Gadget News - Gadget Reviews - Gadget Tech Specs Tue, 13 Oct 2009 13:30:59 +0000 en hourly 1 Defense of the Ancients in the Flood Tue, 13 Oct 2009 13:30:59 +0000 Rico Mossesgeld Post from: The Gadget Blog

]]> I think pictures of gamers in the flood are becoming viral in the Philippines, where I’m currently based. First you’ve got someone playing Left 4 Dead:


And a bunch of people playing Defense of the Ancients:


Obvious fakes? Well, here’s what I think: the flooding levels in both pictures are high enough that wall sockets would be submerged. Even if somehow the gamers are drawing power from a wall socket located higher than usual, other sockets exposed to water would necessitate shutting down power—to prevent any overloads.

Here’s more definitive “proof”: look at how still the water is. No one playing on a computer would keep so still so as to not cause any waves in the water.

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]]> 0 Woman Arrested for Poking Someone Else on Facebook—Seriously Tue, 13 Oct 2009 12:11:20 +0000 Rico Mossesgeld Post from: The Gadget Blog

]]> A woman in Tennessee was recently arrested for poking someone else on Facebook. By doing so, Shannon D. Jackson apparently violated a restraining order that prohibited her from Dana M. Hannah. Violating this so-called “order of protection” is a Class A misdemeanor in the state—meaning the potential maximum sentence is “11 months, 29 days”, or barely below a complete year! All for clicking a link on a social networking website.

Proof of the alleged misdemeanor was a screenshot of said poke

Proof of the alleged misdemeanor was a screenshot of said poke

Technology and law traditionally haven’t meshed well together, as technology’s constant stream of new developments sometimes make the law’s adherence to the letter ludicrous. Stanford fellow Ryan Calo laid out the legal rationale behind the whole affair:

…it is still a form of communication restricted by a protective order.

“A poke is a very deliberate action,” he said. “You have to select the person and say, ‘this is what I want to do.’”

Advances in technology have expanded the spectrum of communication, from low-engagement to high-engagement ways of interacting with others, Calo said.

Fair enough, a woman goes to court and successfully gets a court order protecting her from further communication from an offending party, and that protection was violated. Getting arrested for poking someone else on Facebook sounds a bit rough, but there’s a lesson here: If someone hated or feared me enough to actually file a restraining order against me, I would simply delete him or her from my list of Facebook friends. Common sense people!


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]]> 0 Dremel User Allegedly Proves CD-ROM Speed Limit Mon, 12 Oct 2009 17:30:29 +0000 Rico Mossesgeld Post from: The Gadget Blog

]]> My only experience with a fast-spinning CD threatening to cause damage was when I repeatedly pushed the eject button of a (CD-only, this was at least 7 years ago) optical drive that seemed unwilling to spit out my media. Then suddenly for some reason, the tray extended, and before I knew it, the CD—still spinning at top speed—actually flew upwards! I swear this anecdote is true!



In any case, a recent experiment theorizes that spinning a CD way faster than 56 times a second (or 56x, I assume) carries its own set of dangers. According to the experimenter, going above that speed magnifies the tiniest imperfection on a CD, potentially causing enough wobbling to damage the rotating mechanism. So of course he decided to test a CD with a Dremel, running it at over 35000 RPM. At those speeds, the edge of CD moves at nearly 800 kilometers per hour! (Or 792 kph, to be exact).

So what happened when a Dremel took a CD for a spin? Well, “the CD hummed and whined in a very menacing manner”. Scary, but it still took “quick jerk at the tool” to make the CD a projectile. Experimenting dude recounts what came next:

…the CD slid out of the holder and contacted the carpet whilst spinning at ungodly speeds. It peeled out a bit in front of me and proceeded to make its way to the door at a very high speed. On contacting the closed door, the CD did a most unexpected thing: it first bounced back a few inches, and then, when it hit the door again, it jumped straight up the door and struck the ceiling, exploding into thousands of fragments which rained down on the entire room. This first experiment was unfortunately not videoed, but it served to get everyone in the room to put glasses on and cower away behind pieces of furniture, whilst people in the hall corridor quickly made their way to my door to ask what was going on.

In other words, spin a CD-ROM really really quickly, launch into a hard surface, and you’ll get a pretty wicked disc that potentially creates deadly shrapnel. The experiment page (link below) contains multiple videos for download, if only to satisfy your visual curiosity and help you resist the temptation to try this at home.

PowerLabs High Speed CD-Rom Experiments

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]]> 0 Voicebot: A Sign That Robot Doomsday Starts in the UK Mon, 12 Oct 2009 16:07:41 +0000 Rico Mossesgeld Post from: The Gadget Blog

]]> At first glance, the Voicebot—a robot that basically writes out suggestions submitted online in front of British MPs for the sake of making these ideas more personal—sounds like a good idea. It makes it easy for the youth to voice their opinions, because Voicebot literally provides more direct access to members of parliament. Presumably, politicians will have a better understanding of their respective constituencies.



But v, The National Young Volunteers Service (the group responsible for the Voicebot political experiment, and yes, that really is their name) have made a crucial mistake. It’s even more tragic that the group’s push for better communication between the citizens and their elected representatives has created a vulnerability.

You see, what’s to stop the now-dormant robot overlords from taking control of Voicebot? Why, they can insert messages that sound like they come from human youth, but are actually subtle instructions to push the robotic agenda. Messages like “Robots are cool, put more funding into improving them” blend easily with useful insights like “Politics is the debate over power, not over needs”.

So, it’s quite possible that, before the British Prime Minister and his fellow MPs become more aware of what needs to be done to improve the situation of the youth—humanity’s future—they would be manipulated into making it easier for robots to take over the UK (and the world) once the time is right.

You have hastened our downfall, v, The National Young Volunteers Service! Voicebot apparently now has the ears of people in power, and who knows what Voicebot will tell these impressionable personalities do? Thank goodness for publications like that keep us informed of the latest robot machinations.

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]]> 2 Lazy Sunday Links Sun, 11 Oct 2009 11:30:13 +0000 Rico Mossesgeld Post from: The Gadget Blog

]]> Yes, the FBI director has his own commander. Not the president of the US or some senate committee, but his wife who banned him from doing online banking after he nearly fell for a phishing scam.

Iceland is all about being (literally) cool, which is why they want to become the server capital of the world. They offer natural cooling crucial to cutting down data center costs and energy consumption.

Adaptive roof-tiling technology that absorbs heat during the winter and reflects it during the summer. How? Simply by switching between black and white.

A summary of Leo Laporte’s career. For some reason, I find Laporte hotter than Olivia Munn.

Bill Gates (and his own Commander Melissa) recently provided a cost estimate to the FCC: $10 Billion needed to run fiber optic cables to various educational institutions and hospitals in the US.

pigeon-missileApparently, around 40 years ago, the US navy was working on pigeon-guided missile technology.

Rest in peace Stephen Gately. The Boyzone singer’s last tweet is available for everyone to read here.

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]]> 0 Presenting: The Most Useless Gadget Ever Sat, 10 Oct 2009 11:30:15 +0000 Rico Mossesgeld Post from: The Gadget Blog

]]> Turns out creating the most useless gadget ever is easy: simply build a machine designed to turn itself off. Flip the on switch and machine dutifully pushes the switch back to “off”.

Worlds-Most-Useless-GadgetAs you can see, the machine will insist on turning itself off even after as the user repeatedly pushes the switch back to “on”. Why is this the most useless gadget ever? Simply because it uses up energy without providing a foundation for any productive activity whatsoever. You probably think that criterion applies to all of your most-hated gadgets, but here’s a machine that makes the concept literal.

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]]> 0 Conclusion from Google: Memory Chips More Unreliable Than Previously Believed Fri, 09 Oct 2009 11:30:14 +0000 Rico Mossesgeld Post from: The Gadget Blog

]]> Over the last two-and-a-half years, search engine giant Google analyzed the performance of the thousands of computers it uses for its own data centers. The surprising trend? Based on real-world data, Google concluded that the error rates of memory chips are higher than previously believed. Much much higher:

How many errors? On average, about one in three Google servers experienced a correctable memory error each year and one in a hundred an uncorrectable error, an event that typically causes a crash.

google-circuit-thingyOlder research showed that, for every 1 billion hours, a memory chip would fail on average around 200 to 5,000 times. Google’s project revealed a much higher ratio: 25,000 to 75,000 failures within the same time period.

To be clear, those numbers aren’t anything significant for the typical consumer. A billion hours is equal to more than 100,000 years after all, worth at least ten thousand lifetimes. Nevertheless, Google’s research should be useful for projects or businesses that have to rely on lots of memory chips to get the job. A prominent example is of course other companies that maintain their own data centers.

Of course Google couldn’t pass up the opportunity to market its own technical expertise, discussing the various technologies it uses to protect end-users from crashes caused by memory errors. Apparently “error correction code” and “chipkill” are just two of the things Google relies on to protect you from the evil data corruption. (Source, thanks to Sheree for the pic!)

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]]> 0 The Sarah Palin Xbox 360: Worth $1.1M? Fri, 09 Oct 2009 08:07:22 +0000 Rico Mossesgeld Post from: The Gadget Blog

]]> Now this is definitely not confirmed, but eBay seller David Morrill (dmorrill321) is trying to sell an Xbox 360 purportedly signed by Sarah Palin. The price? $1.1 million.


Personally, why would I pay that much for an Xbox 360, even if really did bear the signature of the 2008 vice presidential candidate? Maybe I’d be willing to spend more than a million dollars if it was say, the Xbox 360 of Abraham Lincoln, but I’m not exactly rolling in money here.

Sarah-Palin-Signed-Xbox-360-1Is Sarah Palin even aware of this auction, which ends on the 15th? As proof, Morrill narrates driving three days from his hometown of Alberta, Canada. He was able to push my “way through the crowd” and get Palin to sign his Xbox, while someone he knew took a photo of the event. According to him, she said it was “the most extravagant thing she had ever been asked to sign”.You can find the “Sarah Palin Signed Xbox 360″ here.

For reference, an Xbox 360 typically retails for $299.

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]]> 1 How Much Would You Pay for Reliable Over-the-Air Bandwidth? Thu, 08 Oct 2009 13:00:17 +0000 Rico Mossesgeld Post from: The Gadget Blog

]]> During a speech at the CTIA conference, AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega “hinted at an unpleasant way of dealing with… the disproportionate wireless bandwidth usage of iPhone users”. PC World’s Mark Sullivan thinks de la Vega will start throttling bandwidth for iPhone users, who according to Sullivan represent only 3% of AT&T’s smartphone users, yet are responsible for 40 percent of over-the-air (OTA) bandwidth usage. AT&T apparently can’t keep up with the demand, especially since the wireless spectrum in the US is getting more crowded nowadays.

AT&T Coverage Map

Too Many Customers, Too Little Capacity

The problem with “rationing” OTA bandwidth is of course, pissing off a lot of customers, who pay monthly for data plans, with the expectation that their mobile internet experience will be seamless and responsive. Most probably AT&T problem isn’t unique, simply because operators throughout the world have a nasty habit of promising what they can’t deliver.

Like any other resource, OTA connectivity is limited. Stress the network with enough people, and you’ll have dropped connections, slow data transfers, and other common symptoms that have frustrated many data users. That’s because operators are under constant pressure to increase the number of subscribers, to show shareholders that they’re taking steps to grow the business. The problem is that, while snazzy marketing campaigns quickly add converts to an operator’s customer base, the same isn’t true for increasing capacity and infrastructure capability.

What’s Your Budget for Reliable Mobile Connectivity?

Thus my question: how much would you pay for reliable OTA bandwidth? How much are you willing to spend on a regular basis in return for mobile online access featuring reliability and speeds that truly rival wired services? Two times as much? Three times as much? The answer to that question is of course, subjective, but I’ve got no problems sharing my personal willingness to pay four times as much as current rates. In return however, I expect virtually no downtime, and a promise to refund for connection failures, prorated to the length of the downtime.

There are problems with my proposal: operators can simply claim users weren’t within an area with good network coverage (a traditional excuse they use to explain away network failures). And of course, you have shareholder pressure to boost the numbers.

But I still think it’s a good foundation for reforming the market, and something has to change. Operators should stop luring in customers with relatively low-priced data plans, then leave them hanging with poor service even before the ink on that two-year lock-in has dried. There a sound business reasons driving this approach, but it’s hardly a sustainable model.

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]]> 1 Valve Wants Gordon Freeman to Win Gamespot’s All Time Greatest Video Game Hero Contest Thu, 08 Oct 2009 11:30:23 +0000 Rico Mossesgeld Post from: The Gadget Blog

]]> And why not? Gordon Freeman was the player character of the game (Half-Life) that put Valve on the map. If it weren’t for his success, Steam wouldn’t exist today. Valve’s aware of that, which is why they’re sending out the call to all Steam users. The screenshot:

Gordon-Freeman-VoteThe text:

ATTENTION, STEAM ARMY! We come to you today with a humble plea. We consider Steam to be the true home of Half-Life games, so we’re coming to you in hopes that you will help us make Half-Life’s hero, Gordon Freeman, the victor in an epic battle. Right now, Gamespot is running a vote to determine who is “The All-Time Greatest Game Hero”. Gordon is up against some stiff competition – right now from Link, and soon, Mario. Both of them are, of course, worthy and admirable foes. But think of Gordon! Do it for the citizens of Earth, who have all been saved by Gordon’s heroic actions! We know it’s been a while since Episode Two came out, but surely you haven’t forgotten!

Click here to vote! Together, we can do it!

Thank you!!

The actual message can be found here. My vote goes to Freeman, the silent protagonist who nevertheless is more awesome than Link of Zelda!

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