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8Dec/10Off

Oriental Hornet is Actually Solar Powered

Solar power is a hot topic for those who want to be eco-friendly. Or, for those who just want to find ways to save on energy bills. But, it looks like insects in the animal kingdom know how to take advantage of the sun in a more direct way, too. It’s been recently discovered that the Oriental Hornet, which features an iconic yellow strip around the hornet’s abdomen, is actually solar powered.

Like many other hornet, or even insect species, the Oriental Hornet is prone to being more active during the day. Other hornets actually flourish during the morning, but then tend to get more reserved as the day progresses. In the case of the Oriental Hornet, though, it actually gets more active as the day moves on. More accurately, as the sun makes its way through the sky, the hornet’s activity level rises in accordance.

Why? Because that yellow stripe holds tiny protrusions that collect sunlight, and translate it into energy. The Oriental Hornet also has a specialized pigment, called xanthopterin, that aides in the processes of making solar energy into energy the hornet can utilize in its every day happenings. Xanthopterin works as a light absorbing, or light harvesting molecule, which makes it easier to transfer into electrical energy that the hornet can use.

[via GearLog]


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8Dec/10Off

Intel Netbook and Tablet Group Formed Behind Closed Doors

Sometimes companies still like to do things under the radar. No press release, and no public announcement to be heard. Intel, this time around, is the company in question, and it looks like the chip maker is all set to make sure that in the near future, they’ve got some buffer zones built against the competition within the netbook and tablet market.

The company is calling it simply the netbook and tablet group. The point behind this brand new business unit? To stave off the competition within those two markets, all the while making sure that Intel stays as successful as it has been, especially in regards to the Atom chip. Douglas L. Davis, the current head of Intel’s embedded and communications group.

According to Intel spokesperson Bill Kircos, it’s an obvious and measured step from Intel to make the netbook and tablet group a reality.

[via The New York Times]


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8Dec/10Off

Blizzard MMO Not Likely for Xbox 360

Blizzard is a company known for their Massively Multiplayer Online titles, with a major focus on World of Warcraft. Of course, a title like StarCraft can’t be ignored, either, even if it doesn’t fit into the MMO category. In any event, it doesn’t look like Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has much of a chance of landing an MMO of Blizzard caliber any time soon, as the company not only knows of the hardships that Microsoft puts forth to developers for access to Xbox LIVE, but they also believe that the Xbox 360 just doesn’t have the power to make it happen.

As Greg Street of Blizzard says, “I think certainly that we would place really heavy demand on the technical structure of those things before [the Xbox 360] was something Blizzard would want to get into.” Unfortunately for Microsoft, it can’t be good news when one of the biggest video game publishers in the world says that your console just can’t cut it. It may not be said in so many ways, but from that statement alone it sounds like Blizzard has already looked at the technical aspects of the 360, and determined that it just wouldn’t work.

But, that’s not all of the bad news. In the interview with CVG, Street also pointed a finger at the closed nature of Xbox LIVE in of itself. He says that there would have to be some major discussions between them and Microsoft, before anything even remotely could get kicked off. There’s no hiding the fact that Microsoft hasn’t been putting any real focus on MMO titles, and the Redmond-based company is still against letting gamers play cross-platform titles.

Blizzard seems to be at two different points with bringing an MMO to the Xbox 360. First, it sounds like they don’t believe the console would be even capable of running a title. But, on the other side of the coin, even if they could manage to get a game up and running, it is Xbox LIVE’s inherent nature that prevents them from making it happen. To make a certainly long story short, it doesn’t seem likely that a Blizzard MMO is going to land on the Xbox 360.

[via TG Daily]


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8Dec/10Off

Prosthetic Arm Features Flexible Tentacle Design

Most prosthetic limb replacements focus on returning regular movements to those who need them. Prosthetic legs move in a natural way, or as best as they can, while prosthetic arms usually have a regular five-fingered hand at the end, helping those who have lost a limb use their artificial ligament in a more natural fashion. But, when a student is asked to “push the boundaries” of upper-limb prosthetic design, you shouldn’t expect to find a design you’d find in the box.

Kaylene Kau’s robotic prosthetic arm design doesn’t have a hand at the end, nor does it have five fingers. Instead, it focuses on a more tentacle-like approach. The arm is powered by a small motor, and there’s a few wires inside to let the artificial appendage function. As you can probably already guess, the end of the arm will actual curl upwards, or downwards, depending on how the person wearing the prosthetic wants to grab something.

[via DVICE]

Prosthetic-Tentacle
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8Dec/10Off

North Point iBand Uses iPads and iPhones to Play Christmas Music [Video]

Back in October, we told you about Atomic Tom. This is a band that, while on the New York subway, decided that they’d pull out their iPhones and start jamming away. Why? Because all of their instruments had been reportedly stolen. This time around, there’s nothing so nefarious causing this group of individuals to start playing away on their iDevices. No, this is the North Point Community Church band, iBand. Thanks to some apps they downloaded, they were able to play a trio of songs for those in attendance, and the results are actually worth watching.

The iBand was able to play three different songs: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Feliz Navidad, and Carol of the Bells. All of which turned out great. According to Reid Greven, it took just a few apps to get the magic started, and then multitracking them through Apple’s Logic Software.

“Jared arranged “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Feliz Navidad” using the apps, and creating a demo by multitracking them in Apple’s Logic software (though any Digital Audio Workstation would do the trick). Jared, Eddie Kirkland and I arranged the first song, “Carol of the Bells“. It’s amazing what you come up with when you sit in a room, hook 3 iPhones up to some speakers, and get adventurous!”

As far as the apps that were chosen to make this magical musical spectacle happen, they include: iGog, Pianist, Percussions, Guitarist, and SoundGrid. As of right now, the video that you can watch below, is doing its viral thing on YouTube, so make sure you keep passing it along.

[via MacStories]


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8Dec/10Off

Parrot AR.Drone gets object-tracking hack & Wiimote control [Video]

Parrot’s AR.Drone isn’t short on intelligence – as we discovered in our recent review – but it’s also the ideal platform for quadricopter-based experiements. Tinkerer Psykokwak has figured out Urbi integration – an open-source robotics software platform – to give the AR.Drone object-tracking abilities (in this case it can identify and follow a red ball) as well as broader control options, including a Wiimote, a joystick or pretty much anything else that can hook up to your computer, in a mere 25 lines of code.

Video demo after the cut

That last point might put something of a dampener on your impromptu AR.Drone object tracking fun, since the quadricopter needs to be hooked up to a computer running Windows, OS X or Linux to run the full Urbi software. However, that also means you can use the Gostai Lab software to come up with custom interfaces for the ‘copter, handy if you’re less than enamoured with the relatively basic UI of the official iOS app.

Alternatively, Psykokowak has a second – more risky – method that allows you to load a version of Urbi directly into the AR.Drone’s own memory, running the software on the quadricopter’s own processor. The risk is that you might wipe Parrot’s original programming, and while the company is open minded in encouraging mods to the AR.Drone, that probably falls outside their warranty.

[via Engadget]


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8Dec/10Off

Google Maps 5.0 gets Nexus S video demo

Google VP Marissa Mayer took the stage at LeWeb 2010 today, and it was no surprise to see the search and user experience exec pull out a Nexus S. Unlike most Nexus S handsets – such as the unit we spent hands-on time with yesterday – Mayer’s phone is running the incoming Google Maps for Mobile 5.0, and they wasted no time before running through a demo.

Video demo after the cut

The two main features of the updated app were demonstrated, starting with 3D landmarks – which can be panned and moved around with two-finger multitouch gestures – and then looking at cached usability thanks to the new offline mode. According to Mayer, both features are possible because of the switch to vector-based graphics, which have helped shrink data traffic in Google Maps down to 1/100th of the previous amount.

That permits a bigger cache of navigation data, and while it’s not the entire map – unlike, say, Nokia’s Ovi Maps, which can be locally stored – it’s enough to get you through data deadspots or to navigate a pre-planned journey without a connection. Check out both features in the video demo below.


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8Dec/10Off

Refurbished iPads now up to $100 off

The 16GB Wi-Fi iPad can be yours for just $429, the lowest price ever. But is it low enough? And should you wait for the upcoming iPad 2 instead?

Originally posted at iPad Atlas

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8Dec/10Off

Dell Streak Recovery Tool Now Available

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A custom recovery option based off of Koush’s Clockwork Recovery is now available for the Dell Streak courtesy of XDA-Forums member mistadman. The tool keeps the look and feel simple and stock and is still a work in progress, but for now it supports the Streak’s landscape mode, capacitive buttons, and the signature verification setting will survive a hard reboot.

If you are a Streak owner who likes dabbling in that sort of thing, you can head over to the source link below for more details.

[via XDA]

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8Dec/10Off

PhanCast 30: Live at 2:30PM EST

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Ready to talk some Nexus S? The second-coming of the Nexus One has been officially announced, and on today’s Phandroid Podcast, Rob Jackson and Dave Demarest will discuss all things Nexus S. We’ll be talking a lot more Android then just that, so tune in at 2:30pm EST and join in the Android fun!

You can either listen below or tune in over at BlogTalkRadio!

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