Our doom will come sci-fi-style, NASA-funded study says

We've all seen movies depicting a dystopian future. Usually they envision a small group of elites living in sleekly designed homes wearing clean gray clothes, sipping pure water, and enjoying generally dust-free living while the rest of us schlubs reside in cardboard boxes beneath bridges. Now, a NASA-funded study is saying the collapse of civilization as we know it might not be all that different from what happens in movies like "Blade Runner," "Elysium," and "The Hunger Games."

The study, sponsored by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and first reported on in The Guardian, examined five key factors that led to the collapse of civilizations such the Roman Empire and Han Dynasty: population, climate, water, agriculture, and energy. It found that civilizations collapse when these factors coalesce in such a way that natural resources are stretched at the same time the gap between the rich (termed "Elites" in the study) and the poor (dubbed "Commoners") increases. Sound familiar? … Read more

Apple devices said to get free in-flight movies on United

Word has it that iPhone, iPad, and Mac users will soon get to access more than 150 movies and about 200 TV shows for free when flying on United Airlines, according to Patently Apple.

Come April, the airlines is said to be rolling out an update to its iOS app that will come with the added feature of an in-flight movie service. To get the purported service, users must be running iOS 7. For those with Macs, Patently Apple reports that no app is necessary to get the in-flight service.

The movie service is said to only be available for … Read more

Flight Time Calculator review

Flight Time Calculator lets you enter your total airtime and converts it to decimal form, so you can log your flight hours quickly and accurately. With this app, you can see your departure and arrival times in your local time zone as well as in Greenwich Mean Time, so that you have a frame of reference.

As soon as you open Flight Time Calculator, you can start entering your flight times. Just tap the take-off time section to enter that info on the rolling scale, and once you're back on the ground, tap landing time to enter that in … Read more

Apple snaps up app-testing company Burstly

Apple is said to have acquired the app-testing and analytics startup Burstly and on Friday all but confirmed it:

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," an Apple spokesperson told CNET.

Burstly is the operator of popular developer services like TestFlight, which lets app makers deploy an app to a small amount of users for field testing before wider release. That way, developers can work out kinks and monitor things like in-app purchases and the app's durability against crashing, without having to put the product … Read more

Lufthansa plans to beam in-flight movies to your devices

Lufthansa, one of the world's largest airlines, will soon take advantage of onboard tech that sends in-flight entertainment directly to passengers' smartphones and tablets.

The company plans to have BroadConnect, an entertainment system developed by Lufthansa Systems, installed on 20 of its Airbus A321 aircraft by this summer. The system, which is actually a small server inside the plane along with several wireless access points, ties into onboard Wi-Fi and lets passengers stream in-flight movies on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices. In order to get the streaming entertainment, passengers need to download the app before their flight takes … Read more

Watch a Boeing 767's landing gear strained to its limits

Whenever a pilot tells me that planes can withstand all kinds of turbulence and lightning strikes, I believe him.

To the level that I believe a politician when he tells me he can change the world.

However, after many years of flying, it's clear that planes are designed to withstand more than a layperson's mind can imagine.

Which is why footage posted to YouTube on Sunday might reassure one or two of the more-nervous flying types.

Here we have a Boeing 767 landing at my hometown airport, Birmingham in the UK.

In the past few weeks, England has … Read more

Target hack hits 40M accounts

CNET Update follows the bouncing ball:

In this episode of CNET Update:

- Watch your credit and bank statements if you shopped at a Target store recently. Hackers stole detailed credit card info for 40 million customers.

- Don't worry too much about the annoyance of in-flight phone chatter. Some airlines are dismissing the idea.

- Windows Phone users can stream between devices with new Xbox video and music apps.

- Google's Search app helps you go caroling. If you're not the sing-along type, there's plenty of free holiday music to stream.

CNET Update delivers the … Read more

Delta puts the kibosh on in-flight cell phone calls

As holiday air travel starts to ramp up and the Federal Communications Commission just took the first step in easing restrictions on in-flight calls, Delta airlines wants to be certain no cell phone conversations will be taking place on its planes.

The company's CEO Richard Anderson penned a memo to its 80,000 employees on Wednesday to say no way to up-in-the-air chatting.

"Delta will not allow cellular calls or internet-based voice communications onboard Delta or Delta Connection flights," Anderson wrote. "A clear majority of customers who responded to a 2012 survey said they felt the … Read more

New House bill seeks to ban in-flight cell phone calls

Flights are noisy enough for at least one lawmaker without having to listen to a plane full of passengers shouting to be heard on their cell phones.

So Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced a bill Monday that would prohibit passengers from making in-flight cell phone calls on commercial aviation flights. The "Prohibiting In-Flight Voice Communications on Mobile Wireless Devices Act of 2013" (pdf) comes as the Federal Communications Commission considers lifting a ban on the use of cell phones and mobile broadband services on airplanes above 10,000 feet.

"… Read more

Great iOS apps for making holiday travel easier

Traveling can be a headache, especially during big holidays like Thanksgiving. With so many people traveling the country at around the same time, you're faced with packed airports, unforeseen schedule changes, bad weather, and probably more than a few irritable fellow passengers just trying to get home for the holiday.

To keep the stress level at a minimum, I selected some helpful travel apps for iOS that will keep you on schedule and help you navigate your itinerary.

Editors' note: If you're looking for Android travel apps, check out Sarah Mitroff's roundup.

TripIt lets you set up … Read more