Category: Movies


Expedition 35 Landing Image

Image credit to NASA

The space journey of three of NASA’s astronauts ended yesterday on May 14th, 2013 at 10:31P.M. EDT, as Expedition 35 Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency, Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency, and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA landed their Soyuz TMA-07M Russian spacecraft safely on earth in a remote location outside Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

Expedition 35 Landing

Image credit to NASA

These three astronauts arrived at the International Space Station last year on Dec 21st, as the Expedition 34/35 team and spent 144 days living and working on a zero gravity orbit in space. Commander Chris Hadfield delightedly handed over the charge of the international science laboratory to Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov and other flight engineers Chris Cassidy and Alexander Misurkin who are scheduled to live onboard the International Space Station till September 2013. The talented Hadfield also made some interesting videos during his 5-month stay onboard the ISS, the latest one being a cover of Space Oddity by David Bowie. The video has gone viral garnering close to 10 million views in a span of just 2 days!

In a further briefing the NASA has announced that the undocking brought Expedition 35 to an end and marked the start of Expedition 36 under the command of Pavel Vinogradov. Currently onboard the station, Vinogradov, Cassidy and Misurkin will continue working for the time being as three more members will join them shortly with the docking scheduled on May 28th. To know more about Expedition 35’s experiences and to watch its landing video visit www.nasa.gov.

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H2O in space

We all know about the ongoing various space exploration experiments by multiple space agencies and the world’s most renowned one, which is of course NASA. But have you ever been curious to know about what will happen if we wring out a wet cloth in space?

Recently, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield conducted an experiment on the demand of two 10th standard students Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner who wanted to know what happens when you wring out a water-soaked washcloth in a zero gravity.

Chris Hadfield, who lives on the International Space Station (ISS) these days, was pleased to entertain the query of these two students and beautifully represented the effect of water in space. For the experiment, he used a tightly circular shaped packed washcloth (which he remarks looks like a hockey puck) on the ISS. Instead of dipping the cloth into a water vessel – which interestingly would not hold water in the space due to zero gravity, he squirted water on the cloth.

Now once he made that cloth watery, he started twisting it out smoothly and later tightly to squeeze out the water as that is usually how the phenomenon works here on Earth. Surprisingly, that did not turn out to be the case in zero gravity. Hadfield kept twisting that cloth but instead of dripping, the water began to roll over his hands and all around the cloth to form a jellylike appearance all over the astronaut’s hand.

Watch this video clip to see the effect of water in space and get a better idea about you have read yet in the above lines.

I loved watching this interesting experimental video by the astronaut! I hope you all liked it and loved reading this article.

 

Touchscreen interface in newspapers and textbooks is no more restricted only in Harry Potter movie series. We have all witnessed moving images and running live videos in the newspaper and other live art effects in textbooks of Hogwarts in this movie franchise. But today I read something which made me go crazy! Japanese manufacturer Fujitsu has developed a technology that turns the paper surface into a touchscreen!

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This technology is capable of detecting our fingers that are pointing on any flat/still surface like paper. We can easily cut, copy, drag and drop images or any other portion of the paper using our fingertips in a same way as we do in our smartphones or tablets for image editing. Or one can even copy or scan the selected portion of any page to save it for future reference, and that too by using his/her fingers.

Taichi Murase, a researcher at Fujitsu’s Media Service System Lab further describes the technology-

“We think paper and many other objects could be manipulated by touching them, as with a touchscreen. This system doesn’t use any special hardware; it consists of just a device like an ordinary webcam, plus a commercial projector. Its capabilities are achieved by image processing technology.”

Fujitsu’s research team claims that beside plane surface this technology can also work on uneven surfaces like rounded book pages, so that one can easily manipulate data from such curved pages as well. In a presentation video researchers demonstrated that this technology will not detect general hand gestures but it can sense the exact pointed finger facing towards any surface. Furthermore, one can use his/her hand gestures to perform actions without touching the board.

Watch this video to know more about what this technology is all about –

Although this technology is still in its initial stage to demonstrate the concept behind it, Fujitsu is planning to commercialize it by 2014. After watching this demo video I was left amazed! What about you all? I would love to hear your take on this upcoming next generation touch interface!

Stephen Hawking, the world’s most renowned physicist and cosmologist on Tuesday talked about certain horrifying aspects of Earth during his lecture at Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute, Los Angeles. He once again warned his fellow space researchers and others to find out a way to live in space as our extinction is on the horizon.

Stephen-HawkingHawking discussed how he himself and researchers at Cedars-Sinai are getting a closer idea about stem cell to develop treatments for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a disease that has jammed Hawking on a wheelchair from the last 50 years. Sources say that Stephen was diagnosed with this disease in 1963 and since then he has been bound to his chair and finding out a way to get this disease fixed.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Stephen Hawking said “We must continue to go into space for humanity; we won’t survive another 1,000 years without escaping our fragile planet.”

Many a time in previous years, Hawking has advised people and scientists who have been involved in a space exploration project to begin the search of a new planet for human kind. In 2006 in one of his official interview he said, “space is the place to live”. In other words, based on the research and scientific experiences Hawking had, he’s confident enough that for long term survival – us Earthlings do not have to remain prowling on this planet only but also to ensure the continued existence of our species by locating other celestial bodies within a space which can possibly be habitable.

Stephen Hawking’s predictions during his distinguished career of scientific research have been pretty plausible. And he has been predicting about Earth’s eventual extinction, however, we are yet to see another planet in the universe with the existence of life on it.

FB Home

The much hyped Facebook Home launcher is now available on Google Play store. At this stage, it is available in USA only, leaving avid Android enthusiasts eager but unable to experience it. Also, even if it available to you, only certain smartphones are compatible with the launcher. But rest easy; there are various options available that can let you enjoy a Facebook home on your smartphone.

How?

If you are a US based user, and stuck with a non compatible smartphone model, the obvious way is to get a new smartphone – a model that works for Facebook Home. But I guess this options is ruled out for most of users – even if they are eager to try out the Facebook home, few users are going to change their smartphones just for that.

The next option involves hacking – rooting your smartphone to install Facebook Home apk. But again, this makes the option a risky one, likely to be practiced by a very few technically savvy users.

The third option is to suck it up, and wait for the Facebook Home to reach your device ad your country.

However, there is still another option that lets you enjoy a Facebook Home like functionality on your Android smartphone, right now, and wherever you are! Just have a look at these three cool Facebook Home alternatives for Android –

1. Quick Launch Social Lockscreen-

QLSL

As the name suggests, it is almost a complete mélange of major social networks – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – accessible right from the lock screen of the phone. Quick launch lock screen contains its own Facebook widget, which shows the latest photos and headlines from the latest posts in your feed and lets you share, like or view the full post.

2. SO.HO [SOHO Social Launcher]-

SOHO

The best thing about this launcher is that you can experience and use Facebook as well as Twitter on your Android phone from a single place, making it easier for you to see what’s happening on all your social networks.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.inqmobile.soho&hl=en

3. Android Pro Widgets-

APW

Android is a flexible OS that allows placing dynamic widgets on your home screens so you don’t need to switch between different apps frequently. With APW, you can get all important information at same place – your calendar, bookmarks, a listing of your most recent SMS messages and most importantly, your Facebook feed.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rdr.widgets.core&hl=en

tarotUnless a person completely kills his/her phone’s battery, one doesn’t need a backup. Although many a times it happens that our phone battery gets completely drained which prompts us to look for an alternative in such situations.  We usually prefer to carry two batteries with us but now we have a credit card sized charger that charges our devices in an instant. Yes a charger that’s pretty similar in shape and look to your credit card!

Tarot
POWEROCKS, a US based consumer electronics company has announced Tarot – the world’s thinnest and most portable power bank. The Tarot’s 1500mAh capacity battery has a slim design so that it can easily fit into a wallet, pocket or small purse to provide an emergency power backup for your smartphone, tablet and iPod etc.

Usage
To charge your smartphone with the Tarot, you just need to connect a micro USB cable from Tarot to your smartphone or any other device that you are about to charge to give it an immediate power standby. For iPhone or other devices like camera, Bluetooth headsets etc. which don’t support micro USB; simply attach the device’s USB adapter to the Tarot’s USB cable to charge.

Although, this compact charger looks like a credit card, it’s a bit thicker at 0.28-inches as compared to 0.030 inch thickness of a credit card. Other than that it’s still easy to keep in your wallet while on the go.

The device is available in black, sliver and pink color, priced at US$34.99.

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Before even watching the trailer of the 2012 adaptation, I decided to go with Sly Stallone’s 1995 Judge Dredd. And to put it nicely, it was way below the expectations I had from it. The only reason I did this was to avoid disappointment a second time after toiling through the remake of “Total Recall”. But the consistently good reviews were persuasive enough to buy this one through Amazon.

Got the Bluray, popped it in the BD player and switched on my 3D TV to see if it was worth the bucks I had shelled out or just another damp squid. An hour and a half later, and I was still in the spellbinding mode that the constant adrenaline had cast over me! I gladly admit that this one has been one of my better investments till date.

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Now to the movie, clichéd setup in a survivor city with Hall of Justice being the only entity working to maintain order in the chaos. Car chase and a routine investigation which goes wrong when Dredd along with a rookie gets stuck in a tower complex to survive the assault of unscrupulous narcotics distribution syndicate.  Now without getting into details, the movie scores where the 1995 version failed. Dredd in this is a ruthless, hard-boiled hunter without being mellow in his approach. The action sequences are fresh and very well-shot and the whole environment lends a noir feeling to the story.

And the most pleasant aspects are definitely the way 3D effects have been used. A couple of scenes where characters are shown under the influence of Slo-Mo (which by the way tends to slow down time to 1% in the inhaler’s brain) as well as the savage shooting and blood spilling that brought out the best of 3D elements within the narration. Personal recommendation from my end as this one’s a must watch for action lovers!

TVs galore at CES 2013

If the keynotes and unveilings at the ongoing CES 2013 is anything to go by then these are exciting times for consumer display technologies. International-CESTechnologies which looked inconceivable are being flaunted in full fledge in Las Vegas. Here’s a manufacturer-wise low-down on all these exciting technologies.

Sony – Having trailed behind Samsung and LG in the OLED TV race, Sony’s unveiling of a 56” prototype 4K OLED TV took everyone by surprise. The mashup may look wishful on the face of it, but the picture quality, contrast ratio and black levels which an OLED TV is capable of producing coupled with the high amount of detail its 4K resolution can show might just make this TV the ultimate beast once it commercially materializes.

Panasonic – Since Sony and Panasonic had collaborated last year to produce OLED screens, Panasonic also showed off its own 56” 4K OLED prototype. And it doesn’t look like the Japanese manufacturer is going to budge from making Plasma’s [despite reducing sales and consumer interest] as it also unveiled its 2013 line-up of Plasma TVs.

Toshiba – Another Japanese firm making sure that the Ultra HD market heats up. Its latest offering, the L9300 Ultra HD TV series just acts as a pointer to how manufacturers perceive the future of TV displays.

LG-throws-CES-2013-a-curveball-with-a-gently-arcing-55-inch-OLED-TVLG – Fresh from the accolades of last year, LG finally announced commercial shipping of its OLED TVs to US in March. The prices are jaw-dropping but so is the technology. Apart from that, it also launched 55” and 65” TVs with Ultra HD resolution to join the 84” LM9600 last year. Also on showcase was the stunning Curved OLED TV which was an instant crowd-puller. And to top it all is the all new Hecto Laser TV Projector which can generate crisp picture in the size range of 100 inches from a very short projection range.

Samsung – Like LG, Samsung also came up with its own curved OLED TV. The concept is aimed at doing away with viewing angle issues as well give a panorama-effect to visuals on it. Although just a concept, it opens up the possibility of having large-sized curved and bendable displays in future. Also on feature was the world’s largest Ultra HD TV at a mouth-watering 85 inches, pipping commercially available LG and Sony Ultra HD sets by an inch.

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Sharp – 60” Purios Ultra HD TV was one of the highlights at the Sharp stand with this set being the first one to receive THX 4K certification. The explanation of IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) displays was another one that seems exciting as these displays can have a 550 PPI (pixels per inch) making it a serious competition for Apple’s Retina displays. Then there were two prototypes, the 60” Aquos Ultra HD TV and an 8K TV. Considering 4K has been dubbed as Ultra HD by the companies, it will be interesting to see what branding 8K gets.

Simply put, it’s easy to conclude that CES 2013 was the hub of TV displays and technologies accompanying it which means the industry is geared up for transition and gradual overhaul of existing TV displays. So it will be interesting to see how consumers warm up to this vision in the coming years.

the_darkest_hour

So it’s been a strenuous week with loads of work inside the office and chilling cold to battle outside. I was finally glad to be snug in my blanket tasting on some yum talumein soup in the evening yesterday. So while switching through the channels on my TV, I come across this “Premiere of the Month” feature “The Darkest Hour”on Star Movies.

Now as anyone would speculate, I had assumed the movie to be a run-of-the-mill psychopath thriller with the title and the youngsters gathering through the opening sequence. But as it turns out, it was a wildly creative SCI-FI concept which didn’t quite reach the heights I had anticipated it would. Moscow being the centre of focus, Earth is being invaded by alien forces that view our planet as a mineral-rich hub with abundance of substances which are good conductors of electricity. The carnage of humanity is just a collateral by-product of their plan.

The most interesting part of the movie was definitely the way these extra-terrestrials were visualized. Instead of blood-thirsty monsters or gadget-equipped hunters, these were entities that operate on electricity and are made invisible by the force fields around them. Humans are seen as electromagnetic pulses and turned to dust upon contact by them. And the only effective weapon to defeat them is microwave lasers. Yes, you read that right; Microwave Lasers. Now obviously it was interwoven as a survival tale of a group caught in the middle of this annihilation.

alien darkest hour

Now don’t get me wrong, the conceptualization is original and riveting and kudos to the makers for that. But it lacked the taut script and direction which would have made this movie much better than it was. But hey, at least it was unique! So I don’t have much to complain about 🙂

1993-home-alone-christmas

I have never viewed India as a good station of Christmas celebrations. Most of us generally consider it as a welcome day off amidst the tight work schedules and fog-laden sights around the city. I mean who wants to struggle in the chaotic traffic jams when you can be snug in a blanket at home!

But looking at the recent years, I am happy to concede that the Christmas spirit is slowly but steadily growing amongst the crowd here. Even the much-maligned aunts next door engage in baking cakes and cookies for the occasion. My office celebrations also went a notch up with everyone singing Christmas jingles whole-heartedly; a sharp contrast from the subdued proceedings last year J

But it was yesterday itself which I enjoyed a lot more. The day started with me watching “Jingle all the way” and “Liar Liar” on my LG LM6700 in the morning with my own version of Christmas brunch ;p And a little get-together in the evening with friends with some wine and “Home Alone Collector’s Edition” concluded my couch potato Christmas!

lg xmas header

And the delightfulness didn’t end there. Being an LG owner, I got a special postal card with best wishes from the LG showroom from where the TV set was purchased along with an update of their Christmas and New Year Celebrations offer. Now obviously I am not going to buy another 3D TV of theirs when I already have one, but it’s heartening to see such a gesture. Life’s Good when you Shake Up some happiness!

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