Archive | March 2012

Video: How Forza 4 recorded the Mazda 787B, its loudest car ever

In the Forza Motorsport 4 vs. Gran Turismo 5 debate, no one questions Forza’s commitment to genuine engine noise. Normally, the Turn 10 sound engineers use Dyno Authority in a business and residential area of Seattle to record their cars’ sounds, but when it came to the 1991 Mazda 787B that was unleashed in February’s ALMS DLC, the Le Mans-winning racer was just too loud.

In fact, the 700-horsepower 2.7-liter Wankel-engined legend with four rotors and its continuously variable intake was the loudest car that Forza engineers have ever caught on mic. Look below to watch a video on how they did it.


Report: Mercedes-Benz CLA is official name of small four-door coupe debuting in Beijing

We will now know the “baby CLS” – the small four-door “coupe” built on the MFA platform supporting the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (pictured above) and B-Class – as the CLA. It will debut at April’s Beijing Motor Show, and it’s just one of the five variants that Mercedes has planned for its MFA underpinnings.

When it hits the streets in 2013, advance reports indicate that both front- and all-wheel-drive versions will be available. Power will come from a range of gas and diesel engines with anywhere from 110 to 150 horsepower (there’s even a potential AMG model with more than 300 hp on the way), mated to seven-speed dual-clutch and six-speed manual transmissions.

Of note, though, over its long gestation, the CLA has been referred to as the CLC, but the CLA and CLC are different cars. The CLC is the Concept Style Coupe, said to be based on the A-Class concept, which was a two-door hatchback, yet also said to be an evolution of the F800 concept, which was a sedan. The CLA will make its debut in China, but the CLC will be unveiled in Los Angeles at an Mercedes-sponsored art festival called “Transmission LA: AV Club.” The Beijing show and the art festival overlap, so we’ll find out which car is which and what they both look like soon enough.

Watch Google’s autonomous car drive a blind man to Taco Bell

Do you consider yourself a driving enthusiast? If so, does the thought of handing control of your car over to a series of computers scare you to death? We understand. But perhaps it’s time to remember that those of us who love to drive aren’t the only ones who want to use the road.

As you’ll see in the video after the break, autonomous cars hold out hope for some men and women who are simply unable to drive themselves. Take, for instance, Steve Mahan, who lost 95 percent of his vision over the course of several years, leaving him clinically blind. Obviously, Mahan isn’t able to drive.

What Mahan can do, however, is sit behind the wheel of an autonomous car, in this case, a Toyota Priusconverted to operate sans driver by Google. And when he does, he directs the car to take him to Taco Bell before picking up his dry cleaning.

Questionable food choice aside, we hope that one day in the not-too-distant future people like Steve Mahan will be able to regain the kind of mobility made possible by the automobile that most of us take for granted. Just so long as we can share the road in our old-fashioned drive-it-yourself cars, too. See the video after the break.


McLaren delivers 25 MP4-12C GT3s to customer racing teams for 2012 racing season [w/videos]

When a McLaren hits the race track, the competition had better watch out. The British outfit is, after all, one of the most successful in Formula One, having won 176 grands prix, a dozen drivers’ championships and eight constructors’ titles. But McLaren’s prowess extends beyond F1. The Woking firm was a force to be reckoned with in Can-Am in the late 60s, and the last time it built an endurance racing sportscar – the famed F1 GTR back in 1995 – it trounced even the advanced prototype racers to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Now, McLaren is back in the sportscar racing game with the new MP4-12C GT3. Based on the MP4-12C road car, the GT3 racing version took only a year to develop, and McLaren GT has delivered 25 examples of its racing car to independent racing teams around the world. Included in the purchase price are test sessions organized by McLaren and access to the team’s advanced driving simulator and deep expertise in all things motorsport.

The cars are set to compete in the Blancpain Endurance Series (where the MP4-12C also serves as safety car), the VLN series at the Nürburgring, German’y ADAC GT Masters, the International GT Open and the FIA GT1 World Championship. The first of these are set to take place in Germany this weekend at the Nordschleife and Oschersleben, where the MP4-12C will be making its parallel race debuts. Can’t wait that long? We’ve got two high-quality video clips of the car undergoing testing for your viewing pleasure (together with the full press release) after the jump and a fresh crop of high-resolution images added to the gallery above.

Intuit shows off MicroMint concept app for the WIMM One smartwatch, we go hands-on

Given the amount of time we spent with the WIMM One smartwatch, you’d think we would have had enough fodder for a full-blown review. Alas, though, one critical piece was missing: apps. Not test apps, like a balance ball game, but honest to goodness apps from major third-party developers. Well, we got a chance to check out a concept app from Intuit, the company behind (no TurboTax for this 1.41-inch display, sorry).

What can we say? When a device has a screen this tiny, the elevator pitch is going to be mighty brief. Here’s how MicroMint works: just swipe left to right to see your balances for different accounts. There’s no limit to how many it can display, and when you reach the end of the list, the app will just start cycling through again. As you can see in the video demo below, the app’s performance is limited by the watch’s 667MHz ARM11 CPU and 256MB RAM, which is to say you’ll notice some lag as you swipe from one bank balance to another. And that’s it. This is all the app does; don’t expect to take advantage of Mint’s other features, like budget-planning and mapping out savings goals (not that you’d want any graphs or itemized lists crammed onto that 160×160 screen).

For now, of course, this concept app is just that, a prototype. Intuit won’t commit to releasing it, much less share any sort of timeline. Interestingly, though, David Siegel on Intuit’s development team suggested to us that the app might be of more use when WIMM releases its next-gen watch with NFC. With that radio on board, he says, the app could potentially allow not just for balance-checking, but credit card payments as well. Additionally, the outfit is mulling a similar app for the Sony SmartWatch, which also runs Android and supports Java-based apps. The only development hiccup, he says, would be adapting the app for Sony-specific APIs. That’s a whole lot of ifs for one paragraph, though, so for now we’ll leave you with a super quick hands-on video, just past the break.


Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.

Google Drive leaks suggest 5GB free storage, in-app document editing

Mountain View has been leaking Google Drive details like a glacial trickle, but we still have no firm notion of how much free cloud storage it’ll bring or just how deeply it’ll be integrated with other services. There have been rumors of a Dropbox-like 2GB limit, but now a screenshot purporting to show the beta version’s main welcome page points to a healthy 5GB instead. Moreover, Google’s Support portal mentions that the Drive app for Android will have document-editing capabilities, which brings us back to the question of whether this is a whole new service, or an add-on to Google Docs or indeed a complete re-branding of Google’s documents platform. Regardless, calling it ‘Drive’ still makes it sound like sat nav.

Prince of Persia creator finds lost source code, cues delicate chip fanfare

No, we don’t mean the modern interpretation and its moody sequels — this is the 1989 original. Jordan Mechner created the first Prince of Persia game for the Apple II. However, the source code ended up lost in the sands of time — until Mechner’s dad discovered a box filled with 3.5-inch ProDOS disks. The creator’s now attempting to transfer the code across to his MacBook Air and get it working on modern platforms. We just have to remember how to beat our evil reflection.


Spotify takes Facebook’s Timeline feature to insane extremes

Worried that Facebook’s new Timeline feature is going to offer up too much information? Don’t worry, whatever roller coaster ride your relationship status updates might be, you’ve got nothing on Spotify. The music streamer is offering up 1,000-odd years of music history on its Facebook page, reaching back to 1,000AD, which was apparently a big year for organum lovers.

How Many Explosions, How Much Duct Tape and How Many Myths Have the MythBusters Busted So Far?

Everyone’s favorite iconoclastic show, Mythbusters, has been around for 9 years, 10 seasons and 187 episodes. Ever wonder what they’ve done with all that TV time? Well how about testing 833 myths, conducting 2,510 experiments and using 13.5 tons of explosives?

Want more MythBusters numbers? According to executive producer Dan Tapster, who sends out biannual updates on these stats, this is what the MythBusters have done so far (episodes through June 2012):

  • Total Numbers of Myths: 833
  • Myths Busted: 461
  • Myths Confirmed: 194
  • Myths Plausible: 178
  • Total Number of Experiments: 2,510
  • Total Number of Explosions: 792
  • Total Amount of Duct Tape Used: 33,500 yards
  • Number of Vehicles Destroyed: 146
  • Pounds of Explosives used: 13.5 tons
  • That’s a lot of duct tape. Keep on, keeping on. [Discovery via BoingBoing]

The One-Minute Explanation of Einstein’s Most Famous Equation: E=mc2

Most of us don’t know much about Einstein. Minutephysics has spent the past monthtrying to beat a little context into our pea-sized dummy brains beyond, like, E=mc2. But it’s about time we got to learning the big one.

So here it is, a quick, concise explanation of the world’s most famous equation, with a radioactive cat in space. [Minutephysics]