Thursday, August 12, 2010

Modder, brother-of-the-year candidate crafts one-handed GameCube controller (video)

It's not that we haven't seen a one-handed controller before -- we most certainly have -- but the only significant one on record was done by oneBenjamin Heckendorn, the greatest modder of the modern era. In other words, whipping something like this up takes more than a strong will and a boatload of vacation days, making Hasse's hack all the more impressive. As the story goes, his brother is incapable of playing video games due to needing two hands to work the controls; rather than chalking it up to tough luck, this guy completely re-engineered a GameCube controller for single-handed operation. After cracking it open and relocating a few bits and pieces, he then shoved an ATtiny44A, an accelerometer and a digital-to-analog converter within. Crazier still, he even included a toggle switch to select the analog stick or D-pad, depending on preference. Head on past the break to see this thing in action, and tap that source link to leave a handful of kudos.

Continue reading Modder, brother-of-the-year candidate crafts one-handed GameCube controller (video)

Man Patents Self-Burying Coffin

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday August 12, @11:31AM
from the ashes-to-ashes-righty-tighty dept.
disco_tracy writes"A California inventor has filed a patent for a coffin that screws into the ground vertically. The reason? It greatly reduce excavation labor and burial costs, decreases land use, and opens up more space for burials in unused areas of a cemetery. Writer Clark Boyd also lists 5 other unconventional burial options, including lye, ecopods, GPS devices that track bodies buried without headstones, cryogenics and — my favorite — getting buried in the sky."

Tool Use By Humans Pushed Back By 800,000 Years

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday August 12, @05:21AM
from the oldest-spoon dept.
gpronger writes"The journal Nature reports that newly discovered tool marks on bones indicates that we were using tools at minimum 800,000 years earlier than previously thought. This places the start of tool use at 3.4 million years ago or earlier. The most likely ancestor in this time frame would be Australopithecus afarensis. The researchers, led by palaeoanthropologist Zeresenay Alemseged of the California Academy of Science, San Francisco,and Shannon McPherron, (an archaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany) state that cut marks on the bones of an impala-sized creature and another closer in size to a buffalo, indicate butchering of the animals by our distant ancestors. However, they do not believe that they were in fact hunters, more likely scavenging the remains left behind by large predators."

Space Station Module Could Carry Humans To Asteroid

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday August 12, @02:55AM
from the holiday-in-ceres dept.
Soulskill writes"Brian Wilcox, a JPL roboticist, spoke at a NASA workshop about the possibility of detaching one of the International Space Station's modules and using it as the primary living space for astronauts on a trip to an asteroid. 'The node could be connected to two space exploration vehicles and have add-on inflatable modules. ... The space station is slated to operate through at least 2020, which roughly coincides with the earliest likely launch date for human exploration of an asteroid. In April President Barack Obama set a 2025 goal for a manned mission to an asteroid.'"

Medical Students Open To Learning With Video Games

Posted by Soulskill on Thursday August 12, @01:33AM
from the fragging-diseases dept.
Gwmaw writes"A reported 98 percent of medical students surveyed at the University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin-Madison liked the idea of using technology to enhance their medical education, according to a study published online in BMC Medical Education. For example, a virtual environment could help medical students learn how to interview a patient or run a patient clinic. In the survey, 80 percent of students said computer games can have an educational value."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lasers Approach Their Ultimate Intensity Limit

Posted by samzenpus on Wednesday August 11, @03:20PM
from the biggest-pointer dept.
Flash Modin writes"Death Star style superlasers? Don't bet on it. High power lasers currently in development appear to be nearing the theoretical laser intensity limit, according to new research set to be published in the journal Physical Review Letters. Ultra-high-energy laser fields can actually convert their light into matter as shown in the late '90s at the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC). This process creates an 'avalanche-like electromagnetic cascade' (also known as sparking the vacuum) capable of destroying a laser field. Physicists thought it might be a problem for lasers eventually, but this work indicates the technology is much closer to its limit than researchers believed. Apreprint is available here."

Quit via whiteboard

It is a hoax but is amusing.

Students' Understanding of the Equal Sign Not Equal, Professor Says

ScienceDaily (Aug. 10, 2010) — Taken very literally, not all students are created equal -- especially in their math learning skills, say Texas A&M University researchers who have found that not fully understanding the "equal sign" in a math problem could be a key to why U.S. students underperform their peers from other countries in math.

Possible Issues With the P != NP Proof

Posted by Soulskill on Wednesday August 11, @02:02AM
from the intuitively-obvious-to-the-most-casual-observer dept.
An anonymous reader writes"We previously discussed news that Vinay Deolalikar, a Principal Research Scientist at HP Labs, wrote a paper that claimed to prove P is not equal to NP. Dick Lipton, a Professor of Computer Science at Georgia Tech, analyzed the idea of the proof on his blog. In a recent post, he explains that there have been many serious objections raised about the proof. The post summarizes the issues that need to be answered in any subsequent development, and additional concerns are raised in the comment section."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Netflix, EPIX deal is official; Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate movies start streaming September 1

By Richard Lawler posted Aug 10th 2010 8:32AM

Netflix streaming queue starting to look a little stale? It's working on that, and has signed a deal that brings EPIX's library of movies to Watch Instantly -- just not that instantly. If you're not familiar withEPIX, allow us to refresh you, it's a network launched last year by Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate that brings their movies home (though often unfortunately cropped and zoomed to 16x9) through a linear channel, video on-demand or internet streaming. Under this new agreement, movies from those studios can come to Netflix 90 days after they debut on the premium pay-tv and subscription VOD services. While that means streamers won't get access to Iron Man 2, The Expendables, or Dinner for Shmucksanywhere near day-and-date with their DVD or Blu-ray releases, those kinds of high profile flicks will show up and stick around with greater regularity than we've been used to. The companies haven't released further details, but rumors reported by the L.A. Times suggest licensing costs could reach $1 billion over the next 5 years. The first movies covered by the new deal arrive September 1, likely with flicks from the Star Trek, James Bond and Indiana Jones series (hopefully not Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) among them.

Spinal-Fluid Test Confirmed To Predict Alzheimer's

"The New York Times reports that researchers have found a spinal-fluid test can be 100 percent accurate in identifying patients with significant memory loss who are on their way to developing Alzheimer's disease. The new study included more than 300 patients in their seventies, 114 with normal memories, 200 with memory problems, and 102 with Alzheimer's disease. Their spinal fluid was analyzed for amyloid beta, which forms plaques in the brain, and for tau, another protein that accumulates in dead and dying nerve cells in the brain. Nearly every person with Alzheimer's had the characteristic spinal fluid protein levels."

Abandon Earth Or Die, Warns Hawking

siliconbits writes "According to famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, it's time to free ourselves from Mother Earth. 'I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space,' Hawking tells Big Think. 'It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn't have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let's hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google's South Korean offices raided by police as part of Street View investigation

By Vlad Savov posted Aug 10th 2010 6:40AM

Google may be trying to make nice and play ball with all the thoroughly outraged governments affected by its unintentional WiFi snooping with Street View cars, but that apparently hasn't been good enough for South Korea. Earlier this morning, Google's Seoul HQ was subjected to a raid and search operation by the cyber crime unit of the Korean National Police Agency, due to suspicions that it may have collected and stored data from WiFi networks without authorization. So it's the same old complaint the rest of the world's been dealing with, only the zeal of the methodology seems to have been turned up to 11. It'll be interesting to see if this raid uncovers anything more salacious than what we already know; we'll keep you posted if it does.

[Thanks, D. Kim]

Brain Rhythm Predicts Ability to Sleep Through a Noisy Night

ScienceDaily (Aug. 9, 2010) — Ever wonder why some people can sleep through just about anything, while others get startled awake at each and every bump in the night?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sharpie Liquid Pencil writes and erases like a pencil, dries like a Sharpie (video hands-on!)

By Nilay Patel posted Aug 9th 2010 3:02PM

Doesn't look like we've ever covered a pencil on Engadget before, but this is just too nifty to pass up: the Sharpie Liquid Pencil uses liquid graphite to write like a pen, erase like a pencil, and eventually dry like a permanent marker. Sharpie's blog says the Liquid Pencil go on sale in September, but Office Depot has a $5 two-pack with six erasers in stock online now -- and we were charming enough to snag an early review sample.

It basically works as described, although the marks don't erase completely clear -- because you're writing with a metal pen tip, there's no way to avoid impressing the paper a little, and the indentations are pretty visible. Still, it's better than any erasable pen we've ever used, and it definitely writes like a decent clicky-pen, so we can't fault it too much. Oddly, Sharpie's blog says it takes three days for the ink to dry to permanence, but the back of the package says 24 hours, so we'll have to see how long our test scribbles last -- we'll let you know. Video after the break.

Rubik's Cube Now Solvable in 20 Moves

Posted by CmdrTaco on Monday August 09, @11:30AM
from the good-use-of-spare-time dept.
A few years ago we reported that it had been proven that Rubik's Cubes could be solved in 23 moves. Well now that number is down to just 20. Proving it required 35 years of computer time donated by Google to get it done.

The 'Net Generation' Isn't

Posted by kdawson on Sunday August 08, @08:43PM
from the hanging-with-the-peeps dept.
Kanel introduces this lengthy review in Spiegel Online this way: "Kids that grew up with the Internet are not 'digital natives' as consultants have led us to believe. They're OK with the Net but they don't care much about Web 2.0 and find plenty of other things more important than the Internet. Consultants and authors, mostly old guys, have called for the education system to be reworked to suit this new generation, but they never conducted surveys to see if the members of 'generation @' were anything like what they had envisioned. Turns out, children who have known the Net their whole lives are not particularly skilled at it, nor do they live their lives online.""Young people have now reached this turning point. The Internet is no longer something they are willing to waste time thinking about. It seems that the excitement about cyberspace was a phenomenon peculiar to their predecessors, the technology-obsessed first generation of Web users. ...they certainly no longer understand it when older generations speak of 'going online.' ... Tom and his friends just describe themselves as being 'on' or 'off,' using the English terms. What they mean is: contactable or not."

Gum inflammation linked to Alzheimer's disease

Dental researchers have found the first long-term evidence that periodontal disease may increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction associated with Alzheimer's disease in healthy individuals as well as in those who already are cognitively impaired. The study offers fresh evidence that gum inflammation may contribute to brain inflammation, neurodegeneration, and Alzheimer's disease.

Why Wave Failed

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday August 05, @10:25AM
from the exciting-thursday-morning dept.
Florian Wardell submitted a little discussion piece about Why Wave Failed. He blames marketing and the staged rollout. Personally I think that what killed it was that I should have transparently been able to see my gmail inside wave. Requiring a separate window guarantees that I wouldn't use it regularly. Had I been able to read my regular mail in the same UI, I might have been tempted to use it more.