A Gaggle of Ghastly and Geeky Gourds for Halloween

worlds-largest-zombie-pumpkin-0-thumb-550x413-74798It’s food! It’s art! It’s pumpkin carving season!

We begin our Halloween round up of particularly precocious pumpkins at the New York Botanical Gardens where the world’s largest pumpkin went in for some reconstructive surgery. The result was apocalyptic; Zombie style!

See more at Inhabitat.com

See many, many more after this page break too!

Disney Buys Lucasfilm. New Star Wars Trilogy Confirmed with Episode 7 Coming in 2015


A giant, cash laden bombshell exploded in Burbank, California as the press release went out stating that The Walt Disney Company has just closed a deal with George Lucas to purchase Star Wars and Indiana Jones adventure creation studio Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, about $2 million cash in addition to 40 million shares of Disney stock. The deal not only includes the intellectual property rights to Lucas’ entertainment franchises such as Star Wars, but also all other business operated by Lucasfilm such as video game maker LucasArts, special effects house Industrial Light & Magic, and audio engineering firm Skywalker Sound.

As if that were not enough to keep snarky Internet commenters cracking wise for months, Disney went on to announce that Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm’s next president, will serve as executive producer for Star Wars Episode 7. This next film in the Star Wars series is already slated for a 2015 release. This release will be followed up by Episodes 8 and 9 at yet to be announced dates. Lucas will be hired as a creative consultant on this new trilogy.

Full press release is available at Yahoo. You can skip the reading and listen to a recording of the conference call when this deal was announced embedded below.

Soul Eater Captures the Spirit of Halloween | AniMaiden'd

With Halloween just around the corner, the stage is set for some anime with the Grim Reaper. Time to catch up on Soul Eater.

This series originally aired on TV Tokyo in Japan from April 2008 to March 2009.

The Grim Reaper goes by the title Lord Death in this universe and runs a school called Death Weapon Meister Academy—DWMA for short—located in the fictional Death City in Nevada, United States. The students at this academy (and other characters in this word) are capable of using supernatural powers by channeling the wavelengths of their souls. There are two groups, humans who have the ability to turn into demon weapons and humans who can wield these weapons, called meisters.

The school is a training ground for the weapons and meisters to grow and strengthen their skills. It is also an organization to defend and protect the world from evil. This includes monsters, witches, and demon gods.

The show starts with focusing on Maka Albarn and her scythe partner Soul Eater Evans. Maka is a young and serious student whose parents were also meister and demon weapon partners. Her father, Spirit, was turned into a death scythe by Maka's mother for cheating on her. This leads to a very tense relationship between Maka and Spirit. Maka's goal is to turn Soul into a death scythe that is far greater than her father. However, Soul is much more laid back and easy going about life and school.

As the show progresses, you meet the other main protagonists in the story line. There are several other students at the school that have very intriguing pasts. Black Star and his demon weapon, Tsubaki Nakatsukasa, Death the Kid (Lord Death's son) and his twin pistols, The Thompson Twins (Liz and Patty) come from different and amazing backgrounds.

Soul Eater tells the stories of this universe through the adventures of the students at the Death Weapon Meister Academy. This is not a quiet show and the sound track is peppy and spirited. A very well paced plot line with fascinating characters, this show is definitely a treat for the Halloween season.

Soul Eater is streaming online for free at Funimation.com in both English dub and subtitled Japanese flavors.

Dentists Want You to Give Free Plants vs. Zombies Game to Trick-or-Treaters Instead of Candy

stop zombie mouthIn one of the strangest cross promotional ideas since Kiss teamed up with Hello Kitty, EA, PopCap, and the American Dental Association have joined forces to “Stop Zombie Mouth” this Halloween. The plan? Give video games instead of candy to the tiny terrors scheduled to come banging on your door this Halloween.

“This Halloween, the ADA and PopCap Games are redefining what a Halloween “treat” can be… by giving FUN instead of candy. We’re giving away Plants vs. Zombies™ download games as a sugar-free alternative, and you can join in the fun.”

Participating dentists are stocked with free collectible Plants vs. Zombies trading cards with a code good for a complimentary copy of the strategy-puzzle phenomenon for both PC and Mac. Can’t make it to the dentist (Now there’s some real Halloween horror!)? You can print your own game coupons out at StopZombieMouth.com. While you’ve got the printer plugged in, you can also grab some other free printable products like PvZ masks, coloring books, and party invitations.

Obviously, we here at GUO think this is an awesome idea and will be participating! By which I mean, we’ll be giving out the free games along with the candy. Because eggs are hard to get off of cars.

Need a free copy of Plants vs. Zombies for yourself? Log on to StopZombieMouth.com between October 30 and November 10 and use coupon code PEAH8R.

Achtung! Cthulhu–Charlie Company is a Free PDF Comic Created with Photos of Tabletop Miniatures

World War II, model building, supernatural evil, tabletop gaming, and comic books collide in a nerdgasmic orgy of WTF as only the Internet can provide. Really! I can’t make this stuff up!

achtung cthulhu“Alone, forgotten and hunted behind Nazi lines, the survivors of Charlie Company are trapped in the Forest of Fear.

Achtung! Cthulhu – Charlie Company: Forest of Fear #1 is the first episode in a new photographic comic featuring miniatures, terrain, and Cthulhu horror from British publisher Modiphius.

Charlie Company are sent deep behind enemy lines on a desperate mission to destroy a new Nazi secret weapon before it can be unleashed. Too late, the company is faced with the true horror of the Third Reich's latest experiments….

Achtung! Cthulhu is the Cthulhu-inspired World War II roleplaying game setting from Modiphius – available for Call of Cthulhu, Savage Worlds (Realms of Cthulhu), Trail of Cthulhu and the PDQ system – which explores a terrifying secret war. Check out achtungcthulhu.com for more information, or follow us at facebook.com/modiphius.”

Download the comic for free and see for yourself at WargameVault.com

Source: The Miniatures Page

Europe To Probe The Moon For Water | Out Of This World Weekly

The European Space Agency has approved a robotic mission to the Moon to search for water.  They are targeting the polar regions where water was possibly detected initially in 1994 by the U.S. military Clementine mission, though not conclusively.  In 1998, the Lunar Prospector detected large amounts of Hydrogen at the poles and this was thought to indicate large amount of water trapped in permanently shadowed lunar craters.  India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbter later estimated 600 million metric tons of water ice. Later, the LCROSS mission flew through an ejecta plume and found what is thought to be find grained particles of almost pure water ice.  Even with all of these lunar probes, we are unsure of the exact amount and form that the lunar water is in.  While some tests showed large, thick slabs of water ice, others showed only fine grains of water ice mixed in with the lunar regolith or even possibly hydroxyl groups (-OH) chemically bonded to regolith merely masquerading as water.  If we are ever to exploit this absolutely necessary water on the Moon for human usage, we will need to know exactly where, how much, and what form it is in.

Have a Papercrafty Halloween! | Weekend Watchlist

LittleFellaHollidays are great excuses to whip out the construction paper and scissors to get a little artsy-crafty. Making costumes or jack-o-lanterns tend to get all the glory on Halloween and papercrafty party practitioners can really come into their own with delightfully devilish decoration designs.

In this Halloween edition of the Weekend Watchlist we’ll be taking a look at how to assemble all sorts of creepy critters. Dead trees rise from the grave in our origami and papercraft salute to Halloween!

Pro Tip: Some of these crafty instructional videos can run quite long and be rather involved. Don’t forget to pause, rewind, and rewatch as needed! Trying to follow along in real-time is just going to make you nuts!

We kick off this Watchlist that way every video collection should start: With Minecraft! Before&After TV has created this fantastic mask of Minecraft’s protagonist Steve. All you need is scissors, paper, glue stick, a box, and whole lot of printer ink (Pro Tip: Office supply and print shops can laser print PDFs for just a couple of bucks. As a bonus, color laser printing doesn’t smudge like inkjets).

For the written companion to this piece and to download the PDF patterns, go to SteveLange.net

Watch Microsoft’s Launch of Windows 8 for PCs and Tablets

MICROSOFT-WINDOWS8/Did you miss the Microsoft keynote for the launch of Windows 8 yesterday? Yeah, me too. Fortunately the good ol’ Intertubes got our backs. MS put on a pretty good show and there’s a ton of silicon based computer porn even if you’re already un-sold the Redwood’s new touchy-feely take on Windows (flip-top touchscreen ultrabooks!)

The bad news is that this video is encoded in Silverlight, Microsoft’s home-grown video spec, so some devices won’t have access. There should be a fallback to HTML5, but I don’t have a lot of experience with Silverlight. (I don’t think anyone outside of Microsoft does, LOL). Worse, the bloody thing seems intent on autoplaying itself no matter what so I had to hide it behind that page jump. Cross your fingers and click through for our handy embedded version.

A New New iPad with Twice the Performance Only Six Months Later and No One’s Mad

ipad 4 cpu performanceThis week’s reveal of the 4th generation iPad really took me by surprise. That’s saying quite a bit considering Apple seems to have utterly failed at keeping a secret for the past year. Unfortunately, it was the worst possible surprise.

Launching a mere six months following the debut of the “New” iPad 3, this ‘New New’ iPad 4 sports a brand new CPU, the A6x, that combines the processor from the latest model of the iPhone with a snazzy new graphics processor. Apple promises twice the number crunching and graphics performance of the still fresh off the assembly line iPad 3. In fact, the iPad 4 is everything the iPad 3 should have been. Considering the lead time on designing and producing these machines, Apple knew EXACTLY what was coming before releasing that half-step of a device to the public and happily taking their $500+.

Steve Wozniak Interview on Apple’s Design Philosophy, The Post-PC Era, and The Samsung Patent Suit

wozTechCentral’s TalkCentral podcast went one-on-one with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in their latest program. Woz is his usual outspoken self and this 30 minute audio interview covers a great deal of ground including The Patent Wars, mobile computing, and, one of my very favorite topics, rounded corners.

You can stream Episode 69 of TalkCentral on their web page via a Flash plug-in. Apple users can grab the interview via iTunes.

If you just can’t get enough Apply goodness, the company’s most recent keynote unveiling the 4th generation iPad and it’s new little brother, the iPad Mini, is available online direct from Apple.

New Algebraic Error Correction Algorithms Could Increase Wireless Speeds 10 Times

Researchers from MIT, Caltech, Harvard, in conjunction with universities across Europe have developed a way of increasing the speed of wireless networks up to 10 times with little more than a firmware tweak.

realeirThe problem with wireless networks, everything from Wi-Fi to cellular, is packet loss. Tiny chunks of your data are consistently being dropped or corrupted as they fly though the air thanks to interference from other electromagnetic devices, blocked by objects, or simply lost due to power constraints. Your system must then report these lost or damaged packets of information to the network which must then resend them. This causes latency or lag. Inevitably, some of these resent packets are again lost, causing cascading latency issues on your wireless connection. This is why distance to source matters so much in wireless communications and why you’ll never hit that theoretical maximum speed printed on the box of your fancy new 802.11n router.

In this new process, currently called “coded TCP”, packets are grouped together and bundled with an algebraic formula describing the contents of the group. This allows the recipient system to compute missing packets rather than asking for them to be retransmitted. For example, a group of packets may be valued at 20, 4, and 1. The network would send these 3 packets and the equation X+Y+Z=25. If the system only receives X (20) and Z (1), your own device could compute the missing Y packet to be 4 without nagging the network.

MIT’s real-world Wi-Fi connection benchmarked at 1Mbps. Switching to coded TCP, the network speed jumped to 16 Mbps. When tested on a train, a 0.5 Mbps connection reached speeds of 13.5 Mbps under coded TCP. Also worthy of note is that networks using coded TCP will have a great deal more bandwidth at their disposal as users will no longer be stuck constantly trying to get replacement packets resent which can account for as much as 5% of all transmitted data.

Coded TCP is now being licensed to hardware makers. Exact real-world effects cannot be measured at this time due to the lack of there ever having been a widespread rollout of coded TCP. Still, a new dawn may be on the horizon for wireless digital communications.

Sony Removes Alzheimer’s and Cancer Research App from PS3 via 4.3 Firmware Update

ps3 folding@homeWeep like it’s 2010 all over again. Sony has once again decided to push a firmware update out to all Internet connected Playstation 3s to remove functionality from the system. The new v4.3 firmware issued October 23rd removes the Life with Playstation application from the game console.

Life with Playstation included two very interesting features. The Live channel gave users access to world news reports via a very fancy 3D globe. The Folding@home channel allowed PS3 owners to contribute to Stanford University Medical Center’s distributed computing service of the same name.

With Folding@home computers all over the world aid medical research by processing a bit of the massive data used in simulating protein folding and contribute results back to the labs to aid in studying Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and many cancers. It’s like a botnet of the best kind! It also would have been the best use of an old PS3 as the Playstation 4 is expected within the next couple years.

This move by Sony to remove a core feature of owner’s hardware mirrors a similar 'upgrade’ back in March of 2010 when v3.21 of the PS3’s firmware removed the ability to install Linux on the machine. Sony’s decision would spark the technical community to create the PS3’s first jailbreak allowing users to install software on the machine not signed by Sony. Prior to this event, the PlayStation 3 was considered ‘unhackable’.

Owners who elect not to install the PS3’s latest update will be barred from accessing the Playstation Store, online gaming, software updates, and, in some cases, lose the ability to run already purchased digital titles due to DRM.

To find out more about Folding@home or join the program yourself visit folding.stanford.edu.

Robot Farmers May Become Common By 2016

Yet another advance in robotics and computing is allowing for robots to be able to detect weeds in fields with a 98% accuracy rate.  The robot will then eliminate the selected weeds without using hazardous pesticides or hurting the desired crop.  The robot uses photographs that are taken of each plant and compares them to it’s database.  If the photograph doesn’t match up, then the plant is eliminated.  Trials have shown that this technique is even effective when plants overlap each other.  This robot was developed by Blue River Technology and has recently received $3.1 Million dollars for further funding.  These robots would be able to produce organic vegetables while still using mass production methods, which would reduce pesticide usage while also lowering organic food costs. 

SOE’s Free FPS MMO Planetside 2 Locked and Loaded for November 20 Release

PlanetSide2 2012-10-20 13-24-19-99

F2P FPS MMO PS2 RTM OMG! Sony Online Entertainment’s ambitious open-world online shooter Planetside 2 has just been cleared for a November 20th takeoff. Imagine a dozen Battlefield games stitched together in a three-way turf war for sci-fi Australia and you kinda get the idea.

I’ve been playing the beta version of PS2 for a couple weeks, along with GUO’s ‘Fifth Beatle’, Brandon, and, lemme tell ya, if you have any love for online shooters this is a spectacle you can’t miss. Whether you’re rumbling across the desert in an armored column while fighters and dropships soar overhead on a continent wide crusade or one of a handful of dudes hunting prey behind enemy lines in some far-flung outpost, Planetside deftly delivers first-person shooting on a scale not seen before. There’s even a day/night cycle to keep things interesting. Just pack a piece of humble pie. Life is cheap in Planetside and bullets are even cheaper. At least for those primates still using bullets. Being the haughtiest of the hi-tech, Growing Up Otaku rolls in hover tanks and kills with the battery powered laser rifles of the Vanu Sovereignty. Eat purple colored green tech infidels! VS weaponry: Kill your foes, not the environmentWinking smile

Find out more, pre-register, or buy your way into the beta test at Planetside2.com.

Earth Sized Planet Found In Nearest Star System | Out Of This World Weekly

That’s right, there is a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B.  The Alpha Centauri system includes three stars, Alpha Centauri A, B, and Proxima Centauri and are the closest stars to our own Sun at 4.3 light years.  This newly discovered planet is only 1.13 times the mass of Earth, which would make it extremely similar in size to Earth.  Alpha Centauri B is a bit smaller, cooler, and more orange than our own Sun but that isn’t going to help the newly discovered planet because it is orbiting very, very close to Alpha Centauri B.  So close, that a year on this newly discovered planet only takes 3.24 days.  That would mean that this planet is so hot at about 1200 degrees C that we could never survive on the surface, even for short periods of time.  We probably couldn’t even put a probe directly into orbit around this planet because it is so very close to it’s star.  Even though we can’t ever go into direct orbit, we may still be able to gather large amounts of data if we were able to reach Alpha Centaui.  Because of this, the newly discovered planet named Alpha Centauri Bb does hold much interest in the scientific community.

It IS Rocket Science! Part Two–Rocket Powered Vehicles | Weekend Watchlist

Contrary to popular belief, the concept behind basic rocketry is quite simple. Stuff is burned in a tube and hot gas shoots out the back producing thrust to make you go-go-go! Getting your rocket to move where you want, when you want, and not explode unless you want, gets a whole lot trickier.

Last week we examined some rocket engines and rocket based weaponry. This week it’s all about getting you and yours from A to B.

When you mention taking a rocket ride, the following is most likely what comes to mind. Thus, without further ado, I give you the rocket that took man to the moon, Saturn V.

Feed Your Hunger for Hello Kitty with H.Kit, The Pork Pie

Another day, another Sanrio marketing tie in. This one is import only and sure to leave you hungry for more!

hello kitty buns

Now appearing in Circle K and Sunkus stores all over Japan is this limited edition Hello Kitty meat bun! The delectable delight is now available for ¥150 (about $2) in a limited run of 1.5million scrumptious snacks and come complete with a Hello Kitty riddle wrapper. These beautiful bow bearing buns are packed with the piggy goodness of pork, onion, and soy sauce (think wonton filling).

Since Google Translate is a non-stop laugh riot, here’s a transcription of Gigazine’s mouths-on first taste.

hello kitty bun wrapper“The form is any good pictures of the street look. I So, buy today. Like this, your face properly Kitty I plump Looking out of the wrapping paper. Tsubura eyes staring at me. Is also a beard. Firmly reproduced any part of the ribbon. Hello Kitty hand ride. Visually pretty, certainly too good to eat”

For the original, unbutchered article and a ton more pictures, be sure to check out Gigazine.

Humble eBook Bundle Adds 5 New Webcomics Including Penny Arcade–Name Your Own Price and Support Charity

humble ebook bundleHumble Bundle is back with something new! This time they’re not brandishing a bag full of games, but books!

For the usual limited time, you have the chance to pick up six great indie books for whatever it’s worth to you (Spoiler alert: This is a $52 value). While nabbing yourself some great new adventures, you’ll also also be helping charity! A portion of your purchase goes to Child’s Play, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). What portion? You decide! You name the price, set the split, nab the goodies, and feel good!

Up for grabs for a price only you know are six titles: Pirate Cinema, Pump Six, Zoo City, Invasion, Stranger Things happen, and Magic for Beginners. If you pay more than the average bundle buyer ($13.51 while I write this), you’ll get two more ebooks: Signal to Noise, and Old Man’s War.

Update: Five new web comic collections have just been added to the bundle if you pay more than t he average: Penny Arcade’s Attack of the Bacon Robots and Epic Legends of the Magic Sword Kings; two volumes from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal including Save Yourself, Mammal! and The Most Dangerous Game; and intelligent humor extravaganza xkcd: volume 0! This brings the total value of the collection to $157!

humble ebook bundle bonusAll of you’re new book club favorites come in multiple formats (PDF, ePub, and MOBI) so you’re set no matter if you use a Kindle, iPad, or good ol’ computer. As with all Humble Bundle features, these are DRM free for the least hassle possible.

Seriously, if you’ve never gone in on a Humble Bundle before because they were games, it’s great fun and a great feeling. Pick your price and choose how your cash is split between the authors, charity, and the guys paying to run the site. Humble Bundle doesn’t even take your credit card info as all payments are processed through your choice of Amazon, Google, or PayPal. Your purchases can be downloaded again and again whenever you need to whichever device your using. You can even send a book bundle to your favorite reader as a gift code!

Get the Humble eBook Bundle now at HumbleBundle.com

Discover Who Bought Your Congressman at OpenSecrets.Org

election contributorsEver wonder who’s been buying lunch for the latest headline making U.S. politician? Wonder no more! Thanks to campaign finance reform and those hard working database wizards at OpenSecrets.Org, your answers are a couple clicks away. All the dirt you could ever want is available via one little search box. Campaign contributions, lobbying , even special interest groups. Search by politician or company. Everything is laid bare with easy to understand graphs and is fully hyperlinked making snooping on The Man as easy as surfing the web.

How much did Google spend on lobyists? $9.8million, making them #7 out of 3,982. How many folks in congress own shares of Comcast? 20, and here’s the list. How much does Apple spend influencing American politics? Surprisingly little.

Before you head to the polls (or the water cooler), follow the money trail at OpenSecrets.Org

Nintendo Reveals Hot, Nude Wii-U Photos

Wii-U TransparentHere’s a bit of a shocker: Nintendo has shown off some component pics from their upcoming Wii-U video game console! This is quite a change for Nintendo. The playing card company turned gaming giant is usually tight-lipped about technical specifications regarding any of their machines. It is just the latest sign of change in the attitude of the Big N as they move to recapture the ‘core’ game audience lost during the last Console War.

Wii-U CPULooking inside the Wii-U shows no trace of magic mushrooms or vacuum tubes full of pony flatulence that were previously believed to power Nintendo consoles. While Nintendo was eager to show pictures and explain things such as heat sinks, we still don’t have much to go on in terms of actual tech specs. We do know that the Wii-U sports a “Multi-core CPU chip and the GPU chip…built into a single component” and that it was a joint venture between IBM (probably CPU), AMD (probably GPU), and Renesas (board manufacture). Internet scuttlebutt has it that the graphics core is most likely AMD’s Radeon 5670, based on the die size and the Wii-U’s estimated power draw of 40-60W.

Wii-U mainboardFor a more information about what went into the design, both inside and out, of the Wii-U, check out Nintendo’s own “Iwata Asks” interview with the engineers. The article even features a number of annotations to help out those who may not have all their -PUs in a row. For more guesswork into the potential technical capabilities of Big N’s upcoming console, try ExtremeTech’s discussion.

Higgs-Boson Hoedown! God Particle Data Reimagined as Music

Two subatomic particles walk into a bar. What do you think they put on the jukebox? Maybe it’s this little ditty!

The above tune is the work of composer and particle physicist Domenico Vicinanza who has taken CERN’s data plots gathered by the Large Hadron Supercollider concerning the existence of the Higgs-Boson particle and set it to music! Vicinanza explains:

“In order to take a subatomic particle like the Higgs Boson and convert it into a melody, to notes, what we do is basically take the data and associate with each one of the numeric values a single note on a score. Melody is following basically exactly the same behavior the scientific data is showing. So when the piano starts playing, you can hear some really really high pitched notes…. They are the signature of the Higgs Boson melody and they are corresponding to a peak in the scientific draft research has shown at CERN.”

And just like that, Domenico created what may very well be the nerdiest piece of music ever! For more on the method behind the melody, check out his interview with PRI’s The World.

Benjamin Doyle further reinterpreted Vicinanza’s basic melody and created the following expanded composition:

Learning About Planetary Nebulae With X-Rays | Out Of This World Weekly

The Orbiting Chandra X-Ray Observatory has focused in on some spectacular images of dying stars recently.  These dying Red Giant stars are pushing off their outer gaseous layers as they die, slowly turning into White Dwarf Stars.  These are known as Planetary Nebula because of the beautiful gaseous nebula formations that exist in the region where planets may have once existed.  The aim of this project headed by the Rochester Institute of Technology is to better understand how these stars die and why these Planetary Nebula look the way that they do.  Ultimately, this will help us understand the death of certain types of main sequence stars and how they affect their local environment. 

It IS Rocket Science! Part One–Weapons and Engines | Weekend Watchlist

rocket science

“You can do it. This ain’t rocket science!” Well, it is this week! But what is rocket science?

Contrary to popular belief, the concept behind basic rocketry is quite simple. Stuff is burned in a tube and hot gas shoots out the back producing thrust to make you go-go-go! Getting your rocket to move where you want, when you want, and not explode unless you want, gets a whole lot trickier. None the less, boiled down to its core, you need look no father than Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion to have a fundamental idea of how rocket engines work.

In this first part of the Weekend Watchlist’s tribute to rockets we’ll be exploring the history and weapons of these burning tubes of wonder.

How Toxic Your Cell Phone? 36 Phones Ranked Including iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III

ToxicPhoneRatingsEnvironmental researchers at HealthyStuff.org teamed up with the disassembly experts at iFixit to discover exactly how toxic your cell phone is to Mother Earth. Each of the devices was taken apart and subjected to X-ray fluorescence to determine the chemical composition of all those hi-tech dooey-whatzits is your pocket palls. The results were then complied into the handy, color coded list you see here.

It is estimated that 82% of electronics end up in landfills. While e-waste may account for as little as 5% of landfill contents, it may be responsible for 80% of poisonous heavy metals. EPA.gov matins a list of where you can recycle your old devices.

For a full breakdown on how these scores were determined, check out HealthyStuff’s methodology PDF here.

SOPA Resurrected as a Virus Based Extortion Racket

TorrentFreak is reporting that the nefarious shadow of failed IP blacklisting bill SOPA has been brought back to life for use in a computer virus that locks your system unless you pay up.

“The SOPA virus is so-called ransomware, meaning that it holds computers hostage and only promises to free data after victims hand over cash. In the U.S. and Canada people are instructed to pay with a MoneyPak prepaid voucher, and in other parts of the world they can use Western Union.

Those who don’t pay within three days are in trouble, the virus maker warns.


People who are affected should of course ignore all the above. Searching online for “Stop Online Piracy Automatic Protection System Removal”” is a better option, there are plenty of ways to defeat the resurrected SOPA and get your data back.

The SOPA virus is so-called ransomware, meaning that it holds computers hostage and only promises to free data after victims hand over cash. In the U.S. and Canada people are instructed to pay with a MoneyPak prepaid voucher, and in other parts of the world they can use Western Union.

Those who don’t pay within three days are in trouble, the virus maker warns.

“WARNING!!!: If you don’t pay the fine within 72 HOURS at the amount of 200 USD, all your computer data will be erased.”

People who are affected should of course ignore all the above. Searching online for “Stop Online Piracy Automatic Protection System Removal”” is a better option, there are plenty of ways to defeat the resurrected SOPA and get your data back.”

Google’s Street View Team Sleeps with the Fishes

google street view turtleIn a posting on the official Google Maps blog, the Street View team ditched their iconic camera cars for diving gear and and headed out to photograph the last place you want your turn-by-turn directions to lead you: Underwater.

In a partnership with The Catlin Seaview Survey, the Google Maps team set out to “to explore and experience six of the ocean’s most incredible living coral reefs.”

“Starting today, you can use Google Maps to find a sea turtle swimming among a school of fish, follow a manta ray and experience the reef at sunset—just as I did on my first dive in the Great Barrier Reef last year. You can also find out much more about this reef via the World Wonders Project, a website that brings modern and ancient world heritage sites online. At Apo Island, a volcanic island and marine reserve in the Philippines, you can see an ancient boulder coral, which may be several hundred years old. And in the middle of the Pacific, in Hawaii, you can join snorkelers in Oahu’s Hanauma Bay and drift over the vast coral reef at Maui's Molokini crater. “

If you happen to have a pair of red/cyan 3D glasses lying around, you can right click and enable an old-school 3D experience as you search for the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Edutainment Done Wrong: PETA’s Bloody Pokémon Alternative Should Not Be Played by Children

pokemon black and blueWhat all the fuss is about? I love me some Pokémon! Pokémon is a great old-school RPG with a deep rock-paper-scissors combat system that puts the player in the role of a trainer striding through lush wilderness locations in search of wild creatures to scoop up, stuff into tiny cages, and use in pit battles against other animals for the sake of attaining badges. Oh… Yeah, I can see where that might be a problem. It’s quite easy to understand why Pokémon would be objectionable to people sensitive to animal rights issues and why parents would want an alternative to the popular game title.

Animal rights activist group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) issued a press release detailing their objection to the Nintendo’s latest monster battling title, Black and White 2. Moreover, they posted an alternative game experience, Pokémon Black and Blue.

"Games such as Pokémon send kids the wrong message that exploiting and abusing those who are defenseless is acceptable when it's not," says PETA Director of Marketing Innovations Joel Bartlett. "But with Pokémon Black and Blue, children can experience the great feeling that comes from saving others from harm."

In Pokémon Black and Blue, Pikachu battles his way through four Pokémon trainers to free their kept critters. The narrative explains the wrongs of the Pokémon tradition and draws parallels to our own world’s questionable practices. Character attacks have been delightfully renamed to support the theme. I must admit to be rather tickled to see Pikachu packing Group Hug along side its trademark Thunderbolt. Opposing trainers battle using similarly themed weaponry such as choke collars or vials of experimental liquid.

pokemon black and blue gameplayHowever there is one major problem (Well, two. The game is criminally short, even for a free Flash game): Pokémon Black and Blue is positively soaked in blood. Trainers brandish blood stained pitchforks and baseball bats, your team of liberated pocket monsters sport open wounds, and even the trees are erupting the red stuff for no good reason. Heck, even the game’s logo is plopped in a puddle of something that probably ain’t paint. While PETA did release a “kid-friendly version of the game”, it only changes the game’s ‘treasure’ video from a graphic depiction of animal abuse to one of children chatting about vegetarianism and animal rights. While this is a necessary change, it doesn’t go far enough in making the title child-safe due to leaving all of the game’s gory graphics intact.

It really isn’t hard to understand PETA’s objections to the Pokémon franchise. The popular activist group even went one step beyond the call of duty in providing a free alternative to Nintendo’s product. It’s a shame that, somewhere along the line, Pokémon Black and Blue went from an attempt to educate and inform to a blood splattered excuse for shock and awe. It is hard to imagine any parent, regardless of ideology, wanting their young children exposed to this content.

You can check out Pokémon Black & Blue (“kid-friendly” version) free online at PETA.org.

Making Jet Fuel From Seawater

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory has developed a way to create military grade Jet Fuel on operating, underway ships using nothing more than seawater.  This process uses Hydrogen molecules taken from water and combines them with the carbon from carbon dioxide to form long chain hydrocarbons.  These hydrocarbons can then be refined to make JP-5 jet fuel, the standard jet fuel used by all naval aircraft at a cost of about $3 – $6 per gallon.  Current cost of JP-5 fuel is about $4 per gallon but that doesn’t include the amount of money it takes to ship that fuel to where it is needed, sometimes tens of thousands of miles away.  This technology could eventually produce commercial jet fuel as well, which contains additional anti-static ignition and anti-freeze components.  This fuel could also be used in the Navy’s Gas Turbine powered ships, which include destroyers, cruisers, and frigates. 

Review: U.F.Oinkers (iPhone/iPad/Windows Phone 7)–When Pigs Fly

ufoinkers 1At first blush, the charmingly named U. F. Oinkers looks like a mash-up of popular genres that could only have been spawned in the darkest boardroom of a mega-publisher’s designed-by-committee ‘idea’ factory. Mix two parts block-dropping puzzle game with two parts physics puzzler. Stir in one part bridge builder and frost with characters the mobile crowd are unable to resist: Pigs and zombies, . Half-bake for 30 days and POOF! Instant app store success! Imagine my surprise when I discovered UFO was not only created by Serendipitous Bits, presumably not a division of Capcom or EA, but also packed with a ton of wonderful gameplay mechanics. It’s a shame it wasn’t done being playtested. And that U. F. Oinkers ultimately sends you to a pink piggy purgatory where death would be a sweet release.

Your goal in UFO is to make pigs fly. A chain bridge runs across the bottom on the screen and all manner of stuff, including pigs, drops from the top. Your job is to assemble flying contraptions by tapping and dragging the physics enabled items around in order to make 10 pigs fly off the top of the screen without putting so much weight or stress on the bridge that it snaps. This is easy going in the early levels with simple combinations. Attach wings to a pig and it flies off, netting you points. Each segment of the game ups the ante in terms of the number of items that need to be combined to turn your ground hogs into porcine paragliders . You’ll go from dressing piggies up as witches to assembling multi-part aircraft and rocket ships as the game progresses.

Caught on Video! World of Warcraft Laid Waste as Hackers Kill Everyone

Wow Mass murder hackShocking news from the World of Warcraft: Everyone’s dead! Not from the Warring, nor the Crafting, nor even from the sudden outbreak of playable pandas, but from hacking.

This Sunday the world’s largest MMORPG, home to some 10+ million players, suffered a plague of biblical proportions as characters from all walks off life, both live and computer controlled, began dropping dead. What began in Orgrimmar and Stormwind on the Ragnaros-EU server soon spread across across all of WoW’s major cities and European servers. While actual details of the cause are scarce, details point to a small group of hackers in possession of a makeshift GM tool flying around executing players from on high with a hacked healing spell.

Blizzard, game designers and stewards of the World of Warcraft, were quick to hotfix the security hole and issues the following statement:

“Earlier today, certain realms were affected by an in-game exploit, resulting in the deaths of player characters and non-player characters in some of the major cities. This exploit has already been hotfixed, so it should not be repeatable. It's safe to continue playing and adventuring in major cities and elsewhere in Azeroth.
As with any exploit, we are taking this disruptive action very seriously and conducting a thorough investigation. If you have information relating to this incident, please email hacks@blizzard.com. We apologize for the inconvenience some of you experienced as a result of this and appreciate your understanding.”

YouTuber BornInCrimson was on hand in Stormwind for WoW’s Rapture and captured the following video of one of the possible perpetrators.

Fusion Engines Hold The Key To Solar System Exploration | Out Of This World Weekly

Nuclear fission engines have been thought about for many years but have never been implemented.  While everything from submarines to aircraft carriers use this technology, launching even small nuclear reactors into space has proven too difficult and dangerous.  Where nuclear fission has failed us in spaceflight, nuclear fusion could hold the key to manned spaceflight.  Researchers at University of Alabama Huntsville in cooperation with Boeing, NASA, and Oak Ridge National Labs are working on this concept to take us into the future on the jets of fusion engines.  The research shows that a fusion engine could reach speeds of about 62,000 mph, which is similar to the speed that the Earth orbits the Sun.  This would allow travel to Mars in only a few weeks, as opposed to the multi-month to multi-year journey that chemical rockets would produce.  These time tables would actually allow for a timely human exploration and possibly even colonization of the solar system.

Happy 1st Birthday to Apple’s Siri! | Weekend Watchlist

siri-birthdayOctober 4th marks the date that Apple’s snarky little personal assistant made its public debut with the iPhone 4S. The Siri application is designed to answer questions, make recommendations, and generally fetch data from a number of Internet sources using a natural language interface that let’s people talk to their pocket computer. While perhaps not the perfect implementation of voice recognition people have dreamed of, Siri gave us a real life handful of magic previously only dreamed of in science fiction.

In this edition of the Weekend Watchlist, we take the time to celebrate one year of this wondrous little piece of software in traditional birthday roasting fashion. We’ll coo over videos of baby Siri, tell stories of its most embarrassing moments, and parade around celebrities.

Frist up, we’ve got baby pictures! Like many people, Siri lies about its age. The original Siri app from Siri, Inc., launched in February 2010, a far cry from Siri’s October 2011 claims. Siri was a smash success leading to acquisition by Apple in April of 2010. The original Siri app would be pulled from iTunes on October 15th, shortly after its debut as an iOS 5 feature . The servers required for the voice translation were shut down on the same day, meaning that even existing owners of the app were left Siri-less. While there was no technical reason, Apple refused to include the new version of Siri in the iOS 5 update, reserving it as a ‘killer feature’ of its iPhone 4S and newer devices.

Here is a Siri, Inc.’s video overview of that original application.

Aw, so cute! It hadn’t even learned to talk yet.

3D TV Fails to Jump Out and Grab Viewers

In spite of widespread adoption in big screen movie theaters, 3D television programming has thus far failed to reach out and grab the small screen audience. CBS News is reporting that viewership for 3D television programming is so low that Nielsen's television rating system cannot accurately measure how many people are tuning in. Viewership for any given 3D TV broadcast is estimated to be about 115,000 simultaneous viewers. There are nearly 7 million 3D capable sets in U.S. homes.

The article goes on to site a phone poll by Leichtman Research Group in its attempt to seek answers. Out of the 1300 U.S. users polled, 38% gave 3D a score of 3 or less out of 10. Only 19% scored 3D as an 8 or higher.

Source: CBS News

California Lawmakers Create Open Source Digital Library and 50 Free Textbooks

e-learning-laptop-booksGovernor Jerry Brown of California signed the bill to create a series of 50 new digital textbooks for use in the state's universities. Furthermore, the resultant textbooks will be created in XML for maximum compatibility and licensed under Creative Commons. A second bill was also signed into law dictating the creation of the California Digital Open Source Library to host them.

The textbook bill would "require the California Open Education Resources Council to determine a list of 50 lower division courses in the public postsecondary segments for which high-quality, affordable, digital open source textbooks and related materials would be developed or acquired." The council is to solicit bids to produce these textbooks in 2013. The bill also makes it clear that the council has the option to use "existing high-quality digital open source textbooks and related materials" if an existing e-text is found to fit the requirements.

Sadly there are still challenges ahead for struggling students. The textbook bill makes no promises that course instructors are required to use the new materials. United States college teachers are notorious for a lack of standardization and granted wide latitude in selecting what materials they require of students. It is also not uncommon for instructors to change their requirements from semester to semester. None the less, the creation of textbooks overseen by a committee of educators and available freely online is a huge boon to the world, even if it may not directly benefit California students.

Source: Ars Technica

Data That Lasts Forever

Hitachi, a maker of high tech devices including hard drives, has found a way to store data on quartz glass, possibly ready for mass production by 2015.  This data would have about the same density per square inch as a music CD but would last “forever”.  Quartz glass is highly resistant to chemicals and isn’t affected by electromagnetic radiation.  It can withstand temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius for about two hours without sustaining damage.  Water is the one thing that kills almost all electronic equipment yet it would have absolutely no effect on this glass.  Hitachi is claiming that it should last a few hundred million years, or more.

The data is written in the glass by forming dots inside a thin sheet of quartz glass.  These binary dots could be read from anything from a optical microscope to laser technology.  While data density of ordinary CD’s isn’t exactly high, this is the first attempt and as you can probably see there is plenty of space in that quartz to increase data density.  Anyways, it’s not about data density – it’s about data longevity.  Anyone who has been working with computers for 25 years like me, has lost more data to magnets, material degradation, pets, and people that thought that a floppy disk was a coaster than can be easily counted.  Every night before I go to sleep, I dread the next hard drive failure and inevitable data loss that definitely will occur sometime between tomorrow and 5-10 years from now. 

Do I really need cutting edge glass quartz optical drives to store this story so that 10 generations from now, my great-great-great…great ones can look back at this story in awe and amazement?  Probably not.  OK, absolutely not.  However, governments are always looking for ways to keep data forever.  I sure would like to keep the Bill Of Rights around for a while.  Religions won’t have to rely on monks slaving away on iPads, copy and pasting bibles anymore.  Museums are always looking for better ways to store information indefinitely for future generations without data loss or distortion.  It is unfortunate but with all glass, there is one weakness.  It can be shattered when struck with a heavy object using enough force.  Even with this one flaw, I would gladly use these quartz glass chips if it means that I’ll never have to buy all my music again because my hard drive crashed and burned. 

Entertainment Weekly’s Hi-Tech Magazine Ad is Actually a Cell Phone Stuck Between Two Pages

EW CW ad teardownThe latest issue of Entertainment Weekly magazine contains a hi-tech advertisement for the CW television network. The ad itself is really something, playing full-motion video and displaying live Tweets about the shows. Even more amazing is the technology powering this limited edition commercial: A Chinese Blackberry knockoff.

ABO 3G QweryWhen Mashable got a hold of one of these limited, 1000 copy run magazines, they did what any geek would do. They tore it apart to see how it worked. Little were they expecting to find a fully functional, Android based, Blackberry clone. The CW ad phone actually has a speaker, camera, keyboard, USB port, the full version of Android 2.13, and a T-Mobile SIM card. It even makes phone calls! Checking the serial number of the mainboard, the cellphone cum magazine ad is actually the ABO 3G QWERTY.

So, how cheap is it to make a cellular phone? So cheap that it’s worth using for a one-off magazine ad. Safe to say that this is one mag you don’t want in your paper recycling pile (especially with that li-on battery!). Watch Mashable’s full teardown of Entertainment Weekly below.

First Footage of Fan-Produced Star Wars Anime Leaked to YouTube

Paul Michael Johnson, an anime artist in the U.K. whose credits include work on the animated adaptations of RoboCop, Street Fighter, and Doctor Who, has been toiling in secret on a personal project: An all new animated Star Wars adventure! Paul was in for a bit of a surprise when he discovered the first taste of his pet project had been leaked out across the Internet.

While Paul was a little miffed that this incomplete version made it into the public eye, he has agreed to allow the video to remain online stating:

“That is really rather excellent. I did grin quite creepily when I heard the first TIE sound effect…recognised the AT-AT walking sound too! I won’t ask you to take it down, though I really am trying to keep it low profile since it’s rough and unfinished (about 30 people have been helping critique it on the 4chan /m/ mecha board, so it was supposed to be only them seeing it until it was complete, but then it got posted on 109, Twitter etc and flew out of control). Maybe if you could slap a disclaimer in the title or info, saying how it is completely work in progress?”

Source: Giant Freakin Robot

3D Printer Repossessed Due to Use in Making Guns

Wiki Weapon, an Internet project led by Cody Wilson’s Defense Distributed organization for the purpose of creating and sharing open-source models for 3D printed firearms (see our earlier coverage), recently suffered a setback as their shiny new 3D printer was repossessed before the machine could even be set up.

After a series on online fundraisers, Defense Distributed achieved their goal of raising $20,000. Wilson had initially been approved for a lease on Stratasys Mojo commercial grade printer. Soon after the machine arrived however, the 3D printing gunsmith received a letter from the machine’s manufacturer stating that they wanted their printer back because the printer was “to be used for illegal purposes”. After a few days of back-and-forth emails where Wilson protested that nothing he was doing was illegal, contracted repo men showed up at his home in a rental van to take his Mojo.

While it is legal to manufacture some models of firearms without a license, provided they are not intended for sale or trade, the Undetectable Firearms Act could outlaw the production of any fully plastic gun. Still, we’re pretty much entering uncharted territory here.

Stratasys made the following statement to Wired when asked about the recently repo’ed replicator:

"“Stratasys reserves the right to reject an order. Members of Defense Distributed, like any U.S. citizens, are able to follow the well-established federal and state regulations to manufacture, distribute or procure a firearm in this country.”

Stratasys recently made PR waves with a story involving a 3D printed “magic arms” exoskeleton that gave two-year old AMC sufferer Emma the use of her arms (also covered previously).

Cody Wilson, a second year law student, is currently in discussions with legal council. and looking to acquiring a federal firearms manufacturing license. In the meantime, Defense Distributed is moving on to build a 3D printed firing chamber for testing the effects of heat and pressure on plastic parts when bullets are fired. The firing chamber will be triggered by electricity and not have a trigger, placing it outside of regulation.

Defense Distributed has also just launched an Android app designed to give users an on-the-go understanding of the goals of Wiki Weapons and gather donations via Bitcoins.

Monty Python’s Dead Parrot is a 1600 Year Old Dead Slave

Mark Twain once said that there is no such thing as original thought. Every idea we have has already been thought of before.
“We are nothing but echoes. We have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own, we are but a compost heap made up of the decayed heredities, moral and physical.” – Mark Twain
Even the famous Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch follows the illusion of original thought. The British newspaper, The Telegraph, reported that the Dead Parrot Sketch is 1,600 years old. The news blurb states a comedy duo called Hierocles and Philagrius told the original version 1,600 years ago in ancient Greece.

Review: Lili (iPhone/iPad)–The New High-Water Mark for Mobile Gaming Graphics

LiliOnStageReleases don’t come much bigger in the mobile world than BitMonster’s debut title, Lili . Pictured onstage at the unveiling of the iPhone 5, Apple’s calendar girl for the platform’s “Great gaming experience” has a lot of hype to live up to. Is Lili the latest pint-sized powerhouse to put predisposed Playstion prudes in their place, or is she just another pretty face?

In Lily you’ll take control of the titular lead as she sails out to the abandoned ruins of Geos in search of mystical flowers to complete her Vegi-Magical finals project. Much to her surprise, the isle of Geos is neither abandoned nor in ruins. She must have been using Apple’s new maps app. Soon after arriving, Lili is befriended by the wooden Constructs of Geos and joins the underground movement to overthrown their tyrannical creators, the Spirits. Fortunately for Lili, bumping off Sprits makes use of her expertise in magical flower picking as removing the Spirit Flower from atop the Spirit’s head will banish it. Thus Lili sets off on the adventure of her lifetime to deflower the Spirits and free the wood. Why are you giggling?

Behind the Blog: October 1, 2012

Behind Blog button 2

I have just two words as we take a look back at our September coverage: Boom shakalaka! New gadgets! Cutting edge space tech! New games! Homemade cyborgs! New anime! Hello Kitty and goodbye Russian poop! Whether you come for our askew view of news, tongue-in-cheek commentary, or just out of family obligation (Hi Mom!), GUO slam dunked the quality content all month long.

…and boy, am I beat!

Come on inside for a while. Let me take a few hours off from writing to… er, do more writing… and let’s rap about some of the things that went into and came out of our favorite posts from the last 30 days.

Did that sound gross? The into/out of part? That might sound gross. It’s not gross. Well, the poop tank is gross. I should have stopped at “Boom shakalaka!” Let’s try that again.

Welcome to Growing Up Otaku’s monthly fireside chat, Behind the Blog! Boom shakalaka!