Aug 13, 2012

Amateur Archaeologist Finds Possible Pyramids using Google Earth

While most Google Earth hobbyists are satisfied with a bit of snapping and geotagging, some have farloftier ambitions. Satellite archaeologist Angela Micol thinks she's discovered the locations of some of Egypt's lost pyramids, buried for centuries under the earth, including a three-in-a-line arrangement similar to those on the Giza Plateau. Egyptologists have already confirmed that the secret locations are undiscovered, so now it's down to scientists in the field to determine if it's worth calling the diggers in. More here.

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Aug 12, 2012

NASA's Curiosity Rover Receives Long-Distance OverTheAir Update, 'brain transplant' on Mars

Think it's nifty when your carrier deigns to provide your smartphone with that long awaited OTAupdate? That's nothing. Over the weekend, NASA's Curiosity rover will be receiving its first long-distance OTA update -- all the way out there on Mars. The goal is to transition both redundant main computers from software suited for landing the vehicle to software optimized for surface exploration -- such as driving, obstacle avoidance and using the robotic arm. NASA calls it a "brain transplant" and points out that the software was actually uploaded during the flight from Earth. Now can someone please enable OTA downloads for the human brain? We'd really like to know kung fu. PR after the break.

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Scientists Release Biggest ever 3D Map of the Universe

The stargazers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have released a huge three-dimensional map of outer space, a core part of its six-year survey of the skies. Encompassing four billion light-years cubed, the researchers hope to use the map to retrace the movements of the universe through the last six billion years.

Using the latest Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III), the center says the data will help improve their estimates for the quantity of dark matter in space and the effect that dark energyhas on the universe's expansion, "two of the greatest mysteries of our time" -- if you're an astrophysicist. Even if you're not, you'll still want to board the animated flight through over 400,000 charted galaxies, more here.
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Aug 11, 2012

Destroy Documents By Hand With This Minimalist Manual Shredder

The Feds are pounding at your door. You have to destroy the evidence now. But they've cut the power! Your sophisticated top-of-the-line paper shredder needs electricity. What now?! The manual shredder has your back.

Admittedly, you can always just rip—or eat—paper if you really need it gone, but the manual shredder by IDEA International offers a somewhat more dignified yet still human-powered solution. Especially considering that typical shredders are loud, hulking beasts, this quiet, simple hand shredder is a tasteful alternative. If this is the kind of cute machine of destruction you can see fitting nicely on your desk, you can pick up your own for $42 at neo-utility. More here. 468x60: Special offer on T series

Prism Glasses Let You Read While Lying Down

The hardest part of reading (besides the big, scary words) is finding a remotely comfortable way to sit, or lie, while doing it. These crazy prism glasses will add "lying on your back" to the list of options, but you'll look stupid.

It's a simple concept. The prism glasses redirect your line of sight nintey degrees downward, parallel to your supine form. That way you can, in theory, prop your book or magazine on your chest or stomach, and still read it without doing crunches to tilt your head. Seems equally useful and disorienting. Probably not the best setup for reading Pynchon or something.

If you want to try this elegant yet weird solution a try, you can pick up a pair of these guys for about $25. More here.

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Aug 10, 2012

Researchers Create Meshworm Robot

 The latest creation from researchers at MIT, Harvard University and Seoul National University. The bot is made from "artificial muscle" composed of a flexible mesh tube segmented by loops of nickel / titanium wire. The wire contracts and squeezes the tube when heated by a flowing current, but cut the power and it returns to its original shape, creating propulsion in a similar way to its living kin.

Taking traditional moving parts out of the equation also makes it pretty hardy, as proven by extensive testing (read: hitting it with a hammer). DARPA is known for getting its fingers in all sorts of strange pies, and it also supported this project. More here.

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The Olympics Uses Special Sand That Doesn’t Stick to Beach Volleyball Players—Could They Ever Use Synthetic Sand?

Any beach goer knows that spending time in the sand means spending infinitely more time trying to scrub sand off your body. Sand just sticks everywhere. But why doesn't it stick to Olympic volleyball players? It's because the Olympics always use special, highly regulated sand.

Yep, according to Reuters, the sand used for Olympic beach volleyball is strictly regulated—"no stones or shells, not too coarse nor too compact, not too fine so it does not stick to players' bodies." If it sounds like the most amazing sand in the world, it probably is.

Sand finding for the Olympics is a science, guys. Back in 2008 for the Beijing Olympics, the sand was imported from China's Hawaii (Hainan, China) and hosed and raked regularly to keep it from getting packed too densely. But what about if they used real science to develop synthetic sand? According to the great internet resource:
The most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal settings is silica, usually in the form of quartz. The second most common form of sand is calcium carbonate, for example aragonite, which has mostly been created, over the past half billion years, by various forms of life like coral and shellfish.

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Aug 9, 2012

Rad Sunglasses Made From Recycled Skateboards

If you've already decorated your iPhone with a recycled skateboard back panel, then there's only one accessory you need to complete your look: a pair of sunglasses made from the same stuff.

These shades are made by fashion label Diamond Supply Co, and are constructed from recycled, multicolored layered wood taken from old skateboard decks. Unlike the iPhone accessory, shaping the frames into the old-school Wayfarer shape is rather more complex—but the hard work seems worth it. They were announced earlier this week and will be available soon, though currently there are no details on price. Given how tricky they are to make though, don't expect them to come cheap. More here. 60% Off Software

Protect Your Last Piece Of Sushi With Nunchaku Chopsticks

Restaurants can be a dangerous place if you're dining with a ravenous group of friends who are ready to steal a piece of food off your plate the second you're distracted. But now you can fight back, with these clever Nunchop Chopsticks which double as a miniature set of Nunchaku.

For just over $9 you get a way to protect your sushi, noodles, or whatever meal you're eating that's best enjoyed with a pair of chopsticks. More here.

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Aug 8, 2012

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet Looks Like a Tablet, Behaves Like a PC

When Windows 8 launches in October, the Surface won't be the only tablet option. Joining it will be the 10.1-inch Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, a Intel Atom-packing, enterprise-leaning device that might come packed with enough features to appeal to a larger swath of nerds.

Slightly thicker than an iPad at 0.39 inches, but also lighter at 1.3 pounds, the ThinkPad Tablet 2 comes complete with an 1366x768 screen, 4G LTE internet, 8 megapixel front and 2 megapixel rear cams, full-size USB and HDMI ports, and the option for a digitizer and fingerprint reader.

And since this is an enterprise device, you better believe this is a device that supports peripherals. There's a keyboard attachement with that signature nub for cursor control that really gives the Tablet 2 a laptop feel (if you're into that sort of thing). And of course, you can always hook up a keyboard or mouse via USB or Bluetooth.

On another note, though Lenovo won't yet specify on CPU speeds, the fact that Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 isn't lugging around a low-power mobile chipset means that it will run Windows 8 in desktop mode, which gives it the potential to do real computer things. And while specs look impressive, price has yet to be revealed, which will determine if the ThinkPad Tablet 2 will be an object for the masses when it arrives in October. More here.

A Deck Chair For Those Who Trust in Science

This deck chair might look a little dangerous to the untrained eye, but for those who place confidence in physics it looks like the perfect spot to kick back and relax.

The design, after all, relies purely on friction between the chair, wall and floor to remain standing. But for those who still feel a little nervous, you can rest assured that it also uses a special anti-slip coating, to ensure that the wood safely grips most surfaces. You can order one direct from Burkard, too—though be prepared to stump up $300 in the process. More here.

Aug 7, 2012

Throwaway NFC Keyboard Improves Productivity, Reduces Bank Balance

Japanese company Elecom is looking to change all that with a compact keyboard that exploits NFC for productivity. The silicon menace requires a companion app and is compatible with Android phones running Gingerbread (2.3.4) and up.

If the bundled case had you sold on the peripheral, you may want to reconsider. The retail price is a sizeable 18,690 yen (approximately $240), and what's worse, the battery is neither rechargeable nor replaceable, so you'll have to bin it after the stated six months to a year of life. Still interested? More here.

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Tiny Toaster USB Hub Is So Adorable

There's seemingly an infinite supply of novelty USB flash drives and hubs for consumers to waste their money on, but none come close to the gag-inducing adorableness of this tiny toaster hub and accompanying anthropomorphized slices of toast.

The hub itself is $28, but if you want to complete the set with all four toasty 4GB flash drives, you'll need to cough up an extra $100. You can also buy them individually at $25 a pop, or forego the adorable slices altogether with your own drives. More here.
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Aug 6, 2012

Apple Is Removing YouTube from iOS 6

Apple has removed the YouTube app from the latest beta of iOS 6 and has confirmed to the Verge that the native app will not exist at all when iOS 6 officially releases to the public. The YouTube app, if you'll remember, has been on the iPhone since the original iPhone first released.

Right now, the YouTube app has been removed in iOS 6 beta 4 for the iPhone and iPad but still exists for Apple TV. Apple's official statement:
Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.
Once a marquee feature of the iPhone and still widely used by many, the YouTube app had actually been long surpassed by its web app counterpart. That webapp was made by Google, the native app was made by Apple.

Of course, with the iPhone no longer offering an app for YouTube and YouTube being owned by Google, it's more evidence that the two companies want to kill one another but in all honesty, this is a good thing for users. If you've spent any time with the iOS YouTube app, you'd know how terrible it was. The 3G video quality was poor, the features were limited, the buffering times were slow. It was inconvenient and unpleasant, basically the opposite of what YouTube is. After highlighting the app as a key feature for the original iPhone, Apple was letting it rot.

Ultimately, this actually may be a case where everyone wins. By having Apple kill its native app, iOS users don't have to be saddled with a piss poor YouTube app. By not having to maintain a native YouTube app, Apple steps out of the awkward handshake licensing agreement it had with a company it wants to do nothing with. By making its own YouTube app, Google gets to control its own properties. And though Google doesn't exactly have the track record of building awesome iOS apps (ahem, Gmail), the excellent web app is proof that Google gets YouTube. More here.
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Nokia to Announce Windows Phone 8 Handsets Early September

Bloomberg is reporting that Nokia will announce its new range of Windows Phone 8-powered devices at the start of September—with the intention of shipping them in time for the holidays.

The report cites "a person with knowledge of the matter", who explains that the company plans to announce the new devices—perhaps unsurprisingly—during a new roadshow-style Nokia World event which kicks off on September 5th. The report also explains that the same sources believes the devices will be on sale "before the year-end holiday shopping season".

It's not clear exactly when the announcements will be made, or what will be announced, but given the shake-up Nokia managed with the Lumia last year, we could be in for something exciting. More here.

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Aug 5, 2012

BLU Products Intros Vivo 4.3, Says it's 'world's first' Dual-SIM Smartphone

With the recent revelation of its Vivo 4.3 handset; one the company's loudly dubbing as the "world's first dual-SIM smartphone with Super AMOLED Plus." Regardless of any global, self-induced titles, the 4.3-inch Vivo appears to offer some interesting features of its own, including that aforementioned Super AMOLED Plus screen, a 1GHz, dual-core Cortex A9 CPU, dual-SIM capabilities and a tweaked flavor of Android 4.0. What's best, however, is BLU plans on selling the Vivo 4.3 unlocked in the US next month for $250, while additional availability is "soon to follow" through Latin America and some parts of Asia. More here.

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Counter Scrap Table Is Made Out of a Kitchen’s Leftovers

Everybody winds up with leftovers in the kitchen, but unlike the rest of us, DuPont tends to wind up with leftover counters. Designer Rabih Hage decided that these particular leftovers might make a good table.

Part of an exhibition at Milan Design Week titled "Corian® Colour Evolution," the Leftovers Collection is comprised entirely out of scrap counter material. The result is irregular, but striking furniture in flashy shades of green and yellow. Hage described the goal of his design experiment this way. More here.
"I have always been fascinated by unused material or discarded cuts of stone, wood or metal whether chea or expensive. Reusing these materials as a luxury product and treating the off-cuts as something precious is my real motivation."

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Aug 4, 2012

TakkTile Turns Digital Barometers Into Open-source Robot Touch Sensors

Freescale Semiconductor's MPL115A2 is a tiny thing that will sit quite comfortably on the tip of your finger. It's hard not to marvel at the engineering that went into the creation of something so small, yet so sensitive. The little metal square is minute enough to be plunked into a cell phone, offering up location pinpointing technologies that supplement GPS, gauging positions based on changes in atmospheric pressure.

Harvard's Biorobotics team was clearly impressed when it discovered the technology, devising a fascinating implementation that extends beyond the walls of the cell phone. The sensors would go on to form the core of the department's TakkTile open-source boards capable of bringing sensitive touch sensing to robot hands.

Also compelling is the price -- bought in bulk, the tiny barometers will run you $1 a piece, making the tactile array relatively inexpensive to assemble. Once you buy one, you can also get the most bang for your buck by snapping off the rows for individual use, a possibility given the symmetry of the design. Or you can just make one yourself, as the department has opted to open-source the technology, to help make it even more readily accessible to interested parties. More here.

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Would You Want Airline-Inspired Seating In Your Living Room?

Airlines might claim the seats in their planes are designed to maximize passenger comfort, but that always plays second fiddle to capacity. If squeezing you in gives them enough room to add another body, you better believe they won't mind cramping passengers. So who would want to drop over $2,000 on a living room chair designed by someone responsible for those awful airline seats?

The Flight Recliner does possess a beautiful minimalist aesthetic and a simple reclining mechanism that minimizes the chair's footprint. But it was partly designed by Jeffrey Bernett, who was also responsible for the in-flight seating in Northwest Airlines' economy class. The recliner is obviously a bit larger than the seats you'll find on a plane, but their design will probably never be considered a comfy place to sit. More here.

Portable Pivoting Power Adapter Maximizes Your Hotel’s Outlets

Even fancy new hotel rooms with flat screen TVs and iPhone alarm clocks catering to our gadget-laden lifestyles never seem to have enough outlets for charging all your toys. So aportable power bar is the most important thing you can travel with, particularly this folding model which can handle even the bulkiest of wall warts.

It's actually a portable version of Quirky's popular Pivot Power Strip but its smaller form factor, which only doubles the capacity of a given outlet (plus a couple of USB ports), is easier to stash in a carry-on bag. More here.

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Aug 3, 2012

This $200 Camera Turns Your TV Into a Skype Center

Using Skype on your TV is kinda neat: it opens the conversation right up and makes group chats more fun. Now Skype and Logitech have announced a new TV-mounted camera that lets you do that conveniently—for a price.

The TV Cam HD is compatible with any HDMI-equipped TV, and can use either Wi-Fi or ethernet to hook up to the internet. The device is pre-loaded with Skype—running on what we're not quite sure—so you can just use it to log in to your existing account and make video calls, or proper phone calls using credit.

The thing rings when your TV is on or off—which is either a curse or a blessing, depending on your view—and has a zoom feature which may be useful if you're sat on the sofa by yourself. It also claims to work well in low-light conditions, but some real-life experience is probably needed before that claim is believed. More here.

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Even Bigger Galaxy Note Set to Launch August 29th

Samsung's updated Galaxy Note is on the way, with Samsung confirming that its Galaxy Note 2 is scheduled to be the star of its showing at this year's IFA trade show.

Samsung's not actually calling the phone the Galaxy Note 2 yet, instead referring to it as just the "next Galaxy Note". The news comes from Reuters, which quotes a Samsung employee saying: "We plan to unveil the next Galaxy Note at the Samsung Mobile Unpacked event in Berlin on August 29."

Specs are a little thin on the ground at the moment, with only some previous speculation regarding the screen size out there, which claims the new Note will be a little larger that the first one. Yes, you read that right. Larger. Rumors suggest it will come with a 5.5″ display running at an impressive 1680×1050 resolution. My arm feels tired just thinking about it.

Aug 2, 2012

Final copy of Windows 8 Just Leaked

The final build of Windows 8 has leaked to the internet, just a day after Microsoft confirmed it had finished the development cycle for the new operating system. Although MSDN and TechNet customers won't officially receive access to the final Windows 8 bits until August 15th, an Enterprise version of Windows 8 is available widely across various file sharing sites.

The version leaked is an "N" edition of Windows 8 which does not include a bundled copy of Windows Media Player. Microsoft was forced to create the special N editions of Windows after the European Commission ruled in 2004 that it needed to provide a copy of Windows without Windows Media Player tied in.
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Samsung Starts Mass-Producing 4x Faster Mobile Flash Memory, Kickstarts our Phones and Tablets

Samsung isn't content to leave fast NAND flash memory to traditional solid-state drives. Its Pro Class 1500 promises a big jolt to the performance of frequently pokey smartphone and tablet storage. By how much? That name is a clue -- it reaches 1,500 IOPS (inputs/outputs per second) when writing data, which along with 3,500 IOPS data reads is about four times faster than any previous embedded flash chip Samsung has tested. In the real world, that leads to as much as 140MB/s when reading data and 50MB/s for writes.

The speed comes after Samsung has thrown virtually every trick in the book at its new chips, including a dense 20-nanometer manufacturing process, quick toggle DDR 2.0 memory with its own controller and a new JEDEC memory standard with 200MB/s of bandwidth to spare. More here.

The Ultimate Can and Bottle Opener

Two things you always seem to need but that always seem to grow legs and scuttle away: can openers and bottle openers. This handy well-made tool from Kuhn Rikon combines both of those into one. Problem solved!

This particular piece of kitchen/bar gear will remove your lids without you having to pry them off and risk cutting your fingers. Plus it comes from a Swedish company and we all know the Swedes do things well, more here.
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Aug 1, 2012

Precision Partitioner Produces Perfectly Portioned Pastries

You just jam it into the center of a dessert, make an initial cut, and then line up the guides depending on if you want to divide it into 6, 8, 10, or 14 pieces. If you keep up that process all the way around, you should be left with a perfect number of evenly sized portions.

For $14 it's unfortunately kind of a uni-tasker that no one wants to fill their kitchen drawers with. But if it stops your guests from complaining about someone else getting a bigger portion, it's worth the extra clutter. More here.
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These Super-Cheap SSDs Should Convince You to Switch Storage

If you feel like your computer needs a boost but are struggling for cash, here's something that might help: Crucial has just launched a range of value SSDs, and you can snag the cheapest one for just $50.

The new range of solid-state storage comes in the shape of the 2.5-inch v4 drives. While they're slightly slower than their more expensive sibling, the m4, they still offer read speeds of up to 230 MB/s and write speeds of up to 190 MB/s with SATA 2-capable computers. Being 2.5-inch they won't fit in an ultrabook, but they should fit in normal laptops.

And then there's the prices. While $50 will only get you a 32 GB v4 SSD, that may well be all you need if you're planning to run it as a boot disk for your OS to run off, or if you only use your laptop for light work. Either way, installing an SSD will give you a massive speed boost.

Of course, if that's not enough storage, you can pick up the v4 in 64GB ($70), 128GB ($100) and 256GB ($190) versions, too. More here.
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