Sep 14, 2010

Is Steve Jobs a Closet Ninja?

This is probably just unfounded gossip, but Bloomberg is reporting on a story about Steve Jobs getting stopped at the Kansai International Airport last July, after security found ninja stars in his carry-on luggage. And boy he got pissed-off.

This is where I tell you that he took out his Hattori Hanz┼Ź sword and killed everyone in the airport lobby, running away with the shurikens in his Quinjet. But according to Bloomberg's translation of Japanese SPA! magazine, this is what happened:

Jobs said it wouldn't make sense for a person to try to hijack his own plane, according to the report. He then told officials he would never visit Japan again, the magazine reported.

Bloomberg claims that a Kansai Airport's spokesman confirmed the episode... but he wouldn't reveal the name of the passenger involved in the incident. The spokesman said the private jet passenger trashed the shuriken at the security point, but declined to disclose his name because of the airport's privacy policy. Bloomberg also says that the airport doesn't have a separate boarding for private jet passengers, which explains why this unidentified man had to pass through the usual security point.

Apple declined to comment, which could mean two things: This rumor is so ridiculous that it doesn't need commentary or this rumor is so ridiculous that it doesn't need commentary. Or a third: It may be true. I want to believe it is. If any of you have any photos of Steve trashing his ninja stars at the security point, send them to me.

In any case, if any of us appear dead with a sai up our most tender parts, another rumor would be confirmed: Steve has been watching too many Teenage Mutant Turtles episodes on his Apple TV.

The Facebook Movie is "One of the Must-See Films of the Year"

An early preview of The Social Network has had reviewers foaming at the mouth, with /Film's Peter Sciretta declaring it as his "favorite movie of the year (so far)." Yes, this is the film about Zuckerberg creating Facebook.

While it wasn't the final cut, the movie was screened for a few select publications, and casting a quick eye over their initial thoughts, this could very well turn out to be an award-winner. 

Sciretta wrote that "after returning home from the screening, I was tempted to read the screenplay - that's how good it is."

The Sydney Morning Herald was equally complimentary. "This is an astounding film about one of the most important seismic shifts in communication in the modern age, and the way innovation and ethics are not often related."

Acknowledging that the content could scare people off with visions of coding and typeface arguments, Cinematical said in their preview that "with The Social Network, director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin turn some fairly dry, nerdy content about fairly dry, nerdy characters into one of the must-see films of the year, and they don't waste any time getting right to it."

Sep 13, 2010

Sci-Fi Author's Wireless ISP Will Give You 20Mbps Downloads For $40/Month

Sci-Fi author Rudy Rucker is one of the folks behind the cleverest wireless ISP serving San Francisco. He and his team have set up a system to provide customers with reliable 10-30Mbps download speeds for a mere $40 per month.

Sure, you could get theoretical speeds of about "20 Mbps down and 4 Mbps up from Comcast for $55 per month," but the service provided by Rucker's company, MonkeyBrains, is providing reliable and consistent speeds:

MonkeyBrains guarantees at least 10 Mbps symmetrical and most customers see 15-20 Mbps. Some customers see 25-30 Mbps with a good connection. According to [a company employee], this depends on the company's backhaul connection, which is in the process of being upgraded. Once that happens, he expects 30 Mbps+ connections will be common.

There are initial startup costs associated with the service—it costs about $250 to install the required antenna—but MonkeyBrains appears to be offering customers several free months of service to compensate for that cost.

The company is still small: It has "about 100 antennas, each of which may serve one or many customers—an average of 5-10 per antenna"—but it certainly appears to be off to a good start. Of course, the downside of a company like MonkeyBrains is that it provides such great—and cheap—service because it's sticking to a small area and focusing on those customers. This means that those of us who live outside of San Francisco are left hoping that someone will think to run a small WISP with a silly name in our areas too.

Zune HD2 In the Works at Microsoft?

Rumors of the Zune HD2, a next-gen entertainment device that would run Windows Phone 7's spiffy Xbox Live games, have been kicking around for months. But a new Microsoft job listing suggests that now it's actually in the works.

The listing, which was dug up by WMPoweruser, calls for a mechanical engineer to help build "the next generation of portable entertainment and communication devices" for Microsoft's Portable Entertainment Group.

Though there's still no saying exactly what form the device might take—it could be a radical departure from the Zune HD, maybe a gaming-centric device or a Microsoft phone—what seems likeliest is a next-gen Zune that's part of the Windows Phone 7 family, an iPod Touch-competitor that would help Microsoft gain much-needed footing for their promising but late-to-the-game platform.

Over at ZDNet, Mary-Jo Foley's Microsoft tipsters have told her that the device would come in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB varieties sometime next year, but it wouldn't be surprising if Microsoft started drumming up excitement for a WP7-running, next-gen Zune amidst the Windows Phone 7 launch next month.

Happy 25th Birthday, Super Mario Brothers!

On September 13, 1985, Super Mario Bros. was released in Japan, meaning the world's most famous plumber's most famous game is now 25 years old. Happy birthday!

It seems almost pointless marking the occasion with a round-up, or a few paragraphs outlining his importance to video games - and video gamers - because it's Mario. He isn't important to video games. He is video games.

Whether appearing in his own flagship games or in spin-off titles where he plays basketball or becomes a paper airplane, Nintendo's mascot has been the most recognisable (and profitable) face this industry has ever - and will likely ever - see, almost single-handedly driving Nintendo through five whole generations of video game success.

He is the most recognisable face in gaming. His games are some of the highest-selling, and most critically-acclaimed of all time. And while other companies and characters either disappear into the history books or undergo awkward changes as they cling to relevance, Mario remains almost exactly the same. Still wearing redoveralls, still with that goofy moustache, still risking life and limb to rescue the same, careless Princess.

And what started it all? Sure, he was in Donkey Kong in 1981, but he didn't have a name. Sure, there was Mario Bros. in 1983, but it was the Famicom (and NES) edition of Super Mario Bros. that made him. Heck, many people - myself included - would probably say that of all of Mario's core games, Super Mario Bros. was perhaps their favourite. It's definitely the most iconic.

So here's to you, Super Mario Bros. Others will pay their dues over the course of the day, I'm sure, so let me just say...happy birthday. And may your next 25 years be as successful and enjoyable for us all as your first.

Sep 12, 2010

iPhone 4 Fitted Inside A Canon SLR Body

One things for sure: putting your iPhone 4 inside a Canon SLR isn't as useful as adding a SLR lens to your iPhone. But with this custom-made getup, you won't think about dropping your iPhone every time you hold it up.

The Secret Behind The New iPod Nano & iPod Shuffle

It didn't take much effort for Apple to design the newiPod Nano and iPod shuffle. All they did was cut the old iPod nano in half.

Nerdrage Fantasy

What induces nerd rage in you?

Sep 11, 2010

Apple's App Store Dominated By Pay Apps, Google's By Free Apps

Are iPhone owners more willing to pay for applications than Android owners? Or are Android developers just more interested in giving away their apps?

Something's going on with these two app markets which have completely different make ups, according to Royal Pingdom. Pingdom surveyed the App Store and the Android Market and discovered that only 30% of the apps in Apple's store are free, while 65% of the apps in the Android Market are free.

Why the disparity? Pingdom speculates that maybe more Google developers are just hobbyists or tinkers who can get their app in store because they don't have to deal with Apple's gate keepers. Another important factor, Google only supports paid apps in 13 countries.

It's also much easier to install pirated software on Android phones than it is Apple phones. So perhaps this pushes down sales.

Maybe it's just cultural? Google gives away Android. Apple does not.

This Is Why The iPad Will Never Replace Newspapers

I love my iPad so much that I hug it daily, but I don't think it could ever replace newspapers. After all, how could I ever use my magical gadget to murder an innocent creature?

Theoretically I certainly could use my iPad to commit an act of violence, but it'd be gadget homicide too.

Sep 10, 2010

Freaking Microsoft Weirdos Celebrate iPhone and BlackBerry Funerals

These people work at Microsoft. To celebrate the release to manufacturing of Windows Phone 7—which means it's now market-ready—they took the streets carrying a dead giant iPhone and BlackBerry, followed by a parade. And they danced Thriller.

The parade of employees in costume featured all kinds of zombies, clowns, and women in pink and/or transvestites:
It all looked like a lot fun until the naked angel in the jacuzzi showed up:
Then it got even funnier.

Apart from adding naked valkyrias riding on unicorns, I personally can't think of any better way to begin a new mobile era at Redmond. That said, congratulations are in order to all Microsoft workers! You officially have embarrassed and freaked us all at the same time. For sure, now we are definitely going to ditch our iPhones and BlackBerries to get your new cellphone.

Neat Freaks Will Lust for This All-In-One Concept Dock

Employing the usual "cords and devices just completely all over the place" method works for some people (like me), but those looking for more order on their desks will dig this dock. Charging, syncing, and storage on one minimalist platform

The concept is designed with solely Apple products in mind—I'm sure those of you with Android devices might appreciate a similar setup.

The Tale of the Magic Tablet

Once upon a time, Steve Jobs carved a tablet out of magic wood. The tablet became alive and wished it was a boy. It met a cricket, lied a lot, and fooled around with whales until Jobs lost his patience.

So he chopped it to bits. Then he asked the magic elves with squinting eyes to make him a bunch of these magic tablets, which he sold for $500 a pop.

This, my friends, is a copy of the original Steve Jobs Magic Tablet. It's not made out of magic wood, but it has the icon of a sausage and a pill, ok? Don't ask for magic for only $19. It's called the myBrett cutting board.

Sep 9, 2010

The iPod Nano Watch Is Here and It Is Glorious

Everyone knew it the moment they saw it. Hell, even Steve Jobs alluded to it when he was unveiling the thing. The new multitouch iPod Nano was made to be strapped to a watch band. Here it is, for $17.

OK, so there's still the issue of having headphones plugged into your watch at all times. And the limits of the Nano's looks-like-iOS-but-can't-run-apps-like-iOS operating system. But these things are pretty minor when you consider that this time next week you could be wearing an IPOD as a WATCH. Imagine the look on your 2001 self's face if you told them that in under a decade you'd be wearing one of those iPod things on your wrist. It'd be a look of incredulity. And longing!

The 22mm Maratac Nylon band slips through the Nano's clip and is available in a variety of colors, to make sure you're all nice and coordinated. Just think: "Oh excuse me, what time is it?" "Hold on...let me check my iPod." "No, you must've misheard me because of those earbuds you have in your ears—I didn't ask what song you were listening to, I asked what time it was!" "I know."  Go buy one already lol!

Carbon Fiber Is the New Leather

We've all succumbed to the siren song of luxury—splurged on a pricey gadget we have no legitimate need or use for. Frequently, such decisions are wrapped up in authenticity. Other times all it takes is one sexy material.

You know what I'm talking about, Mr. Carbon Fiber Chopsticks.

Fact: Few materials can instill lust in a gadget geek's heart like carbon fiber. Okay, those geek hearts primarily reside in males. But still, this composite tends to exert a bewitching hold over all who gaze upon it. And seeing it in action only increases one's ardor. While it doesn't handle sudden impacts or shocks very well, carbon fiber is the reinforced super reed that'll bend but never break. There's only one problem: For nearly all of us, carbon fiber is not only impractical, it's downright unnecessary.

Which is part of what makes its prevalence in the gadget realm today so puzzling.

How is it that such a specialized material evolved into one of the most fetishized synthetic fibers in the gadget world? Is there some inherent quality that makes it utterly irresistible when slathered on top of dashboards or infused into iPad cases? And seriously, why would someone make a carbon fiber refrigerator?

iOS 4.1 Jailbreak is Close, as Bootrom Exploit is Confirmed

Mere hours after iOS 4.1became available, an iPhone Dev-Team user Pod2g found a bootrom exploit, meaning that the new update is indeed jailbreakable. However, this one differs—and could cause Apple a lot of pain.

Due to the way the jailbreak accesses the OS, the only way Apple can fix it is reportedly by installing a "whole new processor rev," according to someone from inside the project who spoke to Boy Genius Report.

There was some confusion yesterday when the jailbreak first came to light, as the initial tweet from Pod2g said it was for 4.0.1, but actually it was for 4.1, as confirmed by the same tweeter and RedmondPie.

As to when you can jailbreak it, well the Dev-Team guys are still working on it, but have said that people would be better off ignoring the 4.1 update for now.

The same exploit is also said to be working on iPads and fourth-gen iPod Touches.

Sep 8, 2010

What Is Google Instant?

Google's just announced Google Instant! They say it's going to transform search forever—making it faster, better, stronger. But what is it, exactly?
 It's predictive search...
Should you activate Google Instant Search, you'll start seeing search results as soon as you start typing. You'll also be shown a range of possible queries in grey to refine your options, all before you ever hit the "Search" button.
Google estimates that Google Instant will save people an average of 2-5 seconds per search. The reason? We read faster than we type, and predictive search pretty much takes typing out of the equation. If every Google user around the world switched to Instant, we'd save 3.5 billion seconds a day, or 11 hours per second.

Unless you're looking for porn.
While the normal SafeSearch filters—like those used in Image searches—apply, Google Instant draws the line at "pornography, violence and hate speech." Which means that when you try to autocomplete a generic "porn" search, you're stuck with this:

There's a good chance you've already got Google Instant up and running, but if not, don't feel too left out; it's going to take a couple of days for the service to hit all Google users. And a bit longer than that to hit mobile—Google says that it's not available in the immediate future for phones, but that it should be coming in the next few months. Ditto for the search bar in your browser. In any case, if you don't like it you're not forced to use it; next to every search box will be a link that lets you turn Instant off or on as you please.

...and has at least one neat trick up its sleeve.

When Google Instant is activated, the right arrow key acts as the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button. Glad to see that a healthy sense of adventure has been maintained.

XWave Headset Lets You Control iPhone Apps With Your BRAIN

You could argue that the iPhone's biggest UI leap was turning the user's finger into a stylus. Now, with the PLX XWave headest, you can turn your BRAIN into the stylus. Or your finger? My head hurts already.

From what I can gather—and this is only from what I can gather—the PLX XWave is a sesnor-laden headset that plugs into your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad and lets you interact with apps simply by thinking. This promotional video shows a glowing orb appearing in the palms of users, but I'm pretty sure that doesn't actually happen when you're using it:

Here, according to the company's site, is what actually happens:

XWave, powered by NeuroSky eSense patented technologies, senses the faintest electrical impulses transmitted through your skull to the surface of your forehead and converts these analog signals into digital. With XWave, you will be able to detect attention and meditation levels, as well as train your mind to control things. Objects in a game can be controlled, lights in your living room can change color depending on your mood; the possibilities are limited to only the power of your imagination.
I'm not sure how they make the leap to controlling lights, and I definitely wouldn't say that the possibilities were only limited by one's imagination, but hey, it's MIND CONTROL, and that's always fun. PLX is even serving up their APIs so developers can make their own brain-controlled apps. Doodle Jumping with your brain—if that isn't the future than I don't know what is. You can order an XWave for $100; it ships on November 1.

Sep 7, 2010

Justin Bieber Has Dedicated Servers at Twitter

Justin Bieber uses 3% of Twitter resources at any moment. According to a Twitter employee—talking to designer Dustin Curtis—Bieber has "racks of servers dedicated to him. I'm sure this will excite his haters even more.

Dustin confirmed to us that the tweet is not a joke, but it was told to him by the Twitter employee. Since Bieber is almost a perennial trending topic, I'm not surprised. Still, and given the 180 million unique visitors every month, that's quite an achievement.

What is really important, however, is this: Now, every time that whale pops, you will have one more reason to slap him. Also Justin Bieber is banned from Twitter's trending topics.

iPod Touch Said to Account for 38% of All iOS Devices Sold

Last week Steve Jobs patted Apple on the back and announced that 120 million iOS devices have now been sold, but according to market research company Asymco, the iPod Touchaccounts for 38 per cent of that figure.

How did Asymco arrive at that figure? It's guesswork, but they subracted the 59.6 million iPhones sold up to the end of the month of June (known because of SEC filings), and the 3.2 million iPads sold. They then figured that around 8 million iPhones and 4 million iPads were sold by Apple between July and August, resulting in 45.2 million unexplained iOS sales—which have been fingered as iPod Touch sales, and 37.7 per cent of that figure Jobs boasted of.

We do know that the iPod Touch is Apple's most successful iPod to date, having taken over from the iPod Nano, but Jobs' claim that "the iPod touch outsells Nintendo and Sony portable game players combined. It's been amazing" isn't looking quite so accurate after casting your eye over PSP and DS sales.