News articles search results by J. Micah Grunert
Windows Home Server is now in the hands of manufacturers, scheduled for a fall product release.
It should have happened years ago; the release of a simple server OS for the masses. Finally, the entire family can back-up their files to the home server, use it to stream music, and store those gobs of digital photos.
Microsoft has just released to manufacturers their Microsoft Home Server OS. This step comes roughly one month after Microsoft had released a candidate version of the new OS to testers. Over 100,000 people have tested what has been touted as the "coolest version of Windows ever", according to Windows Home Server Manager Charlie Kindel. Microsoft Home Server can be used on any home network to store music, files, photos, to provide backup storage for PCs connected, and allow for remote access from anywhere in the world.
Based upon Windows Server 2003, it will be available as a standalone OEM software package. It should be compatible with most every piece of hardware out there, though Microsoft does recommend a 64-bit processor (for optimal performance), though 32-bit will do. Gigabit Lan Ports would sweeten the deal, though of course, many of us still get by on 10/100 base connections.
"It started with a vision that an always available device on the home network was an essential ingredient of a Microsoft platform for the home," said Kindel. "At first there was only one of us, then three, then five... We put together a plan for a plan and executed. The result was an ambitious, yet pragmatic product plan that would deliver real value to consumers."
The HP MediaServer, wrapped up in a very nice case.
Scheduled for a tentative release date of "early fall, late September and early October", there are a number of manufacturer on-board for the launch. Some of worthy mention are Fujitsu-Siemens, Gateway, Iomega LaCie and Medion. But HP will be leading the charge with its MediaSmart Server, running with an AMD 64 processor and 750GB of storage space. Of course, many of us would probably want a terabyte or more of space.
"We'll keep moving forward," said Windows Home Server Senior Product Manager Joel Sider. "There will certainly be future versions of WHS."
Though pricing has yet to be announced, most would place the starting price of Windows based home servers like this at around $800 USD plus. Seems a little steep since you can throw together a pile of parts to build a Linux based server on the cheap. And will Wondows Home Server handle BotTorrent seeding?
It can only be described as mouthwatering music.
Though the tone and tambour of the Simpson's music is near universal is it appeal, this one's sure to please.
Hmmm . . . stammped audio donut . . . with sprinkles . . .
(Insert sound of Homer drooling here.)
Crafted as a case for the new Simpson's Movie soundtrack (hitting theaters this July 27th, just over a week from now), this donut CD case will probably have more than a couple people trying to take a bite or two. Available for pre-order from Amazon, the CD contains the entire movie soundtrack as composed by Hans Zimmer. The donut disc case will hit store shelves come July 31st.
All I need now is a six-pack of Duff beer to wash it down.
A new e-waste recycling program being launched by the B.C. Government may not constitute recycling.
Will British Columbia really start recycling old computers?
A new e-waste recycling program being launched by the B.C. Government may not constitute recycling.
In this day and age of environmental awareness and reconstitution of reusable materials, it seems odd that immolation could be considered a form of recycling. To put it ever so bluntly; is incineration akin to recycling?
What once was hot, is now enkinkled in toxic flame!
Apparently it is according to the Government of British Columbia, Canada. Starting August 1st, a program being launched by the Electronics Stewardship Association of B.C. (an industry led coalition of 16 tech giants such as Apple and Sony) will have a number of Encorp Pacific Canada's Return-It bottle depots accepting four categories of consumer electronics waste; TV sets, computers, printers and monitors. Funding for the new project will be made possible by a fee of $5 to $15 dollars levied upon the purchase of new electronics goods (an environmental fee akin to the purchase of hazardous chemicals to help fund their disposal services). Supposedly, many of the public would believe that when presented with the term recycling, that said materials would be recycled.
But, and I emphasize the word 'but', simply having these old consumer electronics materials carted off to an smelter in trail is ever so head scratching. In fact, a number of individuals and organizations already involved in the safe and efficient recycling of computers and electronics say that irresponsible, misguided and deceptive. One such group for the Seattle, Washington environmental group Basel Action Network says B.C.’s plan for electronics is misguided, and is virtually the equivalent to doing nothing at all. Sarah Westervelt, e-waste project director for the Basel group, had said that instead of polluting lands fills with toxic waste, they'll be polluting the air instead by burning these old electronics.
As many may already know, electronic devices (computers, TV's, printers, cell phones, batteries, VCR's, DVD players, hair dryers, etc.) contain large amounts of toxic elements such as lead and mercury (a large CRT television or monitor can contain several pounds worth). Furthermore, there are other materials from older electronics that pose even greater harm to humans and the environment. PCB's, dioxins, and some types of plastics can be of incredibly harmful when burned. Case in point, types of urethane base plastics. These plastics are widely used and very long lasting. But when burned, can create cyanide as a byproduct.
“If the only two choices were to put it in a landfill or put it in a smelter...that’s a toss up.” Sarah Westervelt had added, “That’s why programs need to be set up that are both convenient and also have very high standards for recycling and encourage reuse and refurbishment in a responsible way.” She also feels that because of the simple convenience of the supposed recycling program, people will simply take any and all of there old electronics to one of these recycling depots, regardless of wither they work or not. California has taken an almost palled approach to B.C.'s e-waste program when these materials are simply incinerated in a smelter or buried in a landfill. Furthermore, there is a lot of natural gas uses to fuel smelters; an energy resource that could obviously be put to better use.
When asked to address the issue, B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner was defensive, simply saying that something needs to be done.
“The majority of used electronics today are ending up in our landfills,” Penner said. “Traditional television sets contain up to five to eight pounds of lead and mercury per unit. As that lead and mercury breaks down and gets into our landfills, it seeps into the water table and as you know, lead and mercury are highly toxic to the natural environment and poses a threat to drinking water for those communities that draw their water from an aquifer.” Lead, mercury and copper will be reclaimed through the smelting process, except fort the portion that escapes into the atmosphere and into our air.
Perhaps Penner isn't aware of how during the 1970's, there was a issue regarding high levels of lead being found in children. Turns out that it was the lead being added to gasoline (an anti-ping, anti-pre-ignition agent) that was responsible. The lead laden exhaust would drift up into the clouds, be absorbed by the moisture within, fall to the earth as leaded rain, hydrate the grass in the fields, the cows would eat the leaded grass, and produce milk with noticeable quantities of lead within. We still use the term 'Leaded Gas', but lead is no longer used for this reason.
Although Penner Minister does acknowledge there might be a market for used electronics, those end-of-life products will be sent to a smelter in Trail “rather than dumping the TVs in landfills or sending them off to China to have children tear them apart with a hammer under unsafe conditions.”
But there's always an alternative, as indicated by Richmond’s Giles Slade, author of Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America. He said that B.C.'s new recycling program is nothing more than “greenwashing,” a cosmetic solution that convinces people they are doing something.
“I think the manufacturers acting by themselves to take care of this problem is really dangerous basically because they’re trying to pre-empt (any environmental charges being drawn up against them)...and the fact that they’ve chosen to do it in what seems to be a really irresponsible way, a smelter, seems to indicate that if there’s no restriction on them, they’ll go the cheapest and most convenient route." Slade noted, “So I don’t know who’s going to benefit from this, except for the electronics industry which will have a mechanism in place to make the claim that they’re dealing with e-waste.” He further noted that by 2011, an estimated 20 million analog television sets in Canada will become obsolete when Canadian broadcasting turns completely digital, “so there’s going to be an awful lot of e-waste.”
Bojan Paduh, of the Electronics Recycling Association of Alberta, said that B.C.’s new program will effectively kill the reuse and refurbishing of old consumer electronics, especially that of computers.
“What our organization’s been trying to do in B.C. is convince Encorp...to allow companies like us to have access to this equipment to remove working parts, components, working monitors, working laptops and servers and they’ve said no. If indeed this program is about recycling then this should be not even a question.”
“(This electronics recycling program) is not really environmental protection because smelting this equipment is actually even more hazardous for our environment than burying it in landfills,” Paduh said.
Since this recycling program is being run by industry, he said it’s “against their best interest to allow this equipment to go into other people’s hands when their goal is to sell it and to sell as much of it as they can.”
Edward Wu, owner of Surrey-based Electronics-recycling.com, has been in the recycling business for some 15 years and processes 10,000 tonnes of electronics annually. Surprisingly, some 90 per cent of the equipment he collects still works, he said. He is obviously concerned that this new e-waste recycling program will have an impact upon his business when Encorp is handed their electronics recycling monopoly.
“It’s a very beautifully designed plot. It’s a money game. All the big companies...they support this program. The reason: they don’t want anything reused...If somebody doesn’t need this, they don’t even want (them) to sell (it) second hand. They want to limit choice, because then they can sell more new stuff...”
A colleague in the business of computer and electronics recycling, Ali Hussain (founded the Vancouver Computer Literacy Society, a non-profit organization that works with the public and private sector to deal with surplus and obsolete electronics), of Rayz Computer Recycling on Annacis Island, added that the new program will take the wind out of businesses like his, which tests monitors and computer towers by the hundreds for refurbishment and reuse for places such as schools, charitable organizations and the like.
“We’d like to be able to go through the stuff,” he said in reference to Encorp’s collections.
His company ships used electronics to clients in Colombia, Tanzania, Uganda, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan.
“Canada is a very rich country and we are disposing on a daily basis some very, very high end equipment. Some people in these other countries would love to have our garbage. That’s how it is. One man’s treasure is another man’s junk.”
When Encorp was asked about the allowance for some individuals and or businesses to sift through some of the collected e-waste for reuse or refurbishing, Malcolm Harvey, communications consultant with Encorp Pacific, disputed Wu's claim that some 90% of e-waste is still functional, suggesting that the figure is closer to 5% still in working order.
Regardless of who says what, I think that most all can agree that the burning of this e-waste is thoroughly irresponsible. There are a number of far more environmentally sound methods of e-waste disposal. Refurbishing old electronics and computers for resale and reuse seems the most obvious of course. Another method involves grinding the old electronics into fine particles. Those particles are then mixed with small plastic beads of different sizes. The whole mixture in then dumped into a tank, water is added, and the constituents vibrated. Different materials will settle out at different layers, easily reclaimed for recycling.
After trying to undermine OLPC efforts with their Classmate PC, Intel has decided to join in.
The market was always there, though wholly neglected by major corporation's for the lack of profitability within. But when Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop Per Child project started using AMD processors in his charitable computing endeavors, Intel struck back by launching their Classmate PC. The Classmate became the direct competitor with the OLPC XO laptop, slowly building market share in developing countries throughout the world. And with the force of Intel marketers selling their Classmate to the third world, it became evident that Intel was simply trying to make a profit.
Intel Classmate left, OLPC XO right.
Negroponte had said back in May that Intel "should be ashamed of itself" for trying to undermine his efforts in charitable computing. Though the OLPC XO currently sells for about $175 USD, the Intel Classmate is selling for over $200 each in lots of ten, despite the Classmate consisting of hardware that costs a shade over $400 dollars US. Intel is taking an initial loss on the Classmate, most likely to gain initial market share. Also, the Intel Classmate is only being sold in the same launch countries as the OLPC.
But now, Intel has struck a deal with the OLPC project to provide Intel processors to future revisions of OLPC laptops. The announcement came with little fanfare and even less press, though it is a welcome one.
"What happened in the past has happened," Will Swope of Intel said. "But going forward, this allows the two organizations to go do a better job and have a better impact for what we are both very eager to do, which is help kids around the world."
Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC founder, responded: "Intel joins the OLPC board as a world leader in technology, helping reach the world's children. Collaboration with Intel means that the maximum number of laptops will reach children."
This new deal will have Intel joining the ranks of 11 other companies contributing to the OLPC project. Among those are Google, RedHat, and rival chip builder AMD.
"Intel's apparent change of heart is welcome, and we're sure they can make a positive contribution to this very worthy project for the benefit of children all over the world," read a statement from AMD.
Again, the OLPC laptops will continue to use AMD processors, but the servers to which the OLPC laptops will be backed up to will be running Intel processors. The deal also provides some benefit to software developers too. If there is to be a collaboration between OLPC and Intel, then it would be expected that the OS and applications applied to those two different systems will become cross platform.
"Any software you build is going to run at least on our two platforms," said Swope.
A cost analysis of the OLPC XO.
So far, a number of countries around the world are able to purchase the OLPC XO laptop in lots of 250,000 at $176 US each. In time though, the price of the XO should drop into the $100 dollar or less range. The Intel Classmate currently sells for over $200 USD.
Scientists have proven that one extrasolar planet out does in fact have water within its atmosphere.
Scientists and astronomers have discovered about 236 extrasolar plants drifting about the darkened depths of space, but until now, none have ever found a single planet beyond our solar system that holds the key ingredient to life as we know it.
Water . . . $3.75 per 450ml bottle.
By using NASA's Spitzer Telescope, a group of international researchers confirmed that the planet HD189733b (let's call it Water World) defiantly does have H20 present in its atmosphere. The planet is a gas giant, about 15 percent larger than Jupiter, living in the constellation of Vulpecula, which is a mere 63 light years away from Earth.
The research team, led by Giovanna Tinetti, an ESA (European Space Agency) fellow from the Institute d'Astrophysique de Paris and University College London (UCL), noticed that HD189733b absorbs the starlight of its parent sun when passing in front of it. This can only be explain by the presence of water vapor in its atmosphere. Though this method of detecting water on extrasolar planets by measuring the wave length of light emitted as the planet passes in front of the star has been proposed before. Quite recently, the suggestion that there may have been water on another planet was endorsed (yet not wholly confirmed) by this methodology of observing the differences in the light absorbed in the infrared spectrum. You can read that article here.
HD189733b didn't want to be photographed,
so all we have is this artists conception.
But we shouldn't expect HD189733b to be teeming with tiny and or intelligent alien life. In comparison to our own solar system, Jupiter is 5 times the distance from our sun than Earth is. HD189733b is over 30 times closer to its sun than Earth is to ours. Naturally, this makes this planet a very hot place.
It's an exciting discovery, but one that came with a great deal of time and effort involved. The orbiting Spitzer telescope took a number of readings at several key wavelengths throughout the infrared spectrum. One all the figures were in, then they were able to determine that water was present. A large part of the discovery can be credited to Bob Barber and Professor Jonathan Tennyson, also from UCL who developed a number of models and formulas to indicate the presence of water through spectral analysis.
"Although HD189733b is far from being habitable, and is actually quite a hostile environment, our discovery shows how water might be common out there and how our method can be used in the future to study more life-friendly environments," Tinetti, who is taking up a prestigious STFC (Science and Technology Facilities Council) Aurora Fellowship at UCL to study atmospheric signatures and biosignatures on planets beyond our solar system, was quoted as saying.
"Initial data included over 500 million individual absorption features and from this we calculated the absorption parameters. Each feature is unique, like a fingerprint, and provides vital clues about the amount of water present and the temperature of the atmosphere," said Barber.
Professor Keith Mason, CEO of the STFC, said that this is the first conclusive evidence of the presence of water vapor in the atmosphere of a planet beyond our own solar system. This will help to provide "an exciting breakthrough in our knowledge of extra-solar planets,". And perhaps someday, it will help us to discover life beyond the stars.
Take one iPod, add one bolt of lightning, and you've got a recipe for disaster.
Certainly, most of use have heard those suggestions of not playing golf, climbing a tree, or standing next to metal objects during an electrical storm. Case in point; my father will quite often disconnect his amateur radio gear during lightning storm. The 8 meter wire antenna on our roof makes a pretty good electron magnet. The copper J-Pole antenna (copper pipe rigged up to look like the letter 'J') gets great electrical reception.
But add a new one to the list. Doctors are warning people of the risks involved with stereo equipment zapped by lightening. Published in this week's New England Journal of medicine (under the title of 'Thunderstorms and iPods — Not a Good iDea') are the medical accountings of a 37 year old Vancouver, B.C. man who was shocked senseless by a bolt from the blue whilst jogging. Eric Heffernan, Peter Munk, and Luck Louis from Vancouver General Hospital report in the journal that the jogger in question was a meer 2.4 meters from a tree during his jog when a bolt had hit the tree and arced over to him.
Though it did happen in the summer of 2005, both of the joggers eardrums were ruptured and his jaw fractured by the blow. Apparently, the massive electrical surge was enough to have the ear buds explode under the force of the electrical pressure. He also suffered first and second degree burns on his chest, right beneath where his iPod was located. And with electricities nasty habit of wanting to return to ground, he also suffered burns upon his legs and feet. His jogging shoes were blown to pieces. To detail somewhat further, perforated tympanic membranes (eardrums) was only part of the injury to his ears. The man suffered dislocation of the tiny bones in the middle ear known as the ossicles, which conduct sound to the cochlea of the inner ear.
"I knew it! Steve Jobs is God! Betcha Microsoft can't do that."
Subsequent surgical procedures were required to patch his eardrums with small tissue grafts. His jaw also needed to be reset as it was dislocated from both joints by the force of the blast and broken in four places. Unfortunately, due to the extent of damage to his jaw, it is quite likely the man will develop some form of arthritis in it at a earlier than normal age.
The man now has about 50 per cent hearing loss in both ears and wears two hearing aids to assist. Heffernan said. He no longer plays in the church orchestra because of his hearing loss. It's quite likely too that he either cranks up to volume one his iPod, doesn't have one any more, or caved in and bought a Zune.
"There are probably many notes he can't hear," Heffernan added.
But not to blame the iPod fr this, as it in no way attracted the lightning strike. It did make hi injuries worse though.
"Although the use of a device such as an iPod may not increase the chances of being struck by lightning, in this case, the combination of sweat and metal earphones directed the current to, and through, the patient's head," the doctors wrote.
Heffernan, one of the doctors who attended, had said in an interview noted that this man's experience should provide a cautionary tale for anyone wearing earphones outdoors during a thunderstorm.
"Using things like this, a mobile phone or an iPod, there isn't actually an increased risk (of incurring a lightning injury)," he said from Vancouver. "But we just suggest that if you are unlucky enough to be hit by lightning while listening to anything with earphones, you may be more likely to do yourself some damage."
And expert in the field lightning strikes and their effects upon people chimed in on the subject. "Metal doesn't attract lightning and there is very little metal in iPods anyway," said Dr. Mary Ann Cooper, an emergency-room physician and medical professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. "But once electricity contacts the iPod, then the metal will conduct the electricity and can cause secondary burns, as this gentleman had to his chest underneath where the iPod was and up where the wires went up into his ears, and possibly even cause enough muscle contraction that either caused the jaw fracture or perhaps he fell forward onto his jaw."
What ever the case for this fellows injuries, he's one lucky guy, living to tell the tale. Perhaps Steve Jobs would read this and be moved to the point to give this fellow a brand new iPod, or maybe an iPhone. Just make sure it's one with a big surge protector built in.
What if Nintendo developed a new Wii controller that you could use with your feet?
Though I haven't played it much, the Nintendo Wii and its nunchuck controller is pretty sweet.
But what if Nintendo created a new device which works wih your feet?
Apparantly they have.
I guess some people do need video games to help them exercise.
The 'Balance Board' which was introduced at E3 is a new control system for the like of aerobics games, sking, skateboarding and the like.
Currently, the onyl title liked to the 'Balance Board' is Wii Fit, somewhat like Wii Sports but more of an actual workout. I would wager though that the Tony Hawk skateboarding francise is racing to develop a title to take advantage of this new control system. So is 'Dance Dance Revolution'.
You can also watch the E3 video presentation here.
Looks pretty cool, and it could get even more kids up off the couch.
Sick and tired of the iPhone? Me too, but seeing one in a blender is kinda neat.
Yeah, we've all seen the iPhone; it's a phone, it's a portable computer, it's a web brower, it's a time machine. Well, maybe not that last one, but seeing an iPhone whipping and crashing around in a blender at 300 MPH was pretty neat. And all of it is thanks to the diligent researchers at Blendtec, a research firm that dares to ask the one burning question . . . will it blend.
Kids, don't try this at home.
See for youself, just click here.
Sweet! That looks like one tasety Apple Smoothie. And if you really want to, you can bid on the micronized reminants of the departed on ebay.
I wonder if shipping isurance is offered?
It may be up to $380 bucks already, but at least shipping is free.
Hmmm, I wonder if Blendtec could blend up some of my old Windows CDs?
It's not overheating killing your 360, but that surge protector you have it plugged into. This according to Microsoft.
My brother had his Xbox 360 suffer the red ring of death syndrome, and he was lucky enough to get it replaced under the extended warranty coverage he opted for when he originally bought it. The fight with the store over getting the warranty serviced is another matter all together.
But the have been some conflicting reports as to what's killing all of those Microsoft consoles out there.
Wait, Microsoft has the answer! It's surge protectors! Of course, why didn't I think of that!
The Xbox 360 is highly sensitive to reductions in power, and even the slightest cut in power can cause things like the fans and even the DVD laser to malfunction. Surge protectors can cause this, and probably 90% of the consoles they see have all failed in 6-12 months of being plugged into a surge protector.
So I guess that according to Microsoft, the Xbox 360 is a sensitive piece of hardware, subject to damage and or destruction when incurring power dips, momentary cuts, and surges in electrical feed. My computer is even more sensitive, and despite having to run Windows on it, it's been running perfectly for several years now.
Shocking, isn't it?
Tech support at Microsoft (New Delhi, India) have been saying that poor surge protectors are killing the consoles. Never mind the warrantied Xbox's being returned with new fan-dangled heat-sinks on the chips, it's that surge protector. They're starting to recommend that users run their consoles straight from the wall outlet, sans surge protection. Oddly enough, a quick phone call to my local power company brought about the discover that they don't have a surge protector on their power grid. They still suffer from power surges and spikes, brown outs, and haven't yet been able to control lightning strikes (or so they say).
There is one simple technical brief from Microsoft, but it's essentially an on-line user manual. Thus far, they have provided no creditable evidence to support this claim of bad surge protectors killing consoles.
Now comes the fun part.
I have some measure of experience in physics and electronics, and this sounds of complete rubbish to me. Here's why . . .
First, surge protectors will only prevent power surges while doing nothing for power spikes. A surge protector uses a current limiting diode to limit the amount of current being routed through the power bar. Typically, it's 110 Volts at 15 Amps of current. If the current flow should exceed the current limit of the 17 AMP diode in the surge protector, then the diode will pop and will not allow for anymore electricity to pass through.
Secondly, it's not the responsibility of the outlet or the power bar to regulate the current, but that of the power adapter for the Xbox (the power cube on the cord and or the power supply inside the system). If the power supply for the Xbox can't handle a momentary dip or surge in current flow, then there's something horribly wrong with its design. This can be substantiated by the fact that the original Xbox console had a recall of its power cords due to faulty construction causing fires.
Third, and this ones a doosy, shouldn't the companies that make the surge protector power bars be held responsible for these damages? All of the companies that make surge protectors offer a warranty on any attached device, whether it be a PC, an Xbox, or a lamp, it doesn't matter. But if these power bars are really to blame, should we be seeing a rash of dead PC's and Home Theater equipment going up in flames due to one faulty brand of surge protector? We haven't seen that yet.
Fourth, and this would make Microsoft look pretty foolish, could not an experiment be preformed to determine the exact cause of Xbox 360 failures? There is an electrical device call Constant Voltage Transformer (CVT). It's a type of transformer (like the big metal boxes in you neighborhood) that will deliver a constant voltage and current flow at its specified rating. It takes some experience, but one could always get a CVT rated for 110 Volts at 15 Amp's of current (or whatever the 360 is rated for) and run a 360 in this controlled state. Furthermore, by using a small bit of climate control (namely Air Conditioning and Humidity control) an Xbox could be run flat out until point of failure. Was it the hot chips, or the perfect electrical source that killed it.
Fifth, and this is something few ever consider, is the electrical infrastructure at Microsoft. Many large corporations will have their own power substations installed, and these will provide near perfect electricity. Furthermore, the hardware development labs where the 360 was designed and tested are bathed in cool AC air to keep them at a delightful 21 or 22 Degrees Celsius. A Home Entertainment center is not. Microsoft most likely never tested the 360 in real world conditions, just under laboratory control.
And for my sixth and final point, could Microsoft please tell us what brands of surge protector power bars to avoid? If they're certain of the cause, then it is their obligation to inform their customers as to the roots of that cause. Or would saying which brand of power bar is responsible get Microsoft sued?
Seeing bones and skeletons in WoW is one thing, but airbrushing them out is another.
Personally, I've never been disturbed by the scenes of my digital protagonist plunging his trusty chainsaw into the torso of some hapless victim walking by. But I do feel sick to my stomach every time I see pixelated images of bones and or unearthed skeletons in a grave yard. I just can't look!
End Sarcasm Here.
But apparently, those images of dusty old calcium sticks full of dessicated marrow are too much for the likes of some people on China. Any spare ribs, skulls, ulnas, femurs, (you name 'em) have been airbrushed out of the game and replaced with the far more tasteful of neatly kept grave with weeping widow in front. "Oh Asarock, why dids't thou not use thine Ice Sword when battling the Fire Mage, oh why?"
Thank goodness for that my boney buddy.
An unnamed spokesman (hopefully not one from Blizzard) had said in reference that the changes were made to suit ‘China's particular situation and relevant regulations’ and to promote a ‘healthy and harmonious on-line environment’.
Of course! No one has ever seen bones before, so bones in video games would be deplorable.
And in the true spirit of gaming geekdom, if you tick off a gamer, they will get up of out their chairs to do something. Gamers in China have been waiting some time to play the latest installment of WoW, The Burning Crusade, and 500 of them thus far have signed an on line petition stating that they will refuse to play the de-boned game.
Maybe some one will develop a WoW mod that turns all of the players into skeletons. How would they like that?
Could Japanese cars run off a type of seaweed,, or possibly rice?
With the price of crude, and inevitably the price of gas soaring to amazing new heights, it's not uncommon for people to look towards alternate fuel sources. There's bio-diesel in the form of filtered and refined deep fat fryer oil. And yes, the exhaust will smell like French Fries (or whatever was cooked in it). Ethanol fuel has been making great strides, especially in Canada. The vast prairie provinces up north are home to expansive fields of wheat, some of which goes towards human consumption, some towards the production of ethanol for fuel enrichment. The U.S. is following the same suit, but using corn instead.
Odd as it seems, there may be yet another alternative swimming of the coast of Japan. The Tokyo University of Marine Science and Tech is launching a pilot project to grow Seawood, which is a type of seaweed in the shoal (a.k.a. sandbar or sandbank) of Yamatotai for experiments involving bio-ethanol. The shoal in question is quite large (30,000 kilometers wide) and will hold 10,000 square plots of Seawood.
"What is Sargassum Fulvellum, better known as Seawood."
That won me a cool grand on Jeopardy last week.
Initial estimates have suggested that for 10,000 square meters of Seawood that will be grown upon floating nets, 20 kiloliters (20 million liters) of bio-ethanol will be produced. It has been projected that if the project sees success, then a third of all the cars in Japan could run this alternative fuel source. Considering that Japan has a population of 127,433,494 people and roughly 50,336,230 cars on their roads, having 17 million of those vehicles converted to run bio-ethanol is quite the under taking.
However, if the the project should fail to produce a sustainable amount of fuel, then there are alternatives involving high yield rice. This high yield rice isn't suitable for human consumption, and is generally tuned into animal feed. But, this rice can be fermented o produce more bio-ethanol. After all, rice is where Saki comes from.
But as it it is with most alternative fuel sources, no one really takes the time to consider the infrastructure and resources required to produce said fuel source. Take hydrogen fuel for example. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are incredibly clean an quite efficient. There is the initiative in California to have more hydrogen fuel cell based vehicles on their roads to help curb smog and CO2 emissions. But few have ever considered that in order to create the hydrogen (a simple matter of using electrolysis to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen) large amounts of electricity are needed. In California, a lot of their electrical power comes the Hoover dam in Nevada right next door, but a great amount comes from oil and gas fired electrical power plants, which are not nearly as efficient as a car engine in terms of emission standards.
As for the Seawood, there would be that initial phase of using fossil fuels to begin the fermentation process, but once started and production is underway, then a portion of the bio-ethanol produced would be used to continue the production process. There is also the matter of how ethanol is far less stable than gasoline. Because of the additives, gasoline can last years (or a decade plus) if properly stored in a cool and dry environment. Ethanol on the other hand, despite even the most stringent processing and storage procedures, will only last 2 to 4 weeks. If more countries are to move towards an ethanol based fuel rather than our conventional oil based fuels, then new storage techniques and immediate use of the ethanol becomes of greater importance.
And I bet you thought that the ethanol enriched gas you bought for your car was better?
VIA has ust launched a simple PC for the South African market.
For years, VIA was the near undisputed king of the South bridge chipset market. But, as it is with the tech industry, the likes of Intel, NVIDIA, and AMD saw potential profit margins floating away. It's pretty hard to find any mainstream motherboard now a days that sports a VIA chipset, though VIA still designs and manufacturers a number of chips and processors (yes, VIA makes processors). And now, VIA has set its sights on the third world PC market
The Mecer Eduction PC for South Africa
The Mecer Education PC is a low power consumption computer that is making its way into the South African PC market. Though the specs won't impress most of us, it is perhaps the basis of what ones first computer should be.
Operating System & Software
- Genuine Microsoft® Windows Vista™ Home Premium (XP will probably work too)
- Supports Linux Kernel 2.6.x (there are Penguins in South Africa, really!)
- Designed for emerging markets
- Highly power-efficient VIA pc2500 processor
- Form Factor: Micro-ATX (260mm x 210mm)
- Processor: VIA 1.5GHz C7-D CPU
- Chipset: VIA CN700 + VIA VT8237R+
- Memory: 2 x DDRII slot, support up to 2G DDRII 400/533, dual channel
- Hard Disk drive: 3.5” IDE / SATA
- Optical Drive: 5.25” IDE
- Front Panel Ports: 1x VGA, 1x USB 2.0 (line-out, line-in & mic), 4x PS2, 2x Audio Jacks
- Power Supply: 180W
- Operating Temp: 0º-50ºC
- Dimensions: 345mm x 136mm x 355mm
- Weight: 5.9kg
- Peripherals: PS2 Keyboard / PS2 Optical Mouse
Certainly, it's not a power house PC, but it is a start. There's been no hint as to pricing as of yet, but one would hope that it wouldn't break the $500 dollar US price tag. Currently, a farm worker in South Africa receives a wage that is just over $100 USD per month. Basic blue collar might see $150 USD per month, and higher level positions could reach up to $250 USD per month.
It is an emerging market, and could present some level of competition for the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project. Another interesting note upon the Mecer Education PC is its low power consumption features. Currently, the electrical power infrastructure in South Africa is quite sensitive. High demand and limited supply makes for a somewhat less than stable power grid. VIA has yet to release any figures on overall system power draw, but it would probably be relatively low, depending of course upon the type of monitor used. The Mecer Education PC does run off a 180W power supply.
Mecer is one of the largest PC retailers in the South African region. The entered that market way back in 1987, having grown since to serve all of Africa as the leading IT and PC distributor in that country.
Did MediaDefender bait a Honey Pot full of movies to catch Bit Torrent users?
It's an explosion of comic copyright calamity out there!
There's no doubt that the MPAA is ticked when it comes to people downloading their movies from the web, whether it be over P2P or through Bit Torrent portals. But for someone to leave a Honey Pot of full length feature movie Torrents out there on the grand old Interweb, that's just wrong.
Typically, a Honey Pot is a dummy computer that entices a hacker to peek a little further. Unfortunately, the hacker isn't aware that this system they're cracking is being monitored by the IT police, just waiting to catch the techno thieves red handed.
There was, until very recently, a Torrent site by the name of MiiMi. This site offered full length movies downloads over your favorite Bit Torrent client, with the provision that users download and install a small app to help accelerate the download process. But when some curious folks started to dissect this software, they had found that it was scanning the users system for any and all illegal media files and or pirated software. This data was then streamed back to MiiMi. Further digging (a simple WhoIs domain registry search) revealed that MiiMi was in fact registered to MediaDefender, a company that provides copyright protection and investigation services to the likes of the RIAA and possibly MPAA.
Of course, the site has since been pulled, but this incident is not without concern for those involved. MediaDefender claims that they were simply testing an internal distribution method for copyrighted movies. In the process, they had forgotten to password protect that system. MediaDefender's Randy Saaf had said that the company does own the domain to MiiMi, but that the claims of entrapment are completely made up."MediaDefender was working on an internal project that involved video and didn't realize that people would be trying to go to it and so we didn't password-protect the site," Saaf said. "It was just an oversight from that perspective. This was not an entrapment site, and we were not working with the MPAA on it. In fact, the MPAA didn't even know about it."
It was also said that MediaDefender had removed their contact details from their domain registry information as they were concerned about potential hacker attacks and or "people sending us spam." in retaliation.
The MPAA's Elizabeth Kaltman also added that they had no involvement with MiiVi what so ever."The Media Defender story is false. We have no relationship with that company at all,".
Perhaps we'll never come to know the whole truth of the matter, but one thing is for certain, it's an old trick. The RIAA has sent out Spoof and Decoy files in the past to try and tempt P2P users, usually resulting in a nasty letter being sent that offers a settlement deal as opposed to a lawsuit. In fact, MediaDefender states on their website (here), under the 'P2P Anti-Piracy' tab that Spoofing and Decoys are one of the tools in their arsenal of copyright protection.
But if I may be allowed to exercise some of my modest legal knowledge here; shouldn't MediaDefender be taken to court and sued senseless by the MPAA?
They claimed that MiiMi was an internal test system that unfortunately, wasn't password protected. Said site offered these Torrents to users, and the EULA for that software they installed most likely never made mention of scanning the users hard drive for illegal content. Furthermore; because it has been stated by both MediaDefender and the MPAA that there was no amount of collaboration in this incident, is not MediaDefender now liable for copyright infringement by illegally offering copyrighted content to others without the expressed permission of the original copyright holder, that being the MPAA?
I rest my case.
A massive CyberAttack aginst Estonia spawns the first team of CyberSoldiers.
Do you know where Estonia is? Probably not. But for reference, it lives right next door to Russia, a Russia that may have launch a massive CyberAttack against the smaller nation back in the month of May. Of course, there's no definitive proof that Russia was or was not responsible for the DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack that had crippled the country's' Cyber infrastructure. It is suspected that the attack was brought forth when the Estonian Government removed a statue of a Russian soldier from one of their landmarks.
"Condition Red people, Service Pack Two just crashed the mainframe, someone hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete, quick!"
In response, the US Government is pulling together a team of digital sleuths that will travel to Estonia and their IT techs to analyze the mountains of digital data generated by the attack. They will also help those IT folks to better prepare their systems to thwart future attacks. These CyberSoldiers will help to defend the world against future DDoS attacks, and perhaps improve Internet security overall.
But, and right from the pages of the 2008 Hollywood summer blockbuster movie line up, the US Government is setting up a new organization called 'Cyber Command'. This group will help to prevent future attacks and develop methods to route data flow throughout the nations infrastructure to avoid new DNS threats.
"Would you like to play a game? Heh heh!"
Although few residents within Estonia were affected directly by the attack, it could be regarded as the first 'CyberWar' between nations. "This may well turn out to be a watershed in terms of widespread awareness of the vulnerability of modern society," said Linton Wells II, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration at the Pentagon.
It was also an indication that in the face of such a computerized catastrophe, that international collaboration and assistance can help stem the tide of digital destruction. When the attacks had begun, Estonia was able to contact many other NATO members for input and assistance into the matter. Though no significant harm was done, it was never the less a valuable learning experience.
"Wait a second . . . this isn't Solitare . . ."
And not to be out done, US President George W. Bush had said that this incident could help him to "learn a lot" about CyberSecurity. He further praised Estonia's President Toomas Hendrik IIves for sharing the valuable data generated from the attack with his US counterparts and other around the world. "Thank you for your clear understanding of the dangers that imposes not only on your country, but mine and others as well," he told Ilves.
Maybe they should consider a better firewall ;-)
A company is hard at work developing the technology for cheap and efficient 3-D displays. I want one!
Again, it's science fiction becoming science fact. And in this case, it's one of the most pervasive aspects of science fiction that is slowly, and hopefully, becoming a reality. Immersing 3-D displays have always looked cool in the movies and on television, but haven't made an appearance in the real world as of yet. There is however a company that has just announced that they may have a functional working prototype by the end of summer 2007. Hey, that's just in a couple of months!
A research team at MIT, under the guiding tutelage and watchful eye of Michael Bove (MIT Media Labs Consumer Electronics Division director), are busy working on a 3-D holographic imaging system that could be made cheaply available to the public. Known as the 'Mark III', this system is expected to be fully functional by the end of summer 2007. When the next couple months have lapsed, we may have the first glimpse of a 3-D holographic display.
A holographic 3-D modulator. Couldn't you tell?
The system uses a series of laser that are guided through a number of lenses, holographic optical elements, and a moving mirror. The moving mirror takes the laser light and rasterizes it. By rastering the light source, it simply breaks up the light source into a series of scan lines. This light is then viewed though a holographic diffuser panel to give the illusion of depth within the image. Unfortunately, it's nothing like floating images that break apart into floating pixels every time you touch it, those pixels then drifting back into place. The system projects its image onto a piece of fogged glass to provide the hologram. Currently, the 'Mark III' system produces monochromatic images at a size of 8 cubic centimeters.
This technology has been in development for some time now, and has of course made some significant evolutionary steps. The earlier 'Mark I' and 'Mark II' systems were the size of a dinner table, and produced very poor images. They also used specialized hardware to encode/decode the video signal for interpretation by the holographic emitter. The 'Mark III' system uses off the shelf PC hardware in conjunction with the developed software. Once some of the kinks are worked out with the 'Mark III' system, they'll begin work on a 'Mark IV' unit that will have a true color display and larger viewing area. Some years from now, the system may simply replicate that of a conventional LCD display, but with a 3-Dimensional aspect to the image being displayed.
Gamers will obviously love this, and the indication that this system will only cost a few hundred bucks in the end, would mark it quite the comparable option to an LCD. There would also be the obvious benefits to both the scientific community and industrial/manufacturing sector. Doctors could better interpret the images from say a patients MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan if it were represented in 3-D. Researchers could easily explore the compounds of the material sciences without the need for specialized glasses and such. Industry could improve product design and iron out production issues right from the desktop. There are many possibilities.
Apple and AT&T are asking iPhone customers to cough up some pretty personal information. Why?
Did you get your iPhone yet?
Sure, and iPhone would be sweet, but having to give out your Social Insurance Number to get one, that's a little extreme. But as it happens, iPhone customers are being asked to divulge some amount of personal information that they really shouldn't have to. Customers have reporting that Apple, along with their telco partner AT&T, are asking loyal Apple followers to give them their SIN number, something which only the government and an individuals employer have a right to ask for.
Even odder, it seems that few news sites have elected to report on this subject, perhaps that their continued praise of the iPhone will have Steve "Call me God" Jobs deliver one to them in person for their review purposes. Furthermore, it was revealed back in the end of March of this year that the FBI had entered into a deal with AT&T, Version, and MCI to collect the phone records and details of such of their customers. This back door deal was initially concocted under the guise of National Security to help thwart terrorist threats. Perhaps the feds asked AT&T to start harvesting SIN numbers and attaching said numbers to customer records.
Currently, AT&T is involved in a class action lawsuit for their allowance of the NSA to dig through the private records of their customers.
Furthermore, the US Government has stated in the past that an individuals Social Insurance Number is not to be used for identification purposes. In the early seventies, a study was preformed to weigh both the risks and benefits of treating SIN numbers as both social and commercial entities. It was found that there was no valid commercial use for SIN numbers, and further found that use in this manner could have profound security risks for all parties involved. The US Government has even stated (in the past) on the SIN cards the assign to their citizens that it should not be used for identification purposes. In short; never give out you SIN number.
Unfortunately, many iPhone customers won't give this matter much consideration, presumably because they are so happy to be one of the first 500,000 folks to get their hands on a new toy.
What's next? A blood sample? I gave at the office.
Dell sells PC's, one with Ubuntu, one with Windows. Which costs more?
Since Dell started selling their PC's preloaded with Ubuntu Linux, it has become quite apparent that Windows certianlly costs more. Take for example an Inspirion 1420 loaded with the lastest release of Ubuntu, costing a meer $774 bucks US. Take the same hardware with Windows loaded onto it and pay $824 bucks US. Certainnly, Linux is free and that difference in pricing can be attributed to such. But does that mean that Dell buys volume lisence keys of XP and Vista for just $50 bucks a pop?
Yeah, it's nice to see Dell paying some attention to the Linux community, though the small $50 dollar price hike for a rig that can run games and other third party apps is nice. Dual boot any one? Hmm, may be a cheap way to get a copy of Windows, providing you buy the PC too.
It may be possible to store data to a hard drive using nothing more than laser light.
With the proliferation of digital media, massive games, and bloated operating systems, ample hard drive storage has become a must for the moder PC. Couple that simple fact with the HTPC's that are gracing the living rooms of people around the world. All of those bits and bytes that comprise your favorite television show take up a fair amount of space. But, unfortunate as it may seem, the lowly hard drive has progressed at a snails pace. Though advancements in read/write heads do allow for ultra high capacities, and the aerial density of the spinning platters is astounding, HDD's are still nothing more than magnetic record players.
Some technologies, such as solid state drives and RAM disks have taken data storage to new (though expensive) heights. Intels' Turbo Memory (a type of solid state memory drive) holds potential, but new mediums such as this are slow to adopt.
"Massive storage . . . with laser beams."
But a group of researchers (Doctor Evil isn't one of them) at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands have taken the first steps in storing data to a hard drive using nothing more than laser light. Through the use of lasers, they were able to write a single bit of data to a magnetic hard drive platter. The write process took all of 40 femtoseconds (a femto being a quadrillionth of a second), which is about 100 times faster than the write speed of your standard desktop hard drive.There have been attempts in the past to write magnetic bits using laser beams, but the ferro-magnetic that reacts with the polarized laser light source has to be of proper constituency. If said alloy isn't just right, it won't work.
It may seem like a breakthrough, but the method they employed required a laser about the size of a mini-fridge and up to a full kilowatt of power to produce that shot laser burst. Certainly, we shouldn't expect to see laser based hard drives on store shelves anytime soon, the methodology requires further refinement. For example, the read head is laser light as well. But the five micron point of laser light that is used to read the platter data is much larger than the footprint of current read/write heads. The research team is hopeful that with advancements in laser diodes they will be able to reduce the focused read/write beam to 10nm for those super high aerial densities. Further more, the pulse duration of the laser diode must be shortened significantly to allow for rapid read/write access times. There's also the complication of cooling the laser diode.
Perhaps we will have laser based hard drives someday. The current trend however seems to be that of fast solid state flash memory based drives, which can suffer from data corruption through excessive write phases. Todays hard drive technology will most likely never die. It's nice to have another option on the table.
Disecting the iPhone; chip by chip and cent by cent.
Most consumers don't have any real idea what it takes to build the products they use. Whether it be their cars or televisions or computers, the manufacturing of these devices is mostly a mystery to us common folk. But one market research firm called Isuppli has bitten the proverbial and done what few others would ever chance. They dissected an iPhone.
Before we all cringe and their squandering of $600 US bills for what is most likely now a defunct 8GB iPhone, Isuppli has determined that total bill of materials (BOM) is somewhere in the range of $265.83 dollars US.
When accounting for some of the parts, Infineon's digital baseband, RF transceiver, and power management components cost around $1.50 bucks. German firm Baulda worked with the Chinese firm TPK Holding to supply the display at a cost of $27 dollar a piece. Some $24.50 worth of components from Epson, Sharp, and Toshiba Matsushita Display constitutes the touch screen panel. Of all the players involved, Samsung scores a third of the lion share by supplying the ARM RISC core, NAND flash and DRAM at a total cost of $76.25 dollars. Wolfson supplies the audio codec, CSR contributed the Bluetooth chip, and Marvell the wi-fi baseband chip.
Apple may be seeing a potential profit of 55% from every iPhone sale, but some amount of those dollars must go to wards royalties and logistics. Certainly, no one but Apple know how much they pay in advertising, packaging, marketing, and shipping. There is the underlying infrastructure for the design and production of the iPhones too. And though they have already absorbed the NRE (Non-Reoccurring Engineering costs), they still have to pay their engineers and employees, and let us not forget, their friendly neighbor hood tax man.
Is Apple making a profit? Most certainly yes, but not a 50% return on their investment. For years, Sony was selling their PlayStation console, and then the PS2 console at a loss. They did eventually start to turn a profit, but saw more revenue from the licensing of the development tools to game studios coding for their system. Apple is also selling the iPhone as a contract deal (as pretty much every cellular provider does. In the long run, they might be making back a quarter to a third of the iPhones' retail cost, perhaps less.
Isuppli has been dissecting electronics gear for some time now to help provide valuable product insight to the masses, and to competing companies hoping to improve their own engineering standards. They follow the same suit as Semiconductor Insights, who just happen to have an interesting video of an Apple iPhone tear-down here.
Asustek plans to slip their company into three.
In terms of competition and in reduction in conflicts of interest, it is quite common for modern companies to split one parent company into multiple divisions. In the past, Acer had existed as one entity. They did however divide and conquer by spinning of portions of their company into more specialized groups. Their mobile phone and contracting division became BenQ, whilst their manufacturing contacts were delegated to a division called Wistron. Initially, investors and shareholder alike we worried that this division could spell financial trouble for Acer. Anything but; especially since they hold a portion of the contract for the production of the Microsoft Xbox 360.
AsusTek (a name known by any motherboard enthusiasts) has just announced plans to spin off their company into three distinctive divisions. Their PC related business portion will become known as Unihan Technology, while the portion of their business related to casing, modular, and non-PC contract manufacturing will become Pegatron Technology. AsusTek it's self will remain a lead in PC parts design and manufacturing.
It seems like a good idea, especially since their have been rumblings from other companies who have contracted AsusTek for heir design and production capabilities, only to end up competing with a similar AsusTek product in the PC market place. Though this isn't illegal, it could hint toward a conflict of interests in terms of contracting and manufacturing.
Hopefully, AsusTek will turn a profit and further strengthen their market share. Financial analysts are speculating that once the company divides (and conquers) come January of 2009, Pegatron will hold the largest market share of the three will approximately NT$300 billion, and perhaps up to NT$350 billion (NT for New Taiwan Dollar). AsusTek will likely pull down NT$250 billion, and Unihan around NT$150 billion. The combined revenue of the three will stand at around NT$800 billion. The AsusTek management has also indicated that they are planning to open new faculties in Brazil, Vietnam, and India, with the soul focus of becoming the world's top manufacturing provider for PC parts and related electronics.
As it stands, they're doing pretty well right now, and can only get better. With their recent May revenues topping NT$319.1 billion (up 99.7 percent in the past year), they don't have to worry. And that contact they have with Sony for helping to build the PS3 can't hurt either.