Oct 23, 2012

Apple’s New iMacs Are Crazy Thin

Apple has defied that assumption that the desktop is on the outs and dropped refreshed super-thin iMacs at its event today.

They were expected this summer at WWDC, but the wait might have been worthwhile—this refresh is far more significant than we thought. The new models are 80 percent thinner (just 5mm) and about eight pounds lighter than their predecessors. We didn't anticipate a redesign, but they're incredibly beautiful from what we can see. Apple will offer iMacs in 21.5-inch and 27-inch versions, the latter of which has a resolution of 2560 by 1440.

The screen has 75 percent less reflection, and a few other features like an HD camera, dual microphones, and a stereo sound system that's supposed to be much better than the previous generation. Specs got a bump too—the new machines have quad-core i5 processors (configurable up to i7), up to 32GB of RAM, and as much as 768GB of flash storage. RAM is accessible in the 27-inch iMac, but not the smaller one. Both of these guys have four USB 3.0 ports and two Thunderbolt, which is very nice. On top of that, there's an SD card, gigabit ethernet, and a now, a fusion drive—that's 128GB of flash storage plus 1 or 3 TB of hard drive combined into one hard drive. Doesn't sound half bad, although customization might be a bit more difficult with such a big update.

The smaller model starts at $1300 and ships in November, and the 27-incher starts at $1800 and ships in December.

The iPad Mini’s Guts Are Basically an iPad 2

Apple's new iPad Mini is here, with all the attendant fawning. But strip away the smaller size, and what is it really? A tiny little iPad 2.

Let's start with guts. The Mini runs on an A5 chip—the same one that's in the iPad 2. The major upgrade to the A5 chip in this year's iPad (the A5X was sold as a graphical update at the time). That's a full three generations back now, with the A6X out now. This is almost certainly the same chip design that was die-shrunk in the upgraded iPad 2.

In all likelihood, the Mini has the same 512MB of RAM as the iPad 2 as well. A few reasons there. For one, it doesn't have retina-level numbers of pixels to push. But then remember that the die-shrunk A5 that it's using has never been paired with anything but 512MB of RAM.

You'll be hearing plenty more about the screen, but for now, it's 162.03 PPI, at 7.9 inches and 1024 x 768. 

How the iPad Mini Stacks Up to the Competition

Oct 22, 2012

Microsoft Announces Skype for Windows 8

With Windows 8 going on sale in just four days, Microsoft is doing a sensible thing and releasing a version of Skype optimized for Win 8. As you'd expect, Skype for Windows 8 has the same overarching look and feel as other apps, which is to say you can swipe from left to right to see different categories, such as recent activity, favorites and a complete contacts list. But the integration with Windows 8 goes a little deeper than that. Just as you can pinch your Live Tiles to zoom out and make them easier to navigate, you can use semantic zoom to sift through a long list of contacts. And, because Skype runs in the background, you can set up your Start Screen so that the Skype Live Tile shows notifications for things like missed calls. Additionally, Skype is now baked into the People Hub, so that someone's Skype handle shows up alongside other forms of contact, like an email address or phone number.

The in-call experience has also been modified to take advantage of certain features in Win 8. For one, you can link your Skype and Microsoft account, so that when you log into your system using your Microsoft ID, you'll already be logged into Skype. While on a call, you can conduct video chats using the whole screen, at which point chat messages from that person will show up as text bubbles on the side of the screen. At any time, you can swipe to see other recent activity, which could be handy if you're juggling multiple IM conversations at once.

If you prefer, you can also dock Skype on the side of the screen, as you can with any other program in Win 8. With the Skype chat taking up just a third (or two thirds) of the screen, you can use that remaining real estate for an IM chat within Skype, or maybe a web search. Lastly, if you return to the home screen, there's a large phone icon up top where you'll find the dialer, whose number pad allow your fingers plenty of room to hit the right keys. You'll see your balance listed there, too, in the event you're not planning on making a free call to another Skype user, if you like you'll soon be able to experience it for yourself: the app will be available for free in the Windows Store on October 26th.

This Sliding Lens Cap iPhone Case Banishes Smudges

Not only do lens caps protect your camera's glass from scratches that can permanently render them unusable, they also help keep fingerprints and grease smudges at bay, which can ruin a photo. And it's no different with your iPhone, which is why this case with a sliding door that protects and cleans its tiny lens is brilliant.

Designed by Ace Display, the inside of the sliding door on the Identity case is covered in microfiber fabric. So every time it's closed and opened, it wipes away grease, smudges, and fingerprints ensuring your photos are as pristine as possible. The $20 case also protects the rest of your phone too, making it a must-have accessory for the iPhone 5 which seems like its particularly prone to being scratched up. More here.

Oct 21, 2012

Microsoft Touch Mouse Gets Pomised Windows 8 Support, Works like a Charm

Microsoft vowed that its Touch Mouse would get Windows 8 support in time for the software's big release day, and it's being very true to its word by posting the relevant update with less than a week to go.

Mouse and Keyboard Center 2.0 saves time for those not graced with a touchscreen by introducing multi-touch swipes that bring up Windows 8's Charm bar, switch between active apps and invoke Semantic Zoom. Will the Touch Mouse update trick you into thinking you have a Surface? No, but it's certainly much easier on the wallet. More here.

How to Download a Video From Kik Messenger

So, your friends sent you a video on Kik Messenger. It's a really funny or awesome video and you want to download it to your Android or iOS device. What you need: an OLD BlackBerry device (I used a BlackBerry 8520) and another device such as an iPhone or Android.

Here are 5 steps:

1. Have the Kik Messenger conversation with the video

2. Get a BlackBerry phone and make another Kik Messenger account

3. Send the video to your other Kik Messenger account by pressing where the red circle is in the picture below
4. Open the video on your BlackBerry device and it will begin downloading on to your phone/SD card

5. Enjoy and ask for more videos!

Oct 20, 2012

Would You Trim Your Eyebrows With This Bizarre Face-Hugger Stencil?

This, over course, goes hand in hand with the related question "Would you/Do you trim your eyebrows?" This stencil, apparently getting popular in Japan, is aimed squarely at men. Worth the weirdness? More here.

Toshiba Kicks off Pre-Orders for Windows 8 PCs, all due to Ship October 26th

Not to be outdone by Korean rival Samsung, Toshiba has become the latest manufacturer to announce it's now accepting pre-orders for its loaded repertoire of Windows 8 PCs. Naturally, this contains an array of options for all different types of budgets and preferences, including the Japanese company's Satellite S, P and L laptops or the U series of Ultrabooks, the Qosmio X875 for gamers and, for those who enjoy a more desktop-friendly setup, the LX815 and LX835 all-in-ones are also there for the taking. 

As expected, Toshiba will be shipping online pre-orders on October 26th, while folks who decide to go the brick-and-mortar route should be able to physically pick one up on that very same day. There's still a lot more where this came from, but you'll have to head over to Toshiba's site to see what else the outfit has to offer.

Oct 19, 2012

Insanely Expensive Carbon Fiber Fixie

They're the preferred mode of transport for flannel plaided hipsters, sure, but when a fixie is crafted from carbon fiber by a company with a mastery of the material, it's downright impossible for anyone not to lust over. Oh, UBC Coren bike, you are purdy. Even if $32,500 in a stupid amount of money to spend on a bicycle.

You've probably never heard of UBC until now, and that's exactly why they created the Coren. The company has been producing carbon fiber parts for Formula 1 and other high-performance vehicles for years, but recently wanted to develop more brand recognition outside of expensive cars. So they've branched out to expensive bikes as well, designing and now manufacturing this masterpiece which weighs in at 17 pounds and uses a belt drive system instead of a chain. More here.

This Tempered Titanium G-Shock Celebrates 30 Years of Tough Casios

The idea to create "the toughest watch in the world" came to Japanese creator Kikuo Ibe, when he dropped and broke a precious watch given to him by his father. The first G-Shocks were developed in the 80s, and 30 years on they're tougher and smarter than ever. One item in particular, "the ultimate G-Shock", has been developed to celebrate the anniversary, the MR-G.

The MR-G is made from tempered titanium, and the face is inlaid with Japanese gold. They go on sale in January for $10,000 a pop. More here.

Oct 18, 2012

Wi-Fi MicroSD Adapter Lets You Swap In As Much Storage As You Need

Unlike the Eye-Fi wireless SD cards which lock you into a set amount of storage, PQI's Air Carduses a microSD slot so that as the tiny cards get bigger and bigger, you can easily upgrade the adapter's capacity.

And like the latest generation of the Eye-Fi cards, the $50 PQI Air works with mobile devices thanks to an accompanying iOS and Android app. So you can share photos and get your snaps online without the need for a card reader or a USB connection to a PC. It works with three devices at once too, so you can send shots to your phone and tablet at the same time, and according to the PQI site it supports pretty much every popular camera on the market today. More here.

Acer’s 7-Inch Android Tablet Will Cost $230

We've known it was coming for months, but the Acer Iconia Tab A110 finally has a due date and a pricetag. It's going on sale October 30th, and it'll only cost you $230. That puts it squarely in Nexus 7 territory.

But what does that extra $30 get you? Well, more. And less.

The Iconia Tab and Nexus 7 both feature Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 processor, both have 8GB of built in storage, and both run the latest version of Android (Jelly Bean, a.k.a. Android 4.1). The Iconia has some very nice features that the Nexus 7 lacks, however, most notably, a Micro SD card slot so you can boost the device's storage capacity an additional 32 gigs. It also has a micro HDMI port, so you can watch your movies/play your games on a full-sized TV. Very nice.

The biggest disadvantage is the screen. The seven-inch Iconia Tab A110 only has a resolution of 1024 x 600 which makes for a rather paltry pixel density of 170 PPI. The Nexus 7 crams 800 x 1280 pixels into those same seven inches, bringing the pixel density up to 216 PPI. Considering that reading and watching videos are likely to be the main things you do with a tablet this size, that might just be a deal-breaker. The Nexus is also about 1.75 ounces lighter than the Iconia, and it's a bit thinner, too. More here.

Oct 17, 2012

A Sleek Scale For Your Kitchen

You want to be a precise chef, and you know that a cup is not always a foolproof cup, depending on your equipment and your method of measuring. In order to be as accurate as possible, you'll want to invest in a scale, like this one made by industrial designer Jacob Jensen.

It's no surprise that this $128 tool is beautiful and understated—Jensen is known for audio equipment he designed for Bang and Olufsen, shown at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1978. Fifteen of those pieces are a part of MoMA's permanent collection. Now that he's turned his attention to the kitchen, you can have his brushed aluminum take on an ingredient scale brighten up your countertops—and give you much more accurate measurements. More here.

The Average Twitter User Is a 28-Year-Old Female with an iPhone That Loves the Color Purple

Here are the stats on the average Twitter user: she's a 28 years old American girl who has an iPhone, has 208 Twitter followers while following 102 people, tweets a lot about fashion and family, likes the color purple and uses "love" quite frequently in her Tweets. 
Beevolve, a social media marketing firm, analyzed 36 million Twitter profiles and came up with a bevy of numbers that break down Twitter users. Like did you know the average Twitter user has tweeted 800 times? Or that only 26% of users favorite Tweets? Or that nearly two-thirds of Tweets come from Twitter apps? There are a ton of Twitter statistics left, check them out at Beevolve

Oct 16, 2012

Cardboard bicycle 'close to mass production': tough, green and just $20

Cardboard never ceases to amaze. Having been deployed in gramophones, stereos and even digital cameras, one inventor now believes it can be used to make the ideal bicycle. Izhar Gafni, from Israel, spent 18 months just folding the material every-which-way in order to discover a strong enough design, and now he claims his technique is almost ready for mass production. 

His maintenance-free bike uses a "secret" mix of organic materials to make it waterproof and fireproof, and is then lacquered to give it a friendlier appearance. It's expected to cost a mere $20 and weigh about 20 lbs (9 kg) -- that's 65 percent lighter than an average metal ride. In fact, this bicycle doesn't use any metal parts at all -- the solid tires are made of reconstituted rubber and a car timing belt is used instead of a chain. It lacks the swank of aFaraday Porteur, perhaps, but then you could buy 175 of these for the same money. More here.

This Accessory Could Make the iPhone the World’s First Smellophone

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a smell has to be worth at least a few hundred. And the next time you're chatting and come across a thought or sentiment that can't be expressed with an emoticon, maybe a specific scent could translate your feelings. At least that's what the creators of the ChatPerf are hoping.

Created by the Chaku Perfume company, ChatPerf is an iPhone accessory and accompanying app that lets you remotely trigger a small puff of fragrance, or really any smell, on someone else's iPhone. So imagine sending the smell of fresh popcorn to lure a friend to a movie, or your favorite perfume to secure a date. The possibilities are endless, except that the atomizer accessory can only hold one scent at a time. And asking someone else to refill it takes all of the surprise out of the equation. So for $63 it's kind of a tough sell when that winky emoji actually sums up how you're feeling about 95 percent of the time anyways. More here.

The Latest Tokyo Flash Watch Hides the Time in a Maze

Tokyo Flash is the go-to watch brand for people who don't care what time it is. Here's its latest creation, which hides the time in the negative space of a maze.

The Kisai Maze is labyrinthine in its complexity. It takes some patience to work out what the hell time it is—but once you've cracked it, it's actually quite satisfying. The watch is available in stainless steel or black, and is on sale for $99 until Thursday, when the price jumps to $139. More here.

Oct 15, 2012

Apple Planning to Launch 13-Inch Retina MacBook Pro This Month?

9to5mac is reporting that Apple is going to announce a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro alongside the iPad Mini at a forthcoming product announcement event.

The website cites a "consistently reliable source at a high-profile U.S. retailer", who has learned of a new, smaller version of the current 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. According to the source, a 13-inch version of the Retina MacBoook will share the thinner, lighter style of enclosure of the 15-inch version, and will be sold in two configurations—with differing processor and storage options. The source also claims that the 13-inch Retina MacBook will be sold alongside the standard 13-inch MacBook.

The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro was launched back in June to dropped jaws, and hinted at the future of Apple's laptop line: slim, hi-res displays, SSD-only storage and no optical drives. While a 13-inch version seemed inevitable, it remains to be seen with certainty if now is the time.

Still, chances are that the reason a 13-inch version wasn't launched alongside the 15-inch computer was that Apple was taking it easy on suppliers. Whether a six-month window provides enough breathing room—and whether we'll hear of a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro in the coming weeks—well, we'll just have to wait and see. More here.

No Wonder Street View Is So Good When Google Has This Army of Cars

Street View is good and getting better—and that's thanks to Google's massive fleet of cars, kitted out to capture the world around us in all its panoramic glory. This is what a parking lot full of them looks like.

Google's own Masrur Odinaev posted this picture of one of the company's holding pens: the fleet of Subaru Imprezas looks like an army of camera-equipped automatons, ready and waiting to do whatever Larry Page orders them to. Which, really, isn't far off the mark. Across the world, Odinaev estimates there are in fact 250 cars buzzing around. More here.

Oct 13, 2012

Windows 8 now Available to try at Best Buy

Microsoft's already opened up the floodgates with Windows 8 pre-orders, and it looks as if those still on the fence now have a sandbox to goof off in. Pictured above is a trio of Windows 8 notebooks from a Best Buy located in St. Cloud, Minnesota. More here.

Cavemen Would Have Killed For These Modern Stone Tools

A huge part of human history revolved around tying stones to sticks. We don't do it much any more, but if we did, we'd be super good at it. These modern stone tools prove it.

Designed by Ami Drach and Dov Ganchrow, each tool is specially engineered to fit the piece of stone or flint its paired with. Digital scans taken of the flint stones let each handle account for its blade's subtlest nook and cranny, resulting in some stylish hatchets and daggers cavemen could only dream of, if that.

The tools were put on display at the recent Budapest Design Week in Hungary. No Neanderthals were around to comment, but you can imagine what they might have said: something along the lines of "oogh!" More here.

Animal-Shaped Office Supplies Come With a Bite

Lions and tigers and bears, join models of sharks and gorillas and gators—all the best animals, in desk tool form for $78 each. Even better? All of these creatures' teeth are properly proportioned to their bodies. More here.

Oct 12, 2012

Windows 8 Packaging and Pricing Revealed

We're almost there. Just a few more days until the big reveal. But that doesn't mean there aren't still a few final Windows 8 secrets to be disclosed. Two of those are the price and the packaging, which online retailer Newegg has just let slip. There are four packages listed: Windows 8 Professional Upgrade ($69), Windows 8 Pro Pack ($69, product key card only), Windows 8 OEM ($99) and Windows 8 Professional ($139), with the latter two being available in both 32- and 64-bit versions (for the same price). 

If you go into the product page, however, we can see that the original price for the upgrade and product key card only versions is listed as "$199" suggesting that this might either be a launch offer, or subject to change. Don't forget though, there's still the chance to upgrade for an even lower price, for those who qualify. You can officially reserve your copy of Pro from today for $69.99 at all the main retailers, but if you can hold back on that impulse purchase for just a little longer, you'll be able to upgrade to Pro online for $39 (until January 31st). More here.

Guitar Skillet Lets You Cook Steak Like a Rockstar

Kitchenware might be practical, but it isn't nearly enough fun. Fortunately, cookware company Lodge has decided to change that by creating a seasoned guitar-shaped cast iron skillet at its Tennessee foundry.

Lodge refers to it as a mini skillet, and it isn't wrong: at a mere 11 inches, end-to-end, you'll struggle to fit a family's worth of steaks in the pan. But who cares about that when you pretend to play audacious guitar solos as you cook. The best bit? It only costs $18. More here.

Oct 11, 2012

Your Kids Will Never Outgrow This Drawing Desk

Designed to accomodate kids of any age and height, this Grow Table drawing desk features a sloped work surface so at one end it's low enough for little tikes, while the other is high enough for teenagers.

Made from marine plywood with Douglas Fir accents, the Growth Table encourages both young and old to work and play together at the same desk. And its simple design means the table can keep up with a growing kid without the need for complicated adjustment mechanisms. Just be careful not to misplace a pencil when you're older because it has a long way to roll. More here.

How to Tell if the Universe Is a Computer Simulation

It's a famous question among academic philosophers: how can we be sure we're not living in a gigantic computer simulation? Fortunately, researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany think they've cracked it.

Their reasoning is pretty straightforward, according to Technology Review: if the cosmos is just a numerical simulation, calculated on some insanely powerful supercomputer tucked away in another world, there should be clues around us that can reveal the truth. Glitches in the system, if you like, that give the game away.

Moving from that reasoning to the science required to find those clues isn't quite so easy. To kick things off, the team of researchers from Bonn have speculated that the problem with all simulations is that they're discretized: to model a physical phenomenon, the real world has to be represented by separate points in time and 3D space. Sure you can make the distance between those points reeeeeeally small—but you still have to have this kind of grid.

So the researchers started looking at some physics they understood—in this instance high energy processes that become smaller as they get more energetic. Interestingly, they found that the idea of a world-as-computer-simulation would impose limits on the absolute amount of energy any particle can have, a result rooted in the fact that nothing could ever exist in a simulation which is smaller than the 3D grid it's represented on.

Weirdly enough, turns out such a limit actually does exist here in our world, and dictates the amount of energy cosmic ray particles can have. But the idea of the lattices add a further complication, because it would theoretically mean that we wouldn't see cosmic rays traveling equally in all directions across the imposed 3D grid.

To finish off by blowing your mind: that's a measurement that current technology could be used to make. Of course, if the findings were negative it wouldn't rule out the fact that our world was a silicon simulation, because it might just be more complex than we could ever imagine—but if results came out positive it could mean we're all made of code. More here.

Oct 10, 2012

Cheap Third-Party Lightning Cables Could Finally Be On the Way for Your iPhone 5

If you've been wanting an extra iPhone 5 cable, but haven't wanted to pay the full $40 for one, help might be on the way: a Chinese company called iPhone5mod says it has cracked the authentication chip found in the lightning connector and is now selling the cables for $20 apiece.

According to TG Daily, the company also has a supply of real authentication chips from an official Apple supplier as well:
"We are the first company to release a different Lightning Cable from Apple that fully supports the iPhone 5 (also works with iPod Touch 5th Gen and upcoming mini iPad too). It works independently or together with the iPhone 5 Dock," says the company.
According to the company, it's got two sources of appropriate chips: a supply of the genuine article from Apple's own supplier, and cracked chips that bypass Apple's authentication functions. Both work equally well, it says.
While these aren't yet cheaper, the fact that the authentication chip has been cloned opens the doors for a wave of other manufacturers. But though the knockoff lightning cables are said to do everything the official cables do, word has it that Apple will try and block the version of this cable that iPhone5mod is peddling. More here.

Motorola RAZR HD LTE now Available in Canada Through Rogers for $100

Motorola had said its dearest RAZR HD LTE would be coming "later this fall" as an exclusive to Rogers, and today's the day that relatively thin and powerful Android handset hits shelves across the border. Available now for $100 (with the obligatory three-year commitment, of course), the RAZR HD LTE will hand interested Canadians a taste of Ice Cream Sandwich (sorry, no Jelly Bean for now), a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED HD, 720p display and a 1.5GHz, dual-core S4 CPU -- not to mention the ability to surf on Rogers' LTE waves in areas where the network's live. 

Meanwhile, those who would like to go the "outright" way will have to spend a cool $600 on Moto's Kevlar-sporting slab, but, needless to say, that's the price folks have to pay for walking out the door with a bit of leeway. More here.

The Bicymple Is a Simpler Bicycle Without Any Bike Chains

A bicycle is already pretty damn simple. Two wheels, a frame, a seat, pedals and a chain. What happens if you remove the chains though? That would give you the Bicymple—a bicycle that's even more simple than you could ever imagine.

Why would you make a bicycle without a chain? Well, aside from the answer of why not, the folks behind Bicymple explain:
By removing the chain, the number of moving parts and overall complexity is significantly reduced. A direct-drive, freewheeling hub joins the crank arm axis with the rear-wheel axis, shortening the wheelbase and minimizing the design.
More than just a stylish concept bike, the bicymple is comfortable, easy to ride, and brilliantly simple to maintain. The lightweight design and short wheelbase make for a nimble ride. The optional rear-steer mode is reminiscent of custom "swing bikes" and allows tighter turns and "crab-riding".

More here. 

Oct 9, 2012

Here’s a Humongous New 8 Terabyte Thunderbolt Hard Drive

Western Digital is really getting in bed with Thunderbolt. It already has a 2TB 10,000RPM monster, and now it's got an 8TB external drive with Thunderbolt.

The MyBook 8TB is the largest consumer level Thunderbolt drive, and it works with RAID 0 and RAID 1. It comes with a Thunderbolt cable, too, which is nice. On the downside, it doesn't have a USB 3.0 alternative, so if you have to work with an alternative machine that doesn't have a Thunderbolt port, well, you're screwed. It's $850, and available now at WD'sonline store.

This Flashlight 9-in-1 Multi-Tool Is Completely Out of Hand

Multi-tools pack everything you need into a small, convenient device. Sometimes they can go a little overboard. But this thing takes it to a whole new level.

The 9-in-1 Emergency Light stores a knife, scissors, Phillips-head screwdriver, bottle opener, carabiner, and a hammer all into the base of a flashlight/latern that also has a blinking red flasher mode.

Some multi-tools have much larger arsenals, sure. But this one's particular mix looks questionable—how impossibly difficult would it be to use a knife with a gigantic handle like that? There can't be a single way that allows you to make accurate and precise cuts. More here.

Oct 8, 2012

Feel the Force: Angry Birds Star Wars Ccoming November 8th

Rovio teased a certain film-inspired Angry Birds picture last week, and as expected, it's another new game -- Angry Birds Star Wars. Our furious feathered friends are assuming the likenesses of characters from the epic saga, with the trusty Red Bird taking on Luke Skywalker's role. 

It wouldn't be the Rebel Alliance without a dark side to fight, which is where the Pigs fit into the storyline; even the music and levels for gravity-based play will hark back to the film franchise. In addition to the software, details of related merchandise have also been uncovered, including table games, toys and costumes. The game is out on November 8th for iOS, Android and computers, and if it follows the original storyline, we wonder how Red Bird's going to feel about his porcine family history. More here.

Prove You’re a Human By Telling This Captcha You Have the Right Feelings

Everybody wants a better Captcha. Trying to type in those distorted words can be a serious pain, and it's becoming less and less of an impedance to ever-more-intelligent spam bots. The Civil Rights Captcha takes a different approach; you've got to have a little empathy.

Instead of your run-of-the-mill alphanumeric gibberish, or random selection of words, the Civil Rights Captcha presents you with a short blurb about a Civil Rights violation and asks you how you feel about it. Ostensibly robots (and trolls) won't make it through because they'll remark that a human rights activist's murder makes them feel "aroused" instead of "upset." And bots will still have to make it past standard Captcha hurdles before they can even pick one of the choices.

Code for the Civil Rights Captcha is freely available, so anyone who wants to can pick it up. It definitely makes better use of Captcha space than most traditional systems do, and it's an interesting take on a system; isn't empathy more exclusively human than text recognition? And so what if the robots learn to fake that. It could make the robopocalypse so much more comfortable for all of us. More here.

Oct 7, 2012

Apple Issues Official Statement on iPhone 5 Camera Purple Lens Flare Issue

Apple has issued a support document about the “purple lens flare” issue on the iPhone 5, but don’t expect any type of recall or fix ad it is considered a common occurrence.

Following up on an email, Apple has now released a support document about the purple lens flare issue. As the document states, Apple feels this is an issue that happens in most small cameras, and has even been present in previous generations of the iPhone. The fix is fairly simply according to the statement:

Most small cameras, including those in every generation of iPhone, may exhibit some form of flare at the edge of the frame when capturing an image with out-of-scene light sources. This can happen when a light source is positioned at an angle (usually just outside the field of view) so that it causes a reflection off the surfaces inside the camera module and onto the camera sensor. Moving the camera slightly to change the position at which the bright light is entering the lens, or shielding the lens with your hand, should minimize or eliminate the effect.
Of course the issue is that you won’t normally see the problem until you look at the picture, and by then most moments are gone. More here.

Nano-SIMs Reportedly Popping up at T-Mobile Stores, Ready to Welcome your iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 may not be ready for sale unlocked officially just yet, but that doesn't mean T-Mobile isn't ready to be your service provider. As evidenced by the photo above, the folks at TmoNews and YouTuber BigRicksChannel have confirmed that the service provider is now selling iPhone 5-compatible Nano-SIMs. Of course, these'll work just fine with the Verizon-variant of the the 4-inch device, as it's technically unlocked out of the box. More here.

Oct 6, 2012

iPhone 5 Chemical Study Shows a Green Apple, Leaves Room for Improvement

Eventually, that shiny new iPhone 5 will have to meet its untimely end, whether it's in a landfill or (preferably) a recycling company's machinery. When it does, you'll at least be glad to know that Apple has kept the toxin levels down. HealthyStuff and iFixit have dissected the extra skinny smartphone and put it in the same "low concern" category for potential harm that's normally occupied by phones wearing their green credentials on their sleeves. 

Lets anyone rush to tell Greenpeace about the feat, just remember that there's a difference between proficiency at excising dangerous chemicals and getting rid of them completely: HealthyStuff still found small traces of bromine, chlorine, lead and mercury in the iPhone 5's construction, which could pose risks if the handset is ever broken apart or melted for scrap. Some concern also exists that the x-ray fluorescence spectrometer doesn't reveal the full extent of any toxic materials. Whether or not these remain sore points for you, the new iPhone is at least easier on the eco-friendly conscience than most of its peers. More here.

Is There an Updated, Faster Version of the iPad 3 Coming?

This is interesting. MacRumors reports that an iOS developer found a new, unknown iPad device showing up in his app analytics. Though that usually means the next version of the iPad, the unknown iPad actually had the same footprint as the current iPad 3—but with the faster processor of the iPhone 5. Hmm...

Here's what MacRumors found:
MacRumors has received word from a developer who has seen evidence of a previously unknown "iPad3,6" device showing up in his app analytics. Most interestingly, the device's processor targets the new ARMv7s architecture that supports the custom A6 system-on-a-chip found in the iPhone 5. This new iPad thus appears to be running either an A6 chip itself or a variation on Apple's custom A6 design.
What's interesting about this news is that there were rumors that Apple was going to update the entire line of iOS products this fall so that every new device will have the new racketeering Lightning connector. That would require an update of the 'new iPad' which was released in March of this year. This unknown iPad would be that updated iPad 3.

So when will it be coming? Well, if the iPad Mini is really going to be announced this month, that would make for a good platform to sneak in an update of the iPad 3. But the question is, at that point, what would happen to the iPad 4, which would theoretically follow in the Spring of 2013? Maybe that's too far ahead to speculate. As for this mysterious iPad 3, I guess we'll find out what happens soon enough. More here.

Oct 5, 2012

Here’s the First Look at Firefox for Windows 8

Just a few weeks ahead of Microsoft's release of Windows 8, Mozilla has pushed the first preview version of Firefox Metro out of the nest.

Though its designed specifically for Metro, it also works on the classic Windows desktop environment. You can download it here, and it will be updated nightly. It's the same Firefox you know, with some added Windows 8/Metro-specific features. 

Here are a few to keep an eye out for:

  • Touch and swipe gesture support
  • Syncs with Firefox on the desktop
  • Supports Windows 8 charms
  • Data sharing between other Metro apps
  • Tab bar with tab previews
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • View pages in desktop mode

Oct 4, 2012

This Beautiful Bike Is Made From Bent Beech Wood

This bike, designed by Andy Martin for furniture manufacturer Thonet, is unlike any other we've ever seen. Save for its wheels and drivetrain, the whole thing is made from swooping lengths of steamed beech wood—and it looks just beautiful as a result.

The contours of the frame were cut using a CNC machine, and the joints are all—thankfully—reinforced by subtle spring rods, so it doesn't splinter easy. As Martin explains:
"The challenge was to take on the fairly low tech process of steam bending and then apply it to a 21st century bicycle with highly complex engineering."
He seems to have managed fairly well. One of the nicest aspects of the design is just how much of the bike is made from wood—even the saddle is hand-crafted from a lump of beech. To keep things simple it doesn't come with brakes, just a pair of carbon fiber wheels and a single-speed drive train.

Unbelievably, you'll be able to actually buy one of these things through Andy Martin's studio site—if you're prepared to stump up an eye-watering $70,000.  More here.

The Black iPad Mini Could Look Absolutely Stunning

After the iPhone 5 leak mega-saga—at this point you can call these renders sneak previews—the black anodized aluminum iPad mini seems like a done deal.

It would be a nice surprise for the rumored imminent presentation of the new 7.85-inch model: iPad Minis with anodized aluminum backs in different colors, just like the iPod touch.

It's pure speculation, but it kind of makes sense. The color backs would make the cheaper iPad mini quite different from the Kindle Fires and the rest of mini-tablets of this world. It's playful and aligns with the iPod touch theme. And it would certainly help Apple sell gazillions of them this holiday season.

Oct 3, 2012

Game of Thrones Wall Decal Makes Your Toilet Fit for a King of Westeros

It's all but guaranteed you've got at least one throne in your home that everyone fights to sit on. And thanks to the PeelAndStickDecals Etsy shop, you can make it feel as grand as the throne that serves the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.

And securing it doesn't even require you to wipe out opposing forces, or slay a single soul. You just need $30, a little patience, and a toilet that's not covered in knick-knacks. The decal probably works just as well with any chair in your home that's backed by a wall, but the gag works so much better in your bathroom. More here.

Old-Fashioned Bell Accessory Guarantees You’ll Never Sleep Through Your iPhone’s Alarm

The bedside alarm clock is just one of many devices made obsolete by smartphones. But with their puny speakers it's not impossible to sleep through a phone's alarm. Unless you've got this questionable iBell Mini accessory that merges tried and tested old-fashioned alarm clock technology with new.

Instead of an electronic beep, or even your favorite song, it wakes you from your slumber with the ear-piercing sound of a metal hammer pounding away at a pair of metal bells. It's $38 and doesn't require any batteries, but that's because it leeches off your iPhone's power source. And since it's designed for the old dock connector, you'll want to factor in the cost of Apple's Lightning adapter too if you've upgraded to the iPhone 5. More here.

There Is a Smartphone Inside Entertainment Weekly Magazine

Oct 2, 2012

WikiLeaks and Pirate Bay Web Host PRQ Has Been Raided

The Swedish web host PeRiQuito AB, PRQ, is one of the most controversial web hosts on the planet, valuing free speech so highly that it serves up web content for Pirate Bay, WikiLeaks. Yesterday, though, Swedish police paid a visit.

Forbes reports that Stockholm police raided the company yesterday. The process brought about technical issues for PQR, which shut down its own website and a swathe of torrent sites like Pirate Bay, but the police also seized a number of servers.

It's currently not clear which servers were taken. There're certainly plenty to choose from: among PQR's 2,000-or-so customers are WikiLeaks, the North America Man-Boy Love Association, the Chechen rebel site Kavkaz Central, and the defamation-accused Italian blog known as Perugia Shock.

PQR was founded by Pirate Bay members back in 2004, and has been raided by police twice before: in 2006 to gain evidence about Pirate Bay and 2010 during a more general file sharing investigation. The nature of the PQR business—a no-questions-asked set-up where clients often remain anonymous—means that even it doesn't know why the raid happened yet. More here.

Nothing Will Ever Be As Relaxing As Cruising in a Hot Tub Tug Boat

Cruise lines will keep spending billions of dollars on ocean-going monstrosities that promise to be the most relaxing way to spend your vacation. But they can't hold a candle to this tiny seaworthy hot tub that's warmed with a simple wood burning stove and propelled with a quiet electric motor.

The HotTug will easily ferry six to eight passengers whether or not the glass fiber-reinforced polyester hull is filled with water. It works as both a floating hot tub or a regular boat, but presumably gets far better mileage when drained. A wood stove safely heats the water to whatever temperature you desire, and you can add a gas outboard motor if the built-in electric option doesn't have enough range or speed for your liking. The boat itself, stripped of motors and the stove, will set you back around $11,600. But fully equipped you're looking at spending upwards of $21,300 for what has to be the most relaxing way to enjoy the water. More here.

These Stabilized Binoculars Compensate for 98 Percent of Your Shakes and Shivers

Adapting its military-grade gear for the consumer market, Fraser-Volpe's STEDI-EYE Mariner binoculars promise to remove up to 98 percent of unwanted motion from shaky hands, or vibrations from a moving vehicle. It's weatherproof and packs night vision too, making it an uber-expensive accessory for serious bird watchers.

Just how expensive you might ask? Try just north of $5,400. You could build your own private aviary with that much money. But the binoculars do seem to deliver impressive features for their high-end price tag. Besides being completely waterproof, buoyant, and working even in the dark, the Mariners feature a set of gyroscope-stabilized prisms sitting between its 14X magnifying lenses. The system is capable of instantly cancelling out vertical movements as drastic as 50 degrees, so even while running through the woods you're guaranteed a perfect view of that rare Green-breasted Mango. More here.

The Most Comfortable Pile of Rocks You Will Ever Sit On

You go to a rocky beach, you dig for a few seashells, skip a few stones on the water, and make a couch. Wait, what? Ok beach rocks might not be the first inspiration that comes to mind when crafting new furniture, but in the case of GumDesign's Isola couch, the finished result came out quite well.

Comprised of multiple, modular pieces, the seating is designed so that no two pieces look quite the same when arranged (just like a real pile of rocks), and even works in a few current design trends, such as the use of solid neon colors and marble table tops. Depending on your tastes, you may not like the men's suit inspired fabrics, but all in all, it's a pretty fun take on furniture. More here.

Oct 1, 2012

Gameloft’s New iOS Wireless Controller Is a Portable iCade

ThinkGeek's adorable iCade is genius. It turns your iPad into a little arcade! Asteroids forever! If it has a drawback, it's that, well, it kind of destroys the iPad's portability. Meet the Bluetooth Duo Gamer controller, which sheds the cabinet for a dock that'll fit in your backpack.

The Duo Gamer looks familiar, like a 6-button controller you use with some consoles. What sets it apart from other mobile controllers, the iCade (Atari's joystick arcade) is its flexibility. The Duo Gamer can be used as a handheld controller, yes, but thanks to its cartoonishly large proportions you can set it down on a surface and use it arcade style. In addition to working with the iPad, it will also work with your iPhone or iPod Touch. (It plugs into the 30-pin dock, so you'll need Apple's adapter to use it with your iPhone 5.)

The Duo Gamer is available now for $80. It's immediately compatible with 10 games, including Asphalt 6: Adrenaline HD, Brothers In Arms 2: Global Front Free, Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation, NOVA 3, and Order & Chaos. More here.

Hard Drive Shipments Recover From FLoods in Thailand, Expected to Reach Record High

Last year's floods in Thailand caused hard drive shortages after wreaking havoc on a number of electronics manufacturers, but new stats from IHS iSuppli indicate that the HDD market for PCs has fully recovered and is poised to hit an all time high. The firm expects 524 million units for internal use in PCs to ship this year, besting the previous record by 4.3 percent. What's giving the recovery an added boost? According to the analytics group, the extra demand comes courtesy of Windows 8 and Ultrabooks. Unfortunately for deal hounds, the company noted in a report earlier this year that prices aren't expected to dip below the pre-flood range until 2014. More here.