Tuesday, March 31, 2015

As April Fools' arrives, Google flips out and T-Mobile goes to the dogs

An informative text from Muffles the poodle. T-Mobile; screenshot by CNET

Google has thrown things in reverse for April Fools' Day, and, not to be outdone, T-Mobile has announced its latest "Un-carrier" pet project.

At the stroke of midnight ET, Google launched a flipped-out search page that gets everything backward. It's a simple conceit, particularly when compared with more elaborate schemes such as inventing snail-mail boxes with a high-tech twist, or turning Google Maps into a game of Pac-Man. But it manages to be strangely satisfying. You can give it a lrihw at -- where else? -- https://com.google/.

Feeling ykcul? elgooG; TENC yb tohsneercS

T-Mobile, meanwhile, pokes fun at itself and its frequent attacks on rivals AT&T and Verizon, while also skewering the seemingly irresistible allure of smartphone screens, the latest trendy apps, and even, um, pony porn. It seems Fido can't wait to whip out a phone at the dinner table, and that Trigger is desperate to giddyup. Luckily, T-Mobile has just the plan.

"For years, the old guard carriers have had the audacity to shill their so-called 'family' plans when, in fact, those plans aren't even available to the entire family," T-Mobile's famously mischievous CEO, John Legere, says in a blog post. "This is a huge problem. The scope of this carrier scam is shocking. But, today, we're setting it right. Today, we're launching Pets Un-leashed and expanding our family plans to include your entire family" -- i.e., your cat, boa constrictor and turtle too.

Legere's blog post includes a satirical promotional video that manages to be quite amusing, not least because it has fun with the company's own frenetic approach to advertising. It's embedded below, for some April Fools' high jinks. The joke also has a charitable element, which you can check out by visiting the official Pets Un-leashed webpage.

[embedded content]

from CNET http://bit.ly/1MxpX4O

Pricing and availability for Microsoft's Surface 3 in Asia-Pacific region

Microsoft's latest tablet will also be sold in Asia at the same time as its US launch. Sarah Tew

Microsoft's latest 10.8-inch tablet, the Surface 3, will be retailing globally on May 5, and the Redmond-based tech company will also be matching the release date in the Asia-Pacific region.

Countries in the region that will be getting the tablet on May 5 include Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and New Zealand. While Microsoft has no word yet on whether the LTE version of the tablet will see release in these countries, it would make sense given the fact that most of these markets already have robust 4G networks.

Pre-orders begin on April 2, and those living in Australia, Singapore and New Zealand can do so via Microsoft's online store. For other markets, the tablets will be sold through retail partners.

The Surface 3's availability in China and Japan was not disclosed in the release, and Microsoft said it would be revealed at a later date.

Below is the pricing breakdown in a handy table in local currency. If you're in two minds about picking up the 10.8-inch Intel Atom-powered tablet, be sure to check out CNET's Surface 3 hands-on.

RRP 2 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage
Hong KongHK$501HK$605
Korea600,000 Korean Won720,000 Korean Won
New ZealandNZ$799NZ$959
Thailand17,400 Thai Baht21,400 Thai Baht
Malaysia1,879 Ringgit2,249 Ringgit

from CNET http://bit.ly/1I32zc0

Cards Against Humanity starts scholarship for women in science

Proceeds from sales of the Science Pack will fund a scholarship for women studying STEM subjects. Proceeds from sales of the Science Pack will fund a scholarship for women studying STEM subjects. Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity has shown its true colours. Outing itself as Cards Against the Humanities, it has announced the formation of the Cards Against Humanity Science Ambassador Scholarship.

The full-ride scholarship will be funded by proceeds from the adults-only card game's latest expansion -- the aptly themed Science Pack -- and is for women seeking undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the so-called STEM subjects).

"Everyone at Cards Against Humanity was fortunate enough to receive a great college education that helped us find a job that we're passionate about, and our goal with this scholarship is to make that opportunity available to others," Jenn Bane, Cards Against Humanity's community manager, said in a press release. "Several of the co-creators of Cards Against Humanity earned degrees in science, whereas I got a degree in journalism. Now look at where I am. Writing this press release for them."

More than that, the team was determined to address the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields.

"We felt like the funding from this pack could have the greatest impact by making it possible for more women to get an education in those fields, and by giving them a platform to share their work and their passion for science," Cards Against Humanity co-creator Josh Dillon said in a release. Dillon will defend his thesis on astrophysics at MIT next month.

According to the release, "applicants can be in high school or college, and must identify as women in a way that's significant to them. Recipients of the Cards Against Humanity Science Ambassador Scholarship will receive full tuition coverage for up to four years." Prospective applicants can sign up at ScienceAmbassadorScholarship.org to be notified when applications are opened for the fall 2016 school year.

The applications will be reviewed by a board of over 40 notable women in science, who hold higher degrees and work professionally in the field, including representatives from NASA, Harvard Medical School, the Smithsonian Institution, the Adler Planetarium and the US Army Corps of Engineers, as well as TED, NSF, Huxley, and Hubble fellows.

It's not Cards Against Humanity's first foray into charity either, with previous similar packs having raised nearly $2 million for organisations like the Wikimedia Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation, as well as funding for poverty-stricken classrooms across the US.

Already available on the Cards Against Humanity website for $10, the Science Pack is "about the hit system of knowledge known worldwide as 'science,'" and was co-written with Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait and SMBC's Zach Weinersmith.

Thanks to this charitable initiative on the part of Cards Against Humanity, we can all continue to be horrible people, totally absolved of any guilt incurred by playing the game. Which you can now do online. For science.

from CNET http://bit.ly/1I32BAR

Corazón del Fuego

Wanting to get a closer look at Fuego, a highly active volcano in Guatemala, Andrew Shepard hiked the adjacent Acatenango Volcano and camped near the summit. “Under the moonlight I set my tripod up just outside the tent, and at around 1:30 a.m. we awoke to the rumbling of the ground and the sound of a breath-stealing explosion,” Shepard writes. “I scrambled to the camera just in time [to] capture a moonlit and lava-covered Fuego as it put on this beautiful display of activity and power."

from National Geographic http://bit.ly/19HwKqe

Worm lizards dispersed by 'rafting' over oceans, not continental drift

Tiny songbird discovered to migrate non-stop, 1,500 miles over the Atlantic

Worm lizards dispersed by 'rafting' over oceans, not continental drift

Tiny songbird discovered to migrate non-stop, 1,500 miles over the Atlantic

Cultivating timeflow: Can consumers shape how they experience time?

Saving money: Do consumers spend less if they think about the future?

A matter of taste: When do products benefit from mixed reviews?

Dress made from beer and bacteria isn't an April Fools joke (Tomorrow Daily 153)

It's the last day of March, which means it's Ashley's birthday! Don't worry, though, we're not taking the day off, we're celebrating with you on the show. We've got some fake stories and some real stories today, because we may or may not be planning something special for tomorrow. No big deal.

In the "real stories" column, we're discussing Facebook's plan to use boomerang-looking drones to beam down internet to rural corners of the planet. Obviously, not all 6 billion people on Earth have a Facebook account and we're assuming that's the goal here. We're also getting into this crazy beer dress, which looks way better than the designer's previous effort (a stinky wine dress that looked like wet Fruit Roll-ups).

We've also got a couple of early April Fools' Day gags on today's show, but from other companies. We'd never try to pull one over on your eyes, everyone. You're way smarter than that, and we know it.

153: Dress made from beer and bacteria isn't an April Fools joke

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Here are some links and notes for all the things on the show today:

Of course, you can find us everywhere on social media. Like, follow and heart us as you desire!

Tomorrow Daily on: Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Google+

Ashley on Twitter | Khail on Twitter

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from CNET http://bit.ly/1CKaKqF

WhatsApp for Android now offers voice calling to all users

whatsapp-logo.jpg Voice calling is now available to all WhatApps users. WhatsApp

WhatsApp users on Android can now all tap into the app's new voice-calling feature.

Rolled out in February to a small number of people, the call feature then expanded to invitation-only by those who were able to get the feature. Now it's available to all Android phone users. There's just one catch. You may not be able to get it from the version currently up at the Google Play Store.

WhatsApp version 2.12.19 does include the calling feature, according to Android Police. But that version is available only as an APK file (Android application package), which is not as easy to install as an app you download directly from Google Play. Version 2.12.19 is the latest one available through the APK.

On Google Play, you'll also see WhatsApp version 2.12.5, and according to The Next Web, that older version also enables the feature. However, Android Police said that it's seen reports of the calling feature not working under older versions of WhatsApp.

A WhatsApp support rep told CNET that you should be on the latest version of the app. So if you really want to trade phone calls with a fellow WhatsApp user, your best bet seems to be to download the version 2.12.19 APK file.

Now owned by Facebook, which paid $19 billion to acquire it, WhatsApp started life as a basic text-messaging app but one that also offered the ability to leave voice messages. The company has been promising to add a phone-calling feature, which would give the app the leverage to compete against similar services such as Skype and Viber. At last year's Mobile World Congress, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum said the voice calling would roll out to Android phones and the iPhone first, and then to Windows Phone and some BlackBerry phones.

So when will the voice-calling feature reach iPhone users? At Facebook's F8 developers conference last week, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton seemed to indicate that it could be out within a matter of not too many weeks, according to VentureBeat.

Here's how you get that APK file to try out the voice calling:

Normally, you should never download an APK file onto your Android device unless you're sure of its source. But in this case, the file comes from WhatsApp, so the source seems legitimate.

First, you'll need to download the actual file, either directly from WhatsApp or from an APK Mirror site. You can then follow the steps in this CNET tutorial on how to install an APK file.

After you open the app, you'll see a new tab for Calls, according to TNW. Simply tap that tab and then select the name of the person you wish to call.

from CNET http://bit.ly/1EA3WOz

VW celebrates 60 years in the US (pictures)

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Volkswagen brings four special edition Beetles to the 2015 New York auto show to celebrate 60 years in the American market.

from CNET http://bit.ly/1CuhlUN

A planet like Star Wars' Tatooine just became more science than fiction

tatooine4leey3.jpg An artist's rendition of sunset on a real-life Tatooine. Ben Bromley/University of Utah

When Luke Skywalker stares off toward the horizon of Tatooine at a double sunset in "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope," we know we're watching a moment of pure science fiction. At least, that was the assumption until now, as it appears that the science may have just caught up with the fiction.

So far, astronomers using Kepler Space Telescope data have only identified a handful of planets orbiting binary star systems, but none of them are the Earth-like, habitable -- if extremely tumultuous -- type of orb that spawned Luke and Anakin (although at least one such planet candidate was identified using other techniques). Rather, they tend to be larger gas giants like Neptune or Bespin. (Astronomers have yet to spot any Cloud Cities in the upper atmospheres of these planets.)

The assumption among scientists until now has been that the orbits of potential planetesimals around a two-star system would be more oblong and plagued by "ripples" in their paths rather than the smoother, neat concentric circles seen in solar systems like our own that allow planets to develop without risk of colliding with each other.

But a pair of astrophysicists -- Ben Bromley of the University of Utah and Scott Kenyon of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory -- have released findings that seem to show that rocky planets could actually form around twin suns like those that made a young Skywalker cease his whining for a brief, pensive moment to foreshadow his own rise to greatness.

The basic idea, derived from mathematical computations and simulations, is that while rocky planets might have more oval-like orbits around two stars, they could still be safely nested, allowing for something like Tatooine to develop without getting blasted by one if its neighbors. It would still want to watch out for the destructive rule of the Rakata, though.

The paper, "Planet formation around binary stars: Tatooine made easy," has been submitted to Astrophysical Journal, but a draft is available online.

"We took our sweet numerical time to show that the ride around a pair of stars can be just as smooth as around one," when it comes to the early steps of planet formation, Bromley said in a statement. "The 'made easy' part is really saying the same recipe that works around the sun will work around Tatooine's host stars."

While the findings are exciting for giving new viability to the "Star Wars" universe, the fact remains that any real-life Tatooines could only exist in galaxies far, far away -- or perhaps in our own galaxy, but still far, far away.

from CNET http://bit.ly/1DoZq3O

Discovering missing body parts of ancient fossils: Waves and storms lifted fossils off the seafloor 550 million years ago

Better method for forecasting hurricane season

Model Helps City Planners Prepare to Weather Large Storms

Amazon Dash Buttons may be the future of grocery shopping

You don't need to go on Amazon anymore to shop on Amazon.

Amazon has a new concept to make grocery shopping less of a chore. If you're running low on a product, just press a button to order more to be shipped. Watch CNET Update to learn about the Amazon Dash Button, as well as Google's latest push into classrooms with new, low-cost Chromebooks and the Chromebit:

Also in this tech news roundup, learn how Jay-Z's Tidal music service is challenging Spotify -- and why it'll take more than star power to turn the tide for paid music streaming.

CNET Update delivers the tech news you need in under three minutes. Watch Bridget Carey every afternoon for a breakdown of the big stories, hot devices, new apps, and what's ahead. Subscribe to the podcast via the links below.


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Amazon Dash Buttons may be the future of grocery shopping

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from CNET http://bit.ly/1EzdlWC

Brik Case turns your MacBook into a Lego playground

Brik Case The Brik Case is a constantly evolving art project. Jolt Team

The Brik Case on Kickstarter kicks off its project description with a disclaimer. It's not affiliated in any way with Lego, Mega Bloks, PixelBlocks, KRE-O or K'Nex Bricks. Now that we have that out of the way, let's move on to exactly how fun this product looks.

The Brik Case is a simple concept. It covers the top of your MacBook with a studded surface suitable for sticking all sorts of plastic building bricks onto. The project gives some examples, like clicking flat pieces on the cover to re-create the Apple logo, fashioning a business card holder or letting your kid build on it while you work.

Let's contemplate this for a moment. The beauty of the Brik case is that it's a blank canvas. Use it to display your business logo or a favorite hashtag in bricks. De-stress by closing your laptop and building structures to take your mind off work for a few minutes. You could get really crazy with it and reenact whole "Star Wars" scenes using Lego kits. Sure, you might not be able to fit your laptop into a laptop bag without disturbing the Force, but it would be worth it.

The covers will fit a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air manufactured in 2013 or later and are going for a $35 (about £24, AU$46) pledge. That price includes a bag of 100 1x1 bricks, the thin kind that will (hopefully) stay in place when you slide your laptop in and out of a bag.

The Brik Case is a way to reconcile our adult working lives with joys of creation from our childhood days. Just because you're all grown up now and using an expensive laptop doesn't mean you have to leave behind the imaginative world of building blocks. You can have it all.

Brik Case Make it your own. Jolt Team

from CNET http://bit.ly/19GefCP

Protein may improve liver regeneration: GF21 boosts regenerative ability in mice carrying human PPAR alpha protein

Skin tough: Why skin is resistant to tearing

Stereotypes persist that class, privilege determine intellect and success

In Alzheimer's mice, memory restored with cancer drug

Soil organic matter susceptible to climate change

Exercise largely absent from US medical school curriculum, study shows

Bullying by students with disabilities reduced by social-emotional learning

Tweets by new 'Daily Show' host Trevor Noah come back to haunt him

Trevor Noah Trevor Noah steps into Jon Stewart's shoes. Comedy Central

Fans of "The Daily Show," the humorous news program run by longtime host Jon Stewart, found out who would step into their departing hero's shoes this weekend. South African comedian Trevor Noah, who has logged a few appearances on the show, is taking over the reins on Comedy Central.

The gig is a high-profile position, and with that comes a considerable amount of scrutiny. Noah's Twitter history has now been raked through, with some people calling into question the taste of certain jokes posted on the social-media site, particularly ones referencing Jewish people and women.

Comedy Central and Noah have yet to respond to the controversy, but lots of Twitter users are having their say about it. Noah has supporters. The "fat chicks" tweet from 2011 has 281 retweets and 103 favorites. Others are calling him anti-Semitic.

Some Twitter users called Noah out for being unfunny. Humor columnist Candy Kirby tweets, "@Trevornoah's 'jokes' slamming Jewish kids & fat chicks? Stupid, not funny. Archie Bunker did it better in 1971. Great pick, @ComedyCentral!"

Director and producer Julie Cohen tweets, "My complaint about the @trevornoah tweets isn't the mild offensiveness but the SEVERE unfunniness. fat chicks? really?"

Abraham H. Foxman, the director of the Anti-Defamation League, released a statement welcoming Noah to his new role and acknowledging the importance of humor. Foxman's statement includes this call for discretion:

We hope he will not cross the line from legitimate satire into offensiveness with jokes calling up anti-Semitic stereotypes and misogyny. And we hope that he and Comedy Central will make a conscious effort to ensure that The Daily Show remains funny and irreverent without trafficking in bigoted jokes at the expense of Jews, other minorities and women.

It remains to be seen if Noah's tweets and the backlash against them will impact his debut on "The Daily Show." Comedy Central has yet to set a date for Noah's hosting premiere, but Stewart is expected to step down sometime this year.

(Via New York Times)

from CNET http://bit.ly/1Gdb5TO

The rapid rise of human language

Criminologist challenges effectiveness of solitary confinement

Significant reduction in fatal car crashes after increase in alcohol taxes

Non-invasive technique allows amputee to use bionic hand, powered by his thoughts

Non-invasive technique allows amputee to use bionic hand, powered by his thoughts

Soft, energy-efficient robotic wings