Jul 23, 2012

iPhone 5 Will Come With a 19-pin Connector

The smaller dock connector on the next iPhone has been in the rumors for quite some time. Recent reports seem to all confirm that the iPhone 5 will use a nanoSIM instead of a microSIM and now Reuters is chiming in on the connector.

Instead of the 30-pin connector used since the very beginning on the iPhone (and other Apple hardware, even the iPad), Reuters reports that the next Apple smartphone will come equipped with a 19-pin dock connector in order “to make room for the earphone moving to the bottom”. Of course this is probably not the main reason why because the iPod touch has both the big connector and the 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom (though it doesn’t sport the huge microphone grill).

Aside from the design refresh this will also mean that the huge number of accessories out there will no longer work with the new phone. You’ll have to get a new one, which will be something accessory manufacturers will love. More here.

LG's 27-inch V720 all-in-one PCs pop up on Flickr, IPS and Optional Ivy Bridge

LG has unveiled the V720, a new series of all-in-one PCs, featuring 27-inch IPS HD panels and an Intel Ivy Bridge processor option. The line consists of a high-end model with Intel's 3rd generation Core i5 and an IPS 1,920 x 1,080 3D panel, and a lesser model with a 2nd generation Core i3 and the same display sans 3D. Other specs include 750GB SATA3 hybrid or standard drives, up to 8GB DDR3 RAM, USB 3.0 and NVIDA's GT640M 1GB graphics.

Photos show a white and silver looker with well concealed computer guts, but don't count on being able to pick up one of the minimalist units in the US -- LG normally keeps its PC offerings exclusively in Asia. More here.

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Jul 22, 2012

Google’s Stopped Selling 16GB Nexus 7 Tablets Because They’re Too PopularGoogle’s Stopped Selling 16GB Nexus 7 Tablets Because They’re Too Popular

Google's Nexus 7 tablet is so popular that sales had to be suspended to try to catch up with demand. Units that were ordered up until last week will be delivered on time.

The shortage comes because Google was taken totally off guard by how popular the 16GB model would be. It had expected the $200 8GB model to be the big seller. That hasn't happened, though. Instead, the $250 16GB model has been a massive, surprising success.

This will probably be a minor setback at worst for Google and the Nexus 7. But hopefully it's also a wakeup call for Google and its competitors that the battle to catch the iPad isn't just a race to the bottom. More here.

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Did the Galaxy Note II's Impressive Benchmarks Briefly get Leaked?

Well, Samsung has something up its sleeve. Whether or not we're looking at a new Note remains to be seen, but it's safe to assume Sammy will update its phablet line as it approaches its first birthday. So it's no wonder people's suspicions were piqued when a mysterious device made a brief appearance at with the model number GT-N7100. 

The original Note was N7000, so obviously many are guessing this unnamed Ice Cream Sandwich device is its successor. Whatever it turns out to be, it's got a 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos 4412 processor with Mali-400 graphics -- the same you'll find inside the Galaxy S III. The one spec that does leave a bit of doubt however is the resolution, which is listed at juts 1280x720, instead of the 1280x800 of the original. In the benchmarks it manages to eke out scores slightly higher than the GSIII, which makes sense thanks to its higher clocked CPU. Now it's just time to sit back and play the waiting game. More here.

Nexus 7 Hooks up With External USB Storage, Floppy Drive for Retro-Gaming

There's only so much kit you can cram into a sub-$200 tablet without pushing past the price ceiling. And for Google's Jelly Bean-blessed Nexus 7, corners were definitely cut, leaving users without a handy microSD slot for expansion and rear-facing camera. But where there's a will, there's the XDA and its community of developers to remedy the situation. 

As you can glimpse from the photo above, an enterprising forum member by the handle of c0m47053 devised an interesting workaround for the slate's lack of expandable storage and then some. Using the StickMount app available on the Play store, which allows users to mount/dismount mass storage devices, he was able to connect the ASUS-made tab to a USB hub and hook it up to a keyboard, mouse and, most amusingly of all, a floppy drive -- to playUltima on DOSbox, of course. It goes without saying that a feat of this kind requires root access, but thankfully that's what Mountain View made the Nexuses for. More here.
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Jul 21, 2012

Windows 8 Store Will Offer Free Seven Day Trials for Paid Apps

Microsoft has released the details on how they plan to run the apps released through the new App Store coming with Windows 8.

First and foremost, all paid apps will cost at least $1.49 as opposed to the $0.99 other platforms allow. And most importantly for consumers, Microsoft plans to implement a 7-day "try before you buy" setup with apps that will let you opt-out of the full purchase if you don't like it.

Microsoft seems to also want to provide app developers with an incentive to churn out apps for its platform. Although they are sticking with the same 30% royalty cut that Apple takes, Microsoft's new store will only take 20% once your app earns $25,000 in sales. More here.

Jul 20, 2012

Microsoft Announces Record Q4, $18.06 Billion in Revenue

The company reported a record fourth quarter revenue of $18.06 billion, but did suffer a net loss over the last three months of $492 million. While the net loss was in stark contrast the net profit of $5.87 billion from the same time last year, Microsoft is still optimistic heading towards the launch of Windows 8 and its sibling mobile platform. 

And who can blame them, the new OS is sure to drive plenty of consumers to their local Best Buy with fists full of cash. And, it's easy to paint a rosy picture as long as revenues continue to grow, as they did by roughly $700 million compared to Q4 2011, and roughly $600 million sequentially. It's also important to realize that that loss is due to a one-time "goodwill impairment charge" associated with the collapsed aQuantive deal that set Redmond back $6.2 billion.

A good chunk of the revenue increase is thanks to the company's Business and Server divisions, which saw growths of seven and 13 percent, respectively. Income from the Entertainment and Devices division, which makes up a much smaller chunk of revenue over all at just $1.78 billion, also grew dramatically year-over-year, largely because of the inclusion of Skype.

Alongside Q4's results, Microsoft also released its year-end financials and, while that $6.2 billion lump drove profits down, revenues were up by $3.76 billion from 2011. Even with the aQuantive related hit, Redmond still managed to post a net income of $16.98 billion for the year. More here.
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Microsoft Sets Windows 8 Release Date

We’ve known for a while now that Microsoft will release Windows 8 sometime this fall, but so far the company had yet to provide a hard date for the platform’s retail launch. With just over three months to go, Microsoft has now revealed October 26 as when Windows 8 will finally arrive.

Microsoft’s announcement of its Surface tablets last month caught us all a bit by surprise. Sure, some sort of tablet news was rumored, but the quality of the products Microsoft ended up revealing, along with that very compelling keyboard cover, were really an unexpected slam dunk. Today’s revelation of the Windows 8 retail launch doesn’t mean we’ll be seeing Surface arrive at the same time, but you can bet the first of those tablets will be hot on its tail.

That’s the case for the Windows RT version of Surface, at least. Don’t forget that there’s also a more full-featured Windows 8 Pro version, with an Intel processor and specs more in-line with those of a typical laptop. Last we heard, that model could be landing another three months after the RT Surface debuts, meaning we’re looking at some time around late January or early February of next year. More here.

Who Will Buy an Ubuntu Ultrabook?

Dell has announced that it's planning to bring Ubuntu to the masses. In the fall of 2012, Dell's XPS 13 will be available with an install of Ubuntu direct from the company. But who's going to buy one?

The concern with Dell's move is that, by and large, people who want an ultrabook probably don't overlap much in the Venn diagram of computing with those who use Ubuntu. But then, maybe it's wrong.
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Jul 19, 2012

Scientists Develop Nanoparticle Which Completely Destroys Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C now kills more Americans than HIV and, while there's increasing progress towards finding a reliable vaccine, results can't come soon enough. Now, researchers have developed a nanoparticle that effectively eradicates hepatitis C 100 percent of the time.

Researchers from the University of Florida have developed what they call a "nanozyme". Based around gold nanoparticles, these things have their surface coated with two biological agents. One is an enzyme that attacks and kills the mRNA which allows hep C to replicate, while the other is a short string of DNA which identities the disease and sends the enzyme off to kill it.

While current hep C treatments attack the same replication process, they only work on about 50 percent of patients treated. In lab-based tests, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Univeristy of Florida researchers showed that their approach was 100 percent effective in both cell cultures and mice. They observed no side effects in the mouse models, either.

While it's great news, such a treatment is some way off becoming available to patients any time soon. All targeted drugs have to be extremely carefully tested, as there's always a risk that they could also end up targeting healthy parts of the body by accident. Given the current problems posed by hepatitis C, though, that testing can't happen soon enough. More here.

The Only Tool You’ll Ever Need

Do you ever find yourself looking for a certain tool, but you can't find it? Over the course of a year, there are dozens of things you could use Colghan's 12-in-1 Scissors for.

Whether it's camping or yard work or simply cracking a bottle of beer, they're the kind of thing that's worth having on hand. Bike repairs? It's a screwdriver. Eating a walnut? Mending the fence? It's a wirecutter. And for only $8, you might as well stash one in the house and one in the car and one in your stealth escape backpack (in the event of nuclear holocaust or zombie apocalypse). More here.

Does Your Brain Burn More Calories When You Think Hard?

Taking the SAT, crunching through a tough problem at work, or even concentrating while driving in difficult conditions can leave you feeling physically exhausted. But does thinking really hard burn more calories, or does the exhaustion come from somewhere else?

Ferris Jabr from Scientific American wondered just that, and ended up writing a really interesting essay about the phenomenon. Firstly, he points out, there's no denying that the brain works hard:
Although the average adult human brain weighs about 1.4 kilograms, only 2 percent of total body weight, it demands 20 percent of our resting metabolic rate (RMR)-the total amount of energy our bodies expend in one very lazy day of no activity. RMR varies from person to person depending on age, gender, size and health. If we assume an average resting metabolic rate of 1,300 calories, then the brain consumes 260 of those calories just to keep things in order. That's 10.8 calories every hour or 0.18 calories each minute.
But the tough question is, how much does that change when you think really hard? Actually, that's not easy to answer and—despite many experiments involving all manner of cognitive tests, biological samples and nutrition experiments—Jabr finds there's no firm conclusion. What does become apparent, though, is that increases in energy consumption are probably far less important than our attitude towards the mental workout:
Completing a complex crossword or sudoku puzzle on a Sunday morning does not usually ruin one's ability to focus for the rest of the day-in fact, some claim it sharpens their mental state. In short, people routinely enjoy intellectually invigorating activities without suffering mental exhaustion.
Such fatigue seems much more likely to follow sustained mental effort that we do not seek for pleasure-such as the obligatory SAT-especially when we expect that the ordeal will drain our brains. If we think an exam or puzzle will be difficult, it often will be. Studies have shown that something similar happens when people exercise and play sports: a large component of physical exhaustion is in our heads.
So, while thinking hard may leave you exhausted and eating might help you feel better, it's not because you're replacing lost calories: in actual fact, you're likely to be comfort eating to make yourself feel happier. More here.

Jul 18, 2012

Bulletproof iPad Case Still Won’t Stop the Tablet’s Biggest Threat: Fingerprints

If you find yourself living in a wartorn part of the world—dodging gunfire and errant shrapnel all hours of the day—a bulletproof iPad case might not seem like overkill. But for the majority of iPad users, this resilient case does nothing to protect the tablet from more immediate and pressing daily threats.

Sure, a bullet would instantly put the device out of commission, but a spilled can of soda can be just as deadly. And we won't even go into the horrors of having a friend leave greasy fingerprint streaks all over its pristine display. So while VestGuard UK is certainly to be lauded for applying its expertise in making bulletproof vests to create a case that can shrug off a shot from a 9mm handgun, it might not be as popular a seller as they hope. Particularly since it will probably come with a price tag fit for a Department of Defense budget. More here.

Google Brings Wallet Support To Nexus 7

Chances are, even if you’ve been a longtime smartphone user, you’ve yet to make a wireless payment over NFC. Even with Google Wallet being on the scene for as long as it has, limited support from carriers has largely kept the feature away from Android users.

Now sure, a seven-inch tablet doesn’t make for the most convenient device with which to make payments on-the-go, but if you’re already lugging it around in a bag, you might be interested in giving Wallet a try now. It may not save you any time compared to pulling out your credit card, but the integration with Google Offers might end up finding you a deal or two, and there’s always the convenience of having multiple payment and loyalty cards digitally stored in one device. For now at least, it’s only available for users in the US. More here.

Jul 17, 2012

Apple’s Next iPhone Could Be Thinner Due To New Screen Technology, Will Reportedly Use nanoSIM

In case you were missing your daily dose of iPhone 5 rumors — or whatever the name of the next Apple smartphone will be — the Wall Street Journal chimes in, quoting “people familiar with the matter”, claiming that the phone could be thinner.

This can be mainly due to the fact that Apple will allegedly go with a new type of display for its next phone, using so-called in-cell technology, which doesn’t need an extra layer above the display itself for the touch sensor but incorporates it inside the screen. The extra layer is usually a couple of microns thick but even that small dimensions could be important when producing a phone.

Also, this new screen, will improve display quality; it is allegedly in production and waiting to be incorporated in the next Apple phone which, according to Financial Times, will use nanoSIM cards instead of the currently used microSIMs, being also 40% smaller. More here.

These $150 Earbuds Are Probably the Only MartinLogan Speakers Someone Can Afford

MartinLogan makes expensive speakers. They're the kinds only the most anal-retentive audiophile would consider buying. The company's Motion Vision Soundbar costs $1500, and forget about the top-end CLX speakers. Twenty-five grand? No, thank you. At $150, the new Mikros 70 in-ear monitors aren't a bargain, either—but if they sound good enough, your average joe might actually consider them.

On specs alone, the Mikros 70 headphones might look like others on the market: They're aluminum with 6.6mm drivers, so they should deliver a nice mix of tones. The Mikros 70 are in-ear buds, so the little gel tips seal sound into your ear canal, making the low-end sound better and blocking outside ambient noise. The headphones are definitely designed to be used with a phone, as they come with an inline remote and microphone. The headphones have a sensitivity of 98dB (@ 1kHz), which is high enough that the output from a phone is plenty to drive the headphones.

So if these headphones are better than the rest, it's because of superior engineering that doesn't show on specs alone. MartinLogan is a company with quite a pedigree, so hopes are high. They may or may not be worth the money, but one thing's for sure: They're freaking gorgeous. More here.

Jul 16, 2012

This Ice Cream Cart Runs on Sunshine

In New York City, the instantly-recognizable tinkling of the Mr. Softee truck approaching is the hallmark sound of summer. Those old white trucks might deliver melty dairy goodness, but whatever comes out of their tailpipes can't be good for the planet—which is what makes thesesolar-powered ice cream carts so awesome.

Designed by Springtime, a Dutch design venture, the carts have solar panels on the roof, which juices up the batteries to keep the scoops are ice cold. It totally makes sense that in the thick of July, you'd use the oppressive power of the sun to keep the fridge running. When it's this humid, you constantly feel like a pot of cooked rice, and ice cream is the perfect thing to cool you down. More here.

Charge Your iPhone with Burning Pine Cones

The idea is brilliantly simple: burn whatever you find in the woods—sticks, leaves, pinecones, whatever—and let the stove transform the heat into electricity you can use to charge via USB—and it should provide about the same output as your laptop. No bulky solar panels, no extra battery packs—though it will add an extra two pounds to your kit. And since it's a real fire and not some extra charging gadget, you can actually use it to boil water and cook with—and that's really why you're sitting out in the wood anyway, right? More here.

Jul 15, 2012

Camping Cutlery Adapters Make Your Marshmallow Stick Far More Useful

Most campers don't have the outdoor skills necessary to build a shelter, set a trap, or even start a fire. But there's one thing even the most amateur outdoorsman can make—a marshmallow stick. And with these cutlery adapters, that primitive tool can then be used to consumer more than just s'mores.

Designed by Sharon Myoung, the S&S cutlery simply requires a camper to find a stick, shorten it to a usable length, and then sharpen the point so it can be twisted into a threaded bolt. Assembly really only requires minimal skill levels, but the final product can vastly improve your outdoor dining experience. More here.

Jul 14, 2012

This Outdoor Table’s Recessed Grooves Stop the Wind From Blowing Away Your Meal

When the weather is beautiful you want to spend as much time as you can outdoors. And that includes enjoying meals on the patio, which designers Marco Marotto and Paola Oliva make even more enjoyable with their conceptual dining set that stops the wind from blowing everything away.

The Bye Bye Wind set of table and chairs look like your typical plastic patio furniture, but the table's surface features recessed areas for plates, cups, and serving trays that prevents them from being swept away by even the strongest of backyard winds. And for each guest's sitting comfort, the back of the chairs feature small pockets for stashing a phone, keys, or anything else that's uncomfortable to keep in your pockets during a meal. 

The center of the table even has a plastic bottle crusher so you can keep empty beverage containers safely stowed, and from the looks of the design the Bye Bye Wind set should be fairly easy to produce using the same techniques as other plastic furniture. More here.

Jul 13, 2012

A Quad-Core Computer for $130

When Raspberry Pi released their diminutive, ARM-based PC for $35, people were rightfully chomping at the bit to get their hands on something so cheap and small and hackable. But the 700 MHz, single-core ARM 11 processor it wasn't exactly a powerhouse. Enter Hardkernel'sODROID-X, which packs a quad-core Samsung Exynos chipset on a 3.5 inch motherboard.

With each Cortex-A9 core clocked at 1.4 GHz, the ODROID-X also has 1 gigabyte of RAM, a Mali 400 GPU, six USB ports, ethernet, audio in/out, Micro HDMI and an SDHC reader. Plus it's capable of running Android or Ubuntu, giving you computing flexibility. Sure, it's no Ivy Bridge, but the Exynos processor is pretty amazing for its size. And for $130, this little chipset could become the heart of your next DIY project. More here.

New 2012 iPhone Body Reportedly Leaks, Gives the Glass Front its Time to Shine

KitGuru has unearthed what it claims is a "test sample" with the glass front panel roughly intact. Sitting next to an iPhone 4S, it's suggested that the new model would stuff in that bigger screen more through a better use of the available area -- there's much less blank space than on the iPhones we've known since 2007.
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Jul 12, 2012

These Rugged Headphones Should Brighten Up Your Workout

Essentially a toughened-up version of the excellent Klipsch S4i earbuds, these little fellas come in red, yellow, orange and blue, and are, happily, water-resistant. They pack the same 8.5mm dual magnet drivers as their non-rugged cousins and come with an Apple-compatible inline remote/mic to boot. What's more, they look really quite nice. Well, if you like primary colors.

They're due to hit the shelves next month for $99. More here.

Jul 11, 2012

A Privacy Chair That Draws All the Attention to You

The Booth lounger is a good way to say "I don't want to talk to you but I kindly invite you to stare at me." With a removable hood, you can send the memo that although you don't want to be bothered, you still welcome attention and intrigue.

At first glance you might guess this chair was designed by Lady Gaga. But it actually comes by way of ADDI, a Swedish design house. Sweden, maybe you were. More here.

The World’s Most Aerodynamic Triathlon Bike

Often in athletic competitions an athletes biggest advantage comes from their gear. So if you're a cyclist after a first place finish, Cervélo's P5 triathlon/time trial bike has been designed and engineered to be the most aerodynamic ride on two wheels.

To ensure the bike slips through the air with as minimal resistance as possible, Cervélo has gone to great lengths to minimize drag. Including hiding every single wire and cable inside the P5's curvaceous frame, and using unique surface finishes on different parts of the bike to optimize airflow. And since the P5 is designed for longer competition rides, there's even streamlined spots for stashing water bottles and snacks.

Cervélo claims the engineering improvements made to this version of the bike could result in shaving up to 30 seconds off of a 25-mile ride, which could easily mean the difference between a medal and just finishing the race. And while at $6,000 it's definitely far more expensive than a Schwinn, as far as professional racing bikes go it's a downright bargain. More here.

Bits Stored on a Single Molecule Could Lead to Petabyte SSDs

If there's one fact of computing life, it's that there's never enough storage, and if you think it's bad now, just wait 'til you're downloading 4K movies. Still, research is at least keeping up, and now scientists can store bits of information on single molecules—which could pave the way for petabyte SSDs.

The project, undertaken at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, saw researchers embed a magnetized iron atom into an organic molecule made up of 51 atoms. The idea is that the organic shell protects the information stored in the central atom, while its magnetization allows data to be stored.

In fact, by applying current to the molecule, it's possible to flip the lone atom's magnetic charge, altering the resistance of the molecule. Subsequently measuring its resistance allows the researchers to read the state of the atom, and then change it again and again. That process means the molecule is capable of storing a bit of data. The result is published in Nature Communications.

Typical magnetic drives currently need 3 million atoms per bit so, in theory, a device made using these new molecule bits could pack in 50 thousand times as much data in the same size. That's the same as having a standard SSD capable of storing petabytes of data.

Except, it's not quite that easy. You'd have to find some way of addressing each and every molecule in the drive, which is an insane idea. In reality, a device would include so much circuitry that—even using nanowires—it wouldn't offer quite the capacity boost that reasoning promises.

The concept, however, could well inspire similar techniques that could be used to shrink current SSD technology by orders of magnitude. So the petabyte SSD might not be quite as ridiculous as you first thought. More here.

Jul 10, 2012

Tiny Charging Cable Keyring Juices Androids and iPhones Alike

Carrying around a charging cable is a fact of life if you use your smartphone for more than just the occasional call. But instead of packing the bulky cables that came with your iPhone or Android handset, just slip this tiny USB adapter onto your keychain for emergency battery top-offs.

In addition to a 30-pin dock connector for the iPhone, the iBattz also includes a microUSB adapter for charging most Android handsets from a laptop or a PC. It's also got a microSD slot turning it into a miniature card reader or external storage device. And last but not least, a pop-out pin for removing the iPhone's SIM card tray. More than enough functionality to justify its$30 price tag, particularly the first time it saves you from a deceased battery. More here.

This Bowl Will Always Be Exactly the Size You Need it to Be

The Stretchy Bowl is the easy-to-store fruit basin that never wants to disappoint. Composed of a white metal base (which requires minimal assembly) and a matching metal hoop wrapped in a layer of breathable, elastic fabric, this bowl is always the right size to accomodate your haul of produce.

As you add more fruit to stretchy fabric disk, the bowl deepens. Without anything in it at all,HooknLoop's Stretchy Bowl ($59, with your choice of red, blue, or gray fabric) can be stored flat. So convenient! More here.

Jul 9, 2012

Foxconn Fanless Nano PCs get Priced, Dated and Tweaked

The giant manufacturer recently made them official, detailing a few unexpected tweaks in a Russian language press release. Now decked out in a sleek black finish, the nettops will sport the same I/O, but one image courtesy of FanlessTech hints that DVI might be thrown into the mix despite lacking a mention in the official press release. The AT-5250 model won't be walking the Cedar Trail with an Atom D2700 as originally planned -- instead, its sights are set on a 1.86 GHz D2550. On the other hand, the AT-5600 will pack a Radeon HD 6320 alongside the anticipated AMD E450 APU. Surpassing their presumed sub-$200 price tag, they're set to ring up at $260 and $280, respectively, when they launch this September. More here.

Scientists Find Molecule That Will Make Your Teeth Cavityproof

Scientists have discovered a new molecule that will make your teeth cavityproof and may change dental care forever. They have appropriately named it Keep 32—for your 32 teeth—and it can kill the bacteria that produces cavities in 60 seconds flat.

José Córdoba—a researcher at Yale University—and Erich Astudillo—from the Universidad de Santiago, Chile—claim that this molecule can be added to any dental care product, from toothpaste to mouthwash. In fact, they say it can be added to anything, even candies and chewing gum.

As long as the product stays in your mouth for 60 seconds, it will eliminate the dreadfulStreptococcus Mutans, making your tooth cavity proof for a number of hours.

They started the research in 2005 and now they are aiming to have this product in the market in 14 to 18 months. Once they go through human safety trials in the United States, they want to license the patent to dental care manufacturers like Colgate or Procter & Gamble, as well as companies like Hershey's or Cadbury.

If the Evil League of Dentists don't kill them first, that is. More here.

Jul 8, 2012

Dracula, The Mummy and six Other Horror Classics Coming in a Blu-ray set October 2nd

Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection will arrive on shelves October 2nd, and pack eight classic horror movies, all restored so they can be seen in the highest quality possible. Among the releases is Creature from the Black Lagoon restored for Blu-ray 3D (yes, like Dial M for Murder it was originally shot and released in 3D back in 1954), as well as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man,Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and Phantom of the Opera. 

This is all a part of the ongoing Universal centennial celebration that's seeing its vaults unleash many of our favorites for the first time in high definition. Of course, the downside of a pack like this is that it's pricey -- the MSRP is $160, but it's available for preorder on Amazon currently priced at $112. More here.

This Skateboard Ceiling Fan Does 900s All Day Long

Over at Notcot's experimental studio they wanted to find a novel way to liven up the boring ceiling fan that hung over their heads. And since they were fans of gleaming the cube, they decided to replace its wooden blades with skateboard decks.

The mod was surprisingly easy, simply requiring the decks to be drilled so they could be bolted to the ceiling fan's angled metal brackets. And even though the decks have a lip at the front and back, the final mounted results were still properly angled to provide a refreshing downdraft. A word of advice if you're thinking of tackling the same DIY mod on your own fan, though. If you're recycling a used deck make sure to remove the skateboard's trucks and wheels first since the added weight would probably burn out the fan's motor well before this heatwave passes. More here.

Jul 7, 2012

Wireless Power Transferred Through Thick Concrete Could Mean Electric Cars That Charge While You Drive

One of the biggest issues preventing the electric car from taking over the roads is their incredibly limited battery life. But researchers at the Toyohashi University of Technology in Japan have demonstrated a new system that could let electric cars constantly recharge while they're being driven.

Their research has resulted in a system that's able to transfer somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 watts of electricity through almost 4 inches of concrete, allowing the power source to be safely buried beneath a roadway. And specially adapted tires which are wired into a vehicle's power system could then harness that electricity and use it to top off the battery.

At the moment the system exists as a low-power proof-of-concept of the technology, and would require about 100 times more power to actually charge an electric car's battery while it was running. But they claim the components needed to ramp it up are cheaply available, and the system could even work with concrete layers almost eight inches thick if needed. More here.

Ice Cream Sandwich Consumed by One in Ten Android Devices

The latest Dashboard numbers for Google's Android operating system have been released. The verdict? One in ten devices is leveraging Ice Cream Sandwich as their mobile OS of choice. 

The numbers, which are current as of July, put Gingerbread (Android 2.3) in first place with a 64-percent install base; followed by Froyo (Android 2.2) with 17.3-percent and ICS with 10.6-percent. Jelly Bean (Android 4.1), announced just last week at Google's IO Developer Conference, was not included in this instance of the report (as it is not officially available yet). More here.

Jul 6, 2012

Are You Comfortable With Airlines Researching You on Google?

According to the London Evening Standard, British Airways is beginning a program in which employees google the faces of passengers for upcoming flights so that they may immediately greet them upon entry to the airport gate/airplane. Some feel this is an invasion of privacy. But is it really that big of a deal? More here.

How to Make Your iPhone Charge Wirelessly

Wirelessly charging your iPhone would be pretty great, but not with the dumb cases that inductive charging requires. That's why this mod from Tanveer is so great. A regular iPhone that charges when you set it down. The future!

Here's what you'll need, according to Tanveer, in addition to some serious soldering skills:
a steady hand
soldering tools
a spare charger port assembly
very thing gauge wire
a spare back cover
a wireless charger circuit (probably homemade from parts)
It's a pretty involved hack that will obviously void your warranty. You not only have to solder tiny wire to tiny pins, but you've got to add 1mm of give to an iPhone back panel. It takes some serious work, but for a 1mm-thicker iPhone that you don't have to plug in to charge? Kind of worth it. More here.

Jul 5, 2012

Samsung Announces 75-inch ES9000 Smart TV for Korea, With Similarly Gigantic Price Tag

Anyone looking to fill half of their lounge with Samsung LCD just got a new size to choose. In short, if you loved the LED-backlit display of the 55-inch model, you're going to adore the ES9000, which features the same smart TV brains alongside a retractable webcam unit housed on the top edge. The bezel is a mere 7.9mm and Samsung has decided to coat the frame in a gentle Rose Gold coating which.

That premium finish is matched by a premium price tag, however, and will hit checkbooks for 19.8 million won (around $17,450). Despite the UK appearance, retailer John Lewis (which hosted the event) couldn't confirm whether retail models would be coming to its stores in the future. But if you can afford 75 inches of TV, you can also afford a quick flight to Seoul to pick one up. More here.

Olympus’s Google Glasses Competitor Is Really Nothing Like Google Glasses

If you thought Google Glasses looked bad, Olympus's augmented reality specs will make you want to drop dead. The company today announced an awkward, wearable display prototype called Meg 4.0, although it's nothing like Google's version.

Weighing in at 30g, the Olympus model has a 320 x 240 floating screen on the lenses that connects to the wearer's smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth. Google's, meanwhile, are meant to be largely self-contained, not dependent on a tether to an existing device.

The Meg 4.0 supposedly boasts eight hours of battery life, though that's kind of a technicality—Olympus actually expects people to use the glasses in 15 second spurts about every three minutes, which according to someone's math, amounts to eight hours total. It also looks kind of like a Praying Mantis Olympus wants you to wear on your face. The glasses also have an accelerometer, so they can tell which way the person sporting them is facing. But they don't have a camera, which has been one of the main features Google thus far has used to advertise its nerd shades. More here.

Jul 4, 2012

Credit Card Fork

If you're the type who tries to maintain a constant state of readiness for any emergency, Devon Briggs' folding credit card fork will ensure you never have to resort to eating with your hands at a party or fast food joint.

Made from biodegradable plastic, Devon's flat-pack fork is designed to be an alternative to your standard plastic cutlery that's not only easier to ship, but also allows restaurants or other businesses to print their logo or advertising on it. And it's an easy way for anyone to carry a backup fork, whether they've run out at the BBQ you're at, or you just forgot to grab one when buying lunch. Not to mention its obvious uses for self-defense. More here.

How To Take Photos of Fireworks With Your Phone

It just wouldn't be the Fourth of July without the climactic boom of fireworks. If you want to keep that memory all year—or at least share it with all of your friends on Instagram—these tips will help you get lovely photos with your phone, even if you're not a pro.

Some people roll up to the fireworks with a tripod and a fancy DSLR. (If you're one of those people, this handy guide from PCMag should help.) But what if the only tool at your disposal is your smartphone?Here's how to take photos of fireworks that don't suck—no fancy apps or art school degree required.

• Pick a good spot in advance: Before the fireworks even start, you should try to get yourself in a good position: staying upwind of the fireworks will keep the smokey aftermath of previous blasts from gumming up your shot.
• Get steady: Remember, you're taking photos at night so a little bit of shakiness from slower shutter speeds can turn your photo into a blurry mess. Brace yourself against a picnic table or even sit down on the ground if possible. If you're in a crowd, get cozy with your neighbor for support.
• Frame before you shoot: Figure out where in the sky fireworks are blowing up and position your phone in advance. You don't want to chase the shot, you want your phone to be in the right place already.
• Use the AE/AF lock: Once your phone's in position, don't take your shot right away. On the iPhone and many Android phones tapping the screen locks in the exposure and focus for your shot. Use one firework for metering, and then take the photo of the next.
• Don't be afraid of portrait mode: Depending on the scenery and your perspective, both landscape and portrait photos might work well—heck even experiment with crooked angles to see what gets the best results.
• Don't zoom:  Fireworks are SO FAR AWAY but the digital zoom on camera phones is only an illusion. Don't use it. You can always crop the photo later.
• Keep it native: Speaking of later, third-party apps introduce additional lag to your phone's camera. Keep your timing sharp by using your built-in camera app, and upload it to Instagram later.

Jul 3, 2012

The Fireworks Laws of Every State

If you're looking to blow some stuff up tomorrow, it's probably a good idea to know what sort of fireworks you're "legally" allowed to use according to state law. This map will give you all the information you need to know on whether fireworks are legal, illegal or incredibly lame in your state.

American Pyro actually has detailed PDFs that list the specific rules for each state. You'll have to look at those because while some states are totally gung ho about fireworks, others force you to make do with twinkly sparklers (or force you to make a road trip to a neighboring state). It's important to note though, that fireworks laws can vary within the state (county to county, etc.). Just because California is cool with fireworks doesn't mean Beverly Hills is.

Anyway. Read up on your state's rules and plan accordingly. Freedom won't celebrate itself (though it kinda does). More here.

Scientists Have Finally Made Stretchable Circuitry

Bendable electronics are nothing new. But if you're after an electronic party trick, you're going to want to get your hands on a new breed of stretchable circuitry.

Elastic electronics are something engineers have been lusting over for a long ol' time. It's not hard to understand why: current constraints mean that most circuits are solid or, at best, slightly flexible. Imagine the possibilities if your conductors could stretch to many times their length.

The problem is, though, that when most conducting materials are stretched, their material properties change—in fact, their conductivity typically drops by factors of tens or hundreds. That makes them practically useless.

Now, a team from the McCormick School of Engineering has changed that by loading a polymer with liquid metal. They took the porous polymer material called poly(dimethylsiloxane), that can stretch to many times its original size. Then they placed a liquid metal called EGaIn inside the pores, in turn allowing electricity to flow consistently even when the material is excessively stretched.

The new material, which is discussed in an article in Nature Communications, can stretch to twice its length without any drop in conductivity. That makes it four times more extendable than any other elastic conductor ever made. More here.

Jul 2, 2012

You Can Ship This Stainless Steel Table In an Envelope

When buying furniture that's easy to ship, you usually have to compromise on design, stability, and even ease of use. But Studio Toer is offering the best of all worlds with these stainless steel tables that fit inside a shipping envelope when disassembled.

The Postable Table's modular design not only lets it squeeze inside shipping packaging usually reserved for letter mail, but by simply increasing the number of panels included it can serve as either a small coffee table, or something that's actually useful for work and dining.

It seems like the perfect way to furnish a home if you move around a lot, until you consider the price. The smallest and most 'affordable' version measuring just 23-inches long will cost you $190. While the more usable 70-inch model is a whopping $870. But thanks to their flat, foldaway design, shipping is just $20 all around the world. More here.

Would You Use This Curved Keyboard?

WMPowerUser is reporting that Microsoft's research team is working on this curved software keyboard, leaked from an internal presentation. It even speculates that it might be made available in Windows Phone 8.

It's clearly designed for single-handed use, following the arc of the thumb across the screen and presumably using predictive algorithms to make up for what would surely amount to a lot of mistakes. Whether it's real or not is, of course, up for debate, as is the validity of the concept. I think it's a neat idea in theory, but that in reality it would be hateful to work with. More here.

Jul 1, 2012

Users Reporting BBM Down, Joins Instagram in Being Less Social

First Netflix, then Instagram, now BBM? There are reports along with plenty of Twitter noise that the popular BlackBerry service has headed south. This makes for one heck of an anti-social weekend if you're a photo-sharing, BBM-er for sure. More here.

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