Baking Up 5 Star Wars Cakes for the Holidays

The holiday season in a time when ovens everywhere warm up and start producing all manner of sweet goodies. Being the Grandpops of Geekery that we are, it seemed like a great time to take a spin around the net and see what kind of confections are folks are cooking featuring one of our favorite sci-fi settings: Star Wars.

Image: points out this pleasantly plump Jabba the Hutt cupcake. So tasty yet so disgusting!

Super Light Metal Mesh Could Change Everything

Scientists at HRL Labs, sponsored by DARPA, have found a new way to make miracle materials. They found that they could design a material in a computer, then have that material formed by computer controlled lasers shooting through a gel that solidifies on contact. This allows them to make a material that is 1/1000th the thickness of a human hair. To add strength, they coat the material with nickel and dissolve the original plastic. By being able to design the structure so small and precise they are able to make a metal material that is 99.99% air and only .01% metal. This metal structure easily rebounds when compressed or deformed and is the lightest metal material that man has ever been able to make. According to the designers, this metallic microlattice would be ideal for battery components, catalyst supports, and damping of shock, acoustic, or vibrational energy. Materials such as this would also be ideal for heat-dissipation in air cooled computing devices. Their lightness would also allow for weight savings on cars and planes, which would ultimately save large amounts of fuel. Spacecraft would also benefit, as this material only weighs 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimeter in a world where it costs well over $1,000 per pound sent into orbit.

Deal: $40 NewEgg Credit for $20

Newly launched Groupon competitor Google Offers has, surprise, surprise, and offer for you. To celebrate Cyber Monday, you can grab a $40 credit for my favorite tech pusher NewEgg for only $20! Code can be used Nov 28, 2011 - Feb 26, 2012 and if you don’t spend it by then, they will refund your $20. Sure does help with hard drive prices these days!

I did have to refresh my browser once to get it to go through. Looks like this is a popular one.

Get the deal here from Google.

Review: Boss Battles HD (iPhone/iPad) One Finger Shmup Action for Free

boss battlesAll too often I find myself sitting down with a new touch gaming experience only to find out the developers have thoughtlessly emulated classic control methods via onscreen representations of joysticks and buttons. Thankfully Boss Battles has none of that. This latest offering from Backflip Studios thoughtfully reexamines every concept of the classic shmup (shoot ‘em up) genre and creates an experience that is at once new, familiar, and distinctively mobile.

The conceit of Boss Battles is a simple and familiar one: Fly a tiny, laser spewing starship against waves of crunchy little critters before squaring off against massive, screen spanning bosses where pattern recognition is just as important as your reflexes. It is the mechanics of Boss Battles that makes this app such a welcome diversion from the classics. Your ship is controlled by simply dragging your fighter around the screen. As you bob and weave between baddies and blasters, you ship automatically fires its weapons. Like the control scheme, the levels themselves have been pared down to the core of the shmup experience. Battling the waves of smaller enemies will last only a minute before you reach the boss of the level. Odds are either you or the boss will be reduced to space dust in another minute. Finally, Backflip proves it knows the economics of the App Store by offering this title for free and opts for an ad supported model.

Earth Similarity And Planetary Habitability Indexes Show Best Vacation Spots In The Universe

We are all suckers for top ten lists, so after discovering over 700 alien planets we needed a way to determine which were the best.  So scientists have devised a scale to tell how wonderful a planet is.  Earth, of course is simply the best, so everything else is compared to it’s scientific ranking of number 1 on both Indexes.  The Earth Similarity Index is based on factors such as size, density and distance from it’s star. It's a good way to judge a planet when specific factors about the planet are not yet known.  The Planetary Habitability Index looks closer at a planetary body to see whether it has a rocky or ice surface, how much atmosphere it has, and if it has a magnetic field that will keep out deadly radiation.  It also considers how much energy is available to a life-form through sunlight or tidal flexing.  Another important aspect takes into account the particular chemistry of the planet and whether is has liquid solvents like water in which the building blocks of life can come together.

U.S. Government Seizes Another 130 Internet Domains Without Due Process

seizedserversJust like last year, the United States Department of Justice has illegally seized 130 Internet domains while the country snoozed over a Thanksgiving weekend.

Blowing the doors off of last years “Operation Our Sites” when the U.S. claimed 82 domains in the name of stopping counterfeit product sales (many of which were discovered to be nothing of the sort as well as perfectly legal), this year’s “Cyber Monday Crackdown” repo tally is currently estimated at over 131 domains. All sites have been hijacked by the Department of Justice without warning, warrant, or due process regardless of county of origin.

Of course all of this will cease to be news if the United States passes the MPAA/RIAA written legislation known as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) or the Protect IP Act which would allow the U.S. to censor a shockingly large percentage of the Internet.

Check out the full story at TorrentFreak.

Will someone PLEASE move ICANN out of the U.S? Spain doesn’t seem to have been bought by Disney (yet). Let’s try there!

Deal: 32GB Lenovo Android Honeycomb Tablet Now $300

ideapad_k1Remember that Lenovo K1 tablet I’ve been drooling over? That sucker just dropped another $50 to $299.99! If you’ve been looking to jump into the tablet world, this thing is a steal. Sporting a slick aesthetic that’s more than the same ol’ boring black slab and packing DOUBLE the storage of any other tab in its class, the Lenovo K1 Ideapad even comes with a starter pack of apps including Netflix, Galaxy on Fire II ($10 value itself), and, of course, Angry Birds. Specs are pretty much the same as every other Honeycomb tablet out there: Tegra 2 dual core, 1GB RAM, 1280x800 capacitive display, 2MP front camera , 5MP in the rear, and a 10 hour battery. That fact that these things are still around at this price point shocked me when it was $350. Gotta be the best kept secret in the tablet market.

So, if you’ve been looking to buy into the New Shiny fiasco of the tablet market, here’s your chance to grab a slick piece of kit for the price of a netbook. Check it out.

…And if you can think of an excuse I can use on the Mrs. for bringing home another tablet, lemme know.

Update: These are sold out through Amazon and Tiger Direct. Local Sears and Kmart seem to be a good bet as well as online. Here is a Google shopping link to help you find one.  Good luck! The Mrs. is still giving me that look when I bring this up Winking smile

Shopping Malls to Track Your Movements via Cell Phones for Holliday Shopping Season

…and if you think it’s going to stop there, you’re wrong.

CNN Money is reporting that at least two shopping malls are planning to track customers’ locations throughout the complex from Black Friday through New Year’s Day.

spy kids mall“Promenade Temecula in southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va. -- will track guests' movements by monitoring the signals from their cell phones.

While the data that's collected is anonymous, it can follow shoppers' paths from store to store.

The goal is for stores to answer questions like: How many Nordstrom shoppers also stop at Starbucks? How long do most customers linger in Victoria's Secret? Are there unpopular spots in the mall that aren't being visited?”

The system, dubbed FootPath Technology, works by collecting visitors’ cell phone SID (a unique identification number assigned to each phone) using antennas positioned around the mall. This makes the data harvested anything but anonymous. Home Depot and JC Penney are also in discussions with FootPath about the implementation of this tracking service.

FootPath describes their technology thusly:

“The units measure signals from the consumers' mobile phones using unique technology that can locate a consumer's position to within a few metres. These units feed this data (24 hours a day 7 days a week) to a processing centre, where the data is audited and sophisticated statistical analysis is applied to create continuously updated information on the flow of shoppers throughout the centre. At any time the shopping centre management can access the data via PI's secure web-based reporting system.”

“Secure web-based reporting system”. Anyone looking to place bets at to how long until we see the first hack of this system appear?

The only opt-out policy available is, literally, turning off your phone.

Happy Thanksgiving

From our humble little household to yours: Happy Thanksgiving!

Top 5 Tech Turkeys of 2011

Lego mecha turkeyThanksgiving is nearly here in the U.S. and people are dreaming of stuffing themselves with succulent roasted turkey. In honor of this holiday, Growing Up Otaku has decided to look at things a little more figuratively. 2011 saw a great many fumbles and disruptions to the landscape of technology and the culture of the Internet. Let’s take a moment to point and laugh (or cry, in some cases) at five of the 2011’s less than desirable turkeys.

Maingear Ships–and Guarantees—5.2GHz Factory Overclocked PCs!

PC envy! Featuring the new six core Sandy Bridge-E Core i7 3960X, Maingear has unveiled the new line of mods available to their Shift series of custom build computers. The shocker: Guaranteed stable overclock of the CPU from Intel’s stock 3.3GHz to a whopping 5.2GHz! And look how sexy!

Dude, the motherboard is mounted vertically so all the ports are on the top! That’s gotta be great for ventilation, too. Seriously, if you’re into a little PC pr0n, you need to check out Maingear’s site. Bring a drool cloth. This monster even comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.

Hey Maingear, if you need a tech with 20+ years of experience to look over those new builds for ya, gimme a call Winking smile For science.

Cyber Attack on USA! Duqu / Stuxnet Is Prime Suspect

We’ve been following the development of Cyber Warfare from Stuxnet to Duqu, warning about the dangers of a possible attack on U.S. soil. Well, now it’s happened. Over a period of two to three months, a water pump used in a U.S. water facility has been turning on and off rapidly and it finally broke. This pump was hooked up to a supervisory control and data acquisition software (SCADA) used by the utility which is exactly the type of system the Stuxnet and Duqu computer attacks were designed to infiltrate and control. Other minor glitches were reported in the water utility during this period. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, this water station was located in Springfield, Illinois – almost in the center of the U.S. It is also known that the SCADA software vendor was hacked, with usernames and passwords stolen.

There are several concerns about this incident. The first is that the I.P. of the attacker is located in Russia. Another is that nobody at any other water pumping stations have been notified. In fact, no other SCADA operators seem to know about this attack. Because of this, there could be multiple facilities under similar attack right now. A different possibility could be that the hackers know how to disable water systems and have moved on to another critical aspect of the infrastructure. While the U.S. military has stated that military response to these type of attacks is a possibility, it’s very difficult to know if this was a state sponsored attack, a criminal enterprise, or recreational hackers. While the attack originated from Russia, it could have been carried out by agents of another country temporarily residing in Russia.

While there are many unknowns, we do know that this was possibly the first major cyber attack in the U.S. to destroy government property. Is this a prelude to a much larger attack? Only time will tell, but we do know that if it could happen once then it will probably happen again and if it could happen in Springfield, Il – then it could happen anywhere in the U.S.A.

New Studies Of Europa Increases Chances Of Finding Alien Life

NASA’s Galileo probe has given us data about Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa.  Europa is covered in water ice and is thought to have a liquid water core with more water than all of Earth’s oceans combined.  Unfortunately the water core is thought to be so deep that reaching it is nearly impossible for us and would be extremely difficult for any life to make it out near the surface.  New data has shown “lakes” that exist between the deep water and the surface could contain as much water as the North American Great Lakes.  This discovery increases the chances that life might exist within reach of the surface and possibly within reach of our current drilling equipment. 

Minecraft Finally, Officially Released

minecraft releaseOn November 18th, PC indie juggernaut Minecraft was finally released, over 4 million users later. At the first convention dedicated to the game, Minecon, designer Markus “Notch” Persson appeared on stage to pull the lever and upload the v1.0 of the game to the Internet. Servers were instantly swamped the the update server battled to stay online throughout the day. But stay online they did and users are discovering that infinite block building world limited only by imagination (and Creepers!) all over again.

Japanese Robot Bear to Maul You While You Sleep

jukusui-kun-robotic-bear-pillow-to-stop-snoringAt the 19th International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo, Dr. Kabe from Waseda University unveiled one of his latest inventions designed to aid the the health and well-being of humanity: A robotic bear that smacks you in the face while you sleep.

Created to aid in sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea Syndrome, the Jukusui-kun is a robotic pillow in the shape of a polar bear. The victim straps on a similarly adorable pulse-oxygen meter and this, in conjunction with a microphone in the bear pillow, monitors the sleep habits of the individual. When the snoring gets too loud, the bear’s hands move toward the person’s face. This “gentle brushing” causes the subject to roll over into a new position more conducive to a well night’s rest.

Nope, don’t see where the can go wrong. Not one bit. Growing Up Otaku wholeheartedly endorses our future robotic overlords and hope that they remember our support when determining who gets attacked by bears in their sleep. For, ya know, the health and well-being of mankind.

Minecraft Comes to the iPhone and iPad

iPhone Screenshot 3Notch and co.’s little block builder that could, Minecraft, has just been released for iOS! Similar to the Android version that came out a few months back, this version, dubbed Minecraft Pocket Edition, is not as full featured as its big brother PC version.You won’t find any survival or online play here. What you will find, however, is that same building joy that made the original Minecraft Classic (still online for free) a world wide sensation. You can also build along with some friends provided you are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Minecraft Pocket Edition is available now via iTunes for $6.99.

Canada’s Currency Gets Plastic Surgery

As of Monday, November 13, 2011, Canada has begun the switch over to plastic currency.

canada plastic moneyNo, it’s not some future dystopia full of credits chits and unending bank fees. The Bank of Canada will still be printing cash, but the cotton fibers used to create the bills will be replaced with a polymer designed to make money stronger and more difficult to counterfeit. The “synthetic” $100 bill has already begun rolling out with $50 to follow in March. All denominations are scheduled to be in circulation by the end of 2013.

In addition to the new material, Canada’s money is also getting a redesign with pictures that feature what Finance Minister Jim Flaherty describes as  "cultural touchstones that reflect and celebrate our Canadian experience." The images on the new $100 pay tribute to Canadian inventions including the insulin and the pacemaker.

Source: CTV News

Up In Smoke: User’s Data Disappears as Cloud Storage Service Backify Goes Belly Up

cirrocumulus cloudBackify burst on to the burgeoning field of cloud storage in October offering an unbelievable 512GB of storage for $5 a month. It sounded too good to be true. Turns out, it was.

Backify had been a licensed as a reseller of the Livedrive online storage and backup service. In marketing speak, this would be Backify powered by Lifedrive. When complaints of users being billed for services they had not signed up for and accusations of fraud began gaining momentum, Livedrive severed the contract. Backify closed up shop and users now have no way of accessing data stored using the service. While Backify was simply rebranding and selling Lifedrive’s service, being a customer of Backify did not make you a customer of Lifedrive. It is on this basis that Lifedrive has refused to help customers access their data.

While cloud storage is a great way to move large files around or share files with others, the only secure backup is one you own.

Review: Skyrim (PC): A Grand Tale of Adventure Where Anything Goes

Odds are that, if you are interested at all, then you’ve already read a half-dozen reviews or so and soaked up at least some of the past two years worth of prerelease hype about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I chose to present something a little different: An after action report (AAR). We all know Skyrim is a vast, open, unscripted world with seemingly limitless possibilities (which made replaying this encounter for screenshots rather problematic as it was always different). For this review I want to tell you what most reviews are not: What it is like to play Skyrim.

TESV 2011-11-14 02-19-38-37I blinked in the bright afternoon sun after emerging from the bloody, reeking hole in the ground that had been my adventure for the past night. The Skinner was finally dead and my baptism as a werewolf complete. Checking my map, I realized I was nowhere close to home. The city of Windhelm was nearby. I had never been there before and it looked like a quick, uneventful jaunt over a couple hills. Seemed like a good opportunity to stop in and see what this side of the world might offer. I had grown weary of the Whiterun’s Jarl and his half-arsed administration anyways.

A Tribute to Skyrim’s Epic Beards

Skyrim, the fifth volume in The Elder Scrolls series of open world role playing games, moves the action north to the frozen homeland of the Nord race. It is a rough land where manly men do manly things like lumberjacking, Shouting, and growing copious amounts of facial hair. Growing Up Otaku went on safari to assemble the following gallery of our favorite wearers of wicked whiskers. And, no, High Hrothgar doesn’t count. Too easy. Enjoy!

Skyrim Beards (2)Skyrim Beards (16)

Review: Forever Drive (iPhone/iPad): Tron Inspired Checkpoint Chasing on Your Own Tracks

DriveForever 2Aw man, I was supposed to have this review done weeks ago! I hit a little snag, you see: I couldn’t put the blasted game down long enough. “Lemme just check one more thing” always led to “Whoa, look at the time!” If that’s not enough of an endorsement for this great arcade racer, read on.

Forever Drive is a top down car racing game inspired by the arcade classics of yesteryear such as Out Run or Super Sprint. It is strictly a beat the clock affair as you sprint through winding curves and lazy, Sunday driving traffic to pass the next checkpoint before time runs out. Collect stars on the track and cruise through bonus zones on the far side of each turn to earn points while cleanly passing traffic and staying off of the sidewalls to raise your combo multiplier. The bonus zones provide a nice risk versus reward dilemma while the occasional power up drifting around the track provides a tantalizing morsel to pull you off the ideal driving line. It’s a classic formula that is every bit as addicting today as it was for the quarter munchers of that bygone era. Four different control schemes including tilt and a toggle for automatic acceleration ensures that everyone can Drive Forever. The bounding boxes that determine collisions on traffic vehicles feel a little large, but nothing that cannot be adapted to. Tailgating is a no-no in Forever City!

Summary Of Active Mars Missions

It is a very interesting week concerning Mars.  Russia launched their Phobos-Grunt (Phobos-Soil in Russian) mission Wednesday.  This mission was the most ambitious mission since it’s failed 1996 mission to Mars, which blew up in Earth orbit.  Well, once again the Russians were able to put their mission into orbit where it’s secondary rocket engine failed to ignite - twice.  This mission is also a failure for the Chinese who were piggybacking a Mars orbiter on the Russian rocket.  It also may be a failure for Earth in general, as literally enough rocket fuel to send a truck to Mars and back (8.3 Metric Tons) may unexpectedly be coming back to a random spot on Earth.

Not only is this fuel highly explosive, but both Hydrazine and Nitrogen Tetroxide are extremely toxic.  In contact with humans, Hydrazine causes the lungs to fill with fluid, causes seizures, and coma while also damaging the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system while melting skin on contact.  Nitrogen Tetroxide is also deadly due to the effects of fluid accumulation in the lungs, rapid breathing, increased heartbeat, and also features the ability to turn skin purple or blue.   All contaminants must be washed away with water immediately and respiratory support must also be sought as soon as possible.  The Phobos-Grunt mission may be salvageable, but it also may return to Earth at any moment.  NORAD predicts it’s return on Nov 26th, but nobody has a guess as to where it will land.

Light Up the Runway, Here Comes the Nom Nom Plane! Jet Bib Lights Up Baby for Feeding

I tried feeding BG using the airplane game. It worked for one spoonful. Ever. I did keep myself fairly amused trying on future attempts. You’d be surprised as to how much oatmeal you can do a barrel roll with! She was a little more interested when I started strafing the Japanese Cheerios though.

Illuminated JetBib Feeding SystemWhile the Illuminated JetBib Feeding System does not depict a map of Guadalcanal, it does feature a runway that could have come off of an aircraft carrier. Even better, the runway is lined with motion activated LED lights that turn on when your aircraft shaped spoon swoops in for the inevitable crash with baby’s lips. Need betterer? The airplane spoon also lights up and has three swappable spoon attachments!

Valve Finally Confirms Steam Hack 4 Days Later

Hardcore PC gamers have been gossiping about the closure of the gaming giant Valve’s forums for the past week. Following a hack that replaced the banner atop the forums with an advertisement for a hack site Sunday, November 6th, the forums were closed and have remained offline ever since without a word of explanation. Tonight Valve finally decided to speak. To the press, not their users.

steam_crack1Dear Steam Users and Steam Forum Users,

Our Steam forums were defaced on the evening of Sunday, November 6. We began investigating and found that the intrusion goes beyond the Steam forums.

We learned that intruders obtained access to a Steam database in addition to the forums. This database contained information including user names, hashed and salted passwords, game purchases, email addresses, billing addresses and encrypted credit card information. We do not have evidence that encrypted credit card numbers or personally identifying information were taken by the intruders, or that the protection on credit card numbers or passwords was cracked. We are still investigating.

We don’t have evidence of credit card misuse at this time. Nonetheless you should watch your credit card activity and statements closely.

While we only know of a few forum accounts that have been compromised, all forum users will be required to change their passwords the next time they login. If you have used your Steam forum password on other accounts you should change those passwords as well.

We do not know of any compromised Steam accounts, so we are not planning to force a change of Steam account passwords (which are separate from forum passwords). However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to change that as well, especially if it is the same as your Steam forum account password.

We will reopen the forums as soon as we can.

I am truly sorry this happened, and I apologize for the inconvenience.”

Fortunately this is a good deal better than the PSN hack from earlier this year due to passwords and credit card information actually being encrypted. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of how little respect businesses have for their customers.

Update: Valve has finally posted the above message on their forums to replace their generic “Forums are down for maintenance” post. The company still appears unwilling to directly email their users to notify them personally of the fact that their personal information has been stolen.

iOS 5.0.1 Update Now Available; Fixes iPhone 4s Battery Problems, Adds iPad Gestures, Understands Aussies

iOS-51The updated version of iOS 5 is now available for compatible iDevices. Version 5.0.1 promises to fix the mysterious battery life problems plaguing the iPhone 4s, adds the new multitasking gestures to Apple’s original iPad, and helps Siri to understand Australians. Yeah, iOS 5 has had a devil of a time understanding our brothers from down under when using dictation.

Remember, there is a risk of data loss with any operating system version. To verify that your device is properly backed up, check our previous guide.

Deal: 32GB Motorola Xoom Android Tablet $330

Motorola XOOM 10.1” 32GB Android Tablet with Wi-FiIn the market for an Android tablet? Yeah, I wouldn’t be either. Not until the Amazon Fire and new Nook have some reviews out. And especially not before Black Friday. Let’s pretend anyway! has a great deal today on the 32GB, WiFI only version of Motorola’s Xoom tablet. The device is going to $330 +$5 shipping. The only catch is that this is a refurbished model. None the less, betcha these sell out!

Want something new? Take a look at the 32GB Lenovo K1 Android tablet for $350. I’ve been drooling over this little guy in the stores lately. Same specs, same storage, slightly worse screen, but brand new and comes with a bundle of apps (even some good ones!). I just love that the Lenovo isn’t yet another dull black slab. That aluminum trim just adds so much style! Amazon and Newegg have the Lenovo.

Happy Carl Sagan Day!

This would have been Carl Sagan’s 77th birthday, and to honor him today has been declared this the annual Carl Sagan Day. Inspired by the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, Carl Sagan’s curiosity about the natural world and the universe took him on an amazing journey, not the least of which was his television series, Cosmos.

You can view 13 episodes of Carl Sagan's landmark show Cosmos freely on Debuting in 1980, Cosmos was the most watched American televisions series until 1990's The Civil War. To this day, it remains as PBS' most widely watched show in the world.

Adobe Flash Burns Out on Mobile Devices. Android Player 11.1 to be the Last

flashbulbIn a company blog post from Adobe VP Danny Winokur the company finally threw in the towel on using their multimedia platform Flash on mobile devices. The final iteration of Flash for mobile devices will be the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and the Blackberry Playbook. The post went on to sway developers to switch to using Adobe’s AIR platform which allows porting of Flash based apps into HTML5. Work will continue on Flash Player 12 for PC systems.

…And good riddance! Flash has ruled the roost for entirely too long. The insecure, crash prone, CPU hogging multimedia plug-in has long overstayed its welcome in light of the the advancement and wide spread adoption of HTML5. I can’t remember the last time there wasn’t an announcement of a day 1 security flaw in a release. Flash on the Android platform has remained a second rate product (at best!). Sure it technically worked as long as you weren’t trying to run anything interesting. Even utilizing web apps that did work with it, you had best remembered your charger!

Make Your Own Library Everywhere with BookCrossing

Sure, we’ve all have piles of our little paper friends stacked on shelves. Maybe we loan them out to friends. Sometime a big stack gets donated to charity. Maybe donate them to the local library.

What if you could have your own library anywhere? What if your library was everywhere? describe their program as The World’s Library. The idea is “read and release”. Once you are done with a book, login to your account, print out a label, and pass the book on, leave it in a public place, or just dump a box on your desk at work. Each label lets the finder know that the book is free and contains a unique code that can be used online to chronicle the journey of your paperback friend.

BookCrossing claims to have nearly 1 million members with 8.3 million books available in 132 different countries. The service is free to join and features other bookish features (pun!) such as collection creating and trading directly with other members. Sharing is caring!

Happy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Release Day

It’s that time of the year again! If past patterns are anything to go by, the highest grossing entertainment product of the year goes on sale today. Unlike every other gaming news site on the web, our review is not ready to be posted because… Well, we don’t usually review games already beat to death by the rest of the media. And no one sends us free copies. We did do a preview a while back!

Spot on, right? Hmm… Maybe this is why no one sends us review copies Winking smile

Amazon has the game on sale for Xbox360, PS3, and PC for $52 in case you’re looking to save a couple bucks.

Trends Favoring Free Mobile Gaming

Computer gaming has been a popular pastime for many of us for decades.  It seems recently it has been taking off with the widespread use on mobile platforms.  These small, easy and either free or low-cost games make gaming available to a large portion of the population that don’t spend a great amount of time parked in front of a computer at home.  This trend is also affecting the online community.   This is due to the fact that almost all of these mobile devices are basically communication devices that have WiFi or cellular access to the internet.  Not only does this increase the amount of users for online gaming, but also allows these users to purchase or try out free games without having to download them through another computer.  In fact, there are more mobile users playing games than using all other apps combined.

Inside CIA’s Internet Eavesdropping “Open Source Center”

inside the netIn news that should shock no one, the CIA keeps constant tabs on the Internet. Monitoring Twitter, Facebook, chat rooms, and pretty much everything else. Associated Press writer Kimberly Dozier went inside the CIA’s Virginia based “Open Source Center” to have a look around and chat up these “white hat” hackers at work.

“At the agency's Open Source Center, a team known affectionately as the "vengeful librarians" also pores over Facebook, newspapers, TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms — anything overseas that anyone can access and contribute to openly.

From Arabic to Mandarin Chinese, from an angry tweet to a thoughtful blog, the analysts gather the information, often in native tongue. They cross-reference it with the local newspaper or a clandestinely intercepted phone conversation. From there, they build a picture sought by the highest levels at the White House, giving a real-time peek, for example, at the mood of a region after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden or perhaps a prediction of which Mideast nation seems ripe for revolt.”

Check out the full article on Yahoo! News.

Review: Exoplanet (iPhone/iPad) A True-to-Life Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

photo 1Exoplanet is one of those special pieces of software that enlightens you to exactly how insignificant, yet miraculously ingenious the human race is.

Released as a free, ad supported app ($1 in-app purchase for ad free version), Exoplanet quite simply is Google Earth for the entire Milky Way galaxy. The giddy wonder of pinching and swiping through the cosmos with your finger is indescribable. Honestly, if you have enough interest to have read this far, do yourself a favor and go download it now, tap Milky Way on the main menu and come back once your jaw returns to its normal position. It is choppy on earlier iDevices, but still well worth the $0 admission. Heck, it would be worth a $10 price of admission!

International Astronauts Return From Mock Mars After 520 Days

“We come in peace!” said Italian engineer Diego Urbina, after exiting the sealed mock spacecraft from it’s simulated trip to Mars.  This mock spacecraft took a mock journey to Mars that lasted 520 days, with 6 astronauts that were not allowed to leave the experiment.  The purpose was to study how the crew reacted to such a long spaceflight.  Luckily no one went mock space crazy.  There were some “Colorful days” but most of the time spent was rather dull.  In fact, that was one of the major research goals – to see how astronauts deal with loss of motivation and the work fatigue from long spaceflights.  This problem is especially prevalent during the long trip home after all of the exciting exploration is done.  Missions like this one are some of the ways that we are preparing for the arduous journey to Mars and back.

Using Sound To Heal Bones And Internal Injuries

Ultrasound has been used for over 50 years to peer inside the body and is now a very common technology.  A new use for this technology has been found in healing bones.  Orthopedic surgeon Angus MacLean has been using Ultrasound to lower recovery times for patients with severe fractures.  Using this technique Dr. MacLean has been able to reduce recovery times by about 40%.  It’s thought that the Ultrasound treatment, used at a different frequency and pulse than would be used normally, causes cells to remove bacteria and increases the production of new bone cells which mature more rapidly.  Currently the $1,600 cost of the portable Ultrasound device is limiting it’s use to patients with major or compound fractures but that could change as the technology is better understood.

Ultrasound isn’t just being used for looking at babies in utero and healing bones, the U.S. military has plans for a portable device that uses focused sound to stop internal bleeding from battle wounds.  The device would look for broken blood vessels using Doppler Ultrasound, then use another high powered and focused Ultrasound beam to cauterize the broken blood vessels.  This has been dubbed the Deep Bleeder Acoustic Coagulation program and is being sponsored by no other than DARPA.  The high intensity focused Ultrasound is already is use to break up kidney stones, relieve fibroids, and certain cancer treatments.  Since this technology is already developed and in use development costs should be fairly low.  The real challenge would be to properly teach battlefield medics how to correctly use this technology to save lives.  You can bet that if this is successful on the battlefield, it will make it back to the civilian sector where it could possibly one day save your life.

Nintendo Japan Reveals Legend of Zelda Playing Card Set

Nintendo of Japan has reveled they are producing a Legend of Zelda trump card set. The cards depict images of Link in 4 different art styles inside the Triforce symbol. Each suit of cards features artworks from a deferent generation of Zelda games from 8-bit to the soon to be released Skyward Sword. Amazon Japan is already taking pre-orders with for a December 25th release.

Spade handleIn the heart Diamond patternClub

In addition to being a wonderful way of showcasing the many faces of one of Nintendo’s most beloved heroes, it is a neat throwback to the days when Nintendo produced handmade hanafuda cards

AKB48 Launching Branded ISP, Wants to Make Babies With You

Oh my goodness, where to start…

AKB48officialNetJapanese pop super group AKB48 has launched their own Internet service provider.

For 1,480 yen ($19USD) a month, subscribers to AKB48 Official Net not only get Internet access and email but an extra vote for AKB48’s Request Hour setlist, fan club membership, and exclusive access to AKBaby.

Yes, AKBaby. This online app allows subscribers to virtually splice genes with their favorite members of of the 59 idol strong music group. The demo presented at the October 31st press conference shows this Conan O’Brien-esque technology at work using AKB48 member Oshima Yuko and Japanese prime minister Noda Yoshihiko.


In light of this… breakthrough in technology, Growing Up Otaku demands iCloud get similar support!

steve jobs wozniak baby boy