TowleTech Hub

Towletech v.119: Robin Williams Zelda Petition, QR Graves, Interstellar, Robot Butlers



A weekly round-up of the best tech, science, and geek-related news from around the web.

Road Robin Williams fans are petitioning Nintendo to have the comedic actor memorialized in the next Legend of Zelda video game. Williams was a long-time fan of the game series and even named his daughter after the franchise's titular princess. He also appeared in a series of Nintendo ads a few years back for the franchise. 

Road Amazon jumps into the mobile card reader field - hoping to knock out Square and PayPal with lower flat charges.

Road Anchorage city council has voted to let families place QR codes on gravestones -  giving families and visitors an interactive obituary for departed loved ones. 

This Doctor Who fan-made opening shown below is so amazing that showrunner Stephen Moffat plans on using it as the basis for the actual opening credits for the upcoming 8th season. 


Road Interactive yoga mats are in the works - which can track progress, provide feedback, and help perfect your downward dog.

InterstellarRoad New images of Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway in Chris Nolan's upcoming sci-fi blockbuster Interstellar.

Road Comcast and Time Warner have backed out of a combined $132,000 in spending to honor the FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn following pressure from net neutrality advocates and a DC-based watchdog group. The FCC is also giving people until September 15th to weigh in on net neutrality.

Road Actor Michael Cera releases lo-fi indie folk album True That.  

Road The team behind Apple's Siri is building a new artificial intelligence that will be able to teach itself and do anything you ask. Hmm..

Road 5G network coverage might begin its rollout by decade's end.

Road Harvard researchers have developed mass-manufactured 'Kilobots' that can self-assemble in some impressive thousand-robot swarm formations.

Road Check out "Humans Need Not Apply" a video about the coming reality of technological unemployment. “Just as mechanical muscles made human labor less in demand, so are mechanical minds making human brain labor less in demand.”


Road New details emerge about Star Wars: Episode VII's rumored Sith villains.

Road Want a streaming device but don't know the difference between Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Chromecast? IGN has you covered with a comprehensive breakdown of each devices' pros and cons.

BotlrRoad A Palo Alto hotel is rolling out two robotic butlers ("Botlrs") for room service requests. "When a guest calls down and asks for a toothbrush or extra towels, hotel employees simply load up the robot with the requested items, dial in the room number, and the Botlr handles the rest."  

Road A new app can tell you which other apps are sapping your phone's battery life. Perhaps one of them is Tom Hanks' new typewriter app?

Road "I'm sorry," says Ethan Zuckerman, the man who invented pop-up ads. 

Road Apple CEO Tim Cook takes the ice bucket challenge. 

Road Twitter suspends the account of hactivist group Anonymous after it falsely identifies a Missouri man as Darren Wilson, the Ferguson cop who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. 

Road The internet is now officially more popular that cable in the U.S.

Got something you think would be cool for the round-up? Tweet me @kylergee

Towletech v.118: Supermoon, Eddie Redmayne, Jurassic Wedding, Curiosity Rover

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 12.37.51 PM


A weekly round-up of the best tech, science, and geek-related news from around the web.

 Road Tonight's supermoon will be the biggest of the year

 Road Tesla and Space X founder Elon Musk says artificial intelligence could potentially be "more dangerous than nukes" 

 Road Check out the debut trailer for The Theory of Everything - the upcoming film starring Eddie Redmayne as renowned physicist Stephen Hawking:


 Road Researchers can now listen to voices in a room by filming a bag of chips and analyzing the video of the vibrations on the bag. 

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 12.47.30 PM Road Terminator 5 gets official title Terminator: Genisys. The film, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, and Jai Courtney, opens July 1, 2015. 

 Road Jeff Goldblum really knows how to inject some adrenaline into a wedding.  

 Road Samsung is reportedly working on a new phone with a wraparound, flexible display. 

 Road Legendary Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli announced it will be taking a "brief pause" from making films. 

 Road Neil deGrasse Tyson tells people to "chill out" about genetically modified food (GMOs), issues follow up message after people proceed to not chill out. 

 Road Tyson also narrated a new video this week celebrating the Mars 'Curiosity' rover and how it has exceeded all expectations these past two years on the martian surface.  


 Road Optical computers, the kind that could perform calculations at the speed of light, could be on your desk by 2020.

 Road Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 1.02.01 PMHBO's upcoming re-imagining of Michael Crichton's sci-fi western thriller Westworld adds James Marsden to its cast, which already includes Sir Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood.  

 Road Introducing the washing machine that can fit in your backpack

 Road Wired looks at what happens when technological innovation leads to jobs becoming obselete. "The idea that robots could make employment itself optional may sound fantastic. No more work! But the end result could be more, not less angst. We’d still have to find our place among the robots, except this time without work as a guidepost for defining a sense of purpose. By eliminating the need for people to work, robots would free us up to focus on what really makes us human. The scariest possibility of all is that only then do we figure out what really makes us human is work."

 Road Amazon and publisher Hachette continue to be at each other's throats over the price of ebooks with Amazon raising prices on Hachette books, stopping pre-orders, delaying shipping times, and getting readers to sound off until the dispute is resolved. 

 Road President Obama spoke out in favor of net neutrality this week and the tech community was understandably pleased

Towletech V.109 - A Round-Up of the Best Tech, Science, and Geek-Related News from the Web


A round-up of the best tech, science, and geek-related news from around the web.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 3.49.32 PMRoad (1) This oven-baked lens costs less than a penny and can turn your smartphone into a microscope.  

Road (1) The future of photography is here. "Unlike other cameras, which essentially capture a 2-D approximation of a scene, the Illum’s lens takes in the 4-D light field and renders that data into a manipulatable, interactive image. This means you can take a picture, and then refocus or shift the perspective slightly."

Road (1) The cast for Star Wars Episode VII has finally been revealed.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 3.53.26 PMRoad (1) The Department of Homeland Security is advising computer users to refrain from using Internet Explorer until a fix is found for a serious security flaw that allows hackers to control your PC.

Road (1) Is Apple gearing up for a Paypal/Google Wallet-style mobille payment service?

Road (1) Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 4.09.35 PM The limitless posibilities of Google Glass and the wearables revolution. "Bicyclists will use info-glasses as a heads-up display for everything from road speed and map route to heart rate and glucose levels...Parents who are out to dinner will be able to discretely listen in on the baby monitor back home or view streaming video off a bedroom webcam…imagine an app that uses face recognition to tell you the name of the acquaintance walking toward you and your spouse at a cocktail party, sparing everyone the embarrassment of a fumbled introduction." 

Road (1) Cosmos explores the birth, death and chemical composition of stars.

Road (1) Wired looks at the budding relationship between Silicon Valley entreprenurs and the cannabis industry. "For the science and technology set, it’s a classic opportunity to disrupt an industry historically run by hippies and gangsters. And the entire tech-industrial complex is getting in on the action: investors, entrepreneurs, biotechnologists, scientists, industrial designers, electrical engineers, data analysts, software developers. Industry types with experience at Apple and Juniper and Silicon Valley Bank and Zynga and all manner of other companies are flocking to cannabis with the hopes of creating a breakout product for a burgeoning legitimate industry."

Road (1) We all know how frustrating it is trying to watch a movie over a laggy internet connection. But what if your entire life was lagged? Enter Oculus Rift and Swedish internet provider


Self_cleaning_car_06-660x440Road (1) Does Nissan's first self-cleaning vehicle mean that car washes will soon go the way of the record store? "The [car’s] paint, developed by engineers at the Nissan Technical Centre in the UK, is hydrophobic and oleophobic. That means it repels water and oil. That means the gunk and goo that normally sticks to your ride slides right off. It’s like wax, but better. Nissan’s engineers have applied the finish, called Ultra-Ever Dry, to a Nissan Note and say it does a remarkable job repelling rain, spray, frost, sleet and standing water. If the video is to be believed, mud literally slides right off." 

Road (1) In other automobile news, Google’s self-driving cars now demonstrate an impressive understanding of cyclists’ gestures and pedestrian behavior.


AtariRoad (1) The Holy Grail of video game artifacts has been found. "Digging in Alamogordo, New Mexico [Saturday], excavators discovered cartridges for the critically-panned Atari game E.T., buried in a landfill way back in 1983 after Atari couldn't figure out what else to do with their unsold copies. For decades, legend had it that Atari put millions of E.T. cartridges in the ground, though some skeptics have wondered whether such an extraordinary event actually happened."

Road (1) SpaceX shows off controlled Falcon 9 rocket soft landing, a possibe laying of the groundwork for the company’s long-term goal of bringing humans to Mars.

What Exactly Gets Better? Well, for starters... ; Towleroad Tips

If you just came out from under a rock this week, this is part of the It Gets Better Project on You Tube, launched by Dan Savage in response to increased coverage of suicides by young gay people, and likely an increase in actual attempts. This one by half of Logo's Jefferey and Cole team and TV writer Guy Branum speaks to the important role of friends in the end. A good reminder for any age.


Towleroad notes...

Though his talents differ from those of the friends portrayed in the video, thanks to my friend Rob for sending it on.

You too can always tip us on news or anything you think we should consider for Towleroad by sending us email at tips @ or through our contact page. Steve Pep's will be posting through the weekend, following a great effort in a  big news by by Andrew Belonsky. He continues Monday. And Andy Towle really will be back in another week.

And, Direct message to Andy T.: Yes you're missed. No, it isn't the same. Put down he iPad.

Bonus Tip: On an iPhone? Hit the bookmark button when on the site to get a direct link to the site among your apps.

Bonus Tip 2: Can't remember how to spell "towleroad"? Just start typing t-o-w-l in Google's real-time search and you're here. Or use the shortcut url of (like our twitter name) which forwards to the site automatically. 

Have a good weekend.

TowleTech v.108


Tt Summer is upon us, and authorities in Britain report that Google Earth and social networking sites are to blame for a new surge in pool-crashing. "The craze involves using the Google Earth programme, which provides high-quality aerial photos of Britain and other countries. Once a target is chosen, the organisers use social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo to arrange to meet, say police. Officers said that residents have woken up to find youngsters 'dipping' in their back gardens, or have come home from work to a swimming pool full of beer cans. One group has already boasted on the internet that it held an event earlier this week. Sixteen people are said to have gatecrashed two pools near Bournemouth. The rules of 'dipping' often include wearing fancy dress and participants are urged to 'bring a bike' to escape if discovered."

SnowwhiteTt Scientists are now nearly certain that they have found ice on Mars: "In a photograph released Thursday evening of a trench that the Phoenix Mars lander has dug into the Martian soil, some white patches that were seen earlier in the week have shrunk, and eight small chunks have disappeared. Until now, scientists were not sure if the white material was ice or some kind of salt. When exposed to air, water ice can change into water vapor, a process known as sublimation. Salt, on the other hand, is not capable of such a vanishing act. 'It must be ice,' said Dr. Peter H. Smith of the University of Arizona, the mission’s principal investigator. 'The whole science team thinks this. I think we feel this is definite proof that these are little chunks of icy material.'"

Tt Firefox 3 was released this week, and over 8 million copies of the popular browser were downloaded in the first 24 hours. Security flaws were found almost immediately.

SporewTt As I mentioned earlier this week, the Spore Creature Creator was released this week as well, leading to some, uh, intelligent design. Here's a first look from Macworld.

Tt Apple's iTunes music sales this week topped 5 billion songs: "Apple on Thursday said music sales on its iTunes store have topped 5 billion songs, and visitors are renting and purchasing more than 50,000 movies each day. Apple, which has surpassed Wal-Mart as the leading music retailer in the United States, put out a brief press release on the latest numbers, offering no further details. The company has a catalog of more than 8 million songs, 20,000 TV shows, and 2,000 films, including 350 in high-definition format."

Tt A 52-year-old man, suffering from advanced skin cancer, made a full recovery after being injected with billions of his own immune cells in a first-of-its-kind treatment: "After two years he is still free from the disease which had spread to his lymph nodes and one of his lungs. Doctors took cells from the man's own defence system that were found to attack the cancer cells best, cloned them and injected back into his body, in a process known as 'immunotherapy'. Experts said that the case could mark a landmark in the treatment of cancer."

LightningjarsTt Those of you nostalgic for those summer nights as a kid when you trapped fireflies in the backyard might enjoy these solar-powered jars that emit a golden glow once it gets dark. I only wish they twinkled a bit.

Tt Is Yahoo! playing too hard to get?

Tt Save Ferris? A high school hacker who broke into his school's computer system and changed his grades could face nearly four decades in jail: "As if changing a few grades wasn’t enough, Khan also allegedly 'altered the permanent transcripts of at least 12 other students at Tesoro High School' and installed a malware program on the computer system to give him access from anywhere. He was finally caught when he asked for his own transcript, at which time 'school officials noted a discrepancy.' Khan faces almost 70 various felony counts, adding up to a maximum of 38 years in jail."

Tt Google's Android platform is expected to challenge the iPhone for dominance in the touchscreen market once devices start to appear that utilize it. Here's a preview of how it works.

Tt Scientists finally uncovering mysteries of the whale shark: "It suddenly nose-dived, plummeting through the depths towards the sea bed using its tremendous weight to go faster and faster and then suddenly pulling out, using its own momentum. When it reached a certain height it plunged down again as thought it was on a helter-skelter, racing down the side of a hill and then using the speed to get up the other side. It went round and round in a fairly tight circle always maintaining the same undulating movement. It is like the way a bird dives, then soars, using its momentum and gravity to conserve as much energy as possible. It flies like a bird - but, in this case, a bird as large as a bus."


TowleTech v.107


Tt So the big news this week was the announcement of the long-awaited 3G iPhone (in black or white), which comes with built-in GPS. Here's Steve Jobs' keynote address in 60 seconds.

Tt The iPhone App store will be available in early July around the time of the phone's launch with the iPhone 2.0 software. It will work like the iTunes store, with users downloading free or paid applications via a button on the phone's interface. Games by Sega, an auction app from eBay, a mobile social networking app called Loopt, a TypePad blogging client, a news app from AP, a stats and score app from Major League Baseball, and a medical-oriented app called Modality were among those shown off. Expect many more as 250,000 of Apple's SDK (software development kit) have been downloaded from the company. Steve Jobs also demo'ed MobileMe (and its questionable logo) which replaces Apple's .Mac service and keeps you fully synced from phone to computer almost instantly.

Tt If you bought a 1st generation iPhone after May 27th, you get a 3G iPhone free. If you have a 1st generation iPhone and you upgrade to the 3G iPhone you can give your phone away to someone you love and they can activate a new account with it.

BrinTt Google founder Sergey Brin spent some pocket change ($5 million) investing in space tourist company Space Adventures. They book flights on Russian Soyuz rockets. Brin will reportedly get on board one of them in the next few years. Said Brin: "I am a big believer in the exploration and commercial development of the space frontier."

Tt Yahoo and Google entering into partnership around search advertising: "The deal is non-exclusive. Yahoo will be able to run Google ads alongside Yahoo ads or other ad providers. The deal is expected to add $800 million a year in revenues and $250 million to $450 million in operating cash flow. The deal only applies to paid search and contextual ads, not to algorithmic search."

Tt Firefox 3 to be released on June 17...

ZeppyTt Stephane Rousson, a 39-year-old Frenchman, No date has been set for the next attempt.

Tt A Bulova watch lost at sea was reunited with its owner after 67 years sitting at the bottom of Gibraltar Harbor. It was still working. Owner: "To say I was stunned could be considered a major understatement,' said Mr Bacon, a widower and father of four who is almost 90. It truly was a miracle that I had been reunited with that watch after a lifetime. Now I wear it every day and it keeps perfect time, even after all those years in the water. It is absolutely excellent and I consider it a long-lost friend.'"

Tt Here's a fascinating concept design study from BMW: "GINA, an acronym for "Geometry and Functions in N Adaptations," obviously. When motorized metal framing moves, changing the car's shape and function, its flexible fabric skin moves with it. (Quick: Someone tell Michael Bay.) And though it's fully functional, at the moment there are no plans for a production run—GINA's only on view at BMW's Munich museum."

Tt Do you want the thinnest notebook computer in the world but can't decide between the Macbook Air, the Voodoo Envy 133, or the Thinkpad X300? Here's a handy comparison.


MOON MISSILES: Britain has successfully tested "moon missiles" called Penetrators. They plan to shoot four from a spacecraft into the surface of the moon to test what's below its surface.

POPCORN: This video, widely circulated this week, was outed as a viral video from Bluetooth headset retailer Cardo Systems. It's a hoax.

SPORE CREATURE CREATOR: Maxis is set to release the Spore creature creator on June 17, in anticipation of the full Spore video game this fall. It will allow people to create thousands of creatures that will ultimately populate the videogame once it arrives in users' hands. this clip demonstrates the process of building a creature.

SKYSCRAPER: A 65-foot 'skyscraper' made out of Erector set pieces created by artist Chris Burden was unveiled in NYC's Rockefeller Center this week.


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