Apr 29, 2013

How Typing on a Smart Watch Might Actually Make Sense

While the prospect of new smart watches from every corner is terribly exciting, few people seem to spent much time working out how to make them, you know, useful. But a researcher from Carnegie Mellon University has, fortunately, been trying to work out if an on-screen keyboard could work on a smart watch—and the here's his solution.

Called Zoomboard, the idea is that a small screen can contain a full QWERTY keyboard by smartly zooming as you type. Press down on part of the keyboard, and it zooms to show keys in just that area; pressing again types a letter. It also uses swipes to help you edit: swipe right to insert a space, left to delete, or up to see symbols.

It's not a complicated bit of technology, but it's neatly executed and could at least allow you to type a short message on your wrist. It better be short, though: in tests, students managed a fairly paltry 9.3 words per minute on the keyboard.

But that's OK, because this is a first step. Smart watches won't be perfect at first, but it's nice to know that people are at least thinking about how to make them work. The software will be presented at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Paris this week, and the source code will be made freely available, too. More here.

Apr 27, 2013

These Are Google Glass’s CPU and RAM Specs

Not too long ago, some of Google Glass's specs got out there, but we were missing two critical pieces: CPU and RAM. Now, thanks to some endeavoring hackers who've gotten their hands on a pair, we now know some of those details.

Jay Lee, with some help from Liam McLoughlin, managed to find Glass's USB debugging setting and hook it up to ADB which in turn spilled the additional specs:

  • Android 4.0.4 - Ice Cream Sandwich
  • OMAP 4430 CPU - Dual Core
  • 682mb of RAM
It's not all the data you might want, however. Lee says he had trouble determining the exact MHz of the CPU, and that Kernel messages suggest the actual RAM might be 1GB with some stolen away for hardware; it's not totally clear. You can dig through all the info here.

But in the absence of any official specs from Google, this is the best we can get for now. And who knows, things could change by the time a real consumer model actually rolls out, but these seem to be the specs for the specs floating around right now and knowledge is power! More here.

Why Did It Take So Long to Make a See-Through Highlighter Tip?

Not since Liquid Paper has there been an innovation in office supplies as awesome as this highlighter's see-through tip that makes it easier to see the text as you're highlighting it.

Cooked up by the Mitsubishi Pencil Company—which sounds like it would have an awesome factory tour—the cheap $1.60 Uni Promark View uses a thinned water-based pigment ink that flows down a channel inside the highlighter's clear plastic tip. The design provides a window so that you can always see the text you're highlighting, and don't accidentally overshoot the end of a sentence. Technically it's not a problem that's ever really cost someone a passing grade, but that doesn't mean it wasn't worth solving. More here.

This Reusable Coffee Cup Blends in at the Coffee Shop

How many coffee cups do you go through in a week? Probably way more than you should. JOCO's 12 ounce reusable cup will keep your guilt at bay. And it looks just like one of the ones you'd be tossing anyway.

It comes in a multitude of of bright colors for $25 a pop. And it's made from glass but it has a silicone sleeve to keep your hand safe from your hot java. Plus, it's splash-proof, so you won't have to worry about spills. Plus, ya know, sustainability and all that good stuff. More here.

Google Glass Has Already Been Hacked and Rooted

Though Google Glass runs Android, it's not exactly as wide open as your typical Android phone. And given its spot as the most futuristic tech available right now, you know hackers want to tinker with Google's specs. Legendary hacker Jay Freeman, famously known as Saurik who created the Cydia app store for iOS jailbreak phones, did just that. He's already gained root access to Google Glass.

How did he do it? Freeman discovered that Glass ran Android 4.0.4 so he modified an exploit from another hacker named B1nary that allowed for root access on Android 4.0.4 phones. He told Forbes:
"It took me two hours while I was having dinner with friends at the time. The implementation from B1nary is for normal Android tablets and phones, I learned how it worked and then did the same thing on Glass…which was quite simple." More here.

Apr 26, 2013

Twitter Will Release Its Two-Step Verification Soon

Wired is reporting that Twitter has a two-step verification system currently undergoing internal testing that Twitter hopes to roll out to its users "shortly". A two-step verification system would help prevent Twitter hacks from happening.

There aren't any details on how the two-step verification system would work exactly but hopefully it comes out soon. It's an embarrassment that Twitter has taken so long in implementing more security layers than just a simple password, especially since so many others (like Google, Apple, Dropbox, etc.) have added their own two-step verification systems. More here.

Apr 24, 2013

Earbuds Under $50 That Actually Have a Hope of Sounding Good

Apple EarPods—or whatever crap headphones came with your phone—aren't the best way to listen to music, but nice gear is expensive. You can't blame people for not wanting to spend a lot of money on something they're just going to lose or destroy. Well here's a $40 alternative to garbage that's almost certain to sound pretty good.

Since its first over-ear headphones came out a couple of years ago, Sol Republic has built its reputation on solid, aesthetically handsome gear that's cheaper than the competition's offering.

The buds have a newly designed drivers, tangle free cables, and your standard three-button remote. While they're not as striking to look at as other Sol Republic stuff, they've got an admirable minimalism—hopefully Sol Republic making sure the guts sound great. More here.

Nokia’s Asha 210 Is a Social QWERTY Phone Two Years Late

Just over two years after HTC released the Status—a QWERTY phone with Facebook integration that never even really mattered at the time—Nokia has decided to roll out its own version: the Asha 210.

Nokia's social phone does at least take into account current trends: in the West and Latin America, it will have a dedicated Facebook button; in the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and Africa that'll be replaced with a hardware button linked to WhatsApp. In fact, the WhatsApp tie-in will offers users free use of the service for as long as they own the device

In terms of the handset itself, it comes with a 2-megapixel camera, dual-SIM slots, and a series of new feature phone apps for photo editing and data transfer. None of which is particularly interesting, but then it does only cost $70 (and will start shipping in the third quarter of 2013). Instead, Nokia is going to be selling this phone on its social features.

At a time when even the cheapest smartphones offers a decent social media experience, though, it's tough to see how Nokia will carve out a market for the phone in the West. It may sell well in other regions, but given that Nokia's feature phone range is what's currently dragging it down, it seems an unlikely route to success for Elop and co. Add to that the fact that HTC already tried the idea with the Status—and saw it flop—and it seems an unbelievably poor move two years down the line. Still, at least it comes in some pretty Nokia colors. More here.

Apr 23, 2013

Building This Bike Is Almost As Easy as Making a Sandwich

The SandwichBike not only sounds delicious in name, it's delightfully customizable. It comes to you in the mail, and you assemble it all by yourself. And though that sounds daunting, it's supposed to be insanely easy.

The Sandwichbike was designed by Basten Leijh, who completely rethought what you'd think of as far as a traditional bike goes. For example, instead of a metal frame, its skeleton is a formed from two weather-coated pieces of layered plywood sandwiched together (thus the name). It comes to you in a flat box that has all the parts inside—the chain, the bolts, the pedals, and everything you need for your foot-powered vehicle. More here.

Put an Entire Galaxy Under Your Office Chair

A floor mat is unfortunately a must-have accessory if you don't want your office chair trampling down carpet, or tearing up a wooden floor. But thankfully you no longer have to just opt for a boring sheet of plastic. Underfoot Media creates chair mats printed with stunning images of the universe, so rolling over to get a printout feels like soaring across the galaxy.

Available in four-by-four foot squares for $185, or a slightly larger version for $220, the mats use awe-inspiring imagery captured by the Hubble telescope or the Spitzer space telescope. You might actually feel bad about putting what is essentially a work of art on the floor and rolling all over it, but on the other hand this is as close as most of us will ever get to enjoying a spacewalk. More here.

Apr 22, 2013

Turn Signal Gloves Vastly Increase Your Chances Of Surviving an Urban Bike Ride

Your average motorist is more used to sharing the road with other vehicles than cyclists. So instead of just relying on your arms to safely signal an upcoming turn, consider these $42 turn signal gloves which let both cyclists and motorists alike know where you're headed.

Usable with an included set of bike gloves or your own pair once they've been enhanced with a bit of velcro, the LEDs are triggered via a thumb-accessible button and can be used to signal a turn, or continuously flash for enhanced nighttime visibility. On a fresh set of batteries they'll flash for 120 hours straight, so you can safely get to and from work for days on end, or manually flash an SOS distress if you find yourself lost after a ride in the woods. More here.

How Canned Food Conquered the World

The BBC has a wonderful dive into the history of canning, tracing its origins from a technology designed to help expand and sustain the British Empire, to a miracle commodity of modern capitalism. And it almost failed before it ever got going.

Though he really stole the idea for canning from a Frenchman, Bryan Donkin is the man who developed the idea to help feed the Royal Navy. He was awarded a patent for the technology in 1813. Canned food was lauded by royalty and sailors alike—indeed, nobody had ever seen anything quite like it before. It made it possible to send familiar British food to sailors overseas, thousands of miles from home.

But the science of canning didn't get off to a perfect start. You see, canning preserves food, and keeps it fresh and tasty only so long as what goes in there in the first place was good. A scandal in the 1850s revealed that a huge amount of the canned "beef" being sent overseas was not fit for human consumption. Much of it wasn't even beef at all. The proprietor behind the operation implicated in the scandal ultimately cleaned up his act—as did the whole industry—and so canning survived long enough to become the supermarket commodity par excellence. Make sure to check out the whole BBC story here.

Apr 20, 2013

Razer’s Honoring Unauthorized 90-Percent-Off Coupon Purchases at a Huge Loss

Razer just said it's going to honor purchases made with a third party coupon that went viral this week, which gave users 90 percent off on the Razer UK store. That's kind of astounding.

The coupon was supposed to be used by a third party company to test Razer's shopping cart, but instead it got out and thousands of orders got through. It only included items on the UK store—so no Blade or Edge—but that's still a crazy amount of orders. Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan said on a Facebook status update that even though it was likely to cost Razer a TON of money, since the items are being sold well under cost, it still wants to do right by gamers. So it's honoring all sales on single purchases, but canceling those ordering multiples of the same item. Those buyers can still pick up one of whatever they ordered. Solid move, Razer. More here.

Apr 19, 2013

Apple Keeps Your Siri Data for Two Years

You thought that time you asked Siri about the weird mole on your toe was just between the two of you? Wrong. According to Wired, Apple hangs onto your Siri data for two years.

Privacy groups have been asking after Siri's info hoarding habits for quite a while, but this is the first time Apple has given out the explicit details. Although Apple does keep your data, it says the snippets it saves are completely anonymous and only used to improve Siri.

Here's how it works: when you talk to Siri, your conversation is sent to Apple for analysis. Random numbers are generated to represent you and the voice data associated with the virtual assistant. This code is different from both your Apple user ID and your UDID, but it's filed with your Siri logs. Once a specific file is six months old, Wired says the number is "dissociated" from the clip, but the clip is still kept on hand for up to 18 months. And if you turn Siri off, all of the identifying factors are deleted. So even though it's all anonymous, perhaps you'll think twice about what you're gabbing with Siri about next time. More here.

This Predator Helmet Can Make Even the Tiniest Vespa Badass

Motorcycle riders don't get a lot of respect from other drivers on the road, but who's going to dare cut you off when you're cruising around looking like an intergalactic game hunter in this awesome Predator helmet. It's built on an actual motorcycle helmet so it's properly safety rated, but has been enhanced with a sculpted outer shell, a dreadlocks mullet, and even a tri-laser scope.

Optional add-ons include a carbon fiber outer shell, tiny metal spears on the ends of the dreadlocks, and even a hyper-realistic airbrushed finish. For $780 it guarantees even Vespa riders a modicum of respect on the road, just be on the look out for highway patrolmen covered in mud. More here.

Apr 18, 2013

Why Do We Cry?

It’s All About the Benjamin Ice Cubes, Baby

Ask for your paycheck in cold hard cash. Your boss will laugh at you. So the most obvious alternative is literal ice in the shape of hundred dollar bills.

They say if you wear enough diamonds your neck will freeze. But if you prefer your currency closer to liquid form, Gamago's new eight cube tray will only set you back eight bones. And as an added bonus, (and main purpose of ice cubes if we're being technical here) the Benjamin cubes will keep your chalice chilled. More here.

Apr 17, 2013

Here’s What’s Inside Google Glass’ Box

Even though we've seen Google Glass be leaked, be announced, be presented, be demoed, be worn, be used and even be mocked, it's always represented some far off future technology that we never were sure if it would ever be real (in a I can't believe it's already here kind of way). But it's totally happening guys. And this is what it looks like. Brandon Allgood got his hands on the Google Glass box and revealed what's inside the future.

It's wonderfully clean packaging that includes two different visors, a carrying bag, a power adapter, a power cord and Google Glass. It looks like people in the Google Glass Explorer program are getting there taste (or I guess sight?) of Glass, the world is never going to be the same! Or something like that. More here.

TomTom’s New GPS Watches Are Easily Controlled With a Large Cyclops-Like Button

A couple of years ago TomTom partnered with Nike for what was one of the first GPS sport watches that didn't look like some monstrous fitness accessory strapped to your wrist. But now the company is parting ways with the swoosh and releasing a set of TomTom-branded watches called the Runner and Multi-Sport for those who like to fanatically track their performances.

Available sometime this summer for a yet to be disclosed price, both the Runner and Multi-Sport feature GPS and GLONASS (the Russian version) satellite tracking for fast and accurate location pinpointing, motion sensors for counting footsteps when training indoors, a ten-hour battery with the GPS functionality enabled, and a relatively slim 11.5 millimeter thick housing. And like the Nike+ SportWatch, TomTom is sticking with a monochrome display that can be used to monitor distance, fitness goals, or a targeted performance pace.

Both watches also feature a large multi-directional button that can be used in wet conditions, or with gloves, to navigate the UI. But TomTom is distinguishing the Multi-Sport version from the Runner with a built-in swimming motion sensor, an included dedicated bike mount, and optional Bluetooth cadence and altimeter sensors. More here.

Apr 16, 2013

Here Are Google Glass’ Tech Specs

Google just released the official specs for Google Glass (after releasing the API too) and the futuristic frames come with 16GB (only 12GB will be usable) Flash memory, 5 megapixel camera for stills, 720p video recording, Wi-Fi b/g, Bluetooth and a battery that can handle "one full day of typical use".

Adjustable nosepads and durable frame fits any face.
Extra nosepads in two sizes.
High resolution display is the equivalent of a 25 inch high definition screen from eight feet away.
Photos - 5 MP
Videos - 720p
Bone Conduction Transducer
Wifi - 802.11b/g
12 GB of usable memory, synced with Google cloud storage. 16 GB Flash total.
One full day of typical use. Some features, like Hangouts and video recording, are more battery intensive.
Included Micro USB cable and charger.
While there are thousands of Micro USB chargers out there, Glass is designed and tested with the included charger in mind. Use it and preserve long and prosperous Glass use.
Any Bluetooth-capable phone.
The MyGlass companion app requires Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher. MyGlass enables GPS and SMS messaging. More here.

Apr 15, 2013

YouTube Celebrates 57 Years of VCR With an Analog Video Mode

Do not adjust your computer screens. There's no problem with YouTube, other than the fact that it's getting a little misty eyed—by choosing to celebrate the 57th anniversary of the VCR with a little added analog character on its digital videos.

On plenty of YouTube videos you can currently find a small VCR button: click it, and the video you're watching will start to display some of those wonderful (awful?) characteristics that your old cassette player used to provide. It's a quirky way of celebrating the Ampex VRX-1000—commonly considered the world's first practical videotape recorder when it was launched on April 14th 1956 at the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters Convention. The device made a lasting impression on home entertainment, but thank goodness things have moved on. More here.

Apr 14, 2013

This Credit Card Sized Backup Battery Is a Different Kind of Charge Card

Unless you're completely killing your smartphone's battery on a daily basis, you don't need to haul around a massive backup battery. A single emergency charge is all most of us need for those days when we talk or stream more than we intended, which makes the Tarot's 1,500 mAh capacity the perfect balance of size vs. power.

At just 0.28-inches thick, Powerocks claims the Tarot is the thinnest backup battery you can buy. And while it's still considerably thicker than a credit card, it's certainly thin enough to slip into a heftier wallet. Like with any external battery the Tarot's got a USB port for charging/recharging and it's got enough capacity to fully recharge a single smartphone. So as long as you're not heading out into the jungle for a week, for just $35 it should easily serve all of your emergency power needs. More here.

Relax in Peace and Quiet Under This Sound-Absorbing Lamp

You usually don't expect a lamp to do much more than provide a little illumination and snazz up a room. But maybe it's time you should. Monica Armani's Silenzio lamps are made with sound-absorbing foam and fabrics so they chase away the dark and the decibels.

But don't expect that sitting underneath the Silenzio to be anything like putting on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. At the most it will help minimize echos and prevent sounds from deafeningly bouncing around a large room like an underground cavern. And if you live in a house full of screaming kids and barking dogs, it's probably a worthwhile investment. More here.

Apr 13, 2013

This Twisted Cabinet Wants to Strut Across Your Living Room

If you're not living inside some kind of Beauty and the Beast nightmare, all your furniture is mercifully inanimate, but the Walking Cabinet gets you halfway there. It won't actually stroll across your living room, but it looks like it wants to.

Designed by Markus Johansson, the walking cabinet appears to have been frozen mid-strut either on its way down some kind of a furniture fashion runway, or triumphantly headed home after a fantastic date with a beautiful coffee table. The illusion of movement isn't just an opporunity to make really bizarre anthropomorphic furniture jokes either; it actually allows multiple units to be slid together and connected into one, longer cabinet.
The Walking Cabinet is just a design project for now, so don't expect one to come strolling into a storefront near you anytime soon. But if you drink enough and tilt your head sideways, you should be able to get a similar sort of look out of all your current furniture. More here.

Apr 11, 2013

Don’t Worry Cyclists, There’s a Swiss Army Knife For You Now Too

Weighing just 99 grams and folding away into a compact package that's easy to pocket, Victorinox's new Swiss Army Bike Tool is the perfect weapon against misaligned handlebars and other on-the-road cycling emergencies.

Instead of a folding design, the tool disassembles into an L-wrench with an adapter for eight included bits, a set of tire levers, and a bright orange plastic case for holding everything together. But for $48, where's the token cork screw, plastic toothpick, and emergency nail file? More here.

The Sun Just Shot Off the Biggest, Most Spectacular Solar Flare of the Year

Early this morning, while most of us were resting peacefully in our beds, everyone's favorite flaming ball of plasma decided to give NASA's cameras a little show. More specifically, the Solar Dynamics Observatory managed to capture our sun's biggest solar flare of the year thus far.

Classified as an M6.5, it's not the hugest solar flare—that honor belongs to the X-class. But it was at least enough to cause a "moderate" radio blackout that has since subsided.

And if it seems like we've been seeing more solar flares than usual these days, it's because we have. The sun's 11-year activity cycle is approaching its maximum, which it should officially hit by the end of the year. So if these incredible images are anything to go by, we're in for a few more treats over the next several months. All of which we can safely enjoy thanks to our lovely, protective atmosphere. More here.

Apr 10, 2013

There’s Gross Alternative Fuel Just Hanging Out in the Sewers

Everybody knows about using oil as a fuel source, but London is putting a new spin on the concept. Soon the city will be mining its own sewers to bring up glorious globs of old cooking grease and melting them down into fuel. Delicious.

The chunks of fat, oil, and grease build-up—affectionately(?) referred to as "fatbergs"—have been an ongoing problem in London's sewer system. When the waste isn't just clogging up drains, it's making its way down further and clogging up the sewers. But now, a new power station is set to generate 130 gigawatt hours a year from the clogs—enough to power almost 40,000 homes. And that's a good enough excuse to go sewer-grease mining.

Some of the fat-generated energy will go back into running the local sewage works where the chunks of fat-ore are being mined, establishing a gross little cycle that should benefit just about everyone involved. Except maybe the grease-miners. And while using food-waste to produce energy is great, you'd ideally set up a way to do it that doesn't involve first clogging and then de-clogging sewers. But in the meantime this is a solid solution. More here.

Apple and Yahoo Are Working Together for Deeper Integration on the iPhone

Apple, which hates Google, is supposedly working with Yahoo, who will take anybody's love at this point, to figure out how "Yahoo's services can play a prominent role on Apple's iPhone and iPad", according to the WSJ. This actually shouldn't be too much of a surprise as data from Yahoo Finance and weather already pops up on the iPhone.

Apple and Yahoo are supposedly in talks about using Yahoo's content from Yahoo Sports (which is fantastic), Yahoo News and other Yahoo websites through Siri. It'd presumably be like how sport scores and stats can pop up in Siri right now—Yahoo would feed more of its content and data to iPhone users. That's not a bad thing.

The WSJ says Yahoo has also "contemplated ways" to replace Google as the search engine for iOS but the idea "remains a long shot" because of Yahoo's partnership with Bing (Bing powers Yahoo, after all). That would be a bad thing. A non-Google search engine would make for a worse experience. More content—especially if it's the good Yahoo content—on the iPhone could be a good thing. Siri needs to get better. Can Yahoo make it better? More here.

Apr 9, 2013

Intel’s Thunderbolt Is About To Get Twice As Fast

Thunderbolt's makin' like greased lighting. Intel has just introduced the newest revision of the interface and it will be capable of 20Gbps in both directions (as opposed to the previous 10). In other words, fast enough to transfer and play 4K video simultaneously. And it's all backwards compatible with old ports and cables to boot.

Intel just made the announcement at NAB 2013, but it'll be a little while until the speed hits end-users; production isn't scheduled to kick into high gear until 2014. Of course all that delicious throughput is limited to devices that support it, but it'll be a lovely burst for that small portion that do. More here.

Apr 8, 2013

The Best Coffee Mug Improvement Since the Handle

They say if you build a better mouse trap the world will beat a path to your door. And the same will probably hold true for the first coffee shop to adopt this clever spoon-securing NOTA coffee mug designed by Lee Hae Seung Scott.

Often times a hot beverage will require more than just an initial stirring, having you either trying to find a clean place to keep your spoon in the interim, or leaving it in the mug and where it hits you in the face as you try to drink. Both are less than ideal solutions, but the latter is no longer an issue with the NOTA mug that features a set of built-in supports preventing a spoon from sliding around. It's as brilliant a solution as it is simple, and while not for sale, it thankfully doesn't look like a design that's too difficult to steal. More here.

Apr 7, 2013

Watching a Hummingbird in Slow Motion Is Still Pretty Majestic

Slow motion was invented to capture every single thing in slow motion. Explosions, cheetahs, robots, people and of course, hummingbirds. The detail you see in slow motion is always better than real life. What's amazing though is that even when you slow down a hummingbird, those damn birds still seem fast. But ticking down those wings for just a little bit brings out something new in them. They look so graceful!

Bruce Douglas Johnson shot the footage of hummingbirds in a feeder with a RED Epic-M at 225 FPS. More here.

Apr 6, 2013

Iridescent Skins Let You Just Tilt To Change Your iPhone’s Color

If you're tired of the iPhone's boring black or white color options, but would also like to avoid a bulky case or letting Colorware have at it with your device, you might want to check out Clear-Coat's new color-changing Aurora skin.

The $35 self-adhesive decal is applied to your iPhone the same way as a screen protector, but it includes panels to cover almost every inch of the device. And thanks to an iridescent finish, the Aurora skin has an ever-changing rainbow tint that lets you customize your iPhone's finish by just moving it about. Don't like orange? Just move two degrees to the right and you'll be happy. More here.

How Much Sugar Really Is in Food?

Sugar is sweet, sugar is delicious, sugar is lovely but sugar can be so terribly bad for you. How much sugar is in foods and drinks you love? Like a soda or orange juice or cereal or even baked beans? Sugar is everywhere! BuzzFeed made a video visualizing the actual grams of sugar in each food and to see the actual snuff is dizzying.

Apr 5, 2013

Spiked Ice Tray Lets You Freeze Up Untraceable Weapons

Well this seems kinda irresponsible. Fred & Friends claims this ice tray that produces 14 frozen spikes is actually designed to make your drink more badass—like a spiked collar. But what it's clearly failing to realize is that the tray is also an easy way to create 14 stabbing weapons that leave little to no evidence behind on a warm day. So here's to hoping the bad guys of the world don't have an extra $10 lying around. More here.

Scientists Can Read Dreams Using Brain Scans

A team of scientists claim to have developed techniques which allows them to read dreams via brain scans—and it could help us better understand what goes on in the brain while we sleep.

The team of researchers, from the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories, in Kyoto, have been performing MRI scans while people drift into early stages of sleep. Just after participants fall asleep, they are awoken and asked about what they have seen. Each tiny mental image—from bronze statues to ice picks—is recounted and recorded, and the entire process repeated 200 times for each participant.

That gives the scientists a database of images, linked with brain activity, which can be grouped together into similar visual categories. So, cars, trucks and buses might all be linked under the category of vehicles, for instance.

From there, the scientists were able to analyze brain activity while participants slept, and attempt to predict what they were dreaming about. The results, published in Science, show that the researchers could predict what volunteers were seeing—at least at the broad broad category level—with 60 percent accuracy. Not perfect, but pretty impressive. Professor Yukiyasu Kamitani, one of the researchers, explains to the BBC:
"We were able to reveal dream content from brain activity during sleep, which was consistent with the subjects' verbal reports. I had a strong belief that dream decoding should be possible at least for particular aspects of dreaming... I was not very surprised by the results, but excited."
But this is only the start. Crucially, the scientists have only so far considered light sleep—and now the researchers are particularly interested in studying more vivid dreams which occur during deeper sleep. Next stop, Inception. More here.

Apr 4, 2013

Chefs of the World Rejoice: Your Days of Painstakingly Dicing Hot Dogs Are Over

Do you hear that? That cheering off in the distance? That's the sound of a million amateur chefs celebrating the fact that they no longer have to spend several minutes dicing hot dogs for their casseroles, easy meatloaf, or awful jello moulds. Because the Dog Dicer can turn a hot dog into a pile of diced processed 'meat' in less than a second.

For just $13 it's not just a one-hit wonder either. You can put everything from grapes, to celery, to cooked carrots under its multi-bladed guillotine and turn it all into a mound of diced, easy to swallow pieces. Dog/other foods Dicer, where have you been all my life? More here.

This Bookshelf Vase Keeps a Rose Next To The Wars of the Roses

Looking for a spot to keep a small flower arrangement that doesn't block people from having conversations at the dinner table? These ultra-thin ceramic vases are designed to stack amongst the books on your shelf so you can keep a rose next to The Wars of the Roses, a daisy next to an orchid next to Wild Orchids. It's available here for $33 in white or blue finishes, and sadly there's no Kindle Edition.

Facebook Home and HTC First

All of Facebook Home's innovations are good, in a vacuum. The gestures being used seem well considered and generally intuitive. But if you've ever tried navigating around an app—say, the Facebook app's sliding panels—on a phone that's more than a year or so old, you'll know where this can go wrong.

The S3 and One X are the oldest models running Home, and those should be more than capable for now. Facebook says it's adding "more devices in the coming months". That probably means just newer models that can handle the software load, but if Home does find its way to your old junker, be advised you might just end up with more Facebook than your phone can handle. More here.

Apr 3, 2013

Foldable Rain Boots Are Perfect For Finicky Spring Weather

You wear your rain boots to work, but when you get there, you want to stash them somewhere else. And you know what's good for that? These foldable Japanese wellies ($130).

They were originally designed with Japanese rice farmers in mind, so they can handle a lot of muck and general nastiness. And that's exactly the point of wearing rain boots in the first place. But they're not just durable, they're also compact thanks to the folding feature. That makes the boots extra handy because you can take them with you if there's threat of rain, or squirrel them away if the weather turns in your favor. That's pretty awesome, because rubber doesn't exactly breathe. More here.

This Is (Probably) the New Facebook Phone

Facebook has a big event planned Thursday to show off a new homescreen, reportedly, along with a "midtier" (read: cheap) phone. According to well-known tipster evleaks, this is it. It looks pretty boring, sure, but boring is a billion million times better than Facebook's last gawd awful swing at hardware. Baby steps! More here.

Apr 2, 2013

This Could Be the World’s Smallest Night Vision Camera

The CHOBi CAM Pro 3 looks like it's just barely larger than the compact flash memory cards our digital cameras once used, but it's still capable of snapping 11 megapixel stills, and recording full 1080P video. On a full charge you can expect to get an impressive 120 minutes of record time, but that's probably a bit shorter when shooting in the dark since you'll need to switch on the five infrared LEDs surrounding the lens.

And since the camera is so small, when using its night vision capabilities you only have a range of about three feet, but surprisingly the results don't completely suck. Especially since it will only set you back about $54. More here.

You Can Access Dropbox From Inside Yahoo Mail Now

If you're using Yahoo Mail, you don't have to worry about attachment size limits anymore—you can now access your Dropbox from right within your email account.

You can add files from your own Dropbox to any message, and you can save stuff people send you back to Dropbox as well. And the integration does away with file size limits, so you can send giant photo albums around to your family at will. That is, if you are actually using Yahoo Mail. More here.

Apr 1, 2013

The Pirate Bay Is Now the World’s Largest File-Sharing Site

While The Pirate Pay is certainly notorious, it's always oddly lingered in the mid-table when it comes to real-world file sharing. No longer, though: according to fresh analysis by Torrent Freak, the site has now sailed into the top spot as the world's most-used file sharing site.

While that is in part down to a gradual increase in the number of people visiting the site, Torrent Freak points out the real reason behind the success is in fact the fall in popularity of one-click hosting sites, like 4Shared, following the shutdown of Megaupload.

Less than two years ago those one-click download sites ruled the roost by a significant margin, and The Pirate Bay sat at a lowly sixth place. But since the Megaupload shutdown, most cyberlockers have implemented measures to keep pirates at bay—and seen a massive decline in user base as a result. Now, half of the top 10 file-sharing sites are BitTorrent-based, compared to just two back in 2011.

The figures—which include just English-language file-sharing sites—were calculated using several traffic comparison and analytic tools, according to Torrent Freak, including Compete, Quantcast and Alexa. You can see the leader table below, or read more over on Torrent Freak.