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2014 MTV Movie Awards Speech

Logitech unveils K830 home-theatre keyboard and trackpad

Logitech unveils K830 home-theatre keyboard and trackpad

The Logitech K830, designed specifically for home theatre use, boasts soft-touch keys for quiet typing and an integrated trackpad where the number pad would normally sit.


Peripherals giant Logitech has unveiled an illuminated keyboard designed specifically for home-theatre PC (HTPC) use, dropping the traditional number pad in favour of a touch-sensitive trackpad.

Dubbed the Logitech Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830, which we’ll refer to as the Logitech K830 from now to save wear on our own keyboards, the new device boasts a rechargeable internal battery, illuminated back-lit keys and the aforementioned trackpad to serve as a single-unit solution for pointing and pressing.

More and more consumers want an easy way to access movies, TV programs, music and photos with their PC connected to a TV,‘ claimed Logitech’s Charlotte Johs at the unveiling. ‘Our new Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830 is designed with this setup in mind. Backlit keys and a premium aesthetic that blends into the living room make it a stand-out choice for people with connected TVs.

The Logitech K830 shows a few design tweaks that suggest the company has certainly beenconsidering the requirements of the HTPC and Smart TV enthusiast in its creation: silent-action soft-feel keys reduce typing noise, the integrated backlighting adjusts its brightness depending on ambient conditions and switches off five seconds after you’ve finished typing, and the keyboard’s slim design should make storage a cinch. As with Logitech’s previous wireless products, the K830 uses the company’s Unifying receiver – meaning the K830 can be coupled with a more traditional mouse or trackball while still using only a single receiver.

Logitech has confirmed plans to release the K830 in the US and Europe later this month, with a recommended retail price of €99.99 (around £60, excluding taxes.)

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Salvador Dali’s elephants get the steampunk Lego treatment

Jin Keis elephant Lego creation

It’s a Lego elephant on stilts.


(Credit:
Jin Kei)

Korean Lego artist Jin Kei looked at Salvador Dali’s surrealist masterpiece “The Elephants” and imagined it in plastic brick form. Then, he went even further, and translated it through the lens of steampunk. The result is an embodiment of the toothpick-legged elephant from the painting, except it is full of complex gears and mechanical joints that capture both aesthetics perfectly.

The most prominent feature of Dali’s work is the elephants’ impossibly tiny legs that look more like an insect’s than a pachyderm’s. The Lego version re-creates these, but with what look like hydraulic joints. The fun really starts when you dive into the details of the build, from the hatch wheel on the elephant’s side to the oil-derrick-like top piece.

If you look closely, there’s even a puff of Lego smoke coming out near the back. This creature would fit right in with the steam-powered machines of “Wild Wild West.” All of the gears and mechanical bits make it look considerably more plausible than the near-alien creations Dali imagined.

Kei’s creation stands an impressive 32 inches tall. There are two of the elephants in the painting, so you’ll have to use your imagination to double up the Lego versions. This isn’t Kei’s first foray into steampunk Lego builds. He previously tackled a steampunk version of Batman’s movie motorcycle. The elephant, however, is a true stunner as both an homage to Dali and a master class in imaginative Lego construction.

Dali elephant in Lego

Jin Kei’s surreal elephant runs on steam.


(Credit:
Jin Kei)

(Via The Brothers Brick)

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Not so fast: Environmental concerns halt Atari ‘E.T.’ cartridge dig

An original E.T. game cartridge, signed by the lead designer. Millions were made, and most of them were buried in a New Mexico landfill after the game was deemed one of the worst ever.


(Credit:
Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

New Mexico environmental regulators have put the kibosh on the excavation of millions of Atari “E.T.” game cartridges from a garbage dump there.

According to The Guardian, the New Mexico Environment Department has said that filmmakers planning a documentary about the burial of the cartridges in 1983 owing to catastrophic sales must first acquire a waste excavation plan.

At
South by Southwest earlier this month, filmmakers from Lightbox and Fuel Entertainment said they were almost ready to start digging into the garbage dump in Alamogordo, N.M., to look for the cartridges. Their research had led them there, they said, and they were planning on a long dig, since they didn’t know precisely where in the dump the millions of games might be found.

Atari’s E.T. game is universally considered one of the worst in history, brought to market in just weeks following the monumental success of Steven Spielberg’s 1983 film “E.T.” It was thought to be boring, aesthetically ugly, and shallow. Though it immediately sold 1.5 million copies thanks to its ties to the movie, sales quickly stalled, and the result was a $500 million loss for Atari, a financial disaster that drove the once high-flying company into ruin.

The episode has been referred to as Atari’s “corporate shame.”

Last June, the Guardian reported, city officials in Alamogordo approved the excavation. But New Mexico Environment Department spokesperson Jim Winchester told the publication that state environmental officials, who have the final say on the approval of a waste excavation plan, rejected it last month. He added that the filmmakers have yet to submit a new plan.

Requests for comment by CNET to the New Mexico Environment Department and Fuel Entertainment were not immediately returned.

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Christian Bale is top choice to play Steve Jobs, says report

Christian Bale and Steve Jobs

Don’t expect any Batsuits in the new Steve Jobs movie.


(Credit:
Warner Bros and Apple)

Move over, Aston Kutcher, there may soon be a new Steve Jobs in town. An as-yet-untitled movie for Sony Pictures centering around the Apple co-founder has a script by Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”), but it doesn’t yet have a star attached. Director David Fincher (“Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) is said to be the likeliest person to helm the production. According to a report from TheWrap, Fincher said he would only do the film if Christian Bale signs on as the lead.

The source is a classic unnamed “individual familiar with the project.” Whether that person is a Sony exec or a coffee fetcher, we don’t know. Fincher and Sorkin teamed up previously for “The Social Network,” a geek-flavored film about the rise of Facebook. It would seem natural to turn them loose together on the Steve Jobs story.

Many fans strongly associate Bale with his Batman role, but he does have a notable physical resemblance to Jobs. Back when news first came out about Ashton Kutcher getting his Apple on, CNET was among those rooting for Christian Bale instead, calling him a “strong contender.”

Right now, we’re running on speculation and rumor. Bale would have to ditch his gruff Bat-growl, but he has the acting chops to pull off the complex role. Perhaps he’ll learn from his predecessor’s mistake and avoid the fruitarian diet that landed Kutcher in the hospital.

As long as we’re at it, can we please cast Zach Galifianakis as Steve Wozniak? Share your thoughts in the comments. Would you cast Christian Bale in the role of Steve Jobs?

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I backed ‘Veronica Mars,’ but DRM is hobbling my reward

Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars, ready to snark her way back into your heart.


(Credit:
Veronica Mars)

When I heard the “Veronica Mars” movie was up on Kickstarter, I ran over to the crowdfunding site and elatedly flung my $35 pledge at the project. Along with 91,584 other people, I helped raise $5.7 million to fund the film. This past Friday, it was officially released into theaters. My town of Albuquerque, N.M., however, was not on the theater list. But, never fear, my pledge included a digital copy of the film.

My official Kickstarter email arrived, with a link to a Digital Ultraviolet version of the film, accessed through the Flixter streaming video service. Cool. So, I went through the sign-up, got a Flixster and Digital Ultraviolet account, and settled in to watch it stream. It started to load. Then, it stopped.

I got this message, like a stab in my crowdfunding heart: “Your screen configuration does not support protected playback.” Huh? I went to the FAQ for explanation and discovered my dual-monitor desktop setup violates Flixster’s DRM restrictions. I wonder if Flixster thinks dual monitors are a gateway to pirating activities.

If I had ever tried to use Flixster before, I would have been aware of this ban on dual monitors, but I had to meet the ugly truth while in a “Veronica Mars” fever of fan fervor, which quickly slapped a big cold damper on my excitement. There are ways around the issue. I ended up downloading the Flixster app to my computer and running the movie from there. I could have switched to my laptop. Really, I just wanted the convenience of streaming my reward right then and there.

I’m not the only person who tripped over a Flixster-shaped “Veronica Mars” stumbling block. Other backers have reported issues with Flixster working with Roku boxes, along with a lack of Flixster support for
Apple TV. The result was a number of upset comments on the Kickstarter update page. Backer Sarah Zaslow wrote, “I am beyond angry that I had to use Flixster to get my digital download.”

There is a bit of a happy ending to all this. An official Kickstarter backer update arrived with an explanation and a way around the whole Flixster thing. First, the explanation: “In the end, Flixster was the best option for getting the digital movie reward out to all of you, worldwide, at the same time.”

Now, the options: “We understand that some of you prefer other platforms or services for watching digital content. If you contact our Customer Support team, they can help.” If you complain and share your technical issues with Warner Bros. customer support, you get the option to buy the movie on a service of your choice and get a refund for the purchase price.

After all this, am I down on “Veronica Mars?” No. The project has done so much right, I’m not going to torpedo the whole thing just because of the ill-advised method of doling out the digital copies. We didn’t get a “too bad, tough luck” answer to complaints, we got a work-around. It’s not ideal, but it gets you the movie on your terms.

The larger issue here is the ongoing weirdness with DRM efforts. Flixster’s DRM prevented me, a legitimate backer, from streaming the movie in my browser. If you head over to the Pirate Bay, you’ll see “Veronica Mars” sitting near the top of the current Top-100 movies list. Annoying me and plenty of other people with overzealous DRM hasn’t done anything to prevent the spread of the movie through illicit means. It won’t keep me from backing other Kickstarter films, but I hope future projects will have the faith to offer a DRM-free download.

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Could bionic plants save our lives one day?

Bionic plant

The leaf of a plant embedded with carbon nanotubes is examined under a near-infrared microscope.


(Credit:
MIT/Bryce Vickmark)

Bionics, such as this device invented to replace the functionality and feeling of a man’s hand lost in an accident, are steadily finding their way into human lives. Thanks to new research conducted at MIT, such devices may soon be infiltrating the plant world as well — leading to plants that could monitor their surroundings, communicate via cell phone signals, act as living streetlamps, and create more robust crops.

To engineer their bionic plants, the researchers applied a solution containing carbon nanotubes to the underside of the leaves on a Arabidopsis thaliana plant. The plant sucked up the tubes through its leaves using a process known as vascular infusion, incorporating them into its chloroplasts, the structures responsible for photosynthesis. The researchers found that the energy subsequently produced by the plant increased 30 percent, as measured by the amount of electrons that got flowing during the photosynthetic process.

In addition to the plant getting a boost in energy production, the researchers believe the nanotubes could act as a kind of micro antenna. In such a capacity, the tubes would allow plants to soak up certain wavelengths of light they can’t currently use, such as ultraviolet, green, and near-infrared.

The scientists published their findings on “plant nanobionics” Sunday in the journal Nature Materials.

Michael Strano, an MIT professor of chemical engineering and leader of the research team, told Crave that “increasing photosynthesis within plants and chloroplasts is the first step to enhancing plant growth, increasing crop yields, etcetera. Growth is a complex process with many rate-limiting steps, potentially. But there is merit to helping the plant capture more light, especially if our vision is to use some of this energy to do other exotic functions.”

Strano and research partner Juan Pablo Giraldo, a plant biologist, have already incorporated one such “exotic function” — plants that can communicate with humans, and not just to tell us when they need to be watered via Twitter, or or phone calls. These plants could actually help save our lives one day.

Send us a sign, leaf
Strano and Giraldo injected a plant with carbon nanotubes that could sense nitric oxide, a pollutant caused by combustion, in effect turning it into a living gas detector. According to Strano, when the plant senses gas, “the nanoengineered leaf emits a near-infrared light signal, like in a TV remote control, that can be read by an external detector. This type of scheme can be used for stand-off detection from the plant, with say a camera or imaging array.”

“We could someday use these carbon nanotubes to make sensors that detect in real time, at the single-particle level, free radicals or signaling molecules that are at very low-concentration and difficult to detect,” Giraldo added in a statement. Just imagine if all those plants at the airport were doing double duty as sensors for toxic airborne particles, or if your potted ficus started glowing if there was a gas leak in your home.

Next up for the researchers? “We are also interested in bionic versions of self actuating plants — like the Venus flytrap,” Strano told Crave.

Uh-oh. Bionic Venus flytraps? I want in on the movie rights. Who’s with me?

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Our doom will come sci-fi-style, NASA-funded study says

We’ve all seen movies depicting a dystopian future. Usually they envision a small group of elites living in sleekly designed homes wearing clean gray clothes, sipping pure water, and enjoying generally dust-free living while the rest of us schlubs reside in cardboard boxes beneath bridges. Now, a NASA-funded study is saying the collapse of civilization as we know it might not be all that different from what happens in movies like “Blade Runner,” “Elysium,” and “The Hunger Games.”

The study, sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and first reported on in The Guardian, examined five key factors that led to the collapse of civilizations such the Roman Empire and Han Dynasty: population, climate, water, agriculture, and energy. It found that civilizations collapse when these factors coalesce in such a way that natural resources are stretched at the same time the gap between the rich (termed “Elites” in the study) and the poor (dubbed “Commoners”) increases. Sound familiar?

In arriving at these conclusions, the study authors, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, applied something known as the HANDY (Human and Nature Dynamics) model of analysis. It was derived from previous predator-prey mathematical models invented in the early 20th century and assigns nature the role of prey and humans the role of predator. It then goes one step further, assigning Elites a wolf-like role. “We have also added a different dimension of predation whereby Elites “prey” on the production of wealth by Commoners,” the paper says.

The report details just how this type of predation can lead an empire to collapse. “Even using an optimal depletion rate and starting with a very small number of Elites, the solution appears to be on a sustainable path for quite a long time, then Elites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society,” it says. According to one model run during the research, there is a total collapse of society just 125 years after the Elites reach their maximum size.

So the end will come, according to the study, not from running out of resources but from greed, pure and simple. Hear that, 1 Percent?

Actually, they probably didn’t hear that. The report, which was penned in 2012, but recently accepted into the peer-reviewed scientific journal Ecological Economics, points out that the Elites are typically blissfully unaware of society’s eminent demise. It says that “historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases).”

As in every good sci-fi flick, all hope is not lost. The study authors say that “collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion.”

Ah, so that’s all it will take. A sudden change of heart among the elites to distribute their wealth amongst the rest of us, and people to stop using natural resources like free lives in a video game. Better start hoarding bottled water and batteries now.

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William Shatner: Of course there’s alien life

You know he’s right.


(Credit:
Strombo/YouTube; screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

When scientists speak about space and the world out there, it’s always worth a listen.

But they’re scientists. They have a vested interest in being right. More interesting, perhaps, are the people who seem to have an unalienable instinct for the truths of existence.

William Shatner is surely one of these people. Not merely for his portrayals of Capt. James T. Kirk and the Priceline Negotiator, but for his extraterrestrial nose for truth when he played Denny Crane in “Boston Legal.”

Shatner has now offered his definitive view on alien life.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, he offered this: “I don’t think there is any doubt there is life in the universe, yes. I don’t think there is any question.”

But what can possibly deliver such certainty to the Shatner mind? Math, that’s what.

“The mathematics involved — what have they just discovered, 730,000 new planets the other day? — mathematically it has to be,” he said.

Yes, it’s hard to imagine that of all the newly discovered worlds out there (NASA recently announced 715 new planets — and each potentially represents hundreds more), at least one wouldn’t have small green people or hieroglyphically nasty-looking 10-armed beings with a twisted sense of humor.

But that’s the problem with alien life, isn’t it? We keep thinking of it as something that is akin to our own. Yet, as Professor Michio Kaku told Big Think earlier this week: “When we look at aliens in the movies, we’re basically projecting our own consciousness.”

Shatner seems to agree with the professor. Speaking of what form alien life might take, he said: “Just how it happens we don’t know yet, though I’m sure we’ll know soon.”

But he’s declared himself and that’s enough. There is alien life. It is out there. It may not be as we know it.

Soon, though, we may know something. That will at least make our own mundane existence more interesting.

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Kaiju monsters go high-fashion for ‘ultra’ shopping center debut

Mother of Ultra is makes even the tallest supermodel look short in this latest ad campaign to promote the newly renovated Amu Plaza Hakata in Japan.

Mother of Ultra makes even the tallest supermodel look short in the latest ad campaign to promote the newly renovated Amu Plaza Hakata in Japan.


(Credit:
Tsuburaya Productions)

The ultimate superheroine Mother of Ultra is the perfect supermodel for an ad campaign to celebrate the “ultra renewal” of 97 stores in the Amu Plaza Hakata shopping center in Japan.

Mother of Ultra, as well as kaiju monsters Alien Baltan, Dada, and Pigumon strut their stuff on the catwalk. In other videos, Mother of Ultra invades the city of Fukuoka itself, modeling the latest fashions most likely found in the newly updated shopping center.

While this is only an ad campaign, it would make an amazing monster movie with some of the most iconic “Ultraman” characters turning fashion victims into ultra fashionistas.

Here’s hoping other kaiju characters follow in their fashionable footsteps. If anyone can rock a Spencer Hart suit, it’d be Godzilla.

(Via Kotaku)

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