Wednesdays. Horrible horrible Wednesdays. The everyday horrors of the workweek are upon us, and the brief respite of the weekend seems an insurmountable world away.Thankfully, we have the internet!Some people like to virtually escape work by stalking friends on Facebook. Others pass the time harassing celebrities on Twitter. And still others read recaps of the TV shows they watched the night before so that some anonymous blogger can validate their opinions on the minutia of character development on Gossip Girl. As for me? I like to watch water balloons exploding in slow motion on YouTube. There’s just something unworldly about water–especially when you slow it down to 1,000 fps. Water’s crazy. You just have to pay really really close attention.Happy Humpday.Magic is after the jump. 10. 220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.1.
Being a gadget freak doesn’t mean never being able to leaveyour house. We’ve gathered a selection of gadgets that will help the athlete inyour life lead a more active–and more wired–lifestyle. Transcend Goggles, $399 This is serious Iron Man/Terminator stuff, right here. Theseski/snowboard goggles from Recon Instruments and Zeal Optics feature a built-inGPS system and a display inside the goggles themselves, which let you know ifyou’re headed in the right direction. The display also lets you know yourspeed, the time, and your total distance. You can also upload the data toGoogle Maps when you’re in front of a computer.Vibram Five Fingers, $75.00 In a perfect world, the golfer in your life wouldn’t needthese. But unless you’re married to Tiger Woods (in which case I’m very, verysorry), odds are that the golfer in your life doesn’t always hit his or hertarget. These glasses promise to make golf balls stick out more in theirsurroundings when they’ve been driven into the rough.Adidas miCoach Pacer, $139.99Hook up this device to any MP3 player and it will offer youreal-time coaching tips. It also offers heart rate data, and progress tracking,which you can upload and follow on Adidas.com.Liquid Image Explorer Series, $99.99This waterproof snorkeling mask features a built-in 3.1MPvideo/still camera that records content to microSD card. You turn the camera onwith a button on top of the mask, while an LCD inside the mask lets you knowwhat mode you’re recording in. the mask works at depths up to 15 feet.Casio G’zOne Ravine, $199.99 They’re like rubber gloves–for your feet. These odd looking shoespromise to “deepen your connection to the earth and your surroundings,” givingrunners, climbers, kayakers, and other outdoorsy types a more naturalinteraction with the ground below.Visiball Golf Ball Finder, $39.99 This ultra-rugged clamshell is perfect for the outdoorsytype in your life. The phone can take a beating (and then some), has good callquality, great battery life, and comes preloaded with fittinglyoutdoor-friendly apps.Oregon ScientificATC3K Action Cam, $104.99 This rugged camcorder can strap to your bike’s handlebars oryour helmet–you can even take the thing underwater. It captures video at 640 x480 VGA. Oregon Scientific is offering it online now for 46 percent off itsoriginal price–and is throwing in a free 4GB SD card to boot.
Want to feel better gifting electronics this holiday season? Well, Best Buy finally announced that it would stop charging stocking fees, for returned items (except special orders). So if the products that you gift aren’t exactly what the recipients wanted, they can return them without being slapped with a hefty restocking fee, which was previously 15% for most items (pricey).AdChoices广告Best Buy recently announced on its website: Best Buy continually listens to our customers, and they told us they want to give confidently this holiday season and every other day of the year — and with that comes easier returns. Effective Saturday, December 18, Best Buy is improving its return policy by removing restocking fees for all products except special orders. Customers can visit BestBuy.com for further information. To elaborate, The Consumerist reported that in an e-mail sent from Best Buy HQ to stores across the country, the company stated that the new policy would go into effect December 18th and would apply to computers (including notebooks, tablets and iPads), projectors, camcorders, digital cameras, radar detectors, GPS navigation, in-car video systems, DJ equipment and lighting, Pro-Audio equipment, and iPhones. They also said that customers who were charged a restocking fee between Nov. 17 and Dec. 17 can come into the store and get the fee refunded.Happy Holiday’s Best Buy Shoppers!Via The Consumerist
Most iPhone battery packs slide on to your phone, or serve double-duty as a case and a battery pack, but the Octopus Battery Charger takes a different approach: one that’s definitely more interesting, but is debatable if it’s better. The Octopus has a 30-pin dock connector on a flexible arm at the bottom of the charger. Plug in the charger to your iPhone or iPod Touch for some extra juice, and while you’re using it, attach the battery pack to the back of your device using the eight suction cups on the back of the battery pack. According to the manufacturers, your phone will be get about a half-charge from the Octopus in about 3 hours, less if you opt to use your phone while it’s charging. On the bright side, it’s clear the Octopus is designed for use when you need your phone and your battery is about to die, not as a permanent fixture on the back of your device. One can be yours now for $29.85 retail price.
While competitors like Barnes and Noble and Kobo have been busy unveiling new models with touch interfaces and faster processors, Amazon has been working on a new offering, too. For the Kindle, however, the update is all about a price break — and driving additional sales on Amazon.com.If you recall, Amazon recently unveiled a new Wi-Fi Kindle for the bargain(ish) price of $114. The discount, of course, came with a trade-off: advertising. Special Offers are presented to owners of the discounted device with the hope of driving additional sales back to Amazon.com. It’s a reasonable enough exchange, and one which consumers seem to be happy to make: the Wi-Fi Kindle with Special Offers is now Amazon’s best-selling model.Now, Bezos and company have outed the device’s logical successor, the Kindle 3G with Special Offers. Offering more or less global wireless access to nearly one million books, the new model retails for $164 — making it the cheapest 3G-enabled e-reader around.Sure, the concept of the ad-powered Kindle sounds off-putting at first, but when you consider that it’s showing users deals from Amazon (where they obviously already shop) and not discount pharmaceutical interstitials it makes good sense. What’s that? You want to jump in for a moment and offer me a $20 gift card for $10? Yeah, I’m ok with that — especially since I’ll be able to download new content anywhere I’ve got a 3G signal. Remember, that 3G access is provided totally free of charge and works in more than 100 countries and territories around the world.More at Amazon
A tweet from DICE’s community manager confirms that the PC edition of the studio’s upcoming shooter Battlefield 3 will require that players be connected to publisher Electronic Arts’ downloadable store Origin in order to play.Daniel Matros, the community manager, wrote “Yes, those ‘rumors’ are true” in response to a fan asking for comment on Internet buzz that Origin would indeed be required.A later tweet from Matros suggests that EA will stick its fingers into console platforms as well. When another fan asked if Origin would be required to play the Xbox version, Matros clarified that Origin is required on the PC edition (as Origin is a PC-oriented digital download store akin to Steam). “However, an EA Account is required,” he added, signaling that console users will still have to log in to EA to play some or all of Battlefield 3.The Origin requirement comes as no surprise following EA’s gradual retreat from Steam. As we noted last week, the publisher first pulled Crysis 2 from the now-competing store and then blamed Valve for the pull. It followed that up with pulling Dragon Age 2 from virtual shelves and announcing that the latest Battlefield wouldn’t be released on the popular service in the first place.via TwitterBlake’s OpinionEnjoy your new Origin, Battlefield fans! Much of the Internet tends to sway in favor of Steam and against other services (for good reason, given the quality of other store apps), but Valve loyalists have no escape from having another download store sitting on their machines if they want to play BF3. EA knows from the online fervor for the game that it has a hit on its hands and it’s going to use the closest thing it’ll have to a killer app to drive installations of this competitive new store.Developers have sometimes complained about Valve’s hegemony in digital distribution and wished for seriously competitive alternatives. It appears that EA is taking this possibility very seriously with Origin, but it won’t exactly be to gamers’ benefit if in three years’ time all gaming PCs are running stores from Valve, EA, Blizzard, and Ubisoft at all times just so that players can access their purchases.Still more alarming is EA’s very real tentacle-like reach into console territory. The current generation of consoles, particularly Microsoft’s offering mentioned above, have done a great job of making it easier to just get into a game without things getting in the way. Silicon Valley types call it “reducing friction,” and the most prominent example may be that Xbox games don’t require users to enter a password to start playing online. (Astute observers will also notice that mega-hit casual games like Angry Birds or FarmVille don’t require passwords either!)EA would like to see that change by integrating its own account authentication on console platforms. EA gains valuable data about who’s playing what when – and everyone’s email addresses, no doubt – and gamers get to “pay” for the privilege with a little frustration carried over from the much-maligned PC gaming world.
The iPhone 4S has been one of the recurring rumors surrounding the launch of the iPhone 5. We’ve heard that there is no iPhone 5 this year, but an updated iPhone 4 carrying the 4S name instead. But we’ve also had it suggested the iPhone 4S is a smaller, cheaper iPhone allowing Apple to appeal to a wider audience and new markets.Whatever the case, an image has been leaked to Engadget of the AT&T internal product database showing a listing for the iPhone 4s. Although the image doesn’t look to have been manipulated in any way, I have my misgivings about this being a legitimate entry on the list.Apple’s iPhones have always been listed with the capacity as the AT&T legacy entries show. But in the case of the 4s, there is no capacity given. That could be explained away as Apple not releasing the information yet, but then why would they release any information if the handset wasn’t ready?We also have the issue of the lowercase “s”. Apple doesn’t use lowercase letters after the number, as can be seen in the 3G and 3GS names. Surely the name would be “iPhone 4S” so as not to be confusing?One final thought on this: there are clearly 2 pages of iPhone models available to view, which suggests the black version of the 4s could be on the other page. However, in the case of every other iPhone 4 model the black version is listed first, so why is the white version ahead of the black for the 4s?There are just too many unusual things about that iPhone 4s White entry to make me think it is a real list. So until someone provides evidence to suggest otherwise, I’m deeming this a fake.via Engadget
The home speaker could use a refresh. Partly because of iPod docks, and partly because it gets the job done, the classic speaker has remained largely unchanged through the years. Connecting a smartphone or MP3 player to a supersized black box is awkward, yet few alternatives offer a better solution. Enter the transparent speaker: it’s an attractive, innovative, and environmentally-conscious — but ultimately handicapped — product that tries to breathe life into the speaker market.The clear speaker is made of four sheets of glass, a frame, and essential speaker components. Its opacity prevents it from becoming a boxy eyesore. It takes up the same physical space as classic speakers, but its occupied visual space is minimal:But this speaker is unique in ways other than aesthetics. It includes a WiFi transmitter, which can be plugged into any device with a headphone jack. Similarly to how FM transmitters broadcast audio in cars, the WiFi accessory will stream over your local network to the speaker. This allows your mobile device to play without being tethered by wires or a dock.The speaker ships in a small box, separate from the glass. The glass is ordered from local glassmakers; this is done to reduce shipping costs and support local craftspeople. After the audio components and glass arrive, the speaker is put together, “Ikea style.” The resulting product will have a long life, as the components most likely to break (the speaker cone and rubber ring) are easily replaced.As customers are used to ready-made products, the build-it-yourself element will make it hard for this speaker to move beyond the niche product classification. Ordering and picking up sheets of glass from a local shop will be the deal-breaker for many people.There is another catch to the clear speaker: it’s under development and currently unavailable. The developers haven’t announced a timeline or expected release date. You can read more and sign up for updates at the source link below.More at People People
As a general rule, if you want to keep a computer running without issues then you need adequate cooling for the major components. That means a CPU fan, GPU fan, and case fans too. If you scale that up to the data center level, cooling is implemented on a massive scale and costs a small fortune in electricity and equipment.Google is always trying to make its servers more efficient and eco-friendly in a bid to save on running costs, and its St Ghislain data center in Belgium is now classed as the most efficient. The reason? It only uses fresh air cooling, which means no air conditioning units burning through electricity every day.Such efficiency comes at a price, though. The servers in the facility run incredibly hot, so hot in fact that humans cannot go near them for extended periods.The peak operating temperature Google’s Belgium data center reaches is 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It is governed by how hot it is outside, and when it reaches those temperature staff can no longer remain in the same areas as the servers. By comparison, a typical data center runs at temperatures as low as 68 degrees.The savings Google is making by running at temperatures 27 degrees higher than other facilities must be huge. According to Joe Kava, senior director for Google’s data center construction and operations, in general the company’s data centers are 50% more efficient than the competition. Belgium could be even better than that. The fact people can’t go near the servers during peak temperature periods is a minor inconvenience, and could probably be solved with the right protective gear.With the hardware in data centers clearly capable of coping with such high temperatures we should expect other facilities to take the same route in a bid to save money. The hot air pumping out of the server rooms can also be reused in a number of ways, e.g. to heat nearby homes.It’s also telling that Google released the video below in May of last year and talked about turning the temperature up to 80 degrees. Less than a year on and they have turned it up a further 15 degrees, showing you the improvements in efficiency continue to happen and that temperatures will probably continue to increase.Read more at Data Center Knowledge
When you think about how a movie is made, most people don’t think about the software used. We think about the cameras, the actors, or the writers. Sure, we expect brilliant special effects in almost everything we watch, but few people understand the software used.Blender is one of the many software suites that can be used to make 3D content in movies. What sets Blender apart from the rest lies in the open source nature of the software suite. To help show off what a totally open source movie would look like, the Blender Foundation have released several shorts showcasing the toolset. You may remember the fantastic Sintel released back in 2010. Now we have another short film from the foundation, this one is called Tears of Steel.Tears of Steel is sci-fi short that demonstrates the potentially severe consequences of breaking up with an emotionally unstable robotics genius for vanity reasons. The film is jam packed with tons of special effects, ranging from giant robots to entire 3D landscapes seemingly projected over another environment. Visually the film is great and does a fantastic job of showcasing the power of the Blender suite, which ultimately is the goal of the film from the perspective of the Blender Foundation. What really makes the whole project significant is the DVD set that is being released with the film. This 12 minute video is being released as a four DVD set, including everything you would need to re-create the film from scratch on your home computer.The set includes all of the studio data and software used to create the special effects used in Tears of Steel, as well as step-by-step tutorials for creating some of the 3D content that was used in the film. One disc includes all of the RAW footage that was recorded as well as a documentary covering the making of. All of the content in the DVD’s are licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 license, which means that anyone can reuse and even make money off of the content provided in the DVDs as long as you provide proper attribution.For $43 it’s a great investment. The DVDs will start shipping on October 12.Read more at the Tears of Steel website