Oct 10, 2013

Adding a Little Heat Could Give Us a 40 TB Hard Drive in a Few Years

When it comes to cramming as much data as possible on a platter, hard drive manufacturers will use every trick in the book to maximize capacity. Including turning up the heat as TDK plans to do with a new technique that could deliver 40 terabyte hard drives by 2020.

In layman's terms, it's actually easier to induce and reverse a magnetic field—which is how data is written and read in a hard drive—as the temperature increases. So TDK has developed a laser system to temporarily heat the area where data is being written, which in turn allows them to squeeze more bits onto a platter.

The breakthrough that made this new approach possible was the development of a laser, which TDK refers to as a near-field light generator, that creates a beam that's just tens of nanometers wide—any larger and you risk erasing data around the area where it's being written. And for comparison, that beam's about 1/10 as wide as the lasers used to read a Blu-ray disk—so we're talking seriously tiny.

The technology could very well be the next big leap needed to push hard drive capacities to the next level, and TDK is confident it could be implemented in commercial products as early as late 2015. More here.

Oct 9, 2013

This Dongle Lets You Use Your Laptop's Keyboard With Your Phone

There are almost as many wireless Bluetooth keyboards on the market as there are Bluetooth speakers. But why spend money on yet another keyboard for your mobile devices when there's probably already a perfectly good one on your laptop? With this Bluetooth USB transmitter dongle from Buffalo, the keyboards you already have can also work on your smartphone or tablet.

Using a small application that runs under OS X and Windows, you can choose to have your computer's keyboard work with your PC, or re-route every keystroke to a mobile device connected over Bluetooth instead. It's that easy, and for $43 it means you don't have to travel with a separate keyboard. And as an added bonus, your laptop's tilting display makes for a perfect smartphone stand when you're pounding out longer messages.

Of course, why anyone would actually need to type on their smartphone or tablet while their laptop is out and powered up is another question, so perhaps this is a solution still looking for a problem to solve—but it's still a neat trick. More here.

The Only Acceptable Way To Shovel Food Into Your Mouth

Your parents probably weren't too keen when you were cramming food in your mouth at the dinner table like a feral child. But you're all grown up now; you can eat however you want. And if that includes the use of a spoon that looks like the heavy-duty scoop you'll find on a construction site backhoe, so be it.

The only problem with the $10 Dinner Digger is that you might have a hard time cramming it into your mouth. But you lived off Doritos and Fanta through four years of college, as far as dining challenges go, this is a tiny speed bump—not a brick wall. With the right angling you can simply dump a massive scoop of corn flakes right into your gaping maw. More here.

Oct 8, 2013

Disney Lets You Feel Textures On a Touchscreen By Zapping Your Fingers

In an attempt to give touchscreens another level of interactivity, researchers at Disney have come up with a remarkable way to generate tactile feedback as fingers slide across a smooth glass display. And all without deforming or changing the shape of the display in the process. Imagine a touchscreen keyboard where you can physically feel every key and you'll realize the potential of this research.

So how is such sorcery even possible? The researchers realized that the sensation of feeling a bump on a surface largely came from the skin on a fingertip being pulled and stretched as it moved across the raised area. And it turns out that this same sensation can be artificially created on a perfectly flat surface using electrovibration to generate electrostatic forces that create friction against a moving finger.

The other half of this breakthrough is a custom algorithm developed by Disney's research team that generates these frictional forces on the fly, based on what's being displayed on screen. So a stack of DVD cases would feel like a series of bumps, where as a ball would feel more like a large gradually curved surface. The technique is basically fooling the brain into thinking its experiencing something it really isn't, but the results are apparently remarkably convincing.

And the applications for this technology go well past just a cute interactive picture book that kids can also touch. This could make typing or playing joystick-based games on a phone or tablet actually enjoyable, and it would most definitely revolutionize how those with visual impairments use mobile devices. More here.

This 3D-Printed Web of Plastic Caps Turns Water Bottles Into a Vase

If your recycling bin overfloweth with empty plastic water bottles and you're just too lazy to take them to the curb, why not turn them from an eyesore into a lovely centerpiece with this 3D-printed web of bottlecaps? All you need to do is scrounge up twelve similarly sized bottles and you've got yourself a one-of-a-kind vase that can hold an entire bouquet of flowers.

Available in black or green, the Screw You Vase does require you to add flowers and water for your centerpiece to take shape, but that's it. Well, flowers, water, and $175 since after all these are 3D printed which is a time consuming process. More here.

Oct 7, 2013

Keep Your Desk Clutter-Free With These Clever Magnetic Doodads

Both holders are handcrafted from maple and walnut wood, and can be applied using the accompanying adhesive-backed washers. That way, the holders will lie flush with whatever surface you stick 'em on. While you could stick any metal pen to the holder, DropCatch does provide you with a Zebra-designed pen and pencil, which is a nice little touch.

Of course, neither of these things are really necessary—a headphone holder actually seems like a little more trouble than its worth. But they sure are pretty. You can pick up the headphone holder and pen holder for $20 and $35, respectively. More here.

Flexible Displays Don't Mean Flexible Phones

LG unveiled the "world's first flexible OLED panel for smartphones" on Monday morningand bragged about how products with "enhanced performance and differentiated designs" would follow next year. A fully flexible smartphone is probably not going to be among those exciting new things, however.

Flexible displays are new and exciting, and there's no reason to trash talk them. But the arrival of flexible displays does not equal the arrival of flexible devices. In fact, there are still some pretty legitimate hurdles to clear before such a thing would be possible. The guts of a smartphone aren't exactly designed to be twisted, bent or rolled up, as some might like. The battery, in particular, is not an easy part to make flexible. CNET's Jessica Delcourt listed a few reasons why flexible phones were a long ways off earlier this year and also highlighted other challenges of flexible electronics like the extent to which they should be flexible and the inevitably prohibitive price. That's just inevitable for now, though. They'll get cheaper.

None of this means that LG's breakthrough isn't impressive or important. The appeal of a flexible display for the time being is to build curved phones which most people expect LG to showcase in a few months if Samsung doesn't beat them to the punch. The new display does look pretty awesome in the meantime. It's built on plastic substrates instead of glass which makes the flexibility issue a little less of an issue and is so thin—0.44 millimeters thin—that it rivals even the non-bendable displays currently on the market. LG also brags that it's the lightest display in the world, weighing in at a mere 7.2 grams for a six-inch display. And since it bends, it won't shatter and break as easily as a glass display, though it might be prone to scratches. More here.

Oct 6, 2013

This Leaked Manual Lists Literally All the Nexus 5's Specs

Nexus nerds, we may have just hit the jackpot. Android Police just got its hands on what appears to be a leaked service manual for the as-yet-unreleased Nexus 5. If this is real, we now know everything about the Nexus 5. Every. Thing. OK, except price.

The document—which came to Android Police's attention via anonymous tipster—is some 281 pages long, but fortunately Android Police has already dug out the really juicy bits:

  • 4.95" 1080p display
  • 32GB internal storage
  • 2GB RAM
  • Snapdragon 800 at 2.3GHz
  • 8MP OIS rear camera, 1.3MP front camera
  • 2300mAh battery
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass, Proximity/Ambient Light, Pressure
  • Micro SIM slot
  • Notification light
  • Wireless charging (duh)
  • NFC (duh)
Now of course, as with any leak it's important to take this with a grain of salt. It could all be fake. But god damn look at that thing! There is so much data here. It's seems virtually impossible that this is bogus. If it's a fake it's an ABSURDLY detailed one.

Of course there are still other possibilities, like LG keeping false manuals on-hand for leaking, or Google/LG purposefully leaking a fake manual as some sort of cruel prank. But so far we've got no good reason to suspect this isn't accurate despite its status as a "draft."

There was one little discrepancy Android Police found, which is that the Bluetooth is listed as 3.0, when it'd be absurd for it to be anything other than Bluetooth Low Energy (i.e. 4.0). So that's either a bummer or a mistake.

Only time will tell, but in the meantime this is prooobably a pretty good guess at what we'll be seeing soon. More here.

Oct 4, 2013

Microsoft Asked HTC to Put Windows Phone in HTC Android Phones

According to Bloomberg, Microsoft has asked HTC to put Windows Phone in more HTC phones. Specifically, HTC Android phones. The report says that the head of Microsoft's operating systems unit Terry Myerson asked HTC last month to "load Windows Phone as a second option on [Android] handsets."

Apparently, Microsoft has discussed either cutting or even removing the licensing fee that comes with Windows Phone to make it a more attractive option for HTC. It smells like desperation and well, it sort of is. But Microsoft needs to shake up something in order to get Windows Phone in more hands. The talks with HTC are still in its early stages so no one is sure what the deal will end up looking like. Bloomberg says:
The technical details have yet to be ironed out. It wasn’t clear whether an HTC phone would run Windows and Android at the same time, or let users choose a default.
Seeing Windows Phone and Android on the same phone at the same time would just be crazy. Seeing a phone like the HTC One run Windows Phone would be quite awesome. HTC has made Windows Phones before (like the 8X) but it's clear most of its efforts have been dedicated toward Android phones. More here.

"I'm the Actor Who Provided the Voice for Siri"

Siri has provided iPhone users around the planet with everything from weather forecasts to restaurant reviews, whilst fending off dumb-ass questions along the way. But if you ever wondered who whispered all those sweet nothings, here's your answer.

This woman claims to have voiced the original version of Siri, which appeared on the iPhone 4S back in October 2011. Her name is Susan Bennett, and she lives in suburban Atlanta. While she won't reveal her age, she admits she fell into voice acting "by accident" in the 70s.

The arrival of a new Siri voice in iOS 7 means that Bennett is able to step forward and reveal herself to the world. And, if you're skeptical that she's the real deal—which you perhaps should be—co-workers and audio-forensics experts say they're "100 percent" confident it's the case, reports CNN.

In the video embedded below, Bennett talks about the gig, what it entailed, and how she was forced to keep the fact a secret. Until now. More here.

Oct 3, 2013

Your Instagram Feed Is About to Get Ads

Instagram's been planning this for a while, but now your Insta-feed is officially no longer just yours. Over the next few months, you'll start seeing photos and videos from #bold #brands all up in your stream of sepia-toned pics.

In its announcement, Instagram claims to want to make the ads "feel as natural to Instagram as the photos and videos many of you already enjoy." Which is probably true. With the speed most people scroll through their feed, it's doubtful they'll really notice that another vintage shot of a sunset was actually posted by Clorox. More here.

Oct 2, 2013

This SD Card Is Hiding a Mifi Inside

The last thing you want to do after buying yourself a sleek, ultra-slim laptop is muck up its lovely form factor with an ungainly mobile WiFi hotspot hanging off a USB port. So taking inspiration from the Eye-Fi, Huawei has cooked up its own SD card that's gutted to make room for a nano SIM slot and a HSPA+ 3G radio to give your laptop mobile internet wherever you roam.

You'll obviously lose the functionality of your laptop's built-in SD slot as long as you want to stay connected, but occasionally hooking up your camera over USB to offload photos is a small price to pay for a MiFi-like device that's almost impossible to lose. More here.

Oct 1, 2013

KFC Spent Two Years Making a Take-Out Container That Fits Cupholders

In an effort to bolster its standing amongst the fast food giants, KFC is introducing what is the easily one of the greatest innovations in take-out containers since the pizza box. The fried chicken chain's new snack-size Go Cups are specifically designed—after two years of development—to easily sit in your vehicle's cup holders, letting you dine without having to pull over and stop.

Billed as mini value meals, the Go Cups will sell for just $2.49 apiece and come in five different varieties that include varying mixes of chicken wings, chicken fingers, and chicken sandwiches with potato wedges on the side across the board. It's a little unfortunate to see that KFC isn't also including little shot glasses of its neon green coleslaw or gravy, but if cups of fried chicken can become a reality, who's to say what the future does or doesn't hold? More here.

Sep 30, 2013

Flexible Folding Flat Kitchen Utensils That Do More Than Just Scrape

It doesn't matter what you're buying, everyone wants to get as much bang for their buck as possible. And what looks like a set of three pieces of plastic cookware actually turns into six with nothing more than a gentle squeeze. It's like having the Transformers in your kitchen, minus the epic Michael Bay level of destruction.

Made from food-grade nylon and flexible silicone so they're dishwasher safe, these flat spatulas—sold separately at $16 a pop—easily transform into a spoon, a slotted ladle, and a spaghetti scoop. Which means that not only are they extra-functional, they also easily slip into even the most jam packed of utensil drawers. Now if only the toaster and tea kettle crowding your kitchen counters could do that. More here.

Researchers Bioengineer Bacteria That Can Produce Gasoline

Korean researchers have engineered a new strain of E. coli that can produce a suitable substitute for gasoline. And as they quite rightly point out, bacteria that poops out petroleum could be some valuable shit.

Digging up fossil resources carries tremendous environmental, monetary, and geopolitical costs, which means figuring out a way to feed the world's huge addiction to gasoline without unearthing crude could have a tremendous impact.

Bacteria, meanwhile, has already proven itself capable of amazing things. It's responsible for making your booze boozy, and in recent years it has been used to produce everything fromgold to diesel fuel. When it comes to producing biofuels, we're probably most familiar with bacteria that produce ethanol, but as the Korean researchers point out in a new study published in Nature, petroleum has a 30-percent higher energy content than traditional biofuels.

The new bioengineering process leverages existing E. coli strains to produce short-chain Alkanes molecules, which they claim is a chemically identical replacement for the combination of short-chain hydrocarbons commonly known as gasoline. In other words, you could put this bacterial excretion into your car and it would run. The WSJ reports:
When the modified E. coli were fed glucose, found in plants or other non-food crops, the enzymes they produced converted the sugar into fatty acids and then turned these into hydrocarbons that were chemically and structurally identical to those found in commercial fuel...
Unfortunately, as the WSJ points out, one liter of glucose produces just 580 milligrams of gas, which is a highly unfavorable yield to say the least. The tech's too new to power cars anytime soon, but it's an important step towards motoring the highways, powered by poop. More here.

Sep 29, 2013

Watch Every Model of iPhone Get Speed Tested at the Same Time

Ever wonder if your iPhone 4 really was weirdly slow? Or if iOS 7, despite its bells and whistles, just has a longer boot time than your old 3G? Well wonder no longer. You're about to find out for sure.

EverythingApplePro ran an absurdly comprehensive speed test using every iPhone ever made (and a whole bunch of hands). The results might surprise you.

Sep 28, 2013

This Grapefruit Sectioner Might Be the Most Specific Kitchen Gadget

No longer do those wanting to eat healthy at breakfast have to live in fear of the backlash from the grapefruit they're digging into. This Citrus Sectioner replaces your spoon with a purpose-built contraption that safely and easily removes a wedge from your favorite morning fruit—minus any geysers of blinding juice.

Despite being what is possibly the most specific kitchen gadget ever created, the sectioner is just $10, and the stainless steel beak that does all the slicing is dishwasher-friendly, so breakfast cleanup is just as easy as prep. It's also promised to work with all manner of citrus fruits, including oranges, heftier tangerines, and even lemons, and limes. More here.

Sep 27, 2013

How Mercedes Benz Uses Cameras to Stabilize the Road While You Drive

You'll never feel a bump again. Hopefully.

The magic in the, um, Magic is the combination of stereo cameras on the windshield and an adaptive suspension system. The cameras can scan a road's surface 50 feet ahead in real time while going 80mph to analyze the condition of the surface. It then passes on its measurement data of the road onto the suspension system which adjusts itself right as the car is driving over the uneven road. It supposedly prevents oscillating and reduces vibration. Smooth sailing. Or driving.

The system can recognizes 'obstacles' at 3mm or better so it gets pretty damn detailed. From the looks of the video (which is put out by Mercedes), there seems to be a legit difference when a car is equipped with the Magic Body Control and when it's not. Who knows what that's like in real life (only rich people will know). More here.

Beats Has Ended Its Relationship With HTC

Beats has had enough: it's walking out of its relationship with HTC and buying back the 25 percent stake currently held by smartphone manufacturer.
HTC ponied up $300 million back in 2011 for a 50.1 percent stake in Beats. Then, the headphone manufacturer paid $150 million to buy back 25 percent last year. Today, it takes back full control for an extra $265 million.
It's unclear what the future now holds for the pair: while HTC says Beats will remain an important partners, the headphone manufacturer hasn't bothered to make any noises in agreement. With HTC's profits dwindling and Beats' performing strongly, it could be the end of all that audio branding being splashed over the back of the Taiwanese handsets. Thank goodness. More here.

Sep 25, 2013

Scientists Found a New Way to Turn Plastic Bags into a Supermaterial

Have you ever had a roommate who saves plastic grocery bags just in case they ever have the need to reuse the dang things? Like, hundreds of plastic grocery bags? Well, thanks to some Australian engineers, those extra bags can not only have a purpose, they can become technology of the future.

A team from the University of Adelaide recently developed a method for turning plastic bags into carbon nanotubes. Specifically, they grew the nanotubes on alumina membranes by vaporizing the plastic bags in a furnace and then layering the isolated carbon molecules onto the membranes. Carbon nanotubes are among the strongest and stiffest materials known to man and can be used for everything from electronics to wind turbines. And this new process creates the nanotubes while also doing away with problematic waste.

This actually isn't the first time that scientists have built carbon nanotubes from the remnants of plastic bags. Back in 2009, a team from the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois came up with a process that converted plastic bags into carbon nanotubes using a cobalt acetate catalyst. The scientists then used the nanotubes to build lithium ion batteries. The problem with that method, however, was that the cobalt used was rather expensive, and only one fifth of the material from the plastic bags was actually converted for use in the carbon nanotube.

The new Australian method is both cheaper and more efficient. And both methods make those nasty pieces of trash into something that we can actually use, instead of just taking up space space in your kitchen cabinet. More here.

Trade Your Swiss Army Knife For This Multi-Function iPhone Case

Your smartphone has already replaced everything from your digital camera to your alarm clock, so why not the pocket knife clipped to your keyring too? The creators of the IN1 feel you should demand more from your iPhone case than just a way to protect it from falls, and so have packed theirs with a multitude of removable tools sure to make any wannabe MacGyver happy.

The IN1's polycarbonate casing includes a pop-up kickstand for easier hands-free viewing, but that pales in comparison to its built-in tool chest that boasts pens, screwdrivers, files, tweezers, scissors, and even a toothpick.

And before you start decrying this case as a good way to miss your flight, the lack of a sharp blade means the IN1's actually designed to be completely TSA compliant. So you don't have to worry about security making you toss your iPhone case and being out $45. More here.

Chromosomes Actually Look Like an Insane Ball of Spaghetti

Remember back in high school biology class when you had to sketch the structure of a cell? Chromosomes were always fun because you know they'd be these smooth X's stuffed with DNA. Well, I hate to break it to you, but science doesn't actually work like that.

Researchers from the Babraham Institute and the University of Cambridge have just completed detailed 3D models of chromosomes that look less like the 24th letter of the alphabet and more like technicolor pasta. As the Babraham Institute's Dr. Peter Fraser explains:
The image of a chromosome, an X-shaped blob of DNA, is familiar to many but this microscopic portrait of a chromosome actually shows a structure that occurs only transiently in cells—at a point when they are just about to divide.
The vast majority of cells in an organism have finished dividing and their chromosomes don't look anything like the X-shape. Chromosomes in these cells exist in a very different form and so far it has been impossible to create accurate pictures of their structure.
It wasn't easy to create the images, either. To do it, the researchers used the latest DNA sequencing technology to track the movement of chromosomes on a molecular level. When combined using computers, the measurements translated into the complex 3D image.

Frankly, it all makes sense. Life is an incredibly complicated thing, so why would graphic representations of it be so simple. The only problem now is that instead of neat lines tucked into cell walls high school students all across America will have to draw blobs of psychedelic spaghetti. More here.

Sep 24, 2013

An Old Clipboard Makes For a Brilliantly Simple Bird Feeder

Rarely does anyone want the last slice found at the bottom of a bag of bread. But instead of just tossing it on the ground for birds and squirrels to fight over, Israeli-based designerNitsan Hoorgin has created a simple feeder that lets birds perch and nibble on that last slice.

The Clip and Tweet easily attaches to the side of a tree or a house with a single screw, and as long as you keep it low enough to be in reach, attaching a slice of bread is as easy as securing a notepad to a clipboard.

And speaking of which, it doesn't appear as if the Clip and Save is going into production any time soon. But if you have an old clipboard and a coat hanger you don't need any more, creating one of these yourself looks like it only requires basic crafting skills, and a disdain for that last crusty piece of bread. More here.

Sep 23, 2013

Scientists Successfully "Erase" Fear Using Scent Therapy

Have you had trouble shaking that fear of snakes or dogs or spiders? Researchers from Northwestern University have developed a new technique to rechannel memories while subjects sleep—by blasting them with various odors. It's like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in Smell-o-Vision.

For the experiment, scientists conditioned patients to be afraid of a certain face by showing them a picture of the face along with a specific smell and then administering an electric shock. Patients would eventually learn to fear not only the image of the face but also the associated smell. The smell would trigger fear even when the patient was asleep and not being shocked, but after so many exposures, the fearful reaction would fade away. In effect, the exposure to the smell would do away with the fear.

This study sheds more light on the strong relationship between emotion and smell. Some scientists suggest that this is because the olfactory bulb where smells are processed is close to the amygdala and hippocampus, where emotion and memory are processed. Other experiments have been conducted that confirm the relationship, too. Last year, for instance, scientists showed 70 women a traumatic video while the smell of cassis was pumped into the room. A week later, the women were asked to recall the contents of the video, and some were exposed to the cassis again. Those who smelled the cassis could recall more from the video than those who were not exposed to the scent.

The relationship gets even more interesting. A few years ago, Norwegian artist Sissel Tolaas collected the sweat of various men after they'd been exposed to fear-inducing stimuli and chemically reproduced it. The resultant smell was then installed in a gallery setting using a process called microencapsulation, which is similar to how Scratch'n'sniff products are made. In the gallery, people could scratch or rub the walls and literally smell fear. The public's reaction to the art varied widely as many had visceral reactions to the smell, some of whom couldn't even walk into the room. Scientists are increasingly learning that people can't help but have visceral reactions to smell. Our brains are just wired that way. More here.

Android Turns 5 Years Old Today

Today in 2008, Google executives stood on stage and announced the much-rumored T-Mobile G1 (also known as the HTC Dream). It was the first commercial product to run a new, Linux-based operating system called Android. It turned out pretty OK.

Des Smith, one of the members of the original Android team, shared some of his recollections on Google+. Things were different then.

Sep 22, 2013

When Was the Last Time You Switched Cell Carriers?

Everyone hates their carrier, right? That's just a thing. They're either so huge that you get ripped off and can't get any customer service, or they're so small that their service coverage is weird and their handset options are lousy. But it increasingly seems like there are viable alternative options. Like Republic Wireless's $20-a-month unlimited plan. It's actually solid and now the company is offering the Moto X. Is that tempting? Do you have some crazy grandfathered plan from the late 90s or do you move from deal to deal every few years? Jump ship or stay loyal below.

Sep 20, 2013

iPhone 5 vs. iPhone 5C Teardown: Just How Different Are They?

This video tears down the 5 and 5C simultaneously, to see exactly how they differ. Maybe it'll help you decided which one to plump for.

First iPhone 5S and 5C Drop Test: Only One of Them Shatters

Android Authority tested the two devices by dropping them from chest level on their backs, sides, and fronts. In the end, no surprise here—the cheaper phone ended up being less sturdy and its face shattered. On the other hand, with its aluminum housing, the 5S looks like it can take a little more abuse.

This Bicycle's Frame Acts As a Shock Absorber

When you ride your bike to and from work every single day, you're going to want to make sure it's as comfy as possible. And that's exactly what Alter Cycles is promising commuters with its unorthodox take on shock absorbers. Instead of integrating them into the front forks, the company's replaced the down tube on its bikes with a flexible bow that promises varying degrees of comfort.

By swapping in interchangeable down tubes of varying flexibility, a biker can fine tune their cycle's ride—from soft to stiff—depending on the terrain they face on their commute. When eventually available to the public, the Alter Cycles bike should sell for around $800, while the various down tube options should run anywhere from $75 to $100, with off-road versions also enroute.

So what do you think? Could this actually be a better alternative to front fork suspension systems? Or is this just another novel design that doesn't quite offer enough innovation to take the biking world by storm? More here.

A Salad Spinner With a Turbo Button—Who Wants To Wait For Salad?

The allure of a shiny new gadget is easy to overcome when it costs hundreds of dollars and comes with a multi-year contract. But cheaper contraptions, like the stuff you'll find in a kitchen store, are almost impossible to resist. Does anyone really need a salad spinner with a turbo button that promises 50 percent faster rotation speeds? No. But anything with a turbo option is just too tempting. Whether it's cars, computers, or EMSA's new Turboline salad spinner.

You can't go wrong with a stylish stainless steel bowl, but it's the pull string spinning mechanism—complete with that turbo mode which switches up the gearing on the fly—that suddenly has gadget fiends interested in drying produce. And at $45 without a contract—except maybe a personal contract to eat more healthy—salads suddenly seem a lot more appealing. More here.

Sep 19, 2013

Why Does Arm Exercise Make Your Legs Tired?

Strenuous activity wears you out. No news there. But it turns out that exercising your biceps will make your legs just as tired as working out your quads. And for the first time, researchers seem to know why.

Researchers at Britain's Nottingham Trent University tested subjects on two different exercise setups: one group did two rounds of intense leg exercises, the other did arms followed by legs. Each group's second set of exercises showed about a 33% decline in performance — despite half of the subjects starting with fresh legs. Physiologically, this is puzzling: each muscle contains its own fuel (glycogen, ATP and phosphocreatine, for you science types), and your arms can't steal energy stored away in your legs. So what gives?

The hypothesis is that, while fuel use is contained to the muscle being exercised, the buildup of metabolites in the blood affects the whole body. In other words, the lactate, hydrogen and potassium your arms spit out while you're blasting curls will slow down your "fresh" legs almost as much as if you were grinding out squats, despite your quads having a full tank of fuel. So while exercise enthusiasts tend to work on each muscle group as its own ecosystem, it turns out the human body operates more like one integrated machine. More here.

Sep 18, 2013

Is the Data on Your SSD Secure?

SSDs are wonderful things that take up next to no space and are incredibly fast to boot. But while most people understand the basics data security on HDDs, the same isn't necessarily true of solid state storage.

Deleting files may not mean they're gone, overwriting them isn't safe, and a thorough scrub is at the whim of a micro controller, not the user. In this video, Professor Derek McAuley explains just how secure the data on your SSD is.

How Do You Like iOS 7 So Far?

iOS is out. Provided you made it through updating purgatory, your iPhone is up and running on the new software. How do you like it so far?

iOS 7 is beautiful and colorful, and everything looks different—like your apps. But a new operating system takes some getting used to. There are going to be things you notice right off the bat that you really like, and others that you just don't, and there might be some bugginess you have to deal with. More here.

Sep 16, 2013

The First 3D-Printed Gun Is Already in a Museum

Not just one, but two of the guns were purchased by London's V&A Museum for an unknown price. It could have just printed out its own and called it a day, but instead it opted to purchase a pair actually fired by Texan law student Cody Wilson. You know, the real deal.

The V&A described the purchase this way in a statement about the gun:
The invention of this so called ‘wiki weapon’ sparked intense debate and upended discussions about the benefits of new manufacturing technologies and the unregulated sharing of designs online. The V&A has acquired two Liberator prototypes, one disassembled gun and a number of archive items to enhance its collection of 3D printed objects and represent a turning point in debates around digital manufacturing.
True enough. But it also goes to show that a 3D-printed replication isn't quite as good as the real thing. But you can't 3D-print history. Yet. More here.

The Extra Glow Of Charcoal Candles Is Really Mesmerizing

Some people are all about candles. Dinner, baths, soy-based, scented. It's a whole thing. But candles can seem like more trouble than they're worth. These charcoal candlesticks from Japanese designer Eisuke Tachikawa have gravitas, though. There's something calming about them.

Tachikawa runs the design firm Nosigner and is currently showing home decor pieces in the French trade show Maison et Objet. No word on pricing or availability yet. The candles blend wax and charcoal to get the right look and warm glowing burn. Tachikawa likes to comment on memory in his pieces, and the candles reference materials used in heating and lighting rooms. And before they're burned the candles look even more like chunks of charcoal. They're pretty great looking. More here.

Intel Has Made a Processor That's Powered By Wine

The Intel Developer Forum is coming to an end, meaning its execs get to go wild and show some of the oddball concepts under way at the tech giant. These include a processor so efficient it can pull all the energy it needs to run from a glass of red wine.

Intel’s Dr Genevieve Bell plonked two electrodes into a glass of wine, that then reacted with the acetic acid in the booze to create a tiny current enough to power an incredibly low power chipset. Intel believes these ultra low power chips are the future, especially when it comes to connecting people in less developed countries. There are billions of people out there who are yet to be effectively monetised through mobile advertisements, after all.

Another clever little Intel innovation involved a sensitive accelerometer configured to recognise the walking style of the person holding it. If your phone knows it’s being held by you, it’ll unlock things quicker as it knows it’s you and there’s a reason you want to hurriedly page through the photo gallery and SMS history. More here.

Sep 13, 2013

You Can Pre-Order the iPhone 5C Right Now

iPhone 5C pre-orders just went live and if you want to brighten up your life with some colorful plastic and if you want to avoid waiting in a silly line, you can head over to to get your new iPhone.

The carriers are all taking pre-orders too (along with others), so hopefully you have an easy time landing the exact color you want.

Usually in times like this the Apple website gets hammered to oblivion and spurts out nothing. If history has taught us a few tricks in handling these iPhone pre-orders, it'd be to maybe give the Apple Store App a try if fails you. More here.

The Audio Cassette Is 50 Years Old Today

The humble cassette tape, beloved of 80s music lovers, may now be defunct—but it's hardly surprising given that the once-revolutionary medium turns 50 today.

The natural descendant of the 8-track—which used similar magnetic tape but housed it in a much bigger, bulkier frame—the audio cassette was the brainchild of engineers at Philips. It's precise birthday is open to some debate, but Philips is insistent that the format was officially launched at its Amsterdam HQ on September 13th, 1963. Containing a length of audio tape 3.15 millimeters wide that ran at 1-7/8 inches per second, it was originally designed to replace reel-to-reel tape for dictation—but became far more popular than that.

While the tape is now an object that would confuse teenagers worldwide—superseded initially by CDs and all manner of new technologies since—for many of us it's both an iconic object and a source of misty-eyed nostalgia. Whether it be compiling a mix tape with expert precision, queueing at the music store to pick up that copy of Nevermind, or cruising a highway while popping one into your car's dash, there's surely no shortage of fond memories to recall.

Remember how your cassette player used to chew tapes up with seemingly now warning? How they slowly deteriorated in quality when you listened to them over and over? The way you had to time songs in order to make them fit on your mix tape? Or that horrible noise they used to make on rewinding? Ah, those were the days. Long live the cassette tape. More here.

Sep 12, 2013

It's Official: Voyager 1 Has Left the Solar System

After months of back and forth, scientists now agree that NASA's Voyager 1 has become the first manmade object to leave the solar system. And it only took 36 years to make the 12 billion mile-long journey.

It's obviously a major milestone for space exploration which is probably why scientists have been arguing for months over whether or not Voyager 1 had crossed the threshold into interstellar space. In the end, it all came down to the plasma surrounding the spacecraft. After a burst of solar wind and magnetic fields caused the plasma around the spacecraft to oscillate in April, researchers realized plasma was also 40 times denser at that point than it was in the heliosphere. This was a sign that the Voyager 1 had entered interstellar space, and the team ultimately determined that the spacecraft crossed the line in August 12 of last year. (Listen to the sound of interstellar space below.)

"Voyager has boldly gone where no probe has gone before, marking one of the most significant technological achievements in the annals of the history of science, and adding a new chapter in human scientific dreams and endeavors," said NASA’s associate administrator for science John Grunsfeld. "Perhaps some future deep space explorers will catch up with Voyager, our first interstellar envoy, and reflect on how this intrepid spacecraft helped enable their journey."

In the meantime, all eyes are on Voyager 2, which is nipping at its sibling's heels, speeding fast into interstellar space. (That is, if 2 billion miles can be considered nipping at its heels.) Either way, Voyager is now on its way to another star. At it's current speed of 100,000 miles per hour, it'll only take her 40,000 years. More here.

Sep 9, 2013

iOS 6.1.4 Is Finally Jailbroken

The Evasion jailbreak for iPhones running iOS 6.x was patched up real well by Apple in iOS 6.1.3—but now, a dev has managed to finally crack version 6.1.4 on the iPhone 5.

iOS 6.1.4 rolled out in May for iPhone 5 users, offering bug fixes and stymying jailbreaks. But developer Winocm now has iOS 6.1.4 running Cydia on an iPhone 5. Details are prettythin on the ground, but Winocm has at least uploaded some of the code required to make the jailbreak work for iOS 6.1.4, and forums seem to suggest that some people have successfully managed to use it.

Sadly, though, it's quite an involved process: you'll need to wrangle with your own kernel exploits, as well as using Wincom's code, to jailbreak your iPhone 5 with iOS 6.1.4. One for the more technically minded, then. More here.

A Lightning Cable's Always Close at Hand With This iPhone 5 Case

There's rarely a time when your smartphone couldn't use a bit of a charge. And to save you from always having to carry a cable in your back pocket, South Korea's LAB.C has cooked up an iPhone 5 case with a short, flexible Lightning adapter on the back.

It assumes you'll always have access to a computer or some kind of powered USB port, and that you don't expect your iPhone to wander far from said port with its two-inch cable. But these are small compromises to make—including an estimated price of around $20 to $30—when your phone's battery is on death's door. More here.

Sep 8, 2013

The iPhone 5S Home Button Ring 2013

While it seems pretty certain that the next iPhone will come with a fingerprint scanner, what it will look like remains an open question. A "silver ring" around the home button (see below) is the prevailing theory.

Sure, these are just renders. But they're an excellent hint at what the Eye of Sauron Siri will look like in practice. And it's likely to be just about the only difference you'll notice between the iPhone 5S and the one that came before it. More here.

R2-D2 spotted in Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Wars droid R2-D2 made a cameo in the 2009 Star Trek movie, which left some fans wondering if the little guy made it into Star Trek Into Darkness. Now that the film is out on home media, R2-D2 has been spotted. Hi there!

Reader Rafael Oca passed along this screen shot, from somewhere around the one hour, 17-minute mark. After the Vengeance fires on the Enterprise while the ships are in warp, poor R2 gets sucked out of the ship with other members of the crew. I'm sure this plucky fellow will find a way back into the next film, though. More here.

Sep 7, 2013

New Connectors Let Solar Cells Withstand the Power of 70,000 Suns

The power of 1,000 suns? Pfft. That ain't nuthin'. A recent breakthrough in solar panel connections has allowed scientists to create arrays of solar cells that can stand strong under the blazing glare of 70,000 suns. Not that they'd ever have to, but still.

Stacked solar cells—which are exactly what they sound like—are some of the most efficient solar-sucking power generators on the market today. In general, they can turn just less than half of the sunlight they absorb into pure power. But stacked cell is only as strong as its weakest part; you have to connect the stacked cells in such a way that the energy doesn't get wasted in the connections. That gets especially hard under a lot of light.

Scientists at North Carolina State University recently discovered that a thin film of gallium arsenide in the solar cell junctions can stop virtually all voltage loss, and let the cells work efficiently under the power of 70,000 suns. Yeah, we only have one sun, but thanks to lenses we can beef that up to at least a few thousand in concentrated power.

Dr. Salah Bedair, a senior author of the study, described the accomplishment to PhysOrgthis way:[It] is more than sufficient for practical purposes, since concentrating lenses are unlikely to create more than 4,000 or 5,000 suns worth of energy. ...This should reduce overall costs for the energy industry because, rather than creating large, expensive solar cells, you can use much smaller cells that produce just as much electricity by absorbing intensified solar energy from concentrating lenses. More here.

The Next Android Version Is Called Kit Kat.

Well, that's different. The next major iteration of Android will be called Kit Kat, it seems. We know this because Android boss Sundar Pichai just tweeted a photo of a gigantic Android robot made of Kit Kats.

Apparently that's going to come along with a promo campaign in Kit Kats to win a free Nexus 7 or Google Play credit, which is a strange and probably unnecessary bit of advertising, but fine. Your operating system is a supermarket aisle ad now is all.

For the uninitiated, major releases of Android get dessert names, and they've been progressing in alphabetical order. So Ice Cream Sandwich was succeeded by Jelly Bean, and now Kit Kat. Our dumb but prescient guess in 2010 was Krispy Kreme.

Beyond the goofy name, this does have actual bearing on Android. The new name implies a major refresh to the operating system. Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) was released back in 2011 with a major redesign, and since then we've had three versions of Jelly Bean (now on 4.3). Kit Kat will be version 4.4, so we probably won't need to wait too long for it, but the advancement to a new name should mean we get some substantial updates. Or it could be the groundskeeper at Google got bored. Anyone's guess, really.

Do You Ever Listen to the Radio Anymore?

It wasn't that long ago that the radio was kind of a big deal. Even a young'un like me is old enough to remember inexpertly dodging commercials for local car dealerships while recording embarrassing mix-tapes. But the times have changed. A lot. Do you ever listen to the radio anymore? Is there any reason to, at all? More here.

Sep 6, 2013

This Fridge's Vacuum Sealed Drawer Puts Fresh Food Into Cryostasis

With its new Freshness Center refrigerator, Siemens wants you to get rid of that freezer bag sealing contraption on your counter. In addition to the standard fridge and freezer compartments, the KG38QAL30 has a third drawer with a section that vacuum seals itself, preserving fresh foods like vegetables and meats up to five times longer.

With the drawer closed, a simple button push sucks the oxygen out, reducing the air pressure by 300 millibars. So we're not talking the vacuum of space here, or enough to implode the fridge, but more than enough to discourage bacteria and other parasite growth. The Freshness Center is destined for a release in the Netherlands and Germany first, and if consumers are cool with the $2,000 price tag, Siemens might roll it out in other parts of the world later on. More here.

Sep 5, 2013

Why Your Eyeballs Keep Falling for Optical Illusions

Optical illusions are fun because you literally can't believe your eyes. But isn't it a little troubling that your eyes can get fooled like that? Why don't they show you the visual truth? How can you ever trust them if they don't?

Well that's not their job. You can't handle the truth. As ASAP Science explains, your peepers have painstakingly evolved to show you what you need to know in a way you can understand it. If you saw everything, you'd drown in the noise. Optical illusions are just a window into exactly how your eyes and brain team up to try and show you the world in context, in a way that makes immediate sense.

Wait, What? No! Samsung’s Smartwatch Has a Leather Case, Too?!

There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the latest round of touchscreen timepieces like the Galaxy Gear, not the least of which being the fact that you'll apparently even be able to get a faux-leather stitched case for it. Guh.

So that's how Samsung plans to finally endear these devices to us? By embracing a side effect of the iPhone's popularity? That's obviously why Apple was able to make such a dent in the cellphone market; thousands and thousands of cheap-looking case options. At least the pleather industry has something to look forward to. More here.

Scientists Found the World's Largest Volcano on Ocean Floor Near Japan

The biggest volcano ever found on Earth—one of the biggest we know of in the solar system—has been hidden for ages. But now scientists have found it, just chillin' beneath the sea. It's a monster.

Tamu Massif sits on the floor of the Pacific off the east coast of Japan and occupies 119,000 square miles at its base, just slightly smaller than the entire state of New Mexico. And even though it doesn't come close to the breaching the ocean's surface, its peak is 2.2 miles high.

While Tamu Massif is a bit more squat than the the 12 mile-high Martian mammoth Olympus Mons—the largest known volcano in our solar system—its overall volume is only 25 percent less.

It's hard for something that gargantuan to go unnoticed, and scientists had an idea that something was down there. But they assumed it was a giant system of multiple volcanoes until a research team at Texas A&M University discovered that it's actually just one and had their findings published in Nature Geoscience. Oh and the name Tamu? That's no mythic Kaiju; it's just short for Texas A&M University.

Fortunately, Tamu Massif is probably long dead. The eruptions that helped it grow to its massive size happened 114 million years ago, and things have been quiet ever since. Hopefully things stay that way.

There could be other sleeping giants lurking out there too; the ocean is a big place. But until we find some other ancient colossus lurking in the depths, Tamu Massif is a pretty impressive reigning king. More here.

Sep 4, 2013

Sony Xperia Z1: A Waterproof Badass with a Killer Camera

We heard rumors about a mysterious "Xperia i1" a while back, but now it showed up for real. Sony's new Xperia z1 is the biggest Xperia yet at 5 inches, but more importantly, it's got a killer 20.7 MP camera on it too.

The Z1 packs its blazing 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 brain, 1080p display (exactresolution unknown), 3,000mAh battery, and 20.7 megapixel camera all into a slim waterproof (up to 5 feet!) body, made out of one piece of aluminum. The Xperia Z1 will launch with Android 4.2.2, complete with Sony's typical UI slathered on top.

The camera boasts a 1/2.3-inch sensor, roughly on par with the one in the Galaxy S4 Zoom. It's no Nokia 1020, but then that's a high bar to jump. Still, it's one of the beefiest cameras we've even seen on an Android phone. And it's got some fun features too, including a burst option which lets you fire off 30 shots with a single press of a button. More here.

How to Make a Watermelon Smoothie Using Just a Drill and a Coat Hanger

Now that it's September, you probably want to soak up as much of the summer as possible. And nothing says summer like watermelon. YouTube's favorite hacker Mark Rober just posted a video showing you how to make a watermelon smoothie in under two minutes. Get it while you can.

Just one question: What happens with the seeds?

Sep 3, 2013

The New iPhone(s) Are Officially Coming Sept. 10th

As is often the case, Apple has infused its invite with a not so subtle clue about what we can expect. The colorful dots are likely the palette that the iPhone 5C will come in, and they should "brighten everyone's day" because they are, er, colorful. Or it's a reference to the glittering gold champagne iPhone 5S that's coming down the pike. Or there's some sort of iFlashlight that's going to revolutionize the... flashlight... industry?

The event will be held at Apple's Cupertino headquarters instead of its usual Yerba Buena Center fĂȘte; that's not entirely out of the blue, though, as Apple last played a home game for the similarly iterative iPhone 4S. You can expect preorders to come soon after, with shipments arriving on Sept 20th.

Otherwise, the details of what we're expecting haven't changed much since AllThingsD first reported that Sept 10th would be the day of the big reveal. The only thing that's certain? There won't be many surprises. More here.

Sep 2, 2013

This Bathroom Scale Also Suggests Exercises To Maintain Your Weight

Good news if you're tired of your personal fitness trainer's constant nagging you about eating healthy and staying active. You can just replace them with this bathroom scale that not only tells you how much you weigh, but also what kind of activities you can do to maintain your current physique.

For starters it's just $100, way cheaper than any personal trainer, and on those days when you feel like being lazy, you can just stash it under the sink and ignore. Try that with a human and, well, you remember how that trial went. Using your personal information and the Harris-Benedict Equation—which determines a person's ideal calorie intake—the scale suggests one of 157 different activities to stay in shape, and how much of each you need to do. More here.

A Sleeping Bag That Ditches Zippers So You Don't Feel Like a Mummy

If the thought of drifting off in a sleeping bag, only to wake up in the middle of the night all twisted and constricted, leaves you feeling anxious and claustrophobic, Sierra Designs wants to help. With its new Backcountry Bed 800 sleeping bag it's banished constricting zippers, instead opting for a double layered design that feels more like sleeping in your comfy bed.

The bag's outer layer is packed with 800-fill down that's been treated with a water-resistant chemical called DriDown so the feathers don't clump together if they get damp. In other words, it will keep you plenty warm. But instead of completely sealing you inside with a zipper, the bag's inner layer works more like a duvet, letting you pull it up to keep warm, or kick it off in the middle of the night to cool off. Brilliant.

At $400 for a 15 degrees version, and $350 for a 30 degrees one, it's not considerably expensive, at least compared to other ultralight but ultrawarm sleeping bag options. But for those of us who cringe at the thought of crawling into a sleeping bag, it's worth every penny. More here.

Sep 1, 2013

Is This The Samsung Galaxy Gear?

According to VentureBeat, the Gear is a beefy machine. The screen is a relatively large (for a wrist) 3-inch OLED display but the clunky exterior packs a whole lot of features that would make it useful even without being paired to a smartphone. With Wi-Fi, the watch is apparently able to function on its own for email, social media, and whathaveyou. And there's a camera and speakers in there. It's practically one data connection short of being an actual phone.

It's not clear what kind of operating system the watch runs, but VentureBeat claims it comes pre-loaded with actual Android apps of some sort. Presumably they are massively modified ones, for both CPU and UI reasons. Don't expect to get everything on your wrist (like you would even want to). As for other specs, VentureBeat is detailing a 10+ hour battery life and the ability to be used as a hands-free device on calls.

The Gear is intended to work best with other Samsung devices (of course) but will be able to connect to any Android device. There aren't any details on whether or not there's an accelerometer or other fitness-tracking-type hardware inside, but it looks like Samsung is going whole-hog with features, so it seems likely there is. Why skimp there? And if that's the case, the Gear won't only be making a play as a phone-companion, but also a fitness-tracker replacement.

This is a leak, of course, so nothing is certain. While VentureBeat claims to have had hands-on time with an actual unit, the photos come from a internal video which show a prototype version. Things may have changed on the way to the actual announcement, especially the outward appearance. It'd be pretty incredible if they hadn't.

We'll have to wait until the (almost certain) September 4th reveal to get an official look at the finished product, but we wouldn't be surprised if this is a pretty accurate feature run-down. More here.