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Today, we’ll be looking at icky aliens, Google preparing for screenless computers, 101 useful websites, offline and desktop apps from Chrome, and the “Internet of Things”. Don’t say we’re not good to you here at MUO.

Ick! How The ‘Aliens’ Chestburster Was Created

The Aliens movies are probably some of the best movies ever made, and one of the most iconic scenes is near the end, when John Hurt suddenly goes into spasms, and a baby alien comes bursting out of his body, like so :

But would it surprise you to learn that this was done with absolutely no CGI whatsoever.  Wait while I phone for an ambulance for George Lucas, who has collapsed to the floor with a heart attack.  Yes, that’s right, some of the most iconic scenes in film were done without one single computer in sight.  And that includes the baby inside John Hurt’s chest.

The man responsible for the special effect, Stan Winston, shows us how he managed to put together the monster. It’s basically made out of dental acrylic and held together with cables.  When you look at it like that, it isn’t scary in the slightest.  But add some screeching, some fake blood, and some flapping of the arms and head, and suddenly, you’re hiding behind the sofa and wetting your pants.

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Absolutely fascinating.

Google Is Preparing For Screenless Computers

Do you like your multi-screen setup in your lair?  Well, this extremely interesting article details the determination by Google to eventually do away with screens and rely on things like Google Glass and mobile search, which would be powered by the sound of your voice.  So you would have people going around with the Google glasses on, orally dictating an email, or doing what is widely available now – using Google’s great voice search to find things more quickly.

It isn’t just Google of course who is going down this road.  Apple too is doing it with their Siri feature, and while reading this article, I decided to test both Google and Apple to see if it would give me what I wanted. So I asked both Siri and Google for directions to Frankfurt from my home. Siri was the best of the two – providing the distance in kilometres, the approximate driving time, and an Apple map with the driving directions.  Google merely gave me the distance in kilometres, and the rest was given to me as search results for me to wade through. Not too intuitive, Google.  And you didn’t call me “My Master” like Siri did.

Still, the technology is improving in leaps and bounds, and pretty soon, we will all be wearing the glasses and the watches, and holding the mobile phone, and thinking wistfully about the days when we had monitor screens.

The 101 Most Useful Websites Of 2012

One of the websites I read on an almost daily basis is Amit Argawal’s Digital Inspiration. There’s always something there which is extremely useful, and this huge list of “101 useful websites and web apps” is just one of them.

It’s a year old but most of the websites are still fine, and still extremely useful. At the end of the list, Amit has provided a “changelog” of updates, since the list was published.

Offline Desktop Apps For Chrome

Google Chrome has come a very long way, since its humble beginnings The Better Browser With Great Features - Google Chrome The Better Browser With Great Features - Google Chrome Google Chrome presently is the most popular browser on the planet. It took Chrome less than 4 years to rise from barely 1% market share to where it is now. Globally, more than one out... Read More . And the changes are coming thick and fast, with new changes coming all the time.

The latest features are offline desktop apps, as Google attempts to take over your operating system (and then the world?). Apps are now launched from a “Chrome launcher” button which is placed in your Windows OS status bar, like so :

It takes a bit of getting used to, and at first I hated it. But you know what? It’s started to grow on me, and now I have nothing in my status bar except the Start Menu and the Chrome App Launcher.

How The “Internet of Things” May Change The World

The Oxford English Dictionary is a very progressive publication, and this week, they added some new words and phrases to its pages.  One of them was “Internet Of Things” but what exactly is it?

As the National Geographic succinctly put it :

The Internet of things is a concept that aims to extend the benefits of the regular Internet—constant connectivity, remote control ability, data sharing, and so on – to goods in the physical world. Foodstuffs, electronics, appliances, collectibles: All would be tied to local and global networks through embedded sensors that are “always on.”

You can achieve this through inventions such as RFID chips, QR codes, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.  But what exactly are the benefits?  Again, as the article explains :

Consumers will be able to set their fridge to order new groceries for delivery when the eggs run out or the milk expires. Forget to turn off the oven? No problem, turn a dial on your smartphone from anywhere in the world. No need to turn off the lights: Your rooms will know when you enter or leave, setting all systems just the way you like them, since they will be able to detect when the phone in your pocket is near.

A dream utopia or a privacy nightmare? I’ll let you decide that one.

More from Stuff I Found On The Web next time.  As usual, let us know in the comments what you think of today’s links.

  1. Jon Thomas
    December 30, 2013 at 1:48 am

    Here's another useful website: http://www.start.me - I'm using this one as a replacement for iGoogle, which closed a few months ago. I have to see it's worked really well for me.

  2. Guy M
    September 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Just saw Google's Offline Apps the other day. Interesting. They don't quite work like I'd like them to, but still handy.

    Thanks for the link to Amit's page as well. It's in my Feedly now. Awesome list too.

  3. dragonmouth
    September 11, 2013 at 11:59 am

    "So you would have people going around with the Google glasses on, orally dictating an email"
    Can you say Tower of Babble?

    If to the above you add those with a cell phone constantly to their ear and those talking on their Blue Tooth phones, you can't tell the nuts from the bolts. At one time talking to the voices in one's head was considered to be a sign of instability. Now it is a sign of progress.

  4. gordon
    September 11, 2013 at 10:10 am

    I believe it is a battle to stay on top in the Internet game and technology, such is the competition and what, or who, was trendy yesterday can easily disappear into the wilderness. How this shapes online business is more interesting and how will the way of ecommerce evolve in the next few years is interesting.

    I run an online florist flowerstation.co.uk , keen for views on which way for ecommerce and SEO

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