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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The World's Largest Amateur Rocket Is Almost as Tall as a V-2


Unlike wood-based models, the Heat 1X is a real metal rocket. At more than 9 meters high, it's also the largest amateur rocket in the world. The guys building it are planning one almost as large as the V-2.

They call themselves Copenhagen Suborbitals, and they operate from an abandoned shipyard in the outskirts of the Danish capital. This group of nutters rolled out their Heat 1X engine last Sunday. The image above puts it next to their planned beasts and the first ballistic missile ever: The German V-2.

These are the same guys who built a submarine last year, which makes me fear they are probably planning to build a cruise missile and pacify some hostile territory. Like New Jersey. [Something Awful]

Send an email to Jesus Diaz, the author of this post, at

We’re Not In Kansas Anymore. Well, We Are — Google, Kansas

by MG Siegler

Last month, Google announced plans to sell 1 gigabit-per-second fiber optic broadband to consumers. The plan called for it to be rolled out to no fewer than 50,000 homes in the initial test, and maybe as many as 500,000, but didn’t specify where it would be rolled-out. Topeka, Kansas wants in. Bad.

The city’s mayor today signed a proclamation that for the rest of the month, Topeka will be known as “Google, Kansas.” Yes, you’re reading that correctly — Topeka is now “Google.”

Now, to be clear, this isn’t a legal name change. Lawyers advised the mayor and the city council that they wouldn’t be able to change the name for just the month and then change it back (no word on if they also advised them that it would be well, stupid) — so instead their going with this proclamation asking people to simply call the city “Google.”

While this is a silly way to get Google’s attention, the benefit could be huge. The 1Gb/sec fiber is roughly 100 times faster than what most Americans get today for Internet speeds. That’s especially true in rural areas. And while Topeka may not be the most rural city in the country (it is the state capital and has over 120,000 citizens), they could undoubtedly make good use of this ultra fast connection. Google’s fiber connection is still more than 20 times faster than even most fast broadband connections.

Humorously, this isn’t the first time Topeka has tried something like this. Apparently, in August 1998, the city has a proclamation to change its name to “ToPikachu” — yes, after the Pokemon character. So this move seems roughly 100 times more sane than that one.

Also funny — apparently this special city council meeting lead to the postponement of another one, where they were actually going to talk about real issues. Ah, local governments.

Boy develops fish scales at 14 months old

This 14-month-old boy born without pores in his skin has baffled medics by developing fish scales.

A Chinese baby suffers from the rare and severe condition Lamellar ichthyosis, where the whole body is peeling off like fish skin
Baby Song suffers from the rare and severe condition Lamellar ichthyosis, where the whole body is peeling off like fish skin

Doctors believe Song Sheng, of Jinhu, eastern China, may be suffering from a rare genetic condition that means his body cannot cool itself.

Song Sheng - called fish boy by locals - began developing scales within days of his birth caused by his lack of pores.

Doctors say because he cannot sweat or lose heat through his skin, it peels away in fish-like scales.

Instead, his family controls his body temperature by laying him in baths of ice.

Song Dehui, his father, said: "He is in a lot of pain all the time and if we don't have enough ice he gets a fever."

But doctors have told the family there is still no known cure for the genetic condition, known as Lamellar ichthyosis.

"It can be treated but not cured so we are praying for a miracle or a folk medicine cure," his father said.

To make a donation to help Song Sheng click here

Body acoustics can turn your arm into a touchscreen

Finding the keypad on your cellphone or music player a bit cramped? Maybe your forearm could be more accommodating. It could become part of a skin-based interface that effectively turns your body into a touchscreen.

Called Skinput, the system is a marriage of two technologies: the ability to detect the ultralow-frequency sound produced by tapping the skin with a finger, and the microchip-sized "pico" projectors now found in some cellphones.

The system beams a keyboard or menu onto the user's forearm and hand from a projector housed in an armband. An acoustic detector, also in the armband, then calculates which part of the display you want to activate.

But how does the system know which icon, button or finger you tapped? Chris Harrison at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, working with Dan Morris and Desney Tan at Microsoft's research lab in Redmond, Washington, exploit the way our skin, musculature and skeleton combine to make distinctive sounds when we tap on different parts of the arm, palm, fingers and thumb (see video).

Bone machine

They have identified various locations on the forearm and hand that produce characteristic acoustic patterns when tapped. The acoustic detector in the armband contains five piezoelectric cantilevers, each weighted to respond to certain bands of sound frequencies. Different combinations of the sensors are activated to differing degrees depending on where the arm is tapped.

Twenty volunteers tested the system and most found it easy to navigate through icons on the forearm and tap fingers to actuate commands.

"Skinput works very well for a series of gestures, even when the body is in motion," the researchers say, with subjects able to deftly scroll through menus whether they moved up and down or flicked across their arm.

The system could use wireless technology like Bluetooth to transmit commands to many types of device – including phones, iPods and even PCs. The researchers will present their work in April at the ACM Computer-Human Interaction meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

Body control

Pranav Mistry of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology warns that users will have to position the armband very precisely so the projection always appears in the right place.

Nevertheless, Skinput looks a promising idea, says Michael Liebschner, director of the Bio-Innovations Lab at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, who has worked on bone acoustic conduction technology for gadget-to-gadget transmission.

"This sounds a very feasible approach to using the body itself as an input device," he says. "When you are immersed in a virtual game using a head-mounted 3D display, you cannot just take it off to fiddle around with control buttons. This will make things much easier."

If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.

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Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid concept – our kind of green car!

Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid concept – our kind of green car!

Tomorrow in Geneva, Porsche will unveil a new plug-in hybrid concept called 918 Spyder. This is not your average hybrid like Toyota Prius or Honda Insight.

918 Spyder plug-in hybrid concept is powered by a V8 that develops more than 500 horsepower and electric motors on the front and rear axle with an output of 218 horsepower. Combined power output is an impressive 708 horsepower!

Purely on electric power it has a range of up to 25 km (16 miles).

As the engine is positioned mid-ship, in front of the rear axle, it gives the car excellent balance and the right set-up for supreme performance on the race track.

0-100 km/h comes in just 3.2 seconds, top speed is 320 km/h (198 mph), and a lap time on the Nürburgring is less than 7:30 making it faster than the Porsche Carrera GT.

What really impresses, is the fuel economy! Average fuel economy is just three liters per 100 kilometers (78 mpg) and the car emits just 70 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

Will we ever see it in production? Very likely yes as Porsche is well known for taking their concepts into reality!

Press release:

Porsche Reveals High-Performance 918 Spyder Concept Highly Efficient and Ultra-Fast Plug-in Hybrid Super Sports Car Unveiled in Geneva

Today, on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show, Porsche unveiled an ultra-efficient, low-emission, mid-engine super sports car featuring hybrid and electric drive technology.

The 918 Spyder concept combines high-tech racing features with electric-mobility to offer a fascinating range of qualities. For example, it is planned to provide an emission level of just 70 grams of CO2 per kilometer on fuel consumption of only three liters/100 kilometers (equal to approximately 78 mpg U.S.), which is truly outstanding, even for an ultra-compact city car. This car, however, is intended to offer the performance of a super sports car with acceleration from a standstill to 100 km/h in just under 3.2 seconds, top speed of 320 km/h (198 mph), and a lap time on the Nordschleife of N ̧rburgring in less than 7:30 minutes, faster than even the Porsche Carrera GT.

The 918 Spyder is one of three Porsche models with hybrid drive making their world debut at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. This trio ñ made up of Porscheís new Cayenne S Hybrid SUV with parallel full-hybrid drive, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid race car with electric drive on the front axle and a flywheel mass battery, and the two-seater high-performance 918 Spyder mid-engined sports car with plug-in hybrid technology ñ clearly demonstrates not only the great bandwidth of this new drive technology, but also the innovative power of Porsche as a genuine pioneer in hybrid drive.

The highly-innovative 918 Spyder concept car combines Porscheís Intelligent Performance philosophy with the high-technology from motorsport, with classic but modern design to make a truly convincing statement.

Innovative powertrain combines race-bred V8 engine with electric drive
This open two-seater is powered by a high-revving V8 developing more than 500 horsepower and a maximum engine speed of 9,200 rpm ñ as well as electric motors on the front and rear axle with overall mechanical output of 218 horsepower (160 kW).
The V8 combustion engine is the next step in the evolution of the highly successful 3.4- liter power unit already featured in the RS Spyder racing car and positioned mid-ship, in front of the rear axle, giving the car excellent balance and the right set-up for supreme performance on the race track.

Power is transmitted to the wheels by a seven-speed Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) transmission that feeds the power of the electric drive system to the rear axle. The front-wheel electric drive powers the wheels through a fixed transmission ratio.

The energy reservoir is a fluid-cooled lithium-ion battery positioned behind the passenger cell. The big advantage of a plug-in hybrid is that the battery can be charged on the regular electrical network. A further point is that the carís kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy fed into the battery when applying the brakes, thus providing additional energy for fast and dynamic acceleration.

Driverís choice of four distinct driving modes
A button on the steering wheel allows the driver to choose among four different running modes: The E-Drive mode is for running the car under electric power alone, with a range of up to 25 km or 16 miles. In the Hybrid mode, the 918 Spyder uses both the electric motors and the combustion engine as a function of driving conditions and requirements, offering a range from particularly fuel-efficient all the way to extra-powerful.

The Sport Hybrid mode uses both drive systems, but with the focus on performance. Most of the drive power goes to the rear wheels, with Torque Vectoring serving to additionally improve the carís driving dynamics.

In the Race Hybrid mode the drive systems are focused on pure performance with the highest standard of driving dynamics on the track, running at the limit to their power and dynamic output. With the battery sufficiently charged, a push-to-pass button feeds in additional electrical power (E-Boost), when overtaking or for even better performance.

With the hybrid drive system offering this wide range of individual modes and applications, the 918 Spyder is able either to achieve lap times comparable to those of a thoroughbred racing car, or the extremely low emissions and high fuel economy figures of a plug-in hybrid.

Advanced body structure and design offer more than just good looks
Like the drivetrain, the lightweight body structure of the Porsche 918 Spyder also bears out the carís DNA carried over directly from motorsport: The modular structure with its monocoque bodyshell made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFP) and liberal use of magnesium and aluminum not only reduce weight to below 1,490 kg, or 3,285 lb, but also ensure supreme driving precision thanks to a high level of torsional stiffness.

Reminiscent of highly successful, legendary racing cars such as the Porsche 917 and the current Porsche RS Spyder, the 918 Spyder, with its design concept so typical of Porsche arouses powerful emotions. The combination of racing car dimensions, clearly structured design with perfectly balanced surfaces, and innovative details throughout, creates an ideal synthesis of form and function ñ following Porscheís design DNA.

The smooth balance of tradition and progress gives the car a powerful stance on the road. Variable aerodynamics, typical of Porsche, ensures both visionary and traditional highlights especially around the rear spoiler. The striking rear hoods extending out of the headrests, in turn, not only fulfill an aerodynamic function on the 918 Spyder, but also accommodate retractable air intakes with a ram air function.

High-tech interior provides glimpse into the future
The driver and passenger are not only embedded in contoured sports bucket seats but also form part of the cockpit, which provides a synthesis of efficient functionality and ergonomic high-tech operation. Additionally, the cockpit offers a glimpse at the potential interior architecture of future Porsche super sports cars. The three free-standing circular dials for road speed (left), engine speed (middle) and energy management (right) would appear to come directly from a racing car in the ë60s, bearing out that unique philosophy of driver orientation so characteristic of Porsche.

The center console rises up towards the front in the 918 Spyder and houses a touch screen for intuitive control of the carís functions, serving to reduce the number of visible controls and maintain the principle of direct operation.

The control units relevant to the driver are mainly concentrated on the three-spoke multifunction sports steering wheel, while the variable driving modes are supplemented by a switch enabling the driver to call up various drive programs and serving as the push-to-pass button for E-boosting. Instrument illumination, finally, varies from green for the consumption-oriented running modes to red for the performance-oriented driving programs.

The Porsche 918 Spyder concept also comes with further innovative functions such as the Range Manager. After being activated in the Center Display, the Range Manager uses the map in the navigation system to present the remaining range the car is able to cover, naturally allowing the driver to influence that range through the appropriate choice of power and performance.

In cities with environmental alert areas the Range Manager also states whether the driver is able to reach a certain destination on electric power alone.

Applying this information and using further info on the availability and location of special energy filling stations, the driver is then able to choose his personal style of driving as well as the right battery charge and filling strategy.

Offering a unique combination of extremely low fuel consumption, supreme performance and long electric range, the Porsche 918 Spyder concept represents an essential milestone in Porsche’s strategy on the way to genuine electric-mobility.

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When A Spartan Loves A Stormtrooper

They say Stormtroopers can't hit the broad side of a barn, but there's one that can hit the hardest target of all - the cold heart of a Halo Spartan.

When you're a crack commando encased in battle armor, it doesn't matter if you spend all day fighting The Covenant or the Rebel Alliance. You still get lonely, and who better to share your free time with than someone who understands your plight? A Spartan doesn't care if you come home covered in matted bloody Ewok fur, as long as you're coming home to him.

Halo Spartan Master Chief goes on a Date with Stormtrooper from Adam Grumbo on Vimeo.

Send an email to Michael Fahey, the author of this post, at

Gorillaz - Plastic Beach: Exclusive album preview

Your chance to hear Gorillaz's hotly anticipated third album, Plastic Beach, a week before it's released

As part of their takeover of, Gorillaz are letting you hear Plastic Beach in full. Featuring collaborations with Lou Reed, Mos Def, Mark E Smith, De La Soul, Kano and Snoop Dogg, it's set to be one of the biggest records of 2010. So click on the widget above to stream the album from start to finish (and remember not to refresh the page as it plays!).

'Lost' + 'Simpsons' (pic)

From the fandom files, here's the cast of "Lost" given "Simpsons" treatment ...

Definitely click for full-sized version, this was very cleverly done ...

The Losties

Credit: The Springfield Punx site, which does fan art in "Simpsons" style

The 7 Most Affordable Fuel Efficient Cars of 2010

The 7 Most Affordable Fuel Efficient Cars of 2010

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MSI to debut worlds first full HD 3D all-in-one PC


msi all in one wind top MSI to debut worlds first full HD 3D all in one PC

MSI are going to be showcasing their new range of all in one pcs at the forthcoming CeBIT expo in Hanover from March 2nd to March 6th 2010 and amongst them there’s one product that’s bound to attract a lot of attention.

It is the world’s first large screen full high definition 3D all in one computer designed for the 3D home experience. The press release says it all.

“MSI has become the first company in the world to introduce an All-in-One PC with a 3D touch-screen.

“Taking advantage of recent advances in 3D imaging technology, MSI has integrated 3D display technology combined with a powerful Multi-Core CPU and new 3D graphics technology to ensure smooth, clear 3D images and a higher level of detail.

“The combination of a 120Hz LED panel and 3D shutter glasses brings the kind of 3D video experience into your home that you would normally only expect from a modern 3D movie theatre.

“Put on the 3D glasses and touch the screen with your fingertip, and the beautiful scenery of the planet Pandora from the movie Avatar will appear right in front of you, almost as if you could reach out and touch it.”

The computer comes with an Intel Core i7 processor and will feature a 24 inch 120 Hz LED backlit full HD LCD touchscreen display and comes complete with Shutter Glass 3D glasses so that users can experience the computer in 3D.

The computer is actually built inside the display case so the device looks more like a standalone monitor than a traditional looking computer.

You wouldn’t expect something like this to come cheap, and it doesn’t, although we don’t have the exact cost it’s expected to be somewhere around the 2000 euro mark give or take a few euros depending on what components you choose.

The all-in-one PCs will come in a range of sizes, with a variety of specifications and colours.

MSI will also unveil their first 3D laptop at the expo, which sports a 15.6 inch 120 Hz 3D HD screen.

Other new products from MSI in 2010 will include the U160 super slim Netbook with 15 hours battery life, oh yes, that’s a world first too, also the X-Slim X620 Multimedia notebook, and the GT660 gaming laptop with the latest Core i7 processor and next generation graphics.

The competition is fierce at the Naked Co-Ed Shopping spree in Southeast Portland

By Peter Ames Carlin, The Oregonian

Just before the race, the four competitors stand poised in their stalls, muscles coiled, their clothes on hooks behind them.

Five! Four! Three! ...

Imagine the tension.

They've anticipated this for days, crafting strategy, visualizing movements, feeling the seconds slip past, imagining ways to maximize each moment.

More than one described having terrible anxiety dreams. The wrenching feeling of blasting into the light, only to discover they are completely naked.

Maybe Olympic athletes have variations of these dreams before their events, too. But this isn't the Olympics. We're at the Red Light Clothing Exchange on Southeast Hawthorne, where the shirts are used, the black velvet paintings ironic and occasional nudity just another part of the fun.

thestart.jpgView full size
Two contestants -- including Felisha Ledesma, right, get ready for the start of the rather unique shopping spree.
Two! One! ... GO!!

The stall doors burst open, the racers erupt into the open, bare feet slapping the floor, their bodies streaks of pink.

All four dash through the racks, yanking clothes onto their bodies as quickly as they can.

This is the Naked Co-Ed Shopping Spree. It lasts three minutes, after which the most thickly dressed contestant will win every piece of clothing they have on, and then some.

"A lot of people think this is a really weird thing to do," store manager Erica Easley says. "But why not? A lot of people in Portland are game for anything. Plus, it's a good deal and good cocktail conversation. Really, no one can beat it."

Or maybe they can, given that Hawthorne so often seems like the main artery for all that Portland weirdness the bumper stickers insist we keep, even though it never seems to be in danger of going anywhere.

The shopping spree, which the Red Light has held five of the last six years (it skipped last year because of the sour economy) begins with a jar containing the names of hundreds who hope to win one of the slots in the race. Four names are drawn, the contestants -- who are informed a few days before the race -- strip down, and when the starter's gun goes off they have 180 seconds to dash through the Red Light's racks, donning as many items as possible.

Whoever puts on more T-shirts, jackets, pants, shoes and whatever else than anyone else wins everything they're wearing, along with a $100 gift certificate. The three runners-up win fewer items and smaller gift certificates.

And nobody, including the live band and 100 or so spectators, goes away feeling less than electrified by the experience.

It all began with Larry Steiner, who showed up this year wearing a colorful Egyptian coat, a black top hat and a Cheshire cat grin. Steiner doesn't work at the Red Light, which has done business on Hawthorne since 1999. But he's been a friend for so long that when the shop's managers were dreaming up a promotional event in 2005 they thought: What would Larry want to do?

"He has this crazy energy and just loves to be naked," Easley says. Thus was born the nude shopping spree.

"It was an immediate smash. It's fun and silly and people end up with free clothes."

puttingonclothes.jpgView full size

The action is heated as Breanna Johnson, left, and Janelle Freeman, in the back, pull on the clothes.
It's 4 p.m., an hour before the race, and the first contestant to arrive is Breanna Johnson, a biology major at Oregon State. Johnson is not, she hastens to explain, an exhibitionist by nature.

"I don't flaunt myself," Johnson says. "I even thought about doing it in my underwear (which contestants can do, at the expense of losing a point in the competition). But my gut said, go big or go home."

Besides, the anxiety about nakedness in our culture is a social construct that molds behavior through shame, she says. "And I don't want to succumb to that."

Johnson will get no arguments from contestants Rich Vail Mackin and Felisha Ledesma, both of whom proclaim their enthusiasm for disrobing basically whenever they get the chance.

"If I'd had more warning I might have done more sit-ups to prepare," says Mackin, 37, a writer. "But I'm no stranger to public nudity."

Particularly since this turns out to be his second time as a contestant. Called as an alternate this time, Mackin got into the race at the last moment when another contestant backed out.

Ledesma, a 22-year-old musician specializing in what she calls "girly, but dark, pop songs," also started this year's contest as an alternate, but when she arrived to watch was told another contestant had stepped down.

"I'm so stoked to be here," she says.

The fourth contestant, 30-year-old Janelle Freeman, says she's the opposite of an exhibitionist. "I'm actually an introvert."

But she's unemployed, and free clothes are free clothes, so all anxiety aside, she was delighted to be chosen for the race. Freeman calmed her nerves by playing Chopin and Satie on her piano, then went out for a couple of beers. "Liquid courage," she explains.

redlight.JPGView full sizeContestants, from left, Breanna Johnson, Felisha Ledesma and Janelle Freeman react as winner Rich Vail Mackin peels off his clothes.

It's 5 p.m., and as a band plays a funky vamp from the stage, the contestants explode from their booths, and the race becomes a blur. All follow different strategies. Johnson avoids pants to focus on easy-to-layer skirts, T-shirts and sweaters. Macklin starts with T-shirts and piles on robes, dressing gowns and a few skirts. Ledesma heads for the men's section, where she snatches an armload of shirts and pulls them over her head, one after another.

When it's over they move to the stage, where they take turns disrobing, item by item, with Steiner leading the audience in counting the garments. Freeman ends up with 18, Johnson has 15 and Ledesma 14. Macklin goes last and as his inner-most skirt flutters to his ankles he stands triumphantly over his 20th item.

At which point Steiner, microphone in hand, leads the crowd in a chant: "He loves it! He loves it! He loves to be naked!"

Except Macklin is already getting dressed, as quickly as he can. He has plenty of clothes to choose among, but his decision seemed easy. He went with the first robe he could get his hands on.

-- Peter Ames Carlinor

The moment 30ft wall of water swamps thrill-seeking 'wave dodgers' on harbour wall | Mail Online

  • Severe flood warnings subside as Britain slowly returns to normal
  • Temperatures warm up in England, with highs of 10C
  • 55 feared dead after storms in Europe, with 45 killed in France

This is the moment two thrill-seeking surfers escaped a freak 30ft wave as it smashed into the shore.

The two men were caught on camera as they stood on a promenade and spent several minutes dodging waves as they battered the habour wall.

But one large 30ft breaker crashed over their heads and the pair were nearly dragged into the sea at Porthleven in Cornwall.

Amazingly, both were unhurt and managed to scurry away to safety following the incident yesterday afternoon.

The terrifying stunt has prompted coastguards to issue a warning as Britain is lashed by gales and massive sea swells.

The moment two surfers were nearly swept from the harbour wall by a 30ft wave at Porthleven in Cornwall yesterday

The moment the two surfers were nearly swept from the harbour wall by the 30ft wave at Porthleven in Cornwall yesterday

York flooding

No way through: Passers-by look at flooding which has submerged parts of York city centre

Paradoxymoron (optical Illusion)

By: mariachi2006

This is a movie of a super-cool "painting" hanging in the basement of the British Library, in London. The author has done many such paintings, but this is the best (and all the others are very similar). It's called "Paradoxymoron", by Patrick Hughes

here is his website:

20 Free Ways to Manage Video, Music, and Photos


Downloads and services like Grooveshark, Jinni, and Phoenix help you make the most of your digital entertainment.

Adam Pash and Rick Broida, PCWorld

Find Great Video

These eight no-cost utilities and services can help you find, organize, and wrangle your media files--or enjoy some great video online.

Boxee Beta: This open-source app offers an attractive and powerful way to play back desktop and Web-based media seamlessly on your HDTV.

Classic Cinema Online: Want to enjoy a classic movie but don't want to rent it? This Website aggregates hundreds of freely available classic films, organized by genre, so you'll never be bored again.

Clicker: This Website is like TV Guide for the Web, aggregating video from the far reaches of the Internet to provide you with a central source to search for your favorite TV shows.

DoubleTwist: If you're using a non-Apple cell phone or MP3 player, this download is a great iTunes alternative. Among other features, it has the uncanny ability to automatically make any video on your computer work with your mobile device, no matter what format the unit requires.

Hulu Desktop: The video streaming site Hulu brought mainstream video to the online masses. Download this remote-friendly desktop app to free Hulu video from your browser. With its help, you can sit back a bit from the PC and still enjoy your favorite movies and TV.


Jinni: This beta video-recommendation service breaks down movies, TV shows, and online shorts, and lets you select videos to watch by their component parts, such as mood or plot. If you're a Netflix subscriber and the movie is in Netflix's catalog, you can add it to your rental queue with one click--or, if it's available for instant viewing, you can watch it right then.

Libox: Is your desktop filled with media you'd like to share with relatives and friends? Sending large video files over the Internet takes time. Instead, sign up for this desktop app to create a private network for sharing videos and other media easily.

ShowMeWhatsWrong: Are you the go-to tech person for your family and friends? The next time you need to help someone remotely, point the recipient to this Web service, which makes it dead simple for tech neophytes to record and share quick screencasts to demonstrate their PC problems.

Uncommon Audio Helpers

If your audio collection is out of control, let our seven music-oriented freebies help you find, edit, and manage your tunes.

Next time you get an earworm from the background music in a YouTube video or some other file and you can't identify it, head over to beta service AudioTag and let it identify the song for you.

Tune out the world at Buddha Machine Wall, a stripped-down Website whose custom ambient noise will help keep you focused.


When you need to turn to the Web for music, look to Grooveshark. This service can play almost any song you request, and it sports a beautiful interface for searching for music and building playlists.

You say that you've been ripping, burning, and sharing music for years? Chances are, the audio files on your hard drive are a metadata disaster. Quickly clean things up with Mp3Tag, a universal tag editor that supports virtually every audio file type you're likely to own.

If you need to do a little light audio editing and you don't want to download and install a full-fledged desktop app, sign up for Aviary's Myna, an impressive Web service that lets you handle advanced audio editing from the comfort of your Web browser.

Are you listening to music on your tinny, underpowered laptop speakers, while your PC's fancy speakers sit unused? Download Speakershare to share the better equipment with other PCs on your home network, whether you're sitting in front of those speakers or not.

If you aren't satisfied with streaming whatever music happens to be available online, dip into your own collection with TunesBag. A free account lets you upload 1GB of music from your hard drive to the Web so that you can access your favorite songs from any browser.

Shutterbug Assistance, at Your Service

Whether you're an amateur photographer or an avid photo uploader, the five tools we've collected can help you get the best from your images.

Easy Poster Printer is a desktop app that lets you adjust any high-resolution digital photograph and print it as a poster (which, at its largest, can be 21 by 21 yards). You print your poster in sections and then simply assemble the final product.

Photographers call the day's first and last hour of sunlight the golden hour in honor of the great light available during those time periods. Plug your location into the Google Maps mashup The Golden Hour Calculator to determine the exact times when it arrives.

Photoshop may be the king of photo editing tools, but it's also expensive and too powerful for most users. The desktop app Paint.Net is a lightweight, powerful, and easy-to-use alternative that can handle almost any editing task.

Digital photos can reach many megabytes in size, so uploading images without resizing them can be slow. Download Shrink Pic, a simple but ingenious utility that automatically resizes images when you upload them to the Web.

Aviary Phoenix

Want to quickly punch up a couple of photos before you share them on Facebook or Flickr? Sign up with Aviary's Phoenix image editor, an impressive tool that looks and feels like a desktop image editing application but lives exclusively on the Web.

About the authors: Adam Pash is the editor of Lifehacker. Rick Broida writes PCWorld's Hassle-Free PC blog.

15 Iconic Cinematic Dance Scenes

Get into the groove with these memorable numbers

By Olivia Putnal


There’s nothing like an entertaining dance scene, and while musicals always have lots, they aren’t the only types of movies with memorable numbers. Over the years, certain clips have made history, and WD has rounded up the best of the best. From Tom Cruise and his solo to “Old Time Rock and Roll” to Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta’s summertime love song, check out these 15 infamous dance scenes that are sure to have you tapping your feet.

Singin’ in the Rain—“Singin’ in the Rain”

Not only is this song remembered by all, so is Gene Kelly’s beloved romp singing—and dancing—in the rain during this scene from the 1952 romantic musical. His tap skills are impeccable, and you can’t help but smile while watching this moment.

Damn Yankees! —“Whatever Lola Wants”

Gwen Verdon lights up the locker room with her dancing serenade in this 1958 comedy dealing with sports obsession and love, based on the Broadway musical by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop. Anyone who can dance like that in high heels definitely has our vote.

West Side Story—“America”

West Side Story is another great that graced Broadway first, but the 1961 cinematic version is notable too. Maria (Natalie Wood) leads the guys and gals in this fun musical adaption of Romeo and Juliet. “America” is just one of the many finer moments from the film.

Saturday Night Fever—“You Should Be Dancing”

John Travolta (as Tony Manero) has quite the dance moves when he hits the floor in this disco solo scene. The 1977 flick is full of fabulous moments as it follows Manero’s search to prove his dancing abilities—and we think he’s totally worthy.

Grease—“You’re the One That I Want”

It’s no surprise this 1978 classic based on a musical made the list. Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta and the rest of the Grease cast will forever be remembered for the songs and dance numbers—especially this jump-and-jive number.

Risky Business—“Old Time Rock and Roll”

Oh how we love Tom Cruise in his button-down oxford shirt and knee-high socks, shaking and singing in the living room to this Bob Seger oldie. We’re sure the cocktail must have helped loosen him up a bit in this 1983 story about a rebellious teenage boy.


We’re warning you: After watching the clip, this song may get stuck in your head, but it’s worth it just to see this stellar performance from the 1983 film. In the scene, Alex Owens shows off her natural talent—proving that the main character (played by Jennifer Beals) can achieve her dream of being admitted into a proper dance company.


We’ve heard this Kenny Loggins staple for years, but the actual dance scene from the 1984 movie makes it way better. We wish our senior prom was half as entertaining as watching Kevin Bacon bring fun and dancing to this small town. Mission accomplished!

A Chorus Line—“One”

Inspiring dancers everywhere since its 1985 release, this film is based on a musical about the trials and tribulations of Broadway performers. The clip shows the sparkling finale, complete with top hats and shimmering gold outfits, when the audience finally gets to see the complete chorus line in action.

Dirty Dancing—“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”

Now you know this 1987 dance flick was bound to end up on this roundup. Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) give quite the intense performance, especially since their relationship has been under wraps all summer.

Big—“Heart and Soul” and “Chopsticks”

Ah, Tom Hanks in one of his most unforgettable moments—piano-dancing at FAO Schwarz. You’re probably familiar with this classic medley and you might even know how to play it, but we bet you’ve never done it with your feet like Hanks and Robert Loggia do in this 1988 comedy.

Scent of a Woman—“Por una Cabeza”

This 1992 Oscar-winning movie is about a blind man (Al Pacino) who at times is stubborn and unpleasant, but ultimately lovable. In this moment, he is calm, cool and collected as he dances the tango (and the night away) with his partner, played by Gabrielle Anwar.

Pulp Fiction—“You Never Can Tell”

Once again making the list for his dancing ability…John Travolta! He shimmies, twists and shakes in this scene from the Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 cult classic. The movie may be about drugs, thievery and murder, but we love how fun it is to watch him dance alongside Uma Thurman.

Billy Elliot—“Town Called Malice”

Who could forget little Billy Elliot from this inspiring British film released in 2000? Mad at his parents for not believing in his dancing ability, he takes his frustration out in his tap shoes. We are impressed by anyone who can tap all the way up a hill—especially an 11-year-old.

Moulin Rouge!—“El Tango de Roxanne”

Another well-known musical film, 2001’s Moulin Rouge! is full of impressive dance routines, but one stands out among the others. This intense version of the tango, performed by various dancers from the theater, encompasses everything the movie is about—love, passion and pain.

The Most Terrifying Spiral Staircases on Earth


Glasgow lighthouse
Image: Craig Morey

Apart from the fact that they simply make you dizzy, spiral staircases are not for the faint of heart as this post will show. They are often in lofty places or the opposite, cramped dungeons, so mastering a spiral staircase is not a question of simply walking up or down. Claustrophobia, vertigo-inducing views and stomach-churning heights have to be braved because of those adventurous minds that installed spiral staircases in the scariest of places.

Long way down and low handrail at a tall pagoda in Singapore:
Image: Ray Tomes

Like a slightly heart-shaped vortex – don’t get sucked in:
ITC MIskolc
Image: Darnyi Zsóka

The square yet spiral staircase in an old apartment house in Hong Kong. Is that a trap door at the bottom?
Hong kong
Image: Ksionic

Next, on to a treehouse: at 80 ft in height, the spiral staircase winding around a fir tree at Cedar Creek Treehouse, Mt. Rainier, is called “Stairway to Heaven”. The reason for this is that it leads to Cedar Creek Observatory, reachable via a 43 ft-long suspension bridge. We’re not sure what’s scarier – the climb up the tree, or the walk across the bridge.

Here’s a view from low down:
Cedar Creek staircase
Image via cedarcreektreehouse

… and from up top:
Cedar Creek STairway to Heaven
Image via cedarcreektreehouse

Almost there – the observatory:
Cedar Creek Observatory
Image via cedarcreektreehouse

The scary outside staircase below winds its way around the chimney of the old Bóbila Almirall in Terrassa, Catalonia. At 63 m, it is the world’s tallest chimney with a spiral staircase. In case you’re contemplating going up, it’s 234 steps to the top and there’s not much of a handrail to hold on to!

Old chimney in Terrassa, Spain:
Image: Greg Gladman

Lighthouse stairs surely have their scary element, given their length and the claustrophobia factor.

Looking up at the lighthouse in Brunate, Italy:
Image: Antonis Lamnatos

Santa Barbara lighthouse with see-through staircase:
Santa Barbara lighthouse
Image: Cathy Stanley-Erickson

And fire escapes and building staircases can be scary if the view down makes your stomach feel queasy. We’ve found a few that fit the description.

Inside the Julius Tower in Berlin Spandau:
Julius Tower
Image: Till Krech

The image above was taken inside the 30 m tall Julius Tower. It is part of the Spandau Citadel, one of Europe’s most important Renaissance forts, built between 1559 and 1594. Its famous wooden spiral staircase was reconstructed in 1964 after the neo-Gothic one of 1843.

Only in emergencies – old fire escape on a building in Boston:
Fire escape Boston
Image: Paul Keleher

Those who like to go spelunking may want to tour California’s Moaning Cavern. Just be warned that this rickety looking staircase is part of the package…

Dark, rickety and claustrophobic:
Moaning Cavern
Image via atlasobscura

The Statue of Liberty in New York, though exhilarating to get to, rich in history and an important monument, is not for those with an aversion to cramped spaces and climbing tiny, dizzying steps in one direction.

Looking up at the steel construction:
Statue of liberty
Image: lemoncat1

This staircase used to take tourists up – no longer because of security reasons:
Statue of Liberty
Image: lemoncat1

Climbing up to the crown:
statue of liberty
Image: Katy Warner

Iraq’s Malwiya Tower:
Malwiya Tower
Image: Jim Gordon

Then, there are buildings that are only staircases – the spiral minaret, or Malwiya Tower, above at the Great Mosque of Samarra, 125 km (78 miles) north of Baghdad, is one of them. Commissioned and built in the 9th century, at 52 m high and 33 m wide at the base, it was for a long time the world’s largest mosque. Though the ramp spiraling up to the top is quite broad, there’s no protection on the sides; one step too far and it’s a free fall down.

Here’s an image with people, tiny in comparison:
Image: Izzedine

Anyone who has been inside the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s monumental church in Barcelona, Spain, will agree that its long and winding stone staircases in each 170 m-tall spire are by far the building’s scariest features – about 20 stories tall without a handrail.

This is just the beginning…
Sagrada Familia
Image: wendy

… or option 2, the elevator:
Sagrada Familia lift
Image: Reckless

…before you know it, you look down at something like this:
Sagrada Familia
Image: Travis Miller

Says photographer Travis Miller about how he took the shot above: “I was the only person in the towers this day and going down was quite the mental challenge to keep my mind focused on the task at hand…don’t know if I could handle it today … I was tottering quite badly.”

Sagrada Familia
Image: Gary Denham