Wipe the web clean of Sheen

Charlie Sheen, self-driving machines and how games can help you sleep

If you think the internet would be a better place if it had a lot less Charlie Sheen, allow us to introduce Tinted Sheen, the Charlie Sheen Browser Blocker. You'll never guess what it does.

So far more than 7,000 people have downloaded the Firefox and Chrome add-on. That's over 7,000 people whose internet is now Sheen-free.

Google in the driving seat

Who would you rather have driving your car: you, or a remote and faintly sinister global corporation? If you said "a remote and faintly sinister global corporation, thanks" then we've got good news: Google's working on self-driving cars.

As CBS News reports, Google software engineer Sebastian Thrun reckons that "we need them, and people want them" - not because we're lazy, but because tech could make cars safer.

Google car

HANDS FREE: Is it a car being attacked by a giant robot hand? Er, no [Image credit: Google]

The prototype uses radar cruise control and a special camera, and it knows where it is because it's logged into Bing Maps. We made that last bit up.

Grand designs

Steve Grand, creator of the Creatures game, wants to grow things in your PC. Not real things. Virtual things. Grandroids. Grand's project aims to create "genuine artificial life... virtual creatures constructed from complex networks of virtual brain cells and biochemical reactions and genes. They'll learn things themselves and have their own thoughts."

Stevegrand

A GRAND IDEA: Steve Grand wants to create artificially intelligent creatures inside your PC

The end result will be released as a game, and if you sign up now and pledge some cash - $50 gets you in the beta - you'll get a free copy when it's finished.

Don't have nightmares

Having trouble sleeping because of horrible, horrible nightmares? Help is at hand from an unlikely source: violent video games. According to New Scientist, soldiers who regularly play videogames involving war and combat have less frightening dreams than soldiers who don't. Jayne Gackenbach of Grant MacEwaan University in Canada suggest that playing games may act as a "threat simulator", a way of helping the mind cope with scary dreams.

Deadspace 2

SWEET DREAMS: Violent games don't stop nightmares, but they may make them seem less scary [Image credit: EA]

So does it work with non-soldiers? Weird Tech's 3-year-old daughter has the odd scary dream, so we sat her down in front of Dead Space 2 for a couple of hours. She - and Weird Tech - hasn't slept since.

Smile like you mean it

Geminoid-DK doesn't just go into the Uncanny Valley: the humanoid robot drives right into it, parks in the middle and pitches a tent. That's entirely deliberate, because computer scientist Henrik Scharfe's look-alike is "a robot built to look exactly like me." It's the third Geminoid robot to be built, the first non-Japanese one and the first with a beard, and creator Hiroshi Ishiguro has built it to creep out adults and frighten small children - we mean, carry out research into "emotional affordances in human-robot interaction".

The good news? Geminoid-DK has no legs, so he can't chase you around the place.

Yet.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Contributor

Former lion tamer, Girls Aloud backing dancer and habitual liar Gary Marshall (Twitter, Google+) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to .net, MacFormat, Tap! and Official Windows Magazine as well as co-writing stacks of how-to tech books. "My job is to cut through the crap," he says. "And there's a lot of crap."