If you haven't alreay spent your Royal Wedding budget on a return flight to the Carribean, consider some of Firebox's Royal Wedding memorabilia.
LIKE A FULL-SIZE CARDBOARD REPLICA OF THE HAPPY COUPLE.
You won't regret buying this for the office.
Perfect for royalists, fantasists and mentalists, this life-size 72" cardboard cutout shows HRH Prince William Kate Middleton looking just like they do in real life. Put this disconcertingly realistic slice of memorabilia in the office and visitors won't know whether to faint, curtsey or get busy with a magic marker."
Will and Kate Cardboard Cutout is - £34.99 from Firebox.com
Yes, it's true, some scientists did research on it and it got published in the Scientific American.
If you ask someone for charity donation at the top of an elevator, they're more likely to give it to you than if you ask at the bottom research at the University of has just found. That's because, scientists say - how we think and behave is heavily influenced by our surroundings.
Because we associate going up with good things - with nobility, with Heaven, with looking up to people you admire, going up something makes people behave in a more altruistic and noble way.
People were twice as likely to give to the Salvation Army if you asked them at the top of the escalator than at the bottom; they were more likely to be co-operative in a computer game if you showed them a video of a plane rising through the clouds just before than if you showed the video of the view through a car window. If taken up some stairs, they were more likely to volunteer more time than if you took them down some stairs.
As Prof David Schroeder writes:
"Overall these studies show remarkable consistency, linking height and different prosocial behaviors -- i.e., donations, volunteering, compassion, and cooperation. While we may be inclined to think that our behaviors are the product of comprehensive thought processes, carefully weighing the pros and cons of alternatives, these results clearly show that this is not always the case."
I've heard before that your surroundings have a big impact on how you behave. Not just obvious stuff like whether there's a pneumatic drill outside the window, but also what the space is like you're in - is the ceiling high or low? is it light or not? cluttered or clean?
I mean - I guess people knew this in the middle ages - churches always have awe-inspiring soaring ceilings, Houses of Parliament and other State buildings are designed to instill reverence and trust - with mammoth block and solid walls.
Not an April Fool's I swear - check out the link below, it was posted yesterday.
We always imagine stuff in the future will be super useful. However, it's likely a lot of it will just be ridiculous and focused around advertising and pets.
Like this intelligent billboard in Germany for example. It uses hot technology of location-based social networking to do something quite stupid but kind of cute.
So it's an advert for Granata Pet brand dog food, and as owners pass by with their dogs they can stop in front of it, use their mobile phones to check in on Foursquare and as soon as they do, a dog treat will pop out of the billboard and the dog - or I guess owner - can sample the product before deciding to buy it.
The checkins are noted on a distant server that is connected to a black box in the billboard that controls the dispenser.
Granata pet food is based on pomegranates - goodness knows why. Maybe they should dedicate a further billboard to explaining that.
I know we don't usually cover haircuts on here - being a serious technology site - but if anybody's hair is important to the internet, it's Justin Bieber's.
Hello, Twittter had to adjust their trending topics to stop him topping the list everyday. If you're wondering what happened to it... he has given it out to celebrities who are to auction it off for their favourite charity. Lovely.
We ask you Shiny readers - the new hair, or the old hair? OR NOTHING?
Nice little idea from The Newspaper Club - a Hacker's Paper for those who like running about, causing trouble and adapting things. It has features like "How to Hack Boris Bikes", one about replying to spammers, and other gems like how to hack time - a permanent issue for me.
Forget Boris Bikes - this is the public transport innovation I really want to see in London: bus stops as designed by Yahoo. They have games in them.
Introduced by Yahoo in San Francisco, these bus stops have big touch screens on the side of the shelters where people waiting at the the stops can play games by tapping the touch screens. The neighbourhood with the best score at the end of a certain time gets a free block party sponsored by Yahoo.
Not only will these amuse the bored, I bet it will also reduce crime.. (why graffiti something when you can play PacMan?) and just brings some joy into the cold world of waiting for public transport.
Just another reason not to text and walk at the same time - falling into shopping centre water features.
This is a nice Youtube video of a woman falling into a pool. She was fine afterwards, and told the shopping centre cop that she was just "a little wet" but the video is Youtube gold. Watch above.
As "Maggot" from Westcliffe-on-Sea comments on the Daily Mail:"Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha... I knew I would see this one day... You only have to see these characters wandering around with their gadgets...they're in another world... Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha"
It reminds us a little of the Windows Phone 7 ads...
So, if you thought what you needed to make you happy was a break in the Carribbean, a pay rise or a hunky romantically inclined new colleague, well, forget that - there's a much simpler way. We're talking about shining light into your brain through your ears.
Yes of course we are. While you may have thought that your eyes were the part of you that perceives light, it seems your ears like it too, or rather, what's behind your ears - your brain. Apparently parts of the grey matter are photo-sensitive and appreciate a little bright light now and then. It's of particular benefit to those who suffer from SAD - the winter darkness condition. There's science behind this of course:
Researchers at the University of Oulu, Finland, say that tests gave relief from darkness-induced depression (SAD) to nine out of ten subjects with a daily 8-12 minute dose for four weeks. They've got investment already and are undertaking further tests to back this up.. though the lightbox is available now:
"In our clinical tests, approx. 9 patients out 10 experienced total relief of symptoms, which is a revolutionary result. Just 8-12 minutes a day is enough."
Valkee Light Box Available for 185 euros on Valkee
It sounds like a scene in a sci-fi film, but it's acutally true. Weapons and defence company BAE systems are trialling a laser cannon for use against pirates. They intend it for use off the coast of East Africa where commercial ships are increasingly in danger of piracy and Somali pirates currently hold 586 people hostages.
The cannon is supposed to deter pirates in a non-lethal way, by firstly warning them that they have been spotted and then by temporarily blinding them at short range. The dazzling light would disorient pirates and prevent from effectively aiming weapons, BAE claim.
It all sounds like Dr Who, but the artist's mock-up above looks more serious.
BAE need to do more human tests (where do they get the volunteers from?), but they claim the effects are similar to a pilot flying towards the sun and don't cause lasting damage. It certainly sounds better than relying on armed guards and gunfights on the high seas. Especially since many of the ships in danger are oil tankers...
Perhaps a cute retro name is all that three dimensional printers need to get the adoring audience that they deserve..
3D printers are super exciting, but somehow the green-glowing wooden Thing-O-Matic has captured the public imagination a bit more than the usual grey metal industry-focussed offerings. Using tiny droplets of plastic to build up three dimensional shapes, it lets you make little plastic models of things from computer files.
Attaching to your computer over USB, it's nice and simple.
So three dimensional printers are a bit pricier than your average Epson Inkjet - this one will set you back $1225 or around £790 from Makerbot and the plastic it uses costs about $10 (about £6.40) per pound.
So, you know about printers, and you know about nail painting ... well ladies (and gents, if you're interested) meet the nail *printer*. A genius machine that prints nail polish onto your nails. Naturally we love it.
For the ArtPro Nail Printer to work, you need to put a base colour on, then stick your finger into the machine, align your nail and it precision prints a design on, and you layer over some clearcoat as a sealant.
Advantages - precision nail art
- customised designs from jpegs
- the fun experience of putting your hands in a machine
Disadvantages - there are no disadvantages to this
The Internet of Things is in swinging form at the minute with cars, blood pressure monitors and all sorts of other devices crowding onto the web. Well, now the baby can be on the internet too... as Withings introuduce a souped-up internet connected baby monitor that can live-stream 3megapixel images of your baby to your phone. It even works in the dark cause of its infra-red camera.
The Withings Baby Monitor is little plastic box that can stream images from its 3 megapixel camera to your iPhone or just computer screen. The Withings Baby Monitor has a connected app that works on iPhone,
You can even interact with your child by making soothing noises to them or rejigging the nursery playlist. Just be careful the child doesn't grow up to love the monitor instead of you.
It " gives parents important information on their child's environment and allows them to interact with their child remotely and easily." Wiithings promise.
We told you about Catfish before - it's a great film about a Facebook romance - recently star Nev Schulmann got interviewed at a London film event via a physical representation of Facebook. All pretty confusing. Though I do like this new interview technique. We might spring it on someone who comes into the office one day all innocently trying to show us a new phone.
It's fun to watch though it's fair to say that you don't get much detail out of people..
We like to bring you the best of the internet here, so obviously a Tumblr blog called Hookers Or Cake is going to have feature somewhere.
We're not really sure what it's about, but it just seems to be quite good. Maybe it's feminist, maybe it's just a collection of weird shit loosely themed by being related to either hookers or cakes. Take a look anyway... The picture above seems to be the stand-out image.
Can't afford a trip abroad but want your favourite teddy bear to experience the thrills of foreign travel?
The answer to that may be no, but new travel company - Stuffed in the City - which is offering just that, may be about to win you over. Let's think of it as a way to get an amusing set of photos of teddy... in the style of that gnome in Amelie.
Focussed on New York, at least to start with, all you need to do is post teddy over the pond to New York city.
"You send us the toy and we do the rest," says Irina Kot, co-founder of Stuffed in the
City. "Your toy meets fellow tourists, takes pictures with New York City landmarks, and gets VIP treatment by our staff."
Its tour takes in Central Park, The Empire State Building and more, all in a "New York Minute," which is the company's signature tour. You will receive a CD with all images taken during the tour, 4x6 print outs, a travel certificate, and a surprise NYC souvenir. Your toy returns enriched, inspired, and grateful.
Err, great right?
We should mention that this offer - Stuffed in the City - extends to all stuffed animals and toys, not just bears.
If you're worried about power cuts over this festive season, it may be worth keeping a few of these beauties stored up for emergencies.
Electric eels can officially power a tree's-worth of christmas lights. They're like wriggly, water-borne batteries. And hell they look a lot more exciting than them too. It was Japanese scientists who figured out the contraption that makes this work.
The brain behind this fun but admittedly quite useless idea is interviewed at the end of the vid. He sounds a bit spaced-out, but he's obviously a fine engineer. He says:
"if we could gather up all the electric eels in the world, we would be able to light up an unimaginably large Christmas tree. I'd love to see the huge flash of light it made on the earth, from somewhere else in the Universe.."
It would be the university of Aberdeen that comes out with a press release suggesting you eat oats for Christmas - the Scottish are famous for liking their porridge.
It doesn't sound like much of an alternative to Christmas turkey - though fortunately what the new study from Aberdeen shows is that eating oats as a supplement to your diet can be good enough to get all the blood-pressure lowering benefits, without having to cut anything out.
It's not a complete surprise that oats are good for you - it's the sort of thing that people tell you in third form biology all the time. But apparently having three portions of wholemeal or oats a day every day can lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease because blood pressure is significantly reduced.
They say: "The study has clear public health implications and suggests that this Christmas wholegrain wheat and oat-based recipes should be on everyone's festive menu."
Though if the roads don't get cleared in Scotland and delivery trucks can't get through, then it could be that people end up eating oats for Christmas anyway and not just because of their blood pressure.
The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010; 92:733-40 `Effect of increased consumption of whole-grain foods on blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk markers in healthy middle-aged persons: a randomized controlled trial.
Any app developers or data-crunchers out there wanting to use their skills for social good, may be interested to know that the Mayor of London's Office has just released a bunch of data on the NHS in London.
The London council are appealing for developers to come up with useful or interesting ways of structuring the raw data. The London Datastore website has been running since earlier this year but fresh NHS data about maternity care, stroke and performance indicators were published this week.
Interesting uses of public data so far include the London Population Cartogram which shows on a bulging map how the populations of different boroughs have changed over the past 200 years - with the growth of the suburbs in the past 50 being particularly striking.
Q Yes yes, I've got Chrome it's a web-browser right, what's all the fuss about?
A Well it is yes, it's Google's speedy web browser, but Chrome is also a new Operating System released just today, in testing mode. That's what everyone is writing about.
Q A operating system for what?
A Well for any computer - for laptops or tablets or desktops.
Q My computer already has an Operating System, why would I be interested in this one?
A Because and this is the big selling point of the whole thing... Google have built it from the bottom-up to be completely in tune with the web. It's a web-based OS made for internet connected devices.
Q What and Windows isn't?
A Of course all other operating systems work with the web, but Windows was built for a time before the internet existed, so Google claim it's not so much in tune with the internetz.
Q Alright then? where do I find it? how much is it?
A Well it's only out in a testing version yet for people who are prepared to provide technical feedback on the system - what is out now though is the app store associated with the new operating system. That means there are a bunch of interesting web apps that will work best on the new Chrome system but are compatible for anyone with a browser. Doesn't even have to be Chrome.
Q What apps?
A Well, okay lots of them are things that are already sites... like the New York Times, and Sports Illustrated, but they just display nicely in an "appy" format.
We're really interested in Tweetdeck the Chrome Extension..see it here
It boasts some beautiful buildings, possibly the best art gallery in Europe and has gifted the world some of its most infamous politicians and writers. But these days St Petersburg is also becoming known for its art and technology scenes too. The city is the birthplace of Yota, a Russian network which delivers incredibly quick wireless data speeds to its customers PCs and mobiles using innovative 4G technology, which is way beyond anything we currently have in the UK. St Petersburg also boasts a small but growing digital arts community which focuses on technology to create exciting, meaningful but very high tech installations.
This week the two communities came together as Yota hosted Yota Space, a digital arts festival which was fantastic in both its ambition and execution. The company took over a huge disused hypermarket - think Selfridges scale - to deliver a festival of bands, Djs and most of all art installations. UK electro pop band Hot Chip kicked the festival off on Sunday, but in many ways the main story was the large number of cutting edge installations from artists across the world.
Digital Technology is starting to have a profound impact on the way that art is created, distributed and even funded, and I'll take a longer look on how in many ways art may follow a similar path to music and media in the way it evolves later this week. Here though is a quick trawl through some of the highlights of the festival.
The day before the show Drive Productions took one of the city's most impressive buildings - the Mikhailovsky Palace - and transformed it by using a 4D projection mapping system. We have seen this kind of thing before in the UK, but not delivered in quite the way that this was.
If you have never checked out the onedotzero website you really should - it is a fascinating place. The group is arguably the UK's leading moving image and digital arts organisation. It basically commissions, showcases and promotes all kinds of digital and interactive arts. It works in interesting ways too with artists asked to submit a video of their work to the site. The company regularly hosts a festival of new and upcoming artists and in St Petersburg offered Russian arts lovers the chance to see some recent and classic works by its associated artists.
Among the highlights were Toplogies by an group called Quayola which cleverly uses a multi screen installation with a pre-modernist painting but then adds a series of formations which emerge to create a clash between the stillness of the original image and the dynamic nature of the emerging images.
Another key feature was an installation from Korean based artist Joon Y Moon. His work Augmented Shadow is a high tech version of the old shadow table concept. Imaginary objects and organic beings can be manipulated by the user to create different life cycles for the objects. Watch the video to see it in action, and look out for the trees and the birds.
One installation that might be familiar to Londoners is Volume by United Visual Artists. The work has already been showcased on the South Bank and at the V&A museum in the Madjeski Garden. Its creators bill Volume as a sculpture of light and sound which is controlled by people's interaction. As a person moves through the space they trigger a display of light and sound. It is an incredible experience to wander through the installation and fascinating to see how user's constantly chnage its land and sounds scapes.
Also at the show were installations from Jason Bruges (who I'll write more about in separate feature as he has some amazing projects on the go), Brian Eno's 77 Million Paintings and this work, Body paint. from MSA Visual's Mehmet Akten where users can create abstract painting by moving in front of the installation.