• 'Animal Crossing: New Leaf'

    This week, PBS’s Idea Channel on YouTube posited an interesting notion: the recently released game Animal Crossing: New Leaf from Nintendo may promote "otaku citizenship." And for many people, that just causes more questions, like, what’s an otaku? What’s otaku citizenship? And for some out there, what's Animal Crossing and why are so many adults playing what looks like a game for children?

    Starting with the basics, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the latest installment in the popular Animal Crossing series, and the second handheld offering (this one is for the Nintendo 3DS). The premise is simple: your human character moves to a brand new town, and through a mix-up, you become the mayor. It is your responsibility to lead the town populated by anthropomorphized animals to prosperity and success while raising funds to build improvements and pay off your home.

    As for why people are playing it, there's a much simpler answer: it’s an incredibly well-made game. The concepts are basic, are well

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  • Ah, rice: food staple enjoyed by billions of people around the world every day. And according to a recent report, it could soon be used to help power your cell phone.

    Not the edible part of the rice, mind you: about 20 per cent of the total weight of all rice is its inedible husk, Wired reports. Researchers have found a way to recycle those husks and use them to make silicon for batteries.

    In a study published with the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, researchers say they believe there is a way to convert the silica layers found in rice husks and convert it to silicon, which can then be used in high-capacity lithium battery anodes. The researchers say that the structure of the rice husks gives it “excellent electrochemical performance as a lithium battery anode,” the study’s abstract states. By applying heat and acid to the husks, the silica can be extracted, and then converted into silicon.

    Up until now, the waste husks have largely been

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  • Guests at Nokia's unveiling of its new Lumia 1020 smartphone use the new phone's 41-megapixel camera.
    There’s no question: many of us have given up lugging around a separate camera in favour of snapping photos with our smartphones. Yet for many photo purists, the quality of a phone camera just can’t compare to using a proper point-and-shoot. Nokia attempted to bridge that gap today by unveiling the Nokia Lumia 1020, its first 41-megapixel phone on the Windows 8 operating system.

    Following in the steps of the Nokia 808 PureView, the newly-unveiled Lumia 1020 has a 41-megapixel camera sensor, which allows the user to take 5MP photos using ‘oversampling:’ seven pixels are combined into one super-accurate pixel, Mobile Syrup explains. It also has a Xenon flash built in, for point-and-shoot quality lighting, and six Zeiss lenses in wide-angle for sharp images.

    Along with all the other bells and whistles on the new camera phone, like ‘floating lens’ technology that helps reduce image shake, 1080p video shooting and high-resolution 3x zoom, the Lumia 1020 also comes with an impressive price

    Read More »from Nokia Lumia 1020’s impressive camera may not be enough to justify hefty price tag
  • (Image from thetileapp.com)I’ll admit it: I’m a little forgetful. I’m notoriously bad about leaving my keys somewhere in my home, only to have no idea where it is when I’m running out the door. The number of times I’ve said to my significant other “it would be so much easier if I could just call my keys,” like I do when I lose my cell phone, is embarrassing.

    It seems like someone else had the same idea, and has come up with Tile, a small device you can attach to just about anything to keep track of your belongings.

    The small white square can be hung from a key ring, or stuck to just about any surface with a double-sided adhesive that comes with the device.

    Each Tile pairs with the app on your iOS device (the only OS it’s currently available for), then when an object you have a Tile attached to goes missing, you can use the app to track it down, as it shows you how close you are to the object. You can also trigger an audio alert on Tile, helping you find your missing belongings even faster.

    [ More Right Click: The

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  • Facebook Graph Search was unveiled back in January, immediately rubbing those who prize their privacy on the social network the wrong way. Now, as Facebook begins rolling out the feature to certain users, many are left wondering how exactly to protect their privacy on Facebook and take themselves out of Graph Search.

    [ Related: Facebook shadow profiles: you probably have one and don’t even know it ]

    Before you don the tinfoil hat or shut down your Facebook account, Facebook Graph Search is actually quite a cool feature that you might find useful. Graph Search will let you search through information available on Facebook, and allows you to search some very specific parameters. It's focused on searching through four main broad categories, People, Photos, Places and Interests. When you perform a search, it will show you results personalized to you, including information from your friends. For example, if you search "Photos of Vancouver," any images that your friends have uploaded of the

    Read More »from How you can protect your privacy now that Facebook Graph Search is here
  • (Photo from Hot Hardware)If you’ve never stopped to consider how gross your smartphone can get, think about it for a second: we use our smartphones while we’re eating, on public transit, and a few brave ones may even admit to taking it into the bathroom. Chances are, though, that not all smartphone users are fastidious about making sure they keep their device germ free, however.

    Gorilla Glass, the company that makes the glass screens for many smartphones, is working on a product that will make the glass antibacterial. At a recent MIT Mobile Technology Summit talk, Dr. Jeffrey Evenson discussed the widespread use and popularity of Gorilla glass and demonstrated the next generation product we could all soon be using.

    [ Related: The future of landlines: is the time of traditional phones over? ]

    According to Hot Hardware, Gorilla Glass 4 will feature antimicrobial coating. The example presented by Evenson showed a >106 reduction in bacteria over a two hour period, compared to a phone without the protective coating.

    Read More »from Next generation phone screens could destroy bacteria and be viewable in sunlight
  • There’s no question about it: the use of phones has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Instead of only reaching us when we’re at home, people can now call, text and email us just about anywhere.

    But that doesn’t mean the landline’s time has come and gone. While some older styles of communication, like cursive writing, seem to be nearing the end of their time, there are still reasons for people to hold onto their landlines. They just might not be good enough reasons for most of us.

    The question of how valid landlines are came into the spotlight recently when many residents in the northeastern U.S. found themselves without a telephone line after Hurricane Sandy rolled through in 2012. Residents like Ken MacPherson of Fire Island, New Jersey, lost the use of their home phones because the infrastructure around the telephone network had been knocked out. The copper wire connection was damaged, and MacPherson found himself without a phone – until the phone company put a wireless

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  • A new advertising idea could be coming to a commuter train near you, and if you use your commute time to nap, then you probably won’t like this very much.

    Advertising agency BBDO has come up with a unique way to transmit audio ads to individuals on trains: by making the window send out a message and talk in their heads.

    It sounds strange, but the technology being used to do it isn’t new. The window has a transmitter attached, which makes the window vibrate. When someone leans (or sleeps) against a window, the vibrations play the message so only the person in contact with the window can hear it through bone conduction. Everyone else in the train doesn’t hear a thing.

    Bone conduction is the same science that makes certain hearing aids and headphones work, as well as being used in the military. The sound waves vibrate the tiny bones in your inner ear, bypassing the eardrum so you can still hear ambient sound, too.

    [ More Right Click: Ubisoft warns users to reset passwords following security

    Read More »from Ads vibrate directly into heads of train riders
  • CoasterVille (Image courtesy Facebook/Zynga)
    Dealing with customer service agents over the phone or email is rarely the highlight of anyone’s day. Now imagine how much more unfortunate it would be if you were the person receiving those complaints, and you weren’t even hired by the company.

    That’s what happened to Eric Mueller, a U.S. web designer, who started receiving emails from frustrated players of the Zynga Facebook game CoasterVille.

    Mueller told Kotaku that despite never actually having played CoasterVille – or any Zynga game, for that matter – he’s been receiving emails because of an incorrect error message. On occasion, users would hit an Internal Server Error screen, and be told they should contact the server administrator, listing Mueller’s @themepark.com email address. Themepark.com is the domain he uses for his web design business.

    So for months, Mueller’s been receiving these emails from disgruntled players. He tried contacting Zynga about the error, but when he didn’t receive a response, he decided to have fun with

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  • (Image: James Floyd - Epic Meal Time was watched during testing. Please excuse the bacon.)Smartphones are quickly turning into tiny, portable multimedia centres. You can kick back to play games or watch videos just about anywhere and they have rich graphics and surprisingly impressive processing power. But the one area where smartphones tend to struggle the most is sound: it's fine when you're wearing headphones, but if you're using the phone's speakers, it's generally a pretty poor experience.

    Some smartphone case manufacturers have sought to remedy the physical limitations that phone speakers often have; the popular iPhone 5 has speakers that point down, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a speaker on the back of the phone that points away from the screen.

    Cases like the Eclipse by Element Case help fix this problem by redirecting the sound so it's actually directed at the person watching the screen. I recently had the chance to test out the Eclipse case for the Galaxy S4, and see for myself if it could fix the directional issues with the phone, as well as providing an

    Read More »from Review: Sound-boosting Eclipse case for Samsung Galaxy S4 by Element


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