NASA captures footage of enormous solar flare

While solar flares are a common occurrence on the sun, it's not everyday that we get an X-class flare.

However, sun watchers were given a treat this week when the star let off a huge solar flare, according to NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The flare peaked around 5 p.m. PT on Monday and NASA published a video (see below) of the event on Tuesday.

Solar flares are bursts of radiation propelled off the sun. This latest flare was classified as X4.9, which means it was an incredibly significant burst of light and one of the largest … Read more

Five ways Google could help start an apocalypse

A decade ago, we used to hear a lot more about Google's informal motto: "Don't be evil." It doesn't come up as much anymore, but those three words still lead off Google's corporate code of conduct. And given some of the company's recent acquisitions that are heavy on robotics and artificial intelligence companies, that's probably a good thing.

But still, with an Internet giant also buying up the know-how to make killer robots, it's not too hard to imagine something like the classic science-fiction conceits of SkyNet turning on its creators taking root at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif. "Don't be evil" is a great startup motto, but what's the old truism about power corrupting? Sometimes, it seems like Google is heading toward absolute power in some areas.… Read more

The 404 1,414: Where a podcast is just a story we tell ourselves (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Google reportedly acquires AI company DeepMind for $400M.

- Here's how you can vastly increase the number of shows and movies viewable to you on Netflix.

- And who says eSports competitions aren't heated?

- The velociraptor cage from "Jurassic Park" is for sale on eBay.… Read more

Google adopts Boston Dynamics' animal robots

CNET Update is doing the robot:

In this episode of CNET Update:

- Check out the impressive animal-like robots created by Boston Dynamics, now owned by Google.

- Wait and see if Sprint decides to buy T-Mobile. In the meantime, Sprint is expanding it's 4G LTE to more cities. It also has a new wireless technology called Spark, which is faster than LTE.

- Pay for an Amazon Kindle Fire HDX tablet in four installments over nine months.

CNET Update delivers the tech news you need in under three minutes. Watch Bridget Carey every afternoon for a breakdown of … Read more

Google acquires Boston Dynamics, maker of animal-inspired robots

Google has acquired Boston Dynamics, maker of Cheetah, BigDog, WildCat and other nature-inspired robots.

Google confirmed the acquisition in a Saturday New York Times report, which also broke the story earlier in December about former Android chief Andy Rubin leading a robotics push at Google.

Boston Dynamics gained Internet fame through YouTube videos of its agile, often gas-powered robots dealing with ice, snow, and other obstacles. It's easy to see why the Defense Department -- specifically the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) -- is interested.

Boston Dynamics has a lot of experience with quadrupedal robots, but more recently, … Read more

NASA unveils 6-foot 'superhero robot' Valkyrie

What if NASA's Robonaut grew legs and indulged in steroids? The result might be close to what NASA has unveiled: Valkyrie is a humanoid machine billed as a "superhero robot."

Developed at the Johnson Space Center, Valkyrie is a 6.2-foot, 275-pound hulk designed to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC).

It will go toe to toe with the Terminator-like Atlas robot from Boston Dynamics in what's shaping up to be an amazing modern-day duel. … Read more

Can you outrun it? DARPA's WildCat robot gallops at 16 mph

Boston Dynamics seems like a company full of friendly, intelligent folks. One wonders why these good people seem dedicated to creating terrifying robots.

Their latest mechanized hellspawn is WildCat, a military quadruped machine that can chase you at speeds up to 16 mph.

OK, it isn't chasing people yet. But it seems designed to scare the wits out of us poor meatsacks. … Read more

How to adjust the systemwide font size on iOS 7

In prior versions of iOS, users were able to adjust the font size for specific core apps through the Accessibility menu. Those apps were Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Messages, and Notes. Sure, this was helpful to those who had trouble seeing the default text size on an iOS device, but outside of those apps it was of no help.

With iOS 7, users can change the default size of text across the entire device, so long as developers have properly updated their apps to support the latest APIs found in iOS 7.

To change the size of Dynamic Text (its technical … Read more

Why is the engineer who recorded Nirvana still using analog tape?

I'm the kind of record buyer that always reads album credits, and starting in the early 1990s, with the Pixies' "Surfer Rosa," Nirvana's "In Utero," and PJ Harvey's "Rid of Me" I noticed that all of these great sounding recordings were engineered by Steve Albini. The man is extraordinarily prolific, and to date has worked on 2,000 albums! I reached out to him a few weeks ago to talk about his work.

Albini's Chicago, Ill., studio, Electrical Audio, is always busy, not only because of his talent but also … Read more