoft Internet Explorer as the world's most popular browser last week—at least according to statistics fromthe web analytics service Statcounter. As TNW points out, measuring this kind of usage is hardly a perfect science, but as you can see from the trend line in the graph above, this is the way things have been going for some time now. Rats! Just when Internet Explorer was starting to get good.

Why Real Men Eat Red Meat

We know eating red meat can kill us andmake us feel happy but the real reason guys eat it? It makes them feel manly. According to scientists, red meat is synonymous with masculinity making it desirable for guys who view themselves as masculine.
According to the paper in the Journal of Consumer Research, both men and women view red meat as "macho and masculine". In one of their studies, "the top 5 most masculine foods were, in order of most to least masculine: medium-rare steak, hamburger, well-done steak, beef chili and chicken. And the most feminine foods, from most to least, were: chocolate, peach, chicken salad, sushi and chicken."

Brian Wansink, the study researcher and director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, said that the masculine association with red meat matters to red-eating masculine men:
"To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, all-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, all-American food."
Basically, if those who view themselves as masculine or feminine associate certain food with masculinity or femininity, it makes sense to eat said masculine or feminine food. So don't blame yourself for loving red meat, guys. Blame gender roles! Blame society!

May 20, 2012

A Sofa That Encourages You To Lose Things Between the Cushions

Even though the cushions on your couch can be a black hole for everything from pocket change to the TV remote, they're also a handy place to quickly hide stuff when company visits. And it's that exact idea that inspired Jess Fügler's Jam Sofa.

A set of stacked cushions provide a deep crevasse in the middle where you can store magazines, various remotes, and probably even a sandwich and a handful of Doritos for later. The possibilities are endless. The sofa—or lounge to be more exact—also does away with the need for a coffee table as a place to keep coffee table books. And even standing lamps are no longer necessary thanks to a custom lighting accessory that can slide between the cushions. More here.

The Pixar Avengers Looks Like the Best Pixar Movie Ever

Sulley as the Hulk and the Incredibles as Captain America and Black Widow? Wonderful. But seriously, mashing up Pixar characters with The Avengers is beautiful. J. M. Walter created this Pixar/Avengers combo and I've decided that it'd be the funnest superhero movie ever. Or best cartoon I've ever seen. More here.

May 19, 2012

This Couch Is the Only Place It’s Ever Ok To Fall Asleep At the Wheel

At some point in your life you're going to have to give up the dream of sleeping in an awesome car bed. So as an alternative, you might want to consider a car-shaped couch instead.

Created by design and fashion studio Bless, the No35 Automatica Carcanapé couch is stitched and stuffed to look like a run-of-the-mill hatchback—and that coupled with its soft gray fabric might actually make it seem not so outlandish if added to your living room suite. The attention to detail is remarkable, right down to side mirrors and wiper blades. More here.

Raspberry Pi Team Shows off pics of Prototype Camera add-on

While the main thing that would make Raspberry Pi's diminutive $25 / $35 Linux setups better would be if we could get our hands on them faster, the team behind it is already working on improvements like this prototype camera seen above. The add-on is slated to ship later this year and plugs into the CSI pins left exposed right in the middle of each unit. According to the accompanying blog post, the specs may be downgraded from the prototype's 14MP sensor to keep things affordable, although there's no word on an exact price yet. Possible applications include robotics and home automation. More here.

May 18, 2012

Mark Zuckerberg’s Newest Facebook Status: I’m a Real Billionaire

In case you just woke from a coma at the center of the earth's core, Facebook's IPO blasts off today. And here's a casually obnoxious reminder from Mark Zuckerberg, who has something to do with this, if you weren't sure.

The status update—Mark Zuckerberg listed a company on NASDAQ. — with Chris Cox and 4 others—demonstrates the dynamic flexibility of the Facebook Timeline™, which allows you to share the moments of your life that matter most, and include those Friends™ who were along for The Ride™ with you. It was also rigged by a team of Facebook engineers to trigger at the exact moment Zuck activated the NASDAQ opening button bell, further making him the least relatable 28-year-old in the history of people in their 20s. More here.

How Many Screws Does It Take to Get to the Center of an Exploded Fuji X100?

Looking at this dismantled Fuji X100, it quickly becomes apparent that staring at exploded gadgets will never get old. Left for dead after suffering fatal water damage, the X100 donated it's body to the internet, providing eye candy for us all to ogle at.

Photographer James Maher took the camera apart piece by piece—which involved removing 130 screws and 152 parts—and photographed every step of the process, which you can check out here.

Steve Jobs Was Closely Involved With Development of Larger iPhone 5

First the Wall Street Journal said the next iPhone will have a four-inch screen, then Reuters agreed, and now Bloomberg's sources are saying the same thing. Bloomberg are also reporting, however, that Steve Jobs was closely involved with the design process.

In some ways that's a little surprising because, back in 2010, Jobs famously criticized large phones. He didn't think anybody would ever want to carry a big phone, going as far as saying that "no one's going to buy" one. The market has since proved him wrong and, if we're to believe Bloomberg's reporting, clearly Jobs had changed his mind before his death in October last year.

With so many reports floating around about Apple's shift to a four-inch screen, it's beginning to seem inevitable. If you're a small-screen fan, now might be a good time to brace yourself. More here.

May 17, 2012

Scientists Invent Grow-in-the-Dark Plants

The Sun's rays power virtually all vegetative growth on the face of the Earth, or at least they used to. A new discovery by a team at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany will coerce plants into growing in total darkness.

Sunlight actually does more than simply provide plants with metabolic energy—it also activates photoreceptor cells called Phytochromes that, in turn, switch on physical processes like germination and blossoming. The study, which was just published in The Plant Cell journal, has devised an alternative means of jump-starting these same processes—relying on chemicals rather than the sun. The team discovered that feeding the substance "15Ea-phycocyanobilin" to seedlings chemically activates the same photoreceptors that natural light would, inducing the same development as those in a control group that were grown normally.

This discovery of course is still far from commercially viable but, if it does pan out, Tilman Lamparter, the director of the study, believes that it could have vast applications throughout the agriculture and research sciences. "Blossoming of flowers or development of the photosynthesis system may be controlled much better in the future," Lamparter told R&D Mag. "These findings would be of high use for agricultural industry in the cultivation of flowers or biomass production, for instance." More here.

Coffee Drinkers Live Longer

Millions of us start the morning with a coffee and think nothing of it. But new medical research suggests that it could be helping you live longer—if you drink enough of it.

The large-scale study, which is published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that men who drank six cups of coffee or more every day were 10 per cent less likely to die during the 14 years of the study. Women who drank six cups or more were 15 per cent less likely to die over that same period. The result, fairly obviously, suggests that coffee drinkers live longer.

The researchers have also shown that the effect is seen across almost all causes of death, including heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, and infections. The effect, however, seems to decline with lower consumption—and a single cup of coffee a day was found to have negligible effect.

Dr Neal Freedman, one of the researchers from the National Cancer Institute, Department of Health and Human Services, in Rockville in Maryland, USA, explains:
"Coffee contains more than 1000 compounds that might affect the risk of death. The most well-studied compound is caffeine, although similar associations for caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee in the current study and a previous study suggest that, if the relationship between coffee consumption and mortality were causal, other compounds in coffee—for example, antioxidants, including polyphenols—might be important."
All of which means, of course, that next time someone says you're drinking too much coffee, you know exactly what to say. More here.

May 16, 2012

Even Without Diamonds and Gold, Rolexes are Still Amazing

Rolex watches are generally known for their use of opulent materials and straightforward designs that don't exactly scream playful. But this customized Submariner, designed by the Bamford Watch Department, eschews the diamonds and gold and platinum in favor of something a little more sleek and stripped down. Ever think you'd see a Rolex packaged with a NATO band?

And though it may not scream luxury, we all know that the guts inside of a Rolex are what make it as vaulable as what's on the outside. 41 of these rarities were produced, each with their own certificate of authenticity. But aside from the black steel casing and the $17,500 pricetag, the design of the watch face is easy enough to understand, but just weird enough to make it stand out from a typical Rolex release. More here.

The Next iPhone Will Have at Least a 4-Inch Screen

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the next iPhone will have a display which measures "at least 4 inches diagonally." Quoting sources familiar with Apple's supply chain, they also suggest that production of the device is due to commence next month.

The Journal identifies LG Display, Sharp, and Japan Display Inc. as the three major panel suppliers for the new larger screen. There's been much talk about a larger screen appearing on the iPhone—some of it nonsense—but this WSJ report adds weight to rumors that were circulated by iLounge earlier this month. It's beginning to look like a four-inch screen could, perhaps, maybe, possibly, at a push make an appearance. More here.

May 15, 2012

What’s the Mailing Address of the International Space Station?

One day, when the price is low enough, we would be able to send actual letters and packages to space. But what would a mail address look like? Example: what's the street and zip code of the Internation Space Station?

Expedition 31 Flight Engineer Don Pettit asked himself that very same question during his stay up there:
It occurred to me that Space Station is a place as deserving of an address as other frontier stations like McMurdo Base or the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Base in Antarctica. These places have formal addresses, complete with zip codes.
So, if you wanted to send a gift to Don, say a Soda Stream Soda Maker or a new JackBack for his iPhone 4, which address should you use?
My sleep station is located in the fifth deck space of Node 2. From an Earth-based perspective, I pop out of my sleep station as if I were coming out of the floor. I am thus situated on the International Space Station (ISS) in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) with an orbital inclination of 51.6 degrees (the angle of our orbit plane to the equator) and an average altitude of 400 kilometers. It occurred to me that my address should be:
Node 2, Deck 5
LEO 51.603
The first three digits of your space zip code would be your orbital inclination and the last two a designator for your particular space station, with ISS being the third in this location (after the Salyut series and Mir).
According to Don, that postal code would be good until they get one hundred stations in orbit.

OK, so we got the address. Now the final question is: would Amazon Prime cover shipping to the ISS? More here.

May 14, 2012

New Windows Computers Will Get a $15 Upgrade to Windows 8

With Ivy Bridge out, there's a ton of great new desktops, ultrabooks, and gaming rigs coming out over the next few months. But they're all under the shadow of the other major release, Windows 8. Good news for anyone taking the plunge, though: Windows 8 upgrades will be available for just $15 if you buy a Windows 7 machine after June 2.

For previous updates to Windows, Microsoft had given free upgrades to late-cycle buyers. But Microsoft megablogger Paul Thurrott dug up the $15 price, and it seems fairly legitimate. The upgrade will also only cover Windows 8 Pro, not the standard version that most users would probably buy on their own. More here.

Customizable Sleeping Bag Lets You Peel Back Layers to Stay Cool

It turns out the tried-and-true technique of simply unzipping a sleeping bag when it gets too hot inside wasn't good enough for some people. Someone, somewhere, demanded more options, which led to the creation of this vented bag which looks like it's endured a bear attack or two.

In addition to a long zipper running up the edge, this $120 sleeping bag has four or five additional zippers running across it allowing a finicky camper to decide how much of their body they wan't to leave exposed. The creation looks like it would function better as a straight jacket than a way to stay warm when roughing it, but it's got enough micro-fiber insulation to keep you toasty down to 20º F. More here.

Apple's iPad WiFi + 4G renamed 'iPad WiFi + Cellular

Remember Apple's new iPad WiFi + 4G? Well, forget that moniker, as this variant of the company's latest slate has been quietly re-dubbed as the iPad WiFi + Cellular. As noticed by 9to5Mac, the change occurred within the last "24-48 hours" across many of Apple's region-specific webstores (update: and retail locations), including (but not limited to) those for the US, UK, Australia, Canada and various countries in Asia. 

In many regions the best you'll get out of the slate is HSPA-connectivity, even though it's also equipped for LTE -- something that Apple itself had considered good enough to market it as 4G despite offering refunds to customers in Australia who (like many others) couldn't officially partake in its LTE. Interestingly, 9to5Mac also notes that a similar change hasn't made its way over to the iPad 2, which still has its cellular-equipped variant named, iPad 2 WiFi + 3G. More here.

May 13, 2012

Could You Live Without Broadband at Home? Steve Wozniak Does!

Could you live without broadband at home? I don't know if I could, but Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak can. That's what he has recently said in Australia talking about his home in Los Gatos, California:
I don't have broadband at my home. I, Steve Wozniak, don't have broadband at my home. I live one kilometre out of the main part of town. Broadband is a monopoly in my town—that means you can get it from a cable company, but I don't have cable. There are 50 companies that want to sell me DSL, but they've all got to go through the Horizon wires—the local phone company—and I've got one of the two worst Horizons in the country. And so I can't get broadband in my house.
So how does the Woz live without wired internet access? More here.

May 12, 2012

Tesla Coil Gun Exists, May Shoot Lightning

Inspired by the graphic novel "Five Fists of Science" -- and perhaps encouraged by the plucky MIT student who made his own Tesla coil hat and survived -- a DIYer named Rob designed a Tesla coil gun, which he says is fully functional. 

Rob used a Nerf gun cast in aluminum for the housing and created a high voltage switch with a 3D powder printer. The gun is powered by an 18V ion drill battery and a flyback transformer housed inside a PVC plumbing end cap. Though Rob has yet to fire the gun, photos show what he says are sparks from the setup, and a demo clip is on the way. While video proof is always nice, so is preserving your life. More here.

Why Weren’t Hammers Designed With Magnetic Handles In the First Place?

Designer Jung Soo Park has managed to drastically improve the functionality and capabilities of the lowly hammer. But he didn't accessorize it with useless add-ons only good for attacking non-existant zombies. Instead, he added a magnet to the handle for wrangling nails. Genius.

And while Park's Neo Hammer isn't available for sale—it's just a concept—even the most inept handyman should be able to hack their own tool with this functionality. Just find yourself some strong glue, and an even stronger magnet, and you'll never have to hold another nail in your mouth again. More here.

May 11, 2012

Expanding Aluminum Picnic Table Is the Optimus Prime of Summer

Inspired by awkward picnics where a poor sap stands because there aren't enough seats around the table, the Expandable Portable Table's aluminum construction allows it to pull off an nifty eponymous trick: it can almost double its length to accomodate up either four or six guests, so everybody can have a place (if everybody is six people).

Its aluminum construction also adds two major features: no splinters, because rotting wood tabletops are the worst. And when the picnic is over and the table is sticky with ketchup and mustard, you can simply hose down the surfaces. Then it's pretty easy to carry home, because it packs flat. More here.

iPhone Unlock Screen Business Cards

There's nothing quite like a first impression, is there? That one chance to announce that hey, this is me. Do you present yourself as funny? Kind? Knowing? Blasé? Or maybe just as the special kind who thinks these iPhone unlock screen business cards are a swell idea.

Credit where it's due: These are very well-executed facsimiles. But when you hand someone a business card with an iPhone unlock screen with your picture on it on the front and personal info iOS-style on the back, you're giving them more than just your phone number. More here.

May 10, 2012

Dirt-Cheap Touchscreen Tech Means They’ll Be Everywhere Soon

You can operate your tablet and your smartphone by touch, but what if you could do the same with say, nutritional labels or price tags?

A research team headed up at Harvard University has developed paper electronic touch pads that cost just 25 cents per square meter. That means a small screen would be so cheap you could throw it out when you don't need it. Not exactly something people are doing with their iPads.

These inexpensive displays are made out of paper that has been coated in aluminum and a transparent polymer. With the aid of an external circuit, the metallized material becomes a capacitive surface. While the paper is super cheap, the challenge now is in finding equally affordable power sources, as well as reasonably-priced, flexible electronics.

The fields where this invention could be used run the gamut from entertainment to medicine to education. Imagine answering multiple choice questions on a test printed on touch paper. The researchers have already come up with a secure box with a keypad that makes you type in a code in order to enter it. More here.

iPhone 4 Mirror Back Replacement Is Perfect For Both Makeup

This is going to be a huge hit: an iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S back replacement. Not a case, but a real mirror that replaces your current iPhone's back cover. And they are only $30! More here.

Nike’s Dimpled Tracksuits Could Help Athletes Shatter World Records At This Summer’s Olympics

Usain Bolt is Jamaica's not-so-secret weapon for shattering track and field records. But at this summer's Olympic games, Nike's cooked up its own secret weapon—a track suit dimpled like a golfball—that will help athletes from countries like the United States, Germany, and Russia chase him down.

The Pro TurboSpeed, as Nike calls it, leaves no doubt as to what the suit is designed to do. Taking inspiration from what is probably the world's laziest sport, golf, the suit is covered in hundreds of tiny dimples designed to reduce its aerodynamic drag. And after thousands of hours of testing in a wind tunnel, Nike claims it can cut 100-meter dash times by as much as 0.23 seconds compared to the company's previous generation track suits. Which of course could easily be the difference between a world record, a medal, or not placing at all.

The suits are also designed to be as comfortable as possible to not hinder an athlete's performance. They're created with fabrics that are lighter than ever, and have all of the elastics and edge finishes placed on the outside so there's nothing rubbing against their skin that could distract them. More here.

Wi-Fi-Blocking Wallpaper Protects Your Web Fortress by Keeping Neighbors Out

Scientists from the institut polytechnique Grenoble INP and the Centre Technique du Papier have developed a novel new product so gratuitous, it almost seems necessary: a silver-crystal coated wallpaper that can block neighbors from freeloading off your Wi-Fi network. The silver crystals are arranged in such a way that they are able to block certain wireless frequencies, not least of which is the same frequency as a WiFI router.

But, what about just setting up a password-protected network? I don't know. You most certainly can—and should—do that. But if, for whatever reason, an open network is what you desire, this silver snowflake-speckled wall-covering will have your back. Unless you have windows. They're still working on a clear coating with protective power equal to that of the paper.

Also, there will of course be somebody out there who will buy this, someone who both delights in a room covered floor-to-ceiling in metallic snowflakes and believes said remediation is superior to setting a password (which is free, mind you—this wallpaper, when it's released in 2013, will cost about as much as mid-grade conventional wallpaper). More here.

May 9, 2012

Hundreds Of Balloons Fall Victim to a Giant Laser

The laser in this video, not surprisingly, comes courteous of Wicked Lasers. Specifically, its 1W Spyder III Krypton which blasts through these specially weighted balloons like they were well: inflated balloons. But it's still fun to watch it tearing through 100 of them one after the other. And maybe next time they can fill the balloons with something more volatile than just air.

Your Chariot Awaits Your Snacks

Imagine loading this table up with snacks on the top shelf and beverages on the bottom, then rolling it out to your immaculately decorated modern living room for some serious hedonism—maybe a long movie marathon or a serious gaming session. Sure, there are lots of glorified TV trays that can do that. But few do it with the grace and sophistication of the Chariot table.

Designed by Italian designer Gam Fratesi for boutique Casamania, the Chariot's visual differentiation comes from its simplicity. There are few parts; the entire piece is comprised of acetate shelves, wooden wheels, and a metal handle to keep it together. But it's still visually striking: most food trolleys minimize the wheels, but this piece of furniture has wheels are comparable in diameter to your car's. It's available now, but the price is only by request. More here.

You Can Get Your Face Frozen In Carbonite Now

You no longer have to be a smuggler who drops his shipments at the first sign of an Imperial cruiser to be frozen in carbonite. As part of its Star Wars-themed weekends, Disney World is now offering that service to all of its guests.

But you don't have to worry about how you're going to get home afterwards because they don'treally freeze you in carbonite. Instead, when you enter the 'Carbon Freezing Chamber' several cameras capture your facial features from all sides, and the resulting 3D model is used to create an eight-inch carbonite figurine featuring your likeness.

At $100 it makes for one expensive souvenir, and it takes four weeks for it to be delivered. Which makes sense given how long it takes to print a 3D model, but having to wait is still pretty lame. You can also order additional copies, but they'll set you back $75 each. More here.

Ruin Your Kid’s Rep with This Nerdalicious Math Sweater

For the parents who have obviously forgotten that most children are borderline sociopaths when it comes to teasing one another, this sweater will pretty much guarantee your kid will be bully fodder until he graduates from high school—probably college.

The Seven/Eight Year Math Sweater is hand-knit of machine-washable wool and designed to fit the average 1st or 2nd grader. According to Etsy shop proprietor Amarinalevin HandKnits:
The main body of the sweater is a pattern of adding numbers in block shapes. There are also little x's in black. Circling the bottom in green on a dark blue background are Fibonacci numbers. Also circling the bottom and wrists in dark blue on periwinkle is the symbol pi. The back and front are identical. The sleeves have descending and ascending blocks with the prime numbers. Circling the wrists in green on a dark blue background are the various mathematical functions of add, subtract, multiply, and divide. The neck, wrist, and bottom trim is varying shades of green with blue stripes.
It retails for $130 on the amarinalevin Etsy page.