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26 Aug 22:32

8TB hard drives have arrived

by Jon Fingas
We're sorry to break the bad news, but that 5TB hard drive you bought last week? Yeah, it's already obsolete. Seagate has started shipping the first-ever 8TB desktop hard disk, doubling the 4TB capacities that seemed huge just a couple of years ago....
27 Aug 00:30

peterfromtexas: Anti public urination sign in the Czech...


Anti public urination sign in the Czech Republic

27 Aug 00:58

Twitch the latest target for DDoS attack [Update:, League of Legends also hit]

by Ozzie Mejia

Update 4: With a handful of users ceding to Lizard Squad's demands, Twitch,, and League of Legends all appear to be up and running again. Shacknews will continue to monitor the situation and await the next chapter in this unfortunate saga.

Update 3: Lizard Squad has indicated that they will be targeting League of Legends servers in North America. Servers have since been taken down.

Update 2: It appears that the attacks are spreading, once again. Hearthstone and Diablo 3 servers are down and Blizzard is claiming to be the victims of DDoS attack. Lizard Squad has yet to take responsibility for these attacks, so they may be unrelated.

[NA] - We are currently looking into some issues with D3 and Hearthstone. Updates to follow.

— BlizzardCS (@BlizzardCS) August 27, 2014

Update: Twitch is addressing the source of the attacks.

We're currently investigating issues with the site. Please stay tuned

— Twitch Support (@TwitchSupport) August 27, 2014

Original story: Lizard Squad is at it again. This time, they've targeted Twitch, hitting the streaming giant with a DDoS attack, with no sign that they'll bring it back up anytime soon.

As with many of their other attacks, they've claimed responsibility on their Twitter account.

Lizard Squad previously issued DDoS attacks to, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, and a slew of others. They also reported a phony bomb threat that grounded Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley's American Airlines flight. The FBI had been confirmed to be investigating, but it appears that the terror has not stopped.

Shacknews has reached out to Twitch representatives for comment.

25 Aug 11:38

LG kicks off the Ultra HD OLED TV revolution with 65-incher

by Chris Smith

Maybe I'll change my plasma in 3-4 years after all.

LG kicks off the Ultra HD OLED TV revolution with 65-incher

Ahead of their showing at IFA 2014 in the first week of September, LG has officially announced the release details of its first two Ultra HD OLED TVs, the 77EG9700 and 65EC9700.

Ultra HD TVs have been as common as bad action movies this summer, but the LG 65EC9700 and 77EG9700 are a bit special. They're not LCD TVs, but the first Ultra HD OLED TVs that you'll actually be able to buy, as a normal, non-famous person.

You will still need a nice and full wallet or purse, though, as they won't come cheap. The 65-inch 65EC9700 is expected to cost around £5999 ($9999), and the 77-inch 77EG9700 around £20k.

The TVs will go on pre-order first in South Korea shortly, before becoming available in the UK and US a little further down the line. We're still waiting on an exact date for the UK.

"I feel confident when I say that 4K OLED is a bona fide game changer," says LG Home Entertainment CEO Hyun-hwoi Ha. However, like previous OLED TVs, it's only going to change the game for a select, flush few.

We should also point out that these TVs are not actually 4K, but Ultra HD. Normal 4K is a broadcast standard of 4096 × 2160, where Ultra HD actually falls slightly below 4000 horizontal pixels with a resolution of 3840 × 2160.

There's a fact tech pedants can annoy friends with.

A brief history of OLED

These TVs further reinforce LG's reputation as one of the pioneers of OLED TVs. Several have been produced, but hardly any have been available to buy.

The LG 55EA980W is the most readily-available OLED TV to date, and these days costs around £3000. It's rather special, offering black levels even plasma TVs can't touch.

Like that TV, the LG 65EC9700 and 77EG9700 adopt a slight screen curvature and use LG's RGBW matrix. Instead of using red, green and blue pixels, the TVs use white pixels and RGB colour filters, designed to combat the OLED deterioration issue that's a real concern with full RGB OLEDs like the Samsung KE55S9C.

25 Aug 17:15

Watch A Robot Ride A Hovercycle

by Kelsey D. Atherton

The Drone 3 In Flight
I bet this would've caught Luke Skywalker on Endor.
Malloy Aeronautics

A white plastic robot zooms a hoverbike over the English countryside, grains blowing beneath the bike's four fans. The robot's 3-D printed body is lightweight, and where its face would be there’s a GoPro camera instead, filming the flight. This isn't a scene from a dystopian science fiction movie; The bike is less than four feet long, and combined robot and bike weighs a maximum of 15.4 pounds. Created by Malloy Aeronautics, the Drone 3 hoverbike is a 1/3rd scale model of the version ultimately intended for human pilots and passengers.

The hoverbike is available as a reward for Kickstarter backers pledging just shy of $1000 USD. The campaign, which concludes on August 31st has already surpassed its goal. Making and selling Drone 3 is just the first part of the plan for Malloy Aeronautics. The company, founded in Australia and transplanted to England, envisions hoverbikes using the sky alongside helicopters the same way cars and motorcycles share the same roads. In particular, and in strikingly Australian fashion, the hoverbike makers say it could be used for "one man operational areas like cattle mustering and survey," replacing the more conventional helicopters that presently perform this role.

Malloy Aeronautics’s first hoverbike used two large ducted fans for lift, something it had in common with other hoverbike designs. The new version, as seen in Drone 3, is instead a quadcopter, using four rotors in a sleeker, more balanced fashion. The fans partially overlap, and the whole drone can fold up to fit within a special backpack carrying case. Drone 3 is remotely piloted, but the hoverbikes it finances will fly both manned and unmanned.

Watch it in flight below:

26 Aug 03:59

A fight about seat reclining privileges grounded a flight today

by Sean Buckley
If you've ever flown coach, you know that it doesn't provide much legroom -- in an effort to maximize passenger loads, airlines make a conscious effort of eliminating the divide between seating rows, often cutting out the customer's leg-room in the...
25 Aug 22:14

Emergency Fund Will Bankroll Ebola Research To Help In The Current Outbreak

by Francie Diep

photo of investigators standing around in Uganda in head-to-toe suits
Researchers Investigate an Ebola Outbreak in Uganda in 2012
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Public and private donors in the U.K. have launched an emergency fund for researchers studying Ebola. They want a quick turnaround time for the research they bankroll. Applications for the fund are due September 8 and funders are hoping studies will finish within two months, the Guardian reports. The tight timeline is designed to make a difference in the current outbreak in West Africa, which Doctors Without Borders expects to last longer than six months.

The Guardian describes what kind of research they're looking to fund:

Among the projects they may look at are case detection systems in places such as Sierra Leone and Liberia where there is illiteracy and weak health infrastructure and where accurate data on the spread of the disease is difficult to come by. [Wellcome Trust international activities manager Val] Snewin said they would also be prepared to fund clinical trials for prototype diagnostic tools.


Among the areas that interest Wellcome are treatment-seeking behavior, case detection systems and clinical management.

This is the latest push to speed up Ebola research. The World Health Organization has declared that it is ethical to use experimental drugs in this outbreak––allowing some potential treatments to skip clinical trials that would validate the drug's safety and efficacy––and U.S. federal agencies want to fast-track human trials of a promising vaccine. If all goes well, the vaccine may be available sometime in 2015, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told USA Today.

The U.K. fund comes from a pool worth $10.8 million (6.5 million British pounds), although it's unclear exactly how much funders will use at this time. The pool comes from the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises program, which is a joint effort of the Wellcome Trust and the U.K.'s Department for International Development.

Experts from the United Nations, the World Health Organization and universities will review grant applications, the Guardian reports.

25 Aug 20:37

Amazon Acquires Twitch for $970 Million

by Brandon Hill
Amazon looks to expand its gaming presence
23 Aug 06:30

Car-loading family lacks spatial awareness

by Daljinder Nagra

22 Aug 21:36

Heterochromia – The Eyes Have It

by RJ Evans
There are a number of reasons why animals can have one eye of one color and the second of another, but the term for the most likely cause is heterochromia.  It is more often than not to do with melanin. This is a pigment that is found almost everywhere in nature (spiders being a notable exception) and it dictates such things are skin and eye color.

Heterochromia occurs when there is either an excess or a lack of melanin.  Although eye color can be affected by disease or injury when they are different colors the odds are that it is heterochromia which is the cause.  The color of the iris in particular is determined first and foremost by the concentration f melanin and in most cases the eye is hyperpigmented – there is too much melanin.

Complete heterochromia is seen often in animals such as cats and dogs.  It almost always involves the affected eye appearing blue in color.  It happens in a white spot where melanin is absent – the cat species which seem to be affected are the Turkish Van and Angora.  The odd-eyed cats tend to be white or mostly white and with one normal eye and one blue eye – altogether very striking.

Among dogs the husky is often seen to have heterochromia and also the Australian Shepherd and the Catahoula Leopard dog.  Horses too can have heterochromia, mostly common in horses with pinto coloring.  The condition has also been recorded in cattle – and even water buffalo!  Ferrets too have been known to have heterochromia.

However, we think you will agree that these cats look quite amazing.

23 Aug 17:30

Destiny takes the Ice Bucket Challenge, Bungie donating store proceeds to ALSA

by S. Prell
Here's something you don't see every day: a fictional character performing a meme to fight a real-world disease. Our little buddy Ghost from Destiny has been hard at work helping the Guardians protect the solar system, and as thanks for his efforts,...
22 Aug 11:00

In depth: 4K TV and Ultra HD: Everything you need to know

by James Rivington
In depth: 4K TV and Ultra HD: Everything you need to know


If you pay attention to entertainment tech at all, you've heard about 4K TVs. But beyond being the hottest buzzword in the business, 4K is a breakthrough technology that's shaking up the industry and rewriting the rulebook on image quality.

4K TV sets are now available from most of the major TV manufacturers, but these are merely the tip of the technological iceberg. This new standard affects not just the world of TV and cinema, but cameras, smartphones, tablets, computer monitors and video games. Practically anything that displays images or records video will need to reckon with 4K in the coming years.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's make sure we all understand the basics. What the heck is 4K and why should you care?

What do I need to know about 4K?

In a minute we're going to explain precisely how 4K is defined, how it works and why you should care, but to tell you the truth, you only need to know one thing about it: 4K means more pixels.

That's it?

That's it.

How many more pixels are we talking about?

About 8 million. Which is around four times what your current 1080p set can display. Think of your TV like a grid, with rows and columns. A full HD 1080p image is 1080 rows high and 1920 columns wide. A 4K image approximately doubles both those numbers, yielding approximately 4 times as many pixels total. To put it another way, you could fit every pixel from your 1080p set onto one quarter of a 4K screen.

Why is it called 4K?

Because the images are around 4,000 pixels wide. And before you ask, yes, the industry named 1080 resolution after image height, but named 4K after image width. For extra added fun, you also might hear this resolution referred to as 2160p. Welcome to the future. It's confusing here.

Do all those extra pixels matter?

They matter very much. More pixels means more information. More information means sharper pictures. Sharper pictures are more engaging. More engaging content is more fun. And fun... well fun is the thing, isn't it?

So I'll see a huge difference?

That's where it gets sticky. We're talking about a similar jump in resolution as the one from SD (480 lines high) to HD (1080 lines high). And 4K screens are noticeably sharper than 1080p screens. But there are a few reasons you might not feel the same thrill you did when you upgraded your old CRT to a flatscreen.

When most people went from a 480 to a 1080p set, there was a good chance they were making a big jump in TV size as well. In terms of wow factor, display size is more powerful than any resolution jump could ever hope to be. Last time around most people got big jumps to both screen size and resolution. But this time screen sizes are staying about the same, with the most popular models falling in the 40 inch to 70 inch range.

Most importantly, though, you'll only be able to see the resolution difference on a 4K set if you're 1) watching 4K content through it and 2) you're sitting close enough.

Sitting close enough?

Yup. Remember when Apple made a big fuss about "retina" displays a few iPhones back? "Retina" refers to screens that have sufficient resolution that at a normal viewing distance your eye can't make out individual pixels. Get far enough away from a 1080p set and, hey presto, It's a retina display! More importantly, at that same distance, your eyeballs won't be able to squeeze any more detail out of a 4K image than a 1080 one. If you're at "retina distance" from your 1080p set now and don't plan on moving your couch closer, upgrading to 4K may not make a big difference to your experience. This chart [[]] shows how close you need to sit at any given screen size to see the difference.

So I should sit closer?

Oh my yes. The ability to get up close to the screen without the image breaking down is one of the most intoxicating things about 4K. Sitting closer allows the same sized screen to fill more of your visual field, which yields greater immersion. The up-close factor is one of the reasons 4K computer monitors have become one of the technology's fastest growing sectors. 4K monitors remain pin-sharp even when you're just a foot or two from the screen, as you are when you're sitting at your desk.

This jerkface salesperson keeps going on about something called UHD. What fresh hell is this?

Remember when I said the industry liked to confuse people? UHD stands for Ultra High Definition. Basically, the term designates TVs that are 4K resolution or greater. It's a slightly silly, slightly confusing term, but at the same time it's a memorable and useful catchall for the TL;DR consumer. It makes things sound simpler, even when they aren't. So your jerkface pal is just a pawn in a larger game. Don't blame him or his jerk face. In technical terms UHD is any display that has a resolution of more than 3840 by 2160.

Didn't you just say UHD meant 4K and up? 3840 is less than 4000!

Man alive, you are sharp. This is why UHD is slightly silly. I like to pretend the extra 160 pixels went on a trip to Thailand to "find themselves" and never came back. Don't worry, you won't miss them. For now, it's safe to think of UHD and 4K interchangeably.

You also said "and up." Can UHD also designate higher resolutions than 4K?

Yes. This is the slightly confusing part. An 8K display would also be UHD.

What is this 8K you speak of?

It's the next resolution standard up from 4K. Basically it doubles the pixel height and width again to yield approximately 32 million pixels. It's a regular pixel party.

That sounds awesome. Should I just get one of those?

Absolutely not. The 8K standard is primarily for the exhibition market (aka movie theaters). To make that many pixels matter, you need to be feeding a truly gigantic screen and sitting right in front of it. Besides, you can't buy an 8K screen today without having it custom built, which would cost approximately seven hojillion dollars. And there's no commercially available 8K content. You'd need to get movies directly from distributors the same way theaters do. You do not need this unless you are Jerry Bruckheimer. (If you are Jerry Bruckheimer, though, give me a call. I know a guy.)

What about 4K content? Can I get that?

Yeah, about that... There's actually not much 4K content to be had right now.

Why not?

Because every 4K frame contains four times the information, in terms of file size 4K content is four times more bulky than regular HD content. That makes it a challenge to get it to you. Broadcast TV hasn't made the 4K switch yet (indeed, it's only recently that hard drive sizes have gotten big enough to manage DVRing HD programs comfortably). There's not even a 4K standard for optical discs (though a 4K Blu-ray standard has been teased and yanked away a few times and could come later this year).

On the streaming side, bandwidth is a definite issue. The internet's bandwidth is already dominated [[]] by Netflix's traffic, prompting ISPs to go after them for extra cash [[]], and that's with most of its streams at SD and HD levels. Upping everything to 4K doesn't sound like a reasonable option just yet. And even if it were possible to stream 4K content to everyone without breaking the internet, streaming 4K content requires a 25Mbps or faster downstream internet connection, which is faster than most people have at the moment.

So what can I watch?

The good news is many new films and some TV shows are now filming in 4K as a future-proofing measure. The bad news is all that content will have to wait until we have established avenues for getting it to people. Your best UHD options right now come from Sony and Netflix.

Sony launched its Video Unlimited 4K service in 2013, which offers more than 70 films and TV shows for rental or purchase. It requires Sony's 4K Ultra HD Media Player, the FMP-X1 ($350), which comes with a 2TB hard drive and is only compatible with Sony 4K TVs. 24-hour TV show rentals are $4 and 24-hour film rentals cost $8. Film purchases are $30. It's not exactly instant gratification, though. Once you rent or buy something, it needs to download to your player, which Sony estimates can take 8 to 15 hours, depending on your Internet connection, so you'd better think ahead if you're planning a 4K movie night.

If you want to watch right away, Netflix is testing the 4K streaming waters with select shows (House of Cards, Breaking Bad) and films (Ghostbusters, The Smurfs 2) if you own a Samsung, Sony or LG 4K TV and have a 25Mbps internet connection. Currently, however, the content selection is limited at best. And contains The Smurfs 2.

House of Cards S2 in 4K

Is it me or are those options are almost comically limited?

It's not you.

Why are we even talking about 4K then?

Because it's awesome. Seriously, the pictures look amazing. You're going to love it.

How does that help if there's nothing to watch?

It's a fair point. There is definitely a chicken and egg problem here. No one wants to spend money putting out 4K content until there's enough significant demand for it, and that means 4K sets showing up in homes. But 4K sets are a tough sell if there's nothing to watch on them except regular HD content. Which means we've been in this weird in-between time, waiting for significant numbers of people to make a relatively illogical decision to buy an extra-expensive TV that will only look marginally better than their old one for the next year or two.

That's really dumb.

Hey, let's be careful with our mean words! Still, you've got a point. The current situation is a little silly. But 4K is legitimately awesome. And we're going to get there. We went through a similar transition a few years back with the move to HD (which came complete with the HD-DVD/Blu-ray format war and massive marketplace confusion) a few years back. Luckily that transition was eased a bit by the simultaneous move to the flatscreen form factor and a significant jump in screen sizes.

So should I buy a 4K set now or should I wait?

It depends. If you want the absolute best TV you can get right now and don't mind paying a premium for it, it's a 4K set. If you're buying from one of the top tier manufacturers, you're going to get a good product that's reasonably future-proofed. As we said before, the sets look great. However, don't expect to be watching most of your video content in 4K for another two to three years. And make sure any set you buy has HDMI 2.0 ports (the first wave of 4K TVs used the previous HDMI 1.4 standard).

On the other hand, if you're price sensitive or want to wait until the content side of the equation is a bit more solved, it absolutely makes sense to wait. You're not missing out on much at the moment. There are incredible values to be found in generously-sized 1080p sets right now. And 4K sets are only going to get cheaper.

24 Aug 09:42

Blizzard, PlayStation Network, and more under wide DDoS attack [Update: FBI now investigating]

by Ozzie Mejia

Update 6: All appears to be up and running. No further problems have been reported with PlayStation Network, Xbox Live,, or any of the other services affected. We will continue to monitor the situation here at Shacknews and will report on any further attacks.

Update 5: has been hit once again, according to Blizzard customer service. The attack was foreshadowed when Lizard Squad pointed to a Twitch user playing Hearthstone. Minutes later, the group targeted a Dota 2 stream. A portion of Dota 2 servers have been affected, but there does not appear to be widespread outage at this time.

Update 4: Lizard Squad has now set their sights on Xbox Live. Xbox Support confirms that service has been affected.

Update 3:  A Sony Online Entertainment representative has issued a statement to Shacknews in regards to SOE President John Smedley having his flight diverted over a fake bomb threat. The statement reads "I can confirm that at this time the FBI is handling this directly." The rep added that no specifics could be offered, as this has now become a matter of national security.

Update 2:  An update has been posted on PlayStation.Blog confirming that no personal information has been stolen in these attacks. The DDoS attacks are persisting and the team is looking to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

Update: Sony has acknowledged the attacks on Twitter.

Network update: our engineers are aware of the issues and are working to resolve them. We'll keep you posted - sorry for the inconvenience

— PlayStation (@PlayStation) August 24, 2014

We are aware that PSN is currently down - please try again later. Thanks for your patience as we look into this!

— Ask PlayStation (@AskPlayStation) August 24, 2014

In addition, since the time of this post, Sony Online Entertainment's servers have been hit, as well. SOE President John Smedley confirmed the attack early Sunday morning.

We are under attack by a large scale ddos. Being dealt with but it will impact games until its handled.

— John Smedley (@j_smedley) August 24, 2014

The attacks have even gone beyond the realm of DDoS, as Lizard Squad targeted Smedley's San Diego-bound flight with a phony bomb threat. Smedley's flight was diverted to Phoenix for security reasons.

We will continue to issue updates as they come in.

Original story: Several gaming servers have been at the receiving end of DDoS attacks over the past several hours. Blizzard's servers, Riot's League of Legends, Grinding Gear Games' Path of Exile, and PlayStation Network are among those under attack by a group of hackers calling themselves Lizard Squad.

Several tweets have gone up throughout Saturday evening, in which Lizard Squad has taken responsibility for the attacks. The group started with Blizzard's servers that include Hearthstone, Diablo 3, World of Warcraft and others. The group quickly spread to League of Legends and Path of Exile before deciding to spread their terror to PlayStation Network. The latter's outage is not related to the scheduled maintenance set to begin Monday morning.

The situation is ongoing, as the various staffs work hard to get the servers active again.

23 Aug 02:57

SpaceX rocket malfunctions and explodes during 'complex' test

by Chris Velazco
No one ever said rebooting spaceflight was going to be easy. The SpaceX team might know that better than anyone, especially on a night like this: one of the company's experimental F9R rockets malfunctioned in a test flight over McGregor, Texas and...
21 Aug 19:07

Weapons Can Be Carried Easily Through The TSA's Full-Body "Naked" Scanners

by Neel V. Patel

Hovav Shacham, one of the security researchers who conducted the study, poses for a full-body scan.
Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications
Since 2010, the Transportation Security Administration has largely dismissed the public's worries about the use of full-body x-ray security scanners. The official line is that the “naked scanners,” despite privacy and health concerns, are crucial to prevent individuals from sneaking weapons, explosives, and other dangerous materials onto aircraft or into a government building.

As it turns out, the scanners are actually pretty easy to fool.

On Thursday, security researchers from UC San Diego, the University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins presented results from a months-long study that show how someone can hide weapons from the scanners through a number of simple tricks. From using Teflon tape to cover an object or just strategic placement of an object around the body, to more cunning approaches like installing malware onto the scanner's console, a person could get away with a concealed weapon or explosive with little trouble.

Although the scanners the researchers tested – the Rapiscan Secure 1000 machines – haven’t been used in airports since 2013, they are still widely used in federal buildings like jails and courthouses. It cost taxpayers over $1 billion to have them installed in more than 160 airports.

Wired has more details on the study. One of the more striking aspects is how the researchers approached their testing, which differs from past experiments:

Unlike others who have made claims about vulnerabilities in full body scanner technology, the team of university researchers conducted their tests on an actual Rapiscan Secure 1000 system they purchased on eBay. They tried smuggling a variety of weapons through that scanner, and found—as [blogger Jonathan] Corbett did—that taping a gun to the side of a person’s body or sewing it to his pant’s leg hid its metal components against the scan’s black background. For that trick, only fully metal guns worked; An AR-15 was spotted due to its non-metal components, the researchers report, while an .380 ACP was nearly invisible. They also taped a folding knife to a person’s lower back with a thick layer of teflon tape, which they say completely masked it in the scan.

If all it takes is some money spent on eBay to acquire a full-body scanner, there’s no telling what a motivated group of would-be attackers with time on their hands could learn, especially if they had access to more advanced physical and digital equipment. The researchers are imploring the TSA and other security agencies to conduct more of the type of aggressive, "adversarial" testing the researcher's themselves ran.

“These machines were tested [by the TSA] in secret, presumably without this kind of adversarial mindset, thinking about how an attacker would adapt to the techniques being used,” says [study-coauthor J. Alex] Halderman […]“They might stop a naive attacker. But someone who applied just a bit of cleverness to the problem would be able to bypass them. And if they had access to a machine to test their attacks, they could render their ability to detect contraband virtually useless.”

So far, the TSA has yet to comment substantively on the study or its results.


21 Aug 20:30

Fighter Pilot Films First Person View Of Flight Over Fjords

by Kelsey D. Atherton

DYE Radar Station 2 From A Freaking Fighter Jet Window
The snow is also Greenland.
Screenshot of video by John Kristensen, YouTube
Being a fighter pilot is a lot of work. Maintence, years of training, planning for missions, paperwork -- all just to pilot one of the faster, deadlier machines ever created by human hands. Seems like a real hassle, right?

Fortunately for everyone who isn't a fighter pilot, John Kristensen, a Danish Air Force pilot who flew missions in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2003, brought along his GoPro for a flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon over Greenland. The resulting video is stunning, as he races past icebergs, glaciers, ice floes, snow-covered plains, and fjords. There's a lot that's frozen on the Greenland ice sheet, it turns out. He also flies in formation with other pilots from Fighter Wing Skrydstrup

Watch the video below:


Interested in more headspinning flight captures? Check out this Slovenian airplane undergoing a spin test.

21 Aug 15:35

Canine Pool Party

by RJ Evans

So, just how many dogs can you fit in to a swimming pool?  Quite a few if this video is anything to go by.  Of course, you might just ask who let the dogs out (who, who?) but surely a cool dog is better than a hot dog?  Before this humor gets any cheesier, perhaps you should be left to enjoy this video in peace. OK, so at the end of the day it’s just a lot of dogs in a swimming pool, but if this doesn’t lift your heart just a little then what will?
22 Aug 05:46

Spielberg is developing a 'Minority Report' TV show, according to reports

by Mat Smith
According to reports from both The Wrap and Deadline, Steven Spielberg is trying to resurrect Minority Report as a TV series. The original movie was a science-fiction styled thriller set in the near-future - and its ideas on gesture-based interfaces...
21 Aug 09:52

Sony's secretive new idea division is trying to turn around '20 lost years'

by Mat Smith
It's been tough times for Sony, and it's very much aware of it. While we hear all about the company cutting loose unsuccessful parts (whether it's PCs or e-readers), the other side of the coin is ensuring Sony can make another hit. Nikkei has done a...
19 Aug 00:20


20 Aug 03:13

Selfie cameras that look like perfume bottles are going to be a thing

by Richard Lai
It's no secret that girls in China are obsessed with taking selfies, but there's also a local trend of slapping a Chanel perfume bottle case onto their phones. No, we don't understand, either. Nevertheless, Sony is seizing this opportunity by...
19 Aug 19:50

Plans leak showing Google’s YouTube streaming plan called ‘Music Key’

by Dan Bartram

YouTube has been rumoured for a while to be exploring the music streaming business and it looks like plans for Google to make such a service happen have leaked early. Due to be called YouTube Music Key, the service is set to be aligned with a renamed Google Play Music Key, and will cost the... Read more »

The post Plans leak showing Google’s YouTube streaming plan called ‘Music Key’ appeared first on AndroidGuys.

19 Aug 19:18

Manul – the Cat that Time Forgot

by RJ Evans
Have you ever wanted to take a trip through time to see what animals looked like millions of years ago? When it comes to cats there is little or no need.  This beautiful specimen is a Manul, otherwise known as Pallas’s Cat.  About twelve million years ago it was one of the first two modern cats to evolve and it hasn’t changed since. The other species, Martelli’s Cat, is extinct so what you are looking at here is a unique window in to the past of modern cats.

Although the Manul is only the size of the domestic cat, reaching about 26 inches in length its appearance makes it appear somewhat larger.  It is stocky and has very lengthy, thick fur, which gives it, perhaps to human eyes, an unintentional appearance of feline rotundity.  Yet although it appears stout and somewhat ungainly it has a natural elegance and poise – exactly what you would expect from the genus Felis in other words.  Plus it can certainly look after itself in a fight!

The main reason for its survival throughout the ages has been its isolation. In the wild it lives on the Asian steppes at substantial heights – up to 13,000 feet.  Based in India, Pakistan, western China and Mongolia as well as Afghanistan and Turkemistan, it has even been discovered recently in the wilds of the Sayan region of Siberia. In these places it prefers rocky areas, semidesert and barren hillsides.  In other words places where we are less likely to live – but even having said that you will no doubt be able to hazard a guess which species is the Manul’s greatest enemy.

Take a close look at the eyes of the Manul.  Do you see a difference between it and the domestic cat? That’s right, the pupils of the Manul are round, not slit-like.  Proportionally too, the legs are smaller than cats we know and they can’t run anywhere near as quickly.  As for the ears, well, when you actually can catch sight of them they are very low and much further apart than you would see in a domestic cat.

It also has a much shorter face than other cats, which makes its face look flattened.  Some people, when they see their first Manus mistakenly believe that it is a monkey because of its facial appearance and bulky looking frame.  It is easier to see why, from some angles.

The Manus has not been studied a great deal in the wild, where it is classified as near threatened.  This is because it is distributed very patchily throughout its territory, not to mention the fact it is still hunted despite protection orders made by the various governments who create human law in its range. Before it was legally protected tens of thousands of Manuls were hunted and killed each year, mostly for their fur.

It is thought that the cat hunts mostly at dawn and dusk where it will feed on small rodents and birds. Ambush and stalking are their favorite methods of conducting a hunt and although they tend to shelter in abandoned burrows in the day they have been seen basking in the sun. In other words, behaviorally they are much like the domesticated moggy that we know and love.

The Manul is a solitary creature and individuals do not tend to meet purposefully when it is outside the breeding season and will avoid the company of others of its kind where possible. When it is threatened it raises and quivers the upper lip, Elvis like, revealing a large canine tooth.

When breeding does happen the male has to get in quickly as oestrus usually only lasts just under two days. It usually births up to six kittens, very rarely a single one, and it is believed that the size of its litters reflect the high rate of mortality the infant cats can expect. Yet they are expected to be able to hunt at sixteen weeks and are very much on their own and independent by six months. Although their life expectancy in the wild is unknown in captivity they have lived to over eleven years.

Don’t rush to your local pet store, however.  The Manul does not domesticate and even if it did they are incredibly hard to breed in captivity with many kittens dying.  This is thought to be because in the wild, due to its isolation, the cat’s immune system did not have a need to develop and so when they come in contact with us and other species, this under-developed immune system lets them down.

Yet as a living, breathing glimpse in to twelve million years of feline history these amazing animals are irreplaceable. Unique is a word which, in this day and age, is mightily overused. Yet these cats are quite simply just that – unique.

18 Aug 21:08

Octopus-Inspired Adaptive Camouflage

This octopus-inspired adaptive camouflage is pretty bad ass. Comments
19 Aug 11:21

Microsoft's Azure cloud restored after suffering a major outage

by Chris Merriman
Microsoft's Azure cloud restored after suffering a major outage

Website backends fail

15 Aug 14:30

1,024 Robots Self-Assemble Into Any Shape You Want

by Francie Diep

photo of Kilobots arranged into a rectangle
At Your Service
Michael Rubenstein, Harvard University

How does one charge 1,000 robots? It would be a pain to plug them all in individually. Luckily, there's an easier way with Kilobots. These little robots have round bodies about the diameter of a quarter, with a metal spring on top and three thin metal legs. To charge them, you push them -- 10 at a time -- against a long charging rack. They all charge at once, as long as each has its spring top and two of its legs touching the rack. "It's kind of like a bumper car charging system," says Mike Rubenstein, who uses a long stick to corral his Kilobots.

Rubenstein is an engineer at Harvard University and a member of the team that invented Kilobots (kilo meaning 1,000). The Harvard team began building simple, cheap robots more than three years ago, with the idea that the machines could be part of a cooperative swarm. They thought about issues such as how to charge a lot of them at once. Now, the engineers have improved the hardware and written software that allows them to send a single command out to 1,024 Kilobots; and in response, the little bots will start shuffling into place to form any solid shape researchers request:

It's kinda creepy, until you realize it takes the robots 12 hours to make a shape. So they have their limitations.

That's not to downplay Rubenstein and his team's accomplishment. This is the first time anybody has been able to direct so many programmable robots at once. "They're definitely on a point on the frontier where nobody else is," Kevin Lynch, an engineer at Northwestern University who studies cooperative robots, tells Popular Science. Previous efforts used somewhere around 100 robots.

The Harvard work is part of a hot field in robotics. Basically, everyone in this field is trying to develop systems in which a large number of robots work together to accomplish a goal ("Robot swarm" is the popular term). The robots should be able to do so in response to just a few commands sent by one person. After that, the robots' own basic algorithms need to be able to dictate how they should act individually to get the big job done. It's maximum robot power with minimum human input.

Lynch offers an idea for what a cooperative robot system could do in the future. What if a person could send a single command to a fleet of drones to search a collapsed building for survivors? The drones could all enter at once, then use their algorithms to decide when to split up, to check different rooms, and to track which rooms have been checked already.

photos of Kilobots self-assembled into K, star and wrench shapes
Kilobots Gathered in Programmed Shapes
Michael Rubenstein, Harvard University

The challenge in building such systems is that there's a limit to how complex each robot can be. For one thing, they must be cheap enough that someone could afford to own hundreds or thousands of them. The Kilobots cost about $14 in parts. Their only sensors are infrared ones that calculate the distance between themselves and their neighbors. That's why the robots always march at the edge of the group, as you can see in the video. They're keeping close to others because if they wander too far, they're blind, unable to see their surroundings or calculate their positions.

Yet swarm robots must also be able to create sophisticated larger effects with their own simple capabilities. "It's an interesting question of how do you go from a desired function -- like if you want them to flock in a particular way or form a particular shape -- how do you go from that to individual rules?" Rubenstein says. Coming up with those rules for the Kilobots, including rules for glitches such as a bot's motor failing, was a major part of the research effort.

Although the Kilobots' shapely 12-hour dances seem far from practical applications, Rubenstein says they could be a step toward robots that self-assemble into specialized shapes when needed. That kind of capability is especially of interest for doing projects in space. Engineers could send up parts of a larger satellite, for example, and count on the pieces to assemble themselves once they've been released into orbit. (Like Ikea furniture, but in space.) The smaller parts could be easier and cheaper to rocket into space than one large satellite.

Lynch adds that the Harvard work is basic research meant to push the field. "You can't say well what it's going to do for me tomorrow in a factory or how am I going to make money on this?" he says. "They're asking new questions that are important."

Rubenstein and his colleagues published their work yesterday in the journal Science.

18 Aug 13:20

Violinist fiddles with a smart bow to help his brain surgery

by Jon Fingas
It's common for brain surgery patients to stay awake. That's how surgeons know everything is going smoothly, after all. When concert violinist Roger Frisch started suffering from tremors that are only a problem when he's playing, however, Mayo Clinic...
18 Aug 07:49

McLaren unveils stunning P1 GTR

by Daljinder Nagra

16 Aug 05:06

Jaguar Lightweight E-Type revealed in full

by Daljinder Nagra

15 Aug 19:08

Bill Gates ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Bill Gates takes the ALS ice bucket challenge like a boss. +1 for the funny face he makes when the ice water hits. Comments