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Six vehicles powered by coffee, saltwater, sewage and other crazy fuels

By Cat DiStasio

When it comes to advances in automotive technology, the search for alternative fuels is pretty exciting. Of course, you’ve heard about biodiesel engines converted to run on used vegetable oil that sputter out little more than water and the faint smell of French fries. However, there’s a slew of vehicles out there that run on all sorts of other fuels too. There’s an electric car powered by caffeine, as well as a hot rod that runs on air. Other curious fuel sources include plain old saltwater, crude made from algae, and (inevitably) there are even a number of vehicles designed to run on biogas generated from livestock waste (or, in layman’s terms, cars that run on poop). Although some may be smellier than others, these inventive energy sources offer an intriguing alternative to conventional fossil fuels.

The saltwater-powered racer

Electric cars are popping up everywhere, which is great news for the environment since these vehicles don’t emit harmful greenhouse gases. Most, though, need to be plugged in to recharge their batteries every once in a while. Nanoflowcell’s Quant e-Sportlimousine is different, because it runs on a special type of fuel made from saltwater. The gull-winged luxury car was made street legal in its birthplace of Germany, and it proves that alternative fuels don’t have to mean giving up performance. The sports car can accelerate to 62 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds.

The Carpuccino runs on coffee

The adorably named Carpuccino created a worldwide “buzz” when it first launched because the car, like so many of us, is fueled by coffee. BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory retrofitted a 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco to run on coffee grounds, which are burned to create hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Capable of traveling at a perfectly respectable speed of 60 miles per hour, the Carpuccino has to stop every 60 or so miles so the driver can empty soot and tar from the car’s filters, so it’s perhaps not the cleanest running vehicle ever. But with the equivalent of 56 espressos per mile, it’s still pretty hot stuff.

Toilet Bike Neo

To raise awareness for its environmental policies, Japanese company Toto created the “Toilet Bike Neo,” a really strange-looking motorcycle with a toilet fitted where the seat should be. The three-wheeled bike runs on biogas created from livestock waste, which is to say this motorcycle is 100-percent poo-powered. A single tank of biogas lasts up to 180 miles on the 250cc trike, but that seems like an awful long way to travel while sitting on a commode. Toto doesn’t have plans to produce more toilet-seated motorcycles, but the trend of biogas bikes might be something worth investigating.

The supercar made from veggies

The WorldFirst F3 race car built by the Warwick Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre has a body made from potatoes, a steering wheel of carrots, seats made from soybeans, and — the icing on top –runs on chocolate and vegetable oil. With the addition of a catalyst that destroys emissions as it drives, this is one green ride that shows off the true power of plants — well, that and its top speed of an incredible 125 miles per hour.

A LEGO car that runs on air

This life-size hot rod is powered by air, and it was constructed almost entirely from LEGO bricks. Steve Sammartino and Raul Oaida raised money online to fund the Super Awesome Micro Project (SAMP), which incorporates 500,000 pieces and a few load-bearing elements. Even the four orbital engines were constructed out of LEGO bricks. The car’s 256 pistons allow the car to run on air and, so far, the team has driven the LEGO car up to 20 miles per hour.

The world’s first algae-powered car

The world’s first algae fuel-powered vehicle was a plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius named the Algaeus. It debuted in 2009 on the streets of San Francisco, and the green car set off on a cross-country trek that promised to consume only 25 gallons of algae-derived ‘green crude’ without any modifications to the gasoline engine. The car was part of a cross-country caravan of green vehicles, and the trip was filmed for FUEL, a documentary about America’s dependence on foreign oil. Algae fuel is still quite a bit more expensive than gasoline, but energy companies are working to bring costs down and power more vehicles with the little green organisms.


New in our buyer’s guide: All the phones (just the good ones)

It took us a while, but now that we’ve reviewed the Moto Z, we think we’re done testing flagship phones until the iPhone 7 or next Galaxy Note come out (whichever arrives first). With that in mind, we can now confidently say that the following phones belong in our buyer’s guide: the Samsung Galaxy S7, the HTC 10 and the iPhone SE. (Sorry, LG, maybe next year.) While we were at it, we also inducted the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets, since we likely them more or less equally. And, in the less-expensive realm, we added the Roku Streaming Stick in the A/V category. Head over to our buyer’s guide hub for all the details on these and many more. That’s it for now, but stay tuned — who knows what we’ll add after the next gadget-reviewing frenzy.

Source: Engadget Buyer’s Guide


GE GAS18PSJSS Top Freezer Refrigerator with Autofill Pitcher review – CNET

The Good The Autofill Pitcher is a unique feature that works well and seems practical for daily use — a rarity with top freezers. Despite the plain-looking design, the fridge feels sturdy and well-constructed.

The Bad Storage space is cramped to begin with, let alone with the Autofill Pitcher taking up space on the top shelf. Cooling performance was also pretty unexceptional.

The Bottom Line The Autofill Pitcher is a borderline ingenious fridge feature, but the GAS18PSJSS isn’t well-rounded enough to be a top pick.

As refrigerator categories go, top freezers are the least exciting. They’re safe, they’re simple and they typically miss out on the kinds of cool features and eye-catching designs you’d expect to find in fancier, French-door models.

Enter GE, which saw an opportunity to stand out by giving the $1,000 GAS18PSJSS top-freezer fridge an intriguing new feature that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s called the Autofill Pitcher, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a pitcher that the fridge will automatically fill with fresh, filtered water whenever you dock it in place on the top shelf. It’s an admittedly cool feature that works well and makes a lot of sense, especially if you already like to keep a pitcher of filtered water on hand on the fridge.

The Autofill Pitcher is appealing enough for this appliance to earn my approval, but it’s really all the GAS18PSJSS has going for it. It’s a smallish refrigerator for the price, it was fairly mediocre in our cooling tests and, like most top freezers, it isn’t anything special to look at. Autofill is worth it, but only if you can forgive this fridge’s shortcomings.

GE’s Autofill Pitcher top freezer is a glass-half-full…
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As soon as you dock the pitcher in place, Autofill will begin filling it up.

Chris Monroe/CNET

A killer filler pitcher feature

If you’re wondering why no one thought of an auto-filling water pitcher before now, you should know that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen it. The Autofill Pitcher was actually the very first project to come out of FirstBuild, which is essentially a collaborative, open-door R&D department for GE. Back then, the Autofill Pitcher was a DIY retrofit kit that you could buy and incorporate into your existing GE fridge.

“We hypothesized that people in the maker movement would be willing to take a refrigerator and drill a hole, tag on our electronics, and add this feature,” said GE director of Research and Development Natarajan “Venkat” Venkatakrishnan when I interviewed him for a piece in CNET Magazine. “It didn’t go so well. We made about 15 and we sold about 4.”

GE didn’t give up on the idea, though — and it’s a good thing. The Autofill works like a charm, filling the pitcher to the brim in about 30 seconds. And don’t worry about overflowing: The dispenser shuts off automatically when the water level hits a clever floating sensor at the top of the pitcher. There’s also a timer at play, so if the water runs for longer than usual for some reason, it’ll shut off on its own before flooding your fridge. I’d advise patience, though — if you pull the pitcher out of place halfway through a fill-up, the dispenser dribbles.

Top-freezer fridges for around $1,000

13.5 cubic feet 17.6 cubic feet 14.2 cubic feet 15.2 cubic feet
4.0 cubic feet 6.2 cubic feet 4.1 cubic feet 6.1 cubic feet
17.5 cubic feet 23.8 cubic feet 18.3 cubic feet 21.3 cubic feet
Stainless Steel Stainless Steel Stainless Steel Stainless Steel
No Yes (+$100) No No
No Yes Yes No
399 kWh 501 kWh 363 kWh 443 kWh
$48 $60 $44 $53
$2.74 $2.52 $2.40 $2.49
$1,000 $1,200 $1,100 $1,100
$900 $1,075 $850 $900

Still, it’s a great feature, and one that makes a lot of sense if you’re already used to storing a pitcher of water in the fridge. With Autofill, you’ll never need to nag your kids or your roommate to fill it back up after emptying it.


Nexus 5X price cut to £169 at Carphone Warehouse


Cheapest UK price yet for the LG-made Nexus.

We may be rapidly approaching new Nexus season, but there’s still time to pick up a great deal on last year’s models — specifically, the LG-made Nexus 5X, which has already been discounted by various U.S. retailers. And now Brits can get in on the action, with Carphone Warehouse selling the 5X for £169 SIM-free.

That gets you a 16GB Nexus 5X in ice blue. Stump up £229 for the 32GB model and you’ll have a choice of blue or white backs for the handset. Contract deals are also available, starting at £28 per month with nothing to pay upfront, but with SIM-free pricing this low there’s little incentive to get locked into a two-year contract.

The 5X lacks the hardware muscle of its heftier sibling, but with the latest software updates it’s still a decent buy, currently occupying the top spot on our list of best cheap Android phones.

See at Carphone Warehouse

Nexus 5X

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Recommended Reading: Social media’s effect on the truth

How technology
disrupted the truth

Katharine Viner,
The Guardian

Stories spread around Facebook and Twitter before they’re even confirmed to be true. By the time they are or aren’t, it doesn’t matter. The news already made its way around the internet. Facts are often overlooked and confirmation is something sought only after a tweet is fired off. This piece from The Guardian takes a look at how we got here.

How to fix flying
Popular Mechanics

There are a lot of headaches when it comes to air travel. This series from Popular Mechanics looks at possible solutions to the most pressing issues.

Obsidian Entertainment: Survival, success and independence
Matthew Handrahan,

CEO Feargus Urquhart discusses a 13-year career in game development that includes work on Fallout and Knights of the Old Republic.

Harley Quinn breaks out in ‘Suicide Squad’
Michael Calia, Wall Street Journal

We’re still a couple of weeks away from the debut of the next DC Comics film, but The Wall Street Journal takes a look at how Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn makes the leap from The Joker’s lady to “a franchise player.”


ICYMI: Bubba Watson builds a jetpack, Facebook flies its solar drone


Today on In Case You Missed It: To celebrate the return of golf to the Olympics, PGA Tour Pro Bubba Watson is teaming up with Oakley to create the “Bubba Watson Jetpack” — a mode of transportation sure to blow the roof off of conventional golf carts. We also take a look at the maiden test flight of Facebook’s solar-powered, internet-beaming unmanned aerial vehicle, the Aquila. It didn’t crash!

And, as it’s the end of the week, we’ll recap the most important stories that you may have missed. As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.


iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Launch Predicted to Be Week of September 12th

Well-known mobile phone leaker Evan Blass has this morning predicted which week of September that Apple will announce the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

Blass, who has accurately leaked images and details about unreleased smartphones on Twitter (@evleaks) in the past, tweeted today simply “iPhone 2016 release: week of September 12th.”

Blass is better known for leaking Android-based smartphone details ahead of their official confirmation, but his prediction for the iPhone 7’s launch falls in line with Apple’s typical September iPhone announcements – the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus launched on September 9th, 2015 – making it a pretty safe bet.

iPhone 2016 release: week of September 12th.

— Evan Blass (@evleaks) July 23, 2016

Blass’s prediction follows a tweet by the blogger four days earlier in which he claimed the internal codenames for Apple’s upcoming iPhones are “Sonora” and “Dos Palos”, without specifying which is which (although the latter is a small city in California; the former is a Mexican state). Apple’s codenames for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were “N71” and “N66”, respectively.

This year’s iterations of Apple’s flagship smartphones are widely expected not to feature major design changes aside from the removal of the headphone jack, as the company is said to be deviating from its standard tick-tock upgrade cycle in order to introduce major new features in next year’s 10th anniversary “iPhone 8” which take time to develop.

This year the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 is expected to get an improved camera and optical image stabilization, while the larger 5.5-inch model is thought to be gaining a dual-lens camera and 3GB of RAM.

Other rumored features of this year’s iPhones include a faster TSMC-made Apple A10 processor, repositioned antenna bands, faster LTE and Wi-Fi, a slightly larger battery, and a minimum 32GB of base storage. A larger 256GB model may also be available.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
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Pocket Drone by Odyssey Toys review – CNET

The Good About the size of a smartphone, the Pocket Drone’s arms fold into its frame for easy travel. It has an HD-resolution camera and auto takeoff and land, auto return and a headless mode. It can also automatically hold altitude.

The Bad The camera can’t be tilted. Battery life is the typical 6 to 8 minutes. The plastic frame feels a bit flimsy.

The Bottom Line For quick stable flights indoors or outside, the Pocket Drone by Odyssey Toys is an excellent option for its features and cool, collapsible design.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

The Pocket Drone by Odyssey Toys is unique among pint-size toy quadcopters because it is actually designed to put in a pocket.

With just a simple twist of each motor mount, the Pocket Drone’s propeller arms collapse into its body for travel, leaving you with just the main frame, which is essentially the size of a smartphone. The controller is about the same size, too, with control sticks that pull out and store in its body.

The design might be its most interesting selling point, but it’s not the only one. Priced at around $100 (that converts to about AU$135 and £75), the quad has an HD 720p-resolution camera in front between its bright LED headlights. Buttons on the controller snap photos and AVI video clips, and everything gets stored on the included 4GB microSD card. The quality is good, but it’s not going to rock your world, and since there’s no stabilization, the video rocks with every move. There’s no tilt, either, so you’ll only capture what’s directly in front of the drone.

A camera quadcopter that truly does slip…
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The controller also has buttons to instantly start and stop the motors, one for auto takeoff and landing and another to trigger a headless mode, so the drone will always travel forward, backward, left or right when you move the sticks in those directions, regardless of which way the front of the drone is pointed. It also has an auto return feature that basically shoots the drone directly back at you, so you’ll want to be careful when you use it. You can download the full manual to read more about its features.

Also read
  • 7 things you should know before you buy your first drone

The lightweight plastic frame feels a bit flimsy, but it held up well to crashes (I’d be careful not to sit on it, though). All of the features worked well and it can hold altitude — unlike a lot of toy drones at this price — letting you concentrate on directional flying and not keeping it from getting too high or low. Battery life is about 6 to 8 minutes from its removable 3.7V 550mAh (25C) lithium polymer battery. That’s typical for a quad like this and extra batteries are inexpensive and readily available.

For quick stable flights indoors or outside, the Pocket Drone by Odyssey Toys is an excellent option for its features and cool, collapsible design.


Cyanogen Inc. reportedly laying off 20% of staff in major restructuring

New reports claim that Cyanogen Inc. may have laid off as much as 20% of its staff. One of those reports claims the company could be switching its strategy away from OS development to focus on apps.


Android Police stated:

The layoffs most heavily impact the open source arm of the Android ROM-gone-startup, which may be eliminated entirely (not CyanogenMod itself, just the people at Cyanogen Inc. who work on the open source side).

Recode adds that the moves were made by Lior Tal, who joined Cyanogen as its new COO in June. It also says that many of the company’s top executives have departed in the past several weeks. So far, Cyanogen has yet to confirm any of these reports.


Amazon Echo can now offer you comedy from The Daily Show

Thanks to its latest round of updates, the Amazon Echo connected speaker can now offer the unique political humor and current events topics from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.


Amazon says:

With convention season in full swing, you can now get a regular dose of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Alexa. Hear a highlight clip from the latest episode or get the upcoming guest list. Just ask, “Alexa, enable The Daily Show skill,” and “Alexa, ask The Daily Show for news.”

If you like comedy, you can also ask the Echo to tell you a dog or a cat joke. Owners can also ask the Amazon Echo to play Morning Edition via TuneIn if they need more serious news stories.

Amazon Echo

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