June 2011

  1. Weird

    Its Name Is Grillex [Video]

    Its name is Grillex and it appears to have an affection for several memes. Beyond that, you'll have to make your own sense of it.

    (via Reddit)

    Read on...
  2. Tech

    Smelly Robot Armpit is an Attempt to Create Relatable but Non-Anthropomorphized Robots

    Yes. It's a robotic armpit. Yes, it has hair. Yes, it can sweat and emit smells. Why? Well, thats a more interesting question than you might think. FOR SCIENCE!! plays a significant part for sure, but Kevin Grennan, the creator of this, interesting, uh, thing, has the overarching nature of human-robot relationships in mind. In a recent interview, Grennan mentioned that he feels that anthropomorphized robots with externally human appearances endorse a human-robot relationship based on the falsehood of this simulated appearance. On the other hand, he is more interested in robots that interface with humans on a more basal, primal, intimate level, in this case, through smell. While the armpit shown above is only a prototype, Grennan has designed a few complete robots that would utilize this technology by having glands that sweat and emit smells that are intended to affect the behavior of the humans around them. These prototypes include a bomb-defusal robot that can emit a smell of fear (why you want a scared bomb-defusal robot is beyond me), a surgical robot with a smell that encourages trust, and an assembly line robot with a scent that could supposedly increase the productivity of nearby females. All in all, it certainly is a unique approach to robot-human relations, but the question is: can you appropriately react to subtle scent cues when they are given off by a robot with frightening, fleshy, hairy, sweating mounts haphazardly grafted onto it? They all smell like fear to me. Check out some sketches of these Lovecraftian-cyberpunk nightmares after the jump.

    Read on...
  3. Geekolinks

    Geekolinks: 6/29

    We made a documentary about what a day in the office is like

    Those fake anti-virus malware programs? They're actually pretty clever (Technology Review)

    What we lost in transition from text-based video games to visual ones (The Atlantic)

    Rock, Paper, Shotgun totally gets it (Rock, Paper, Shotgun)

    Google patents censorship of annoying content (ConceivablyTech)

    Casting has begun for a homemade Zelda porn parody. They are including Tingle as a character (reddit)

    Meanwhile... (BuzzFeed)

    (title pic via BuzzFeed)

    Read on...
  4. Weird

    Band Releases Song On Playable, Edible Chocolate Record

    Scottish band FOUND has released their song "Anti Climb Paint" on an edible chocolate record. Created by baker Ben Milne of Fisher & Donaldson, the idea for the 7" record came out of wanting to collaborate with the band.

    Milne is friends with the members of FOUND, who filmed the video for the song in the bakery’s kitchen. The band includes Ziggy Campbell (lead vocals, guitar), Tommy Perman (bass guitar, synth) and Kev Sim (electronics, percussion) who describe their sound as an unusual mix of garage rock, melodic pop and glitchy electronica. While the chocolate record will be released for only a very limited run, this is one sweet idea that will certainly attract attention. But what we really want to know is what happens to the sound when it starts to melt?

    Read on...
  5. Tech

    Report: Myspace to be Sold to Specific Media for Only $35 Million [Updated]

    We knew the fallen social network Myspace was being shopped around on the cheap, but back then, News Corp. was looking for a $100 million offer -- still much cheaper than the initial purchase price of $580 million. Now, however, AllThingsD is reporting that the fallen social network has even further to fall, and is being acquired by ad-targeting firm Specific Media for the (comparatively) paltry sum of $35 million. AllThingsD claims sources say the deal should be closed today, and News Corp. will keep a very small stake in the company, around less than five percent. The deal supposedly includes cutting half of Myspace's staff of 400, and it is speculated that Myspace's higher-up staff, such as CEO Mike Jones, will only remain for an interim period. Remember when Myspace was the king of social networks and people used "Myspace me" just like they use "Facebook me" now? One can only wonder if Facbeook will eventually suffer the same fate. UPDATE: CEO Mike Jones reportedly sent out an email to employees confirmed the sale of Myspace to Specific Media. Head on past the break to see the email, which also states that Jones is leaving the company.

    Read on...
  6. Weird

    Bad Chinese Government Photoshop Turns Into Meme

    From the country that brought you Top Gun scenes as Air Force footage, introducing, blatantly fake Chinese government Photoshop. Thats right, ladies and gentleman, this photograph is not authentic. When reading over a story about the inspection and construction of a new country road, somebody decided that the real photos weren't pretty enough for the Chinese government homepage. As a result, this monstrosity got whipped up and posted on the first page. Boisterous laughter and a series of spoofs ensue. Check a few out after the jump.

    Read on...
  7. Science

    Pen With Silver Ink Can Draw Circuits that Actually Work

    Some scientists at University of Illinois have developed a pen that essentially draws circuit diagrams that will actually work, but no, you can't use it to draw a hamburger that you can actually eat because this is science, not magic, unfortunately. The pen uses a silver solution (the element, not the color) that allows the wielder to draw working electronic circuits on a number of different surfaces.

    Printers have used metallic ink to print circuits for a while now, but this pen, while being cheaper and more versatile, also adds a little bit of unique, artistic flair to the process. This, combined with the fact that the ink will maintain connectivity even after being folded, could make some waves in the worlds of disposable electronics and electronic art. Sure, this thing probably isn't going to change the whole world, but the parts of it that it does change should be pretty awesome.

    (via Short Sharp Science)

    Read on...
  8. Weird

    Combustion Art Is Both Beautiful and Dangerous

    The winners of the 2011 Combustion Art Competition Awards are beautiful reminders that while fire can be tremendously destructive, it can also be fun and beautiful. Held at a recent meeting of the Combustion Institute, the awards, which are now in their eighth year, brought together pyrotechnic scientists to show off their art. The above image was created by Bogdan Pavlov and Li Qiao of Purdue University. It combines several images of different flame types in a portrait they call  Dr Combustion. Taking second place in the competition, Dr Combustion's nose, beard and hair were created by adding mixtures of nanoparticles to a flame. The eyes and mouth are made by a counterflow diffusion flame, and his hat was made using methane-air diffusion flame.

    Read on...
  9. Gaming

    Best Browser-Based Games to Play While at Work

    If there’s one thing that geeks are constantly working on figuring out and upgrading, it’s the ability to play a game while at work. Preferably, unnoticed. That’s where browser-based games come into play. Unfortunately, a good browser-based game is hard to come by. Even harder to come by is a good browser-based game that’s also easily concealable and doesn’t require constant attention, which makes things quite a bit more difficult. This is especially true since some of the best browser-based stuff out there involves twitch-based gameplay requiring the player to respond quickly to changing environments, which is not great when the boss strolls by and all of the sudden your game is absolutely over. So, hopefully, this list will provide a nice variety of things to spend time with when you should actually be working. Also, to curb any potential commentary on the fact that, technically, browser-based games shouldn’t require Flash among other things in order to fit the definition, please see #3 below.

    Read on...
  10. Science

    The Fuel Of The Future? Researchers Look To Aneutronic Fusion

    When you're talking about traveling through space, the less fuel you need to move a satellite or vehicle the better. Propulsion methods for objects in space need to deliver a large impact with just a little substance, which is difficult to achieve with current technology. But, a new propulsion method called aneutronic fusion may give scientists the bang for their buck they've been searching for. Suggested at the IEEE Symposium on Fusion Engineering by John J. Chapman, a physicist and electronics engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center in VA, aneutronic fusion could improve space propulsion significantly. The new propulsion method is based on boron fuel rather than deuterium and tritium, the typical fuel for nuclear fusion. With aneutronic fusion, neutrons represent less than 1 percent of the energy-charged particles that are created by the reaction, which makes it easier to manage. The new method would also only require just grams of fuel to far surpass current propulsion fuels in efficiency.

    Read on...
  11. Tech

    How to Remove the New Black Bar on

    Many people noticed the new black bar sitting atop like it owned the place yesterday, and since then, most of those people have sought out ways to remove said black bar and revert their Google to the less eye-popping, minimalist version they knew and loved. After searching through the settings tab like a madman, I could not turn up some kind of simple disable feature, so I took to the Internet to find a quick, easy way to remove that obtrusive bar and get my eyes to focus on the search box once again.

    At the time of this post, I've found two different ways to remove the bar, both of which are easy enough, but admittedly, not as ideal as a simple, native option in the bar itself. Head on past the break to pick your poison and remove some unnecessary Google screen pollution.

    Read on...
  12. Tech

    Spam At Its Lowest Level Since 2008

    According to computer security juggernaut Symantec (makers of Norton Antivirus) global spam levels are the lowest they've been since 2008, when a particularly notorious spam center was taken offline. Worldwide, spam is now down to only 1 in 1.37 emails and only 73.7 percent of emails as a whole. Yes, that's right. This is considered a low-point.

    While there is clearly still a remarkable spam presence on the Internet, some of the current lull could be attributed to progress in taking down the largely automated networks responsible for spending it. Not to mention, spam filters are getting better and by this point, most Internet users understand what spam is and how to effectively avoid it. There's also no telling what percentage of these recorded spam emails are being sent to largely inactive, or disposable accounts.

    Read on...
  13. Gaming

    World of Warcraft, the Last Bastion of Wildly Successful Subscription MMOs, Partly Goes Free-To-Play

    Regarding World of Warcarft, there are basically only two groups of gamers: Those who play it and those who know they won't like it. Both groups are fairly large, but with the latest patch, Rage of the Firelands, Blizzard is attempting to turn that latter group into "those who know they don't like it, but play it anyway." Now, rather than the free 14-day limited trial, WoW has shifted over to a limited free-to-play trial: Instead of 14 days to test out the game, players will be able to play some of the content forever, but with a limiting level cap of 20 that will only be removed once they upgrade to the full version of the game.

    Dubbed the World of Warcraft Starter Edition, the free-to-play "trial" includes the base game and some content from the first expansion, The Burning Crusade, namely the two added character races. So, not exactly a massive shift to a free-to-play model like every other game seems to be doing lately -- even games that never had a subscription to begin with -- but still, a step in what many people would call the right direction for WoW, a game that needs to reach a new audience, but is so widely known that most of that potential new audience already knows it doesn't want to play WoW. At least if the game moves to some kind of free-to-play model, all of those people who wouldn't want to play may give it a shot. It's entirely possible that this free-to-play trial could be the first step in that direction.

    (Blizzard via Joystiq)

    Read on...
  14. Tech

    Google Swiffy Converts Flash Files to HTML5 So You Can Use Flash Files Without Flash Support

    Overshadowed by yesterday's announcement of Google's next attempt at a social network, Google+, was another, albeit smaller, tool released by Google: Swiffy. The handy tool converts Flash files to HTML5 so users can run Flash files on devices that do not support Flash, or on devices on which users do not allow Flash's tendrils to reach. Considering this is an early version of the tool, Swiffy doesn't convert all Flash animations, but according to the press release, it works great on ads and animations.

    The converted HTML5 files run on web browsers with high SVG support, such as Chrome and Safari, and Swiffy uses a compact JSON representation of an animation, which is rendered using a combination of HTML5, CSS3, and some Actionscript 2.0, which is interpreted in JavaScript in the browser. The method supposedly makes the conversions nearly as compact as the original SWF files. Google provides a few examples of the conversion over here, and one can give Swiffy a go over at its Google Labs page.

    (via Google Code Blog)

    Read on...
  15. Gaming

    Report: Zynga to File for IPO as Early as Today, Implies a $15 to $20 Billion Valuation

    CNBC reports that Zynga, casual and social video game developer most noted for their Facebook farming sim FarmVille, plans to file for their initial IPO, possibly as early as today. Zynga aims to raise around $1.5 billion to $2 billion as part of the IPO, and is rumored to have selected Morgan Stanley to lead the deal, while Goldman Sachs will follow in the number two position. The size of Zynga's valuation could imply an enormous $15 billion to $20 billion valuation -- if not higher -- if they follow the low-float model, a strategy in which companies sell a very small portion of their stock at a time in order to game and increase the value. If Zynga's IPO doesn't bomb, so to speak -- and it's really looking like there is absolutely no reason for it to do so -- then the real effect its success could have could easily shape the gaming landscape, inspiring even more companies to develop casual, social, shallow games and depart from the deeper, more hardcore titles. In a move no doubt inspired by the popularity of social games, one of the most popular franchises of modern times, Call of Duty, was recently announced to receive its own social upgrades. What the more hardcore gamer has to worry about regarding Zynga's IPO if it is wildly successful, is if other, more hardcore game developers were paying attention. Hopefully not, right? (via CNBC)

    Read on...
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