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Month December 2010

Gorillaz’ iPad album ‘The Fall’ now streaming for free

Damon Albarn of Gorillaz hasn’t been shy of his love for Apple’s iPad nor of his intention to release an album made with one ‘before Christmas’. Sure enough, Gorillaz’ follow-up to ‘Plastic Beach’ entitled ‘The Fall’ is now one email sign-up away for those who want to give the English alternative hip hop band’s freshest record a listen.

Mailing list subscribers can enjoy free streaming of all 15 tracks from Christmas Day on, while Sub Division fan club members ($45/£30) are treated to the gift of a free download. ‘The Fall’ will see a physical release sometime in 2011. The full track listing is:

  1. Phoner To Arizona
  2. Revolving Doors
  3. HillBilly Man
  4. Detroit
  5. Shy-town
  6. Little Pink Plastic Bags
  7. The Joplin Spider
  8. The Parish of Space Dust
  9. The Snake In Dallas
  10. Amarillo
  11. The Speak It Mountains
  12. Aspen Forest
  13. Bobby In Phoenix
  14. California And The Slipping Of The Sun
  15. Seattle Yodel

‘The Fall’ — Gorillaz’ fourth album — was recorded in the fall of 2010 while frontman Damon Albarn was on tour with the band. ‘The Fall’ was recorded almost entirely on an iPad using no less than 20 apps including Korg’s iElectribe.

Although Apple has positioned the iPad as primarily a content consumption device, Gorillaz’ ‘The Fall’ is just another reminder that Cupertino’s Multi-Touch tablet is equally poised as a vehicle for content creation.

Source: Gorillaz

Nexus S available at Best Buy — $200 on T-Mobile, $530 unlocked

Yes, the iPhone will most likely be on Verizon early next year. Yes, there are plenty of awesome Android phones to be had for less than 2 Benjamins on contract. And yes, dual-core smartphones that run circles around the mobile devices of today — like the LG Optimus 2X — will become a dime a dozen in 2011. But if you want to experience Android like it was meant to be, Google’s Nexus S is the phone to get.

Source: Best Buy

Mac App Store opens January 6, raring to revolutionize PC app discovery

Ready for the walled garden to expand from iOS devices to include Macs running OS X? Apple is.

Today Apple announced in a press release that the Mac App Store launch date is scheduled for Thursday January 6, 2011 with an initial roll out in 90 countries that ‘will feature paid and free apps in categories like Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity and Utilities.’

The Mac App Store is Apple’s attempt to bring back the raging success of app discovery and download on iOS devices to its Macintosh line of personal computers and will be available as a free download via Software Update for OS X Snow Leopard users.

It will be interesting to see how Apple’s curated app model translates into the personal computing space and whether it will be enough to disrupt the traditional means of application installation on PCs.

Apple engineer builds working replica of the Antikythera mechanism using LEGO Technic

Notwithstanding my passion for all things digital and electronic, I have always been fascinated by the intricacies and complexities of purely mechanical devices such as clocks and watches. The Antikythera mechanism, however, takes the cake.

Built sometime between 150-100 BCE and discovered in a wreckage off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera in 1900, the Antikythera mechanism is an ancient device designed to calculate astronomical positions precisely and is the world’s oldest known analog computer.

Over 2000 years after its invention, Apple software engineer Andrew Carol has built a fully functional LEGO Technic replica of the mechanism. See how it works in the video below and hit the source link for an interview with Carol himself.

I’m not sure what is more astonishing: that such a sophisticated device existed two millennia ago or that we can reconstruct the Antikythera mechanism using a child’s toy today.

Source: FastCoDesign via SlashGear

Near Field Communication explained

A nice video from an Android engineer explaining Near Field Communication on the Nexus S.

Source: Youtube via Gizmodo

Google Nexus S reviewed by TechCrunch — $529 unlocked

Michael Arrington on ‘the best phone on the market today’:

The bottom line is this. If you are an iPhone user this isn’t going to make you switch. If you’re an Android user you will want this phone more than any other. If you’re currently neither, we recommend that you go with the Nexus S. It is better than the iPhone in most ways. What you lose with the slightly less impressive screen and iOS’s slightly slicker user experience you will more than make up for with the Nexus S’s ability to actually make phone calls that don’t drop and Google’s exceptional Navigation and voice input applications. The fact that the phone is unlocked and can be used abroad with other carriers is also a very big plus.

I’m glad to see Google hasn’t completely abandoned their Nexus line designed to their specifications and running stock Android. By all accounts, the Nexus S looks like a top-notch phone that should serve as a reference design for the next wave of Android handsets. The curved screen is intriguing and Android 2.3 Gingerbread seems to have brought some much needed UI improvements. I am especially pleased to see that Android 2.3 and the Nexus S support Near Field Communication — a technology that should see wide-scale adoption in 2011.

The Nexus S will be available exclusively at Best Buy in the US. It can be had completely unlocked for $529 or $199 with a 2-year T-Mobile contract. If you want the best phone, the Nexus S is your best bet. If you want the best mobile device, however, it’s still the iPhone 4.

Sources: TechCrunch, Google

More video of the PlayStation Phone

A much better video of Sony Ericsson’s PlayStation Phone. Looking good.

Source: xxmajstor on Youtube via Engadget

Totally new form of arsenic-based life found by NASA here on Earth

Researchers conducting tests in the harsh environment of Mono Lake in California have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components.

“The definition of life has just expanded,” said Ed Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “As we pursue our efforts to seek signs of life in the solar system, we have to think more broadly, more diversely and consider life as we do not know it.”

The discovery of the arsenic-thriving strain of Gammaproteobacteria GFAJ-1 has profound implications. GFAJ-1 isn’t merely consuming arsenic — a remarkable find in itself — but arsenic has actually supplanted phosphorus as a fundamental ingredient in the biochemistry of the organism. This is unlike any other known form of life!

Not only is this reinforcement of the fact that life can exist in the most inhospitable of places and subsist on the most toxic of substances, but it is also definitive proof that alternative biochemistries are a reality and no longer mere conjecture or the stuff of science fiction.

Source: NASA via Gizmodo

What Android Is

What happened was, for our recent South American tour I wanted an Android architecture overview graphic. I ran across, among the Android SDK documentation, a page entitled What is Android?, and it’s perfectly OK. Except for, I really disliked the picture — on purely aesthetic grounds, just not my kind of lettering and gradients and layouts — so I decided to make another one.

A must-read article by Tim Bray.

Source: ongoing via Daring Fireball

PlayStation Phone caught on video in the wild

What highly anticipated unreleased smartphone would be complete without the obligatory blurry spy video catching it in action on the streets of a foreign country? This video from the folks of Techblog.gr espies Sony Ericsson’s PlayStation Phone in the wild on the streets of Greece. Little can be gleaned from the video other than a glimpse of the admittedly butter-smooth scrolling of the PSPhone’s UI.

The PlayStation Phone, codenamed Zeus, is a 4″ touchscreen phone with slide-out gaming controls à la PSP Go running the hitherto unreleased Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The PSPhone will have access to a special Sony Marketplace for download of exclusive game content. Reports of those who have seen the phone in action describe it as being slick and a legitimately satisfying mobile gaming experience. The PlayStation Phone is also rumored to have a resolution rivaling that of the iPhone 4’s eye-popping retina display. The PSPhone will most likely be released sometime in the first quarter of 2011.

For Sony-Ericsson’s sake — and for all those who have been impatiently waiting for a truly dedicated gaming phone — I hope the PlayStation Phone lives up to the hype. SE has always had a knack for designing lustworthy hardware, but a combination of repeatedly delayed shipments and an inability to update current devices to the latest Android OS in a timely fashion have consigned Sony-Ericsson to the back of the pack. The PSPhone is SE’s chance to catapult itself to the front of an increasingly competitive yet stale Android hardware race with an innovative mobile device that has the potential to push past the iPhone in revolutionizing the mobile gaming market.

Source: Techblog.gr via SlashGear