Apr 23, 2012

Skype For Windows Phone Is Now Official

It was a long time coming, but back in February Skype made it onto Windows Phone in beta. Now, testing is over, and you can get your hands on the full, official version from the WinPho Marketplace.

Unlike the beta, the app would work best with particular phones, no such caveats seem to have been put forward for this official release. As ever, the charms of video and voice calls over WiFi or 3G are hard to turn down—so cheap!—and it looks slick enough on WinPho, too. You can download the app here.

Apr 22, 2012

3DS Firmware Update Promises Folders, Less Cluttered Home Screens on April 25th

Are all those ambassador games crowding your 3DS' home screen? Sit tight, Nintendo's got a fix. During the outfit's Nintendo Direct conference livestream, head honcho Satoru Iwata announced that folder organization is coming to the 3DS. Fastidiously organized gamers can expect the firmware update to land on April 25th, bringing with it the joy of creating directories, stuffing them with up to 60 items and ascribing them fitting names. Iwata also detailed a handful of upcoming titles, including New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Tobidase Doubutsu no Mori (or, "Leap out Animal Crossing") for the 3DS and a Kirby compilation for the Wii. More here.

Apr 21, 2012

Hydraulics Let This Lightweight Roof Automatically Adapt To Changing Stresses

Engineers design structures to withstand the maximum possible stress loads. But building with the worst-case-scenario in mind can be expensive. So researchers at the University of Stuttgart created the SmartShell which is designed to be a more affordable building technique that doesn't sacrifice safety.

The lightweight shell is just 1.6-inches thick, but it's able to withstand tremendous forces thanks to hydraulic pistons located at three of its four corners. Thanks to an array of built-in sensors, as stresses on the shell change, like from the wind changing direction, the pistons instantly adjust its shape so the stress load is evenly distributed over its entire structure.

Eventually the technology could be applied to something like the roof of a large stadium. Allowing it to be lighter and cheaper to build, but just as strong since the added stresses of wind, rain, or even snow could be automatically minimized, instead of the whole structure just collapsing. More here.

RedSn0w Updated for Mac and Windows: Adds Corona A5 Jailbreak, Other Tools

What better way to finish off your night than by updating your favorite jailbreaking tool? Now, you'll be able to do just that after the whiz-kids from the iPhone Dev-Team have pushed out a new copy of their famed RedSn0w application. In what's perhaps the biggest inclusion, version 0.9.10b7 now adds implementation of that untethered Corona jailbreak for A5 devices, making it easier for the iOS 5.0.1crowd to do bits like reinstalling the tweaked software. 

In addition, the app's now capable of grabbing SHSH blobs (you know, those tiny files that grant your phone freedom) straight from Cydia, while also giving users the ability to see if their slab carries a vulnerable bootloader or if it's exploitable. RedSn0w 0.9.10b7 is out now for both Windows and Mac, and you can grab it here.

Apr 20, 2012

Google Patent Application Keeps Track of Your Moves to Automate Mobile Actions

A shimmy and a shake could be all it takes to launch apps in the future, that's if this latest patent application ever pans out. Filed back in October of 2011, the folks over at Google are looking to make accelerometers useful for more than just screen orientation. According to the claims, after a training phase where in this hypothetical program would associate specific application launches with geographic location data, your Pavlovian smartphone could then automate workflows and effectively anticipate your needs. 

Essentially, you'd have a mobile device that would know what to run wherever you were, hinging upon how you hold it. At least, that's the schematic covered in this USPTO document. Will it ever see the light of day? Hard to tell. Mountain View's just a-brimming with those 20 percent time projects. More here.

YouTube Wants More Videos to Have Background Music, Adds Audio Editor

Need something to fill in the awkward silence between your vlog's unscripted stuttering? YouTube's got your back. In yet another attempt to make your crummy videos just a little better, the streaming outfit has revamped its audio editing suite, giving users access to over 150,000 tracks and a simple sound mixer, to boot. Sure, YouTube's tracks may not be as catchy as your favorite Flaming Lips single, but at least you won't have to worry about copyright infringement.

Apr 19, 2012

Microsoft reveals the fourth version of Windows 8: Enterprise

As detailed in an official blog post, the new unique feature in Windows 8 Enterprise is Windows To Go, which is Windows on a stick. Basically it allows you to run your corporate image on a home PC or other personal devices -- the opposite of that USB disk you carry to work with portable versions of your favorite unsanctioned apps. 

Also new is the ability to automatically sideload internal Metro apps as well as enhancements to the virtual desktop client. Of course Windows 7 Enterprise features like DirectAccess, BranchCache and AppLocker are still there, but some features like BitLocker are now available in the Pro version of Windows 8 too. 

If you were thinking you might like these at home, don't forget that Enterprise is only sold with Software Assurance (Microsoft's perpetual upgrade program), but that does bring extra abilities too, like a free Virtual Desktop Access license -- you didn't think you got that for free did you -- and the optional Companion Device license that extends your VDI and Windows To Go rights to four more personal devices. 

Now, if it just included the ability to boot directly to the desktop, then most corporation's biggest concern with Windows 8 would be appeased. More here.

Electrons Can Split Into Two

Until now, electrons have been regarded as elementary particles—which means that scientists thought they had no component parts or substructure. But now, electrons have been observed decaying into two separate parts—causing physicists to rethink what they know about the particles.

The electrons split into two separate parts, each carrying a particular property of the electron. In layman's terms? The first, called a "spinon" carries its spin—which causes electrons to behave a bit like compass point. The second, called an "orbiton" carries its orbital moment—that's what keeps electrons moving around the nucleus of atoms. The result is reported in this week's issue of Nature. Jeroen van den Brink, one of the researchers, explains:
"It had been known for some time that, in particular materials, an electron can inprinciple be split, but until now the empirical evidence for this separation into independent spinons and orbitons was lacking. Now that we know where exactly to look for them, we are bound to find these new particles in many more materials."
The observations were made in the copper-oxide compound Sr2CuO3, a material peculiar because the particles in it are constrained to move only in one direction, either forwards or backwards. The electron-splitting was measured using X-rays to measure the energy and momentum of particles in the material.

Though the electrons can split, the resulting two parts can't escape the material in which they are produced. Regardless of that, the finding should transform our understanding of superconductivity—and could even eventually make high-temperature superconductivity a real possibility. More here.

Apr 18, 2012

How We Identify Single Voices in a Crowd

There are plenty of human abilities that we take for granted, but which are actually insanely complex. Like picking out a single voice buried amongst the noise of a crowded environment, a problem which has troubled scientists for decades. But now they've worked out how we do it—and it could revolutionize speech recognition technology.

The phenomenon—sometimes called the cocktail party effect—allows us to pick out the voice of somebody when all around us is noise. Now, a team of scientists from the University of California, San Francisco has performed experiments on patients undergoing brain surgery to discover how that works. The findings appear in this week's issue of Nature.

During the surgeries, a thin sheet of 256 electrodes was applied to the temporal lobe—the auditory cortex of the brain—of the participants in order to record neuronal activity. Post-surgery, patients were played audio tracks with multiple voices, and asked to identify the words uttered by particular speakers while their brain activity was monitored.

The researchers then used software to reconstruct the brain's activity and assess how it varied when the patients were listening out for different speakers. Amazingly, the neural cortex only seems to respond to a single voice at a time when we're concentrating on making it out, effectively shutting out the rest of the acoustic environment which surrounds us. In other words, selective hearing is very much real—we only hear what we want or need to.

While it's a neat insight, the researchers are also hopeful that it could be a useful tool in assessing hearing impairment and attention deficit disorder. Not just that, they also hope to develop devices for decoding the intentions and thoughts from paralyzed patients that cannot communicate.

And then there's one last, and potentially very lucrative, application: voice recognition. One of the major stumbling blocks with Siri and its brethren is their inability to cope in noisy environments. If scientists can get to the bottom of how the temporal lobe itself filters out extraneous noise, consumer technology could make a huge leap forwards. More here.

This Is How the Tupac Hologram That Wasn’t Really a Hologram Worked

We already knew that the Tupac Hologram wasn't really a hologram but actually just a modern regurgitation of the old mid-19th century trick known as "Pepper's Ghost". If you were confused on how that illusion worked, be confused no more! Here it is.

Roxanne Palmer at the International Business TImes made this infographic that clearly illustrated how the whole hologram shenanigans worked. AV Concepts, the company behind the fauxlogram, used Musion Systems Ltd.'s Musion Eyeliner setup to project a 2D animated Tupac onto an invisible (to the audience) screen to make him look 3D. More here.

Why Friday the 13th Is So Unlucky

The origins of Friggatriskaidekaphobia (the fear of Friday the 13th) are a little muddled, but it's often associated with two ideas: that thirteen is an unlucky number, and that Friday is an unlucky day.

In numerology, the number twelve is favored for its association with completeness: twelves months in a year, twelve hours on a clock, twelve Apostles, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve gods of Olympus, etc. Thirteen, then, is the perversion of this perfect completeness; twelve's a party, thirteen a crowd. Some believe that seating thirteen people at a table will result in the death of one, a superstition inspired by both The Last Supper and an old Norse myth.

But why Friday? Bad end-of-week vibes can be traced back to as early as the 14th century, in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Stock market crashes and other disasters, since the 1800s, have been associated with Black Friday, and many believe it is inauspicious to begin projects, embark on journeys, or release products on––you guessed it!––Friday.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia affects an estimated 17-21 million people in the US, of which many are to scared to travel on planes, go to work, or even get out of bed. Either that, or it's just as good an excuse as any to play hooky.

Apr 17, 2012

Oakley Is Making Its Own Google Glasses

As dorky as you'll look wearing Google Glasses, the idea of augmented reality specs is dripping with potential awesomeness (and guaranteed hilarity). So it's not a surprise that Oakley, sunglass king, is working on its own Google Glasses competitor. Maybe they won't be as ugly as Google's?

If you're wearing glasses, it's a good idea to get the lenses right, right? This could work! Oakley told Bloomberg:
As an organization, we've been chasing this beast since 1997. Ultimately, everything happens through your eyes, and the closer we can bring it to your eyes, the quicker the consumer is going to adopt the platform.
The beast being Oakley's "heads-up" technology which puts smartphone features into glasses. According to Bloomberg, the glasses will function on its own while also working with a smartphone. The whole system might be controlled with Siri-like voice commands and is currently targeted for athletes first and branch out later. More here.

Prize Winning LED Lightbulb to Arrive Just in Time for Earth Day

Philips, the Netherlands-based lightbulb manufacturer who won a 2007 congressional contest to create an energy-saving replacement for the incandescent 60-watt bulb, plans to start selling their LED bulb (the "L bulb") in stores just in time for Earth Day, this Sunday.

It will retail for $60 at stores like Home Depot, with an instant $10 rebate to consumers, bringing the cost down to $50 for 30,000 hours of LED light. If used for four hours per day, that works out to 20 years of light! More here.

Apr 16, 2012

Magnetic Super-Paper Can Shrug Off Water and Bacteria

Without changing its physical or functional properties, researchers at Italy's Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia have created the superhero of papers that's waterproof, antibacterial, and magnetic. Which will completely revolutionize how your kids can stick their artwork to the fridge.

The secret lies with a special mixture of individual molecules, or monomers, in paper fiber and the future of seemingly all technologies—nanoparticles. The resulting compound, known as a polymetric matrix, is actually made with different types of nanoparticles, and when applied to regular paper it completely covers the fibers on the microscopic level, creating a protective shell.

When iron oxide nanoparticles are added to the mix, the resulting paper has magnetic properties. And when silver nanoparticles are added, the paper fights off bacteria and other microscopic organisms. The paper can even be turned fluorescent using the right particles, and is completely waterproof making it ideal for high security applications like bank notes, or for printing long-lasting historical documents. More here.

Samsung To Unveil Galaxy S III on May 3rd

Finally, after much rumour and speculation, a "new Samsung Galaxy" is officially coming. It'll be showing its presumably pretty face on the 3rd of May in London at a "Samsung Mobile Unpacked" event—if that doesn't scream Galaxy S III I don't know what does.

The event invite is a bit vague, of course; there's no mention of the Galaxy S III specifically, just a "come and meet the next Galaxy" strap line. There aren't many other Galaxy models Samsung would use an evening event in London to launch, apart from a flagship device.

If it's launching on May 3rd, we could expect it to hit the shops pretty soon after. It looks like those rumours of a late April launch weren't all that far off after all. More here.

Apr 15, 2012

Where Were You Hundreds Of Birthdays and Christmases Ago Tape Scissors?

It's obvious why these brilliant scissors with a built-in tape dispenser aren't available in every office supply store in the country. They want you to have to buy both products separately—increasing the store's profits while you sit at home fumbling your way through another botched attempt at wrapping gifts.

It's a bigger crime against consumers than Apple's alleged e-book price fixing. So just go buy a pair for $10 and be thankful the next time you need to wrap a present. And remember, sometimes you have to lose the occasional battle to win the war. More here.

Tiny Pies Are the Greatest Thing To Ever Be Jammed On a Stick

Candy apples? Your days are numbered. There's a new candidate for greatest treat-on-a-stick that doesn't try to sneak fresh fruit in with our calorie-laden snacks—the Babycakes Pie Pop maker.

You might want to sit a spell while your mind grapples what this machine is capable of, and what it can bring to your life. Namely, miniature pies you can eat off a stick. No plates, no forks, no napkins needed. In four minutes you can bake up six adorably miniature pies filled with whatever you want. Apples, cherries, or what the heck, even other smaller pies. It's obviously the best $25 investment you'll ever make. More here.

Take Notes While Saving Your iPhone’s Battery With This Nostalgic Case

Before touchscreens and tablets came along, Magna Doodle was the easiest way for a kid to draw without a pencil and paper. Which is why somewhere deep down we have a soft spot for what is otherwise a ridiculous iPhone case.

Its creators aren't trying to pull a fast one either. They realize the practical applications of this case are non-existant, and have dubbed it the iFoolish with hopes there's enough '80s nostalgia still in the world to bolster sales. And with a price tag of just $25 and an adorable mini magnetic stylus included. More here.

Apr 14, 2012

Heavily Armored iPhone Case Can Stop A .50 Caliber Round

It might add almost five pounds to the weight of your phone, but this armored iPhone case with one-inch of thick steel plating on the back is promised to stop a .50 caliber round. So what you're really paying $650 for is peace of mind.

Unfortunately you'll want to make sure any snipers are targeting the back of your phone when it's entombed in this case, because the front leaves your display exposed and is only protected by a thin aluminum facade. And even though the back is highly protected, there's still a hole bored out for the camera lens which means a particularly talented marksman could still take out your iPhone with a well placed shot. More here.

Thunderbolt Might Transfer to Windows by May

Ultra-fast, Apple-only Thunderbolt technology is about to get a little less exclusive. According to CNet reports, LaCie plans to unveil PC compatibility for the10gb/s Thunderbolt during the upcoming NAB 2012 trade show.

Reportedly, LaCie will debut PC-compatible versions of the Little Big Disk SSD and the 2big Thunderbolt mass storage devices. LaCie has recently helped to create the Thunderbolt Standard, which governs devices' interactions with the cables, which "can transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds," according to Intel. Intel has reportedly already begun shipping its latest iteration of Thunderbolt controllers and is planning to roll out Cactus Ridge, a Windows-compatible Thunderbolt chip, when Ivy Bridge debuts in two weeks. More here and here.

Apr 13, 2012

Future Internets Will Be Powered by Quantum Particles

Like quantum physics? What about quantum computers? Or quantum computers in a diamond? Then you should know that researchers at the Max Planck Institute have appropriately devised a way to create a quantum network in which a photon is exchanged between two atoms. Future!

According to Time, the two atoms transmit the photon over a 60 meter fiber optic cable and is said to be the first to send, receive and store information without failure. More here.
Professor Ignacio Cirac, a director at MPQ, proposed the framework for the experiment. In his team's quantum network, individual rubidium atoms were lodged between two highly reflective mirrors placed less than a millimeter apart - a setup referred to as an "optical cavity." The team then fired a laser at one of the atoms, calibrated so as not to disturb it and instead cause it to emit a photon, which then traversed the 60-meter fiberoptic cable to be absorbed by the second atom, transferring the first atom's quantum information.

Solar Panel-In-a-Tube Generates Power and Hot Water At the Same Time

Solar photovoltaic cells and solar thermal collectors both capture the sun's rays. The first one turns the light into electricity, while the other turns it into hot water for heating. They usually battle for rooftop real estate, but Naked Energy has found a way to merge them both into a single solar solution.

The British company's Virtu tubes gain efficiency by operating in tandem—it's teamwork, just like you learned as a kid. Inside each vacuum-sealed tube is a power-producing photovoltaic wafer. Sunlight hitting the wafer generates extra heat, which then transfers to the tube's solar thermal collector using the company's patented thermosyphon technology.

The transfer keeps the photovoltaic cells close to their optimal operating temperature, with the shared benefit of a hot water supply that can be used to help heat a building on the cheap. In other words, the hybrid design makes a Virtu up to 46 percent more efficient at turning sunlight into energy than traditional solar panels.

At the moment, Naked Energy is still refining and improving the product's design. Developers are working with professors at the Imperial College in London to further increase their efficiency. The company intends to create a commercially available product once it's happy with the solar cell's performance. More here.

Apr 12, 2012

Don’t Forget To Pack This Highly-Detailed Moon Globe For Your Next Lunar Vacation

Space tourism is just getting under way, but before we know it spending a weekend on the moon will be commonplace. (If you have a kabillion dollars.) So in addition to warm socks, you'll want to make sure you pack Sky & Telescope's new detailed Moon Globe if you're planning to explore.

Previous moon globes have used airbrushed artistic renderings of the moon's surface, which aren't incredibly accurate. But Sky & Telescope used over 15,000 images snapped by Nasa's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter when creating the imagery for its new $100 globe.

Thanks to over 850 labels, you can also use the globe to easily find all the neat touristy locales, including craters, valleys, and even the Apollo landing sites. And remember, besides the globe you'll also want to pack your Visa card, because the moon doesn't take American Express. More here.

Lumia 900 Costs More to Build Than the iPhone 4S

The Lumia 900 is a hell of a phone. Plus, it's cheap: just $100 regularly, and temporarily FREE while Nokia works out some software issues. But it's not for lack of quality parts: iSuppli crunched the numbers and determined it costs $217 to build and manufacture. That's more than the iPhone.

For comparison's sake, the iPhone 4S's 16GB model costs an estimated $188 to build and retails for $200. The Lumia's component prices are about the same, but strangely, it shoots ahead with an expensive screen compared to the iPhone. The Lumia's screen is larger physically, but has a much lower pixel density than the iPhone's retina display.

Nokia—and its partner in crime Microsoft—desperately wants to get a foothold with the Lumia line of Windows Phones. That's why the Lumia 710 was just $50 on T-Mobile, and why the regular price for the 900 is just $100. Nokia's willing to subsidize hardware to gain market share. If this works, it'll be absolutely worth it. If not, well, that's a mighty big bill Nokia just stuck itself with. More here.

Apr 11, 2012

Google Chrome 19 Beta Brings Live Tab Synching to The Fold

You know the score. You've stepped away from your desktop, and then you think to yourself, "Damn. If only I could remember that website I'd just visited." Now, users of Google Chrome's latest beta will no longer have that worry. The latest incarnation of Google's web browser gives users immediate access to all of their tabs, across all devices, which can be found within the new tab window. 

Here, users will discover an "Other devices" menu that gives quick and easy access to all those sites you just visited -- yet for the life of you, can't seem to remember. According to Google, beta users will see this feature gradually roll out over the coming week. More here.

Ridiculous Sunglasses: Wear the U.S.A. on Your Face

In the shape of the contiguous United States, these shades by Jeremy Scott are perfect for the next haute couture stock car race you attend. And I mean, who needs two hundred bones for rent? Or food. Or utilities. Or just basic specs that sufficiently protect your eyes from the sun.

These frames, though? They cover a grand total of one and a half of your eyes, with the Great Lakes region really messing with UV protection on the left side. They also work well if you're trying to lose weight and/or are suffering from a cold, putting a guard over your entire nose and most of your mouth. More here.

Apr 10, 2012

A Coat Rack so Attractive, You Might Not Want to Hang a Coat on It at all

Having somewhere to hang a jacket when you walk in your front door is nice, but the problem with having a proper coat rack is that you end up with a critical mass of outerwear occupying your entryway. A very simple—but very nice-looking—piece like Florian Saul's Servus rack might just do the trick.

Consisting of a single loop of wood and a leather bag, the rack leans up against a wall, or as Minimalissimo explains, can be combined with a second Servus rack. A detachable leather bag, which can be used for scarves, gloves or anything else you so desire, adds a bit of substance, contrast and class to the frame. More here.

Why Woodpeckers Don’t Get Brain Damage From Pecking All Day

If a human tried chopping wood with his head, he'd lose at least one eye and sustain permanent brain damage. But woodpeckers do it all the live long day and sustain zero headular damage. How do they do it?

Theories have included: super powerful muscles, a special injury-preventing drilling technique, or a protective placement of the brain inside the skull. But no one has systematically analyzed the mechanics of a woodpecker's skull in as much detail as Fan Yubo and his team at the Key Laboratory for Biomechanics and Mechanobiology at Beihang University in China, who published their work today in Science China Press.

They spent three years studying the mechanical properties, microstructure and composition of the cranial bone and beak of the woodpecker, and compared it to that of the lark. They found that woodpeckers have developed their own amazing nanofabrication and self assembly capabilities in their cranial bone structure over millions of years of evolution.

The strength of the two types of birds' beaks is actually similar. But the woodpecker's cranial bone is much stronger than the lark's, the researchers found. That's thanks to having more "plate-like spongy bone" in its cranium, which makes it resistant to deformation. Specifically, it has a larger volume of structures called trabeculae, which are tiny spaces in the bone that form a mesh filled with bone marrow. The woodpecker's trabeculae are also spaced very close together, which helps diffuse impact. In the image, the woodpecker cranium bone is A; the lark's is B. C is the woodpecker's beak, D is the lark's.

The researchers hope their work might inspire new protective headgear for humans. More here.

Apr 9, 2012

How to Export Your Instagram Photos Before Facebook Ruins Everything

So Facebook's buying Instagram. That might not be such a bad thing, but if you're one of those who can't stand any Facebook in her Instagram Cheerios, there's a solution.Instaport.Me will let you export all your photos right now, to wherever you want.

The service is incredibly easy: All you do is go to the site, log into your Instagram account, and authorize the app. Then you can customize which photos to export: all, the last X-number, between two dates, photos others liked, and by #tag. That's it. Click export and your photos are downloaded in .zip format here it is.

War On Your Diet With a Chocolate Grenade

Easter is one of those magical days in the year when diets don't exist. So today, in addition to a mountain of other sweet confections, you can enjoy Raphael Volkmer's chocolate 'Calories Bomb' grenade that explodes with even more delicious shrapnel.

Just think of it as an uneasy truce with your diet, although when you step on the scale you might discover that one side's actually gained quite a bit of ground, more here.

Apr 8, 2012

Coffee Table With Built-In Saucers Means No More Stressing Over Coasters

With Brandon Gore's Orson Coffee Table you don't have to worry about guests not using a coaster for their drinks. That's because it's got a row of saucers built-in providing plenty of safe spots to place a beverage.

And even if a guest failed to use one of the saucers it's no big deal. Instead of being made of a beautifully-finished wood that's prone to rings and stains, the table's actually cast from a composite concrete covered with a reactive sealer that will shrug off any liquids. And worse comes to worse, a small stain is nothing a rented industrial grinder couldn't deal with. More here.

Apr 7, 2012

Google co-founder Sergey Brin Spotted Wearing Project Glass Prototype IRL

Wondering what it might be like to sport Google's Project Glass augmented reality HUD in your daily life? It would appear company co-founder Sergey Brin already knows, as he was spotted by tech pundits Robert Scoble and Thomas Hawk rocking a prototype at a Dining in the Dark charity event for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Scoble has already posted a couple of pictures with Brin on Google+, mentioning more photos would be forthcoming from Hawk after the event concluded and that he'd heard other people, including Google exec Vic Gundotra, have the devices already.

For now he mentions the glasses appeared to be "self contained" and that he could see a blueish light flashing on Brin's eyes. More here.


Oh say what I see by the darks light at night,
A crime of pure evil is at hand in my sight!
With a punch and a kick I patriotically fight,
As the star spangled banner doth wave in the night.
For in my heart I will always be true;
Always and forever for the red white and blue.

This Camping Spork Will Come To the Rescue In Chopstick-Only Restaurants

The only thing more embarrassing than not knowing how to use a set of chopsticks is your secret being found out in a restaurant that doesn't provide an alternative. Which is where this emergency Kung Foon spork will be worth its weight in titanium.

It's primarily designed for camping, serving as your typical fork/spoon combo for dining out of a pouch. But its specially-engineered handle includes slots allowing you to insert a set of chopsticks, turning it into an elongated utensil for dining emergencies in a hoity-toity establishment. It's definitely worth the $10 for the stainless steel version, but I'd opt for the lighter and stronger $17 titanium model instead, more here.

Finally, A Multitool Designed to Help You Blow Stuff Up

Gerber's newest pocket toolbox has everything you'd expect from a pocket full of do-it-all—plus a little extra firepower, you know, just in case you need to blow a pass through a mountain or go to war with a gopher.

Beyond the standard knife, screwdriver, ruler, and file assortment, this stealthy Multiplier packsa spike for punching holes in C4 explosives, and the pliers are outfitted with a blasting cap crimp. And it's swathed in a matte-black reflect light. How convenient!

Chances are if you're up to all of this explosives setting, you are in the military and you don't want anyone to know what you're up to so the stainless steel tool comes in a non-reflective black finish. The Gerber Multi-Plier 600 DET is "coming soon" for an unspecified price. More here.

AT&T to Begin Unlocking off-Contract iPhones This Sunday, April 8th

On Easter,  customers with iPhones -- those off-contract with accounts in good standing -- will be able to request a carrier unlock for their device. Once freed, any micro-SIM can be used -- provided its carrier's frequencies are supported -- by the smartphone. An AT&T spokesperson was able to confirm that "a policy change concerning iPhones" would indeed be rolled-out on Sunday, but declined to elaborate further. That sound you hear? International Love, being quietly spun from the corner office of Ralph de la Vega.

Here's AT&T's official statement on the matter:
Beginning Sunday, April 8, we will offer qualifying customers the ability to unlock their AT&T iPhones. The only requirements are that a customer's account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee.

Apr 6, 2012

Now You Can Turn Yourself Into a Batman Action Figure

Most of our childhoods were spent alternatingly dressing up like superheroes and playing with action figures in their likeness. Now you can combine the two by actually getting your own head on the body of your favorite superhero, like Batman or Superman, on one of these custom action figures.

All you've got to do is send Personalised Superhero Action Figures two photos of yourself—one portrait and one profile—and the company will use them to make your noggin into an action figure. The head is shipped to you along with an actual action figure of your superhero of choice and tools to attach it, either permanently, or temporarily if you want to switch it out onto other bodies more here.

Wooden Floppy Disk Coasters Are Nostalgic Coffee Table Savers

Floppy disks might not be good for storing your data anymore, but they're still good for protecting your coffee table from pesky rings left by a sweaty can of beer.

These wooden floppy disk coasters are the perfect way to honor the memory of this now-obsolete piece of tech while you enjoy a cold beverage. And your living room furniture will remain unscathed!

Formed from birch wood, laser-engraved with all the vintage details, and covered with a matte finish, a set of four coasters will set you back $37, plus shipping. That price also includes you personalizing them with whatever message you choose.

You probably haven't laid eyes on a floppy disk in ages, and you definitely haven't used one for a long, long time. Now you've either moved all your data to the cloud or you're transporting documents on a thumb drive. But these cool coasters are a fun reminder of the way things used to be. And they're functional, too! More here.

Apr 5, 2012

New Apple Patent Hints at Wireless Charging for the iPhone and iPad

A new Apple patent discovered by AppleInsider shows plans for new product packaging and that's... pretty boring. What isinteresting about the new packaging though is that it may hint at future where iPhones and iPads would charge wirelessly.

The new packaging patent for the iPhone and iPad shows "unobtrusive packaging" which means the package would just show the actual product itself, not a picture. This sort of "unobtrusive packaging" isn't new of course (heck Apple uses it for the Magic Mouse) but they typically don't allow for charging to take place. In the patent, Apple shows an option of using an RF power transmitter where there's a base station that transmit power to the receivers (which would be the packaging itself) and charges everything back up. That means these iPhones and iPads could potentially have a home where they could be charged wirelessly.

Of course with patents being patents and iPhones and iPads selling as they do, who knows how useful this method of wireless charging inside the packaging will be. One thing for sure: it sure would be nice to charge your iPhone without any wires. More here.

These Nanostars Kill Cancer Without Ever Penetrating a Cell

Everyone can't stop talking about how nanotechnology is the future of healthcare, but so far we've not seen many useful applications. Finally, here's one: these nano-scale gold stars can kill cancer cells deadwithout ever entering them.

Well, these little bad boys have between five and ten points, and come coated in drug molecules which are attracted to a protein that all cancer cells produce in unusual quantities. That means that the points attach to the wall of cancerous cells. When blasted with light, those tiny points of contact offer up a massive concentration of the drug which pours into the cell and kills it, explain the researchers in ACS Nano. As Teri W. Odom, one of the scientists, explains to PhysOrg:
"Our drug-loaded gold nanostars are tiny hitchhikers. They are attracted to a protein on the cancer cell's surface that conveniently shuttles the nanostars to the cell's nucleus. Then, on the nucleus' doorstep, the nanostars release the drug, which continues into the nucleus to do its work."
Because the star never has to pass through the surface of a cell, it means that their size is unimportant—making their manufacture simpler and keeping costs down. The only snag is that, because they need to be triggered by light, the researchers envision them only being used in tumors close to the surface of the human body. Still, it's proof that nanotech can help save lives. More here.

Apr 4, 2012

Ultra Tiny Earbuds Let You Hear More Than Just Your Music

Earbud style headphones let you enjoy your music without the distraction of what's going on around you. But for safety's sake sometimes hearing distractions, like a honking horn, isn't a bad thing. So the ear Heros use a compact design that doesn't completely block your ears.

Each tiny speaker sits inside your ear canal, using a small wire extending into your outer ear to keep them in place. And because they're not crammed in there like a cork, other sounds can still be heard. The earHeros supposedly sound as good as a regular pair of earbuds, but also allow you to still hear conversations when they're being worn, or even talk on a phone.

They're particularly ideal for those who like to ride a bike and enjoy their music without being hit by a car. But the $150 earHero's subtle design means you can probably also get away with wearing them during boring college lectures, or long meetings with your boss about how you're always distracted. More here.

The Oldest Embryos Ever Discovered Show That Some Prehistoric Reptiles Were Viviparous

This is the oldest embryo ever discovered on Earth, found in Uruguay and Brazil. It is a baby mesosaur, a group of small aquatic reptiles from the early Permian. According to the researchers, it's the earliest known case of viviparity.

The study—published in the journal Historic Biology by Graciela PiƱeiroa, Jorge Ferigolob, Melitta Meneghelc and Michel Laurind, from France's National Center for Research—is very important. Until now, scientists didn't have such an early record of viviparity, which is key to understand the evolution of vertebrates in our planet.

The unborn baby fossil—partially articulated and well-preserved—was discovered inside their mother and it had no recognizable eggshell. This discovery demonstrates that, instead of laying eggs in which the animals develop from the embryo stage, the embryo actually grew up inside the body of the mesosaur mother, eventually leading to live birth.

Mesosaurus were small alligator-like creatures that could go as long as 6.6 feet (2 metres) in length and probably fed on crustaceans. They lived in the early Permian period, the last of the Paleozoic Era, 299 to 270 million years ago. More here.

Apr 3, 2012

Instagram for Android

In what may be the most anticipated iOS-only app to cross platforms and come over to Andriod, Instagram is finally here for Android devices. And it's (nearly) every bit as good as the original.

Android becomes the first platform other than iOS supported by Instagram, the highly popular social network and photo sharing service that has some 25 million users, until now all on iPhones, iPods and iPads. The company had intentionally been methodical and, well, slow to release an app on additional platforms. But Instagram announced the new version in a blog post earlier today. And it's available to download right now.

The app will work with Android devices running versions 2.2 and higher that support OpenGL ES 2. It seems to have rough feature parity with the iOS versions (including sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Foursquare, with Flickr on the way), the familiar truckloads of filters, and Lux—a feature that automatically fixes your photo processing.

You can download it right now here.

There’s Absolutely No Shame In Wearing Pants With a Built-in Picnic Table

By adding a triangular patch of fabric to the crotch and a strategically oriented pocket on the side, the geniuses at Aquacalda have created these Pic Nic Pants—the perfect jeans for a complete dining experience wherever you choose to plop down.

When standing, the fabric is loose enough so you can still walk around. When sitting cross-legged, the gusset stretches taut, providing a stable place to put a plate full of food. And that side pocket is the perfect spot to hold a drink or cutlery.

Now if they could only integrate a Hibachi grill into the cuffs and a condiment dispenser in the fly. More here.

Apr 2, 2012

Microsoft Announces Special Edition Chrome Series Xbox 360 Controllers

There's no console to match, but Xbox 360 owners who prefer things a little shinier than your run-of-the-mill controller will soon have a trio of new options to consider courtesy of Microsoft. It's just announced three new Chrome Series special edition controllers that will be available in "mid-May" for $54.99 apiece. Those come in your choice of blue, red or silver, and each feature the so-called "transforming" D-pad along with everything else you'd expect from a wireless Xbox 360 controller.

Ashton Kutcher to Play Steve Jobs in Upcoming Movie

Since Steve Jobs' death, there's been some speculation as to who might play him in the inevitable string of biopics. Here's the first:according to Variety, Ashton Kutcher is set to play the role of Jobs in a new indie movie.

Over the weekend, Jeff Sneider wrote for Variety that Kutcher will appear in an indie flick directed by Joshua Michael Stern from a script by Matt Whiteley. Apparently, the movie already has funding and filming will commence in May. More here.

Apr 1, 2012

Lightweight Carbon Fiber Axe Is More Of an Artistic Masterpiece Than a Tool

Who says artists can only use paints and canvas, or musical instruments, to craft a masterpiece? The folks at Blue Ant Studio deserve a spot in the Louvre for its lightweight but strong Carbo Axe made from titanium and carbon fiber.

The axe was designed with help and input from the military's EOD—or explosive ordnance disposal—community and features a hardened titanium core and a carbide-tungsten cutting edge sandwiched between layers of carbon fiber. The rest of the axe, including the handle and fastening hardware, is a mix of carbon fiber and titanium as well, resulting in an incredibly light tool that's perfect for camping adventures when you have to carry all your gear. Or for just framing and mounting over a fireplace. More here.

Where Better To Store Your Earbuds Than On a Pair Of Ears?

Tired of spending ten minutes unraveling your headphones like they're a MENSA puzzle when you take them out of your pocket? Then you need a cable wrap, and what's more apropos for storing a set of earbuds than a disembodied set of ears?

They're made from soft silicone so you can actually stick the 'bud' end of your headphones inside each ear, and then wrap the remaining cable around the bridge that connects them ensuring they'll be untangled the next time you need them. More here.