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Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Posted by Fitzy on 09/15/08 at 11:16 AM


Well, the title may be a bit lavish, but Ugly is the new Pretty in Foxboro, and I am more than happy to dress myself in all kinds of Ugly the rest of the season if it means more wins, especially the kind that ground Brett the Jet and kick Mangenius in his football sack.

Cassel was far from awesome, but what could we really expect from a guy who hadn’t started a football game since we all were looking FORWARD to more Star Wars and Matrix films? Last season the Pats went from super-team to an aerial circus featuring The Amazing Tom Brady and Mossman: Touchdown Maker Extrordinaire. Well, that’s gone, for now, maybe forever.

And while it’s sad, and we all miss TFB to levels we’re uncomfortable describing to friends and family, we got a new team here to root for. And that new team is the old TEAM, the one comprised of 53 players...the one that ran out of the tunnel with no individual player introductions...the one that would make 13-3 victories regular and exciting...the one that played D first (which your mom goes bananas for) and hit first, asking no questions, period...the one that somehow made everyone wonder how good they were as they kept winning games, pissing off opponent after opponent...the team that’s personality reflected their coach’s: far from forthcoming, purposefully boring, but effective and know, THE FAHKIN’ PATS!


Headlines everywhere proclaim, “Pats Win Differently”, but we all remember the Pats winning games like this all too well. (cue Dana Carvey grumpy old man voice) And we liked it!

The diehard Pats fan should feel that it’s sad that the most exciting version of the Pats we ever saw didn’t win the Super Bowl and complete the Run for 19 and Done, because that asterisk would have dutifully erased the one some asswipes hang next to the 2007 Pats now. But there is no sadness in what’s going on now, and what will come to be, and how they might do it.

TFB’s Gone, and these Pats didn’t need Rick Pitino to tell them, “Tom brady’s not walking through that door...well, if he does it’ll be on crutches, but you get the point!” They got the point, loud and friggin’ clear. It’s back to ballbusting, bone-crushing basics, and the sooner everyone can wipe the 9 TD passes from TFB to Mossman from their mind, and get excited about 4 point wins with lots of screen passes, short runs and clutch D, the better for us all.

I’m genuinely excited, wait, reinvigorated by this season (I know: 10 ‘mo points for me for using the word re-invigorated - SORRY!) In some strange perverted pigskin way it’s kinda more exciting to me now that the Pats had to scrap the ENTIRE EVERYTHING they had planned for 2008 and reinvent themselves in about 1 week’s time for a season that had already started. And these new 2008 Pats got their new season off to a fahkin’ sweet-as-your-sister’s candy start with a win in the Dreadowlands. And I loved it. And I bet you did too.

And now for our postgame Cheers and Beers...


**To Matt Cassel, who helped us Sack up with The Back-Up and lead us to a much-needed “Hey America, SHADDUP!” win against the hated Jets

**To Adalius Thomas whose one-handed sack of Favre and Leon Washington might have been the football equivalent of KG’s slam at the end of Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals


**To Brandon Meriweather, who HELD ON TO THE INTERCEPTION THIS TIME (*sigh*, pause for a few man-tears and stifled’s gonna be OK)

**To the 3-headed running back hydra that is Morris, Jordan and Faulk (Maroney - you cut that dancing at the line shit out and start hitting some holes and you can be the 4th head on the hydra, OK). Extra points to Lamont Jordan who ground out his 62 yards late, and in front of his old crowd, earning him some nice “Shoulda never let me go, Jets” satisfaction.

**To White Wes Welker, whose screen grabs and catch-n-runs earn him the title of “Best running back to ever play the wide receiver position”

**To The Mossman, for not bitching up a probably deserved sideline storm after Casselvania missed him on the play-action bomb. You know, the one where Moss had 100 yards of separation on Reveis? OH, that woulda been PFS: Pretty Fahkin’ Sweet.

Did you SEE how open I was?

**To Eric Hamgini, for calling a cruddy conservative game, and losing, and looking like a humpfaced turd the entire time. You know, like himself.

**To Stephen Gostkowski’s accurate boomstick of a right leg yesterday. I ain’t a stathound, but 4 for 4 FGs, and 6 outta 7 touchbacks? Quick, someone get Stephen G to the R & T!

Big win. BIG WIN! It served up some fresh-baked Shitcake to all the Haters, and things look good going into Miami on the whole. Now we don’t have to listen to people talking the AFC East up as won and done for the Jets (Buffalo looks pretty good, but we’ll deal with them later). Miami’s next, and the “what’s old is new” Pats should TCB, even without TFB.

Cheers and LET’S GO PATS!


PS - Adalius Thomas just wanted me to relay something to everyone for him...


“Tell your friends the newly-minted old-fashioned Pats are coming, and Hell’s coming with us. Did you hear me? HELL’S COMING WITH US!”

Fitzy’s Supahsized TFB ACL MFC GFY Webcast

Breast cancer vaccine kills tumors in mice

DETROIT, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Wayne State University researchers say a breast cancer vaccine completely eliminated HER2-positive tumors in mice -- without any toxicity.

The study, published in the journal Cancer Research, suggests the vaccine could treat women with HER2-positive, treatment-resistant cancer or help prevent cancer recurrence. The researchers also say it might potentially be used in cancer-free women to prevent initial development of these tumors.

HER2 receptors promote normal cell growth, and are found in low amounts on normal breast cells. But HER2-positive breast cells can contain many more receptors than is typical, promoting a particularly aggressive type of tumor that affects 20 percent to 30 percent of all breast cancer patients, the study says.

Therapies such as trastuzumab and lapatinib, designed to latch on to these receptors and destroy them, are a mainstay of treatment for this cancer, but a significant proportion of patients develop a resistance to them or cancer metastasis that is hard to treat.

"The immune response against HER2-positive receptors we saw in this study is powerful, and works even in tumors that are resistant to current therapies," lead investigator Wei-Zen Wei says in a statement.

"The vaccine could potentially eliminate the need to even use these therapies."

Cannabis suggests treatment for chronic pain

By Yun Xie | Published: September 15, 2008

Cannabinoids, chemical compounds found in cannabis, are drawing the interest of medical scientists, as they contain compounds that may lead to treatments for ailments ranging from bacterial infections to nausea from chemotherapy. In a report from the journal Pain, British scientists attempted to figure out how cannabinoids affected (surprise!) pain and determine if they are effective against chronic pain.

Many of the biological effects of cannabinoids like the psychoactive THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannibinol) occur when they bind to one or both of two cannabinoid receptor subtypes: CB1 and CB2. The neurons of the central nervous system express CB1, while CB2 is mostly located in the periphery, in systems such as lymphoid tissues.

Since most pain occurs in the periphery, cannabinoids that can selectively bind CB2 are more interesting than those that are inclined to target CB1. CB1 is associated with the central nervous system, which means that targeting its activities can produce many negative side-effects.

Although past studies have examined the processes that occur when CB2 agonists (drugs that activate it) suppress acute and chronic pain in animals, not much work has been done on humans. In order to design optimal clinical trials, it is important to know where drugs interact with CB2 and how pain suppression occurs in humans. In performing the new functional studies on CB2, the British scientists examined human tissues from a large variety of sources, including people who have experienced no injuries, suffered traffic accidents, undergone upper limb amputations, and went through various surgical procedures.

For the first time, the scientists were able to show that both uninjured and injured people had CB2 receptors in their dorsal root ganglion neurons, which are located along the vertebral column at the spine. In addition, CB2 protein was found in the same location as TRPV1, which is responsible for transmitting various painful stimuli. Their close proximity allows CB2 drug binding to regulate the sensitivity of TRPV1, causing the analgesic effect. The authors mention that CB2 agonists have other modes of action in human bodies that reduce pain, such as inducing the release of β–endorphins and inhibiting inflammation.

The scientists conclude that "CB2 agonists may produce new therapy for chronic pain." They also write that "CB2 agonists deserve clinical trials for nociceptive, inflammatory and neuropathic chronic pain." For any such clinical trials, the results of their study will be valuable, as they have located active populations of CB2 neurons and added to the knowledge of how they function.

The Differences Between Star Wars and Harry Potter

iPhone 2.1 Firmware Review: It Fixes Everything We Can See

iiPhone's 2.1 update last Friday was supposed to fix a whole dump truck-load of issues people have been having with the iPhone 3G. If the update did succeed in getting rid of dropped calls, improving battery life, dramatically speeding up backup times, improving application install speeds, more accurately displaying 3G signal strength display and eliminating keyboard lag, we could finally recommend the iPhone 3G to our friends without looking like asses. Did the 2.1 firmware do everything it promised? Oh yes.

Reception: This is the biggest improvement, at least on the surface. I'm now getting 4-5 bars in my office where I used to get between 1-2 (see photo above). Does displayed reception actually correlate correctly to actual reception? The hardware is the same, and one of the bug fix list has "improved accuracy of the 3G signal strength display" as one of its items, so is this just a placebo designed only to make you think that your reception is improved? No, it's actually improved.

Calls from my office used to get periodic drop-outs and injected silence, but I have not heard this once since I made the upgrade to 2.1. Brian, with his black hole of cellphone coverage that he calls his apartment, actually made a 12 minute conversation without disconnecting. What's the deal? How is the new software improving reception so much when the hardware is the same? Is it a new stack to handle transmission between the phone and the tower better? We have no idea, although recent reports have said that problems with the phone are caused by an immature chipset, and could be fixed via software, so this is somewehat likely.

It's too bad that Apple disabled the "Cell Information" screen in the iPhone Field Test Mode, which we used to test this ClearBoost case from Griffin, or else we could have used actual power readings from nearby towers to determine whether or not the signal has really been improved. What we can see in the Field Test Mode is that the dBm reading in the top left (where the reception bars were) show very similar numbers, flutuating on both phones between -97 and -103 from in the office. Sometimes one is higher than the other, but there's no consistency.

Verdict: Win.

Battery Life: Improved, but not dramatically. We did see an improvement in battery life this weekend when our phones lasted about 2 days on regular use. It previously only made it to somewhere around 1.5 to 1.75 days. Nothing dramatic, but noticeable.

Verdict: Slight win.

Reduced Backup Time: We definitely saw no more 20-40 minute backups with the 2.1 firmware, but the best indicator for this quirk being fixed would be the guy with an 8-hour iPhone sync. He reported back and told us that the same set of apps now give him a 14 minute sync time. Check this fix off as a winner.

Verdict: Win

3G Browsing Speed: This is an awkward one. The browsing speed wasn't actually noted as being one of the things fixed, but we decided to test it anyway because of the supposedly improved reception. For browsing, the same page loaded about 1.5 seconds faster on the OLD firmware (2.0.2) compared to the new one. On other sites, like, the old firmware actually loaded the page a whole 5 seconds faster than the new firmware. Strange.

We then used the Speedtest app in the iPhone App store to see if it was data transfer that was holding up page loads. On the 2.0.2 firmware we had download speed of 913Kb/sec, 581 Kb/s and 1048Kb/s. On the 2.1 firmware we had a 420Kb/s, 518Kb/s and a 718Kb/s. On the whole the new firmware seems to be slower in terms of data transfer, which leads to slightly slower page loads.

Verdict: Lose

Application Install: The same app (Speedtest) installed 15 seconds faster on the new firmware than on the old one. We downloaded this on the phone itself using the same Wi-Fi router for both. The downloading was just about simultaneous, but the install portion was much faster.

Verdict: Win

Crashing and hanging: It's only been about three days since we updated, but we haven't run into any crashes or hangs yet. 77% of you agreed with us on Friday.

Verdict: Probably win

Text messaging: Didn't see any keyboard lag here. Adam Frucci, the king of iPhone keyboard lag, claims that everything is fixed on this front.

Verdict: I guess a win?

Overall: Apple's really fixed the glaring reception, crashing and backup problems everyone's been seeing. Not only is everyone getting more bars than they were before, they're getting actual results. Brian's notoriously horrible AT&T reception at his apartment in SF is just bearably horrible now, kicking him down to EDGE from 3G where he can actually make phone calls that don't cut off after a few seconds. If you own an iPhone, you need to upgrade to 2.1—slower browsing be damned. Apple has finally put most of the iPhone 3G launch problems behind it, allowing the phone part of the device to be brought back up to par with the original 2G iPhone. [iPhone]

Carry Your PC on Your iPhone or iPod Touch

It'd be wonderfully convenient if you could take your important documents and applications with you wherever you go, but lugging a laptop with you every time you step out the door is far from convenient. That's where MokaFive's new cross-platform application called iPhone Sentinel comes in. By turning part of your iPhone or iPod touch into a portable hard drive, iPhone Sentinel and the MokaFive Player allow you to run virtual machines directly off your iPhone, so you can run anything from an entire operating system to standalone video games like Quake. Here's how it works.

The Nuts and Bolts

There's a lot of different components to MokaFive's solution, so let's break down each component to understand how it all works together.

First, MokaFive's main product is the MokaFive Player. It's a cross-platform (Windows and Mac) virtual machine software. MokaFive Player runs virtual machines named LivePCs. So the player is called MokaFive, and the individual appliances are called LivePC virtual machines.

You can run the MokaFive Player from a Windows or Intel Mac desktop or from a USB drive. If you just wanted to use the MokaFive Player locally to create and distribute LivePCs, you could just install it directly on your local computer. However, the MokaFive Player for USB drives can run any LivePC appliance portably from your thumb drive.

That's where iPhone Sentinel comes in. After you set up your iPhone with iPhone Sentinel, the iPhone works as a USB drive. Putting all the pieces together, then: You can run LivePC virtual machines with the portable MokaFive Player from your iPhone using iPhone Sentinel.

Now that you've got a better understanding of where we're going, let's walk through setting it up.

Turn Your iPhone or iPod Touch into a Storage Device with iPhone Sentinel

To get started, head to the Project iPhone Sentinel download page and grab the version that fits the operating system you'll be installing it on. I've tested the app on both Windows and Mac, and it looks virtually the same on both.

Now run iPhone Sentinel. You'll be prompted to connect your iPhone, so go ahead and do that. Once you do, the app explains that it "allows you to use your iPhone as a portable disk drive" and prompts you to allocate disk space. I gave about 2GB to iPhone Sentinel (which I think was the default). Keep in mind that you can't give more space to your iPhone than you already have free without losing data, so I'd heartily recommend backing up your iPhone if you haven't already and making sure you have enough space. When you're ready to pull the trigger, just click the Format button. Once you do, go grab a snack or warm drink—iPhone Sentinel took about 10 minutes or so to format the portable space on my iPhone.

All done? You're halfway there, and actually already at a nice point: You can now use your iPhone as an external storage device—meaning you can actually put files on it and take it to different computers. There's a catch, though, which we'll discuss below.

Install the MokaFive Player on Your iPhone

Once your iPhone is set up for disk use, you're ready to install the MokaFive Player. Head to the MokaFive Player download page and grab the download that fits your operating system. Since we want to run the program from our iPhone or iPod touch, you should download the Mobility version for Windows or Mac. If you're hoping to run MokaFive Player on your Mac, you need to grab the Windows and Mac version and install it from your Mac. If you're planning on sticking to running the MokaFive Player on a Windows machine, get the Windows-only version.

Either route you take is a breeze. On Windows, just run through the installer and tell it you want to install the MokaFive Player to a portable drive. On OS X, you just drag and drop the contents of the disk image directly to your iPhone drive. In both instances, make sure your iPhone's drivespace is mounted with iPhone Sentinel. That's all there is to it.

How's It Work?

The iPhone Sentinel software is still very experimental, meaning that you can expect a lot of hiccups along the way. Right now the homepage says iPhone Sentinel only works with Windows XP SP2, though I was able to get it to work on OS X 10.5 as well as XP SP2.

Running the MokaFive Player from my iPhone, on the other hand, was another story altogether. MokaFive uses VMware's player to run its virtual machines; in fact, you need to have VMware pre-installed on a Mac if it's even going to work.

The first time you run it, you'll have the option to run pre-installed machines, like the Fearless Browser or Linux XP (a flavor of Linux that very closely mimics Windows XP). You can also grab several different free LivePC appliances from the MokaFive web site, including business-oriented apps like and fun stuff like Quake or the One Laptop Per Child operating system.

My biggest complaint with MokaFive right now is that—as far as I can tell—you have to have iPhone Sentinel installed on any computer you want to use your iPhone as a disk with. That's probably going to be a major deal-breaker for some, since it presents a circular problem. Normally in this sort of situation you'd bring iPhone Sentinel with you on your portable drive. You could put iPhone Sentinel on your iPhone, but you wouldn't be able to get to it without using iPhone Sentinel to begin with. That's a problem. If you give it a try, I'd also recommend caching all of your virtual machines for offline use—otherwise you'll have to download them anew every time you plug in your iPhone.

If MokaFive is going to really wow, it'll need to tackle these problems soon. In the meantime, both the iPhone Sentinel application and MokaFive Player present some interesting and worthwhile functionality on their own. Right now MokaFive is a pretty cool app for running and distributing streamlined virtual machines, and—if the folks at MokaFive can get it all working well on the iPhone—your phone could turn into your all-in-one portable drive and operating system.

Until that happens, you may want to stick with iPhone Sentinel to enable disk mode on your iPhone, then grab some portable apps and carry your life on a thumb drive. Alternately, if you just want to run Windows from your iPhone, check out the much more stable, robust MojoPac, and build your PC on a stick. I haven't tried this, but considering that iPhone Sentinel essentially turns a portion of your iPhone into a thumb drive, it should work just fine.

If you've got any experience with MokaFive or with dual-purposing your iPhone's drive, share your experience in the comments.

Adam Pash is a senior editor for Lifehacker who can't believe disk mode isn't available on the iPhone by default. His special feature Hack Attack appears every Tuesday on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Hack Attack RSS feed to get new installments in your newsreader.

Best Buy to acquire Napster for $121 million

By AppleInsider Staff

Best Buy said Monday it has agreed to purchase Napster Inc. for $121 million as part of a bid to accelerate growth in the emerging industry of digital entertainment and leverage its relationships with content studios.

The deal, which values Napster at $2.65 per share, is expected to close during the fourth calendar quarter and includes the service operator's approximately 700,000 digital entertainment subscribers, its Web-based customer service platform, and mobile capabilities.

Best Buy said intends to use Napster’s assets to reach new customers with an enhanced experience for exploring and selecting music and other digital entertainment products over an increasing array of devices.

"This transaction offers Best Buy a recognized platform for enhancing our capabilities in the digital media space and building new, recurring relationships with customers," said Brian Dunn, President and COO of Best Buy. "Over time we hope to strengthen our offerings to consumers, who we believe will increasingly seek devices and solutions that enable them to access their content wherever, whenever and however they want."

In May, Napster openly challenged Apple's iTunes Store when it launched an a la carte download service filled with DRM-free tracks that are compatible with both the iPod and iPhone. The service offered 6 million songs and was billed as "more than 50 percent larger than any other MP3 store" and not only the "largest major label MP3 catalog in the industry, but also the largest library of independent music available anywhere."

Best Buy, which partners with Apple on the sale of Macs, iPods and iPhones, said the addition of Napster will help it build stronger relationships with customers, expand the number of subscribers to Napster's service, and capture recurring revenue by offering ongoing value over a mobile digital platform.

Napster has approximately 140 employees, with its headquarters in Los Angeles. At this time, Best Buy does not plan to relocate Napster’s headquarters or to make significant changes in personnel.

Oldest LIving lineage of ants discovered in Amazon

This new species of blind subterranean predatory ant Martialis heureka was discovered in the Amazon by Christian Rabeling at the University of Texas at Austin. It belongs to the first new subfamily of living ants discovered since 1923 and is a descen ...
This new species of blind, subterranean, predatory ant, Martialis heureka, was discovered in the Amazon by Christian Rabeling at the University of Texas at Austin. It belongs to the first new subfamily of living ants discovered since 1923, and is a descendant of one of the first ant lineages to evolve over 120 million years ago. Credit: Christian Rabeling, the University of Texas at Austin

A new species of blind, subterranean, predatory ant discovered in the Amazon rainforest by University of Texas at Austin evolutionary biologist Christian Rabeling is likely a descendant of the very first ants to evolve.

The new ant is named Martialis heureka, which translates roughly to "ant from Mars," because the ant has a combination of characteristics never before recorded. It is adapted for dwelling in the soil, is two to three millimeters long, pale, and has no eyes and large mandibles, which Rabeling and colleagues suspect it uses to capture prey.

The ant also belongs to its own new subfamily, one of 21 subfamilies in ants. This is the first time that a new subfamily of ants with living species has been discovered since 1923 (other new subfamilies have been discovered from fossil ants).

Rabeling says his discovery will help biologists better understand the biodiversity and evolution of ants, which are abundant and ecologically important insects.

"This discovery hints at a wealth of species, possibly of great evolutionary importance, still hidden in the soils of the remaining rainforests," writes Rabeling and his co-authors in a paper reporting their discovery this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rabeling collected the only known specimen of the new ant species in 2003 from leaf-litter at the Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária in Manaus, Brazil.

He and his colleagues found that the ant was a new species, genus and subfamily after morphological and genetic analysis. Analysis of DNA from the ant's legs confirmed its phylogenetic position at the very base of the ant evolutionary tree.

Ants evolved over 120 million years ago from wasp ancestors. They probably evolved quickly into many different lineages, with ants specializing to lives in the soil, leaf-litter or trees, or becoming generalists.

"This discovery lends support to the idea that blind subterranean predator ants arose at the dawn of ant evolution," says Rabeling, a graduate student in the ecology, evolution and behavior program.

Rabeling does not suggest that the ancestor to all ants was blind and subterranean, but that these adaptations arose early and have persisted over the years.

"Based on our data and the fossil record, we assume that the ancestor of this ant was somewhat wasp-like, perhaps similar to the Cretaceous amber fossil Sphecomyrma, which is widely known as the evolutionary missing link between wasps and ants," says Rabeling.

He speculates that the new ant species evolved adaptations over time to its subterranean habitat (for example, loss of eyes and pale body color), while retaining some of its ancestor's physical characteristics.

"The new ant species is hidden in environmentally stable tropical soils with potentially less competition from other ants and in a relatively stable microclimate," he says. "It could represent a 'relict' species that retained some ancestral morphological characteristics."

Source: University of Texas at Austin

Some Cool Tailgating Supplies

The Ultimate Tailgating Trailer 5' x 8'
5 out of 5

The Ultimate Tailgating Trailer 5' x 8'
This 5' x 8' ultimate tailgating trailer features a 47" Vizio LCD HDTV, Sony Sound System and tongue mounted grill with pivot arm. Rear and side doors allow easy access, and cabinets provide organized storage. The trailer also features rubber coin flooring, electrical outlets w/ 30 amp breaker box & cord, internal E-tracks for secure hauling, internal lighting, smooth aluminum exterior and aluminum wheels w/ spare tire and wheel.

Note: Trailer must be licensed within state of residence.

product pricing here

Portable Gas Powered Blender
Portable Gas Powered Blender

When mobility and party come together, be the center of the beverage dispensing with this unique gas powered party blender mixer.

  • 2 Stroke 43cc Gas Powered Blender
  • Take the party with you
  • Stainless steel blender cup
  • Variable speed throttle
  • Diamond plated accents

  • product pricing here

    48" Tailgate Mobile LP Grill w/ Storage
    48" Tailgate Mobile LP Grill w/ Storage


    Click Here to view more about successful Catering including shopping lists and menu planner forms.

    Just hitch up the tailgate and take your cooking skills anywhere there's a road or trail. The tailgate is a mobile 48" stainless steel charbroiler with two built-in insulated stainless steel beverage/meat coolers. This roll dome unit has six stainless steel burners, stainless steel cooking grates, removable stainless steel side shelves and removable trailer hitch/tongue. The trailer conforms to all applicable motor vehicle safety standards and the grill is NSF, AGA, CGA approved.

  • Propane only - Not compatible with Natural Gas

  • product pricing here

    NIN Dazzles With Lasers, LEDs and Stealth Screens

    By Bryan Gardiner Email 09.13.08
    Trent Reznor is silhouetted by undulating orbs of light during a performance of "The Warning."
    Photo: Jon Snyder/

    A vast wall of swirling static dances on a giant screen as Trent Reznor and his band launch into their song, "Only." Initially obscured by this sea of visual white noise, the Nine Inch Nails front man intermittently appears to push through the particles of snow with his hands and body, popping in and out of view and opening up random tunnels in the chaos.

    "Sometimes, I think I can see right through myself," he sings.

    Nine Inch Nails fans are accustomed to such sonic and visual feasts whenever Reznor and company go out on tour. But this time around, NIN has pulled out all the stops, creating a groundbreaking, fully interactive visual display that is as much a part of the show as the band's instruments.

    "I'm not really a purist," admits Reznor. "If I'm in the studio working on an album, I try to only please myself. But when it's a tour, it feels a bit more like I have a responsibility to some degree to entertain people."

    Reznor and other band members use Lemurs during the "electronic set." The touchscreen devices can be used to control a range of audio and visual aspects of the show on the fly.
    Photo: Jon Snyder/

    For the band's current Lights in the Sky tour, Reznor has not only raised the bar for what's possible in an arena tour, but has also produced what could arguably be one of the most technologically ambitious rock productions ever conceived. Unlike most rock shows, the visuals for about 40 percent of the show (including "Only") aren't pre-rendered. There's no staging, no pantomiming by band members: It's all interactive, live and rendered on the fly.

    With more than 40 tons of lighting and stage rigging, hundreds of LED lights, a daunting array of professional and custom-built machinery running both archaic and standard commercial VJ software, three different video systems and an array of sensors and cameras, the tour is nothing if not a lavish display of techno wizardry.

    According to Reznor, it all started with a relatively simple idea.

    "I wanted to see how I could use video as an instrument," he says, "and try to really make the stage feel like it's organic -- like it's part of the overall set."

    Judging from initial reactions to the show, the band has done just that.

    Reviews have called LiTS everything from a "vision of splendor" to "the pinnacle of video art," and nowhere is Reznor's showmanship and willingness to tinker with new technologies more apparent than in the band's current tour.

    NIN programmer and keyboardist Alessandro Cortini stands in back of the giant stealth screen during sound check.
    Photo: Jon Snyder/

    Transparent Screens

    The core of the show is a sophisticated trio of transparent "stealth" screens, which are raised and lowered during the performance.

    Using one high-resolution (1024 x 288) Barco D7 screen -- basically, an opaque, computer-controlled screen comprised of a tiny LED system on modular panels -- and two lower-resolution semitransparent screens up front, Reznor and other band members are able to trigger and control various video loops and effects directly from the stage. The musicians can also interact directly with those visuals onscreen during the show, thanks to a sophisticated array of sensors and cameras.

    For the most part, those visuals come from Reznor and Rob Sheridan, Reznor's creative partner and the art director for NIN. But the two had considerable help from a few outside parties in putting together the production.

    Roy Bennet, a veteran lighting designer who worked with Reznor on the Downward Spiral and Fragile tours, designed and put together the LiTS set according to Trent's initial specs.

    It was also Bennet who suggested bringing in the other key part to the show, a company called Moment Factory.

    Responsible for the technology driving most of the interactive tech elements, Moment Factory is a boutique Canadian outfit that's worked on a number of Cirque du Soleil shows and has produced other industrial visual installations.

    For the interactive portions of the show, all the onscreen video is rendered by Moment Factory's custom rig, a trio of Linux-based devices collectively known as "the brain."

    "They build what they call games," Reznor explains. "Each [interactive] song might have two or three settings ... or games. It's basically particle-based animation."

    Those particles can interact with any of the various inputs Reznor and the band have selected.

    Known simply as "the brain," this rig is Moment Factory's custom-built Linux machine that runs all of the interactive visuals audience members see during the show.
    Photo: Jon Snyder/

    Interactive Lasers

    With the song "Only," for instance, the front, convex screen starts out as solid static. On Reznor's side of the display, a laser above him detects whenever he crosses a vertical plane paralleling the screen. On the floor, a piece of tape and two tiny LED lights let him know exactly where that plane is.

    As Reznor intersects that plane with his hand or body, the laser tracks his X and Y coordinates. The "brain" box then tells the particles to spread out to a predetermined dispersal pattern. Reznor says: "Then it follows me around. If I leave the plane, it fills back in. If I push through, it comes back out."

    The band uses the same tech for another song later in the show called "Echoplex," from The Slip album.

    Like many other NIN songs, it's based around a drum machine beat. After rehearsing live a few times with real drums, Reznor realized it sounded better sounded with a machine.

    "We recreated a grid drum sequencer," he says. "[Drummer Josh Freese] is actually touching and turning them on and off. But he's not really touching the screen. He's crossing the same laser on the back screen, which gets calibrated at sound check."

    The end effect is so seamless, most people assume the band is simply pantomiming to a pre-rendered video, or has actually somehow installed a gigantic touchscreen sequencer on a backstage wall.

    "We went through so much effort to make this stuff interactive and people still think it's all staged," jokes Sheridan.

    Reznor pushes through a cloud of static onscreen during the band's performance of "Only."
    Photo: Jon Snyder/

    Problems With the Hippotizer

    As with any production of this magnitude, there are also the inevitable glitches and hiccups. According to Reznor and Sheridan, many of those can be traced back to an archaic Windows machine known as the Hippotizer, as well as an antiquated lightning console that it interacts with called the Grand Ma.

    At one point, during the band's recent Red Rocks, Colorado, performance the Hippotizer choked and spit out some text from the machine's video-labeling system. NIN fans immediately began dissecting still shots from a video someone had taken, and a three-page discussion ensued on NIN forums trying to decipher what the secret text meant.

    "It was all just that stupid fucking Hippotizer getting the wrong trigger ... something from the lighting desk just misfired," Sheridan says.

    But Reznor, who is an unabashed Mac fan, is also playful about having to partially rely on Windows boxes for some of the show's visuals.

    "We purposefully put one frame of the Blue Screen of Death in this collage of static that comes up at the end of 'Great Destroyer,' and right away people caught it," he says.

    For the next leg of the tour, Sheridan is working to permanently move the entire lighting and visual system over to a Mac rig running ArKaos VJ software.

    Moment Factory's world of cameras. During a performance of "Terrible Lie," one camera directly records the stage and then runs that video through a special effect. That video is then re-projected back onto one of the screens, producing a cool real-time ghosting effect of the band members.
    Photo: Jon Snyder/

    Tying Everything Together

    While work on the arena show didn't officially begin until last fall, Reznor says the bones of the tour date back to his 2005 With Teeth tour.

    "A trap I realized with NIN was that I could go out and play aggressive music where everyone jumps up and down. But if I wanted to try to bring in some of the other stuff I've been doing -- whether it be electronic or something ambient sounding -- it's tough to take an audience that's been trained to bang their heads to then sit back and think for a minute," he says.

    So with the help of Sheridan, Reznor stumbled on the idea of using transparent screens. That system allowed him to augment his wide-ranging portfolio of music with visuals he and Sheridan created. In turn, those visuals helped tie everything together -- or at least kept people from whipping out their cellphones or walking off to grab a beer during the "slow songs."

    Reznor appears backstage before the Oakland show.
    Photo: Jon Snyder/

    Currently, Reznor and the band are on a brief two-week hiatus, before taking the Lights in the Sky tour down to South America and then weaving back up through the States, where they'll finish up the American portion in mid-December.

    There are also talks between NIN and director James Cameron to film the show in 3-D ("to at least have proof when U2 rips us off next year that we did it first," Reznor says), and the band also has been in ongoing discussions with HBO for a Year Zero miniseries which would launch in conjunction with a second album and an alternate-reality game.

    When asked about his future plans for touring, after the Lights in the Sky wraps up, Reznor says the next series of shows may be a different beast altogether.

    "Next time might just be white lights in a club and it's about the music," he says. "Because I'll be broke and that's all I'll have."

    The 10 Next Hot Skyscrapers You Won't Find in Dubai

    When it comes to tall buildings, all eyes are on the Burj Dubai. That's because this month it became the tallest structure in the world—and it's not even done yet. But across the world architects have already come up with mega engineering plans vying to be equally mind-blowing. From shortest to tallest, here are our favorite 10 favorite skyscrapers under construction whose radical designs and eco-friendly architecture make up for a lack of height.

    10. The Bow Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    The Bow
    Designer Foster + Partners Height 774 feet
    Floors 58 Estimated Completion 2011

    The Bow gets its name from the tower's unique, curving shape. When it's completed it will be Calgary's first steel skyscraper, which means it'll use significantly less material, as a steel frame does away with the need for a multitude of weaker supports built into load-bearing walls. It will also be Calgary's tallest building, and the green-minded team at Fosters and Partners built it to be environmentally sustainable. Three sky lobbies spaced about 18 floors apart divide it into three zones for business, shopping and leisure, and a southward atrium spans the entirety of the Bow's facade, which will expose the inside to plenty of sun and help warm it during Canadian winters. Energy is also saved by the amount of light the Bow's heavily-windowed structure lets in, meaning more natural illumination and less of the artificial stuff.

    While it won't even make the list of the 100 tallest buildings in the world at a modest 774 ft., The Bow still stands tall—and curved—as an example of environmentally-minded architecture.

    CLICK FOR MORE: The 10 Next Hot Skyscrapers

    The Bow
    10. The Bow
    Beekman Tower
    9. Beekman Tower
    Tower Verre
    8. Tower Verre
    Sinosteel International Plaza
    7. Sinosteel International Plaza
    Al Hamra Tower
    6. Al Hamra Tower
    Guangzhou TV & Sightseeing Tower
    5. Guangzhou TV & Sightseeing Tower
    International Commerce Centre
    4. International Commerce Centre
    Federation Tower
    3. Federation Tower
    Chicago Spire
    2. Chicago Spire
    Shanghai Tower
    1. Shanghai