Gamers more likely to experience sweet, lucid dreams

29 05 2010


New research coming out of Grant MacEwan University in Alberta, Canada has left us feeling a little… creepy. It turns out that gamers and those who have lucid dreams — in which the person is aware of the fact that they’re dreaming and can sometimes control the dreams — have a few things in common. Namely, both are usually less prone to motion sickness and possess better spatial skills, as well as demonstrating higher levels of concentration. This led Jayne Gackenbach — whose previous work had been in the field of lucid dreaming — to surmise that incessant gamers might just be more likely to also be lucid dreamers. And guess what? Her research corroborated that — and a second study revealed even more interesting tidbits — such as the fact that gamers are also more likely to switch from first person to third person “out of body” views in dreams, as well. So, where does all of this lead us? Gackenbach sees the data and findings as applicable in the treatment of persistent nightmares, which can often be “ended” if the dreamer is able to take control of the situation, and ultimately could help treat certain stress-related disorders like PTSD. We’ll have to see what the future holds, but we certainly aren’t surprised to hear that heavy gamers can be cool even as they sleep.

via BoingBoing
source LiveScience


Firefox Home ‘coming soon’ to iPhone, will sync with desktop browser

26 05 2010


Continuous client functionality, you say? Sounds like Mozilla might be just what the doctor ordered. The company has announced that its upcoming Firefox Home app is coming soon to the iPhone. The program will sync up with your desktop client so that you can go mobile with all your browsing history, bookmarks and “the set of tabs from [your] most recent browser session” going along for the ride. Not only that, but there’s an “Awesome Bar” — Mozilla’s words, not ours — that’ll let you search through everything and predict options based on the available data. While not a “full” Firefox browser, according to the blog post (with the addendum, “either technically or due to policy”), the pages still load from within the app itself. No solidified release date yet — it’s still being polished for app store submission, but Opera’s luck give us hope for a smooth approval. In the meantime, you can get a quick preview in the video after the break.

source Mozilla blog

Fox Mobile launces Bitbop beta; a Hulu for your phone

26 05 2010


While Hulu might be missing out on the mobile space due to licensing issues, Fox Mobile-backed Bitbop is looking to step in and take the reins. The app, currently in beta and available only for select BlackBerry devices, has 25 content partners including Fox (of course), CBS, NBC, and Comedy Central. It’s said to work over WiFi or even 3G data connections and is free so far, though a section in the FAQ intimates that Fox will also launch a premium plan with “unlimited, full-length, network TV shows with no commercial interruptions” for $10 a month, and mobile movie rentals are also apparently on the way. And never fear, Android and iPhone lovers — mocoNews reports that apps for your smartphone of choice are coming, too. Let’s hope Fox gets it working on Froyo, before Hulu kills that workaround.

via mocoNews
source Bitbop

America’s Best & Worst “Health” Drinks

26 05 2010

Whoever invented bottled water was a genius. Think about it: They took a widely available and nearly free commodity, packaged it nice and pretty, and sold it for hundreds of times more than what the public version costs. And how did they do it? Savvy marketing. Water bottle labels evoke images of freshness and purity that you just don’t get from a running tap. Don’t be fooled, though. About a quarter of bottled water actually comes from municipal sources.

When it comes to your health, bottled water is a fine choice. Water that meets minimum safety standards is good for you, regardless of the source. But the rest of the beverages in the supermarket that boast equally idyllic sounding health benefits might not be. Over the past three years, the Eat This, Not That! book series has exposed hundreds of food frauds. And now, our latest book, Drink This, Not That!, does the same for beverages.

What I learned, above all: What we drink is making us fat. We’re consuming at least a quarter of our daily calories in liquid form–more than 450 calories a day–and that’s a major factor in our nation’s obesity epidemic. Watching what you drink is just as important, if not more so, than watching what you eat, especially if you’re trying to shed belly fat. The trick, as always, is to distinguish between healthful drinks, and healthful sounding drinks. Here, I’ve listed the 6 worst “health” drinks in America. Steer clear of these bloating beverages and drink their healthiest alternatives instead. You can lose up to two pounds a week!

Worst Water
Snapple Agave Melon Antioxidant Water (1 bottle, 20 fl oz)
150 calories
0 g fat
33 g sugars (8 teaspoons of the stuff!)
Sugar Equivalent: 2 Good Humor Chocolate Éclair Bars

While “Worst Water” may sound like an oxymoron, the devious minds in the bottled beverage industry have even found a way to besmirch the sterling reputation of the world’s most essential compound. Sure, you may get a few extra vitamins, but ultimately, you’re paying a premium price for gussied-up sugar water. Next time you buy a bottle of water, check the recipe: You want two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen, and very little else.

Drink This Instead!
0 calories
0 g sugars

Food manufacturers are masters in the art of effortless weight gain. (Which is why my mission with Eat This, Not That! is to make effortless weight LOSS a reality for you!) Click here to discover the 30 “Healthy” Foods that Aren’t. You’ll be shocked by the pounds of fat you may unwittingly gain while thinking that you’re eating healthy.

Worst Bottled Tea

SoBe Green Tea (1 bottle, 20 fl oz)
240 calories
0 g fat
61 g sugars (15 teaspoons of the stuff!)
Sugar Equivalent: 4 slices Sara Lee Cherry Pie

Leave it to SoBe to take an otherwise healthy bottle of tea and inject it with enough sugar to turn it into dessert. The Pepsi-owned company’s flagship line, composed of 11 flavors with names like “Nirvana” and “Cranberry Grapefruit Elixir” is marketed to give consumers the impression that it can cleanse the body, mind, and spirit. Don’t be fooled. Just like this bottle of green tea, all of these beverages are made with two primary ingredients: water and sugar.

Drink This Instead!

Honest Tea Green Dragon Tea (1 bottle, 16 fl oz)
60 calories
0 g fat
16 g sugars
(Everything you need to know about cereal is right here: America’s Best and Worst Cereals. Keep the sugar down and the fiber up for a perfect start to your day.)

Worst Meal Replacement Drink

Right Size Skini Vanilli (14 fl oz bottle)
263 calories
5.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated)
30 g sugars

The Skinni sell is hard to swallow when it comes with as much sugar as two scoops of Breyers vanilla ice cream. Whether it’s weight loss, appetite control, or muscle growth you seek, look for shakes high in protein and fiber and low in sugar, like the Slim-Fast! French Vanilla. The classic weight-loss shake curbs hunger with a respectable 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.

Drink This Instead!

Slim-Fast! French Vanilla (11 fl oz can)
180 calories
6 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
18 g sugars

Discover more loveable liquids by browsing through our Best Beers and Best Coffee Drinks slideshows. It’ll help you start–and end–your days in perfect shape.

Worst Functional Beverage

Arizona Rx Energy (1 can, 23 fl oz)
345 calories
0 g fat
83 g sugars (21 teaspoons of the stuff!)
Sugar Equivalent: 6 Cinnamon Roll Pop-Tarts

Obviously Arizona took great pains in making sure this can came out looking like something you’d find in a pharmacy. But if your pharmacist ever tries to sell you this much sugar, he should have his license revoked. And if it’s energy you’re after, this isn’t your best vehicle. Caffeine is the only compound in the bottle that’s been proven to provide energy, and the amount found within is about what you’d get from a weak cup of coffee.

Drink This Instead!

Glaceau Vitamin Water 10 Revitalize Green Tea (1 bottle, 20 fl oz)
25 calories
0 g fat
8 g sugars
vitamin water

Worst Frozen Fruit Drink

Krispy Kreme Lemon Sherbet Chiller (20 fl oz)
980 calories
40 g fat (36 g saturated)
115 g sugars (29 teaspoons of the stuff!)
krispy kreme
Sugar Equivalent: 16 medium-size chocolate eclairs

Imagine taking a regular can of soda, pouring in 18 extra teaspoons of sugar, and then swirling in half a cup of heavy cream. Nutritionally speaking, that’s exactly what this is, which is how it manages to marry nearly two days’ worth of saturated fat with enough sugar to leave you with a serious sucrose hangover. Do your heart a favor and avoid any of Krispy Kreme’s “Kremey” beverages. The basic Chillers aren’t the safest of sippables either, but they’ll save you up to 880 calories.

Drink This Instead!

Very Berry Chiller (20 fl oz)
290 calories
0 g fat
71 g sugars
very berry chiller

Worst “Health” Drink in America

Smoothie King Peanut Power Plus Grape (large, 40 fl oz)
1,498 calories
44 g fat (8 g saturated)
214 g sugars (a mind-blowing 54 teaspoons’ worth!)
Sugar Equivalent: 20 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

If Smoothie King wants someone to blame for landing this high on our worst beverages roundup (and truth be told, its entire menu is riddled with contenders), the chain should point the smoothie straw at whichever executive came up with the cup-sizing structure. Sending someone out the door with a 40-ounce cup? Who really needs a third of a gallon of sweetened peanut butter blended with grape juice, milk, and bananas? Sugar-and-fat-loaded smoothies like this should be served from 12-ounce cups, not mini kegs.

Drink This Instead!

High Protein Banana (small, 20 fl oz)
322 calories
9 g fat (1 g saturated)
23 g sugars

And don’t forget, you can still melt those 18 pounds of belly fat–without giving up your favorite foods. You just need to make smart substitutions wherever you are. For starters, avoid everything on this list: The 20 Worst Restaurant Foods in America. You’ll lose weight faster than ever—again, without ever dieting again. That’s the Eat This, Not That! mission.

Sony’s PSN+ Service to Seriously Compete With Xbox Live?

25 05 2010


According to a rumor over on Joystick, Sony is set to announce PSN+ at E3 next month, a premium version of their PlayStation Network service. The alleged benefits sound fantastic.

• Cross-game chatting
• (Free?) access to rotating list of PSOne Classics and PSP Minis
• Downloading some full retail games from demo titles
• Free PlayStation Protection Plan
• Cloud-based game saves (yes!)

The price was speculated at $10/month by one of the leak’s sources, but honestly, Sony has to know such pricing would be too high. There must be a yearly rate in the works that, hopefully, will be on par with Live. [Joystiq]

MIT researchers develop the most fabulous gesture control technique yet

24 05 2010

When looking for a cheap, reliable way to track gestures, Robert Wang and Jovan Popovic of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory came upon this notion: why not paint the operator’s hands (or better yet, his Lycra gloves) in a manner that will allow the computer to differentiate between different parts of the hand, and differentiate between the hand and the background? Starting with something that Howie Mandel might have worn in the 80s, the researchers are able to use a simple webcam to track the hands’ locations and gestures — with relatively little lag. The glove itself is split into twenty patches made up of ten different colors, and while there’s no telling when this technology will be available for consumers, something tells us that when it does become available it’ll be very hard not to notice. Video after the break.

Halo: Reach Beta Hands on Preview

22 05 2010

So its just like Halo 3 then? This was a sarcastic question heard from a friend of mine. My reply? Erm, kind of. This is true in some instances.

Theres still quite a lot of jumping, theres still far too many people who can headshot you faster than blink and theres still plenty of grenades flying about the place. But Reach is far more hectic than the traditional multiplayer mechanics, in fact Halo 3 is almost polite and kind compared to the brashness of Reach.

The reason for this is the class system implemented in Reach. In many of the game modes on display you can choose from several classes: Scout allows you to sprint, stalker gives you the power of invisibility, guard gives you temporary invulnerability and airborne gives you a jetpack. Its pretty safe to say that these additions alone change the way you play Halo online completely.

Each ability is balanced with a power bar that depletes as it is being used, so monitoring the use is crucial. Why sneak around cloaked if it runs out just as you approach an enemy? Why guard gunfire when a sticky grenade may stick to you straight after? Its this interplay of ability and traditional skill that takes Reach to a new level and, dare I say, one that supersedes Halo 3.

But its not just the tactics of class selection that pushes Reach to greatness. Theres a raft of new medals for the Halo fanatics to aim for, there are new weapons to use and plenty of game types on the horizon. The weapons alone are sublime. The needle rifle is brutal when used correctly, the handgun is powerful at any range and the new DMR rifle is soon to be a favourite of many players.

The DMR is a scoped rifle that can headshot players easily; the gun soon became a favourite of mine due to its use in team SWAT.

Yes, SWAT is back, as is standard deathmatch and CTF variants. A popular choice currently is the game type, stockpile which sees the map scattered with unclaimed flags and you have a time limit in which to grab them and get them to your base. Such is the genius of Bungies creation each game type is simple to get the grips of and the two maps simply shine under the choice of games available.

There will of course be more released from Bungie as the beta continues but the two solitary maps to be played now are wonderful. Sword Base is a futuristic ship interior set over six levels that gives plenty of verticality.

Glass walkways will allow for views of your enemy and allow you to work around the levels to get the jump on them and a mancannon in the middle will allow for fast movement between floors. SWAT plays very well on this map due to the hiding spots and corridors, but the map falls short on CTF games due to the maze like structure.

Powerhouse is the other map on offer right now and it is fantastic to play. Every game type works well here. It has a central circular structure with a river running into it, surrounding this area is out buildings and a large multi level building. Great for CTF, there are plenty of routes to take and the natural surroundings help with hiding from unsuspecting foes as you jump out and take them down.

And theres still more. Not only do we have well designed maps, great game types and weapons but the matchmaking is better than ever. As Bungie pretty much invented the best matchmaking system on Xbox Live, could it really get any better? Yes. Yes it can.

Choose if you want to play with polite people, do you want to play with team players or lone wolves? Then by all means select it. Want to see what friends are playing? Then its right there on the matchmaking screen, fancy joining them? Just hit the X button. Its simpler than ever to play with friends and enjoy the game together.

When you look at everything that Bungie has implemented in Reach its clear to say that, yes it is similar to Halo 3, but its much more now. Experts will instantly be at home and gain a love for the new shiny things on display and newbies will enjoy the ease of the class system as it breaks down barriers in the online play.

There is so much to talk about that I could ramble on for another thousand words, but I shant. By the time you read this the beta will be live and there will be thousands of people ready to play. So choose your class and jump into the action.