GamesRead : Halifax diver finds bottle of beer that’s nearly as old as Canada

Four years ago, divers in the Baltic discovered 5 bottles of 170-year-old beer on the bottom of the sea floor. Now, a Canadian diver has made a similar find in North American waters: a bottle of beer nearly as old as Canada itself.

This isn’t a bottle of Viking beer that was left behind by Leif Eirikssen when he journeyed to North America back in the 11th century. The bottle is about 120 years old, which means it was brewed and bottled about 18 years after Canada was formally confederated. It bears the mark of one of Canada’s oldest and most storied breweries, too. This particular bottle of beer was brewed in Halifax by Alexander Keith’s, which was founded in 1820.

Diver Jon Crouse found the bottle while diving in Halifax Harbor recently, and he had planned to preserve it himself. He was going to keep it submerged in the tank of one of his toilets — where the constant circulation of fresh water would draw all the salt out of the cork. After that, he would place a couple of drops of linseed oil on the cork which would be soaked up as water in the cork evaporated.

His plans are on hold for the time being, however, as the Nova Scotia government considers his find to be of historical significance. Sean Wesley McKeane of the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage told the CBC that “the Special Places Protection Act protects all archaeological sites, known and unknown, both on land in Nova Scotia and in the water.”

McKeane also said that the government retains the right to seize a heritage object. They’d rather it didn’t come to that, of course. They’re having conversations with Crouse and hope that he’ll decide to hand it over willingly.

Crouse doesn’t seem too upset about the turn of events. He figures that the Department probably knows more about preservation than he does, and he doesn’t “want to go to court over a bottle.”

Image courtesy CBC

GamesRead : Build your very own giant lightsabers

Got a few extra hours on your hands this weekend? Why not put them to good use: build a pair of enormous lightsabers like maker Bob Clagett did.

You may know Clagett from his website I Like To Make Stuff. He’s produced a number of geeky builds, from a Raspberry Pi-powered arcade machine to a 3D-printed GoPro ring light. So, why giant lightsabers this time? Apart from being an incredibly fun build, Bob had been asked to whip them up by a corporate customer for their Christmas lighting display.

When he says giant, he means giant. For the handles of his epic lightsabers, he spray-painted two twelve-inch Quik-Tubes. They’re cylindrical cardboard forms manufactured by Quikrete to make pouring concrete piers easier.

For the blades, he chose sheets of clear polycarbonate roofing panels — the kind that you might use if you were building a greenhouse. To illuminate them: a pair of LED spotlights in Christmas-y red and green. The only other materials Bob had to purchase were a few cans of spray paint, two rolls of black duct tape, some scrap two-by-four, and a handful of screws.

Even though they’re quite large, they’re actually fairly inexpensive to build. The plastic should run you about $20. Concrete forms? $12 or so. Ten bucks for a couple cans of spray paint, and a couple bucks more for tape and screws, and you’re all set.

They’re not just for decoration, either. As you can see at the end of Bob’s video above, even though they are large they’re still light enough that you can use them do duel with your friends and family. Lightsabers are built for dueling, even when they’re three times the size of their wielder.

GamesRead : Sony unlocks PS4’s 7th processing core for developers

From launch day, the Xbox One has been carrying a performance deficit when compared to the PlayStation 4. Hardware choices made during the design stage by Microsoft meant a games console that can’t quite match Sony’s offering. Much has been done in the last two years by Microsoft’s engineers to try and close the gap, but it looks as though Sony is about to unlock more performance and pull further ahead.

Both the Xbox One and PS4 use an 8-core AMD processor, but initially two of those cores were reserved in either console for background operations and the operating system to function. In order to close the performance gap Microsoft unlocked more GPU bandwidth and the 7th core on the Xbox One late last year. While this did give developers more performance to use, it meant losing a few features including voice commands and disabling Kinect functionality.

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Since then, the Xbox One performance has been closer to PS4, but still can’t match it in most games and games run at a lower resolution. The bad news for Microsoft is that Sony has quietly rolled out a new Software Development Kit (SDK) to developers and it does the same thing: unlocks that 7th processor core.

The impact of this change won’t be seen immediately, but games in development for Sony’s console right now should be able to take advantage of the extra performance this will offer. The end result seems inevitable: the PS4 will increase the performance gap to its rival.

The performance comparisons between the two machines won’t stop any time soon, and will happen every time a multi-platform release hits the shelves. There’s very little else Microsoft can do to close that gap, so it probably won’t be a major focus for them. Instead it’s the games that count, and in particular exclusive games. Not timed exclusives such as Tomb Raider, but Xbox-only releases if they can be secured.

[Images courtesy of iFixit]

h/t NeoGAF

GamesRead : 12 best Small Business Saturday discounts this weekend

Every year Small Business Saturday grows as online and brick and mortar shops band together to get their names out and drive people through their doors (and virtual storefronts) to see their wonderful handmade and boutique offerings. This year is no exception.

With geek being at the height of chic, many independent designers are using this super sale weekend to show off what they got. We put together a list of ma and pa Kent-esque shops you should check out for all your nerdy needs!

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GeekOUTlet
Custom metal and natural glowing jewelry including Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, and Legend of Zelda themed pieces.
25% through November 30th with the code TURKEY

Everyday Geek
Etched glassware for all your nerdy drinking (and more) needs! The Nuka Cola is my must have right now.
25% off for you loyal GEEK.COMer with the code GEEKCOM (the creator is a huge fan of the site!)

Chubby Bunny Accessories
First seen at the Hello Kitty 35th Anniversary Party, Chubby Bunny has been a one woman show making these for her loyal customers around the world. A must have for any fan of the 3 apple cat. So head on over to her shop and get one for yourself, your niece, and best friend!
20% off til the end of Monday with the code BOWMANIA

Lunar Descent
Retro stylings for the computer programmer in you. Featuring guys and girls’ tops, tanks, and dresses with the dreaded blue screen of death, the best inbox ever, and more – this is a must have for you operators out there.
30% off with the code BLACKFRIDAY, but really it goes through Monday

Geeky Teas
Grab your Union Jack’s and bow ties and get ready for a rousing game of Catan, because Geeky Teas has you covered. This adorable real life shop located in Burbank, California is a testament to all things British. But even if you don’t live south of Sunnyvale, you can pick up their custom teas, mugs, and gifts online!
Check their site and social media for various sales

Space Invader
Custom cosplay accessories and cute home goods to fit all your needs. She has in stock Sailor Moon crowns, Princess tiaras, cookie cat pillows, and so much more!
TURKEY2015 will get you 30% off for the weekend

The Library Bards
What happens when you take popular songs and change out the lyrics with better, more pop culturally aware lyrics? Well, you have a success, and that’s what the Library Bards are. They’re also running a sale on their tee-shirts, which include sayings like “All About That Space” and “Legend of Link.”
20% off until Monday

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SweetGeek Paper Co.
Cute and adorable cards, bookmarks, coloring books, and more. Come for a Doctor Who coloring book, but make sure you pick up the “You’re my Number One” Riker card for Valentine’s Day.
She’s offering 10% off for Black Friday, but with such sweet deals on her drawings already, it’s worth checking out any time of the year!

Kuma Crafts
Magical girls unite! One of the most popular hand crafted jewelry shops online is having a holiday weekend sale on all their adorable magic wants, transformation compacts and cute moon cat themed accessories. As they say, in the name of the moon, go out and buy yourself cute things!
KUMAHOLIDAY  or 15% but she doesn’t specify how long

The Bomb Dot Com
Jewelry from every fandom. Star Trek, Hunger Games, Arrow, Harry Potter. A little bit for everyone.
Various sales going on throughout today and til the end of Small Business Saturday.

Blair Campbell
Freelance illustrator Blair Campbell has some quirky and cool shirts up for grabs this weekend. The band style shirts are my personal favs!
$14.00 tees all weekend long

Max Heron
Graphic designer Max Heron is also running a sale on his shirts. He’s got a lot of love for the Steven Universe crowd!
$14.00 tees for Black Friday, and the deal returns again on Cyber Monday

If you guys have any favorite small businesses you like to shop at, let us know in the comments!

GamesRead : Nano Carbon promises to fix your game cartridges so you don’t blow on them

Remember how you used to blow on your game cartridges as a kid to get them to work? Well, we know now that doing so was not the best idea in the world, what with the moisture inherent in everyone’s breath. So we stopped doing that and have been looking for alternative ways to clean those contact points on our aging carts. And now one has presented itself in the form of a cartridge cleaning kit.

It’s called the Nano Carbon for Game Cassette, and if you hadn’t guessed from the name already it’s a Japanese product. It’s set to be released next month and will be available through import specialist Play Asia.

So, what do you get in this cartridge cleaning kit?

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The main component is a vial of fluid referred to as a “special conduction agent” that can be applied to the contact points of a game cartridge using one of the included swabs. It apparently fills any small irregularities in the metal surface and allows for a better signal to flow when electricity is applied. The agent doubles as a protective layer meaning a cartridge should work for a long period of time after application without further blowing.

Although marketed for game cartridges from the SNES and Game Boy right up to the PS Vita and 3DS, the solution can be used on any metal connectors including USB cables, SD cards, and even headphone jacks. At $14.99 it’s certainly not a cheap kit, especially considering the amount of solution you get. I suspect someone will figure out what the ingredients are and post a recipe so you can make it yourself. That’s assuming it works, of course.

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GamesRead : $60 Raspberry Pi scrapped after chat with Google’s Eric Schmidt

Yesterday, while Americans celebrated Thanksgiving, the Raspberry Pi Foundation launched a surprise new Raspberry Pi board in the form of the $5 Zero. It’s by far the cheapest PC you can buy today, but the Foundation wasn’t even considering creating such a low cost device until Eben Upton, founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, had a chat with Google’s Eric Schmidt.

Before the Schmidt chat, Upton and his engineering team were working on a new model of the Pi that would cost around $60 and focus on more performance. Having already awarded the Foundation a grant of $1 million, Schmidt was eager to know what the next product would be. Upton happily told him, but Schmidt was not impressed and explained that cheaper is better because it’s, “very hard to compete with cheap.”

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Whatever Schmidt’s advice was, it stuck, and Upton scrapped plans for the $60 Raspberry Pi. Instead, he set to work trying to hit as low of a price point as possible. What we got this week was the Raspberry Pi Zero for $5. It still counts as a fully functional computer you can plug storage and peripherals into (just like the other Pi boards), but it removes the cost barrier. They even gave it away free with The MagPi magazine, which promptly sold out across the UK.

So if you are eagerly awaiting your Zero to arrive in the mail, or have been enjoying using it since yesterday, part of your thanks for it existing has to go to Google and Eric Schmidt. Without his advice, we’d be talking about a $60 high-performance Pi this week. Maybe we can have one of those too, Eben?

GamesRead : Temporary tech tattoos could monitor your health, pay for your coffee

Wearable devices are becoming commonplace these days, and braver technology enthusiasts are already experimenting with implantable tech. Now there’s something in-between. A company called Chaotic Moon is working on a concept for temporary tattoos that contain working electronic circuits.

The tattoos are essentially a new approach to attaching biosensors to people. Rather than strapping a bulky piece of equipment to yourself or swallowing a sensor-packed pill, you’d just have a temporary tattoo applied. The current prototype is based on an aptly named ATiny85 microcontroller, which is an 8-bit RISC-based chip designed for embedded low-power systems. It can communicate with devices and transmit data over Bluetooth LE, just like a wearable device.

The controller is affixed to the skin and networked with other components with the aid of an electroconductive paint — this forms the outline of the tattoo. These drawn-on circuits can connect batteries, LEDs, and sensors. Right now, the focus is on fitness and health tracking. You might be able to track your steps or monitor heart rate with a discreet (or prominent, if you like) tattoo on your skin. It might also be an effective way for the military to monitor the health and location of soldiers on the battlefield.

It might be possible in the future to include more storage, sensors, or wireless technologies. Imagine being able to pay at an NFC terminal by waving your tech tattoo over the reader. It would be an interesting alternative to paying with your phone using services like Apple Pay and Android Pay. For now, this is just a prototype that Chaotic Moon is fooling around with, but it might be a good alternative to adding technology under our skin.

GamesRead : Pirate faces financial ruin if his anti-piracy video isn’t viewed 200,000 times

This guy’s anti-piracy movie has to be viewed 200,000 times or he’s going to get sued by some of the biggest media companies in Europe.

A 30-year-old man identified only Jakub F lost his piracy case in the Czech courts and was given a three year suspended sentence for pirating software and putting copies of Windows 7 and Windows 8 on file-sharing networks.

When he was caught and sentenced, he opened himself up to legal action from the companies that he was guilty of ripping off. Companies like Microsoft, HBO Europe, Sony Music, and Twentieth Century Fox who had been named in Jakub’s case were open to sue him for damages. A group called the BSA (Business Software Alliance) represented Microsoft accused Jakub of causing 5.7 million Czech Crowns (US$224,000) worth of damage through piracy. BSA acknowledged that Jakub could not pay them back for the piracy damage, but they were willing to cut a deal out of court that would protect Jakub from being sued at all.

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Instead of having to pay back the companies after a series of legal battles, Jakub agreed to pay a small sum of money to each company whose software he pirated and be the subject of a short anti-piracy movie that would be made available online. Think of it as the internet version of having a shoplifter revisit the scene of the crime with a sandwich board on them.

In exchange, the businesses and the BSA promise not to sue Jakub F, but only if he spreads his gospel of anti-piracy as far and wide as possible. There’s a threshold of views on the video Jakub made and if he doesn’t reach 200,000 views within the next two months, they’re open to sue him for all those damages he can’t afford.

It looks like Jakub is going to meet his goal. A member of the BSA registered the site mojepiratstvi.cz where he has embedded the YouTube video (“The Story of My Piracy”) that has a little over 180,000 views at the time of this writing. In the video, Jakub plays himself in a short film about how he got caught after pirating a few programs for fun, not for financial gain. It follows him as he gets caught, sees what appears to be his lawyer and finally ends up in custody, all because he wanted to share some files.

The site doesn’t have a lot of text, but does include a statement from Jakub that says: “I had to start this site because for eight years I spread pirated software and then they caught me. I thought that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I thought that it didn’t hurt the big companies. I didn’t even do it for the money, I did it for fun. I felt in the warez community that I meant something. I was convinced that I was too small a fish for someone to get to me. But eventually, they got me. Even for me, the investigators came to work.”

The goal is to reach out to the low level software pirate who is just sharing programs for fun or cracking licenses and warn them off how absolutely screwed they are because companies make up crazy high financial penalties for seemingly small infringements. It’s not included in the film, but maybe implied that now that Jakub got off relatively easy with a high production value YouTube video that no one else is going to get this sweet deal.

GamesRead : Newly discovered eyeless harvestman named after Smeagol from Lord of the Rings

Don’t tell Gollum there’s a new Smeagol in town. Scentists in Brazil have discovered a new species of troglobitic harvestman that makes its whole life in dank, dark caves. The harvestman (a type of spider-like creature also known as “daddy longlegs”) is only one of two of its kind that have no eyes because of where it has adapted to life. This isn’t exactly like, but is pretty close to the sad tale of Smeagol the Hobbit in the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, a sad man that got transformed into the creature Gollum by coveting the dark magic of the ring in his lake cave.

The scientists at the Institute of Bioscience at the University of Sao Paulo who discovered the blind harvestman must have been Lord of the Rings fans because they gave the new creepy-crawly the official name Iandumoema smeagol in honor of the literary character.

New-eyeless-harvestman-species-named-for-Tolkiens-Smeagol

Iandumoema smeagol

The new smeagol daddy long legs lives in damp parts of dark caves in Brazil and because of the lack of light has evolved less melanin and has a clear-yellowish color on the body. The group of smeagols was found to stick near the tiny streams of water running down the humid cave’s wall, just like how Gollum liked to stick close to the dark lake in The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

Apparently this new species has an energetic adolescent phase where the iandumoema smeagol will scurry around the cave wall, investigating what it finds looking for food. Researchers who observed a juvenile smeagol said it was “scavenging the expired carcasses of invertebrates.” Which…does sound like Gollum the more you picture it.

The bad news for the newly discovered batch of smeagols (besides being blind, which is a drag) is that the humid cave in Brazil where they were discovered is in an area threatened by deforestation. That means that the circumstances that lead to the smeagol’s evolution might be in jeopardy. Right now, according to the research journal ZooKeys, the Institute of Bioscience is continuing to gather data on the smeagols to determine if their habitat is under actual threat. If so, the species could qualify for special protections.

Right now, however, the smeagols are a new discovery and with all new discoveries, we don’t know everything about them right at the start. What we do know is they are blind and live in caves and the Brazilian scientists who discovered them have read some J.R.R. Tolkien.

GamesRead : Amazon offers a year of unlimited storage for $5 for Black Friday

It’s Black Friday, and you can’t click through a single link without being bombarded by deals on everything imaginable. Amazon has got a particularly amazing one: an entire year of unlimited cloud storage for just $5.

Normally they charge $60 for a year, so you’re essentially paying for one month and getting the other eleven for free. Their timing is interesting not just because it’s Black Friday. It also comes hot on the heels of Microsoft’s about face.

Earlier this month, Microsoft decided to put an end to unlimited OneDrive storage a little over a year after they decided to start offering it. With OneDrive tightly integrated into Windows 8, 8.1, and Windows 10, the promise of cheap, unlimited storage made the OneDrive/Office 365 combo a pretty compelling purchase.

Microsoft discovered that a handful of users were taking liberties with their uncapped OneDrives — some uploading entire 1080p movie collections. One user managed to push a whopping 74TB to the Microsoft cloud. Rather than enforcing their ToS and giving those users the boot, they decided to axe the program.

It was a surprising move considering how bullish Microsoft has been about the cloud and bolstering its subscriber base ever since Satya Nadella took the reigns. The change also angered a number of users — not so much because they had terabytes of data in their OneDrives, but because they felt like what Microsoft did amounts to a bait-and-switch.

Amazon is not hiding the fact that this is a promotional deal. They still expect you to abide by their ToS, but at least when the price rises to $60 when you renew you still won’t have to worry about overstuffing your cloud drive.