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NASA underwater testing slimmer suits for spacewalking on asteroids (video)

In a tank of water in Texas, NASA’s busily testing its wardrobe for a future Armageddon-esque mission. The space agency has been taking advantage of its Neutral Buoyancy Lab near the Johnson Space Center in Houston to run a some new space suits through the wringer. The suits are a modified version of the pumpkin-colored launch and reentry Advanced Crew Escape System (ACES) that NASA started employing back in 1994. The tweaked versions are said to be less bulky to better fit within the spacial constraints of the Orion spacecraft and more flexible for walks on deep space missions, including journeys to relocated asteroids. Check out some of the fun in a video below.

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Via: The Verge

Source: NASA


NSA can decode many GSM cellphone calls

NSA cellphone call decryption abilities

The NSA may say that its phone surveillance efforts focus on metadata rather than the associated calls, but we now know that the agency can listen to many of those conversations whenever it wants. Documents leaked to the Washington Post by Edward Snowden confirm that the NSA can decode GSM-based cellphone calls without obtaining the encryption keys. The ability isn’t surprising when GSM has known weaknesses, but the document suggests that the NSA (and potentially other US agencies) can easily process cellphone calls worldwide. Not surprisingly, the intelligence branch argues that such cracking is necessary — folks on both sides of the law use encryption to hide information, after all. The NSA may not have such an easy time in the future, however. AT&T, T-Mobile Germany and other carriers worldwide are moving to tougher encryption methods for their GSM service, and 3G calls are typically more secure as a matter of course. These measures don’t prevent eavesdropping, but they do complicate any attempts to snoop on cellular chats.

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Source: Washington Post


As Google slowly preps the Chromecast ecosystem, waves of new apps are on the way

HBO Go, Songza and Pandora are about to get more company on Chromecast, according to a Gigaom interview with Google’s VP of product management Mario Queiroz where he stated additional waves of apps are coming soon. A public release for the Chromecast SDK — which should allow developers to build and release their own apps at will — won’t happen until next year, but this week the team gave over 40 developers access to a preview version just to get their feedback. To ensure its elegantly simple user experience remains intact across all applications, the company also recently released a 14-page design guide that details the basic expectations for the development community. An impending international release next year is also encouraging publishers to make compatible apps — moves that should benefit everyone, regardless of where they call home. Quieroz’s “broader” goal is to establish Cast tech as a standard embedded into other hardware, but until that happens there’s still time to gift-wrap a few of Google’s HDMI dongles and look like a hero all year as their capabilities continue to expand.

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Via: Android Police

Source: Google Developers, Gigaom


Android 4.3 For HTC One Mini Spotted In Europe, Now Available For Download

android 4.3 for htc one miniOwn a HTC One Mini and starting to feel left out with the HTC One and HTC One Google Play Edition getting all the update love? You won’t need to feel left out for much longer as Android 4.3 for HTC One Mini has been spotted in several European countries. The update brings in a lot of great content, not least of all the Android 4.3 update itself as well as Sense 5.5.

Probably the most intriguing update which will be appealing to quite a few One Mini users is the ability to turn off Blinkfeed. The list of updates is rounded out by updates to Video Highlights and Music which makes entire update quite a big one. 630.55MB to be exact, which has been made available to download for those of you who aren’t content to wait any longer to get Android 4.3 on your One Mini. If you are interested, you can visit the XDA Forum page below which contains the files:

XDA Forum page

If you pick up the update, or start receiving the update somewhere besides Europe, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Source: XDA


Rare Recordings from The Beatles to Launch Exclusively on iTunes Next Week [Mac Blog]

beatlesbootleg1963 A digital compilation of 59 rare and unheard recordings from The Beatles is set to be released exclusively on the iTunes Store this coming Tuesday, December 17, reports NME (via BBC).

Titled The Beatles’ Bootleg Recordings 1963, the collection of music is reportedly being released in order stop the expiration of the copyright protection surrounding the records, as the tracks themselves consist of BBC sessions, alternative versions of popular hits, and studio outtakes.

EU law protects songs for 70 years after they are recorded, but only if they get an official release. Otherwise, copyright lasts 50 years.

In the case of The Beatles, that means their 1963 debut album Please Please Me is protected until 2033, but the unreleased session tapes for that album are not.

If the Beatles chose not to release the recordings before the end of the year, it would mean other record labels could theoretically put them out and profit from them.

The Beatles’ music originally debuted on iTunes in November 2010 after years of speculation and prolonged negotiation between record label EMI and Apple. The group’s music went on to sell 2 million songs and 450,000 albums in its first week on the iTunes Store, and eventually reached overall sales of 5 million songs and 1 million albums within in two months. Exclusive ringtones by The Beatles also were made available on iTunes in February 2012.



One Step Closer: Google Acquires Boston Dynamics, Maker Of The ‘Wildcat’

google acquires boston dynamicsThis week in Skynet… I mean, Google news, the New York Times is reporting that Google has acquired Boston Dynamics, most famous for the development and testing of the Wildcat robot which mimics the running gait of a four legged animal. This follows the news from just over a week ago when we found out Andy Rubin, former champion of Android at Google, was now spearheading Google’s efforts in the robotics field. Today, Andy Rubin tweeted this to officially announce the news:

The future is looking awesome!

— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) December 14, 2013

It was revealed that over the last 6 months or so, Google had in fact acquired multiple robotics companies to contribute to their project which is going to start off focussing on developing manufacturing robotics. How this latest acquisition fits into that picture remains to be seen, especially seeing as the Wildcat is a mounted gun away from becoming a killing machine, but we’ll just have to trust that Google isn’t going to go all SkyNet on us. I’m hope they’re building a fleet of cheetah-like robotic couriers to rival Amazon’s flying couriers, though that still scares me a little.

And just in case you don’t know what the Wildcat is, or does, check out this video:

Like I said, cheetah-like robotic couriers. What were your first thoughts when you heard ‘Google acquires Boston Dynamics’? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Source: The New York TimesTwitter via engadget


New BMW M4, Ford Mustang get their first drive in Gran Turismo and Need for Speed

One great thing about racing games is that they give you a way to drive new and fancy cars anytime without having to sell a limb or two. The recently released Gran Turismo 6 and EA’s Need for Speed: Rivals, for instance, now puts you in the driver’s seats of the pricey 2014 BMW M4 Coupé and the 2015 Ford Mustang muscle car, respectively. While both rides aren’t slated for release until 2014, the games’ developers worked closely with the automakers to make the digital counterparts as detailed as possible. EA even recorded the actual sounds of the Mustang’s V-8 engine for the game. As a huge plus, they’re available as free digital downloads, so you don’t need to tap into those emergency holiday funds just to take them for a virtual test drive.

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Via: Joystiq

Source: PlayStation Blog, MotorTrend, Gran Turismo


Razer Comms For Android Available Now, Keeps You Connected Whether You’re Gaming Or Not

razer comms for androidRazer is a household name in the world of PC gaming accessories, and while they have had precious little to do with mobile devices in general, they’ve just released an Android app that’s going to make a lot of gamers happy. Razer Comms for Android is an app that allows you to remain connected to your Razer Comms friends wherever you are or they are, whether you’re playing games or not. Whether that’s through the free VOIP service the app provides or just instant messaging, the Razer Comm app makes it a snap to communicate from mobile to PC and vice versa.

razer comms for androidThis also means you can receive SMS alerts on your PC, and accept or receive incoming VOIP calls. Needless to say, you will probably be rejecting most calls with “Can’t talk, busy gaming”. In case you were wondering how this all fits together, check out the video Razer posted to explain how to works:

Features of Razer Comms for Android:

  • Connecting Gamers – Connect with your friends or find new gamers on the world’s largest multi-platform gaming messenger.
  • Instant Messaging – Chat away with your friends 1on1 or in groups.
  • Free Voice Chat – Make your voice heard with friends on mobile and PC alike.
  • No Interruptions – The in-app overlay allows you to handle messages and calls without interrupting what you’re currently doing.
  • Stay in the game – SMS-Forwarding and Call Notifications on the PC allow you to stay connected even while you’re in-game.
  • Multi-Platform (PC, Tablet or Phone) – No matter your preference. Comms is there.
  • Always On – Never miss a message and instantly receive them with push notifications.
  • Completely Free – Razer Comms doesn’t have any hidden costs. Works over your phone’s existing data plan or any WiFi connection

Razer Comms is out now on the Google Play Store for free and is compatible with both Android smartphones and tablets. I’d also like to claim a small victory as Razer Comms is out on Android devices first, with an iOS to come early next year; you can tell Razer knows gamers well. Play Store links are below, and if you try the app, let us know how you find it.

Application: Razer Comms – Gaming Messenger

Play Store Link

Price: Free


Press Release


World’s first VoIP solution to allow gamers to make VoIP calls and messages from in-game to Android phones and tablets and vice versa

For Immediate Release:

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Dec. 12, 2013 – Razer™, the world leader in high-performance gaming hardware, software and systems, today announced the launch of the Android version of Razer Comms, its all-in-one communications solution for gamers.

The all-new Razer Comms Android app will allow gamers to take their Razer Comms experience mobile by allowing calls and messages to be made from in-game to Android phones and from Android phones to users who are in-game on the Razer Comms PC client.

“Staying connected in today’s world has become increasingly important and gamers are no exception to that,” says Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder, CEO and creative director. “Razer Comms solves that by being the world’s first VoIP solution to allow gamers to make VoIP calls or instant message with their friends on the road from in-game and vice versa.”

  1. In-game to Android/Android to in-game phone messaging and calls: PC gamers can now call or message their friends from within the game (no alt-tabbing required) and the other way round.
  2. Stay in the Game: The new update to the Razer Comms PC client allows gamers to reply to text messages or reject calls from their Android phones within the PC client, effectively eliminating the need for gamers to check their smartphones occasionally or to leave a game while in play.
  3. Compatible with Android phones and tablets. An iOS version of Razer Comms is tentatively scheduled for early 2014.

About Razer Comms:

Razer Comms is a free all-in-one communications solution for gamers, offering crystal-clear VoIP and versatile instant messaging with group chat capabilities. Built with advanced in-game overlay functionality and cross-game chat support, Razer Comms allows you to get in touch with your friends without compromising your gameplay. This is how gamers were meant to communicate.


Google acquires Boston Dynamics, the robot builder behind Big Dog and Cheetah

The New York Times reports tonight that Google has acquired Boston Dynamics, builder of terrifying walking robots DARPA-related projects like WildCat/Cheetah, Atlas, Petman and Big Dog. Andy Rubin has moved over from leading Android to directing Google’s robotics efforts and tweeted a link to the story, commenting that “The future is looking awesome!” While we’re sure it does — if you always thought the T-1000 was just misunderstood — reactions from meatbags are ranging from slightly uneasy to completely freaking out that a company with robots that go anywhere is teaming up with a company that seems to know everything about us.

There’s no word on how much Google spent to snap up the robotics company, but its founder Marc Raibert is quoted by the Times saying “I am excited by Andy and Google’s ability to think very, very big, with the resources to make it happen.” When we interviewed Raibert during Expand earlier this year (included after the break) he specifically highlighted his company’s recent growth and the possibility of building consumer-focused robots in the future.

Google apparently does not plan to proceed as a military contractor itself, although according to the article, Boston Dynamics will honor its existing military contracts. Raibert confirmed the acquisition to us, but so far neither side has commented further or explained how search ties into robots that walk on two or four legs, jump, climb and crawl. So, which one do you think will arrive first — Amazon’s flying drone delivery service or a Google Now robot that shows up at places it thinks you will be with a backpack full of things you’ve recently searched for?

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Source: New York Times


Mac Pro Launch Nears as Apple Business Staff Begin Offering Price Quotes

mac_pro_2013_roundup_headerWith potential customers of the new Mac Pro eagerly awaiting any sign of a more concrete launch date than the “December” timeframe announced by Apple at its October media event, increased activity from Apple’s business team members suggests that a launch may indeed be very near.

While Apple has publicly remained silent on pricing for various Mac Pro configurations beyond the $2999/$3999 stock models in shown in its U.S. online store, members of the company’s business sales team have on occasion been offering pricing quotes on build-to-order configurations upon request.

One Canadian forum member at posted late last month that he had been quoted $9700 for a maxed-out Mac Pro with 1 TB flash storage, 64 GB of RAM, dual AMD FirePro D700 graphics, and a 12-core processor. Given Apple’s current currency conversions, U.S. pricing should fall in the range of $9400-$9500, although that quote almost certainly incorporates a small discount made available to certain business customers. A somewhat lower-specced model with 500 GB of flash storage and an 8-core processor was quoted at $7700 Canadian.

But while Apple business team members have had some access to the full price list for the new Mac Pro for at least several weeks, team members appear to have become more proactive over the past several days, contacting business customers who had previously expressed interest in the new Mac Pro to offer them price quotes ahead of the official launch.

One MacRumors forum member yesterday posted a price quote he received from an Apple business sales representative for a build-to-order Mac Pro configuration, a higher-end stock model upgraded with additional RAM and flash storage. Pricing for that configuration came to $4464 in the quote, but retail pricing would be slightly higher.

A second MacRumors reader reported today that he was contacted by a member of Apple’s business sales team requesting desired configuration options for the purposes of generating a price quote. The Apple representative indicated that a price quote could be available by Monday, December 16, but it is unknown if that corresponds to any public release of additional information for that date.

Aside from the recent activity from Apple’s business sales team regarding the new Mac Pro, the rapidly approaching holidays also led to speculation that a Mac Pro launch could come sooner rather than later. Next week is the last full week before Christmas, and with many Apple employees having time off around the holidays, the company would likely prefer to avoid conflicts with the holidays as much as possible.

An alternative theory suggests, however, that Apple may still be working to secure the component volumes it needs to produce a launch batch of the machines. As a result, the company could have little alternative but to launch the new Mac Pro in small volumes at the very end of the month in order to technically meet its stated launch timeframe while being able to push the bulk of its initial deliveries into early 2014.


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