China’s moon rover breaks down, mission in jeopardy

The Jade Rabbit as seen from the moon lander's camera.

(Credit: Xinhua)

Technical malfunctions are the bane of space missions, and China’s lunar rover is not immune to these mission-snagging bugaboos. Xinhua, China’s official press agency, reports that a current breakdown is a “mechanical control abnormality” caused by the “complicated lunar surface environment.”

The successful soft-landing of the Chang’e-3 lunar probe in the Bay of Rainbows on December 14 of last year was a celebratory event in the history of China’s space program. The rover, nicknamed “Jade Rabbit,” was scheduled to gather data and operate for three months, but the technical problems could put a premature end to the work.

Chinese scientists are investigating options for repairing the rover, but details are scarce. The problems could be caused by lunar dust or the extreme hot and cold temperatures the machines have to weather.

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The rover had already been in and out o… [Read more]

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How the Moto X Cyber Monday deal ‘do over’ will go down

A steal at $ 349 off-contract, if you can get at it.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

It was an epic Cyber Monday deal that disintegrated into an epic fail. But now Motorola is ready to make amends and offer up twice as many off-contract Moto X units for as little as $ 349, starting Wednesday at 9 a.m. Pacific time. 

In case you weren’t one of the multitudes constantly reloading the Moto Maker site and waiting for word to be passed down via Twitter that the deal was on, here’s the quick chronology of what happened to make one of the most anticipated Cyber Monday deals into the only “whoopsie! Wednesday” and “makeup Monday” deals I know of:

Goron tablet cushion: Play games comfortably lying down

Hold that iPad above your head with no effort at all.

(Credit: John Chan/CNET Asia)

TOKYO — File this one under “problems you didn’t know you had till now.” The goron tablet cushion from Japan lets you use your handheld device longer while lying down as it takes away the difficult task of holding said device. Basically a cushion with an adjustable arm, the goron lets you clamp something as small as a smartphone to a monitor for your game console so you can look at the screen with your head comfortably on the cushion.

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This will let you play hours of Candy Crush without the risk of your iPhone dropping on your face when you doze off. You can also lie on your side if that’s your preferred position. That Korean drama marathon can now be extended to a super-marathon as your hands can now hold a soda and chips rather than raise a Nexus 10 above your face. The goron can also be useful in a s… [Read more]

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Hot Wheels car races down world’s highest wall track

Apparently, Hot Wheels cars don't suffer from vertigo.

(Credit: Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET)

A blue Hot Wheels toy car sporting the number “01” went where no Hot Wheels has gone before. It got to take a dramatic plunge down what the toy car company is calling “the world’s highest wall track.”

The track was rigged up to go on the side of an apartment building. It’s hard to tell exactly how high the track is, but it certainly looks like it could claim the record.

The impressive car drop took place during the BCN Fan Fest, an event devoted to Formula 1 racing, in Barcelona earlier this year, but the making-of video was just recently released.

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The track builders put the contraption together on the ground and then hoisted it up the side of the building in large pieces that c… [Read more]

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Low Latency No. 60: Down in front

(Credit: Blake Stevenson)

Low Latency is a weekly comic on CNET’s Crave blog written by CNET editor and podcast host Jeff Bakalar and illustrated by Blake Stevenson. Be sure to check Crave every Friday at 8 a.m. PT for new panels! Want more? Here’s every Low Latency comic so far. [Read more]

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Float down fairways on this hovercraft golf cart

Not par for the course: The BW1 glides over greens and ponds.

(Credit: Neoteric Hovercraft)

Golf can be frustrating on the best of days. What better way to calm your nerves than to sail around the links on this hovercraft golf cart?

Bubba Watson, 2012 Masters champion, and his sponsor, Oakley, recently teamed up with Neoteric Hovercraft to launch this super sophisticated way of getting from hole to hole.

The hovercraft maker released a video of Watson riding on a 9-foot air cushion at Arizona’s Raven Golf Club.

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The BW1 has a “footprint pressure” of 33 times less than a human footprint, leaving relatively little impact on the course itself.

Neoteric quickly modified a base model, that sells from $ 16,000 to $ 20,000, to develop a proto… [Read more]

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Adobe squeezes Photoshop down to phone size

(Credit: Adobe)

It’s taken the company a lot longer than I’d expected, but Adobe has finally rolled out a version of its tablet-based Photoshop Touch for even smaller screens, Photoshop Touch for phone. The most surprising aspect is that it’s a feature-identical version of the tablet software; I’m not sure we need such a complete editor on anything even as big as a Galaxy S3. But if you have a yen to composite up to 16 layers (or 3 layers at the maximum file size of 12 megapixels), you’ll be able to do so on any Android (4.0 or later) or iOS (iPhone 4S/iPod Touch 5th generation or later) device. As of now, the company has no plans to support Windows Phone.

The biggest differences between the tablet and phone versions are in the user interface — the tutorials are less interactive, more of a getting-started guide, and the app screens have been arranged slightly differently to accommodate the narrower devices.

Even if you’ve bought the $ 9.99 tablet version or are shelling out for a Creative Cloud subscription, you’ll pay another $ 4.99 for the phone version. I’m not sure why there’s such a large price disparity, since it’s undoubtedly very similar code. (So either one is very overpriced or the other is very underpriced.) You have to sign up for the free 2GB Creative Cloud plan.<... [Read more]

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White House shoots down petition to build Death Star

No Death Star for you.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

The White House has rejected a proposal to build a Death Star, saying that in addition to its prohibitive construction costs, the current administration does not advocate destroying other planets.

Today’s official statement came in response to a petition posted in November to the White House’s We The People platform that called for the administration to begin construction of a moon-size military battlestation armed with a planet-destroying superlaser by 2016. The petition, which attracted well more than the minimum 25,000 signatures necessary for a response from the White House, suggested such a project could give the nation’s economy a much-needed boost. The petition

By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.

However, in a playful, “Star Wars”-inspired response ti… [Read more]

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Apple Store down ahead of iPad Mini midnight preorders

With three hours to go before the iPad Mini officially goes on sale, Apple’s online store is down.

In what has become standard operating procedure for Apple before a new release, the online marketplace has gone offline, replaced with the familiar message that assures shoppers that the store will “be back” soon.

The message appears in anticipation of the iPad Mini — 7.9-inch version of the 10-inch iPad tablet — going on sale at midnight Pacific time. The device, which was unveiled yesterday at an event in San Jose, Calif., is expected to ship to consumers on November 2.

The iPad Mini comes in six pricing configurations. In addition to the 16GB tablet with Wi-Fi at $ 329, the 32GB tablet with Wi-Fi is $ 429, and the 64BG version is $ 529. For devices with Wi-Fi and 4G cellular connections, the 16GB tablet is $ 459, the 32GB is $ 559, and the 64GB is $ 659. These devices are shipping two weeks after their Wi-Fi-only counterparts.

iPad Mini packs a big punch

[Read more]

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Crave: gorgeous gadgets and other crushworthy stuff. – CNET