Scientists accidentally record ball lightning in nature for first time

Ball lightning, a phenomenon in which a glowing orb of light persists for seconds after a lightning strike, is one of the most enduring atmospheric mysteries in science. Reported sightings date as far back as ancient Greece -- an occurrence of ball lightning is rumored to have killed 18th century scientist Georg Wilhelm Richmann -- and re-creating it synthetically has been a daunting feat, accomplished by only a few research teams after Nikola Tesla managed to first manifest spherical charges in the lab in 1904.

Since then, little progress has been made toward concrete theories that can explain the strange, near-mystical nature of ball lightning. However, a group of Chinese scientists in 2012 managed, completely by accident, to not only observe and record an instance of it in Qinghai in western China, but to measure the contents of the orb with spectrographs. It marks the first time ever the phenomenon has ever been captured in nature.… Read more

Logitech PowerShell Controller + Battery review: iPhone game controller missing a few buttons

Do you need buttons to play games on your iPhone? Certainly not. And yet, iOS MFi-certified game controllers are here, giving you the promise of full game controller-like support for games and letting you theoretically use your phone or iPod Touch like a little Nintendo 3DS or PlayStation Vita.

The Logitech Powershell Controller + Battery is one of those accessories. As its name suggests, it's a case that adds physical gaming buttons, and also has a battery pack. It also costs $99.99. For most people, that's where the train skids off the tracks.

Whether you want an iOS … Read more

Hands-on with the Nomad ChargeKey Lightning cable

The Nomad ChargeKey aims to solve a common problem: There's never a sync cable around when you need one.

You know the routine: You're killing time at the airport and suddenly realize that your iPhone battery is down to 6 percent. There are USB charging ports everywhere, but you don't have a cord. As long as you have your keys, however, you're in business.

True to its name, the ChargeKey is a key-shaped cable with a USB plug at one end and a Lightning (or Micro-USB) connector at the other. With it, you can sync or … Read more

Review: Lightning for Mac shows you the latest Amazon deals

Lightning for Mac brings Amazon's Gold Box deals straight to your dashboard, enabling you to take advantage of them before they expire. A widget made for passionate shoppers, Lightning makes shopping for special deals on Amazon faster and easier.

Lightning connects to and fetches the latest Gold Box deal and displays it in a streamlined interface. In case you don't know, Gold Box deals are outstanding offers available only for a limited time. In the main app window you will find the product name and image, the time left before the deal expires, a review section, … Read more

Get a 5-in-1 sync/charge cable for $3.12 shipped

These days I feel like I can never have too many sync/charge cables. Granted, my situation is a little unusual in that I tend to have lots of different gadgets floating around the house, but it's not uncommon for a person to have a couple different devices with different kinds of ports.

Of course, with multiple ports comes the hassle of multiple cables. That's why I prefer a small one-size-fits-all solution. Like this one: has a 5-in-1 "noodle style" sync/charge cable for $3.12 shipped. That's about the lowest price I'… Read more

EU wants all companies, ahem Apple, to use standard charger

The European Union has been pushing for a universal cell phone charger for years, and on Thursday it took another step forward in this process.

The European Parliament's internal market and consumer protection committee unanimously voted on a legislative resolution to create a law requiring all companies to make the same type of charger. One of the reasons for this resolution is to cut down on e-waste.

"We urge member states and manufacturers finally to introduce a universal charger, to put an end to cable chaos for mobile phones and tablet computers," rapporteur Barbara Weiler said in … Read more

The 404 1,342: Where we board a flight to HEL (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Five disappointing things about the iPhone 5S.

- Why I'm gladly spending $100 more on the iPhone 5S over the iPhone 5C.

- Here comes a gold Lightning cable for your gold iPhone 5S.

- Apple has only increased the iPhone's battery capacity by 12 percent in six years.

- Apple stock tumbles following debut of new iPhones.

- Friday the 13th travelers take chance on flight 666 to HEL.… Read more

Here comes a gold Lightning cable for your gold iPhone 5S

Consumers who grab the new gold-hued iPhone 5S and want a matching cable will be able get one once a new Kickstarter project meets its goal.

A company called Juicies sells a variety of dock connectors and other cables for mobile devices. The new Kickstarter project dubbed Juicies+ is striving to get funding to create higher-quality, tangle-free cables for smartphones and tablets. And one of those budding cables is a gold one designed to color-coordinate with the upcoming gold version of the iPhone 5S.

Juicies promises that it will offer the golden cable if it can raise $120,000. As … Read more

Family films as lightning strikes car, recharges phones

Not everyone driving through an unpleasant storm says: "I hope we get struck by lightning."

But little boys can be little boys, so perhaps one can forgive Taylor Morlock's morbid wishes, as he and his family drove through Utah the other day.

Perhaps, though, he's less a Morlock than a warlock, as their car was, just moments later, smacked by a lightning bolt.

Fortunately, they were filming -- and lived to (show and) tell the tale. These days, if you don't film something, it never really happened.

In footage offered by KSL, the force of … Read more

How to connect an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to your TV

Editors' note: This post was updated on 7/16/2013 to reflect changes in newer iOS devices.

Until smart TVs get smarter and set-top boxes solve more problems, sometimes, the swiftest means to get media on your TV is directly via your phone or tablet.

It's not ideal for all cases, but if you've got home videos, photos, or even video-streaming apps you want to see on the big screen, you have a few options. The solution will depend on how new (or old) your device is, what video quality you're going for, and (as always) how … Read more