Star Apps: 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes'

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," set a decade after humanity and its power supply are nearly decimated, portrays the difficulty of rebuilding civilization without software. How would one navigate without Google Maps, see at night without Flashlight, or speak to intelligent life without FaceTime? Virtual city building via Minecraft or Civilization is also off the menu. But what if there was a way to get power from a hydroelectric dam? The only obstacle is a nation of spiteful super apes. That's the predicament for surviving humans in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.&… Read more

Lenovo buys mobile patents from Unwired Planet for $100M

Lenovo on Thursday continued ramping up its mobile arsenal.

The Chinese computing giant, which in January agreed to buy Motorola for $2.9 billion, now has reached a deal to purchase 21 patent families owned by Unwired Planet for $100 million in cash. Those patents include 3G and LTE mobile technology, as well as "other important mobility patents."

"This investment is an extension of Lenovo's existing intellectual property portfolio," Lenovo General Counsel Jay Clemens said in a statement. "It will serve the company well as we grow and develop our worldwide smartphone and mobile … Read more

Visiting Mauna Kea, the world's best spot for stargazing

MAUNA KEA, Hawaii -- I was recently having lunch at a lovely and only slightly overpriced cafe overlooking the Pacific in the historic resort region of Kailua-Kona on the dry side of Hawaii's "Big Island" (the island itself is also named Hawaii). I hopped in a rental car and traveled 60 miles by road, ascending nearly 3 miles in elevation from the dry, breezy coast through thick clouds shedding rain and hail onto my windshield, and finally reemerged into sunshine in the last few miles of the journey as I approached the Mauna Kea observatory complex, a collection of more than a dozen advanced telescopes that arguably serve as the eyes of mankind.

As technology has advanced over the centuries, we've been able to look exponentially farther into the depths of the universe with each new generation of super-sophisticated telescopes and supporting stargazing instruments. But somewhat ironically, getting top performance out of this equipment has meant locating it in increasingly isolated and even extreme spots around the globe, like Spain's Canary Islands, Chile's Atacama Desert, or here, on top of a 13,800-foot dormant volcano in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that last erupted about 4,500 years ago. … Read more

Sochi: A streaming event of Olympic proportions

For the Sochi Olympics, NBC will plow head first into streaming nearly every moment of the games over the Internet, but still stops short of giving everything to everyone.

The broadcast network NBC and its partners -- distributors like cable and satellite providers and tech companies like Adobe and iStreamPlanet -- have embraced the concept of bringing as much as they can online. What we're getting this year: nearly every moment of competition and more curated video on the Web; easier sign-on and more pay-TV providers on board to let their customers watch online; and more supported devices and … Read more

Review: ConverTable Planets for Mac shows a bevy of planetary information

ConverTable Planets for Mac allows you to compare weights, distances, sizes, and more between any two planets or moons listed in our solar system. The result is a fun app that offers a lot of very useful information for anyone in an astronomy or earth sciences class, or just for someone who enjoys learning more about our solar system and the relative size of the Earth compared to other planets and moons nearby.

After installation, the app will open to its home screen, where you can compare weights between any two planets. At first glance the app looks fairly basic, … Read more

Mars Curiosity rover transforms into an official Lego model

The world oohed and ahhed as NASA's Mars rover hurtled through the Red Planet's atmosphere, surviving "seven minutes of terror" and safely touching down on the barren landscape last year. Now, people can replay the death-defying feat with Legos.

The Danish toy company announced Thursday that on January 1 it will debut a new Lego set based on the Mars rover named Curiosity.

Just like the real spacecraft, the 1:20 scale Lego set comes with a 6-wheel rocker-bogie suspension, articulated robotic arm, and multiple camera sets. It also comes with a display plate and Lego … Read more

Planet Labs raises $52 million to launch a swarm of satellites

Planet Labs, a startup that plans to launch large numbers of small satellites for customers that need frequently updated high-resolution imagery, has raised $52 million in second-round funding.

The San Francisco-based company aims to offer an "unprecedented combination of resolution and frequency" with a fleet of relatively small satellites (about the size of two loaves of sandwich bread laid end to end) in relatively low orbits. It's launched four so far -- Dove 1, 2, 3, and 4 -- and plans to launch 28 satellites in Flock 1 by the end of the year. The company announced … Read more

Crave Ep. 149: Is that a drum in your pants or...?

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This week on Crave, we're staking out Santa with the Santa Stakeout Kit from OpticsPlanet. We try to say a tongue twister that MIT researchers say is the trickiest of all time. And now you can play your pants like an instrument with DrumPants! Yep, it's an orchestra in your pants. All that and more on this week's Crave show. Read more

'Doctor Who' fans petition to rename new planet 'Gallifrey'

"Doctor Who" fans sure know how to work a petition.

Not long after petitioning to have the Empire State Building lit up in Tardis-blue, fans are now pushing to have a newly discovered planet renamed "Gallifrey," in honor of the Doctor's home world.

You don't have to be a "Doctor Who" nut to know this is a good idea. The planet is currently known as "HD 106906 b," which sounds more like a really good password than an actual name. The planet is currently the most distantly orbiting planet around a single Sun-like star that astronomers have been able to identify.

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$6,500 Santa stakeout kit for Christmas black ops

Santa is like the NSA, FBI, and CIA all wrapped up in one jolly red package. He's slipperier than James Bond and more elusive than Big Foot. He might know when you're asleep and when you're awake, but does he know that you just dropped $6,500 on a stakeout kit to catch him?

OpticsPlanet has added the $6,500 Santa Stakeout Kit to its catalog just in time to gear up for the holidays. One of the kit's key pieces is an Opmod Ghillie Suit in Snow Camo, to help you blend in with your snowy surroundings and reduce the chance of Santa spotting you first.… Read more