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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Solar Powered Skins for iPhones and iPod Touch

by Jaymi Heimbuch

iphone solar skin
Image via NovoThink

It looks like Apple gadget users will have a new way to charge up iPods and iPhone devices with the sun, thanks to the latest from NovoThink. The company has released the Solar Surge, a skin with an integrated solar cell capable of charging the Apple devices on 100% solar power.

As for charging capabilities, the company states that 2 hours of direct solar exposure provides about 30 minutes of talk time on a 3G network or 60 minutes of talk time on a 2G network, and the skin's battery stores 120% capacity of iPhone 3G.

solar iphone skin

It also comes with a Solar Planner application that helps you assess what your solar needs are to fully charge up your gadget, so you eliminate the guessing for how many hours of daylight you need to get full bars.

One more handy way to get your gadgets off grid - or at least it will be. It isn't quite on the market yet. But at the end of this month, you'll be able to pick it up for $70. A little pricey, yes, but not too bad for a solar charger made specifically to fit and protect as well as power your device. Though you could always hack your own solar charger...

Thank you tipster April.

Airbus Wants to Replace Black Boxes with Real Time Data

ABC's Christophe Schpoliansky reports from Paris:

European plane manufacturer Airbus wants to see the end of the black boxes on airplanes.

In an interview published in the French daily newspaper Le Parisien today, Airbus CEO Thomas Enders announced that Airbus, along with its partners and suppliers, is working on the possibility of sending while inflight the most important flight data in real time via satellites to the airline’s HQs and to no longer solely rely on black boxes which, in some cases, are difficult or impossible to recover or too damaged to be analyzed. “To improve the safety of air transport, we must be sure to recover all the data of a flight” Enders told the newspaper.

How would this work? The aircraft would continuously transmit technical data via VHF if it is less than 125 miles from a reception station or via satellite beyond this distance. The satellite then would relay the technical data to a reception station on the ground. And this station would pass on all the information via phone lines or satellite to the airline company’s reception center.

This comes after the crash of the Air France A330 off the coast of Brazil on June 1st which killed 228 people. The cause of the crash is still unknown and the search for the black boxes have remained unsuccessful despite the mobilization of important means. This search for the black boxes is due to resume in the Fall, with the participation of several countries, including the US. Cost of this new search phase is already estimated at several tens of millions of dollars.

Transmitting data from an airplane is nothing new. An aircraft is already transmitting using VHF or satellites certain technical data to its airline on the ground. Coded messages called ACARS (for Aircraft Communication Adressing and Reporting System) are sent continuously and at more or less regular intervals of about 10 minutes to the maintenance centers of every airline company worldwide. Listed in these messages are, among other things, the aircraft’s flight path, the speed and position of the aircraft, but also alarms which alert maintenance personnel on the ground of issues with the aircraft that would need to be looked at when the aircraft lands at its destination. In all, about a hundred flight parameters are concerned by this system, some of these parameters being also recorded by the Black Boxes. In the case of the Air France crash, 24 ACARS were sent automatically to the airline’s maintenance center outside Paris. These messages, among other things, showed inconsistencies in speed measurements on the aircraft just before all contact was lost.

Implementing such a system will not be easy. And many questions remain unanswered at this time: how many satellites will be necessary to cover the thousands of aircrafts flying over our heads on a daily basis? Where all the data be stored? What will the cost of all this be?

Paul-Louis Arslanian, the head of the French BEA (Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses, the equivalent of the NTSB in the US), reminded on Monday that experts around the world have been looking for quite a while at the way to replace the black boxes. He also said that France had once more submitted this matter to the International Civil Aviation Organization and that a meeting of the Organization on airline safety is already scheduled for next year.

Meet The Chicago Bliss: Lingerie Football League Tryouts The Chicago Bliss, local entry in the Lingerie Football League, kicks off its inaugural season against the Miami Caliente in Hoffman Estates on Friday.

click here for this amazing gallery: Meet The Chicago Bliss: Lingerie Football League Tryouts

See the original image at Milky Way Over the Mysterious Statues of Easter Island (PIC)

Click to Enlarge On Easter Island, also called Rapa Nui, mysterious statues stand sentinel as the Milky Way spins cold and bright above. The giant moai may represent ancestors who ruled here after Polynesians discovered the island some thousand years ago during a wave of exploration that has been compared in its boldness to modern space voyages. Click to enlarge...

A-Rod At It Again In T.O., This Time Groping Female Officers


Total Pro Sports - Toronto seems to be a hot spot for Alex Rodriguez. Last time he made headlines in the great Canadian city, it was for his extra-marital affairs with a hot blond at a local strip club. This time he stayed away from the titty bars, and even the hot blond (not Kate Hudson or Madonna), as it was a dark-haired Toronto police officer that he had his eyes on.

During last night's game between the Jays and the New York Yankees, a pop-up off the bat of Lyle Overbay was drifting towards the stands on the third base side. ARod made his way towards the area in an attempt to record the out.

Although he could not get a piece of the ball as it trailed off into the stands, he did manage to get himself a piece of something. That something was one of the city of Toronto's finest (cops, that is).

Reaching the warning track, he lunged, but missed the ball, unintentionally groping the female police officer sitting against the stands – not once but twice. For the first time in years, Alex Rodriguez was cheered good-naturedly at the Rogers Centre.

"I'm just glad she didn't read me my rights," Rodriguez said. "Only me. My God, how embarrassing." [Toronto Star]

Even more embarrassing than facing the fans after admitting to using steroids? We doubt that.

ARod and Johnny Damon would end up checking on the woman in uniform and she would be alright. No word yet, but it doesn't seem like Rodriguez took her out afterward for some drinks to celebrate the 10-5 victory at The Brass Rail (a fine Toronto strip club).

Here is how it all unfolded.

ARod grops female officer

ARod grops female officer

ARod grops female officer

ARod grops female officer

After the groping

After the groping

Hat Tip Pics - [Blitz Corner]...check them out for the rest of the pics.

A Little Bigger than a Cayenne: Porsche Design's 135-foot catamaran megayacht

Royal Falcon Fleet RFF135 Catamaran by Porsche Design – Click above for high-res image gallery

Sure, cars like the Cayenne and even the Panamera are enormous in comparison to the 911. But there's still only so big Porsche can go. That is, on land at least. Not one to be told to stick to its core business, Porsche's design arm has teamed up with a Singapore shipyard to design a state-of-the-art catamaran megayacht.

We first reported on the RFF135 by Porsche Design and Royal Falcon Fleet back when the idea was announced, but now that the project has started to materialize, the two companies have begun releasing details and images. Worlds apart from the speedboat which Porsche Design penned for Fearless, the RFF135 is a massive twin-hull design measuring 135 feet in length (hence the name) with a 41-foot beam. That's enough space to accommodate 10 guests and 10 crew members below decks in 472 square meters of area, with another 208 square meters of deck space up top.

That's almost unfathomably large, and to propel the vessel up 35 knots (about 40 mph), the catamaran will be equipped with twin V16 turbodiesel engines from German manufacturer MTU, each producing a massive 4,600 horsepower. Don't ask about miles per gallon – this puppy will drink down 750 liters of diesel every hour, but at least you're bound to look damned good doing it, right? Details in the press release after the jump and renderings in the gallery below.

[Source: Porsche Design]


Reaching the first milestone of construction of the Royal Falcon Fleet RFF135
Keel laid for revolutionary power catamaran

Bietigheim-Bissingen/Singapore. The Porsche Design Group and Singapore-based megayacht builder Royal Falcon Fleet have reached the first milestone of the construction of the RFF135. The first joint project for the two companies, it is a luxurious anomaly on the water: a power catamaran with a length of more than 40 metres. The outer hull and the interior are in keeping with the functional, timeless and puristic hand of the Porsche Design Studio at Zell am See (Austria), which was responsible for the styling.

The appearance of the RFF135 is particularly extraordinary, as it was conceived as a "spacecraft on the water," as was requested by the customer. In this form, the catamaran platform offers completely new possibilities for configuration in exterior and interior design. Unlike a great number of mega-yachts, the interior was styled in a highly modern way and captures the dynamic contours of the hull.

Its typical Porsche design is unmistakable: Luxurious and functional, it dispenses with floridness and opulence of any kind. On the contrary, an unadorned design and authentic, premium and comfortable materials constitute the flair of the interior. The generous impact of its space goes beyond established standards for a 135-foot (41.2 metre) yacht.

After the successful completion of the development phase, the construction of the hull for the first RFF135 began in September 2008. At the end of the year, the hull will be relocated to Sweden, where the technological installations and interior fit-out will be carried out. Royal Falcon Fleet has engaged the Kockums and the Incat Crowther firms for the construction design of the catamaran. Kockums, a Swedish subsidiary of Thyssen-Krupp, is known for leading-edge technology in the area of marine technology. The Australian-based shipbuilding engineers of the Incat Crowther firm have decades of experience in the construction of large power catamarans. The launch of this first Royal Falcon Fleet power catamaran designed by Porsche Design is planned for the fourth
quarter of 2010.

"In 1987, we designed the 'Kineo' power yacht, an exclusive speedboat, of which there are only three examples worldwide and which drew attention for its characteristic dolphin form," says Dr. Jürgen Geßler, CEO of Porsche Design Group. "Our newest project once again demonstrates that our design, outstanding in many ways, is setting trends in numerous fields. With the first Royal Falcon Fleet yacht, we are building a bridge to the Porsche Design Sport textile collection that was developed specifically for the maritime area."

"We have now reached an important milestone in mastering this path-breaking project," says M. A. Zaman, president and CEO of Royal Falcon Fleet. "Under the guidance of highly qualified experts from Australia, France, Sweden and the U.S., we are constructing the hull of the RFF135. On December 15, 2009, it is going from Asia to Sweden, where it will be completed. And at the end of 2010, the first Royal Falcon Fleet will be launched – the ultimate luxury experience at sea.

"In many respects, this project is an anomaly," says Roland Heiler, executive director of the Porsche Design Studio at Zell am See. "The sole requirement from Royal Falcon Fleet was to implement contours outside of the stereotypical boat aesthetic. This gave us considerable creative latitude and the result was a revolutionary design – a real challenge for the ship architects. This innovative yacht concept quickly drew them into its thrall, however, so that all the participants are now working painstakingly on the realisation of the design."

Royal Falcon Fleet Plc.
Royal Falcon Fleet, a Singapore-based builder of luxury yachts, was founded by a Swedish investor. The goal of the firm is to develop mega-yachts that stand out for their innovative design, cutting-edge technology, and handcrafted European interiors.

Porsche Design Group
The Porsche Design Group, based in Bietigheim-Bissingen, is a majority-owned subsidiary of Porsche AG in Stuttgart. The activities of the company are concentrated on the company divisions Porsche Design, Porsche Design Driver's Selection and the Porsche Design Studio at Zell am See in Austria.

Porsche Design Studio
The Porsche Design Studio at Zell am See, Austria, stands for the clear, timeless, unmistakable design signature that distinguishes all products of the Porsche Design Group. Moreover, the studio also handles industrial and product design for other companies. The Porsche Design Studio is one of the most renowned design houses in Europe.

Technical data Royal Falcon Fleet RFF135
Total length: 135 feet (41.2 metres)
Length at waterline: 114 feet (35.7 metres)
Breadth: 41 feet (12.5 metres)
Draught: 5.6 feet (1.7 metres)
Engine: MTU 16V 4000 M93L
Power output: 2 x 3,440 kW (4,600 HP)
Speed: 35 knots
Range: 2,000 nautical miles at 30 knots
Fuel consumption: 750 litres per hour
Tank capacity: 2 x 25,000 litres
Freshwater reservoir: 5,000 litres
Waste water reservoir: 2 x 4,000 litres
Classification: Lloyd's Register
Material: certified, high-strength aluminium
Form: High-speed catamaran hull
Interior deck area: 472 square metres
Exterior deck area: 208 square metres
Passenger capacity: 10 guests and 10 crew

The Beatles - Get Back (Live on a Rooftop in 1969)

Transsexual prisoner wins right to be in female prison

A transsexual killer who tried to rape a woman must be moved to a female prison because holding her with men breaches her rights, a judge has ruled.

The prisoner, who cannot be identified, won a human rights battle against Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, that keeping her in a male prison was a violation.

Lawyers for the 27-year-old inmate, who is still at the preoperative stage, described her as a “woman trapped inside a man’s body” and argued keeping her among men was preventing her from having a full sex change.

She will be moved to a women’s jail within weeks following the High Court ruling but the Ministry of Justice warned it will cost taxpayers an extra £80,000 a year because she will have to be kept in segregation.

The entirely publicly funded case will also have cost tens of thousands of pounds.

The killer, known as “A”, is currently serving life for the manslaughter of a boyfriend and the attempted rape of a female shop assistant, both committed while she was man.

Although born a man, she had been undergoing the process of gender reassignment, and in 2006 was granted a certificate under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act which required her to be recognised as a woman "for all purposes".

Her birth certificate has been changed to say she is a female, while hair on her face and legs has been permanently removed by laser and she has developed breasts after hormone treatment.

She is allowed to shower in private, launder her female clothing herself and has access to cosmetics.

However, she was forbidden from wearing skirts or blouses, or more than "subtle" make-up, at the men's prison where she was being held on a "vulnerable prisoners" wing.

The court heard that in order to complete her change to full womanhood, she must live for a time as a woman and that could only be achieved if she was moved to a female jail.

Deputy Judge David Elvin QC, sitting at London's High Court, quashed Mr Straw's decision to continue detaining "A" in a male prison saying it breached her right to a private and family life the European Convention on Human Rights.

He said: "It follows that, so long as the claimant remains within the male prison estate, she is unable to progress towards the surgery which is her objective."

The judge said the Ministry of Justice had recently produced a draft Prison Service Order (PSO) to give guidelines on managing gender dysphoria cases, but final approval had been delayed until the result of A's case was known.

He ruled that far greater restrictions were being imposed on A than would be the case in a female prison - "I doubt that similar restrictions would apply in the rare case of a biological woman held in a male prison".

The prisoner, dressed in a dark blue blouse and striped jacket and wearing gold earrings, listened by video link.

She was originally convicted of manslaughter in 2001 and jailed for five years after smothering her boyfriend with a pillow and strangling him with a pair of tights.

She says that, although at first accepting of her gender dysphoria, he moved to hostility when she became increasingly feminised and she lost control after a row.

Less than a week after her release on licence two years later, "A" attacked a shop assistant, forcing her into a back room, tied her up with a suspender belt and tried to rape her.

She was given a life sentence for that offence under a "two strikes" system following the manslaughter conviction.

Her legal team said the attempted rape was closely linked to her obsession with becoming a woman and her intense frustration at the authorities' refusal to help her qualify for full gender reassignment surgery.

In July 2007, the Parole Board refused her release because "the risk to life and limb" were too high.

Phillipa Kaufman, A’s barrister, said: “So long as she stays in the male estate, she has no hope of realising her desire to become fully a woman.

"There is absolutely no security reason why she should be kept where she is. If she remains in the male estate, she is looking at the bleakest future in terms of what matters to her.

"What she would have in the female estate is hope; hope that she will be able to live in role and persuade her doctors that she should have gender reassignment surgery."

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "We contested this case and are disappointed at the judgement. We are studying it carefully and will consider whether to appeal."

Evolution of Nintendo's Controllers: Simple to WTF and Back

The Nintendo 64 was Nintendo's third home console and featured one of the most baffling controllers of all time.
Charles Darwin would be proud of this evolutionary discovery
Charles Darwin would be proud of this evolutionary discovery

Just The Facts

  1. The Nintendo 64 was Nintendo's first console to feature 3D graphics.
  2. Many classic video games were developed for it.
  3. The controller is one of the worst-designed things, ever.
  4. Seriously, how the fuck do you hold it.

Cracked on Nintendo 64

Released in 1996 after the big success of 1991's SNES, the Nintendo 64 was actually late to the market. Most consoles do have a lifetime of around 5 years, but Nintendo was late to the game when Sega's Saturn and Sony's PlayStation hit the market in late 1994. It did make up for late time by featuring such classics as:

PIctured: Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64 and... wait, what the fuck is that? Glover?

However, the Nintendo 64 featured an all new, revolutionary controller interface: the analog stick. Yeah, you know that little stub that moves around? You saw it here first. While developing 3D game environments, Nintendo found that the traditional D-pad (also invented by them) didn't allow for precise control, so they decided to forever change the course of gaming history to allow for slightly more accurate movement.

Even though the new analog stick was quite a step forward, it also had the distinction of being "first," meaning it was shit compared to later analog sticks. Because it was made out of hard plastic, using it too much could really hurt your thumb and after playing a lot, it would become loose in the socket. But come on!

Nintendo's controller seems to be designed for an octopus.

The analog stick has since been featured in pretty much every other major game controller that has been released since. In fact, the analog stick was so revolutionary at the time that many game-publications rewarded Nintendo's games such as Super Mario 64 and Majora's Mask some of the highest praise ever received, by anything. You thought Dark Side of the Moon was a good album? That Goodfellas was a great movie? Super Mario 64 was way better. The game was recently listed by IGN was the fifth greatest game ever created, surpassed only by other Nintendo games and Tetris. Super Mario 64 was heralded for its tight integration with the analog stick and for staying true to the series roots, even though it made the transition from 2D to 3D. Super Mario 64 was also the first time millions of gamers heard their beloved Mario speak:

The pure magic of seeing Mario in glorious 3D with an actual voice was actually too much for some fans to handle, and they became victims of Shitmypantsilitis; a condition that befalls people that get too excited about Nintendo-related products. It was still a really fun game.

Another one of the Nintendo 64's bizarre features was that it ignored the CD-media trend. So, unlike the more-successful Sony PlayStation, which had its games written onto a disc, Nintendo decided to stick with the extremely dated cartridge format after this lengthy corporate discussion:

Ex-Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi's most successfull business strategy

Sticking to the cartridge format was seen as a mistake by others. Cartridges were more expensive to produce than CDs and held less storage, meaning they could only accommodate shorter games or worse graphics. The upside to cartridges is that games load faster and you'll look like a jackass in front of your friends when you have to blow on the bottom to get it to work properly.

Other innovations the N64 offered were then-state of the art 3D graphics. At the time, the 64's 64bit (yep) framework allowed for more precise polygon counts to shape 3D models more effectively than Sega's Saturn and Sony's PlayStation. But remember, this was 1996. These were considered amazing graphics:

Wait, that's not... oh never mind.

The Best Nintendo 64 Game

With the Nintendo 64's legendary five year-run, many classic games were released for the system and many consider the console to be home to the single-most amount of great exclusive games ever. Some games were so well received by fans that they simply stopped buying new consoles after the Nintendo 64 and continue to play them to this day. These people are referred to as fucking losers. Anyways, the contenders:

Super Mario 64

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Nerdgasms

GoldenCock 007

You know what? Fuck those games. They may have been great and all, but there is one clear winner here. A game that transcends fun into an entire new realm of enjoyment and redefines immersive experience. This isn't just a game, it is a shining example of why mankind was put on this earth. This game is perfection.


Beavis and Butt-head Return to Promote Extract

OK, that was weird. A serious wave of rare nostalgia just hit when I watched the first new Beavis and Butthead animation in, well, not really all that long. Looking around I see that Mike Judge’s animated duo have popped up on MTV now and again for the Music Video Awards and stuff like a Jackass marathon. But if you’re like me and tend to avoid most of what airs on MTV in the last decade this might be like a little trip down memory lane. Check out Beavis and Butthead shilling for Extract after the jump.

Mike Judge has called Beavis and Butthead his favorite creations, and that affection shows through in this clip. How could two morons be so endearing? (By not being quite as one-sidedly moronic as they first appear, as with so many Judge characters.) The idea here is that the pair are setting up a clip from Extract, in which Jason Bateman and wife Kristen Wiig have a tense little conversation about the quality of their new pool cleaner’s work.

That being the case, this is a spoilery clip, but only if you haven’t been watching and reading the other clips and interviews that have shown up to promote the film. If you’ve caught all that then there will be no real surprises. You’ll be able to safely enjoy the amazement expressed by Beavis at the fact that a movie featuring a chick with big boobs, a dude getting paid to have sex and some other stuff costs just the same as every other movie.

For what it’s worth, I liked Extract quite a bit, too. Perhaps my expectations had been lowered a bit (I’d heard some middling reactions over the last couple weeks) but I thought it was consistently funny and smart. Look for a review (either from me or Hunter; we both saw it) later in the week.

Rambo Rabbi Training Chosen Guns


Well, the New York Post earned its fifty cents today. Let's start with the cover, which at first glance seems like a work of fantasy but actually documents a real-life, tough-talking rabbi and his plastic pistol-packing "God Squad." Jewish security forces are hardly new to New York (Hasidic communities like the Satmar Jews in Williamsburg have their own private patrols, for instance), but none have produced a training video as uplifting as this one. A mix of Wes Anderson, Adam Sandler, and the "Sabotage" video, it depicts Rabbi Gary Moscowitz, who was an NYPD cop for nine years and holds a black belt in karate, training his fellow Jews to defend their synagogues. Enjoy!

Moscowitz is founder of the International Security Coalition of Clergy, whose mission is to train Jews in self-defense and advance fighting techniques in the event of a terrorist attack on a synagogue. He says business was slow for his Coalition until May, when the FBI arrested a group accused of plotting to blow up synagogues in The Bronx. But now Moscowitz's 100-hour synagogue self-defense course is in high demand. With his course, you'll learn how to:

  • execute a somersault while drawing a gun
  • use a table as cover from gunfire
  • take down a terrorist by the neck
Moscowitz tells the Post, "Jews are not like Christians. If I turn my cheek, I'm coming around to make a kick." The rabbi says the NYPD isn't qualified to guard synagogues because they don't know members of the congregation, so they can't stop a terrorist who wants to put "a yarmulke on, say, 'Happy holidays,' and blow the place up." NYPD spokesman Paul Browne says Moscowitz was fired from the force in the early 1990s, but claimed not to know details. Regarding the Rabbi's criticism of the NYPD, Browne cryptically added, "Blessed are the tight of lip, for they shall resist speaking ill of the ill-informed."