Monday, February 27, 2012

Academy Awards Go Green

Everyone is reaching out and trying to be green, including the Academy Awards. Actors, actresses, directors, writers and several others in Hollywood came out to celebrate in the biggest entertainment award show, the 2012 Academy Awards. Here are a few ways the Academy Awards went green this year. American actress Missi Pyle wore a sustainable gown designed by Valentina Delfino. Valentina Delfino was a winner of the Red Carpet Green Dress design contest which gave designers a chance to come up with a sustainable dress for the Oscar red carpet. Missi Pyle’s gown was made from silk peace chiffon, recycled polyester and natural mineral dye. 

For the hunger the famous chef Wolfgang Puck cooked over 50 dishes for 1,500 guests featuring fresh California produce and sustainable seafood. Before the awards kicked off there were a few pre-parties to attend but the two that made it green were Global Green USA and the Oxfam America Dinner. Global Green USA hosted with their favorite green celebs attending. To name a few of the green celebrities; Adrian Grenier, Kyra Sedgwick, Ed Begley Jr. and Sophia Bush who showed up in a Chevy Volt electric car. There they auctioned off an electric Xenon “lightcycle” from Evolve. The other pre-party, Oxfam America Dinner,  hosted by Vanity Fair, Zenga clothing, Colin and Livia Firth wearing her eco-friendly Armani dress. 

This party benefited Oxfam’s international relief efforts but also Livia’s Green Carpet Challenge which designers crafted sustainable designs. All the nominees received organic, eco-friendly and non-toxic gifts such as food safe kitchen products from Essential Safe Products. Included gifts were reusable produce bags, stainless steel snack containers and bamboo utensil sets. Also the nominees received a gift box from Green PolkaDot Box that provided organic and natural goods.

 The Academy Awards are also preparing 2013 award show with an electronic ballot. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has partnered with Everyone Counts Inc. and developed an electronic voting system. Academy Awards contributing to the environment will hopefully only grow with every year.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita was released this week in the U.S., Europe and Australia. This portable gaming device  gives you a “console-quality” experience on the go. The Vita is 7.2 inches long with a 5-inch OLED screen making movies, music and pictures astounding. It weighs a little more than half a pound and iIt is a little bit bigger than a smartphone but smaller than a tablet. Vita supports a multitouch screen and one on the back to match. The back touchscreen adds to the games “umph” however there are not many games out there that utilize it just yet. The Vita uses a Flash memory card called “The PlayStation Vita Card” that is similar to SD cards. These cards are available for storage of games and apps because the Vita does not have an internal SSD to support downloaded content. Also, it is only compatible with PSP games purchased from the system’s store and has access to the PlayStations storefront for downloading new Vita titles as well as PSP and Mini titles. It also has a wide selection of movies and apps. The portable gaming device launches several first party and third-party games including Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Lumines Electronic Symphony, FIFA Soccer for sports fans, Asphalt: Injection and wipeout 2048. Its wireless capabilities can also connect 3G via AT&T, which does not require a contract.  The choices are $15 a month for the 250 MB or $25 for 2 gigs of data. The social features are dependent on a PlayStation Network ID to connect with friends on other Vitas or on the PlayStation 3. Connecting thru 3G, AT&Ts model means having GPS and using the feature Near to see who is all playing nearby on their Vita or if they are playing the same games. Players can use the Party feature to text and voice chat on PSN. An example were a player may use the social feature  on wipeout 2048, where the player can challenge others and is able to track thru cross-play, but this feature only works with some PS3 titles. Cross-Play allows a player to save games on their console and pick where they left off on their Vita yet some games require you to purchase the game for each platform.

The Vita supports Flickr, Skype, Facebook, and Twitter, giving you the chance to update with your high score or attach pictures taken from the Vita’s camera. With Vitas Content manager app and Netflix app, players can rent and buy movies. The PlayStation Vita states it has a 3 to 5 hour battery life when playing games and watching movies and 9 hours for music. Some players say after testing the Vita that during an hour of play their battery life dropped by 50% and even more when watching a movie. With Vita’s battery being internal the player must keep the charger nearby. Several gamers have complained that during testing the Vita takes a long time to launch games proceed between levels and while trying to connect with the PlayStation Network. The PlayStation Vita is expensive as offers 2 models to choice from, wifi-only model is $249.99 and the 3G AT&T/wifi model is $299.99. A 32-GB memory card is $100 and the games can range from $40 to $50 each. With this price you can buy the latest iPad. Is the PlayStation Vita and its apps right for you or is faster gaming speed with cheaper games plus apps for an iOS or Android device the way to go?

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

High Tech Fashion

Want to make the ultimate fashion statement but running out of ideas? Then fiber optic fabric is something you may want to explore.  Fiber optic fabric is made of ultra-thin optical fibers directly woven within synthetic fibers. You can wear these radiant fibers as clothing or light up your home with it.  This water resistant material can be washed by hand, and is connected to ultra-bright LEDs that light up the fabric. The clothing is illuminated by the Fiber Optic Fabric and is barely visible in direct or broad daylight but looks fantastic in dark settings. The items may include an on/off switch and are powered by low voltage batteries to avoid the risk of electrical shock or cause the fabric to heat up. The colors depend on the type of electronic module or LEDs used with the fabric.

High tech fabric can be worn as a glow affect and can also be as smart as your phone.  A Canadian laboratory is experimenting with special fibers woven into clothing to make soft interactive screens.  This special product can help make batteries and flexible touch screens (similar to smart phones and tablets).  The idea is for the clothing to charged itself, store energy, and perform useful functions. Researchers made flat sheets of batteries into thin strips and wove the strips into clothing textiles. Several textile manufacturers are cautious in working with completely new fibers, so the Canadian researchers began providing various fibers for designers to try. This technology could lead to smart clothing that monitors a person’s health, adjust volume by the touch of your sleeve, or swipe across a car’s upholstery to turn down the heat. High tech fabric has opened the door for many possibilities.  

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

First 3D Printed Car

An environmentally friendly car straight from your printer. Urbee, is a small ethanol powered engine capable of reaching 60-70 mph and with a body printed by a 3D printer.

This one of a kind vehicle can draw an electrical charge from optional solar panels reducing fuel to almost nothing. Urbees body may currently be the only 3D printed car. The makers hope that soon all the materials will be manufactured this way or by using fully recycled materials.

Whether or not this 3D printed renewable energy car is mass produced will be decide based on the price on which it is sold. Manufacturers estimate the cost anywhere between $10,000 to $50,000. Urbee, the 3D car, was made by a Minneapolis-based Stratasys in Canada.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Printing 3D Objects

Seeing what you wish for materialize in front of your eyes like you never had before is what 3D printing gives us. 3D printing means almost anything you can design with a computer, you can turn into an actual physical object that you can hold.
In June of 2011 an 83-year-old Belgium woman had reconstructive surgery on her jaw. The interesting thing about the surgery is that it was not an ordinary surgery. Her jaw was made of what we used to think could be impossible. The woman’s jaw was created in a few hours from a 3D printer. Traditional reconstructive surgery takes up to 20 hours and the patient will normally have to stay up to four weeks in the hospital. The Belgium woman went through four hours of operation and was able to go home after four days. Her lower jaw was badly infected and needed to be removed but with the 3D printer it became the first custom-made implant. It was created by taking a detailed scan of her jaw bone, and then an exact duplicate was made from the scan on a 3D printer using lasers to fuse together titanium powder by heat. The jaw was then coated in a bioceramic coating to make it compatible with her tissue.
The German 3D printer manufacturer, EOS, is able to create metal objects as strong as cast parts and as often as artificial parts. Majority of their printers are sold for production manufacturing. Using the EOS 3D printer, around 450 individual dental crowns and bridges were built using metal alloy cobalt-chrome.
A file-sharing company, The Pirate Bay introduced “Physibles”. Physibles is a new content category which is designed to allow the pass of physical objects to one another via the Internet. The term refers to data files that are actually able to become physical objects via 3D printing technology. A company called Made in Space is working to help astronauts print out parts such as wrenches and nails for spacecraft and space stations while in orbit. Several 3D printers come with a camera used to take pictures of an object from multiple sides and then have a computer turn this into a 3D model that can be printed.
Australian designer Andrew Simpson of Vert Design, Shapeways, printed a 3D handset for iPhones. New York-based Shapeways operates where buyer’s can purchase personalized objects or upload their own deigns. This service started by printing hobbyist objects but now is used to create commercial objects, such as customized Smartphone cases. Objects are able to be printed in materials, such as sterling silver at a fraction of the cost of other processes.
A few affordable 3D printers are Makerbot, which offers a kit that you can put together yourself and Cube, which includes a user-friendly design and operation. Cube is accompanied by an online service used to order remote printing of objects and delivery to those who do not own the printer yet. An older and cheaper 3D printer is the RepRap. This can be used to manufacture components necessary to build another RepRap. The design and software of the RepRap is an open source giving the potential for anyone to modify it and improve the version.
 If people can print from home there will not be a need for the manufacturing industry as much so with 3D printing on the rise this raises much concern for existing manufacturing businesses. Another concern is taking unknowingly or willing violating on someone’s patent. With the over going improvement on 3D printing it seems this will be more common in a few years. We would not even have to be in this world to manufacture our own designs. 

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Video Gaming May Delay Alzheimer's

For all of those who believe playing video games will turn your brain into mush think again. A new study from the Archives of Neurology says playing brain stimulating games can improve your memory and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. In the study, scientist researched 65 healthier older individuals around 76yrs, 10 patients with Alzheimer disease around 74yrs and 11 younger individuals around the age of 24yrs over the span of 5 years. In their study they found that many games requiring focus including Angry Birds, give the brain healthy workouts. Playing games, reading and writing all slow the growth of the brain protein amyloid that some think might be the cause of the memory loss disease, Alzheimer. A few good brain stimulators are Lumosity; Brain Trainer, and Android Apps by Brain Gaming. This old Prospector loves Scrabble so bring it on grandma!

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Verizon + Coinstar's Redbox = $$$

How people are watching movies has changed dramatically from rental stores, renting through the mail, and now the majority are watching through video streaming. Seeing the potential in the video streaming market Verizon has decided to join forces with Coinstar’s Redbox to compete against Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus. Verizon has already begun offering internet video features through its FiOS Television services which include 100% fiber-optic reliability, 130+ HD channels, and access to over 25,000 On Demand titles per month. As stated on their website, Customers can get over 2,500 Flex View titles available on TV, PC, Web or on their Smartphones. This new partnership has not revealed its service details other than customers will be able to access the streaming content on devices such as their FiOS service including tablets and plan to see this new business adventure later on in the year. Verizon and Coinstar’s partnership will be offered to anyone in the U.S. You do not have to have an existing FiOS TV service or Verizon-operated broadband. Coinstar Redbox’s rental kiosks will still be available for those who prefer picking up a DVD. Netflix success was due to its easy user service and recommendation of TV shows and movies based on its subscribers viewing history. Netflix has leaned a lot of importance to instant-view streaming from its mailed DVD rental service but took a hit after prices for some users were increased and by launching a rebrand of its DVD-only service called Quikster. At the end of 2011 Netfilx had around 24 million subscribers while Verizon only had 4.2 million FiOS TV customers. Hopefully for Verizons partnership with Coinstar Redbox will help them over come the video rental giant Netflix. 

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Super Bowl Gadgets

It’s that time again for all football fans! Super Bowl XLVI is here and if you are deciding on throwing a super bowl party or going to one, here are some necessities to kick your party off right. Some people are only into the game and some just want to talk, so setting up separate televisions for everyone to view would be a great idea. For the first time in history the super bowl is going to be streamed live to computers and mobile devices, the only catch is you have to access the NFL Mobile app on a Verizon phone. So running late will be okay because you can still catch it at home on the net or on your phone while you are getting ready.

For the kids at the party who don’t want to join in the game there is something you can set up for them as well. Try arranging a video gaming setup in another area or physical activities for them to enjoy, such as throwing a football around in the yard. A perfect football for them could be the “Virtual Distance Football”. When thrown the distance is calculated by using sensors to detect when the ball is released to the impact of a catch or fumble.
At the party there needs to be plenty of drinks for everyone. “Maragritaville Party Cooler” can chill 40 12 ounce bottles along side a 4-liter bonus tank.
The snacks are a must and some like to eat all day long. Chips, buffalo wings, meat and vegetable trays and cheese spreads can be around, but if you are looking for some BBQ here is a gadget grill for you: “Grill-N-Chill”.

“Grill-N-Chill” combines the geek and the sports together. It is a stainless steel, 24,000 BTU, with 20,000 port ceramic infrared burners, and a total of 473 Sq. inches of cooking area. A 180 watt JBL marine stereo AM/FM tuner and a CD player with speakers are included along with 12-volt battery connectors. That’s not all, don’t forget about the Chill in the Grill, this includes a 60 quart insulated cooler with a drain. If you want to bring the grill to the party the Grill-N-Chill has a complete automotive hook-up and the ability to act as your indicator and brake lights when mounted on your vehicle. What more can you ask from your grill?

There are also a few games you could play while watching the big game. Have fun with the commercials! Give your guests a list of celebrities set to appear in the commercials and award a prize to whoever identifies the celebrity first, or whoever identifies the most on their list. Rating the commercials from a scale 1-5 from a selection of the most talked about commercials to premier during the game. Tally up the scores and declare a winning commercial. There are several drinking games you could play but we will leave that up to you. Super bowl is over and everyone has left, you realize there is a huge aftermath of the big game. Never fear the “IroBot Roomba Vacuum” is here to save the day, destroying dirt wherever it may lay! So go have fun with these cool gadgets and ideas and make your Super Bowl party history.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Electronic Tattoos

Tattoos have been around since the early BC and are still being practiced in several cultures around the world. There are professional, amateur, and cosmetic tattoos. Tattoos have become part of fashion in both sexes, in all economic classes, and to all age groups. In 2011, the Barbie doll was even sold having tattoos. Now we can add one more to the category… electronic tattoos!

The University of Pennsylvania researchers are developing LED tattoos. The silicon-and-silk implantable devices sit under the skin like tattoos but do not last forever. These LED tattoos are already implanted into mice with the silk keeping them in place, molding to the shape of the mice skin and turning it into a screen. Since they mold to the skin they can move elastically with the body. These “tattoos” eventually dissolve away inside the body leaving the electronics behind. The LED tattoos are around the length of a small grain of rice. The idea for these LED tattoos is to be hooked up to any electronic device including the inside of the body. You will be able to sensor blood-sugars and show their readouts on the skin itself. If this kind of ‘tattoo” can be hooked up to the nervous system it may be able to control a prosthetic limb.
Electronic tattoos could be used to prevent or monitor functions in real-time. These devices could detect brainwave activity and respond to the electrical abnormalities. These electronic tattoos would be useful for premature babies, could monitor them noninvasive and would be mechanically invisible. These devices can be used to diagnose or provide care to any type of patient. Possibilities could be endless.