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16Dec/11Off

NASA tests metal ballista, space harpoon for Comet Nucleus mission

This week the coolest team of space explorers on the planet at NASA have announced their next raging action and adventure television episode called “Space Harpoons!” – or that’s what you might think if you’d not read too deeply into their press release which details not only “The Comet Nucleus Sample Return Mission,” but both the fantastically powerful metal ballista and space harpoon they’re currently testing out for it. Scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. are currently in early stages of testing a harpoon of epic proportions, able to collect samples of materials from the surface layers of a comet. What they’re currently testing out is how hard their six foot tall crossbow will have to fire a harpoon with its 1/2 inch thick bow string to blast through enough layers of rock on the surface of the space bodies it intends to study.

For those of you interested in how intense this ballista would be able to be here on Earth, first note that they’re firing the harpoons downward in their tests, but if they fired it upwards, it’d skewer more than its fair share of low-flying birds, up to a mile straight up. This bow has an electric winch that pulls its bow string back with a force of up to 1,000 pounds, able to fire projectiles to velocities up to 100 feet per second. Have a peek at the demonstration and explanation video courtesy of NASA below, and mind the 3D:

Studying samples of comets will allow us to discover information about the origins of our solar system. Donald Wegel of NASA Goddard, lead engineer on the project at hand, notes the following about the testing process:

“We had to bolt it to the floor, because the recoil made the whole testbed jump after every shot. We’re not sure what we’ll encounter on the comet – the surface could be soft and fluffy, mostly made up of dust, or it could be ice mixed with pebbles, or even solid rock. Most likely, there will be areas with different compositions, so we need to design a harpoon that’s capable of penetrating a reasonable range of materials. The immediate goal though, is to correlate how much energy is required to penetrate different depths in different materials. What harpoon tip geometries penetrate specific materials best? How does the harpoon mass and cross section affect penetration? The ballista allows us to safely collect this data and use it to size the cannon that will be used on the actual mission.” – Wegel

Isn’t it all just so very exciting? Next we’ll be launching probes into the Ultimate Evil just like they do on The Fifth Element, finding out that all of our readings are way off, and that we need to collect the five elements to stop the end of Humanity! Or we’ll just find out some awesome information about rocks – either way, we win!

Credit: NASA/Rob Andreoli for the ballista testbed photo and the photo of the prototype harpoon tip and collection chamber.

[via NASA]


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NASA tests metal ballista, space harpoon for Comet Nucleus mission is written by Chris Burns & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2011, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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16Dec/11Off

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 visits the FCC with Verizon LTE support

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 has just passed through the FCC, but this time around it’s packing support for Verizon’s 4G LTE network. We first saw the device back at IFA 2011, where it was yanked from the show due to Apple’s legal claims. Despite being missing since, it has recently re-emerged and hopefully goes on sale soon.

The tablet is dubbed with the model number SCH-i815 and sports CDMA 800/1900 and LTE radios, indicating that it’s heading to Verizon. The WiFi-only and HSPA+ versions of the tablet have already passed through FCC testing before and with this model finally getting approval, we’re hoping to see the device on store shelves soon.

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 features a 7.7-inch Super AMOLED display, which has a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution. It also rocks a powerful 1.4GHz dual-core processor and measures in under 8mm thin. For more details on the slate, make sure to check out our hands-on with the tablet at IFA as well as our comparison of the device with the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S II.

[via Engadget]


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Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 visits the FCC with Verizon LTE support is written by Rue Liu & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2011, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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16Dec/11Off

Expect a Netflix Bidding War to Erupt in 2012

Last week, I talked about Verizon’s reported desire to acquire Netflix, and why such a maneuver would be a bad one for the company.

And although I still feel that way, it’s quickly becoming clear that in a year, Netflix won’t be Netflix. The streaming company will be part of a much larger firm that will use it as a key component in a move to expand a home-entertainment empire.

Some might be surprised to hear that Netflix might be acquired. They might say that the company will turn things around next year, and as its stock price starts to rise, any potential suitor will back off for fear of paying too much for the service.

But I see things differently. I think Netflix’s ill-fated decision earlier this year to spin off its DVD business into a new company, called Qwikster, was designed to make its streaming service more attractive to buyers. And although Qwikster didn’t work out, I think Reed Hastings and his executive team are still trying to find a way to sell off the streaming business to the highest bidder.

Over the last several months, we’ve seen the soft underbelly at Netflix. We now see a company that doesn’t quite know how to handle relationships with content providers, and a management team that has lost all sense of what consumers really want in their streaming and rental services. What’s worse, we see a company that’s trying to stay the course, while just about everyone around it knows status quo won’t work.

"The only choice is to sell to the highest bidder"

At some point in the next few months, I think we’ll see Netflix’s executive staff finally raise the white flag as Starz takes its content elsewhere, content costs explode, and company revenue stays the same. Netflix will know at that point that it will need to raise the price of its streaming offering, but it won’t want to do it for fear of losing more customers and watching its corporate value slide. The only choice, then, is to sell to the highest bidder.

Of course, that doesn’t solve the problem of its DVD-by-mail business. Unfortunately for Netflix, that’s a significant liability. Although many people still rent DVDs, the by-mail idea is starting to give way to Redbox’s kiosk strategy. And few companies, if any, would want to get caught up in paying for a by-mail service.

So, Netflix will have to make some tough choices in the months to come. Should it follow through on a spin-off plan? Should it try to find a buyer for its DVD-by-mail business first? Should it close the entire service down?

It’s tough to say. But if nothing else, Netflix will realize that it needs to prepare its business for a sale. And the company that gives it the most cash will walk out the winner.

Now the question is, what company will buy Netflix?


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Expect a Netflix Bidding War to Erupt in 2012 is written by Don Reisinger & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2011, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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16Dec/11Off

Microsoft details Windows 8 picture passwords

Microsoft today revealed more details on its picture password sign-in feature that will be native to Windows 8. The feature is more geared towards the tablet interface as it requires touchscreen functionality. It’s been available in the Windows 8 Developer Preview and now we get a more in-depth look at how secure it is and how it was built.

The picture password feature has two main steps to logging in. First, you must select a picture of your own instead of a stock image provided by Microsoft and then you will indicate a set of gestures in relation to points on the image that you would repeat to sign in.

These gestures will take into account the shape, the start and end points, as well as the directionality. However, the shapes and gestures are limited to tapping and tracing a line or circle. Microsoft found that limiting the gestures improved the speed of sign-ins by three times compared to allowing freeform methods.

Incorrect gestures will always deny a login, but there is some tolerance. Five unsuccessful attempts will lock out the PC until you can log in with a plain text backup method. For extensive details on how it works, you can visit Microsoft’ Building Windows 8 blog post here.


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Microsoft details Windows 8 picture passwords is written by Rue Liu & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2011, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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16Dec/11Off

Nintendo 3DS gets Game Boy Advance games in market – sort of

When the original $250 USD version of the Nintendo 3DS was released, not just one whole heck of a lot of people purchased it – but those of you who did were promised 20 free downloadable games, 10 of them NES games that have now been available to play since September 2011, the rest being Game Boy Advance games and announced this week as being available for your downloading delight. This was all part of what Nintendo called an “Ambassador” program for those mad about grabbing the 3DS before the great price drop also known as “woops we didnt realize you didnt want to pay that much” early in the device’s life – now the joke is yours! These games include such greats as Wario Land 4 and Mario vs. Donkey Kong – what treats!

Those of you hoping to download the rest of the Game Boy Advance library of utterly classic games such as the Pikachu edition of Pokemon will have to wait, as no such ability is being announced as being in the works. Those of you in the Ambassador program, the full list of releases, just incase you forgot, are as such: WarioWare, Inc: Mega Microgames, Kirby & The Amazing Mirror, Mario vs. Donkey Kong, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Wario Land 4, Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3, Metroid Fusion, F-Zero Maximum Velocity, and Mario Kart: Super Circuit. Get your weirdo game on!

Now we must ask why there aren’t a heck of a lot more games out there transported forward into the world of the most fabulous handheld for Nintendo – why guys, why? What this virtual world of games needs is an injection of pure Game Boy Color, some Game Boy Advance to be sure, and maybe even a little bit of the ol’ Game Boy original if I may be so bold. Why not get some Solomon’s Club up in here? Rock and roll party puzzle games!


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Nintendo 3DS gets Game Boy Advance games in market – sort of is written by Chris Burns & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2011, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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16Dec/11Off

Nexus S to get Android 4.0 starting today, GSM version first

Google has announced via Twitter that it will be rolling out Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich to the Nexus S starting today. The GSM models of the device will be the first to receive the update, which will roll out in batches. The Nexus S was Google’s premiere Android 2.3 Gingerbread device that launched last November.

The update will be issued over-the-air and proceed to roll out to devices in waves over the next month. This means that some users of the Nexus S GSM version could be getting the update as early as today, while others may have a month to wait. Nexus S 4G users on the WiMAX network will have to be more patient.

And if you’re waiting for the update, you might as well check out Google’s tips for Android 2.3 Nexus S users upgrading to Android 4.0. Some functions and features such as changing wallpaper, adding a widget to the Home screen, and scrolling through apps are slightly different on the new interface.


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Nexus S to get Android 4.0 starting today, GSM version first is written by Rue Liu & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2011, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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16Dec/11Off

Show Your Love For All Things Google By Wearing Your Favorite Doodle

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Google announced today that they’re revamping their Doodle site — the place where you can search for all your favorite Google Doodles from yesteryear — and to go along with the relaunching of the Doodles comes their all new Doodle Store, where you can now wear your favorite Doodles. But wearing is just the half of it. Since the site is powered by online retailer Zazzle, you can even print out your favorite doodles, hang them on the wall, slap them on your bumper — even get them on your very own skate deck. What better way to show off your love for all things Google? Better yet, why not send one as a gift for the holidays?

[Zazzle | Google | Via Gizmodo]


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16Dec/11Off

Nokia Exec: Today’s Youth Are Confused By Android And Upset From Lack Of Security

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We told you guys yesterday about Microsoft’s Android bashing campaign where they offered shiny new Windows Phone 7 devices to disgruntled Android users and now Nokia is once again, doing some bad mouthing of their own. According to Niels Munkgaard, Nokia’s Director of Portfolio, Product Marketing and Sales, today’s youth are actually confused by Android devices and upset by its lack of security. In an interview with Pocket-Lint, Munksgaard said,

“What we see is that youth are pretty much fed up with iPhones. Everyone has the iPhone. Also, many are not happy with the complexity of Android and the lack of security.”

Kids are just growing up so fast these days, always moving on to the next best thing… like WP7 (sarcasm). The biggest flaw I found in Munkgaard’s statement is that it’s “the kids” who are actually the power users and more inclined to root their devices, slap the latest ROM and generally hack and tinker around with the software on their devices. Unless, of course, we’re talking about 1st graders in which case I’m still pretty confident if given a choice — they’d still pick Android with its Market featuring thousands of free games, all ripe for the downloading.

Oh, Nokia. You amuse me.

[Via PCWorld]


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16Dec/11Off

Shoot Up Some Zombies This Holiday Season With “Dead On Arrival” Now Available For All Devices

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The once Sony Xperia Play exclusive “Dead on Arrival” is finally available for all Android devices and it makes Elf Bowling look like… well, elf bowling. DOA puts you inside a zombie infested hospital where you you must survive waves of the infected by using a variety of weapons and traps at your disposal in this top-down action shooter.

Gameplay involves killing enemies for cash then using that cash to unlock new areas and more powerful weapons — rinse and repeat. If you want to stay alive, you’ll need a quick trigger finger while covering your butt with turrets and by boarding up doors while moving to new areas.

FEATURES

- Fast paced action survival shooter
- Survive against massive waves of the undead!
- Purchase loads of different weapons to defend yourself from the horde
- Buy yourself some time by boarding up doors to keep the undead at bay
- Unlock rooms to make space and find different weapons to finish the fight
- Search for the "random box" and destroy your enemies with the most powerful guns!
- Massive hospital level to explore and defend all by your lonesome
- Turn on the power and use deadly traps like the Masher, Flame Wall, Zapper or Defense Turret to help get to the next wave!
- Vending Machines give you the edge to push on with Quick Repair, Speed, Instant Cash and Armour
- Tutorial level to help you get to grips with the gameplay
- Full 3D action and gory effects in high detailed graphics perfect for all mobile devices!

We mentioned previously that the game was once exclusive to the Xplay so expect full controller compatibility with that device. The best part about the game is that it’s free for everyone to download and play. You can find Dead on Arrival right now in the Android Market.

[Market Link | DroidGamers]


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16Dec/11Off

Android 4.0.3 Source Code Pushed to the AOSP

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Earlier today Google announced Android 4.0.3, and now the source code of the latest Ice Cream Sandwich version is available via the AOSP. For the first time ever, the push includes four separate versions of the source, including builds for the Motorola XOOM, Nexus S, and for the two versions of the Galaxy Nexus. It accomplishes a number of firsts, including the first AOSP release for a Verizon device, the first release for a non-Nexus device, and the first release for a tablet.

Googler Jean-Baptiste Queru calls the latest “the best release ever.” Strong words backed by a strong Android release.

[via Google]


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