Category Archives: Science & Technology

Apple Reveals the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

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Apple has officially revealed the next iteration in their line of smartphones: the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both with larger screens than we have previously seen from the line.

With the iPhone 6, users will see a larger 4.7 inch retina HD screen, while the Plus model will get a  5.5 inch screen. The full 1080p HD screen features no borders with glass that covers the entire surface and curves around the edges of the thinner device.

The camera on the back does stick out a bit and still sits at 8 mega pixels but boasts a new sensor. It claims to do a better job of recognizing faces in scenes while delivering better focus, especially in low light conditions. The iPhone 6 including digital image stabilization, while the iPhone 6 Plus has optical image stabilization.

With the camera getting an upgrade, the video camera now also has a slow-motion feature to capture video at 120 fps ir 240 fps.

The screen on the iPhone 6 itself has over 1 million pixels while the Plus has over 2 millions.

Thankfully, these new releases are also 50% more energy-efficient. On the bad news side, the battery life remains about the same as the iPhone 5s.

BUT. Calls can now be made over Wi-Fi when you are in poor cell service areas.

Pricing for the iPhone 6 starts at $199 and goes to $399. The iPhone 6 Plus will start at $299, with the highest priced at $499.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will become available on September 19 and come in gold, silver, and something referred to as “space gray.”

“Today we are launching the biggest advancement in the history of the iPhone,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the start of the company’s press event in Cupertino, Calif., where Apple is headquartered.

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Samsung Unveils New VR Headset

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Samsung is getting into the virtual reality game. The company has announced their take on a VR headset called Gear VR and even better, it is powered by Oculus (the company that is pioneering us into a virtual reality age.)

The Gear VR is being powered by the Galaxy Note 4 and it is completely wireless. The Galaxy Note 4 will snap into the front of the device, in front of 3D dual lenses. It will also have a back button, touch pad, and volume controls on the surface of the headset. The device comes pre-loaded with 360 degree videos and 3D movie trailers from several studios.

The most exciting part of Samsung’s announcement is the fact that the device will be available this fall. However, no actual release date or price have been revealed. The initial release of the Gear VR will be the Innovator Edition, an early access, beta version designed for developers and fans interested in trying it before it becomes a final consumer product.

Samsung Galaxy Phone to Be Released in Metal

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Samsung has revealed the newest iteration in their “Galaxy” line of phones and it will look very similar we have seen from iPhone. The Galaxy Alpha will feature a new metal frame that has not been seen before on the Galaxies previously. 

The Alpha will also see a 4.7 inch HD screen, two quad-core processors, 2GB ram, and a 12 mega-pixel camera. Besides the metal frame, another similar feature to the iPhones, the Alpha will also have a fingerprint scanner. The upcoming iPhone 6 is rumored to have a 4.7 inch screen as well.

The operating system will be Kit Kat 4.4.4.

There is no word yet regarding which markets will get the Samsung Galaxy be released in.

A Spirograph Machine Makes Beautiful Burned Pancakes

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When I was a child, one of the only toys I wanted was a Spirograph machine. My parents REFUSED (and I never could figure out why). Now, I am wondering if I had proposed this use they may have gotten it for me. Nathan Shields has adapted the creativity machine to become something more awesome all together known as the Pangraph.

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The Pangraph uses the spiraling function of the Spirograph along with a pancake batter dispenser to create edible designs directly into the pan. It should be noted that the process does take longer to make so it is not ideal for a quick meal but rather a gorgeous one.

Unfortunately, it also creates slightly burned pancakes. They are thinner and less fluffy than a traditional one and as you can see from the photo above, darker than what you would normally enjoy to eat (unless you are a weirdo who prefers burned pancakes over light and fluffy ones.)

You can check out a video of the machine below:

Google Maps Takes You to the Moon and Mars

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Google Maps is about to make your dreams come true, well, kind of. At least as close as they can without making you go through all that expensive training that sounds frankly exhausting. The program is going to give you the chance to explore the Moon and Mars for the first time ever.

Google made the announcement last week in honor of the Curiosity Rover’s second anniversary of the Mars landing. The company released a video announcement revealing the new features that will be added to Google Maps.

In order to explore Mars and the moon, pull up the Google Earth view and zoom out completely. From there you can select either Mars or the Moon from the bottom of the screen. It should be noted that you cannot type the location in the search bar because it will not have any results. However, Google has set up two direct links that will take you where you want to go for the Moon and Mars.

Unfortunately at the moment, there is not a Google street view for the major landmarks of our favorite celestial bodies, it is still pretty amazing just how up close and personal you can get considering, you know, we aren’t even in on those atmospheres.

What Are These Strange Radio Bursts From Space?

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You probably don’t remember but way back in 2007, astronomers in Australia detected a strong burst of radio waves coming from somewhere. The burst was short and sweet but they never discovered the source. Now, 14 years later, astronomers have detected another similar spurt of waves. Unfortunately, they still have no ides where these are coming from.

It’s probably aliens, right?

Initially, the first burst, now being (FRB’s for fast radio bursts), in 2007 ended up being considered a fluke of some sort, likely interference from cosmic noise. However, with a second occurrence, astronomers think they can rule out any interference. The say these waves “”show every sign of having come from far outside our galaxy.”

Regrettably, since there have been only two FRB’s so far, not much research can happen. Astronomers really need more to figure out what is causing them. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t big for the astronomy and science community.

Laura Spitler, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany, says,

We really have no handle on what they are. Scientists are highly skeptical of such discoveries … [that] all of the bursts up until now had been discovered by the Parkes telescope was a cause of concern. Now, with the discovery of a burst from Arecibo, we are more confident that FRBs are astrophysical phenomena, and discovering and classifying them should be a priority of radio astronomical observatories in the future.

For now let’s hold out hope that we might get aliens.

The Electric Blue Lake in the Middle of the Utah Desert

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There is a gorgeous lake that exists for some reason in the middle of Moab, Utah. (Check it out on Google Maps) It doesn’t quite make sense that it is there though. However, it isn’t magic, or aliens, or anything conspiracy-related at all (unfortunately.)

According to Gizmodo:

“There is a series of evaporation ponds for potash, or salts that contain potassium used for fertilizer. But potash is actually found deep under the surface—where ancient lakes or inland seas have dried up—and these evaporations ponds are only the most visible tip of a long, elaborate mining operation.

The actual potash mine is the small smudge of white at the top center of the top photo. Here, a briny solution of salt and water is pumped into deep injection wells. Brine is used instead of water to preferentially dissolve the potash, leaving other minerals in the rock 2,400 to 4,000 feet underground undisturbed. Then the brine, now heavy with dissolved potash, is pumped back up into the evaporation pools.

The pools themselves are dyed dark blue to absorb and retain heat from the sun. In the hot, dry desert climate, it takes about 300 days for the brine to dry into salt and potash crystals. Machines scrape up these crystals from the bottom of these rubber-lined ponds, and they’re sent off for processing. In other photos, you can see the ponds in varying shades of color as water evaporates.”

So here is where it gets interesting. The mine in Utah was initially built in 1963 by the Texas Sulphur Company. It was a conventional mine but then it exploded. 25 men were trapped underground and eventually 18 men were killed. The mines would be eventually converted into a solution mining system that they use today. Yay for humans not going underground anymore!

More pictures below:

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A 3D Printer That Turns Coke Bottles Into Almost Anything

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We are getting so close to having anything we want at our fingertips. Even better using one of the most awful pieces of waste: plastic bottles. The Ekocycle Cube 3D Printer uses a new filament made in part from the bottles.

Cubify will be releasing the Ekocycle printer for $1,200 later this year. The filament cartridges will contain at least three recycled 20 oz PET plastic bottles while still retaining the flexibility and durability of standard 3D printer filament.

The filament material will only be available in a “curated” color palette of red, black, white, and natural. You can thank Will.i.am for that. He is the Chief Creative Officer of 3DSystems, which has designed the printer.

Try The Lumia 928 – You’ll Forget Why You Ever Loved iPhones

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I had been an iPhone user for a while, like years. And not just an iPhone user, a complete Apple user. Macs, iPads, iPods. Everything. Then one day, I made a switch to the Lumia 928. That’s right. A Windows Phone. The complete opposite spectrum of smartphones. Even though it took a few weeks for the shock to my system to wear off, I ended up loving the phone despite some ups and downs in the process.

The Good:

The first unit I bought was black because I figured it would look good with everything and any scratches would look minimal on it. The second unit I got was the white model which I admit looked WAY better than the black. It appeared much sleeker and overall attractive.

Coming from an iPhone what enticed me the most was the size of the screen. It is MUCH bigger. The iPhone screen can fit inside of the Lumia 928 screen. Plus the responsiveness of the touch screen is one of the best I have ever experienced. One subtle flick of your finger sends the screen reeling wherever you want to go.

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Previously when I found myself roaming about in a not so great cell service area (oh like Kentucky for example), my iPhone would die within a matter of hours. The Nokia Lumia 928 lasts much longer. On one charge, in a particularly terrible service area it would be around 12 hours before it would get close to dying. Significantly better than the iPhone. It should be pointed out that this only applies when not using frivolous apps and such in those particularly terrible areas. In good cell areas, like my big city, I still found the Lumia to have better life all together when compared to the iPhone.

The Lumia boasts a Sunlight Readability feature which is INCREDIBLE. Anyone who has ever had an iPhone knows the pain of trying to read anything in the sunlight. It is near impossible. With the Lumia, that is not a problem. The screen adjusts and you can read anything and everything no matter where you are and no matter what kind of visibility you are in. I cannot tell you how much of a step up it truly is until you experience it on your own.

As a Xbox Live gamer, I absolutely ADORE the integrated gaming between Windows Phone and my Xbox. The integration allows you to play certain Xbox games on your phone and the gamer points you earn on your phone will show up on your Xbox! I absolutely love it. You can even see you gamer avatar and adjust it on your phone, see which of your Xbox Live friends are online and what they are doing and check out the achievements you have earned so far. The Xbox integration is by far my favorite feature of the Windows Phone.

If you have a need for Microsoft Office products on the go without wanting to carry the Surface Tablet around, the Lumia also has Office products integrated. I have my work email which runs on Office Outlook synced to my phone so that I am never left out of the work loop. I love being able to see presentation and Word documents whenever I need to on my Lumia as well.

When I first switched from the iPhone I was surprised by how much better the camera is on the Lumia 928. The photos are much crisper, cleaner, and well-defined. The zoom works infinitely better than on the iPhone with the photos coming out clearer. The Lumia also has a much better rear facing camera pixel ratio.

The Bad:

The bad aspects of the phone are far outweighed by the good which is why I plan to keep it regardless of what they are. But they exist and here they are.

Currently, there are a lack of apps when compared to the Apple App Store and the Android App stores. Though on the plus side it is growing. There inst a free Spotify version, which I find very frustrating and my bank doesn’t even have Windows Phone app yet. When I first started using the Windows Phone there were not a lot of official apps for popular websites but that has started to change over the past few months so don’t let that change your mind. Vine, Instagram, and others have started creating platforms for this smartphone so it will be a matter of time before it will be just like any other. It is just a matter of hanging in there!

While the Lumia 928 is a lightweight sleek model, putting it in a case somehow made it feel bulkier and uncomfortable. The first Lumia I purchased, I made sure to put in a case. I purchased the silicon case through Verizon. I hated it. It felt somehow larger and much more uncomfortable in my hands (which are tiny by the way) so I switched to this model which was much more comfortable. Though the phone still never felt as comfortable as did without a case.

Which brings me to the worst part of the phone design. The rough edges and the reason I ended up with TWO Lumia 928’s. Despite my first 928, the black one, being in a case. It shattered. I dropped it from about a foot off the ground and the entire screen just shattered even though it was in the above mentioned Incipio Case. As you can imagine, I was beyond pissed off. I was a year from my contract renewal with Verizon. But accidents happen I suppose and the Lumia does not have rounded edges so it should be noted that impacts can be rough.

But also…

The Incredibly Annoying:

Here is what I find very annoying about the Lumia 928 but not also not enough so to switch back to the iPhone ever again.

There are not enough color choices for the tiles. I end up switching through the same five colors ever few days and it gets a bit boring. I think it would be a lot more fun to have customization color wheel or picker, rather than just 28 colors to choose from. Though that is a lot better than the iPhone where you get no choices.

I cannot use the Lumia 928 as my music player in the car. The sound is shit. I have to turn my car stereo up all the way to MAX and the phone volume up all the way to 25 just to get good sound. Then when I get out of the car I have to turn my phone volume back down to 10 (which is where i like it and it doesn’t disturb those around me when i get calls or texts.) And I have to remember to turn my car volume back down so I don’t blow my eardrums out when I turn my radio on. I find this insanely frustrating. This is the one and only time I still use my iPhone, it’s practically a $500 music player now.

Conclusion

The Lumia 928 is a magnificent phone. It is hard to find a better smartphone for the price. It has better specs, better battery life, and a better price than the iPhone and even has a batter screen. Take the plunge and try something new. You won’t regret it. I won’t ever go back to Apple as a primary phone in my life and I doubt that if you try a Windows Phone, you would either.

Blackberry Releasing Weird Box Phone This Fall

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No, Blackberry isn’t quite dead yet. This fall they are releasing a new phone that can only be described as “odd” at least as far as smartphone releases go. The square boxy phone will be called the Passport. I mean, really?

The screen has a 4.5 inch 1440 x 1440 pixel display with a full QWERTY keyboard on the bottom. The keyboard will reportedly be touch-sensitive to facilitate gestures.

Now, I actually kind of support the return of an actual button keyboard. My thumbs miss something solid to rap against. But I do not see how the Passport could fit comfortably in anyone’s hands. Nor do I see how the sharp edges could be a good idea. It is big, bulky, and all together unattractive.

The Passport will not be officially revealed until September but has been confirmed earlier this month.