Mar 7, 2012

The Most Advanced Fake Meat in the World Is Still Gross

I've never understood the desire of some vegetarians to make their food resemble meat; it's creepy and seems to contradict their love of vegetables. Sadly, the practice shows now sign of stopping so, with some reluctance, I present to you the most advanced fake meat in the world.

What you're looking at here is the product of the LikeMeat research project—a collaboration designed to make the meatiest fake meats the world has ever seen. From a rather wonderful press release:
"It looks like a cutlet, it's juicy and fibrous like a cutlet, and it even chews with the consistency of a real cutlet — but the ingredients are 100 percent vegetable."
But enough talk. I know you're dying to know how they make it. Oh boy, it sounds tasty:
"The main ingredients — water and plant proteins — are brought to a boil and slowly cooled down... As the temperature sinks, the protein molecules start to form chains. This gives rise to a fibrous structure that is quite similar to that of meat."
Yum. Sadly, the researchers are only able to produce 60 to 70 kilos of the meat substitute per hour at the moment, but Florian Wild, one of the team, reassures us that its "consistency and texture are already superb."

While I can't deny that a modest reduction in meat consumption might be a good thing for the planet, the solution isn't to eat the products of LikeMeat; the solution is just to eat a few more vegetables. In the meantime, fake meat might be more advanced, but it's still gross. More here.

Why You Have Your Best Ideas When You’re Least Productive

We all have our favorite times to power through work; some of us are up at the crack of dawn toiling away, while others feel more productive when the sun's setting. But a new study suggests that out best ideas actually come to us when we're not at our best.

Researchers have been studying how innovation and creativity varies with circadian rhythms—the natural patterns that make you a morning person or an evening type—and the findings are suprising.

A lot of studies have shown that we perform best—or at least, get most done—during peak times in our circadian rhythms when we're most alert. But the new study, by Mareike Wieth and Rose Zacks, reveals that during the lulls in productivity we're more easily distracted, and that those distractions can help aid creativity. Their conclusion: you have your best ideas when you're least productive.

To establish that, they asked participants a mixture of analytic and insight questions. The analytic questions required laborious, tedious working to establish an answer; the insight questions required a flash of inspiration to crack. The result? Insight questions were completed more effectively when participants were stuck in a circadian rhythm rut.

You see, being less focused on a task makes you more open to distraction, and in turn to exploring new ideas. So, depending on what kind of work you do, you may well be better served by shifting your schedule around a little. If you can pound through work in the morning, take advantage of it and get your tedious, mechanical work done then. That way, you can save lulls for your more thoughtful, idea-based labors. More here.

Mar 6, 2012

Nokia’s Insane 41-Megapixel Phone Isn’t Coming to the US

If you've lusted over the prospect of owning Nokia's new 808 PureView—despite the fact that its pixel count is rather needless—you're out of luck.

According to Nokia's developer site, the phone will enjoy global release... excluding North America. But you'll still be able to pick up an unlocked handset, and who knows, it might makes its way to these shores officially at some point. More here.

Mar 5, 2012

’90s-Inspired Case Gives You the Flip iPhone that Apple Never Will

Last year ThumbsUp! created an '80s iPhone case transforming your fancy Apple creation into the clunky bricks of that era. This year the company's back with a '90s iPhone casethat instead gives it the flip-style functionality that none of us actually miss.

While I can't see someone using this for anything other than irony, I will give ThumbsUp! credit since the case—designed to fit the iPhone 4 and 4S—has a working speaker in the lid and an aerial that can be pushed to lock the phone. It should be available sometime in the fall for about $24, sadly without the stylish belt clip that would certainly complete the '90s look. More here.

Turn a Pile Of Dishes Into a Designer Clock

Tired of being nagged about the ever-growing pile of dishes next to your kitchen sink? With Kyouei Design's Water Clock you can just turn them into a stylish timepiece, and not worry about prepping them for the dishwasher like you're supposed to.

For a ridiculous $325 all you actually get is the square base which you stack a plate and cup on top, fill with water, and then float a couple of small balls in. I'm assuming the magic of magnets once again comes into play here, positioning each ball so they indicate the hour and minutes. But as cool as the effect is, just remember that it will stop telling time once all the water evaporates. More here.

Galaxy Player 70 Plus: Samsung's First Dual-Core Media Player

Samsung's barely finished packing up from its recent stint in Barcelona, but that hasn't stopped another device surfacing on the Korean peninsula. The Galaxy Player 70 Plus appears to be a powered-up version of its 5-inch device from last year, side-stepping the design tweaks we saw last week on theGalaxy S WiFi 4.2 -- the other new (similarly long-winded) Android PMP from Samsung.

Alongside a dual-core 1GHz processor, other hardware improvements include a (Korea-only) DMB TV tuner, 5-megapixel camera and a 2,500mAh battery to keep that expansive screen running for longer. The media player will arrive in both 16GB and 32GB capacities, priced up at 399,000 won ($356) and 469,000 won ($418) respectively, although there's no news just yet on whether the wider world will get to wrap their hands around that substantial 5-inch screen.

Mar 4, 2012

Beef Straws Will Obviously Make Any Beverage Better

They're designed to be used with more savory drinks like a bloody mary, but there's no way these edible beef straws—made from hollowed out Slim Jims—won't improve the flavor of any beverage.

A pack of 30 will cost you $34, so Benny's Bloody Mary Beef Straws certainly aren't a cheaper alternative to regular plastic drinking straws. But like licorice, they're completely edible. And unlike licorice, they're made from more delicious seasoned beef.

I would also like to point out that I've taken the high road with this post, since the suggestion of sucking on a beef straw is ripe for more childish jokes and wordplay than my mind can comprehend. More here.

Mar 3, 2012

Smartphones Spread out: 46 Percent of US Adults Now Own One

Our master plan is slowly working, and soon every man and woman in our great nation will own a smartphone. Pew Research Center reports that just under half of adult Americans, or 46 percent, own smartphones currently, meaning that smartphone owners now outnumber their feature phone counterparts by five percent. Pew polled multiple demographics to get its numbers, and there was growth across the board over the last nine months. 

Of particular interest is the rise in ownership in the study's lowest income demographic -- under $30,000 a year -- which spiked 12 percent to 34 percent. Additionally, it showed that Android and Apple are neck and neck, with 20 and 19 percent market share of mobile owners, respectively, and Blackberry ownership declined from ten percent to six percent. The largest growth came from the 18-24 age group, up 18 to 67 percent. More here.

YouTube Android app Update Brings HD Video Streaming to 'capable' 2.2+ Devices

Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich Android-running hardware has had access to HD resolution YouTube streams since launch (as seen above), but an update to the app that rolled out yesterday finally brings HD to some devices running Froyo or Gingerbread. 

The catch is that YouTube HD res won't work on every Android 2.2 or 2.3 phone or tablet, it is set dynamically based on screen size and resolution. Another quirk is that some devices still won't install the updated version directly from the Market, like our Epic 4G Touch. Still, assuming you can snag the update -- through official or unofficial means -- if you have the pixels to spare you should see upgraded video quality from now on. Get it here.

Mar 2, 2012

Fading Highlighter Makes Textbooks Easier To Sell

Selling your textbooks at the end of a semester to recoup some of their outrageous price tags could get even easier with Quirky's Fader highlighter. After five months the yellow streaks will disappear completely, netting you top dollar for your pristine books.

At the moment Quirky is still putting out feelers for demand, and gauging how much students would be willing to pay for it. But according to its site, the average scholar spends $1,168 on textbooks during a four-year degree. So Quirky could probably still charge a ridiculous amount for the Fader if it meant that students could get considerably more cash for their used reference materials.

It also means you're not giving your competition in a lower grade an advantage with a used textbook that includes all the important bits already highlighted. More here.

The Ugliest Sandals in the World Are Actually Based on Foot Science

Look how ugly these sandals are. They look like a radioactive gummy bear pooped on a milk crate. But these Sazzi sports sandals are actually biomimeticly designed to keep your feet safe from uneven terrain, if not deeply judgmental eyes.

Barefoot running has been popular for a few years now. The five-fingered shoes you see pounding down the sidewalk really do help people stabilize themselves while they run by letting the muscles in your toes and feet do the work they were meant to do. Same goes for the Sazzi sandals, except, like, as sandals.

You probably won't be putting in a ton of roadwork with these, but they might warrant a look. Er, wear. They warrant a wear. Don't look directly at them. They'll be out in May for $80-$100.

Mar 1, 2012

Apple iPad 3 Event Confirmed for March 7th in San Francisco

You've heard all the rumors, and now Apple has finally confirmed the details of its next iPad launch event. It will take place on Wednesday, March 7th at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco. The company is keeping things suitably vague beyond that, of course, promising only that it has "something you really have to see. And touch.

In Japan, You Can Order McDonald’s Using Your Car Navigation System

Apparently fast food still isn't fast enough for the residents of Japan. Starting in March, McDonald's will be testing out a new systemallowing drivers to order and pay for a happy meal right from their car's navigation unit.

Using the country's wireless traffic news network known as the ITS, vehicles passing near one of McDonald's' restaurants will automatically be provided with a menu that can be navigated via their GPS device's touch screen. They can order and pay for food—hopefully not requiring them to dig out their credit card number while driving—where they'll then be directed to the nearest location to pick up their meal.

It all sounds rather efficient and a great way to speed up the drive through window, but how is this any easier than just creating a smartphone app with the same functionality? Custom menus could be updated every day, the driver's location could be easily pinpointed, and paying with your phone in Japan is already commonplace.

As it stands, the test involves 26 different companies to make it happen including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Panasonic System Networks, Toyota, Pioneer, and financial institutions. When, really, all that's needed is a solid app developer with some backend upgrades allowing restaurants to take orders remotely.

Feb 29, 2012

How to Get Windows 8 Right Now

The beautiful Windows 8 Consumer Preview is upon is, and although it's not the final version, it's getting close. This isn't just for developers—it's for you. So get downloading and start using Microsoft's amazing new beginning.

Are you already a Windows diehard? Or an Apple user, looking to see how the other half lives? Either way, we've got you covered like a thick flannel blanket. Made out of preview software.

First things first: download Windows 8 from here

Then you need to put that file on something you can install it with. That means either burning the ISO disc image to a DVD or copying it to a USB flash drive. A little annoying, but that comes with the territory when installing a separate operating system.

Whether you're using Windows or OS X, this feature is built right in.

Now let's install that sucker. (If you're prompted for an activation key, use this: DNJXJ-7XBW8-2378T-X22TX-BKG7J)

On a PC

Once you've got the Windows 8 file, you'll want to install it alongside the current version you're using—this will allow you to dip your toes in without committing, but requires some minor hard drive futzing.

If you want to run Windows 8 on its own slice of hard drive real estate, you'll need to create a disk partition—clearing out a blank space on your computer for Windows 8 to settle into. This is easy! Our pals at Lifehacker have a full guide if you need it, but you really only need to follow this:
Open the Start Menu and right click on the "Computer" option. Click "Manage", and in the window that appears, click on "Disk Management" in the left sidebar.
Find your system hard disk in the graphical list that appears in the bottom pane. Right-click on it and then click "Shrink Volume". Shrink it down so you have at least 20GB of space left on the end of the drive, and click OK. Then, click on the "Unallocated" block of that drive that appears and click "New Simple Volume". Click Next on the next few windows until you get to the "Format Partition" window. Here, give it a volume label you'll recognize (like "Windows 8") and click Next. It should format the drive for you. Now you're all set to install Windows 8.
Simple, right?

Your PC will now boot into Windows 8 by default, but if you want your previous version to auto-start, go to "Change Defaults or Choose Other Options" from the Windows 8 boot menu.

You've now got a two-headed computer.

But remember: not only is this a beta product several months away from release, it's also dramatically different from any operating system you've used before. So proceed with the knowledge that you'll volunteering to be Microsoft's guinea pig.

The Pirate Bay Removes All of Its Torrent Links

The Pirate Bay, the largest torrent site on the Internet, is no more. Or well, it's not like it once was. As of this moment, they've taken down all torrent links on the website and will now only use 'magnet links'.

Though it sounds really bad, it's more of an act to "future proof" The Pirate Bay website than anything else. So don't worry! The Pirate Bay will still be able to work. It's not dying, it's just changing. In their words, "just click the red button instead of the green one and all will be fine".

From now on, torrent files being shared by more than 10 people will be replaced with "magnet links". So instead of downloading .torrent files from a central Pirate Bay server like before, .torrent files will have to be downloaded from other BitTorrent users. Basically, very few .torrent files will be hosted by Pirate Bay itself. The magnet links will work for users trying to get .torrent files as long as one person in a swarm has the file. Rely on each other!

The change is supposed to help keep the Pirate Bay up and prevent it from shutting down. We're hoping it works.

Feb 28, 2012

Sniffing Rosemary Makes You Smarter

There are plenty of strange alternative uses for herbs. Rosemary, for instance, is supposed to soothe the skin and cure dandruff—though I can't promise how well it will do either. Science, however, now tells us it definitely can make you smarter.

A team of scientists from the University of Northumbria, UK, has discovered that one of the oils which gives rosemary its pungent scent improves speed and accuracy when performing certain mental tasks. Which means you definitely want to start cooking more herb-crusted lamb right about now.

To work that out, subjects were asked to complete numerical reasoning tests before and after being exposed to the scent of rosemary oil. The researchers then measured the levels of 1, 8-cineole, the main chemical constituent in rosemary's oil, after the experiments and compared it to the test scores. The higher the levels of 1, 8-cineole, the higher the score test. The research is reported in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology.

Sadly, nobody has any idea how it works, which makes it a tortuously frustrating finding. One other big question remains, though: is it possible to overdose on rosemary? "Rosemary has been used as an herb for generations, and there is nothing to say it is potentially harmful, at least in the short term," Dr. Christy C. Tangney told WebMD. Phew. Let's get cooking. More here.

This Is the ‘World’s Smallest PC’, and You Can Buy It Now

A dual-core computer that's the size of a USB stick. Well, production is underway, and you can pre-order one right now.

Packed inside its tiny little frame is a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor built by Samsung, along with an ARM Mali-400 GPU. It also packs HDMI-out, WiFi and a Micro USB port— and comes with Android or Ubuntu pre-loaded as the OS. It also handles MPEG-4 and H.264 video formats, so you could plug it into a TV and use it as a rudimentary media PC.

It's soon set to be rivalled by the Raspberyy Pi; a British effort to produce a similar product for around $35. To use the Pi, however, you'll need to be at home with a command line.

If that's not for you, the FXI Cotton Candy is available for pre-order at $199, and should arrive sometime in March. More here.

The Future of Farming Is Brain-Dead Chickens?

The poultry industry routinely takes heat for the densely-crowded conditions birds are subjected to. But what if the animals didn't feel pain or suffer stress? One student thinks he has the solution—raise chickens like vegetables by lobotomizing the lot of them.

Architecture student AndrĂ© Ford has presented a very radical solution increase the efficiency and humaneness in raising poultry. Under his plan, birds would have their frontal cortexes surgically severed, rendering the animals permanently unconscious with no zero sensory input while maintaining their lower brain functions—breathing and such—so that they continue to grow.

The form and function of a chicken plant would change drastically as well. The birds would be suspended and immobilized from hanging racks. Their feet would be removed (not going to be doing much walking in their state) and the animals would receive nutrients through an esophageal tube. A second tube would remove waste—Matrix-style. The birds could literally be stacked—quadrupling the density from one chicken every 10 square feet to four—quietly growing until they're large enough to be harvested.

"Harvested" is an oddly applicable phrase for what this method would entail. The birds are effectively reduced to being fleshy vegetables that just sit there until picked. But that can't be any worse than their current living conditions, right?

So far, this is still simply an art project dubbed The Headless Chicken Solution at the Royal Collage of Art. But it could well be a glimpse into the future of industrial-scale farming. More here.

Feb 27, 2012

There Are Nearly a Half-Million Android Apps Now

Android is poised to take over the world—at least according to new numbers from Google. The number of Android apps has exploded to 450,000 up from 150,000 just a year ago. And that's just the beginning.

The Android numbers posted today by Google are seriously impressive: There are 800,000 Android device activations a day, and 300 million (!) Android devices worldwide. If this inspires you to go get an Android phone, start doing your research because more than 800 different Android devices have launched to date.

Feb 26, 2012

Duracell Powermat WiCC Could Bring Wireless Charging to any Smartphone

Powermat may have a bright future, but the company's products to date have been expensive, slightly clunky and a generally imperfect solution for bringing wireless power to mobile devices. That could all change with WiCC. The Wireless Charging Card (WiCC) is an IEEE Power Matters Alliance (PMA) standard, with the potential to integrate Duracell Powermat technology within every mobile gadget. The incredibly thin device resembles those wafer-like SmartMedia cards once used in early digital cameras, with a similar form factor, but significantly more practicality. Each WiCC includes all the PowerMat circuitry found in the company's charging cases, while also doubling as an NFC antenna. The card's success is of course contingent on cooperation from device manufacturers, who will need to add a slim connector above the battery leads, including two for power, two for NFC and two for data -- an app will monitor charging. Powermat reps say that such a connector would cost pennies to implement, however, making it a potentially easy sell.