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Posts by Jeff LaSala

  1. 13 Awesome Fantasy Songs You Need to Hear

    Fantasy finally started to hit the mainstream when 2001's The Fellowship of the Ring turned out to be an amazing film, but short of movie soundtracks and video games, music with fantasy themes never really did. Science fiction crops up now and again in the pop culture zeitgeist, mostly in film, but for some reason fantasy remains a harder sell to serious-minded adults. Kids? Sure. Harry Potter and all that. But oh man, there's so much out there, and a lot of it's in music. You absolutely need to know about some of the amazing fantasy songs that exist, so that plausible deniability can no longer be your excuse.

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  2. This Scooter-Car’s a Befuddling Sight to Behold [Video]

    Everyone likes those tiny little smart cars, right? They're adorable, and in big cities -- and only in big cities -- they make good sense. Well, now there's another mode of urban transportation in the works. Research center TUM Create seems to have reinvented the wheel by creating a new multipurpose vehicle that combines elements of a scooter, a car, and I daresay a rickshaw. Called the VOI, the two-wheeler is intended for use in heavily populated cities.

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  3. This Homemade Fallout Monopoly Board’s Clearly the Best Birthday Present

    The only way you can make Monopoly an enjoyable game is to add zombies, some dystopian sci-fi, or possibly the Powerpuff Girls, but you know what else might work? The post-apocalyptic, alternate history trappings of the Fallout video game series. Which is exactly what someone on Reddit totally did for their wife's birthday.

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  4. Newly Discovered Mold Named After Dutch Royals, Presumably as a Compliment

    If you're in line to be king, there's all kinds of ambitions and fears that might be playing through your head: Will you be a good king? Will you make a difference? Will the Lannisters cut off your head? One thing you probably wouldn't be wondering: Will someone name a mold after me? Prince Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange and heir to the throne of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is getting a newly discovered mold species named after him -- and his whole family.

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  5. Nintendo Shutters Some Wii Online Services, Would Really Like You to Buy a Wii U

    Nintendo sure would love it if you went out and bought a Wii U, their shiny console which is still warm from the factory. Particularly because it's a product they're still supporting. It's actually best if you don't even look at the older ones. They don't really count anymore. In fact, Nintendo is shutting down a some of the Wii's online services -- you don't use those anymore, right? They seem to assume not.

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  6. How to Make an Awesome Google Street View Video

    To me, the Street View function of Google Maps is generally more entertaining than necessarily helpful, but it's a good tool for scoping out a place you intend to visit. But the creative people of Teehan+Lax have found a new way to use the tool: Google Street View Hyperlapse, a Chrome-based gadget that lets you make an awesome video sequence out of Street View images. Basically, it allows you to pretend to be the Flash anywhere the Google Street View car has been, thereby fulfilling at least several childhood dreams here in the Geekosystem office.

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  7. These Little Birds Squawk to Attract Predators, Blackmail Their Parents for Food

    As was pointed out in The Walking Dead, a zombie apocalypse a hungry, crying baby is likely going to attract the undead and put everyone in serious danger. Similarly -- though in less apocalyptic circumstance -- the loud squawks of a hungry young pied babbler can blackmail the baby bird's parents into feeding it pronto, before predators also hear their cries. This will be a scenario familiar to anyone who has been exposed to the phenomenon of 'Italian guilt' in their lifetime: "Hey, if you don't come feed me quick, I guess maybe you want predators to eat me. No, it's fine. I guess you can always have more babies."

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  8. Meet Champa, the First Bear to Undergo Brain Surgery

    Operating on animals is a bit different than putting humans under the knife, due to all kinds of different physiological and even chemical differences. But it's not like it's brain surgery. Y'know, usually. In Laos, a veterinarian recently performed the first ever brain surgery on a bear. Despite her wary -- I daresay resentful-looking -- expression in the photo above, Asiatic black bear Champa is in fact improving after her surgery.

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  9. Animals Are Drugging Themselves Way More Than We Thought

    Sometimes animals don't need you and your fancy pills. They can get their own meds, thank you very much. It's a phenomenon called zoopharmacognosy, and it's a known thing. A chimp might eat a vomit-inducing plant to purge his system of parasites, or a parrot might eat clay to help with digestion. But the practice of animal self-medication may be far more widespread than we ever knew, says a new study at the University of Michigan.

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  10. Flesh-Eating Bacteria Repurposed Into Disease-Fighting Glue

    Flesh-eating bacteria just sounds evil. It's known in the medical world as necrotizing fasciitis, which sounds even more sinister. But what if something evil could be turned into something good? For example, biochemist Mark Howarth and his team at the University of Oxford have genetically engineering a disease-fighting "superglue" out of one of the microbes that can create flesh-eating bacteria.

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  11. This Software Looks At Your Face, Knows Your Name

    My brother John just has that John look about him. He's just got that...you know, weird John look. Could you tell looking at him? I don't know, probably not. (And I wouldn't recommend it.) But you know what probably could? New software, created at Cornell University, can take a look at your face and take an educated guess on what your name is. That's right, it's profiling you. Because it's not enough to empower robots with cloud intelligence or crime prediction -- now we're letting them collect our faces. What can go wrong?

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  12. Survey Says: American TV Watchers Can’t Handle Only One Screen at a Time

    You might think you're happy just watching TV, but if you're American, you might also suddenly feel the need to figure out where else you've seen that actor -- you know, What's-His-Face -- while you're watching. Best to look him up on IMDb with your smartphone, maybe even see if Netflix has it. Also, you might want to check if anyone commented on your Facebook status before the show's over. See, a new survey conducted by NPD says that TV-watching Americans are increasingly unsatisfied with just one screen at a time. 87% of viewers with a second-screen device will use it while watching the first one.

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  13. Being Lazy May Not Be Your Fault, Say Scientists Who Aren’t

    Good news, couch potatoes! It may not be your fault that you don't want to get off your butt and be productive. In a display of not at all being lazy themselves, researchers at the University of Missouri have deduced that genetic traits might make some people prone to low motivation and inactivity.

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  14. Learn Java By Casting Spells, Saving Gnomes in a First-Person Video Game

    What skills does your favorite video game give you? When you're done burning through the 12+ hours of BioShock Infinite, what'll you have to show for it? Probably a few enhanced motor skills and the aesthetic appreciation that comes with being immersed in a compelling story. That's certainly not nothing. For developing employable, useful skills, though, one game's got all the rest beat. Computer scientists at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) have created a video game that teaches students how to program in Java by casting spells and saving the world. A world of creepy, creepy little gnomes.

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  15. This Fish Has Clear Blood, No Scales, But Still Has a Big Heart

    The deep ocean has all the coolest creatures. Fish with bioluminescence, giant isopods, gulper eels. If it's weird, glowing, or inhabits your nightmares, Earth's depths probably has it. But have you heard of the Ocellated Ice Fish, the deep-dwelling aquatic vertebrate in the Antarctic Ocean that has completely transparent blood? It's not scary, but it is exotic and its unusual physical traits don't end there, either.

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  16. Romanian Lawyer Sues Exorcists For Failing to Banish Fart Demons

    People sue each other for all kinds of crazy things. Modern society has a reputation for it -- usually for things like spilled coffee, disturbing items found in fast food burgers, or for failure to stop someone from falling in love. But right now, Romania takes the cake for the stinkiest lawsuit ever. See, a lawyer in Pitesti, Romania, is suing an Orthodox bishop and four priests for failing to exorcise the "flatulent demons" from his home. You probably read that right, but let me rephrase for clarity. He's suing them for not getting rid of his fart devils.

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  17. Marvel #1 Tries Again: 700 Free Digital Downloads Available Until Midnight Tomorrow Night

    We got mad psyched a few weeks ago when Marvel tried to offer free digital downloads of 700 titles from their current and past runs. Well, the giveaway didn't quite work. The servers were overwhelmed by the surge and everything slogged to a halt because, hey, free stuff. Now it's take two: Marvel's trying again to hook you with the offer of up to 700 first-issue downloads, but rather than making it a crazy free-for-all, fans need to sign up on ComiXology's special promotions page -- assuming they can keep that page working. Oh, and you've got less than two days to get in on this.

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  18. New NASA Planet Hunter TESS Searches Entire Sky, Puts Kepler To Shame

    We've already spotted more than 800 exoplanets beyond our Solar System, and more than a hundred of these were identified by NASA's Kepler mission in the four years since its launch merely by observing one small swath of sky. But now NASA has its sights on even more worlds with the newly green-lit Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a spacecraft set to launch in 2017. Hit the jump to find out what makes this one so different.

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  19. Movie Studios Get Circular, Ask Google to Take Down Their Own DMCA Takedown Requests

    Let's say you're a wealthy, seafaring merchant. You suspect a pirate is sneaking up the hull of your ship to steal your hard-earned doubloons in the hold, so you cry out to the Imperial Navy to arrest the dastardly villain! But when the Imperial pirate-hunter arrives, you panic and call to the Navy to come and arrest him, too -- yeah, the guy who was supposed to arrest the first guy. Well, that's sort of what some movie studios are doing right now. NBC Universal and Lionsgate, among others, are asking Google to take down the takedown requests they themselves had requested, and Google isn't having it.

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  20. Boston Dynamic’s PETMAN Gets a Head, Looks at You [Video]

    It's that time again, folks. Time to watch everyone's favorite headless, suit-testing robot, PETMAN, strut his stuff into hypothetical peril. No, wait -- this time our creepy friend has a head and a gas mask! And not only does he walk, he squats, twists, and turns in the uncanny valley of lifelike creepiness, ensuring a place in your nightmares tonight. Designed by Boston Dynamics, PETMAN is used to "test the performance of protective clothing designed for hazardous environments."

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