Pumpkin kegs, dead dinosaurs, and rooting for the home team in this week’s Staff Picks

Digital Trends Staff Picks

Jeffrey Van Camp: Screw you, science! I want cloned dinosaurs

There are many reasons why we shouldn’t bring dinosaurs back from the dead, but damnit, it would be nice to have the option! This week, Nature magazine ripped the dinosaur posters off my childhood walls and burned my set of Dino Riders action figures. As it turns out, researchers took the science of Jurassic Park a little seriously and have been studying the half-life of DNA. The sad part is, those researchers found that even in a “perfect preservation environment” of -5 celsius, every bond between the nucleotides that make up DNA would be broken after 6.8 million years. Worse, after about 1.5 million years the DNA would “cease to be usable.” That’s a far shot from the 75 million year gap between us and the last group of dinosaurs, and it means we’re never going to discover a prehistoric sap-covered mosquito with any actual Dino DNA left in it — let alone enough to allow us to fill in the gaps to complete the… code with frog DNA. Total buzzkill.

 Science, what is this crap?! You’re supposed to continue to show us that anything is possible, including our favorite science fiction morality tale movies. I certainly hope there is another research team hard at work irradiating lizards. I’m not in the mood to learn that Godzilla can’t exist either. 

Science. Fail.

This video best describes how I feel right now.

Micah Abrams: Marco Arment is at it again 

pumpkin kegs dead dinosaurs and a very happy birthday in this weeks staff picks the magazine marco arment

Marco Arment knows from elegant problem solving. The Instapaper and Tumblr developer has a gift for identifying needs native to a digital world (“I need to read the internet offline,” in the former case; “My blogging platform does 8000 things I don’t need it to do,” in the latter), and creating incredibly easy-to-use solutions. So my eyes perked up when I heard about his latest venture, “The Magazine.” 

The problem The Magazine sets out to solve is less user-specific than industry-specific. Digital publishing is a space where, from a business standpoint, there’s way more failure than success. This despite the fact that, by some measures, we’re reading now more than ever and the traction of sites like Bill Simmons’ Grantland prove that the audience for long-form writing is large within the younger generations so often blamed for the death of print. So how do you make money?

The Magazine is basically a written version of Arment’s popular Build And Analyze podcast, which covers technology and culture from a developer’s perspective. Arment always makes products that are simple and effective, and The Magazine is no exception; but in this case it’s the business model that’s really simple: $1.99 a month for 4 articles every two weeks. So can it be effective? We’ll find out soon enough: In the first issue’s forward, Arment declares that, if he can’t make it profitable within 4 issues, he’s shuttering it. 

Caleb Denison: Geeks unite!

This video is a heart-warming mashup of two distinct geek-o-types: gamers and band nerds. I spent six years in various marching bands and drum-and-bugle corps when I was young, but I never got to do a field show half as cool as the one from Ohio State University’s half-time show during its game against Nebraska. The field show highlights the theme songs to some of the most recognizable video games from the last three decades. While the audio isn’t perfect, it’s good enough to underscore the impressive display the highly coordinated marching band manages to pull off (stick around for the running horse at 6:13). As of now, the video has scored over 9 million views. I guess sometimes nerds do get some attention after all.

Andrew Couts: Beating the cyberwar drum badly

Hide yo’ kids. Hide yo’ wife. The Chinese, Russians, Iranians, and terrorists are coming — through the computers! This, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who warned this week that the U.S. is a virtual sitting duck unless Congress gets some comprehensive cybersecurity legislation to President Obama’s desk stat. 

 “An aggressor nation or extremist group could use these kinds of cyber tools to gain control of critical switches,” said Panetta during an event at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum on Thursday. “They could derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals. They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.”

Why, exactly, we’re loading passenger trains with barrels of lethal chemicals, he did not say. 

Of course, Panetta’s ominous (if ludicrous) example has a hard lining of truth. Multiple cybersecurity experts have told me about the vulnerabilities of our critical infrastructure networks and other legacy systems that have no business being connected to the Internet in the first place. But don’t be fooled: The rules of pre-engagement specify that getting us all nice and scared is the first step toward victory, the cyber type or otherwise.

Read this prime example of fear-mongering in all its glory at The New York Times, here.

molly-mchughMolly McHugh: Now this is a great pumpkin Charlie Brown

I am not what you would call a crafty person. I hardly ever wrap presents, and don’t get me started on the uselessness of making cards (why can’t you just hand someone a gift and say “This is from me,”?). I have little to no appreciation for decorations or handmade anything or DIYing – but this, this pumpkin turned into a keg, I can respect. Clearly, I am not Celebrations Party Ideas target audience, but if anything could get me to care about carving a pumpkin into something other than a Stars Wars insignia (I’m on three consecutive years now), it’s beer. Now I’m off to find a pumpkin that can hold approximately 2,000 ounces of liquid.

 Ryan Fleming: It’s never too early to fan out

Last night (or early this morning if you want to get technical about it) marked one of the most important days of the year for sports fans – Midnight Madness. For those that have led sad and lonely lives devoid of the joys of college basketball, Midnight Madness marks the first day that college basketball teams can officially practice together.  For many programs (including my own beloved Kansas Jayhawks), the event is heralded by all the pomp and circumstance you would expect of a sport that could easily be mistaken for religion by many.  

But beyond the pageantry of the event itself, it signifies that the college basketball season has begun, at least technically.  The games won’t begin until November, but a quick search online for last night’s festivities can help fill the void until the first tip-off.  Rock chalk!

pumpkin kegs dead dinosaurs and a very happy birthday in this weeks staff picks midnight madness

Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?

Jaguar’s V2X technology will keep you from getting stuck at red lights

Jaguar wants to make sure you never have to rush through a yellow light again. The carmaker is building tools that will tell you what speed you'll need to drive to avoid getting stuck at a red light.

How to use recovery mode to fix your Android phone or tablet

If you’re having a problem you can’t seem to resolve with your Android device, or maybe you want to update it or wipe the cache, recovery mode could be what you’re looking for. Here's how to use it.
Emerging Tech

This startup will sequence your entire genome for free — but there’s a catch

Want to get your DNA sequenced but don’t want to shell out the hundred bucks or so to do so? A new startup called Nebula Genomics offers you the opportunity to have it done for free.
Smart Home

Drinkworks and Keurig have created a pod-based cocktail machine

HomeBar, a collaboration between Drinkworks and Keurig, creates cocktails the easy way. The machine creates mixed drinks of all kinds. All you have to do is insert in the pod for the drink you want.
Product Review

DJI has always been the king of drones, and the new Mavics are almost perfect

After flying both the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom for over a week, we’re convinced that these are two of the best drones that DJI has ever made.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Emerging Tech

Smarter cities need smarter addresses. And you just need 3 words

To make really smart transportation choices, more precise location data will have to be integrated with citywide transportation data. Here’s how one company is mapping the world by using just three words.
Emerging Tech

Ghostly galaxy discovered lurking on the edge of the Milky Way

A team of astronomers from the University of Cambridge have discovered a strange galaxy next door to the Milky Way. The dwarf galaxy, named Antlia 2, is dark and dim and gives out much less light than expected.
Emerging Tech

Ancient crater the size of NYC discovered under the Greenland ice sheet

A huge crater has been discovered beneath the ice of Greenland, and is thought to be the result of a meteorite impact millions of years ago. The crater is one of the largest ever discovered, measuring 19 miles across.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how the InSight mission to Mars will confirm its landing to NASA

NASA's InSight mission has sent a lander to Mars. NASA researchers have now shared details on how they will monitor the touching down of the lander at the end of its 91 million mile journey.
Emerging Tech

Would you swap your keycard for a microchip implant? For many, the answer is yes

Put down your keycard! More people are turning to implanted RFID chips as their choice of workplace identification. Should we be worried about a world in which employees get microchipped?

‘Super magnesium’ may be the next wonder material for outdoor gear

Super Magnesium is a wonder material that is 30 percent lighter than aluminum, as strong as carbon fiber, cheaper to make, and 100-percent recyclable, making it much better for the environment.