What is this?

I have fond memories in my childhood of trying to figure out puzzles and feeling a bit of warm self-satisfaction when I was able to figure them out on my own.  One of my favorite puzzles in particular was in a famous gaming magazine that had a monthly section in which they would feature several close-ups of objects, and you would have to figure out what they were from the visual perspective they provided.  I thought I would try something of the same, but geared only toward technology.  Below is a picture of such an object.  Please submit your guesses in the comments section, and the first person to guess correctly will have their name featured as the winner in the next puzzle picture!  (Geeknews staff are excluded)  Good luck!

What is this??

Financial Support For D&D Clubs!

Wizards of the Coast “Dungeons and Dragons” division is providing US$20,000 to D&D clubs in an effort to help continue, expand and perpetuate the roleplaying genre. This initiative is being billed as the “Expand your Role” Grant. (Clicky)
DND Table

Who is eligible?

Any roleplaying club that is passionate enough to apply! Note: And must be governed or sponsored by a college or university!

How many Expand Your Role Grants are available?

A minimum of 15 grants will be issued to clubs.

How much financial support is available through the Expand Your Role Grant?

Clubs can apply for a grant amount ranging from a minimum of $50 to a maximum of $1,000. Applicants must provide a detailed budget for their anticipated costs.

How do I apply?

Using the online application provided (25k), tell them in 500 words or less how a Grant from Dungeons & Dragons will benefit the club, provide a brief background/history on the club, and describe how D&D has made a positive impact on your life.

Zombie Invasions!

In an effort to aquire some material for another article, I stumbled across this amusing site, called the “Zombie Preparedness Initiative”.  They present a lighthearted view on how to gear up for an imminent zombie incursion on the world.  You can find all sorts of advice here – from escape plans and safe encampment locations, to self defense and general life saving tips.


Now, aside from the fact that I find this most humorous, and right up there with the UFO groups that litter the world, some people may find informative and useful information contained within.  All I can say, is that if zombies begin overrunning the streets, I’m most likely a goner anyways…so good luck with your zombie plans!

Virtual Freedom

Virtual Reality has been a well covered subject in the past two decades.  Prime examples of VR are in movies like “The Lawnmower Man” and “TRON”, TV shows like “VR.5” and “Harsh Reality”, and cult favorite books such as “Necronomicon” and “Otherland”.  All of these examples have one theme in common that reality does not…full freedom of unrestricted movement within a virtual environment.

VirtueSphere, Inc. is going to take us there.

Transparent VirtueSphere

The VirtuSphere platform is a large hollow sphere that sits on top of a roller-type base and allows the sphere to rotate 360 degrees. Wearing a wireless head mounted display, users can climb inside the sphere to fully interact with intuitive virtual landscapes. The VirtuSphere enables 6 degrees of freedom – one can move in any direction; walk, jump, roll, crawl, run over unlimited distances without encountering real-world physical obstacles.

I’m sold!  Send mine via Geeknews, please 🙂  Seriously though, this is an incredible achievement, and a immersive means with which to train soldiers, or have alot of gaming fun.  I’d recommend taking a stroll around their website, the applications for this technology are “virtually” limitless!  (Pun intended)

The Wii-mote, A Breakdown In Motion

Okay, so perhaps this is a stretch.  If in your infinately turmoiled mind you happened to think to yourself, “Just how does that thing work anyways?”  We have an answer for you.  Two writers from the New York Times collaborated to bring us a breakdown of the dynamics of the wii-mote innards, and just how it works the way it does.

Wii-mote Dismantled

 Not that the slideshow goes terribly in-depth on the controller, but at least you get an idea on how it functions in relation to the Wii and in the various games it controls.  I’ve never used one myself, but the die-hard Nintendo Kiddies I know say they wouldn’t trade their treasured console for anything…right up until the first time the Wii-mote strap breaks and takes out a TV, stereo, window, etc.  I’ll wait for someone to develop a type of ultra-sensitive motion detector for a console, so that way I can flail my arms about without the encumberance of holding a 2lb plastic missile 🙂

New Train Sim Up Ahead – Do You Care?

A new TrainSim is coming ’round the track!

For the love of all that’s holy, why?

What was the appeal in the original version?

It’s a train, it goes forward and it goes backward. You hook up box cars to it, you disconnect box cars from it. There’s different models of trains. Then you’re done, right? Right?

Don’t get me wrong, i’m not mocking the development team and I’m sure it’s a fine and accurate simulator, but rather where’s the intellectual stimulation or challenge here in participating in the sim? It appears to just be a method to engage in a mindless activity in an effort to dissipate some stress and watch interesting scenery. Perhaps as a form of meditation?

Are there really this many train enthusiasts in the world that the product can be profitable?

Train sim

MIT Makes In-Roads Towards Developing Real Spiderman

MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN) claims in the Jan issue of “Nature Materials” that it has developed a process that delivers a material that emulates the elasticity and strong properties of spider silk that can be used in military products and even Spider-Man-like fabrics, not to mention fuel-cell cells and medical devices.

synthetic spider silkSpider silk is lightweight, flexible, waterproof and one of the toughest materials in the world. It’s also extremely difficult to imitate or produce artificially. To develop the materials, MIT started with tiny clay discs at about 1-nm in diameter. The researchers developed a process to embed these clay chips in a rubbery polymer to get to the consistency of the very small crystals that are seen throughout real spider silk. The high reinforcement of of the silk comes from these crystals, or in the case of the synthetic silk, it comes from the methods used to embed the clay disks. 

The end result is a “nanocomposite” of stiff clay particles dispersed throughout a stretchy matrix that is now stronger and tougher. The clay platelets are distributed randomly in the material. Consequently the nanocomposite material is reinforced in every direction and the material exhibits very little distortion even when heated to temperatures above 150 degrees Celsius.

This work is largely funded by the US Army, but interest in this silk doesn’t stop there. Manufacturers in various industries have been trying to be the first to create this artificial fiber since the 1990’s. Imagine weaving silk to create a bullet-proof vest that weighs a few ounces. Or a better fabric that absorbs your sweate and wicks it out as the ultimate in breathable clothing.

A Real HALO Suit

Canadian inventor Troy Hurtubise, is famous for creating the well known “Bear Suit” that was built to withstand the attack of a grizzly bear, and also proven to take to ramming of a moving vehicle.  Continuing on with this legacy, he has created a HALO like suit designed for use by soldiers in the Canadian and US military(s).

 HALO Suit

He has spent two years and $15,000 in the lab out back of his house in North Bay, designing and building a practical, lightweight and affordable shell to stave off bullets, explosives, knives and clubs. He calls it the Trojan and describes it as the “first ballistic, full exoskeleton body suit of armour.”

Now that’s what I call an impressive piece of hardware.  Even though he expects to make a living out of producing these suits, I’m curious what the DoD would have to say about it?  Also, alot of blogs, and the such have been tagging this as a suit designed off of the popular game “HALO: Combat Evolved”. Though this may be true, a few seconds of looking at the picture above will convince you that perhaps the funcationality might be the same as intended in the game, it bears little resemblance.  All that aside though,  if I could afford one, and I could fit my hefty butt into it, I’d get one just to trudge around my sleepy little town scaring the heck out of people!

Logitech® diNovo Edge™

If you put a premium on your keyboard having both function and style, here is the keyboard for you!  Logitech flew right past just mere functionality with its high-tech silent-spring keys, to the efficient touchdisk for alternate mouse control.  The navigation features of the Logitech keyboard are carefully designed to deliver premium performance, whether with a PC in the office or in the living room — using all the different flavors of Windows, even the upcoming Windows Vista operating system. The keyboard has a special start key that launches the Vista start menu, and an F-key search button provides one-touch access to Vista’s search feature. The Logitech diNovo Edge keyboard is expected to be available in the U.S. and Europe beginning in November. Its suggested retail price is a hefty $199.99


 Logitech diNovo Edge with charger   Logitech diNovo Edge side view

Now I’m a serious ergonomic freak when it comes to keyboards, and I find it difficult to “come down” to a standard keyboard when called for.  However, Logitech products have always served me well enough in the past, that I just might buy this unit.  The functionality alone makes the purchase well worth the consideration, and the slick lasercut plexiglass face, with brushed aluminum chassis makes this unit a practical showpiece for any person’s computer.  Regardless, I think i’ll wait until I can pick this up for under a hundred turtlebacks.


Running WordPress On Your PC

Geeknews.net is running WordPress. And thanks to this article from Geeks Are Sexy, my life has been made just a tad more sane.

You see, I’m a relative newbie to WP but i’m already a big fan. When I started hosting this site I settled on the Binary Blue theme, while I like most of its look and feel, i’m regretting some of its cumbersome features and would like to switch to a new theme.

The good news is that switching to a new theme in WP is so easy it’s almost ridiculous.

The bad news is that I have so many small custom changes in the php scripts and css files that I would have to invest at least 3-5 hours fixing up a new theme to replace it, meanwhile the formatting on the live site would likely be hosed or a little off-kilter until it was all cleaned up.

Welp, that article from GAS is a tutorial that walks you through the 9 steps to get WP installed and running on Windows XP, allowing me to tweak any new themes to my hearts content before transferring it to the live site.

Your Car Can Be A Wi-Fi Hotspot

We are a mobile oriented society, plain and simple.  Whether it’s your cellphone, laptop, blackberry or pager, we’re all connected to a global network of communication that allows instant contact between people.  To further this cause, the unique individuals over at AutoNet Mobile have introduced a new solution for on-the-go folks like you and me. 

AutoNet Mobile   AutoNet Mobile Coverage

AutoNet makes it easy for any wireless device to connect to their broadband mobile network, and let car passengers check email, surf the web, game or communicate globally.  So devices ranging from laptop computers to mobile media players, from Wi-Fi cameras to Wi-Fi phones like the VoIP Skype Phone, and from stationary videogame consoles to handheld gaming units like the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS, internet action on the road never became easier.

I applaud the advent of this technology, regardless of the pricetag, because I’m a gamer at heart.  If I can frag my friends while travelling along I-5, then bring it on!  I’ve seen enough of those lucky people in japan that can use their laptops in the subways and train networks, I want some of that action too.

What’s unique about Autonet Mobile is our Patent Pending TRU Technology that performs session, link and content management on the network so you don’t experience disconnects while in motion.

Think of it as having your own built in personal agent in the box managing your connection. This technology enables us to provide you continuous connectivity so you can have a rich multi-media experience in the car.

We run over both 3G and 2.5G (EVDO, 1xRTT) cellular Data networks. Simply plug the in-car router into your cigarette car lighter, connect your WiFi device(s) and surf the net.

 I would really like to give this a try.  Although they claim a 95% coverage in the US (see picture above), I can think of a few heavily mountained and well wooded areas that can give this service a run for it’s money.  If you have any experience with this service, let us know how it works for you!


Amiga OS Making A Comeback

Remember when computing was fun?  Amiga, Inc. and Hyperion Entertainment revitalize an old OS, and with a complete makeover, new programming, and state of the art memory management, unveiled the new AmigaOS4.0

Whether you are one of the thousands of dedicated enthusiasts for the platform, an ex-user curious to see what’s going on, or are completely new to the Amiga experience, you can be sure that this new ressurection of an old favorite is sure to provide a unique perpsective to your computer.

The last time I saw an Amiga computer, I was still trolling BBS’s on my Apple 2e with a 2400 baud modem!  After strolling through their website, I think they might have something there.  I’m not positive it will offer a serious alternative solution to the current main players in the OS market,  but it certainly will be an entertaining and refreshing view to something different.

MGM Greenlights New Stargate Movies

Wow, even though i’ve been suffering with a cold most of the week, this announcement really made my week: MGM is committing to two direct-to-DVD movies to extend the Stargate franchise. Now with two movies on the horizon I Stargatedon’t have to worry about where my next fix is coming from.
You see, we learned last year that Stargate SG1 was on its last legs, it’s last season after 10 fruitful years as the longest running sci-fi series ever (yes, longer than ‘Star Trek: TNG’). We’re currently in the mid-season break with about 10 more episodes to go until we’re left with just Stargate Atlantis to fill our needs.

The two movies are tentatively called: “Stargate: The Ark of Truth” and “Stargate: Continuum”. Below are the synopses for the new movies [alert: might be considered spoilers by some folks]:

Stargate: The Ark of Truth

As SG-1 searches for an Ancient artifact which they hope can defeat the armies of the Ori, they learn more Ori ships are about to be sent through the supergate to launch a final assault on Earth. Daniel discovers that the artifact, the Ark of Truth, may be in the Ori home galaxy, and SG-1 embarks aboard the Odyssey to find it, and pre-empt the attack. The IOA has a plan of their own and SG-1 ends up in a distant galaxy fighting two powerful enemies.

Stargate: Continuum

While SG-1 attends the execution of Ba’al, the last of the goa’uld system lords, Teal’c and Vala inexplicably disappear into thin air. Carter, Daniel and Mitchell race back to a world where history has been changed: the Stargate program has been erased from the timeline. As they try to convince the authorities what’s happened, a fleet of goa’uld motherships arrives in orbit, led by Ba’al, his queen, Katesh, (Vala) and his first prime, Teal’c. SG-1 must find the Stargate and set things right before the world is enslaved by the goa’uld.

Asus XG Station

Another goodie from the CES Pre-show is the Asus solution to weak laptop video adapters.  The XG station provides laptop users an external unit in which you can plug in your favorite aftermarket video card and pump pixel goodness into your laptop’s screen.  Due out the first quarter this year, I’m anticipating this will be a well sought after item for gamers with underpowered or non modular video adapters.

Asus XG Station

Initial reviews of this product seem good at this point.  We’ll see how the XG Station holds up to normal abuse when gamers and video enthusiasts get their hands on it.

A “Windows” to the Past

Occasionaly, you come across something from the past that makes you just sit back and think…”what the heck were they thinking??”  Some ideas were meant to stay on the drawing board….and this video, my friends, should have been one of them.  But, prepare yourself for a laugh – this video is mundane until about the seven minute mark, then….well, you’ll just have to see for yourself.


Windows 386 Promo Video

If you survived watching the entire video, I congradulate you 🙂

Wii-mote Recharger

We missed this one during all the other CES buzz, better late than never.

The Wii controllers chew up batteries while you’re playing Tennis or Flipping Burgers in your virtual world, Nyko has a solution for your battery use in the form of a charging station. You replace the batteries with their nicad battery pack that allows you to drop the Wii-mote into a charging station when not in use. Brilliant! It’ll be available on Jan 23, you can pre-order it from Amazon for US$29.99 here.

I hear it won’t work with the Wii Nunchuck Controllers though.

wii-mote charger

Yet Another PMP To Choose From

Yep.  This little jewel was dropped in my box today.  I know what you’re thinking….”Yippee, another PMP joins the well beaten market!”  Personally, I feel that way.  A year ago, I would have looked on AOL and Haier’s offering as just joining the personal media bandwagon.  But now, sadly, dropping this unit in the field this late in the game won’t cause much of a stir.


Wifi, Bluetooth, Touchpad navigation etc. The Wifi on this player goes a bit further than Microsoft’s Zune implementation, You can purchase music, transfer music wirelessly and stream internet radio stations.

This device has a 30gb HDD, and supports mp3, wma, acc, wav, Mpeg-4, WMV, H.264, and AVI …and will retail for $249.99

A Sneak Preview – The Orb

Have you ever wanted to see a spectacular colorful display of lights spinning at a rate of 1600 rpms?  Then check out this beauty!  Here we have an ingenious design by James N. Sears, a designer and programmer of impressive talent.

 Orb Ring  Orb Earth

The Orb is a large plexiglass ring laced with a series of powerful multi-color LEDs, and mounted on a large mechanical arm.  Pair that with a formidable industrial motor, custom electronics and programming, and you have an impressive display of lights that can portray a striking array of visual effects.  According to the creator, it was a long journey to get where it is today, but the efforts were definately worth it in the end.

Score one for an artist with a cause!

DIY: Eletrical Chair

Knuttz.net has easy-to-follow diagrams to build your own electric chair. Hey, i’m just the messenger here, not sure why you’d want this, but if you’re electrically inclined or have a degree in electrical engineering you can plainly see the principles here and how easy this should be.

If that’s too much for you, then maybe you’re interested in the timeline for ‘old sparky’? It starts with the year 1881 and ends with 1989 and Ted Bundy’s demise.

Oh, and check this out, the State of Tennessee’s “Modular Electrocution System Manual“. The things you find on the net nowadays just doesn’t surprise me anymore.