Craving junk food or a smoke? Try Tetris instead

Looking for an excuse to play more Tetris? Good news: Engaging in just a few minutes of highly visual activities like the game appears to reduce the strength, frequency, and vividness of cravings for things like food and drugs.

Reporting in the journal Appetite, researchers at Plymouth University in the UK said that because imagery is so closely tied to cravings, they wanted to test whether highly visual activities -- in this case Tetris -- might decrease craving imagery and ultimately the cravings themselves.

Co-author Jackie Andrade said her team recruited 119 volunteers who, unlike in previous studies, were not … Read more

A feast of Hollywood's best visual effects (video)

Amid all the glitz and glam of the red carpet, the center of attention in Hollywood is always the big names. But great films are the sum of their parts, and behind the scenes, creative specialists work to make all those parts flow seamlessly.

Often overlooked among the celebrity fanfare, the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects showcases the masterful use of technology to bring stories to life, from scale models of the 1970s to the more advanced modern digital technologies of today.

Nelson Carvajal conceived and edited this compilation of visual effects, looking back at the films that have … Read more

Voicemail+ app brings visual voicemail, text transcription to the iPhone, but it'll cost you

The brand new Voicemail+ app, launching for the iPhone in the UK today and in the US later this year, brings text transcription, emailed voicemail receipts and push notifications, and it matches your messages to your contacts.

Once you've installed the app, you can begin your free 14-day trial -- if you want its voicemail services after that period, you’ll have to pay £2.99 (roughly $5) for 1 month, £6.99 ($11.50) for 3 months, £10.99 ($18) for 6 months or £19.99 ($33) for 12 months, which is pricey when … Read more

For 'Star Trek' VFX team, Oscars are the final frontier

When "Star Trek Into Darkness" director J.J. Abrams and the visual effects experts at Industrial Light & Magic were deciding how to introduce the Enterprise to the audience for the first time, they knew technology could help them make a very big splash.

If you've seen the film -- which was nominated Thursday for an Oscar for best visual effects -- you probably remember the famous spaceship materializing suddenly out of the sea as Captain Kirk and McCoy run for their lives, chased by the white-faced natives of the red planet Nibiru. We see the ocean, … Read more

How to work around Straight Talk's visual voice mail limitation

As I mentioned in my recent post comparing no-contract iPhone options, last month I ditched AT&T in favor of Straight Talk, which gives me more or less the same exact service for considerably less money.

Just one problem: Straight Talk doesn't support visual voice mail. In fact, on my iPhone 4S, I receive no notification whatsoever that new messages are waiting for me. It's not often an issue, but the last thing I want is to miss an important message from a work contact or family member.

I immediately thought of YouMail, a visual voice mail … Read more

Review: i Visual Info Touch Lite is an infographic creation tool for the iPad

i Visual Info Touch is an infographic creation tool for the iPad that has a number of useful features in a fairly easy-to-use interface. From laying out the background for your infographic to dragging and dropping pieces onto it, everything works as intended, even if some of its best options are locked away by the trial restrictions pending an upgrade to the paid version.

When you open the app for the first time, you can start creating infographics right away. The first step is to choose a background for your infographic; there are a few options here and they all … Read more

'Eyes-Free Yoga' turns Kinect into teacher for the blind

As anyone who has attempted a bakasana knows, perfecting certain yoga poses takes time, and watching an instructor twist and bend into position can help a lot.

The blind or sight-impaired, however, don't have the advantage of being able to see a teacher's movements.

Enter Eyes-Free Yoga, a software program out of the University of Washington that works with the cameras in Microsoft's Kinect motion sensor device to track users' position and offer spoken feedback in real time. "Rotate your shoulders left," it might say. "Lean sideways toward your left," "Bend your right leg further," or "Bring your arms closer to your head." … Read more

Mapbox raises $10M, could give Google Maps a run for the money

Ever wanted to see an interactive map that shows broadband coverage in the US? How about a map with all the best campsites along the Shenandoah River? Or a map that shows energy use from New York's buildings? No problem, these are all Mapbox's specialty.

The Washington and San Francisco-based startup focuses on creating interactive and customizable maps with big data -- similar to what can be done in Google Maps, but with a lot more pizazz.

Now, Mapbox could tread even deeper into Google territory. The company announced Wednesday that it raised $10 million in Series A … Read more

Review: Visual Watermark for Mac adds copyright protection to your photos

Visual Watermark for Mac dramatically eases the often laborious task of adding copyright protection to your digital photos for display on the Web. The application is easy to use and does exactly what it's supposed to.

We downloaded the app's 65MB file, and the longish wait for it to complete was the final negative part of our experience. Visual Watermark for Mac comes with no Help file or tutorial, but neither is necessary. The attractive interface guided us as we went through each step, leaving us with no questions as to how to use the software. We tried … Read more

Review: Plasma Tunnel Screensaver creates a customized plasma tunnel effect

As a screensaver, Plasma Tunnel Screensaver for Mac works well and is quite unique, but its design and operation are very one dimensional. The animation follows a tube with different colors, but does not add any different areas of movements or additional effects. The user can customize the colors, though.

The program installs directly onto the screensaver area of the Mac and comes with a README file. Opening the System Preferences menu lets the user select the Plasma Tunnel Screensaver for Mac as the default screensaver. Either allowing it to activate or starting the preview brings up a first-person camera … Read more