Sep 16, 2011

This Shape-Shifting Sofa

love sofas. I love them for siestas, for reading, for playing games, for eating breakfast by the window, for cunnilingus and other fun activities. Sofas are one of my favorite things. And the Cay Sofa looks like a dream.

Created by Alexander Rehn by dividing surfaces and linking them through ingeniously placed hinges, the sofa adapts to the different positions of your body, embracing it. That's what I like about it, because I like to change positions for all the things above. No motors, no buttons. Just simply clever design. More here.

Why Do We Use The Term Cellular Phone Instead of Mobile Phone?

If I asked you about your phone, would you call it a cell phone or a mobile phone? Does it really matter what you say or is one term more appropriate than the other?

The world cellular, as it describes phone technology, was used by engineers Douglas H. Ring and W. Rae Young at Bell Labs. They diagrammed a network of wireless towers into what they called a cellular layout. Cellular was the chosen term because each tower and its coverage map looked like a biological cell. Eventually, phones that operated on this type of wireless network were called cellular phones.

The term mobile phone predates its cellular counterpart. The first mobile phone call was placed in 1946 over Bell System's Mobile telephone service, a closed radiotelephone system. And the first commercial mobile phones were installed cars in the 1970s.

Eventually, the two names, mobile phone and cellular phone, became synonymous, especially here in the US. But some people disagree with that usage. They consider the term "cellular phone" to be a misnomer because the phone is not cellular, the network is. The phone is a mobile phone and it operates on a cellular network. So what do you think, is this just splitting hairs or do we need to be more careful about what we call our phones?

Sep 15, 2011

Is This the Best New Look at the iPhone 5?

There's been prior evidence—and this might be more: a leaked screen protector and possibly-revealing case.

BGR spied the leaked case accessory, which briefly made an appearance on Case-Mate before they yanked it down. Oh, and is that an aluminum back I spy? I hope so.

In addition to the case, an allegedly-real iPhone 5 screen protector appeared in the wild. Unearthed by Hong Kong tech site, the screen film also backs up the expectedly-widened home button. The dimensional difference looks to be the same illustrated by the leaked case from earlier in the month. We'll find out for sure soon! Very, very soon.

Google Loads up on IP Again, buys 1,000 More Patents From IBM

Seems like we've heard this story before -- Google buys a bunch of patents to protect its cute little green baby from all the big, bad patent lawsuits. Only this time, instead of buying a hardware manufacturer to expand its patent warchest, team Mountain View merely purchased 1,023 bits of IP from IBM. 

Covering everything from a method for filling holes in printed wiring boards to a method for file system management, Google seems to have grabbed quite the eclectic collection -- one we're sure Big G will put to work for itself and its buddies in no time. Those looking to see the full results of this latest patent shopping spree can see more here.

Windows Phones Aaren't Selling Very Well

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer was his usual frank self when he met financial analysts yesterday, admitting that the world isn't yet as keen on Windows Phone as he'd hoped. To be precise, 

Steve Ballmer: "We haven't sold quite as many as I would have liked in the first year." His cunning plan? Well, that's easy: make it all Nokia's problem. Or, as he put it: "With Nokia we have a dedicated hardware partner that is all-in on Windows Phones." Indeed, the Finnish manufacturer has now staked far more than Microsoft on the success of this "third ecosystem" and, if its imminent Mango handsets fail to turn things around, we may eventually see Stephen Elop standing behind that silent cash register.

Sep 14, 2011

Exercise Headphones Designed to Stay Put

When it comes to headphones built to stay put when you're exercising there's plenty of products that look hardcore but are just annoying. Polk's new UltraFit3000 headphones might just be the the most thoughtfully designed I've seen.

Like other old school speaker companies Polk has decided to make the jump from wooden boxes to headphones. I like that idea, because Polk's awesome sound shouldn't be confined to home theaters and stereos. Detailed specs aren't yet available, but I'd expect these to sound amazing. What is really going to set these apart for exercise addicts is the attention to function. The over-ear hook is pliable and made of a moldable rubbery material so that they will sit securely on your ear. Get them here.

Windows 8’s Blue Screen of Death Is Like a Sad Girl Texting You

If you decided to install the Developer Preview of Windows 8 last night, you may have run into this little screen. It's good to see Microsoft making even the worst of user experiences... friendlier? But now I'm laughing AND kind of depressed.

It's ok, Windows 8 tablet. Shh shh. It's gonna be ok.

SanDisk's Memory Vault Will Store Your Photos Longer Than Anyone Cares

According to a survey commissioned by SanDisk, family photos are the first thing people would save in a house fire, after relatives and pets. This ruggedized flash drive contains proprietary Chronolock memory management technology that has been subjected to "accelerated temperature cycling tests" to prove it can preserve data uncorrupted for up to 100 years. Maybe the product is a boon to future generations, or maybe it's just a way of convincing people to spend $90 on 16GB of storage instead of picking up a Corsair Flash Survivor for $35. 

Sep 13, 2011

Logitech’s Wireless Touchpad Is a Magic Trackpad for Windows

You might be one of those people who find the old mouse and keyboard standbys inadequate. Quaint, even! Maybe you embrace touch as the future of computer interfaces. You might envy the Magic Trackpad, but lack a mac. Envy not!

The Logitech Wireless Touchpad doesn't quite have the same pizazz in form or name, but looks like it could at least replicate someof the functionality of OS X's stroke-able pad. At 5 inches across, it's got pretty much the same surface area as its magic Apple brother and supports up to four fingers at a time, though lacks the Bluetooth beaming and, very frustratingly, OS X support. Why not throw it in there and give Apple some competition? Logitech's mice are a hell of a lot better than anything Apple makes—it could very well be the same for this desk swiper too. Get it here.

Windows 8 Developer Preview: When and Where to Download

Got a brain full of Windows 8? Can't stop obsessing about it? Fret not -- as of 8PM PT this evening (just under eight hours from now), you'll be able to download a copy of the Windows Developer Preview to your machine from

Per usual, it's recommended doing so on a separate partition (or a spare machine altogether) in order to prevent unforeseen conflicts, and having a stiff glass of patience waiting nearby. Redmond's servers are going to be hammered. Windows Dev Center.

Here’s Windows 8’s Start Menu

It's not the most detailed look, but Tom's Hardware noticed a cameo of the newest Start Menu in a Windows 8 video demo. It looks... pretty bare. Stark white-on-black text, very few buttons, and, importantly, where are the programs?

Whereas Windows 7's Start Menu offers a multitude of ways to get at your software—favorites, search, a giant list of applications—this Windows Phone 7-inspired Start Menu has none of that. Just a search box. Unless we're missing something from this screenshot, which is entirely possible, this looks like a pickle. Are we meant to search for whatever we want to use, as we might via OS X's Spotlight? Are there context-specific buttons that spring up? With Microsoft revealing more and more about their next titanic OS, we'll probably find out soon.

Sep 12, 2011

Samsung Galaxy S II Has More GPU Firepower Than Any Android Device

Anandtech benchmarked Samsung's refreshed Galaxy S II phone over the weekend and discovered that its Mali-400 quad-core GPU contained within its EXYNOS chipset is not only powerful, but nearly 2x faster than any other Android device—phone or tablet.

The Samsung Galaxy S II was tested using GLBenchmark 2.1, and scored a 42.5. By comparison, the Samsung Infuse 4G scored a 25.5 and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 scored a 20.8. Apple's iPad 2, which runs the company's most current chipset, scored an 85.7.

White PS3 Coming to Europe and Australia in November

There's nothing a like an (almost) fresh and exciting color variant to make us totally forget about thePS4. Besides, this little dazzler will come with a 320GB HDD and two equally white Dualshock controllers, which means you'll only have to spray-paint your PS3 Move, headset, external drive to match. Look out for it at GameStop in the UK, Germany and possibly other Euro nations too, as well as at Electronic Boutique in Australia from November 1st.

Sep 11, 2011

Acer Iconia Tab A501 with HSPA+ hits AT&T on September 18th: $330 on Contract

The carrier just announced it'll start selling the 16GB model next Sunday, September 18th for $480 -- or $330 with a two-year contract. As planned, it'll ship with Android 3.0, and 3.1 is coming via an over-the-air update. You can sign up for a monthly plan, if you so choose, though you can also pay as you go, with $15 getting you 250MB and $25 expanding your allowance to 2GB. Customers who commit to two-year agreements will have the same choices, to be honest, except they'll also have to contend with overage fees -- $10 per gigabyte or $15 per 250MB, depending on the plan.

Remastered HD Star Trek: The Next Generation Episodes Could Stream to Netflix This Fall

Well, this news is a long time coming for most Star Trek Fans. Apparently, CBS is hard at work remastering the Next Generation as an HD offering, and will beam it to you via Netflix this fall.

While no official announcement has been made, the rumblings got a Geordi-sized boost earlier this month when actor LaVar Burton, he of the visor fame, tweeted that the remastering progress being made on a few select TNG episodes was going very, very well. Also complementing all that was Netflix's pre-existing relationship with CBS, which saw the DVD and streaming service beaming all Star Trek series episodes to customers.

The remastered HD TNG episodes could arrive as early as this fall on both Netflix and Paramount's Epix station, which coincides nicely with the purported start of filming for the rebooted Star Trek movie franchise. Cross promotion is so 24th century! Quantifies Internet Impatience, Old Links Get no Love

Oh internet, we love your animated GIFs and sad Keanu websites, but how much attention are we really giving each link? According to a recent study by URL shortener, a standard link is clicked for an average of three hours until traffic subsides by 50 percent, eventually fading away into oblivion. If we're talking about a super timely news story like an earthquake hitting the east coast, well, its half-life was a paltry five minutes. When URLs are shared on social networks, they last around 3.2 hours on Facebook and 2.8 hours on Twitter, but those on YouTube persist more than twice that long. There, link half-life is 7.4 hours -- probably because it's home to phenom bomb memes.

Sep 10, 2011

Ecko Zip Earbuds Pump Tunes Through a Functioning Zipper

These in-ear beauts will set you back just 30 beans -- or about a half-dozen servings of Ron Ron Juice. Other offerings include the $13 Zone earbuds, $15 Chaos II (that Chaos I was off the hook), the $20 Stomp, $25 Lace (which include a shoelace-inspired cord), and the $40 Chain, which, as you probably guessed, features a beaded dog-tag chain cord. At those prices we wouldn't expect stellar acoustics, but if you're rockin' out to any of these budz, you're probably most concerned with lookin' good. And nothing says six-pack like zippers and chains. Get them here or just search on Amazon.

Windows 8 Boots Up Faster Than a Bull Ride

What's Microsoft got to compete with the MacBook Air's near-instant on? According to a recent demonstration from its Building Windows 8 blog, the ability to take a machine from fully powered off to booted up in just under eight seconds.

The key change behind the improvement? In Windows 7, all user sessions are closed, as are services and devices in the kernel session. Windows 8, though, doesn't close the kernel session. It puts it in hibernation mode. By writing the kernel session to a disk—instead of having to restore it completely with every start up—Microsoft has seen improved boot times of 30-70%.

If you want a complete shutdown, you'll still have the option to revert back to Windows 7-style. But why drive a Volvo when you can roll in a... uh... 30% faster Volvo? More.

This Is How 9/11 Looked From Space

Taken by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus camera on NASA's Landsat 8, this image shows the 9/11 attack site. If you think that this is not impressive, think again: it was taken the next day, September 12 at 11:30am.

The image shows New York and the smoke from the World Trade Center in true color. More here.

How to View a Private Youtube Video

It’s just simple if you know the URL of the private YouTube video that you like to see. You can easily see some of the still frames of that video even without the permission from the owner. Example:

Just copy the ID of any YouTube video from its URL (in the above case, Or7--7Ny16Q) and replace it in the following links.


What actually the reason is that YouTube creates thumbnails of every video that’s uploaded in their server and those images are made public even in the case of private videos. An image is worth a thousand words. So, its easy for you to know what’s inside a Private Youtube Video.

Sep 9, 2011

Viewsonic's $200 ViewPad 7e Android Tablet now Available for Pre-Order

Viewsonic has been at the low-cost Android tablet for some time now, and it showed no signs of letting up on that effort at IFA last week, where it debuted its newViewPad 7e. If that managed to pique your interest, you'll be glad to know that the device is now available for pre-order for $199.99 (though there's still no promised ship date). 

That will buy you a 7-inch screen, a 1GHz Cortex-A8 processor, Android 2.3 for an OS, 4GB of built-in storage, a microSD card slot for further expansion, and even a mini HDMI port that will let you output full 1080p video. Get it here.

The Next Version of Android After Ice Cream Sandwich Will Be Called Jelly Bean

The next version of Android after Ice Cream Sandwich will be called Jelly Bean. It's supposed to pack "game-changing stuff" that was originally supposed to be on Ice Cream Sandwich but didn't quite make it in time.

Ice Cream Sandwich so looking sounds kinda crazy at this point but at least we know the name! I'd have much rather seen Jello (probably nixed for copyright issues since they have enough of that) or just jelly (jelly sounds incredibly funny by itself) though.

And if you want to take a look back into history at how far Android has come, these have been the updates to Android so far: Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Gingerbread, Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich.

Twitter Doesn’t Give a Damn Who You Are

Twitter had a meeting yesterday to talk about how big it was. But what really came across was that while Facebook and Google+ value your identity, Twitter doesn't care who you are, as long as you've got something to say.

Google Facebook and Twitter now all have similar products. But Twitter CEO Dick Costello (somewhat inadvertently) made it clear yesterday that while all three have social networking features and make money from ads, they are in fundamentally different businesses.

At a very basic level, Google+ and Facebook are in the identity delivery business, and Twitter is in the information delivery business. That's a powerful distinction. It reflects a fundamentally different conception of what's more valuable: information or identity. It also gets at who is more valuable, advertisers or users.

Google and Facebook's social products are committed to a real names policy. Both can serve someone up to a network of peers or advertisers with some degree of certainty about identity.

Twitter takes exactly the opposite route towards building a network. You can be anonymous, or use a pseudonym, or even impersonate someone else as long (as you indicate that it's a parody). It will still connect you to others on its network, and allow you to both serve and receive data. And that's working well, for everybody.

Twitter has more than 100 million active users—that is a user who logs on more than once a month—and more than 50 million who log in daily. 40 percent of its active users don't tweet at all. They just log in to read. (In common parlance, they're lurking.) The ones who do tweet are sending more than 230 million tweets per day. It's big now. Very big!

In short, Twitter doesn't care who you are, it's still going to serve you an ad. And oddly, that may be the most effective tactic of all.

Dell Jams a Terabyte of SATA3 SSD Storage Into Precision M6600 Laptop

Dell is tweaking some of the options offered on its Precision M6600 and M4600 mobile workstations. You can now choose to add 512GB SATA3 SSD drives and (in the case of the M6600) a 4GB NVIDIA Quadro 5010M card. The interesting thing though, is that the 6600 has space for three drives: two full size and one mini-card slot. That means you could outfit this 17.3-inch beast with a pair of 512GB SSDs and one 128GB SSD, for a grand total of 1.1TB of solid state storage. Of course, with each half-terabyte drive adding a whopping $1,120 to the price of this professional lappy it's not exactly for those on a budget.

Sep 8, 2011

Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play 4G Hitting AT&T on September 18th

Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play has made the natural GSM shift in the States in order to grace Ma Bell's airwaves, and despite the "4G" naming convention, this fellow will be topping out at HSPA+. In other words, LTE lovers will need to look elsewhere. This marks the first launch of a PlayStation-certified smartphone for AT&T, and given that it's been around the block a time or two, the carrier is (smartly) pricing it at just $49.99 on a two-year contract -- a buck-fifty less than what it launched for on Verizon Wireless. 

It'll ship with Android 2.3.3, a 1GHz CPU, Adreno 205 GPU, a 4-inch display (854 x 480) and will arrive in an exclusive 'stealth blue' hue. AT&T customers will also be blessed with a gratis Multimedia Dock (DK300) and MC100 music cable, not to mention seven pre-loaded games at no charge.

The Father of the eBook Is Dead

Michael Hart invented the ebook. The idea that gave the Kindle a reason to exist, has helped float the iPad to its peak, and is currently killing bookstores. But before all that, he just wanted books to be $0.00.

There's a good chance you've used Project Gutenberg, one of the internet's great treasures. Among its 37,000 free texts, available in a multitude of languages, all for free, are some of humankind's greatest written works. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Moby Dick, Jane Eyre, the Declaration of Independence—all for free. It's an incredible, if somewhat dated looking resource.

It wonder what Hart, who died Tuesday at 64, would think of his creation. Ebooks are now an enormously lucrative commodity—enough to put expensive pieces of plastic into eager hands. But that seems to run a bit contrary to Project Gutenberg's ethos, that words should be available to anyone for no charge. Of course, Gutenberg's collection is all public domain stuff, and a lot of things flying into Kindles isn't.

But whether that's what Hart wanted or not, digitized text has become about a lot more than knowledge and opportunity. More.

Apple Already Planning Third Campus

In addition to their circular "spaceship" campus, because of company growth, Apple is already in the early planning stages of building a third campus.

Cupertino Mayor Gilbert Wong told the San Jose Mercury News that Apple executives had confided in him that they are already planning a third Apple campus after they finish the "spaceship" building, that has been dubbed Apple Campus 2. Additionally, Cupertino city officials have suggested that a sculpture of Steve Jobs be added to the Apple Campus 2 plans.

The location and design of the third office-park-that-iPhone built hasn't been announced, and Apple has declined to comment about it. We're guessing they told the Mercury News that "Apple doesn't comment of future products."

Electrified Bacteria Army Kills Uranium, Gives Captain Planet a Run for His Money

A certain type of "hairy" bacteria may just be the answer to cleaning up radioactive spills. Scientists at the University of Southern California found that under certain circumstances, Geobacter sulfurreducens could make metals like uranium less soluble -- essentially turning the metal into hard droplets rather than being absorbed. Researchers discovered that by lowering the bacteria's temperature, it caused hair-like pili to extend, which enveloped the poison uranium and ultimately reduced it through long-range electron transfer. 

The breakthrough could help deplete sources of uranium or other radioactive isotopes where bacteria normally can't survive -- like from the Fukushima nuclear plant that devastated Japan earlier this year. Scientists believe they've only scratched the surface with this development and are optimistic about the future of bacteria "electromicrobiology," which we can only guess grew in popularity after this '80s classic hit the airwaves.

How Old Are You In Venusian Years?

I just found out that I'll celebrate my next birthday at the end of September and I am old, at least in Venusian years. Curious about your own age if you lived on Venus and used its shorter calendar?

If you are, then you should point your browser to Nerdiversary, a light-hearted website that uses your birthday to list upcoming timely events in your life. You can calculate your age on Venus and Mars and find out how many seconds you've been alive (hint: it's an immensely large number). It's a fun distraction when you have a few free moments on your hand.

Sep 7, 2011

An Office Chair Worth Dying In

The Sayl Chair is Herman Miller's minimalist masterpiece. After long weekends, I'm overcome by the feeling that I'll die in my office. That's a disturbing thought, but I'd feel mighty comfortable dying in a Sayl—I'd look good, too.

The world first saw the Sayl office chair last year with a Y-Shaped support designed to hoist up your body much like towers and cables hoist a suspension bridge. The streamlined design looks great and saves on materials. I can see my epitaph now: Hard-working, comfortable, stylish AND eco-friendly. At $499 the Sayl's cheaper than other high-design chairs and seems like a worthwhile investment. The chair will probably last forever—and might turn out to be the last place you ever sit down. Get it here.

Velocity Micro Cruz T410 Gingerbread Tablet

Looks like the T408 has company. Velocity Micro today announced the Cruz T410, the bigger brother to the recently unveiled eight-inch T408. The 10-inch tablet rocks similar specs as its smaller sibling, including a 1GHz Cortex A8 processor, Android 2.3, a front-facing camera, WiFi, and pre-loaded Amazon content. The budget Android tablet will be available this month, running $299.99 -- $60 more than the T408, but still fairly affordable in the tablet world. Get it here.

What Does Instagram Do To Famous Photographs?

Instagram is great for spicing up plain photographs taken by your iPhone. It has several filters, unlimited uploads and lets you share your photos with social networks like Twitter and Facebook. No wonder it has 200 million hosted images.

But what happens when those plain photographs are replaced with famous images? Check out the picture above that shows the Instagram version on the left and the original on the right. Does Instagram improve or diminish the quality of these memorable shots? Get the app here.

Sep 6, 2011

BlackBerry Torch 9850 Officially Coming to Verizon September 8th for $200

After over a month of speculation and rumors, Verizon is ready to get the BlackBerry Torch 9850 into the hands of eager customers. At a cost $50 higher than its arch CDMA nemesis (not to mention a couple weeks behind), Big Red has jumped aboard to offer the touch-only smartphone for $200 with a two-year agreement. The devices will begin selling online September 8th, with units showing up in stores a week later. 

New Moon Landing Sites Photos Are So Sharp They Show Detailed Rover Tire Marks

NASA showed images of the lunar landing sites in 2009, punching all moronic conspiracy theorists a new stupid face, Buzz Aldrin style. Now they have released new higher resolution shots taken again by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

These images were taken with the low-altitude Narrow Angle Camera, according to Arizona State University researcher Mark Robinson, principal investigator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC):

You can also clearly see the Lunar Modules' descent stages. Now, if they can get it any closer, we would like photos of Aldrin's used underpants.

Nokia Wants You to Create its Next Iconic Ringtone

On the streets, in crowded restaurants, and even in movies, you've likely heard the same song ad nauseam for the last seventeen years: the rockin' default ringtone used on virtually every Nokia device since 1994. And while it's evolved over the years, Espoo's always taken upon itself to choose the next version of the iconic tune. For the next iteration, however, the company is leaving it up to you to be the creative genius, and is offering a reward of $10,000 for the best one.

Five submissions will be chosen as runner-ups, each getting their entry offered in the Ovi store as well as a smaller cash prize for their efforts. So if you've always wanted to hear your own creation blasting out of millions of phones each and every day, now's your chance -- you have until October 2nd to get that spark of musical innovation.

Sep 5, 2011

Geeky Multi-Tool Clips to Your Belt Loop

The Guppie is basically a streamlined, stainless steel multi-tool combined with a carabiner. Need to open a bottle? There's the Guppie, hanging from your belt loop. Need to do something besides drinking? The Guppie packs a 2-inch blade, an adjustable wrench, a high-intensity LED light, and a hex driver with storage space for four bits into a 4 ounce package that's very flat. Not for every task, but it's a smart little tool for $40. Get it here

Netflix Lands in Brazil, 43 Other Latin American Countries Within the Week

Netflix promised our friends in Central and South America would soon be able to enjoy the pleasures of Watch Instantly. Starting today with Brazil, and with 43 other Latin American countries to follow before September 12th, the pioneering streaming video service is making good on that promise.

 Customers in the land of Carnival can enjoy a free one-month trial, after which a subscription will run $14.99 a month in Brazilian dollars. The roll out will be staggered over the coming days, with most areas getting a price point equivalent to $7.99 in American currency and some having both English and Spanish language options.

ASUS G74SX-A1 Gaming Laptop

The 1982 Lockheed Sea Shadow may be rusting away in Suisun Bay, but its Commie-spooking contours haven't been forgotten. They apparently inspired the design of the Asus G74SX-A1, which just won a HotHardware recommendation for its cheese-eschewing looks as well as its performance, efficient cooling and realistic $1749 price tag.

For once, the Core i7-2360QM CPU coupled with a GeForce GTX 560M and generous 12GB dollop of DDR-1333 RAM actually conspired to surpass the manufacturer's 3DMark benchmark claims. It wasn't flawless though: overall computing performance was middling compared to rivals; the speakers were shoddy when it came to producing music rather than explosions; and the 17.3-inch Full HD display was slightly wasted on some games that only ran smoothly with high quality settings at 1280x720. 

Sep 4, 2011

Apple’s Already Hiring New Product Security Managers

Apple has opened up a series of corporate-level jobs, reports observe. These include positions for two "new product security" managers, to be based in Apple's home in Cupertino. The people will be responsible for "overseeing the protection of, and managing risks to, Apple’s unreleased products and related intellectual property," according to a description. The company is known to go to extreme lengths to keep products secret, even requiring veils over hardware in its own secure labs.

It is also hiring three new iOS software developers to work with the Maps team. "We want to take Maps to the next level and rethink how people use maps, location and geo information," Apple says in one listing. The page mentions that a successful candidate will be responsible for "implementing high-level user interfaces, new and innovative features, fixing problems and enhancing the performance of Maps."

Apple has been hiring new help for iOS Maps and geolocation technology for several months. The company may be hoping to come up with its own alternative to Maps Navigation, a Google app common on Android smartphones but which hasn't arrived on iOS as originally promised. Apple has said it will roll out a "crowd-sourced traffic" service within the next two years.

Inflatable Bicycle Helmet or Unused Prop from an Alien Movie?

I really can't tell if this model's beautiful life is about to be saved or snuffed out by some kind of bulbous brain sucker.

The description makes it sound like an inflatable bike helmet but that could be because the writer had one on his or her head as well, and it was controlling their actions, because that's what these bulbous brain suckers do.

I'll err on the side of sanity and say this is a bike helmet, and that it was one of five projects that won an award at INDEX this year. Called Hövding, the design is the work of Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, and apparently erupts from the scarf around your neck when "it senses abnormal movement."

Yeah, anyway, for some reason or another I have this little suspicion that this helmet could be an example of form over function. Just a tad.

Microsoft Confirms Media Center will be in Windows 8

Windows Media Center fans can finally breathe again. After seemingly endless will they / won't they speculation Steven Sinofsky, the President of the Windows Division has confirmed in a blog post thatMedia Center will return for yet another go 'round in Windows 8. There's no word on any possible changes, only that the company has "work to do" concerning the quality and compatibility of add-ins. Wondering why it hasn't been in some pre-release builds?

 Between the potential for multiple SKUs (no details until closer to release, but it seems like you'll be looking for an Ultimate pack or something similar again to get everything) and simple engineering decisions as features are added and removed that's just the way it is. Another factor is that WMC isn't exactly mass market, as he cites stats indicating only 6 percent of Windows 7 users launched the app in July, with over half of those sessions lasting less than a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, IE apparently pops up on 88 percent of Windows 7 desktops.

Sep 3, 2011

Facebook Is Getting a Translate Button for Your International Friends

According to Inside Facebook, Facebook is currently testing a translate button for international users to getting around the language barrier. Facebook will provide a button to translate users' comments on the fly.

Inside Facebook reports that only a few languages, including Spanish, French, Hebrew, and Chinese, are currently supported, but that's just the start. The benefit of such a feature is pretty obvious; the people you couldn't talk to because the spoke another language can now be brought into the conversation. Cool. You potentially have the opportunity to broaden your circle of friends. But what about the privacy issue? Supposing you don't want people to translate the conversation you have with family members in your mother tongue? No word on that just yet. Hopefully Facebook gets it right.

Audi Announces A2 Electric Concept car, Uses Lasers to Ensure Safety of Future Humans

Lasers make everything better, including (but not limited to): microphones, kidneys and Audi's electric A2 concept. This newest flight of fancy uses a laser diode as the rear fog lamp, which projects a red triangle onto the road to let other drivers know you're there. The German car-maker has tricked out the rest of the EV's lighting system as well by implementing matrix beam technology using LEDs and microreflectors -- giving it high resolution, non-glaring beams and intelligent tail lights that change in intensity based on weather conditions. Claiming other state-of-the-art features like gesture controls instead of keys, and brake lights that glow brighter the harder you press, it sounds like this would be a pretty sweet ride -- if it ever makes it to market.

Amazon tablet coming in November for $250?

Much ink has been spilled in the rumor mill about a coming Amazonian tablet, and now those rumors look to be confirmed. Amazon is making the last few software tweaks before it goes on sale this November. The tablet is running a heavily skinned version of Android that was developed without any help from the folks in Mountain View. It apparently has a Cover Flow-esque UI, and is deeply integrated with all of Amazon's services (Cloud Player, Instant Video Player, Appstore, and of course the Kindle app). Best of all, it will reportedly cost a scant $250 -- not quite TouchPad territory, but well underneath the iPad's $500 price. Let the next great tablet war begin.

Sep 2, 2011

Mobee Magic Numpad for Your Magic Trackpad

Is the act of crunching numbers a daily task for you, and do you use a Magic Trackpad? Well, if actual keys or a calculator / mouse hybrid just aren't magical enough for you, then Mobee's Magic Numpad may just be. Despite its name, the Numpad is a $29 set of films that allows you to morph your Trackpad into one of three numeric "keypad" layouts, with software for enabling an on-screen calculator and setting macros. Adding Splenda to the strawberries, you'll also get a cleaning kit and erasable marker to customize your films even further. The Magic Numpad is available for pre-order now and should ship come this October.

Sony's Golden 'Magical Edition' PlayStation 3 Heads for Japan

The edition available will boast a 160GB hard drive, a single Dual Shock controller and a glorious icon on the lower-left of the machine. It'll be available in Japan this November for ¥33,780 ($440), but only in "limited quantities." So much for magic that lasts forever, huh?

Sep 1, 2011

Toshiba’s Wireless SD Goes Both Ways

Wireless SD cards are a smart product for forgetful/lazy/busy people. Toshiba's new FlashAir card is the first which allows you to transfer data both to and from the card—an idea that's got a lot of potential.

Eye-Fi's wireless cards are awesome. They allow you to automatically beam photos to your computer over Wi-Fi, and in the absence of a wireless network, to blast them directly to any device that can connect to Wi-Fi. Toshiba's FlashAir card does the same, but can both send and receive data wirelessly. If the technology catches on and there are two compliant devices—cameras for example—in range, they'll be able to exchange data as well.

The FlashAir is a logical evolution of wireless SD. The question is what exactly would you use it for? Toshiba clearly envisions people sharing photos between cameras, but that's actually not the best idea. Pro photographers will tell you that shooting photos with multiple cameras on one card can lead to corrupt files. Wireless hard drives already exist. Perhaps these cards could be useful as more tablets with expandable memory are released. Get it here.

I Hope These Philips Headphones Sound as Good as They Look

Philips hasn't really been a high-end manufacturer of anything for awhile now, so who knows how good they'll actually sound. But the company says that their semi-open-back headphones will have 40mm drivers that were designed and calibrated by the Philips Golden Ears panel of specialists. 

But there's a bit of a conceptual issue with these things: the inline iPhone remote/mic suggests they're to be used outside of the house. But unless you enjoy the general public hearing everything spilling forth from your phone, who would use a semi-open headphone anywhere but the privacy of one's own home? Expected to retail in the UK soon for somewhere around £250.

Toshiba's Glasses free 3D TV Launches in Europe This December

If you've been waiting for someone to take the glasses part out of the current 3D TV viewing experience, Toshiba has finally put a launch date on its glasses-free 3D TV.

The world's first to be available to the public at the size, the ZL2 will take its place at the top of the company's range of sets when it launches this December in Germany complete with an LED-backlit QuadHD resolution (3,840 x 2,160) LCD panel and Cell-processor basedCEVO engine technology within. The set will cost 7,999 euros when the 55-inch version launches.