Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Super Mario... Wurm?

If you've recently received an email with an attachment that contains a seemingly harmless .exe file and tells you that the attached file is a Mario game, Beware! The attached file is actually a Mario side scrolling game with a Romario-A worm running in the background! Always exercise caution when opening attachments, especially .exe formats!

According to Ben Camm-Jones of www.webuser.co.uk:

Once it has infected your PC, the worm then attempts to mail itself to contacts in the recipient's address book as well as spreading on USB drives and other removeable media.
And Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos:
Fraudsters are constantly innovating to find new ways of tapping into users' psyches to tempt them into clicking on infected links and attachments, This kind of attack is particularly stealth-like because nostalgic gamers can actually play the game once they click, giving them no reason to suspect that something more sinister is lurking beneath

Starbucks prices soar!

Coffee Junkies now have to pay even more at Starbucks, which has boosted it's price on coffees, lattes, frappuccinos by three percent - about nine cents a cup nationwide.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hello Business Cards anyone? Gold Hello Kitty Business Cards?

To commemorate Hello Kitty's 33 anniversary, Sanrio would be issuing limited edition Hello Kitty Business cards made of pure gold (99.99%)! Weighing 1g, the business card contains all of Kitty's vital stats like her real name, date of birth, zodiac sign, and even her blood type! Because this IS real gold, the card will be sold at 10500 Yen or $85! Order yours here (if you understand Japanese)!

NASA Astronauts Drunk on the Job???

The Difference Between the iPod and MP4 players

Friday, July 27, 2007

China Cracks Down On Unlicensed Cellphones

Apple's iPhone not that hyped up!

The highly anticipated debut of the Apple iPhone was marred by disappointing preliminary activity. Analysts expect to get a clearer picture on the long-term sales trend for the device when Apple releases quarterly results on Wednesday.

Conway G. Gittens reports from New York

US war veteran gets a new (bionic) hand!

A US war veteran who lost his hand in Iraq is showing off the world's first bionic hand with independently moving fingers.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Play Pokemon Online!

Ever wanted to play Pokemon again? But lost your cartridges or your Gameboy? Want to challenge friends online without the hassle of linking your Gameboys and going to the Pokemon center to link? Look no further, just head to Pokemon Crater's site and experience Pokemon online with friends! Below is a sample screen shot of the my Pokemon team within Pokemon Crater.

Like the real Pokemon games, your team is limited to six Pokemon and your attacks are also limited to four attacks. But unlike the real games, the Pokemon do not benefit from stat increases when leveling up and additional attacks. When leveling up, your Pokemon get an increase in HP and when at the appropriate level (usually 16 and 36) you have the choice of evolving them and get a whole new attack skill set (replaces the old four, so choose wisely).

Shown above is an example of a battle. As you can see, you have four attacks to choose from and so does your enemy! The attacks have different elemental attributes associated with them like thundershock is obviously electric. The elements have different effects on the Pokemon, some can be effective, not very effective, or have no effect at all! One thing I didn't like was that attacks with varying attack stages like pin missile, where you attack your enemy for a random number of times. In Pokemon Crater, pin missile is treated as one attack compressed into one.

To capture and heal Pokemon you naturally need items, shown above is the item shop where you can buy items to use.

Now I bet your wondering how do players get around the Pokemon world? Shown above is the interface of the Pokemon world in Pokemon Crater. You can move around be clicking on any of the visible red arrows to move your avatar (highlighted by a yellow outline and arrow). The other people you see on the map are actually other human players, who you can click on to view their information or issue battle challenges. Also, as you move around the map, you will randomly encounter Pokemon available for capture!

I'll leave you to explore (which is half the fun) and maybe you can find me online. I'm thor787 within the game!


Friday, July 20, 2007

Got an iPhone? Wrap it up in style!

Lucky or wealthy enough to get your hands on an iPhone? Wrap it up in style with these two great looking iPhone cases to protect your "precious"! The case shown above is from DLO,
a company that specializes in accesories like iPod to iPhone cases, earphones and so much more!

If you have cash to burn, why not dress your iPhone in an equally expensive Louis Vuitton iPhone case! The leather case fetches about $1250... Why not buy another iPhone eh? =D

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mac or PC?

Check out this rap parody on the seemingly never ending war between the Mac and PC! Enjoy!


Monday, July 16, 2007

For all your back-up needs! All 1TB of it!

Another sweet looking backup solution from TrekStor, the Data Station duo w.c packs a lot of data at 1 TB! Being an external 3.5" hard disk drive, and a big boy at that, TrekStor integrates an onboard power supply (100V - 240V) sans the noisy fan. Read speed is 24.5 MB/s and write speed at 16.0 MB/s. Connecting it to a computer is simple as plugging the USB 2.0 connector to any USB 2.0 compatible port as the Data Station comes preformatted to work on the fly without the help of drivers. The Data Station runs without a hitch on Vista (all of the Windows OS from Win 98 SE to Vista work), Linux, and Mac OS X. If you want a copy of the Data Station's Data Sheet, click here.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Cool Imation Flash Wristbands

Imation's great looking wristbands aren't just for show, they feature a fully functional flash disk drive embedded within the wristband itself! Now you can take your data anywhere without having to dig your pockets or have it dangling on your neck! Imation also gives you the choice to customize your wristband, the following are the customizable features:

  • Color
  • Drive Capacity
  • Your logo
  • pre-loaded files (optional)
Check out Imation's Page on the Flash Wristband here.


Mario Party 8 Recalled due to offensive word!

Nintendo issues this press release that notifies the public that it would recall it's Mario Party 8 game:

The above game was launched in the UK today. Unfortunately we have discovered that a small number of games contain the wrong version of the disk due to an assembly error. We have therefore decided to recall all copies of the game from UK retailers so that this mistake can be corrected.

We will re-launch Mario Party 8 in the UK as soon as possible and will announce a new launch date shortly. We very much regret any inconvenience caused.

But contrary to it's press release statement, Nintendo's real reason for the recall is because of the word "Spastic". Although it's meaning can vary from culture to culture, in European countries (especially the UK), the word spastic refers to someone afflicted with cerebral palsy. It is similar to calling them retard, dimwits, etc.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Extreme Gaming PC - Dell's XPS 720 H2C!

Taking gaming PC's to the extreme, Dell now includes the H2C Version of it's XPS line of performance PC's. There are so many cool features (I begin to drool and cry when I see the specs!), that I don't know where to begin - almost every aspect of the XPS H2C is mouth-watering!

Maybe a good place to start would be the CPU included in the XPS. A consumer is given three choices to when choosing the CPU:
  • Intel® CoreTM 2 Extreme QX6700 Factory Overclocked to 3.46GHz
  • Intel® CoreTM 2 Extreme X6800 Factory Overclocked to 3.73GHz
  • Intel® CoreTM 2 Extreme QX6800 Factory Overclocked to 3.73GHz
All three are overclocked Quad-Core suckers! All four cores are designed to execute four separate threads concurrently resulting in blazing fast processing and rendering! The XPS also comes bundled with NVIDIA's nForce 680i SLI MCP core logic chipset, which allows two graphic cards to concentrate their capabilities to render one image, as if four simultaneous thread weren't fast enough for Dell!

To add to the sweetness of the XPS, Dell includes a pair of Corsair Dual Channel 4GB RAM that operates @ 800MHz. If your have a 64-bit OS, Dell also offers the 8GB version. For the hard disks the XPS H2C supports up to four SATA Hard Disk Drives. Configured as RAID 0 or 1, the XPS can support up to 2.75TB of data and up to 1TB of data on a single connection.

This being a top of the line gaming machine, it goes without saying that the XPS will include two SLI enabled NVIDIA 8800 GTX graphics cards, the first card to incorporate and fully support Microsoft's DirectX 10 Technology. The 8800 also features NVIDIA's PureVideo technology making HD and blue-ray capable!

Helping the 8800 GTX is the uber cool AGEIA® PhysX Accelerator. The accelerator renders particles to their highest possible level further pushing the physics engine and greatly improving the user experience.

Simply overclocking and plugging in all the best components you could think of would be futile if you didn't have the proper gear to handle all the heat! At the heart of Dell's XPS H2C System is Dell's sexy looking cooling solution which features a two stage cooling system, from Dell's XPS web page:
The H2C hybrid solution combines a liquid radiator, a thermoelectric cooling module and control circuitry, optimizing CPU cooling with minimal power consumption. The result is a processor that stays cool when it's overclocked.
If you're curious on why Dell named the XPS with the H2C? R134A refrigerant or CH2FCF3, which is the cooling liquid used in the system.

And did I mention the price tag? For just $5939 you can experience one of the best gaming experiences currently available in the market! Start saving! =)

All images taken from Dell's XPS website


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Microsoft releases critical .NET patch!

Microsoft is planning to launch 6 patches that target 3 Critical, 2 Important and 1 Moderate vulnerabilities in Microsoft products. From the July 2007 Security Bulletin Summary, there are currently 3 critical Remote Code Execution vulnerabilities, which Microsoft states as: "considered to be the worst vulnerability, given that it leaves systems vulnerable to hijacking." The affected systems affected are Office, Excel, Windows and surprisingly the .NET framework (the framework has it's own form of security in the form of the Code Access Security (CAS)).

Some of the reported implications of Remote Code Execution are that crafty hackers can remotely access your computer and websites, enabling them to run scripts and initiate Denial of Service (DOS) attacks. Another implication is programs that are programmed using the .NET framework are vulnerable and software companies are skeptical if the patch will adversely affect their software's performance.


Wii Laptop - Weeee!

A great invention by Benjamin Heckandorn, here is a invention that has both the capability to sense the movements of the controller and display the output in a small but effective 7 inch screen. You can also download a cool demonstration video from the inventors here! Key Features:

  • 16:9 widescreen LCD, 7-inch diagonal.
  • Stereo sound
  • Gamecube controller port
  • Built-in short range Sensor Bar
  • Ports for using original Sensor Bar and A/V output jacks (for use on external display)
  • Built-in power supply and compartment for power cord
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 7.7 x 2-inches


Monday, July 9, 2007

It's Summer, Go Swimming - With your iPod?

Fancy listening to your favorite music while scuba diving? H20Audio has a product that suits most outdoor and underwater excursions. Although it is submersible, there are limits off course to how deep you can go, due to pressure and all! Here are the features of the submersible iPod (video) casing:

  • Submersible up to 10ft/3m (when paired with H2O Audio Waterproof Headphones)
  • Commander™ Scroll Wheel allows function of the iPod Click Wheel in the water or while wearing a glove

  • LatchTight™ locking system

  • SealTight™ connector (compatible with standard 3.5mm headphone plugs)

  • Sport Armband included

  • *H2O Audio Headphones are NOT included


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Rubik's Cube Solved - By a Lego Brainstorm Robot!

Ever tried solving the Rubik's cube? I tried it once during grade school and failed miserably! I tried solving it again during college when a friend brought one to school, and to no surprise, I still failed miserably (although I broke my family's Rubik's cube and arranged it to it's correct form to give me satisfaction!). Even 95% of Mensans (group of people with incredibly high IQ's) are unable to solve the cube!

Many have also tried to use computers to help solve the Rubik's cube, some have even created computer aided machines to help solve the cube. This is where the Lego Rubik Utopy(LRU) comes in. Created and programmed by a cool Italian dude named Daniele Benedettelli, the LRU is able to solve the cube in 1 min and 45 seconds! Daniele's inspiration for the LRU comes from JP Brown's CubeSolver.

Pictured the left is the User Interface (UI) of the LRU, and is the brain of the LRU. The algorithm he used was the Iterative Deepening A*, and if I remember my Artificial Intelligence right, it is a depth-first search used to look for the best path (least cost) to the best solution. Daniele also used Lego Brainstorm's new brick set - NXT (JP Brown uses the old RCX brick set). The LRU features 3 servo motors with the help of light and touch sensors to power the arm and turn the cube for adjustment. And did you notice the web cam? It is responsible for capturing the current position of the face colors, and sends the information back to the UI for processing.

Below is a sample shot done by Daniele. It's really scary to think that people like Daniele can already solve puzzles like this! Now I just have to practice once more and hopefully crack the puzzle!


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Future of Robotic Warfare

Wartime casualties, the bane of a country's war effort. Currently unavoidable, but with ever advancing breakthroughs in the field of robotics and electronics, inventors and scientists are coming up with advanced application of robots that can sense the world around them and hopefully can be absorbed into the military.

Pictured above is the Samson Remote Control Weapons Station, which the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) plans to install near the Gaza Strip to prevent Palestinian militants from crossing into Israeli territory. The weapon would be remotely controlled by fiber optics wired to a remote operation station and is configured to act as a robot sniper with 1500-meter-deep no-go zone.

Another robotic weapon designed for the navy is a project named "Project Trident Strike" developed by the Mapua Robotics Team from Mapua Institute of Technology (Philippines). The project is currently sponored by the Philippine Navy Sea Systems Command. The project description from the Mapua Robotics site:

This project is a remotely operated sentry gun which can be mounted on naval gun ships or in strategic locations for perimeter defense. Utilizes the Armed Forces' 50 cal. machine guns and is protected with a high impact bullet resistant plate armor
Three Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) cameras are mounted on different locations atop the machine, providing a wider view range and cleared line of sight . The Gun Director may the view 3 corresponding LCD monitors and a robotic remote control system to aim the turret from a safe location, such as a command center or a boat's cockpit.
Seeing the potential of the wireless controlled weapon, the Mapua Robotics team went on to develop a land-based robot named "Project Phalanx", aslo sponsored by the Philippine Navy Sea Systems Command. The project description also from the Mapua Robotics team:
A mobile version of Project Trident Strike a multi-tasking Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) using wireless technology. Provided with a detachable chassis depending on the task to be done such as Bomb Disposal, terrain surveillance or Assault.


Sunday, July 1, 2007

1000 years to a Habitable Mars!

According to Robert Zubrin, the founder of the Mars Society, it would take approximately 1000 years for us humans to breathe oxygen and go bouncing on mars grown grass! But to jump start the thousand year dream, we have to get the planet Mars heated up to acceptable heat levels to allow it to sustain an atmosphere capable of keeping the greenhouses gases within and melt those polar ice caps for a sustainable flow of water. There are five steps outlined by Robert Zubrin to achieve the 1000 time frame for a habitable Mars.

  1. Heat the planet up! - Mars needs to have the right temperatures and the necessary greenhouses to sustain life. Ideas like building a giant orbiting mirror to heat up the planet, bombarding Mars with ammonia asteroids, and building factories that would continuously pump CO2 into Mars atmosphere a la Earth style, are just some of the proposed ideas to warm the planet.
  2. Free the trapped CO2 Gases found in soil - Releasing the trapped gases in Mars' soil would introduce more CO2 in the atmosphere and further kick the heat notch a bit.
  3. Plant gardens all over Mars! - With the expected influx of water by a now heated Mars, plants should now be planted like crazy to convert some of the CO2 into Oxygen!
  4. Harvest decaying Planets - Yeah, we have plants all over the place, but once they start to decay, they give off some CO2, potentially wrecking the progress of the CO2-Oxygen conversion. The plants should be regularly checked and harvested when signs of decay start to crop up.
  5. Sit and Wait for 1000 years - 1000 years? Zubrin's calculated estimate for the plants planted on Mars to provide enough Oxygen for humans to breathe Martian air unassisted! And while we wait, we should continue to plant more plants to ensure that the 1000 year target is reached!


Build a PC for less than $80!

For just exactly $72 you could set up your own mini computer! Here is the parts and cost breakdown (from PopSci's article) :

As for the OS, since the total price of the mini computer should be ideally less than $100, the best alternative would be to get a USB flash drive (512MB should suffice) and load it with Damn Small Linux. Which is the portable version of Linux which can be booted from the flash drive. One of the best applications you could get your mini computer to do is usrf the Internet, provided you have a Wi-Fi card compatible with Linux and a browser to enable you to do the actual surfing! A FREE and also portable alternative is FireFox - Portable Edition. At 25MB (6MB to download) you have a fully functional FireFox that you can take anywhere along with your bookmarks, extensions, and saved passwords along with you!

Click here for instructions for the assembly and OS installation guide from Popular Science.