VIDEOS 11 celebrity endorsements that were a terrible idea

first_img WEEK, A new ad for Chanel No5 was released, starring Brad Pitt.“The world turns and we turn with it,” he intones solemnly. “My luck, my faith, my fortune. Chanel No5… INEVITABLE.”Along with the rest of the world, the Daily Edge is wondering why a man who has enough spare cash floating around to build his own sex grotto would bother with this tripe.But he’s hardly alone. Presenting… the worst celebrity product endorsements of all time.1. David and Victoria Beckham – TBC CosmeticsYouTube/hatsujokiPresenting: one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful celebrity couples, ‘acting’ in a parody of Bewitched.And that’s before Victoria starts shouting in Japanese. Also, as IF she has ever whisked anything in her life.2. Mr T – FlavorWave mini-cookersYouTube/ngeldark“These are all frozen solid! I pity the fool who tries to get these down!”We pity the fool who endorses a mini-cooker.3. Bono – Louis VuittonVimeo/Fabio Costa“Bono went to Africa for famine relief in 1985. Now he’s going back… and this time, he’s endorsing a brand of luxury luggage.” GOD, SPARE US.4. Farrah Fawcett – NoxemaYouTube/jmm96The late lamented sex symbol sets a new celebrity rule: Do not talk about ‘great balls’ in ads. Especially not while shimmying.5. David McWilliams – Bulmers Cider YouTube/adrianosullivanThe moment Ireland realised the enormity of our self-delusion: not only had we conned ourselves into a huge property boom, but we had allowed celebrity economists to run amok.6. Mikhail Gorbachev – Pizza HutYouTube/daltonymyheroMikhail! We already liked you plenty for ending the Cold War! You don’t need to prove yourself any more!7. Paris Hilton – Carl’s Jr BurgersYouTube/TorjagdtvIs that a giant hose spewing foam between your legs, or are you just endorsing some fast food?8. Hulk Hogan – Road Safety PSAYouTube/WrestleCrapRD‘When I’m in the ring, I yield to nobody! But when I’m on the road, I always yield to an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing!” Hey, Hulk, don’t you have a sex tape to be filming instead?9. Shane Warne – Advanced Hair StudioYouTube/hesterjesterOnly a mildly terrible ad, except for the bit which shows cricketer Shane inside SOME KIND OF GIANT CONTRAPTION WITH LASERS SHOOTING AT HIS HEAD.10. Arnold Schwarzenegger – We Don’t Even Know What This Product IsYouTube/Logan5… but it basically turns him into a Power Ranger. Remember when people seriously talked about him running for president? Of America?11. Bertie Ahern – Irish News of the WorldYouTube/2010NOTWWe know, you’ve seen it already. But seriously – is this the world’s only former head of state to appear inside a kitchen fitting for personal profit? Do we, as a nation, have any shred of self-respect remaining? If we do, can Bertie still take it away?Please let us keep our shred, Bertie. It’s our only shred. We like it.More: 9 totally inappropriate ‘sexy’ Halloween costumes>For more, follow @dailyedge on Twitter and like The Daily Edge on Facebook.last_img read more

Sentence today for two women caught with drugs in Peru

first_imgTWO WOMEN CAUGHT with drugs in Peru will today find out how long they will spend in jail.Michaella McCollum, 20, and Melissa Reid, 20, admitted trying to smuggle drugs out of Peru in August.The pair were arrested after 11.5kg of cocaine was found hidden in food packets in their luggage.McCollum from Dungannon, Co Tyrone and Reid from Glasgow, had been working in Ibiza during the summer.In September, both women took  full responsibility for drug trafficking but before that they claimed that they were kidnapped at gunpoint by Colombian drug lords and forced to carry the illegal substances.Michaella McCollum pleads guilty to drug offences in Peru>Pics: Michaella and Melissa arrive in Peruvian court over drug trafficking charges>last_img

Over 700000 more medical cards have been issued in the last decade

first_imgThe figures, released in response to a request from Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan, show that 2004 saw the lowest rate of medical cards being issued, but that the number has risen year-on-year since then.The biggest leap was between 2011 and 2012, when over 150,000 extra cards were released.Last month, it was announced that the HSE will seek savings of €23 million in medical card probity, down from the planned €113 million that was announced in the Budget last October. The Budget announcement caused considerable controversy at the time resulting in changes to the plans when the HSE formulated its service plan for this year with overall savings in the health budget reduced from €666 million to €619 million. In addition to medical card cuts being made through new probity measures, there will also be a raising of eligibility thresholds for those over 70. Read: Gilmore: Medical card cuts are still as set out in the BudgetRead: Reilly: 2014 will be the most challenging year ever for health services THE HSE’S PLANNED savings in spending on medical cards this year will still leave hundreds of thousands of more cards than there were ten years ago, according to figures presented to the Dáil. In total there were over 1,853,877 in circulation at the end of November 2013, over 700,000 more than had been issued in 2003.Figures for the last decade show that the number of medical cards being issued has been steadily increasing since 2004, even during the boom years of the Celtic Tiger. last_img read more

Pics Man spends five years building a paper aeroplane

first_imgAnd facilities to care for tiny, paper passengers.Of course, the plane has to be flown somehow.Such is the detail, the doors and landing gear are fully functional.The end result makes that paper plane you flew in English class look ridiculous.As for the paint job, this video should give you some insight into how detailed the whole project is.(Luca Iaconi-Stewart/YouTube)All pics: Luca Iaconi-StewartRead: Your childhood fantasy just came true… a life size Lego carRead: Look at this amazing Downton Abbey Lego set a guy made for his girlfriend WHEN LUCA IACONI-STEWART took an architecture class in high school, his class built models with manila folders.Inspired by that, Luca set about building the world’s greatest paper aeroplane.The 1:60 model of an Air India Boeing 777 is the result of five years hard graft. In that time, Iaconi-Stewart dropped out of college. He has claimed, contrary to reports, that it was not to work on the plane, though he concedes the extra time helped.Everything on the aircraft is detailed. Extremely detailed.The seats alone took an entire summer to craft.And that was just economy class.Of course, there are upgrades available.last_img read more

33 things that will definitely happen during Transfer Deadline Day tomorrow

first_img16. People insisting that most clubs want to wait until the summer to get the big deals done17. The grim realisation that no one wants to sign Wes Hoolahan sets in(Barrington Coombs/EMPICS Sport)18. ‘Player x is on the motorway’YouTube credit: Luke Kempner19. Lots of ‘frantic last-minute activity’ come midnight20. At least one fan doing the Joe Hart danceYouTube credit: LaLigaAction21. Piers Morgan trolling his followers22. Numerous pics of players posing blandly in their new jerseys23. Lots of ridiculous parodiesYouTube credit: gunnerblog24. Hastily contrived YouTube compilations that make players look way better than they turn out to beYouTube credit: flort1325. Snap judgements on whether prospective new signings are good enough26. Celebrity endorsements of Deadline Day27. Edited Wikipedia pages28. Cynicism. Lots and lots of cynicism29. Ludicrous transfer rumours30. Typos31. Inexplicable levels of Gary Hooper love32. An inevitable sense of anti-climax33. An endless amount of dodgy photoshopsYou can follow all the Transfer Deadline Day developments tomorrow on’s liveblogBeing the annoying fan on Sky Sports’ Transfer Deadline Day coverage: A How-To Guide>Departures Lounge: Liverpool in talks with Konoplyanka> 1. Harry Redknapp rolling down his car window2. The words ‘we’re hearing reports’ will be used ad nauseam3. Ditto ‘more news as we get it’YouTube credit: breaking news4. A sudden revival in Odemwingie memesVia memegenerator5. Football hipsters will make lots of ironic jokes about how tiresome the ironic Jim White jokes have becomeh/t @DavidJEWood6. Darragh MacAnthony will make his bi-annual appearance on SSNYouTube credit: LaLigaAction7. SSN will be forced to apologise for the lewd behaviour of certain attention-seeking fansYouTube credit: bazzo19928. Irish fans wait in vain for Kevin Doyle to move somewhere — anywhere — so he can get away from Wolves9. Every Sky Sports News presenter will look either a) like it’s Christmas and their birthday rolled into one b) stressed and overworkedYouTube credit: Tom Newton10. People will milk the Yohan Kebab jokes while they still can11. Lack of last-minute transfer deals cause angry fans to accuse their club of lacking ambitionYouTube credit: ArsenalFanTV12. Abundance of last-minute transfer deals cause angry fans to accuse their club of panic-buyingVia 7amkickoff13. Approximately 5,573 uses of the term ‘BREAKING’ — to the point where the word loses all meaning/credibilityYouTube credit: SuperCarsTV14. Journalists on Twitter typing at a furious pace in an attempt to reference the latest club press release ahead of their rivals(INPHO/Billy Stickland)15. Journalists on Twitter typing at a furious pace in an attempt to reference the latest Twitter rumour ahead of their rivalslast_img read more

Quinn I thought Anglo was a marvellous institution

first_imgTHE FORMER HEAD of the Quinn empire has told a court that he doubled down on his investment in the failed Anglo Irish Bank because he “thought it was an opportunity”.Asked at the trial of three former Anglo executives why he increased his investment in Anglo at a time when the share price was plummeting, Seán Quinn said that the bank’s financial figures looked solid at the time.“The logic was that profits were increasing by 45 per cent at a time that the share price was going through the floor,” Quinn said.“Where I come from, you would be interested in becoming an investor in that company.“All of their accounts were signed off by auditors and were a matter of public record.I could see no reason why we should sell shares. I thought it was an opportunity to invest.“Turns out I was wrong.”MarvellousQuinn was taking the stand on day four of the trial of Seán FitzPatrick, the bank’s former CEO and chairman, Patrick Whelan, the former MD of lending in Ireland for Anglo and William McAteer, the former chief risk officer and finance director.All three are accused, and have pleaded not guilty of, breaching the Companies Act by loaning money to people in order to prop up the bank’s ailing share price.Quinn had earlier told Paul O’Higgins SC acting for the prosecution that he invested in Anglo because he admired how it was run.“I thought it was a marvellous institution.”Quinn outlined how he had owned 24 per cent of Anglo through contracts for difference (CFDs) by September of 2007.Plug the holeMuch of this morning’s questioning centred around a phone call between Quinn and former Anglo chief executive David Drumm.Quinn said that his group had made loans between companies in order to pay for losses accrued in purchasing the contracts for difference, which were used to buy shares in Anglo.He said that he phoned Drumm in December 2007 to inform him that the group would have a €400 million hole in its finances.He said that he never asked for money, but wanted to make Drumm aware of the deficit.Quinn said that he kept his involvement in Anglo “under the radar” and that he was worried that the reveal of the size of the hole would cause problems for Anglo.He told the court that “within an hour” Drumm phoned him to offer him a loan of €500 million, which Quinn said would “tidy the whole thing up”.Asked by counsel for Pat Whelan, Brendan Grehan SC, if he had phoned Drumm to “scare him into lending money”, Quinn said that was not the case.He also denied that he “had Anglo over a barrel”.“I’m not denying that I was pleased that he offered me €500 million, because it filled the hole.“They had me over a huge barrel,” said Quinn.The businessman said that Anglo were “running the show” and that he had told Drumm that the loans he had taken would be repaid, “regardless of the legality”.Asked if that statement implied he felt the loans Anglo had made to him were illegal, Quinn replied “Yes.”The trial continues in front of a jury of 15 people at the Circuit Criminal Court.last_img read more

NFL under investigation for discriminating against gay players

first_img Instagram is warning users of popular social media management tools like Buffer and Hootsuite that their accounts have been ‘compromised’ (FB) Cristiano Ronaldo says the best goal he ever scored still wasn’t as good as sex with his girlfriend Democratic Party donor Ed Buck is charged with running a drug den after 2 men died of meth overdoses in his house Alex Rodriguez just sold his Hollywood Hills mansion at a loss — take a look inside the $4.4 million ‘experimental’ home he bought from Meryl Streep AT THE NFL tryouts two weeks ago, reports came out that teams were interested in knowing Manti Te’o’s sexual orientation.During the interview portion of the of the tryouts (or what is known technically as the “combine”), several other NFL prospects, including tight end Nick Kasa, said coaches flat out asked them “if they liked girls.”Under New York State law, along with laws in states that are home to “at least 20 of the League’s 32 teams” locations, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against potential hires because of their sexual orientation, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a letter to NFL chief, Roger Goodell today.In the letter, Schneiderman requests that the league: Issue a public statement clarifying its position “that any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation by league teams or their employees or agents against potential recruits or players is a violation of state, local, and in some cases, contractual law, and will not be tolerated.”“Memorialise this commitment in a written policy” and distribute the policy throughout the League.Advise NFL prospects to to contact League officials if they have ever been asked questions about their sexual orientation. Schneiderman also wants to meet with the League staff investigating the incidents reported by Kasa and other players about the sexual orientation questions asked at the NFL combine.Check out the document here. Having a bad Cheltenham Festival? Don’t worry, Floyd Mayweather lost $900k on one gamelast_img read more

Reform could mean dramatic overhaul of ministerial responsibility

first_imgA LEGAL REVIEW about to be presented to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform could lead to major reforms in how ministers are held responsible for government decisions – and ensure that a single individual is held responsible for every government decision.Brendan Howlin will shortly receive a policy paper surrounding the working of ministerial offices and government departments, outlining ways in which laws could be reformed to ensure greater responsibility.The policy paper follows a review of the “current accountability framework for ministers and civil servants” ordered by Howlin last year, following a pledge in the Programme for Government to ensure that specified people are named as being responsible for executive decisions.The review will see an overhaul of the Ministers and Secretaries Acts, which are behind the legal creation and existence of government departments, and the Public Service Management Act which ensures that ministers are responsible for the acts of their departments.In response to written Dáil questions from Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Howlin said the proposals would enshrine the principle that all decisions made by a Department would be attributed to either a named civil servant or the minister themselves.The minister in charge of the Department would also have to account for the degree of supervision and oversight they carried out over their department.Howlin said a public consultation process would be carried out once the policy paper had been completed and published.The minister added that the process would take inspiration from a Labour party policy document, ‘New Government, Better Government’, which Howlin wrote while he was Leas Ceann Comhairle and Labour’s spokesman on constitutional reform.last_img read more

One in four pharmacies in Ireland operating at a loss

first_imgONE IN FOUR pharmacies in Ireland are operating at a loss according to a new survey published to coincide with the beginning of the Irish Pharmacy Union’s (IPU) national conference today.The conference gets under way in Kildare today with the survey by Grant Thornton finding that the average pharmacy contractor recorded a net profit margin of four per cent in 2011 with average outlet’s net profit down by almost a fifth – 17 per cent.The survey also determined that 17,766 people are employed in the pharmacy sector but Rory O’Donnell, the president of the IPU, said that the pharmacy sector “is stretched almost to breaking point”.The IPU said that the survey also confirms that government has already taken over €570 million cumulative savings from fees paid to pharmacists since 2009 which averages out at €340,000 per pharmacy.This comes despite an increase in demand for medicines from State schemes and pharmacists’ income has fallen as a result, the IPU said.O’Donnell added: “I am calling on the Minister to cease making arbitrary cuts to payments and to engage with healthcare professionals on a healthcare reform agenda that will deliver efficiencies and services to patients in their communities.”Read: NCA survey finds wide variations in drug pricing in pharmacies nationwideRead: What’s most likely to be stolen from Irish pharmacies? Fake tanlast_img read more

Support for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael tied in latest opinion poll

first_imgPUBLIC SUPPORT FOR Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael has tied in the latest opinion poll.The Millward Brown, which will be published in tomorrow’s Sunday Independent, was carried out over 12 days and involved 979 adults.When ‘undecided’ voters (33 per cent) are excluded, indicated support for Fine Gael has risen four points to 27 per cent since the previous Sunday Independent poll, RTE reports. Support Fianna Fáil also rose to 27 per cent, after rising one point.Meanwhile, support for Labour has dropped one point to 11 per cent.Sinn Féin’s support fell two points to 17 per cent and independents/others fell one point to 18 per cent.The majority of respondents (74 per cent) said they were dissatisfied with how the government is running the country.In terms of party leadership, 65 per cent said they were dissatisfied with Enda Kenny’s approach and 70 per cent said they were dissatisfied with Eamon Gilmore.Read: Fianna Fáil tie with Fine Gael in Red C polllast_img read more

Lisa McInerney Caring for children is a tough job so why dont

first_imgI WAS LUCKY enough to be able to stay at home with my daughter until she was five years old, and so outside of a stint at Montessori, she didn’t require third-party care.We were getting along famously, so I offered to look after my preschool-age niece and nephew too. It’d be fun, I thought. Company for the smallie and a favour to my big brother, from whom I was still craving the regard he showed Bruce Dickinson. And sure childcare is easy! It’s informed by instinct, so you can’t go wrong.Imagine, then, my horror when I discovered childcare as a profession to be a startlingly different kettle of fish to motherhood. It is intense and it is exhausting. Leaving the house for a trip to the playground required a level of military precision that would have made Napoleon take to the fainting couch. Leaving the playroom for a trip to the toilet wasn’t much easier. Everything from making myself a cup of tea to listening to Ray D’Arcy’s mid-morning jibber-jabber took on a plethora of facets unheard of: rather than presiding over the adorable play of a trio of chubby tots, I found myself slave to the caterwauling, bodily functions and rudimentary machinations of three very different little people, none of whom gave a single fig for the needs of their companions or the sagacity of intelligent routine.I think I lasted a month.Anyone who works with children will tell you that it’s a difficult job and it’s one you have to be able for, not just by having an even temperament and an affinity with kids, but also by being knowledgeable about childhood development and the constant challenges faced by caregivers. Now add to that the required expertise in health and safety practices – nutrition, first aid, environment – and the leadership skills required to head up a team of childcare workers (or even just a little battalion of kids) and you get an occupation closer to a vocation than a 9-to-5.We need a strong childcare sector – but it is still massively undervaluedLast week’s Prime Time exposé, A Breach of Trust, in which a number of crèches were shown failing to uphold essential childcare standards (alongside basic human decency), plunged Irish parents into crisis. With both social and economic patterns necessitating working parent families, a robust childcare sector is crucial. And yet the sector suffers from a dichotomy of disregard and commercialisation: care is undervalued, and its being undervalued has led to capitalist exploitation of a sector that should really be beyond manipulation.Not surprising, then, that the Prime Time report has also drawn overdue attention onto childcare positions advertised on the JobBridge scheme, several of which do not require qualifications.It’s difficult to discern what practical use these positions would be to anyone outside of the management of these facilities; certainly, an internship which neither requires nor leads to qualifications doesn’t benefit applicants, and parents who fork over significant fees so that their children receive top notch care will hardly be soothed by the notion that the facility in question either cannot afford to pay qualified staff (so where do those fees go?) or place no value on qualified staff. And so we get situations as revealed in Prime Time’s programme: profitable childcare facilities placing such scant value on their duties as to employ people who are under-qualified, underpaid, and frequently ill-suited to their task.And it’s an important task. Hugely important. In fact, where did we get this notion that looking after the most vulnerable people in our society is an insignificant task? Is it because it is seen as domestic work, something regretfully farmed out when women marched into industry? Is it because that traditional feminine role is seen as something that comes naturally to a largely female workforce, and so therefore any mug with a kindly heart could do it? The disregard displayed towards childcare as a career choice – in the minimal qualifications required by many employers or the blatant flouting of staffing level guidelines as exposed by Prime Time – is more than unfortunate; it is unacceptable. Caring for vulnerable people – children, people with disabilities, the elderly – is neither unskilled nor unimportant labour.Childcare has been commercialised in IrelandWhich brings us to the other side of that above-mentioned dichotomy: the commercial exploitation of the care sector. That third-party care is a necessity in our society, and that it requires skill in its suppliers, means that carers deserve to be paid a qualified wage and therefore, if the State cannot socialise care, that the private facilities providing that care deserve to make a profit. You cannot dispute that privilege without dismissing the importance of professional care.All the same, the healthy and safe expansion of the childcare sector cannot happen without respect afforded to its workforce, and that’s what we saw, with terrible clarity, last week in Ireland. Our care ‘industry’ (does anyone else cringe at that term?), like any other, is open to economic mismanagement, but when corners are cut here the damage is massive: to families, to staff… and to the vulnerable people so dependent on it.It’s tempting to point trembling fingers at belligerent, or lazy, or careless staff after A Breach Of Trust, but it’s important to remember that the vast majority of Ireland’s childcare workers are qualified, empathic, intelligent… and undervalued. The light shone by the Prime Time team on the failures the childcare ‘industry is susceptible to brings one inescapable truth to the fore: the monetisation of care is something that must be carefully handled, and we cannot guarantee that abuses of trust will be forever vanquished by one television special if we don’t tackle the culture they flourished in.If minimum wage and a negative professional environment isn’t good enough for the people who manage our accounts or conduct our marketing campaigns, it’s not good enough for the people who care for our kids.Read more of Lisa McInerney’s columns here >last_img read more

Spunoff HP PSG could produce the next TouchPad

first_imgIf you’re still having trouble wrapping your head around the HP webOS hullabaloo, you’re not alone. It’s a confusing situation to say the least, and it could get even more confusing. As HP contemplates whether to break off the Personal Systems Group into its own entity, there’s now talk that one of the potential new licensees for webOS from HP could be… HP.It’s all centering around a comment from HP PSG head honcho Todd Bradley, who told Reuters that the tablet market was “absolutely relevant” though he declined to make any comments about webOS specifically. But we already know that the group has produced  Windows-based tablets and that it is also still looking to integrate webOS in desktops and laptops. Why would the case with tablets be any different?For starters, webOS runs on ARM — as will Windows 8, which is getting a highly-refined tablet experience from Microsoft. HP PSG will definitely offer a Windows 8 tablet, but so will just about every other manufacturer that produces Windows desktops and laptops. With webOS still in HP’s hands, the PSG could very well tap it either as a dual-boot option for new tablets or for the introduction of a full-blown “TouchPad 2.”Why would a spun-off HP PSG bother? Because the TouchPad has become one of the hottest gadgets around since HP’s drastically reduced price. webOS developers are also enjoying improved sales as a result, and the ecosystem as a whole is surprisingly healthy. That’s not at all what you’d expect after the bomb HP dropped, and yet it’s precisely what has happened.No decision will be made as to whether or not Bradley’s group will be broken off until the end of December, however, and then the actual breakup could take several additional months. By that time, enthusiasm for the TouchPad could very well be ice cold — especially since supplies will probably be depleted long before the holiday season arrives.More at Reuterslast_img read more

How to root the Droid Razr

first_imgDid you take Amazon Wireless up on their Black Friday deal to get the Droid Razr for a penny? Are you now wondering how to root that bad boy? We have you covered.Fortunately, this is one of the simpler hacks you’re going to see. It’s a one-click root, and it isn’t necessary to install the Android SDK and have ADB access in order to proceed.Instructions are a little different for Windows and Mac/Linux, so we’ve provided two separate sets of directions.Windows:1. Install driversThe first thing you’ll want to do is to make sure you have the necessary drivers on your PC:Motorola drivers for Windows2. Download root packageYou can download the one-click root tool from the link below:Droid Razr one-click rootAfter downloading, extract the files into an easy-to-find folder.3. Prepare the RazrNext you’ll want to open Settings>Applications on your Razr and change the following settings:USB debugging box should be checkedUnknown sources box should be checked 4. RootNow it’s time to connect your phone to your PC, via a USB cable.Then all you need to do is run the Runme.bat file that you extracted earlier.Your phone will reboot, and you will be rooted!Mac/Linux:1. Download root filesFirst you’ll want to download the following compressed file:Droid Razr Root Package (Mac/Linux)After downloading it, extract into your ‘Downloads’ folder (for simplicity’s sake).2. ConnectNow hook your Droid Razr to your computer via USB. No drivers are necessary.3. RootOpen a terminal window, and cd to the Downloads directory:cd Downloads/DroidRazrRootMacLinux The next part will be different on Mac or on Linux.On Mac, type:sh On Linux, type:sh Your phone will reboot, and you will be rooted.via XDA-developers [1] [2]last_img read more

Big update to Google Hangouts brings games phone calls and more

first_imgBy far the most impressive part of Google+ is the free, multi-user chat service known as Hangouts. You can chat with up to nine people during which you can collaborate on documents or share your screen, and you can do it from a computer, iOS, or Android device. It is by far the most versatile free tool for video chat and collaboration.Late last week Google pushed a big update to the Hangout experience, enabling a new arsenal of features to entice new users to give the video service a shot.Add a phone call to your HangoutWith Hangouts, Google has put their best foot forward in offering up a handy service that many users would never know they needed. In addition to being able to invite other users to a Hangout, now it is possible to call someone from the Hangout. When you open the Invite tab, there’s an option to call a phone number. The phone call can be heard by everyone in the Hangout, and vice versa. This is perfect for a small business meeting, or for a family phone call. The phone number is masked from the other users in the Hangout as well, so you aren’t sharing the call with anyone. If you leave the Hangout, even if other people are still inside, the call drops (if you initiated the call).It should come as no surprise that this is using Google Voice, and the call is placed using the Voice account of whoever dialed the number. If you don’t already have a voice account, you are walked through the registration process and assigned a number. The Hangout call uses the same low billing rates for international calls, making this an even better utility for both conference calls and family meetings. The quality of the calls in the Hangout is exactly the same as if you were using Gmail to make a phone call, since all of these services function under the same Google plugin for voice and video.Apps, but mostly gamesMost people have the exact same experience the first time they use a webcam. Once you get over how cool it is that this technology works, you start pushing buttons. In the early webcam days, that meant silly masks and image overlays. Google has taken that nostalgia and strapped it onto a series of productivity apps and games for use within the Hangout. There’s a whole app dedicated to software face masks and silly overlays, and a handful of more “adult” apps as well. These include the Google Docs app, a virtual whiteboard and doodling app, and of course virtual poker.The Aces Hangout app allows anyone in the Hangout to pull up a chair and be dealt into the game. Virtual money is exchanged back and forth as players win and lose, and there’s an option to throw some real money on the table if you feel like you’ve lost enough virtual money. In case you don’t have the perfect poker face, or access to any number of clever facial distractions, Aces offers you a handful of software face masks that allow you to come to the table with your game face on.The Hangout APIs have been available for a little while now, so it is expected that there will be more games and apps added in short order. There’s no talk about this service being mixed in with things like the Chrome Web Store, or even the Google+ Games tab at the moment. When you install an app in a hangout it gets installed like a Chrome Extension, but is gone as soon as you leave the Hangout. Perhaps as this evolves, so will the integration with the rest of Google’s web game and app services.Final ThoughtsGoogle has an incredibly powerful tool with Hangouts. There’s no reason not to use it — they work well on a wide variety of hardware and the ability to participate in the hangout from a phone, tablet, or a phone call means there’s never an excuse to miss that meeting. As more groups — whether they are businesses, organizations, political activists, or anyone else — continue to use the service, Google+ will also continue to grow.At the moment, even most paid video chat services struggle to be as functional as Google’s Hangouts. This isn’t surprising, given that the history of the software comes from a need to have trans-continental meetings at Google. The evolution from an internal solution to an external product brings with it the time that was spent making the software functional internally, which is a breath of fresh air from Google’s public beta test mentality for many of their products.last_img read more

Getting in shape one app at a time part two

first_imgA few weeks ago I wrote about challenging myself to lose enough weight to fit into my suit for graduation day. Graduation is still a couple of weeks away, but I thought I’d give an update along with mini reviews of the apps I’ve been using over the past few weeks, including one new app I was introduced to after starting this experiment.EndomondoEndomondo was the very first run tracking app I tried, and I found it very hard to move on and try others as it had everything I needed. It has a great, clean user interface with clear indicators showing information like duration and distance, and there’s also a map view so you can see your run being plotted in real-time. You can choose to have a ‘basic workout’ in which you just run and Endomondo tracks you, or you can set a goal, attempt to beat a friend’s personal best, or follow a route. There’s also a couple of extra workouts that are unlocked in the pro version: beat yourself and interval training.After you’ve completed your workout you can share on Facebook or just sync with the Endomondo website. Syncing to the website is great. I had to wipe my phone at one point and when I signed back in to the app all my previous workouts appeared in the history tab again. You can tap on any one of these to see them in greater detail including lap information and a map view. Selecting Music whilst running was as easy as tapping the music icon and the Play Music app opens up. This was by far the best as some other apps don’t seem to support Play Music playlists.As I was writing this I noticed that Endomondo has been updated in the Google Play store with a whole new UI. It’s now ICS optimized and looks amazing. It actually makes me want to go back to using it again rather than moving on to the next app to try, and I really think this is the one I’ll be using after this losing weight goal is over.There’s something to be said for a really nice user interface. An app can have all the functionality in the world, but if it doesn’t look nice and isn’t easy to use then not many people are going to stick with it.Adidas miCoachI was really looking forward to trying miCoach due to a big sports name like Adidas being involved, but I ended up being hugely disappointed. The app requires much more security than is entirely necessary, including a 4 digit pin every time you open it up as well as an 8 character password requiring at least one digit be entered when you first sign up or log in.The app has plenty of features alongside the simple tracking of your runs, although they can be quite overwhelming for a new casual user and would be more suited for the hardcore runners out there. Setting music up to play through the app didn’t work unless you had it actually stored on your phone. Even making a playlist available offline didn’t allow it to be used. This was fixed by simply playing it straight from the Play Music app so it wasn’t that big of a deal.One feature I quite liked was being able to choose a sports personality to give you coaching whilst running a pre-planned workout. With such personalities as former world heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis and this year’s Wimbledon finalist Andy Murray, it can really give you a boost when you’re starting to flag. The only complaint I have with this feature is that in a free workout you only hear the voice at the end telling you “well done.” It would be nice to have some encouraging phrases played in specific scenarios, such as when your pace starts to fall off.Runtastic push-up proRuntastic is a new app I discovered when the company saw what I was doing, tweeted me, and suggested I add this to the line-up. This app claims to get you performing 50 consecutive push ups in 24 training days and I absolutely love it. The app schedules what days you should be training on, which is roughly every other day, and gives you the number of push ups in each set and a timer for resting between sets. The really cool part is it counts how many you do by either using the proximity sensor or you touch the screen with your nose on the way down.The app gives you overall stats for when you decide to try and set a record on days-off training, or training plan stats that are visualized as a bar chart of number of push ups performed on each training day. This is great as you can see the progress you’re making. Overall it’s nice to take the thinking out of working out and just have the app tell you when to come back, how many repetitions to perform, and how long to rest between sets.I have a couple of gripes with the app, though. I began on the free version, but what I didn’t realize is that after 4 training days you need to buy the pro version to carry on. This wouldn’t have bothered me too much, but there is no way to transfer data between the free and the pro version. Sure, you can set the training plan to start from training day 5, but you won’t be able to see stats on the previous days anymore which is slightly annoying and could be easily remedied.The other annoyance was that out of nowhere the training seemed to get too difficult, I was completely fine completing the sets leading up to training day 5 and then suddenly my muscles were failing me just a few sets in. In the end I decided to go back to training day 1 and begin again, this way I would have all my stats back.MyFitnessPalMyFitnessPal is absolutely great for tracking your calorie intake and has one of the biggest databases for nutritional information on food I’ve seen. This is helped in part by users being able to add their own entries into the database and MyFitnessPal will tell you how many times it has been used as a form of indicator for correctness.The app even takes your starting weight, your goal weight, and the time you want to achieve it in, and tells you how many calories you need to be taking in per day to achieve your goal. It also takes your measurements (weight, neck, waist, and hips) to provide graphs of your progress over the past 3 months. The app itself isn’t exactly the most intuitive to use but once you learn your way around it the functionality is great.There’s one other thing I have to say about this app, and it’s not the apps fault, more human nature’s. If you have a bad day calorie intake wise, say you’re fed up of eating healthily and order take out, then you’re very unlikely to log it and so end up with an incorrect view on your progress.Accurate Body Fat Calculator & BMI CalculatorThere’s not much to say about these two apps. They do exactly what they say on the tin. You enter the information it requests and it gives you the value along with the category (normal, overweight etc.). The UI for BMI Calculator is much nicer than ABFC calculator and is ICS optimized, which is a nice touch. BMI calculator also lets you change the unit of input for each of the fields, which is handy whereas ABFC is very basic in both looks and functionality.Body statsWeight: 213.8 lbs (97KG)Waist: 39 inchesChest: 41.7 inchesNeck: 15.5 inchesBody fat: 25.3%BMI: 29Looking at the stats from the first part of this experiment I’ve made gains in all areas except my neck, which is hugely disappointing. I honestly thought I’d lose a little as I’ve been eating healthier and exercising more than I was while at University, aside from a couple of slips. I also felt myself getting fitter with my runs becoming faster and easier with recovery times being less. The part I found the hardest was finding the motivation for going out and running, as well as running more than 2km a session due to joint pain, which I’ve always suffered from even when I was fitter.I’m hoping that Zombies! Run! will help with the motivation aspect as adding a game element could make it more enjoyable. I’m also thinking of adding some Kinect fitness games into the mix. While not strictly apps, they’re a more unconventional form of exercise.With graduation just under 2 weeks away it looks unlikely that I’ll fit back in my suit and I’ll need to come up with a backup plan. But even after this little experiment is finished I’ll be carrying on and attempting to get back to the shape I was in before starting University, even if that means shelling out for a gym membership.I’ll write a final part to this app experiment in a couple of weeks where I’ll cover the remaining apps I used.last_img read more

NASA funds supersonic bidirectional flying wing aircraft

first_imgThe commercial aircraft we all are used to flying in could get us to our destinations a lot faster if they were allowed to break the sound barrier. A 747 typically reaches speeds of 550mph, where as a supersonic craft can more than double that. Concorde, for example, used to fly at 1,350mph (Mach 2.04).The reason we don’t all fly at Mach 2 is because of sonic booms: a loud shockwave heard when you break the speed of sound. Hearing them several times an hour is not desirable in our busy skies, especially if you live near an airport.NASA has been working to solve this problem with the development of new aerodynamics and engines to allow a quiet sonic boom to occur. However, an aerospace engineer from Florida State University has beaten them to it.Ge-Chen Zha has developed a bi-directional flying wing that is capable of achieving supersonic flight without the sonic boom. The concept looks like a flying ninja star, but in reality it’s two wings sat on top of each other.In one configuration the aircraft is capable of subsonic flight, but in mid-air it can carry out a 5-second rotation to the secondary wing configuration and go supersonic. Apparently anyone on board would hardly notice this rotation happening, but they would enjoy the hours being knocked off their flight time.If you’re skeptical of such a design, don’t be. Zha has presented the flying wing to NASA and received $100,000 in funding for his efforts. If NASA scientists think it works, it’s likely to make it into some form of production.Even if this aircraft never becomes a passenger-carrying solution, it will be of great interest to drone manufacturers. Drones capable of silent supersonic flight would certainly be a feature any government would want to have available to them, both for home surveillance or one of the many hostile locations around the world.Read more at Space.comlast_img read more

Leap motion controller used to control a quadcopter

first_imgMicrosoft’s Kinect %displayPrice% at %seller% continues to be the standard for motion control that doesn’t require you hold a device, but back in May a serious competitor appeared. Leap Motion started showing off the Leap motion controller, which promised accuracy of 0.01mm. That means it’s more accurate than a mouse, and allows the movement of individual fingers to be detected. A low price point of just $69.99 also removes a major barrier to entry.Now Leap Motion is shipping out dev kits for the USB-connected controller, and LabView hacker has just received theirs. The LabView team is already known for their interesting projects involving Wii Remotes, Kinect, Arduino, and Android phones, so we expected something a bit different from them using Leap, and they have delivered.Just 24 hours after receiving the Leap dev kit they had it wirelessly hooked up to and controlling the movement of a quadcopter. By tilting and moving a hand over the Leap, the quadcopter adjusted itself to match, and the feedback was almost instant as well as being quite accurate.The team said it was a simple task to get the quadcopter reacting by wrapping C# code into LabView and using the SDK to detect and communicate movement input. If they can do that in just a day, it bodes well for how quickly other developers are going to get to grips with the motion controller and start producing some interesting projects.Developers can sign up for a dev kit on the Leap Motion website. If you want a consumer model you can pre-order one now for $69.99 plus shipping ($75.98) with delivery expected at some point in early 2013.last_img read more

WaterBean filter wants to make every bottle of water reusable

first_imgA single kilogram of activated charcoal, more or less pure carbon, can have an internal surface area of a million square meters. It’s this feature, a sort of super-honeycombing, that makes activated carbon of use in water filtration; impurities get caught, particularly chlorine and microscopic bits of sediment, while water passes right on through. It’s a relatively easy process; just pour water through charcoal, and voila!Now, a new Indiegogo product called WaterBean wants to make that sort of filtration even easier. We’ll see how reliable it is. The product is essentially a bent piece of steel with some spring to it and a covered carbon filter on each end — Britta meets barbecue tongs. Clamp the steel together to get the WaterBean into the bottle, where it expands and stays inside. The elbow remains up near the mouth of the bottle, so it shouldn’t be too hard to fish out later. And the filter is also supposed to impart magnesium to the water, making it tastier, or at least fortified with magnesium.It’s a great idea, since it would make the process of filtering water much easier and quicker than with a traditional filter, which passes the water through the carbon before calling it “filtered.” Indeed, therein lies the problem: is this even really a water filter? Simply putting some charcoal into a bottle and “swirling to activate” the charcoal has not traditionally been enough to adequately filter water. If it were, we wouldn’t have to wait for a reservoir to trickle through before drinking.The WaterBean is often portrayed against rushing rivers — but don’t confuse this device with a water purifier. The device is recommended for use in such rustic environments as airports. There isn’t much risk to putting out a product like this, since if it doesn’t work, the client is just drinking tap water. So, why not? The actual health benefits of passing first-world tap water through even the slowest of filers are debatable, so even if this does a less-than-incredible job, it’s unlikely to spawn any great lawsuits.Still, effective or not, this could be a good thing if it reduces the number of plastic bottles we’re consuming. It’s genuinely concerning — the sheer volume of the plastic being made and dumped in landfills — recycling notwithstanding. While simply cooling it down seems to be the best way to turn tap water into “delicious, filtered water,” if this makes some people feel more secure refilling a bottle rather than buying a new one, I say more power to them.last_img read more

BBC will reveal new Doctor Who star today

first_imgDoctors come and Doctors go, but the BBC will reveal the identity of the next Doctor Who star in a special live event later today. The current Doctor, Matt Smith, has filmed his last Doctor Who special, which will air later this year. Unlike most roles in television, the mantle of The Doctor is passed from one actor to the next every few seasons, and it’s been going on for a long time.There have been 11 different Doctors over the years, stretching all the way back to the early 1960s. The show ran more or less continuously until 1989, when it took a long hiatus. There was a TV movie in the mid 90s, but we don’t like to talk about that. Doctor Who was revived in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston playing the main role.Within Doctor Who mythos, The Doctor is able to generate a total of 12 times, becoming a totally different person. This allows the show to continue on with a different actor in the starring role, but The Doctor is fast running out of lives. Occasional suggestions that there is no limit have been laughed off as jokes by showrunners. When the new actor (whoever it is) takes over the show, that will be the 12th Doctor. Meaning the BBC only has one more regeneration after that, if it wants to stick to the original rules.Matt Smith took over the show from the much beloved David Tennant in 2010. He was at first seen by many fans as too young for the role, but seems to have won most Whovians over. Quite a few names have been floated as possible choices for the new Doctor, with 55 year-old Peter Capaldi emerging as the odds-on favorite. Ben Daniels from the BBC series Cutting It and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Children of Men) have also been rumored.We’re going to find out soon who gets to take the Tardis for a spin. Whoever it is, they’ll have some big shoes to fill (and they’re bigger on the inside). The announcement will be broadcast on BBC and BBC America at 7PM London time, or 2PM ET.Update: The BBC has announced that Peter Capaldi will indeed be the new Time Lord.last_img read more

12GB PlayStation 3 on sale in US and Canada for 199

first_imgRemember when Sony released the PS3 for $600 and everyone scoffed? Well, they’re doing better this time with a $400 launch price for the PlayStation 4, but if that’s still too expensive, Sony has started selling another product in the US and Canada that you might be interested in. The once unicorn-like $199 PlayStation 3 is real and you can buy one now. The flash-based PS3 launched in Europe and Japan a while back, but now it’s finally in North America.Unlike the previous slim PS3, this one has only 12GB of storage, but it’s NAND flash. That should make for fast loading times and lower power usage. But only 12GB? That’s probably not going to be enough as you devour the soon-to-be-discounted PS3 back catalog. Well, you can expand the storage in this model through USB devices like an external hard drive or thumb drive. The console was slightly redesigned with a top-mounted Blu-ray drive and textured surface.Sony’s own website shows the new cheaper PS3 as out of stock, but Best Buy is offering it as part of a bundle with Uncharted 3 and The Last of Us for $259.98, which is about $40 off. Amazon and other online retailers are offering the standalone 12GB system, though. The “Legacy Bundle” is another way to get your new even slimmer PS3, but it comes with a 500GB hard drive and a copy of Gran Turismo 5 for $100 more.The PS3 is still a perfectly serviceable console, and it’s now cheaper than most tablets on the market. It’s almost an impulse buy for some.last_img read more