Japanese woman, 114, named world's oldest woman

Japan's 114-year-old Misao Okawa poses with the certificate of the world's oldest woman. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
EMILY WANG, Associated Press
OSAKA, Japan (AP) — A 114-year-old Japanese woman, the daughter of a kimono maker, was formally recognized Wednesday as the world's oldest woman.
Misao Okawa said Wednesday that she was "very happy" to receive the recognition and a certificate from Guinness World Records.
After a meal of her favorite mackerel sushi, Okawa nodded off as she sat in her wheelchair, her 3-month-old great grandson, Hibiki Okawa, at her side. But she woke up to speak to a reporter.
Asked for her secret for longevity, she said it was to "watch out for one's health."
The recognition by Guinness World Records was a nice gift for Okawa, who will mark her 115th birthday next week. According to the Gerontology Research Institute, which verifies age information for Guinness, she was born March 5, 1898.
Okawa lives in a nursing home in Osaka. The manager there, Tomohito Okada, said Okawa eats whatever she likes.
The world's oldest living person as recognized by Guinness — 115-year-old Jiroemon Kimura — also lives in Japan.
Japan has the most centenarians in the world, with more than 51,000, according to the government. More than 87 percent of them are women.
Okawa was married in 1919 to her husband Yukio and had three children — two daughters and a son. She now has four grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Okawa's 90-year-old son, Hiroshi, said that though inherited some of his mothers' genes, he doubted he would manage to match his mother's longevity.
"On my father's side, there are some who lived long and some who don't — like my father who died at 36 — so I doubt I'll live as long," he said.

The Look of Love: Top 5 Physical Signs of Attraction

Attraction moves in mysterious ways.

When it comes to love (or lust, as the case may be), men and women know what they like when they see it. Ask people to describe their ideal romantic partners, and they might draw a blank or merely offer a vague outline, but that doesn't matter so much, since they'll immediately know when they encounter him or her. According to Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher, the human body is such a finely tuned attraction-seeking machine, it takes only one second to intuitively decide whether someone's physically hot or not [source: Fisher]. Upon closer inspection, we might change our minds, or we just might have found what we've been looking for all along.
To help ensure that the good ones don't get away, our bodies produce a host of physical signs of attraction that grab our attention and direct it toward the dreamboat in question. When those physiological mechanisms kick in, even a brief glimpse of a crush can leave us short of breath and dazed. And unpleasant as some of these reactions might be, we can at least take heart that at some point, the following five lovesick symptoms happen to all of us.
5 Be Still My Beating Heart

Pulses quicken when we're with a crush.

Why do literature and art always associate romance and the heart? Because our hearts are set aflutter, pulses literally racing, at the sight of someone attractive [source: Fisher]. In fact, the heart-attraction relationship is so potent, studies have found that increasing someone's heart rate and then putting him or her near a pretty stranger can artificially ignite a flame of affection [source: Foster et al].
Per usual, the brain is ultimately responsible for this physiological response, not Cupid and his archery acumen. During early-stage romantic love -- scientific terminology for the honeymoon phase -- the brain releases norepinephrine whenever we're around a love interest to shake us into action [source: Obringer]. That adrenaline-like neurotransmitter spurs our motivational decision-making, possibly prodding us to chat up Mr. or Ms. Right. Meanwhile, our adrenaline-addled hearts are likely pumping faster than usual in order to get us through the taxing ordeal [source: Landau].

4 Sweating the Small Stuff

A sweaty handshake might be the start of a romantic partnership.

If you're introduced to someone who immediately makes your heart go gaga, it might be best to avoid a handshake. Sweating palms is a classic physiological response to attraction. The same cocktail of chemicals that prods our pulses also stokes our sweat glands. Collectively known as monoamines, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin combine to produce feelings of excitement, with a side of breathlessness and moist hands [source: McLoughlin]. Norepinephrine in particular is the culprit for goading our sweat glands into activation, and since our palms are riddled with up to 3,000 miniscule sweat glands per square inch, they can quickly become a telltale signal of sexual interest.
Men also might be stricken with sweaty palms more often than women. Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher suggests that since men are more visually stimulated than women, their brains dole out bigger doses of monoamines [source: Obringer].

3 Be Mine, Baritone

Let's hope he's belting bass notes.

Repeated studies have confirmed that heterosexual women prefer deeper voices whispering sweet nothings in their ears. In addition to associating lower-pitched male voices with masculinity, women associate those bass notes with authority, larger body size and physical attractiveness [source: O'Luanaigh]. Fortunately for tenors out there, a recent Australian study at least debunked the notion that a deeper voice intimated superior sperm quality [source: Parry].
Perhaps since deeper-pitched voices have attracted such a sexy reputation, people may lower their registers when speaking to their special someones. In a 2010 study, male and female study participants were asked to record messages to be played for fictional recipients. Researchers showed individual participants photos of fictional message recipients; the more attractive participants rated the fictional recipients, the more likely they were to deepen their voices [source: PhysOrg]. But a conflicting study found that the more tantalizing the male face, the higher -- not lower -- women raised their vocal pitch [source: Fraccaro et al]. Either way, it seems we attempt to fine tune our voices to sound like sweet music to our beloveds' ears.

2 Jeepers Peepers

Our pupils dilate when we look at someone we fancy.

Dusty Springfield wasn't talking nonsense when she sang about "The Look of Love." The chart-topping blonde with the golden voice belted out scientifically plausible lyrics about come-hither eyes, as studies have shown that our pupils play an active role in signaling attraction. When we spot a comely face, our brains release dopamine, which triggers pupil dilation [source: Murphy]. Thanks to the surge of dopamine in our brains that excites the nerve endings in our eyes, the pupil muscles contract and dilate our peepers [source: Spiers and Calne].
But pupil preferences aren't uniform across the board, and bigger isn't always better. Whereas heterosexual men find women with larger dilated pupils more feminine and beautiful, most straight women opt for medium male dilations that signal sexual interest, but not to a potentially violent extreme [source: Tombs and Silverman]. However, women who tend to engage in short-term sexual relationships with "bad boys" were googly-eyed for the larger pupils as well [source: Tombs and Silverman].

1 Copycats

Mirroring is a sign of attraction. Matching sweaters optional.

Nineteenth-century British writer and aphorism documentarian Charles Caleb Colton ushered the phrase "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" into common usage in 1820 [source: Martin]. Come to find out, Colton's adage applies quite well to interpersonal attraction. When people interact in dating scenarios, and things are going well, body language mirroring often happens subconsciously. For instance, someone will lean in close to the dinner table, and other person follows in suit.
Better yet, without knowing it, these subtle gestures also serve to stoke each other's romantic egos. A 2009 study on mimicry in a speed dating environment revealed that men gave more favorable ratings to women who slightly mirrored their verbal and nonverbal patterns [source: Gueguen]. Scratching their faces after the men scratched their faces, for instance, ultimately increased the women's sexual attractiveness after the 5-minute interaction [source: Jarrett]. If that body language exchange sparks a long-lasting relationship, men's and women's bodies tend to play copycat as they age together as well. According to a 2006 study, the longer couples stick together, well after the jittery symptoms of attraction have calmed, the more they physically begin to look alike [source: Silverman].

How to Clean Up Your Digital Music Collection

Music is such an important part of most people's lives, and the advent of the Internet and iTunes has really changed the way we interact with our music. Whether we’re in the car, at the gym, or relaxing after a hard day of work, music can work magic.
Today, it’s not uncommon to have thousands of songs on your music playlist.  In fact, many people have so much music that it’s literally out of control!
Today’s digital players offer a wealth of ways to store and organize music, but if you’re not careful, it can quickly become a nightmare. Ask yourself: How many duplicate songs do you have in your collection?  How many songs are listed as "track unknown” or are missing cover art that lets you identify them quickly?
If this describes you, then you may be interested in a great new plug-in service called TuneUp that’s coming to the rescue of millions of music lovers. In fact, TuneUp is now the #1 plug-in for iTunes, though it’s also compatible with Windows Media Player.
TuneUp was created in 2007 by a music lover who was fed up with his own disorderly music library. Once he created a few plug-in tools to organize and enhance his playlist, he wanted to share it with all music lovers, so everyone could enjoy their music experience to the fullest.
The app is incredibly easy to use, with one-click access to simple tools that get the job done.
How it Works
The first step is to CLEAN up your tracks that contain unknown artists, misspellings, and other irregularities with your album. CLEAN uses acoustic fingerprint technology to quickly fix inaccurate data by matching its fingerprint to Gracenote’s MusicID™ database. This database contains over 90 million indexed tracks, and is the largest collection of music metadata in the world.
Next, TuneUp’s DeDuper tool will locate all the duplicates in your music collection. It will display them in bulk for easy removal with a single click of the mouse, or you can review them individually by the original file location.
Finally, don’t settle for missing album covers replaced by ugly gray music notes. TuneUp’s Cover Art scans and identifies all your albums with missing or incorrect cover art. You’ll be offered multiple cover arts to choose from, in case you prefer an import cover or a domestic release. In no time, you’ll have brand new cover art to enjoy and identify your songs by.
How many times have you kicked yourself when you found out that one of your favorite bands was in town and you missed the show?  Perhaps the best feature of TuneUp is its concert feature. It can make sure you’ll always be the first to know when your favorite band is coming to play in near you. It combs through your entire music collection, and if it sees you own a song by an artist performing at an upcoming concert, it will provide you with full details and even offer you a chance to purchase tickets quickly and easily.
And, more than just upcoming concert info, TuneUp also brings you music-related content from all over the Web about your favorite artists. For every song you download, you’ll be able to view videos, artist bios, news, brand merchandise, and buy concert tickets to upcoming shows.
TuneUp offers a free trial of the TuneUp Bundle; download it now and start cleaning up your messy music collection today.

The 2 Easy Ways to Make Your PC Run Like New

One of the most frustrating things in life is a slow computer. 
Every few years, we buy an expensive new PC and love how fast it starts up, runs programs, and loads websites.  Inevitably though, it starts to slow down until eventually we are pulling our hair out waiting for it to do routine tasks.
Why is this?  It turns out the answer is actually quite simple and you don't even need to be "technical" to understand the causes and solutions.
The good news: It's not the computer hardware that's the problem.  In most cases, the hardware you have is perfectly capable of being restored to its original glory and kept in fast running condition with minimal effort.
Rather, the problem lies with changes that occur to the PC's software.  The two most common causes of slowdown (along with easy solutions) are:
1. The most common problem: registery errors
Every time you (or your kids) load a program, game, or file, your PC's software registery is updated with new instructions needed to operate that item.  However, when the item is removed, these instructions usually remain on your PC.  Every time you run your computer it tries to execute these instructions but, because the related program can't be found, it causes a registry error.  Your PC is doing a lot more work than it should be and the result is a significantly slower computer.
One of the best ways to manage this is with a neat little tool from Support.com, a Silicon Valley based company.  It's called ARO 2012 and it scans, identifies, and fixes registry errors--resulting in a computer that's a lot more like it was when you first bought it.  On top of the amazing results it offers, it's so easy to install and use that it was recently awarded a coveted 4.5 star rating (out of 5) by CNET's editorial staff and has been downloaded more than 30 million times.
You can now get a free working version of the software which will quickly scan your entire PC and identify all of the registry errors that may be bogging it down.  The free version also scans for junk and checks your PC's baseline security status.  It will eliminate the first 100 errors for free, and if you have more errors that you want to clean up or want to set the program to run on a regular basis (which is recommended), you can easily upgrade to the full version for just $29.95.  After that, registry errors will no longer be a problem.
To get the free version simply click here.
2. Spyware and viruses
Spyware and viruses are software programs that are loaded on your computer without your knowledge or permission.  They have various purposes, including:
  • Changing the default search engine in your browser.
  • Tracking your Web surfing habits and showing you targeted advertising.
  • Using your email program to send out spam to other email addresses.
  • Stealing your personal information.
Most spyware and viruses get onto our computers through files that we download from the Internet or as attachments to emails.  They tend to take up a lot of computing power and, as a result, will significantly slow down your computer.
The simple rule of thumb to follow is to never download any free software programs from companies you do not know and trust, especially screensavers, emoticons, and the like.  In addition, you should never open any attachment to an email unless you are 100 percent certain you know and trust the sender.  In addition, make sure you have a good anti-virus/spyware removal software running at all times.
Follow the above advice and your PC should stay fast and safe.

4 Best Places To Make Your Own Perfume In New York

Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com
Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com
In a city known for its individuality and creative pulse, what does it take to stand out from the pack?  Tousled, yet perfect hair, check. Unassailable shoes, double check. The undeniable, yet not quite definable, scent of your skin as you strut down the street?  Absolutely, triple check. If you beat to your own, individually-scented drummer, why buy off-the-rack perfume when you can conjure up a scent that’s uniquely yours? New York may have a manicurist on every corner, but even a quintessential city like ours does not abound with perfumer’s workshops. The breed who beckons to this call are simply too rare. For those bold, chosen few who dare to distill a scent of their own, here are the go-to sources for know-how, nectar, and a little bit of magic.
scenterprises 4 Best Places To Make Your Own Perfume In New York
Photo Credit: Corey Whelan

Scenterprises ltd.
220 E. 65th St.
New York, NY  10065
(646) 350-6562
scenterprisesltd.com If Van Gogh’s muse had been perfume instead of paint, he would have enjoyed meeting Scenterprises founder, Sue Philips.  At events, seminars and individual appointments, Philips takes her clients through an intoxicating experience of top, middle and base-noted scents that are heady, sweet, fruity and fabulous. Patrons get to mix and match from among 18 distinctive and luscious notes like amber, herbal and green. The end result is as individual as you are. An affordable luxury, custom scents range from $50 – $185 based on size, with lifetime refills at around $50. The fragrance journey can last forever; your individual formula is kept on file indefinitely. Large-space, environmental scent branding is a specialty. Men and women are both welcome, but it’s by appointment only.
fragrance shope new york 4 Best Places To Make Your Own Perfume In New York
The Fragrance Shop New York
65 E. 4th St.
New York, NY
(212) 254-8950
With a focus on natural compounds, The Fragrance Shop stocks over 300 oils ranging from spicy to sweet and floral. Patrons are encouraged to take a romp through the senses and land on a fragrance distinctly their own. The end result will cost anywhere from $28 to $69, based on the oils chosen. Whimsically-themed atomizers complete the fantasy.  For those who want a safe bet, The Fragrance Shop has its own, delicately floral, signature scent for women. Custom scents, shaving soaps and after-shaves will please even the most scent-shy guy. Kids can get in on the act, too. Bath products by Burt’s Bees or Crabtree & Evelyn will get even the most water-averse toddler happily splashing in a tub. Adorably themed rubber duckies, bath mittens and scrubs help turn bathtime into fun time.
Related: NYC’s Top Perfumeries
 4 Best Places To Make Your Own Perfume In New York

Herbal Alchemy
By appointment only in Park Slope, Brooklyn
(718) 788-6480
Ethereal Julianne Zaleta knows where the wild things are. A born herbalist, Zaleta forages in Brooklyn’s greenest corners for flowers and plants that will ultimately grace perfumes, scented oils or cocktails swirled with vodka, sweet woodruff and wine. A leader in Brooklyn’s artisanal movement, she will guide you in your own private journey of scent memory toward a fragrance that is yours alone, during a slow, intimate process evocative of a more gentle time.  Customers may choose from among over 100 essential oils and organic ingredients in consultations that include 1/4 ounce of perfume at $125.
 4 Best Places To Make Your Own Perfume In New York

Scentsational of Huntington
259 Main Street #1
Huntington, LI  11743
(631) 549-2090

This is the home of China Rain, a soft, delicate fragrance popular with Long Island’s savviest women for over 25 years. Scentsational features a wide variety of essential oils for you to mix and match at prices so low, you can choose a signature scent for every day of the week. Aromatherapy is also a specialty. If you have your heart set on a designer fragrance that is a bit too pricey for your current budget, the pros at this cozy shop will help you duplicate it without bruising your pocketbook.  Now that the warm weather is here, you should treat yourself to a new scent for summer. Special, light-scented musks can be mixed with clean apple blossom, tropical gardenia or even Beach Bum suntain lotion for a special, summery feel. Scented treats for yourself can be as little as $20, but if you’re looking for a fabulous gift basket, the Scentsational staff can customize one for you. Also look for the Sparkle & Shimmer line of stardust body lotions and splashes to have you glowing and beautiful from head to toe.

Apple's rumored iWatch is basically a slap bracelet

A newly unearthed patent filing reveals what the smartwatch might look like
Let's hope Apple's is a little cooler than the original accessories.
Let's hope Apple's is a little cooler than the original accessories.

Apple Insider discovered a patent filing for what appears to be the rumored iWatch. The filing is for a "bi-stable spring with flexible display" that "allows the accessory device to be easily worn in a number of convenient locations." Unlike previous rumors suggesting that the watch ran an operating system all its own, this new evidence paints the gadget as something that will connect to an external device — like an iPhone — over a wireless protocol like Bluetooth.
The display isn't confined to a square or circular watch face. Rather, the iWatch's screen runs lengthwise down the entirety of the bracelet. The device appears to use built-in accelerometers and gyroscopes to orient displayed data — say, the time — in the general direction of the user's eyeballs, no matter where your arm is relative to their head.
But the most interesting revelation from the patent filing might be how you put the thing on. Here's what the patent, which was filed in August 2011, says about the spring mechanism:
Bi-stable springs have two equilibrium positions. This allows a device with a bi-stable spring to assume two distinct configurations. The most recent widespread use of such a device was the slap bracelet, also called the slap wrap. The slap bracelet consists of layered flexible steel bands sealed within a fabric cover. Typical slap bracelets are roughly one inch in width by nine inches in length. In a first equilibrium position they can be flat. The second equilibrium is typically reached by slapping the flat embodiment across the wrist, at which point the bracelet curls around the wrist and stays relatively secure in a roughly circular position. [United States Patent and Trademark Office]
So... Apple's rumored iWatch might be a slap bracelet. Earlier today, it was reported that Google has tapped the style geniuses at Warby Parker for help designing its glasses. In other words, the future of wearable computing, ladies and gentlemen, is starting to look like a bad caricature of Williamsburg circa 2010.

5 Creative Uses for Old USB Flash Drives


Good news: You can stop sketching plans for a necklace made of spare USB flash drives.
There are at least five more practical things to do with those old thumb drives. The necklace is still an admirable project (and would probably complement your Apple wristwatch), but maybe you should consider these options, courtesy of Hack College, first. You can store programs on a USB drive or use it as a secure "key" for your laptop.
Check out more fresh ideas in the video above. If you've found another creative use for your spare drives, let us know in the comments.

The 6 most exciting new PlayStation 4 features

Sony introduces a touch-friendly new DualShock, remote play for the PS Vita, and a promising new partnership with Blizzard
The DualShock 4 has a Wii-esque system that can detect a player's movement.
The DualShock 4 has a Wii-esque system that can detect a player's movement.

    On Wednesday night, with all the Apple-esque fanfare that now seems like a prerequisite for any new tech product, Sony announced its new flagship console: The PlayStation 4. It's been seven years since the PS3 was announced way back in 2006, when the world still hadn't heard of the iPhone, books were only available in paper form, Michael Jackson was a living punch line, and the global economy wasn't being held together by duct tape.
    Indeed, the world is a very different place now. Consumers are pickier with their money. Most video games are 99 cents or less and fit in your pocket. And that's why, despite the uphill battle ahead, makers of the next generation of consoles are pulling out the all the stops to compete for a spot in your cabinet. Yesterday, we previewed a few features we really wanted to see in the PS4. Now that the console has arrived — although we still haven't seen the device, and no release date or price were announced — here's what we like most about the PS4:
    1. Incredible visuals Yeah, yeah. Including next-generation graphics on a "things to like" list is almost a no-brainer. As expected, Sony crammed a lot of processing power into the PS4: "PC-like" architecture, x86 CPU, enhanced PS GPU, 8 GB of unified memory, etc. But I mean, look at it. Check out the impressive attention to detail for Watch Dogs at the 0:36 mark below:
    2. The new DualShock 4 controllerSony thankfully stayed true to the spirit of the DualShock line, which has all the usual thumbsticks and triggers gamers are familiar with. But the new DualShock 4 has a few key innovations worth noting. First, it has its own gyroscope to detect player movement (the trick Nintendo pioneered with the Wii). There's a 3D stereo camera that can sense things like depth and gestures (think the Xbox's Kinect), a touchpad for navigating onscreen menus, and the PS4 also has a share button that lets users broadcast their game live to friends or upload videos online. "All of that should make for more compelling play for the hard-core gamers at the heart of the PlayStation market," says The New York Times.
    3. You can play while downloadingWhenever a PS4 owner downloads a new game from the PlayStation Network, they won't have to sit around idly for an hour; they can start playing a title as soon as its download begins.
    4. Remote play on the PS Vita
    Much like the way Wii U's GamePad can be used to play games anywhere in the house over a WiFi network, PlayStation 4 owners can use their portable PS Vita — which they'll have to buy separately — to continue games when they're not near the TV. Sony says new technology acquired in the $380 million purchase of cloud-company Gaikai "effectively makes [the PS4] a game server." In other words, you'll never have to hit pause for a bathroom break again.
    5. Add a second screen with your iPhone or AndroidSony plans on adding a new PS4 app that let's iOS or Android owners use their phones or tablets to add a second screen. Imagine calling your secret plays in Madden on an iPad, or watching your friend broadcast his or her 30+ Call of Duty killstreak while you're in another game. That sort of stuff's now possible.
    6. Blizzard
    Sony announced a new partnership with game developer Blizzard to bring Diablo III to the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation 4. That in itself isn't huge news, but it portends a new era of possibilities between the two companies. Blizzard, for better or worse, has spent the past decade dominating the PC gaming industry. Could World of Warcraft or StarCraft II be next? Is the lack of a keyboard a dealbreaker? Guess we'll see.

    4 things we'd like to see from Sony's PlayStation 4

    Success won't come easy. But here are a few features we'd eagerly welcome
    The new PlayStation 4 controller is rumored to include touchscreen capabilities.
    The new PlayStation 4 controller is rumored to include touchscreen capabilities.


    It's tough out there for game consoles.
    At the end of January, Nintendo lowered sales forecasts for the Wii U from 5.5 million to 4 million through March. The problems are many: Today's consoles are expensive, with launch prices sandwiched somewhere between $300 and $500. Secondly, it's easier than ever to access games from the gadgets we already use everyday. Computer games? Not going anywhere. Neither are 99 cent downloads for Angry Birds or Temple Run. If we can play great games on the devices we already have, why do we need gaming consoles? It's not an easy question to answer.
    That's why a lot of folks are keeping a close eye on Sony's big unveiling for what's probably going to be the PlayStation 4 (or the "Orbis"), which is slated for a Wednesday night debut in New York City. Will it inspire intrepid consumers to camp outside Best Buy like the PlayStation 3 did in 2006? (A year before the first iPhone came out, I might add.) We'll find out soon enough.
    In the meantime, here are four features we'd like to see:
    1. Streaming
    Various reports suggest the PS4 will still have a physical drive, just like its PS3 and PS2 ancestors. Sony, however, acquired cloud-based gaming company Gaikai for a reported $380 million last year, suggesting that streaming games à la Netflix is pretty much guaranteed. While processor-hogging blockbusters like Call of Duty: Black Ops Twenty Million will likely come via a disc or a huge overnight download, streaming titles could help give indie game developers a real chance to shine in front of curious gamers. The critical success of titles like Journey seems to indicate that the PlayStation Network has a real opportunity to court cool, third-party indie developers. And it might even help court a certain kind of gamer important to my next point...
    2. A crystal-clear identityOne of the main complaints critics sling at the Wii U is that the console doesn't know who it's for, mainly due to its big, do-everything Touchpad. Is the Touchpad a gimmick? Is it for non-gamers who loved the Wii? Bored teenagers content to play Smash Brothers for 10 hours a day? "Everyone in the family?" If the PlayStation 4 is going to succeed, it'll need to clearly identify its target audience(s). First-person shooter fans, obviously. But then who else? Sony has had seven years to think about this.
    3. Voice and motion controlsMicrosoft bet big on the Xbox 360's Kinect, and it paid off big. But what truly makes the Kinect leaps and bounds better than the PS Move or Eye isn't that it opens up a new world of dancing games (although that's part of it). By shucking the traditional controller when it isn't needed, Microsoft transformed a humble gaming system into a futuristic media center commanded by voice and gestures. No missing remotes. No getting up from the couch. No navigating menus with a D-pad. It's brilliant, and takes advantage of Newton's first law of motion: We're supremely lazy beings and hate moving. At the very, very least, the next-gen PlayStation will need to do the same.
    4. A consistent controllerThe wireless DualShock 3 is one of the best controllers ever. In fact, I'd argue that it's second only to Super Nintendo's in terms of comfort and tactility. Leaked reports, however, suggest the new controller will have touchscreen capabilities, and will have a bit more heft under your thumb flesh, kind of like the Xbox's. With the Wii U, Nintendo made the mistake of designing a controller that tried to do too much. Let's hope Sony stays true to the spirit of the DualShock and doesn't stray too far.

    The 5 biggest problems with Google's Chromebook Pixel (and what to buy instead)

    Why pay $1,300 for a pretty web-browsing machine?
    The lone piece of software on the Chromebook Pixel is Chrome.
    The lone piece of software on the Chromebook Pixel is Chrome.

      On Thursday, Google surprised everyone by revealing a new laptop — the Chromebook Pixel. At face value it's an impressive piece of hardware. Its sturdy aluminum body looks like a MacBook Pro. Its pixel density (239 pixels per inch) gives it ultra-sharp HD to rival any Retina display. And, in addition to a touchpad, the Pixel's screen responds to touch — swipes, pinch-to-zooms, and other gestures are all there. The message is clear: Google is now in the laptop business.

      And yet, for all the glowing praise heaped on the Pixel by its design team, the device still faces an uphill fight if it hopes to compete with the MacBooks and Ultrabooks of the world. Here's why Google's Pixel, as it stands, is a product you should stay away from:
      1. It's way too expensive
      Other Chromebooks are great additions to households that already have a main computing rig. (We have one underneath the coffee table.) They're astonishingly inexpensive — Samsung's WiFi-only model is just $249 on Amazon, or as cheap as a Nexus 7 — and they let you browse the web, watch YouTube clips, check your email, and do some light document editing in Google Docs. Stuff you do 70 percent of the time on a normal laptop anyway.
      That's what makes the Pixel's asking price so puzzling: $1,300 for a WiFi-only Pixel when it goes on sale next week, and $1,450 with LTE when it ships in April. Same functionality trade-offs as other Chromebooks, five times the price. A 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is $1,499, and lets you run Microsoft Office, iTunes, Photoshop, iMovie, Spotify, StarCraft II, and whatever else your heart desires. Aside from a few select Chrome apps, the Pixel's only piece of real software is, well, Chrome. The math doesn't add up.
      2. Most of the web isn't optimized for HDThe Pixel's display is beautiful. Google says that by cramming in 4.3 million pixels, the screen "offers sharp text, vivid colors, and extra-wide viewing angles." That's great. But right now, the the vast majority of the web simply isn't optimized for ultra-sharp high definition, which is a problem if your main portal for doing things is Chrome OS. It's like buying a brand-new Porsche 911 for the sole purpose of off-roading.
      3. Most of the web isn't optimized for touchAnother sad fact is that the internet isn't optimized for touchscreens. That's why half-baked mobile editions exist for websites in the first place. Granted, poking around on tiny hyperlinks is monumentally easier on a tablet or a device like the Microsoft Surface that you can hold steady with both hands, but the Chromebook still has the size, shape, and dimensions of a clunky laptop. Yes, touchscreens will be on every new high-end computer within a year and a half, and they'll be great for editing photos, juggling windows, and feeling like you're Tony Stark in Iron Man; unfortunately, though, the Pixel's limited capabilities make it hard to do any of that. 
      4. Its battery life is horrid
      The Pixel's spec sheet promises "up to five hours of active use" between charges. Most tablets promise anywhere from nine to 10 hours. That means the Pixel won't even last you the duration of a cross-country flight from New York to Los Angeles — if your plane even has WiFi to begin with.
      5. You only get three years of free storage
      Google is offering Pixel buyers an unprecedented 1 terabyte of cloud storage for three years. The catch — and it's a big one — is that after those three years, you're paying $50 per month to keep photos, GIFs, or whatever else you right-click on stored in Google's cloud. That's a lot of money if you don't plan on buying a replacement within that three-year window.
      Instead of the Pixel, you could buy one of these comparable devices and do all the things the Pixel does (and more) for a cheaper price:
      • Samsung's 11.6-inch Chromebook ($250)
      • Google Nexus 10 ($399)
      • Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 ($1,049)
      • Microsoft Surface Pro ($899
      • Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air ($1,199)

      Why Obama wants to map the human brain

      The White House is set to reveal an ambitious, groundbreaking plan to unravel the inner-workings of the mind

      "Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy — every dollar."
      "Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy — every dollar."
      Photo composite 

        Of all the ideas mentioned in President Obama's State of the Union address last week, one that stood out against the rest was his mention of an ambitious plan to roadmap the entirety of the human brain — the mysterious, messy tangle of neurons and synapses firing between your ears this very second.
        "Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy — every dollar," said Obama, referring to the decades-long Human Genome Project, a groundbreaking international effort to map our DNA, which this new project is being silhouetted against. "Today our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer's. They're developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs, devising new materials to make batteries 10 times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation."
        Following up on Obama's statement, The New York Times reports that in the coming months, the White House will announce the Brain Activity Map Project, an unprecedented, federally funded, multi-billion-dollar effort to unravel the inner-workings of Mother Nature's most powerful processor. The initiative will be spearheaded by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, with support from the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies. Officials are hoping to tap into a network of neuroscientists from top-tier institutions from all over the world to focus on a singular, decade-and-a-half goal: To build the first-ever working model of the mind.
        The case for mapping the brainHints of the BAM project first surfaced last June in the journal Neuron, when Harvard geneticist George Church first proposed a plan to illustrate the brain's little-understood but vast architecture, which, of course, is expensive. "We can bring down the cost and increase the quality of the technology," Church tells NBC News. "We are trying to work with current funding [levels] to bring down the cost." The federal government's proposed 15-year effort would inject some $3 billion into global neuroscience research, with the aim to lower the cost of existing technologies and pioneer new techniques that allow us to get a closer, deeper look into the brain at a molecular level. Constructing a fully functional model with every neural pathway and action meticulously documented could allow researchers from far-reaching scientific fields to treat neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and schizophrenia; develop faster, more efficient supercomputers; and, if we're lucky, perhaps even jolt the economy with a lucrative return on its investment, much like the Human Genome Project mentioned in Obama's speech.
        How they'll do itMapping the brain, of course, isn't easy — if it were, we would've done it by now. Church and his comrades insist that such a task wouldn't start with human heads, but rather with the brains of lab mice before working our way up to apes. Tracing the brain's advanced circuitry can be accomplished a few ways, with different research institutions divvying up the workload: Traditional magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), wireless fiber-optic brain implants, and even attaching genetically engineered tracer cells to existing brain cells, like a Google driverless car for your brain's highways.
        Eliminating diseaseWriting for this website in November, Bill Frist called on the eventual president to wage a war on Alzheimer's, the crippling brain disease that affects 1 in 8 Americans. "It is a demographically driven, rapidly expanding condition that is incurable and fatal," he said. "It wrenches apart families emotionally and economically. And it will, if not reversed, inevitably affect every family." The origins of Alzheimer's, like many other degenerative disorders, are still largely a mystery. Its symptoms can severely affect a person's twilight years, robbing them of their memory, perception, language, and cognitive skills. Understanding how the brain's roughly 100 billion neurons travel — or more specifically, learning where damaging traffic pile-ups happen — could offer scientists valuable insight into new treatments. "Not least, we might expect novel understanding and therapies for diseases like schizophrenia and autism," wrote the BAM proposal's scientists.
        Smarter computersFuturists like Ray Kurzweil, author of How to Create a Mind, have been interested in reverse-engineering the brain for a long time. It's easy to see how understanding the brain's mechanics could lead to more powerful supercomputers, especially since we've already figured out how to effectively transform strands of DNA into hard drives. Imagine: Artificial intelligence trouncing the speed and accuracy of IBM's Watson. Desktop PCs that can efficiently code solutions to their own problems. It's not a question of if, at this point, but a matter of when.
        And it isn't just our machines that will receive a processing boost. "Knowing how the human brain works means that we will, at some point in the near future, be able to fundamentally change the structure of it by re-arranging a few neural pathways," says Domnic Basulto at The Washington Post. "If we understand how memory works, we may be able to download new memories into our brains. If we understand how language processing works, we may be able to insert foreign language knowledge into our brains just like a series of software upgrades."
        A question of legacyThe big question now is: Why would Obama spring for such an initiative? The Washington Post's Basulto says it won't be to create jobs, and he wonders if it's something of a legacy play. "In much the same way that the JFK presidency has become known as the one that sent our nation to the moon, will the Obama presidency be known as the one where we mapped the human brain and broke the bar on artificial intelligence forever?" If the Human Genome Project, which began in 1990, is any indication, the BAM initiative could pay off handsomely from an economic standpoint. Completed ahead of schedule in 2003, the Human Genome Project tallied $3.8 billion in overall cost. However, a federal government study of its lasting impact estimates its techniques and scientific advances injected close to $800 billion back into the economy by 2010.
        Understanding the inordinately complex circuitry of the brain will predictably force us to grapple with tough questions. Why are some people more susceptible to depression than others? What makes one 5-year-old the next Einstein while another is exhibits the telltale signs of autism? What, asks Basulto, constitutes a person's soul?
        The answer, of course, is we don't know. But if the BAM Project is as anywhere near as successful as the Human Genome Project, with any luck "I don't know" is a phrase we'll find ourselves saying less and less.

        Oscar predictions: Expect a big night for Argo, Lincoln, and Life of Pi

        Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained? Not so much
        Ben Affleck's Argo: Snubbed for Best Director, but the odds-on favorite to score a Best Picture trophy.
        Ben Affleck's Argo: Snubbed for Best Director, but the odds-on favorite to score a Best Picture trophy.

          After months of screenings and speculation, Oscar season will finally come to an end with Sunday night's 85th annual Academy Awards ceremony. So really, there's just one big question left: How can you win your Oscar pool?
          The Week is here to help. We've analyzed each of the 24 categories, and come up with our picks for what's going to win and why. Here, The Week's predictions for the 85th annual Academy Awards (and don't forget to come back for our Oscar live blog on Sunday night!):
          Best Picture
          AmourArgoBeasts of the Southern WildDjango UnchainedLes MiserablesLife of PiLincolnSilver Linings PlaybookZero Dark Thirty
          And the Oscar goes to… Argo. This is the strangest Best Picture race in recent memory. The surprising (and unjust) snub of Ben Affleck in the Best Director category has actually increased Argo's chances at Best Picture by making the film look like a lovable "underdog" — even as it snatched up the top prize from the Golden Globes, Directors Guild, Producers Guild, and Screen Actors Guild. There are potential spoilers in the mix — LincolnLife of Pi, or Silver Linings Playbook still could earn an unexpected groundswell of support — but you can bet that Ben Affleck's consolation prize for his Director snub will be a Best Picture trophy.
          Michael Haneke — Amour
          Benh Zeitlin — Beasts of the Southern Wild
          Ang Lee — Life of Pi
          Steven Spielberg — Lincoln
          David O. Russell — Silver Linings Playbook
          And the Oscar goes to… Steven Spielberg, Lincoln. The snubs of Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) make the Director category seem far more intriguing than it actually is. With Affleck out of the way, it's Spielberg's night to win a third career Oscar, making Lincoln the Maid of Honor to Argo's bride.
          Actor in a Leading Role
          Bradley Cooper — Silver Linings Playbook
          Daniel Day-Lewis — Lincoln
          Hugh Jackman — Les Miserables
          Joaquin Phoenix — The Master
          Denzel Washington — Flight
          And the Oscar goes to… Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln. From the moment Daniel Day-Lewis was announced as the star of Steven Spielberg's Abraham Lincoln biopic, he's been the presumptive frontrunner for the Best Actor trophy, and the past few months have only strengthened his chances. Denzel Washington is great in a movie that's only so-so, Hugh Jackman is good in a movie that's terrible, and Joaquin Phoenix — the most deserving actor in the category this year — shot himself in the foot with his anti-awards show comments last fall.
          Actress in a Leading Role
          Jessica Chastain — Zero Dark Thirty
          Jennifer Lawrence — Silver Linings Playbook
          Emmanuelle Riva — Amour
          Quvenzhané Wallis — Beasts of Southern Wild
          Naomi Watts — The Impossible
          And the Oscar goes to… Emmanuelle Riva, Amour. Actress is one of the most contentious major categories this year, and I'm gambling that Riva will end up upsetting the favored Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence certainly has the most momentum going into the evening, but Riva — who is, at 85, the oldest actress ever nominated in the category — offers both a stellar performance in Amour and a decades-long body of work that older members of the Academy might decide to recognize. (And it certainly doesn't hurt that Sunday's ceremony happens to fall on her 86th birthday.)
          Actor in a Supporting Role
          Alan Arkin — Argo
          Robert De Niro — Silver Linings Playbook
          Philip Seymour Hoffman — The Master
          Tommy Lee Jones — Lincoln
          Christoph Waltz — Django Unchained
          And the Oscar goes to… Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln. It's another very close race, and this time there are three horses in it: Robert De Niro, Christoph Waltz, and Tommy Lee Jones. De Niro is a sentimental favorite — and it's certainly nice to see him tackling a real character after a decade of dreck — but I'm trusting the Academy not to reward him for what is, in the end, a solid but unremarkable performance. Christoph Waltz is very good in Django Unchained, but he won in this category for another Tarantino movie just three years ago. Jones, like De Niro, is a sentimental favorite — but his performance in Lincoln is better than De Niro's in Silver Linings Playbook, and I'm trusting the Academy to reward it. 
          Actress in a Supporting Role
          Amy Adams — The Master
          Sally Field — Lincoln
          Anne Hathaway — Les Miserables
          Helen Hunt — The Sessions
          Jackie Weaver — Silver Linings Playbook
          And the Oscar goes to… Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables. Anne Hathaway's name has been unofficially carved on this trophy since her wrenching performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" hit screens in December. The Academy will make it official on Sunday night.
          Writing — Original Screenplay
          Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola — Moonrise Kingdom
          Mark Boal — Zero Dark Thirty
          John Gatins — Flight
          Michael Haneke — Amour
          Quentin Tarantino — Django Unchained
          And the Oscar goes to… Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained. Mark Boal is the more deserving candidate for his exhaustively researched script for Zero Dark Thirty, but I suspect that the Academy will take the opportunity to give Django Unchained its only win of the evening for Tarantino's characteristically quotable screenplay.
          Writing — Adapted Screenplay
          Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin — Beasts of the Southern Wild
          Tony Kushner — Lincoln
          David Magee — Life of Pi
          David O. Russell — Silver Linings Playbook
          Chris Terrio — Argo
          And the Oscar goes to… Chris Terrio, Argo. It's a close call, but the wave of goodwill for Argo should manage to hold off competition from the equally deserving scripts for Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook.
          Music — Original Score
          Anna Karenina
          Life of Pi
          And the Oscar goes to… Life of Pi. It's between Life of Pi and Lincoln, for which John Williams earned his whopping 43rd nomination — but Lincoln's score is one of Williams' least impressive and memorable, and Pi picked up some late momentum with voters.
          Music — Original Song
          "Before My Time" from Chasing Ice (music and lyrics by J. Ralph)
          "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from Ted (music by Walter Murphy, lyrics by Seth MacFarlane)
          "Pi's Lullaby" from Life of Pi (music by Mychael Danna, lyrics by Bombay Jayashri)
          "Skyfall" from Skyfall (music and lyrics by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth)
          "Suddenly" from Les Miserables (music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil
          And the Oscar goes to… "Skyfall." The Academy may have a natural aversion to all things 007, but Adele is unstoppable, and her title theme stands out in a reasonably strong crop of nominees.
          Foreign Language Film
          Amour (Austria)
          Kon-Tiki (Norway)
          No (Chile)
          A Royal Affair (Denmark)
          War Witch (Canada)
          And the Oscar goes to… Amour. No surprises here — the only foreign-language film nominated for Best Picture is the clear frontrunner in the Foreign Language category.
          Animated Feature Film
          The Pirates! Band of Misfits
          Wreck-It Ralph
          And the Oscar goes to… Wreck-It Ralph. It wasn't so long ago that this was Pixar's category to lose every year. But Disney out-Pixared Pixar with Wreck-It Ralph, a buoyant charmer that plays like a tech-savvy Toy Story. Brave and Frankenweenie could still mount an upset, but in the end, my gold coins are on Ralph
          Anna Karenina
          Django Unchained
          Life of Pi
          And the Oscar goes to… Life of Pi. Will the Academy snub 007? That's the question, as Skyfall cinematographer Roger Deakins — earning his 10th nomination — squares off against Claudio Miranda's lesser (but beautiful) work in Life of Pi. It's a close race, but I'm guessing Pi, by a nose.
          Documentary (Feature)
          5 Broken Cameras
          The Gatekeepers
          How to Survive a Plague
          The Invisible War
          Searching for Sugar Man 
          And the Oscar goes to… Searching for Sugar Man. In an extraordinarily strong year for documentaries — which saw films like The Queen of Versailles, Bully, West of Memphis, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which would normally have been locks for nominations, pushed off the short list — the smart money is on Searching for Sugar Man, the most playful and uplifting of this year's nominees.
          Documentary (Short)
          "Kings Point"
          "Mondays at Racine"
          "Open Heart"
          And the Oscar goes to… "Inocente." This is a famously difficult category to predict, but "Inocente" — the moving story of a 15-year-old, homeless, undocumented immigrant who plans to become an artist — stands out.
          Film Editing
          ArgoLife of PiLincolnSilver Linings PlaybookZero Dark Thirty
          And the Oscar goes to… Argo. Intriguingly enough, Argo editor William Goldenberg is competing against himself in the category — he also co-edited Zero Dark Thirty. Argo's overall momentum should push it ahead of the pack in the Editing category.
          Visual Effects
          The Avengers
          The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
          Life of Pi
          Snow White and the Huntsman
          And the Oscar goes to… Life of Pi. Though the Visual Effects category would seem to be a blockbuster's best bet at Oscar gold, the Academy tends to favor the artiest film in the mix, with recent examples including 2011 winner Hugo (which beat Harry Potter and Transformers) and 2008 winner The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (which beat The Dark Knight and Iron Man). This year, that means Life of Pi over The Avengers and Prometheus — and not unjustly, given the incredibly well-realized tiger at the center of its story.
          Costume Design
          Anna Karenina
          Les Miserables
          Mirror Mirror
          Snow White and the Huntsman
          And the Oscar goes to… Anna Karenina. Now as ever, this award should just be renamed "Best Period Costumes." This year, that means the race is between Anna Karenina and Les Miserables, with Anna Karenina's lavish dresses the likelier bet. 
          Makeup And Hairstyling
          The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
          Les Miserables 
          And the Oscar goes to… The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. If Les Miserables gets a lot of love from the Academy on Oscar night, this could go its way — but the elaborate makeup required for The Hobbit's many non-human creatures should clinch The Hobbit its only trophy of the evening.
          Sound Editing
          Django Unchained
          Life of Pi
          Zero Dark Thirty
          And the Oscar goes to… Life of Pi. In some ways, this category resembles Cinematography. If the Academy smiles on 007 for his 50th anniversary, it's Skyfall; if they stick to prestige pictures, as I'm betting they will, it's Pi.
          Sound Mixing
          Les Miserables
          Life of Pi
          And the Oscar goes to… Les Miserables. The film's PR campaign was built around its "groundbreaking" use of live singing, and Academy voters won't forget it.
          Production Design
          Anna Karenina
          The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
          Les Miserables
          Life of Pi
          And the Oscar goes to… Anna Karenina. Like Costume Design, this category is between Anna Karenina and Les Miserables; of the two, Anna Karenina is the more striking, and the more deserving.
          Short Film — Animated
          "Adam and Dog"
          "Fresh Guacamole"
          "Head over Heels"
          "Maggie Simpson in: 'The Longest Daycare'"
          And the Oscar goes to… "Paperman." The populist winner doesn't always take the Best Animated Short trophy — in fact, the short films that play before Disney and Pixar's feature-length films almost never end up winning the Oscar — but "Paperman," which screened before Wreck-It Ralph, is both heartwarming and stunningly animated.
          Short Film — Live Action
          "Buzkashi Boys"
          "Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)"
          And the Oscar goes to… "Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)." I haven't seen any of the nominees, so I'm forced to judge here by each film's trailer — and based on its impressive, eerie visuals, I'll be checking the box for "Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)" on my Oscar ballot.