a constraint satisfaction problem solver. Here is
Python-constraint, which might be the same thing.
- The Toxoplasma
Gondii parasite (which can be spread to humans from cats, and cats
get it by eating mice) is known to be of some risk to pregnant women,
but it might also be a much larger issue than previously thought as it appears
to change behavior of infected individuals (including making them more
risk tolerant). More on this as a neuro-scientist has observed a correlation between success in the World Cup and incidence of infection.
modified mosquito that will not transmit malaria might be a good
thing, but I can't help feeling uncomfortable about the fact that is
lays more eggs and has a higher survival rate than the strain it
replaces. I bet it eats more too... ouch!
Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University
have figured out a way to turn
a mouse into a factory for human liver cells, making new drug
testing and other research easier.
some software development support tools (like Great
Circle) that look for memory leaks and such. We recently had very
good success with this package at work, in fact we turned to it when Purify
consistently failed to work. If you are writing complex software that
is programmed in multiple languages (ours uses C++, FORTRAN and JAVA) and
interacts with an object database (such as ObjectStore) this might be
worth a try. I have used a similar tool from Rational
Software called Purify,
though over the years this has got harder and harder to run (probably
because the program we are running it on has got bigger and bigger). GlowCode
also makes a package for code profiling and leak detection that sounds
promising, and it is a lot more reasonably priced than Purify and
GreatCircle. If you are doing development with Java, then OptimizeIt
is an excellent tool to have. This was written by VMGear
and later picked up by Borland.
This Slashdot article also includes some freeware
memory leak references, such as this
page which has further references.
from FinePrint.com is an
alternative tool to create PDFs that could be used instead of Adobe's much more
control the DVR, a fact which I can personally attest to. So if
your male tech toy shopping lusts crave a DVR to replace the old VCR
(as well they should) you had better plan on buying a pair of these
right from the start!
S10 is getting a Bluetooth connection and will be available in a
bracelet form factor for a nice wireless MP3 experience. It would
be nice if they made a version in stainless steel with a link-style
watch strap which a man could ware as a watch
WID110 is a receiver/gateway that allows a standard VGA
monitor/panel to be used as a remote display. They also make the VPX110 Qiksign Media Player,
which looks like a dedicated small form factor computer to drive
digital signs. These sort of things could be used to make nice,
high-end, large size digital photo frames for the home - though as they
don't list any prices and are declaring these to be "corporate
solutions" they are probably quite expensive.
How to build
your own USB cable for the new 2GB iPod Shuffle. Three other
things, Apple should have used a standard mini-USB connector (like is
found on some cell phones), or else they should have used a regular USB
plug like memory sticks do. The third thing is that cable manufacturers
should sell some short (as in just a few inches long) USB cables of
various types for applications like this where the device is going to
sit right beside the computer.
- The Pepper Pad
2 looks promising
at US$800 (pre-order pricing) its the only thing I have seen that has
an 800x600 display, WiFi, 256M RAM, hard disk, a reasonable means of
user input... In fact the only two things that I have noticed as being weak are the USB connector is only
v1.1 and the media slot does not do Compact Flash (although I presume
one could hook up a compact flash reader to the USB port if needed). It
also does not have VGA output, but it does have composite video out.
This made an appearance at the DEMOmobile 2004 show in Sept'04 and gets
on Slashdot. In Aug'05 it is starting to get some coverage and appears
to be shipping
at last, see pepper.com. In
June'06 the PepperPad
3 was announced. In Oct'06 the PepperPad 3 is due
to ship. Here is a pretty positive review of the PepperPad3. Engadget reports that the Pepper Computer company is struggling.
AHI UMPC (might be available in fall 2006) adds a built-in keyboard
to the UMPC form factor, so it might work well. In June'06 some more information
about this appeared. The keyboard is going to be compact, but should be
adequate for filling in web forms and sending short emails.
In June'07 Via introduced a new reference design for ultraportable
laptop computers. Looks like it is targeted at the same price point
as the Palm Foleo but with more functions. FIC (known as Everex in the
USA and Packard Bell in Europe) will be making these, expected
to ship in Aug'07. Here is what the FIC
CE261 UMPC looks like, and some preliminary specs. iDOT is planning
to make two NanoBook
Matter struck earth? Sounds like something from the book "Artifact"
by Gregory Benford
A better process
for extracting titanium may reduce the price of this material by a
factor of 10.
- Possible wireless keyboards for a DVR include these units from BTC: BTC 9019URF and BTC 9029 (specs here). The remote keyboard from Microsoft is also a possibility, but it's even larger! This is a product niche that manufacturers seem to have missed. The point of a media center keyboard is that it is primarily a pointer control device (so needs a trackball or touch pad integrated with it), secondarily a remote control replacement (so it needs some dedicated keys for volume, mute, play, pause, channel up/down) and a distant third a text entry device. You're not going to compose novels on this thing, just edit program titles for videos burnt to disk and enter URLs to search the web and do YouTube, so a full sized keyboard is not important. A small thumb board like design (such as on a PDA) might well be just the ticket, then the whole think could be a 3x6 inch device instead of taking up half the couch! Brando has introduced (late 2008) a hand-sized, back-lit, wireless, mini-keyboard which would be perfect for an HTPC application - except it does not include a pointer control. Brando does sell this keyboard which is a bit larger and includes a trackball, but does not have illumination. Engadget asks its readers What's the best wireless keyboard for the living room? The Fly Mouse is a small keyboard (exactly how small is difficult to say) that includes a built in gyroscope so it can also be waved in the air as a mouse pointer controller. The iPazzPort is a small keyboard with an integrated multi-touch control pad. IOGEAR will be selling some wireless keyboards with integrated trackballs that should be good for HTPC applications. 
- OpenID is a decentralized
identity system, it is discussed here
on Slashdot. In Feb'07 Bill Gates
announced that Microsoft will support it too. More discussion on OpenID, Yahoo, IBM, Microsoft, VeriSign and Google have all joined its board and there are now 250M OpenIDs in use. Here is a brief description of the process of getting an OpenID. MySpace has joined the OpenID coalition, adding a few more users. OpenID gets mentioned here in reference to attempts to move away from passwords to other means of authentication. Ned Batchelder found OpenID hard to get started in and dug up these discussions: OpenID is Why I Hate The Internet and The problem(s) with OpenID that talk about the difficulty of using OpenID and the apparent flaws in it. Microsoft has added support for OpenID to Windows Live, discussed here on Slashdot. OpenID for non-SuperUsers talks about setting up OpenID to use delegation. Not to be left out, Google is also supporting OpenID, but they have decided to fork development to address some of their concerns. More on Google's OpenID project here. Some sites are dropping support for OpenID. 
In May'07 a non-prime: 2^1039-1 was factored
after 11 months of time. Which means that 1024 bit RSA encryption
can now be attacked, at some cost.
- A good writeup on the friction factor for pipe flow pressure loss. 
Wikipedia, is often a
good place to start looking for facts
While not a search engine, the CIA's World
Factbook can be a useful source of information
How to get Windows XP File Search to Really Work (again).
The search function of Windows XP (from the start menu "Search") is by
default not set to search the contents of most files. In order to turn
this on you can follow the steps in method #2 on
this page. A similar writeup exists in Microsoft's KB309173.
If you have ever used the "search for text in files" function and it
has failed to find what you were looking for, but you know that the
search should have worked it is probably because the behavior of the
searching changed greatly between Windows 2000 and Windows XP. By
default Windows 2000 would search in all files, but Windows XP will
only search in certain "known" file types (probably .txt. and .doc and
not much else). The fix for this is quite simple, though remarkably
hard to find. Here's what to do:
note that despite the fact this setting is controlled through the
Indexing Service, you do not need to start the Indexing Service running
for this to work.
- open the control panel
then go to administrative tools and open the "Computer
Management" application, set the display to show both the tree view (on
the left) and details list on the right, (the 4th icon from the left on
the tool bar) and the do the following steps in the tree view
under "Computer Management (Local)" you will find "Services and
Applications", and then "Indexing Service"
do a right click on "Indexing Service" and select "Properties"
from the popup menu
the "Indexing Service Properties" window will appear, this has
two tabs, in the tab called "Generation" you will find a check box
labeled "Index files with unknown extensions", you need to check this
and then click the OK button and that is it
- The US Supreme Court is taking on another important patent law case. The question here is if a patent holder can sue not only the manufacturer of a component that directly infringes the patent, but all the other people who indirectly infringe by making products that happen to contain the infringing component. 
- Using the Python logging module rather than inserting print statements. Mike Pirnat's presentation on the Python logging module. Comparing this to some of the alternate logging solutions. 
looks like being a nice piece of software, it gets reviewed here
by OutBackPhoto.com, and
used in this article Go Wide with Digital Panoramas
a prismatic filter that is good for determining white balance, a review
of it with some convincing sample photos is here,
perhaps the most amazing of these test images is of a pub at
night under street light illumination. Here is the manufacturer's page on the ExpoDisc. They have added a lens cap style version called the ExpoCap which is opaque rather than prismatic.
supports a number of Python based web hosting services (such as Django,
Zope and TurboGears), they appear to allow one to install and run custom
applications. A note on installing lxml for Python on WebFaction.
The Shuttle SV24
is a very compact PC case, designed to hold a few drives and a very
small form factor motherboard, such as the Shuttle
FV24. Shuttle has produced a few more of these compact designs now,
the latest is the SS51, reviewed
here on AnandTech and here on Legion
Hardware. The Shuttle SS40G
is that same concept, except supporting an AMD Athlon motherboard. I
would like to get one of these with two 5.25" front accessible bays...
Shuttle now has some competition
in this small case style, almost looks like a direct copy, except it is
based on a different motherboard.
Tom's Hardware reviews the JadeTec
micro PC, this is smaller than the Shuttle mini PC units but
a similar set of built in features, there is a good set of pictures
the various sizes of cases and how the micro PC is assembled. The IWill
XP4-G reviewed on the JEM
Report sounds like another interesting possibility (but is lacking
firewire). The Shuttle XPC
SB81P, reviewed here,
(July 2004) improves greatly (it has PCI-Express) on the earlier XPC
The JEM Report
reviews the IWill
ZPC, which is a very small form factor desktop PC (from the photos
it looks about the size of a conventional 5.25" half height drive, but
its really about 1 inch thicker and 1.75 inches wider), essentially a
2GHz Pentium 4 with the usual complement of embedded IO and specialized case
which can take a single 2.5" hard drive and laptop-style compact
SFF Tech (30-Oct-03) has a very large report
about all the new small form factor systems shown at the recent
part of nOrh) is has a
small "server" box and is preparing to produce a small form factor PC
which will act as a DVD player without requiring the PC to boot. They
also are looking at building a personal PC that is smaller than a
laptop, so you can take this with you and just hook up a keyboard,
mouse and display to have a fully functional PC.
Technologies has several small form-factor PCs, including one that
can be mounted in a car's standard radio/CD player slot
and one that looks like the same the SaintSong computer. They also have
a variety of small LCD monitors aimed at the car entertainment market.
The new ASUS
DigiMatrix (Oct 2003) looks like it might be the first small form
factor system to cover all the home entertainment needs.
IWILL has announced their ZMAXdp SFF
Workstation, which is a small form factor box that contains a
dual-Opteron system, its mentioned here
on Slashdot. Hexus.net gets a chance
to test this beastie.
information on the various case and motherboard sizes.
In Feb'06 Shuttle started to show a new
entry to the small form factor category, their XPC X100 box looks
like it has about the usual foot print (width by depth) but its only
2.13 inches tall.
Slashdot book review of: Small
Form Factor PCs, by Duane Wessels and Matthew Weaver.
- The mini-ITX form factor is showing some promise as the basis for making
low-power dedicated appliance-like PCs. For example one might make:
based on these small motherboards.
- printer server
- file server
- domain controller
- PVR boxes (though this sort of application is going to be pushing
the CPU somewhat)
about the mini-ITX form factor from VIA's web site.
Following up on the mini-ITX form factor will be the nano-ITX which
is just 12cm by 12cm and designed for media appliance type
applications, this Slashdot article
(Mar'04) includes links to more info.
There are some other motherboards that are based on Socket 370 CPUs
that approach the mini-ITX form factor. Here is a review of the Jetway B860T
Jetway is building a
number of mini-ITX boards (including the J7F5 series with DVI and HDMI
ports) and is going to make some small
form factor cases.
Tyan makes some nice
motherboards, their Thunderbolt S1837 makes a great workstation or server box. Tyan so far
is the only manufacturer to make a dual Athlon mother board, their
first model was very high end and required an expensive custom power supply,
this new Tyan Tiger MP S2640
too, and here and here
as well, and at AnandTech
too) looks like it could open the flood gates for AMD.
It appears that if a CPU
fan dies on an AMD Athlon chip that the chip itself could die, as
of 30 Oct 01 AMD is issuing new design guidelines to motherboard
manufacturers to help prevent this in future board revisions.
conventional batteries, this appears to be one of these cases where
the overall savings will be due to the reduction in the cost of energy
being used to manufacture the devices.
solar panels can be used as windows and yet still generate about
3W/ft2 (about 33W/m2). A rather novel idea, but apparently they could
also be used as screens for projection TV units. These are manufactured
by MSK Corporation.
discusses a new solar
panel technology, this is much less expensive to manufacture but is
less efficient. This is called CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide).
There are several companies that are entering this field (anyone know
what the patent situation on this is?) Miasole is going to be producing
cells in 2007. DayStar
is another. Also entering the field are Nanosolar (which is aiming to
build the biggest factory) and HelioVolt. In Dec'06 Honda
announced they are going to open a plant in the fall of 2007 which
will produce these cells too.
insulating material, a blend of PVDF and CTFE could increase the
energy storage density of super capacitors by a factor of 7 times. This
gets mentioned here too.
An article on geothermal
power that has the facts quite wrong, probably out by a factor of a
thousand on the costs.
Sulfur batteries may improve storage capacity by a factor of three
over current Lithium batteries
- Honda has set up a new company: Honda Soltec, to develop and manufacture solar cells. 
- Via's vm7700 is a compact computer built into a case that can bolt onto the back of any standard VESA type LCD monitor. The screws that hold the the PC in place actually go all the way through it, which makes mounting it to the back of the monitor very easy. Now that this approach has been publicized I would expect to see some other third party case manufacturers start making similar boxes. One potential application of this sort of thing would be as a DVR PC, allowing the PC and all its cables to easily be hidden behind a large flat panel TV system.  
Breaking the gigapixel
barrier, using a 6MP camera and stitching a large number of images
together. The result is quite amazing. This also has some (simulated)
comparison between this resolution and other real resolutions. This
sort of resolution is not really so far away as one might think,
consider that the current resolution size is about 10MP, so multiply
this by just 100 and you have 1GP. Now a factor of a hundred sounds a
lot, but since sensors are not lines, they cover an area, so all that
needs to be done is to multiply the number of sensors in each dimension
by a factor of 10. This could be done today by making the sensor
larger, roughly 4 to 8 inches across would do it (but then you're
looking at a pretty big camera - but such large format cameras have
been used before), or else if the sensor was made more dense we would
have to wait about 6 to 9 years (circuits shrink by about a factor of 2
every 2 to 3 years). Sensor noise might be one limiting factor here,
but I would think we would hit some sort of optical limit before this
The effect of megapixel counts and print sizes, this
article demonstrates that 5Meg (or more) can produce apparantly
identical results at a 16x20 print size. In my experience with printing
8MP images (all shot in JPEG) from my Minolta A2 at 13x19" size (on a
Canon i9900 printer), its pretty much impossible to see any evidence of
their digital origins - about the only chance is if you can pick out a
sharp edge between a light and a dark object, then you might be able to
make out a narrow band of lighter area intruding onto the dark region
(which is probably a JPEG artifact). I have done a 13x19 print from the
Minolta A2 of trees in autumn standing in a field of long dry grass,
and even on the grass I cannot make out stair casing. I did some
test prints once from my 3MP Canon G1 and printed a 16x20 as a tiled
8x10 set (which means that the printed pixels were about 100 pixels per
inch) and in those you could see pixelization on the edges of things,
but if you viewed from a reasonable distance you could not see them. My
conclusion is that 5MP should be good enough for most people,
especially if you get a camera with a larger sensor to reduce the
sensor noise. Of course if one is purchasing a camera with less than
about a 5x optical zoom then more pixels might well be useful to allow
for additional cropping before printing.
has current pricing of the current camera offerings from the major
along with reviews and user ratings
- Beaming solar power from space in the form of microwaves has been talked about in the past for a long time, but now it seems to be getting more attention. The collection efficiency can be improved (versus land-based) because there are no losses due to clouds or atmospheric pollution and potentially a collector can be kept in full sunlight 24 hours a day (though this would mean it needs to transmit its output to different sites on earth as the world turns) the raw cost per watt would be less for space based collectors than ground based ones. Of course, that would get massively reversed once the cost of lifting the collectors into space is factored in.
The real drive behind this might be the need for power in the military (though that does not make a lot of sense as the power will be off during the night, and the batteries the military would need to store power for use overnight would likely be bigger than the oil fueled generators they replace). It might be the military sees this as a way to get a new weapon in the sky, consider their recent work with the "pain ray", a microwave gun that causes intense pain by stimulating the nerves of the skin, perhaps such satellites (which use microwaves to relay their collected power to the ground) could do double duty and be used to cover large areas of a battlefield with pain rays, thus, knocking enemy troops out of action prior to an attack. 
- More rumors of a GPhone, this time with HTC being the phone manufacturer. 
- AMD's DTX and mini-DTX form factor have finally reached the public prototype stage, though progress seems pretty slow at 10 months from announcement to only a prototype shipping. 
Here's a review of
the Transcend 1.8" portable hard drive - this is the same sort of form
factor as the iPOD.
The next time you think your hard drive has died, perhaps
its the software that's to blame, Seagate is providing some tools
they call SeaTools to
help you determine this before sending your drive back (these tools are
supposed to check drives made by other manufacturers too)
A Slashdot artical
on adding effective
cooling to a hard drive. I agree that this is a much more effective
(and often quieter) approach than the small, low-profile fans that are
often sold for this purpose. In fact I have done a similar thing,
except I used the mounting bracket from one of the low-profile coolers
(after removing the two fans on it that had failed, in less than a
year, and cutting a bigger opening in the bracket) and attached an 80mm
fan to it, this works very nicely, cools the drive more and is quieter
than the original cooler.
The basics of RAID
Seagate is planning to stop
manufacturing IDE hard drives by the end of 2007
a 32GB solid state disk in a 1.8" drive form factor in Jan'07
it yourself SSD adapter, essentially an IDE to SD flash interface
that can hold up to 4 SD cards for a maximum of 8GB capacity in a 2.5
inch drive form factor. Currently quite overpriced.
Talent will have SATA
Flash Drives in 1.8in, 2.5in and 3.5in form factors in sizes up to
128GB in 2007. They also have regular IDE interfaced SSD units.
- A CF
to SATA hard drive adapter, built around the 2.5 inch form factor
allows you to make your own flash drive out of a standard CF card. This
model is from Addonics.
They also have CF to IDE adapters, including
this one that holds two CF cards, for a pretty reasonable $29.99. A review of one of these adapters is here.
makes the mDrive a rugged USB flash drive that has a very small
form factor, this is only slightly wider than the USB port it sticks
Buffalo will be building a 56GB
USB attached SSD in a small form factor (about credit card sized)
for those who need a portable data drive that is larger than the
USB-stick type drives.
Home Server is a Windows Home Server in a cute form factor, with
low power operation.
Oct'07 from Engadget: Norco's (I thought
they made bicycles) new DS-520
home NAS is a pretty advanced unit. Its got five hot-swappable
bays, can run a number of different operating systems (including
Windows Home Server and various Linux solutions) and has dual
gigabit ethernet ports plus ports to attach additional drives via USB
and eSATA. At a price of about $620 this initially appears expensive,
as that's quite a bit more than the typical 2-drive home NAS solution,
but its a lot less than a lot of the heavy duty 4-drive solutions
currently out there. In fact, if you were to try and build something
equivalent you'd probably blow your budget with just the purchase of an
equivalent hot-swap case and a SATA RAID controller card with more than
4 ports. Their spec sheet shows you have a choice of processor speeds
and also the amount of RAM that is installed, and it appears to be
available without an operating system as well. 
It might be possible to increase
the storage of DVD (including Blu-ray) by about a factor of 3 by
Tiffen for filters
and addon lenses, their new MegaPlus
series includes a 2x and 0.75x lens pair.
The Canon i9900 large format photo printer gets reviewed here.
This is a great printer, if you feed in an 8M pixel image you can get a
full-bleed 13" x 19" print out of it in about 6 minutes - at that size
there is still no visable pixelization or other artifacting. If you use
a magnifing glass you might be able to pick out a little bit of white
edging that is introduced by the JPEG compression process (so if you
use a RAW image this should even be eliminated). But who's going to
look at a 13x19 print with a magnifing glass?
Sony makes a cute little (2-3 inch) "table top" tripod,
but the neat thing is that it looks like you just attach it to your
camera, and when not using it you just flip up the legs and from then
on its hardly noticeable (in fact it may act as a handy griping surface).
frames out of small form factor PC motherboards
- The DigitDia
3600 from Reflecta is a slide scanner that takes slide trays,
allowing you to scan 50 slides in one batch. A wonderful idea that's
just so obvious one wonders why none of the other manufacturers have
done this before. A pity that the quality of the scans are not as good
as some of the comparable scanners.
- While not strictly mini-ITX in form factor, the gOS Dev Board is a micro-ATX board based on the Via C7 processor, so it has the nice low power characteristics of a mini-ITX board, but it has more slots and it is roughly 1/2 the cost of an equivalent mini-ITX board. So unless you want to put it in a very small case this might be a good choice. Since it has both ATA and SATA connectors if you have a defunct PC you could just remove its motherboard and pop one of these in its place. If this board had DVI or HDMI output it would actually make a reasonable media PC for quite a low price. Discussed here on Slashdot and here on Engadget. 
- Simplified Innovation has a selection of small form factor PCs. 
While this can hardly be considered a "palm-top", the Dana
from AlphaSmart is based on PalmOS and brings it into the
micro-laptop form factor (adding a built in keyboard)
- There is some indication that SanDisk may be introducing a "write-once" type of lower cost flash memory, aimed at the digital photography market. There is probably a large group of photographers (consider the Grandmas of the world) who may prefer to keep their photos this way, rather than the more complex process of transferring them to a computer and backing them up to CD/DVD ROM. Consider the casual photographer who before going digital shot about one roll of film a month (so about 300 photos per year). Let us say that after going digital they now take 10 times as many pictures, so about 3000 photos per year. For further argument lets say that their photos are on average about 3MB each, so that's 3000x3 = 9GB per year. Given that you can currently (Nov'07) buy 2GB SD cards for $25/each that's about $112 per year to just buy new cards whenever they fill up and never reuse them. Note that at about $15 to buy a 24 exposure roll of film and develop and print it, this photographer was already paying about $180 a year, so even at current memory prices, never reusing flash cards actually will make sense. And given that memory prices will drop by another 30-50% in the next year it will make even more sense - even if SanDisk does not introduce this new type of card. In fact, unless SanDisk really prices these low I cannot see much point in using them at all. 
- Hyperion plans to build a factory to manufacture small nuclear power modules (they call them batteries). These would be hot tub sized devices capable of producing about 27MW. These have a uranium hydride core surrounded by a hydrogen atmosphere and need to be connected to a steam powered generator. It is supposed to be self regulating with no moving parts. They now claim to have a backlog of $2G worth of orders for more than 100 devices (discussed on Slashdot) and one potential application is in providing power to tar sands oil extraction (which could also reduce green house gas emissions by replacing the natural gas that is used for this today). 
- Google has announced a project to develop a renewable energy system that is cheaper than coal. An excellent idea, and if they just stick to looking at improving the manufacturing costs of some of the recent solar or wind technologies, its an idea that should be readily achievable. 
- Adding an internal Bluetooth module to the ASUS Eee PC. The basis of this hack has also been used to add a 16GB flash drive as well as a Bluetooth module to an Eee. Really, it would make sense for ASUS (or other manufacturers) to include a small empty bay inside the laptop with a couple of USB jacks in it for internal expansion. 
An ARM based Linux single board
computer in a USB form factor, discussed here
on Slashdot. Made by Calao
Linux bootable USB key HOWTO
- WebFaction are a Python friendly hosting company, they support things like Django and WordPress. They provide SSH shell access and you can install your own applications. 
- The Forerunner 405 is a watch-sized version of the Forerunner 305. While many people are enthusiastic about the smaller size I would actually prefer something that provides a larger display than the 305 - so it is easier to read when running. Consider the original 201/205 form factor was pretty good (its only slightly larger than the 305, now if they installed a display that covered the whole of the surface of a 201 then that would be much more useful. 
- Shuttle is going to produce the KPC a low end small form factor box intended for use with Linux, complete at $199 and barebones at $99. Discussed here on Slashdot. There is some more information on this here, the complete system will have a Celeron processor, a 945GC chipset, 512MB of RAM and a small shard drive. From this it sounds like it might be using something like the Intel D201GLY2 mini-ITX form factor motherboard. Tom's Hardware has a look at this here. Some more coverage of this on The Tech Report. The Shuttle web site on the KPC, looks like it has gigabit ethernet and 5.1 audio but no DVI monitor port - just VGA. The KPC is finally ready to star shipping, Engadget reports it at $299 for the full unit (which originally was supposed to be $199), the Shuttle site does mention a $199 version but does not give any details yet. A review of this can be found here. Building a small home server with a KPC system. 
- USB 3.0 is starting to materialize, looks like the specification is supposed to be completed in mid-2008, so it probably means the first hardware might show in 2009 (Engadget says 2010). The new cable will include additional wires for the faster 3.0 transfers (up to 4.7Gbps, that's 10 times the speed of 2.0) and at the same time allow for complete backwards compatibility with 2.0 and 1.1 devices and cables. Engadget has some pictures of the connectors from CES'08. At CES'09 more details of USB 3.0 were released, including the fact that it's protocol design anticipates going as fast as 25Gbps (but that may need an optical link). According to NVIDIA, motherboard chip sets from Intel will not support USB 3.0 until 2011, possibly because Intel wants to shift to a new optical interconnection system it is developing with Apple.
- Power Save 1200 is a power factor correction device for the home. Devices like this are certainly used in industrial applications, but I thought that the typical savings were on the order of a few percent, so I'm a bit concerned of their talk of savings over 10% for residential applications. Still, it would be worth some more research. 
- Nanotech anodes in lithium batteries could increase battery capacity by a factor of 10. 
development support tools (like Great
Circle) that look for memory leaks and such. We recently had very
success with this package at work, in fact we turned to it when Purify
consistently failed to work. If you are writing complex software that
programmed in multiple languages (ours uses C++, FORTRAN and JAVA) and
interacts with an object database (such as ObjectStore) this might be
a try. I have used a similar tool from Rational
Software called Purify,
though over the years this has got harder and harder to run (probably
the program we are running it on has got bigger and bigger). GlowCode
also makes a package for code profiling and leak detection that sounds
promising, and it is a lot more reasonably priced than Purify and
If you are doing development with Java, then OptimizeIt
is an excellent tool to have. This was written by VMGear
and later picked up by Borland.
Slashdot artical also includes some freeware
memory leak references, such as this
page which has further references.
Programming Installed , a book review. The first book in this series was Extreme
Programming Explained , which has some useful content, probably
very applicable if you are building software that relies heavily on a RDBMS
backend and/or you are using a tool set that allows for a rapid
code/test cycle. And now there's a book questioning
XP too. Extreme
Programming Refactored, reviewed on Slashdot takes a critical look
at this approach to programming.
Slashdot reviews: Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering,
by Robert L. Glass, ISBN 0321117425.
The hidden cost of outsourcing might be loss
of customer satisfaction and then loss of customers, discussed
on Slashdot. After spending more than 2 hours on the phone one Saturday
with Norton's support centre (obviously based in India) trying to fix
my Norton Antivirus 2005 I gave up and removed it from all my computers
and switched to a competitor.
- Panasonic is working on a sensor that will facilitate high dynamic range (HDR) photography, they do this by getting the sensor to take a sequence of three photographs with three greatly different exposure times and then combining the data. They have been able to expand the dynamic range from 60dB to 140dB with this technique, note that dB scales are logarithmic so this is not a simple factor of 2.3 increase, with each 3dB the linear range is doubled (i.e. an f-stop or factor of 2 change in shutter speed) so that's an exposure range increase of 26 f-stops (or changing from , with this you could probably set up a manual shutter speed and f-stop indoors and then go outside into sunlight and shoot without changing anything and still get a usable photograph. If you hold your f-stop fixed this range is equivalent to changing your shutter speed from 1/8000th of a second to over 8000 seconds. Of course their test sensor is only 177x144 pixels, but there's no reason this sort of technique could not be applied to a modern sensor pretty soon. 
- Congratulations ASUS, you know you've made the big time when hackers have found a vulnerability in your product, in this case the Eee. 
- In a rather strange computer crime an investor hacked into a computer at IMS Health from which he stole a future earnings announcement, then he took a gamble and bought short expiry put options (which would have been virtually worthless at the time) in the company's stock. Once the earning announcement went public the following day the options grew in value by a factor of 5 and he sold them. The SEC figured that this must have been insider trading so halted his account and investigated. Now a judge has decided that while it was a crime to steal the earnings announcement it was not a crime under current US law to make money off the trade. 
- The 2.5 inch Easy Nova Data Box PRO-25UE RFID portable encrypted drive turns out to be pretty insecure (discussed here on Slashdot), seems the manufacturer only implemented an XOR algorithm instead of the claimed AES.  
- Samsung talks about flash reliability in SSD drives, they figure that due to the wear leveling technology a 100K write cycle flash will make it virtually impossible to wear out an SSD drive. For a rough approximation consider that your computer writes continually at a 1MB/s rate, then with an 32GB drive it would take 32K seconds to write once to all the cells. This would then need repeating 100K times, so its 32K x 100K or 3200M seconds, which is about 106 years. If you drop the drive size to only 4GB then you are still looking at 13 years (which is more than a mechanical drive is going to last). Increasing the write rate will also decrease the time, so if you bring it up to the maximum speed that such a drive can sustain, which is around 32MB/s then the ultimate life of a 32GB drive would drop by a factor of 32 to about 3.3 years. So you're not going to be able to wear out one of these drives within a 3 year warranty!
This sort of calculation also means that if a device like a compact flash drive is used in a computer as a system disk (so it's getting log files updated and the swap partition is on the drive) then so long as the device is large enough and the average write rate is acceptable then it will have a long life - and the easiest way to assure this is to just oversize the drive a bit. So instead of using a 512MB drive for your disk-less server, installing a 2GB unit will make it last 4 times as long. 
- The Palm has been emulated on an iPhone, what a way to upgrade your Palm. This sort of approach might make sense for the Palm company - just sell a Palm OS emulation package that runs on different hardware packages, leaving the low-margin high-risk hardware development and manufacturing to other companies. 
- Konarka Technologies have developed a solar cell that can be manufactured by inkjet printing techniques all without the expensive requirement for a clean room. As they don't ever mention efficiency one must presume that these are rather low efficiency devices, but if they are inexpensive enough then that's often not a problem. 
- the EB-100 and EB-300 from Netronix (who also manufacture e-ink displays) are a 6-inch and a 10-inch pair of new e-books. 
- The ASUS EP20 could be a new low-cost small form factor PC for the home. It seems to be Linux based and possibly priced at about $300. 
- The ASUS NOVA LITE Mini 2L is a low-end small form factor PC, there are several models, the lowest has a DVI output and one has an HDMI output as well, so these might be a good choice for a low end media display unit. 
- Clone Digger is a tool that finds code duplications within a set of source code files. This helps point the way to places to refactor. 
- Rambus has won its patent case, which means that it will now go on to attack a number of other memory manufacturers. 
- This site has a number of free maps, typically
in a black and white outline format, that can be useful for a variety
of purposes. The EPS format ones will load into Microsoft Publisher,
then you can pick a big page size and print a map that covers multiple
pages. The maps
at the CIA's World Factbook are of better quality, but they are in
PDF format which limits the tools you can use to manipulate them. This blog note talks about various sources for free vector maps of the world.
Could black boxes in cars lead to cheaper
insurance rates? I think they are missing the point here, while
where you drive is a factor in the risk you undertake, its probably
less important than the distance you drive (i.e. time behind the
wheel). In fact insurance companies could get this information very
easily by insisting that people report the odometer readings of their
insured vehicles once a year and then just adjust the rates for the
next year based on the previous years distances.
SeatGuru is a web site
that specializes in documenting the seat layout, features and comfort
factors of the planes of various airlines, with the objective of
helping you select the best seat.
TVs made of glowing plastic. I wonder why all the emphasis on
making these things roll up (before releasing the technology in to the
market)? Sounds like a smoke screen to hide the fact that there
still something else that needs addressing before these can be
Otherwise why not mount them behind a conventional rigid protective
(such as glass) and then sell them as "hand on the wall" flat screen
(which there is a demand for right now, if the price is right).
Different types of voting
systems for national elections, of course in Canada if you live in
the West, your vote never elects the national government. This is
because about 70% of the population lives in the East and the polls
close at the same local time across the country. So by the time the
polls have closed in the East the ruling party has been selected - without a
single vote from the West being counted. We should really have the
polls close across the country simultaneously to eliminate this odd fact.
Drinking Vodka from the Freezer, does
anyone remember Simon
F's "Gun" album? In fact does anyone sell it any more?
In 2007 a vending
machine that can print and bind books on demand will be installed
in a number of US libraries, when with Amazon.com start using this to
print books on demand, if they thought about this they could offer you
a choice of a used book, a new (from the publisher) book or a
printed-on-demand book. In fact many low volume titles (like technical
books) would be best done entirely with the print on demand
system. The print on demand system has another potential benefit
for an Amazon, they could set up offices with these machines in major
centres (perhaps partnering with some local retailler) and print and
ship them from a location close to the person who is placing the order,
thus further reducing (or even eliminating - if the purchaser just picks
it up) the shipping costs.
- So why are people waiting for Segways to become available at a
reasonable (or in fact any) price? Just build one yourself from Lego - the Legway.
This project used some additional sensors from HiTechnic
products and accessories.
- A Micro SD Card video projector, at $99 it'll probably not be much good, but maybe a more serious manufacturer will do this sort of thing with better quality parts. 
- At about $1500 the Kohjinsha SR8KPO6S is a UMPC mini-laptop with a 7 inch display and a built in DVD burner - which makes it pretty unique for this form factor. Still a $1000 premium for the DVD drive is pretty steep, so this is hardly a threat to the ASUS Eee. 
- The ASUS Essentio CS5110 is a small form factor box with plenty of capability, it would make an excellent PVR box if it had room for a TV tuner card - you could probably use a USB attached tuner instead. 
- Ultra is suing a number of power supply manufactures over making power supplies with detachable cables. This is a good example of a patent that should never have been granted because it was "obvious to a practitioner of the art". The only reason people were not building "modular" supplies would have been cost - the cost of two extra connectors per cable would have made the supplies more expensive and thus less competitive in a very cut-throat market. In fact, for many years all power supplies did already have one such "modular" cable: the AC power cable. This has been detachable for pretty much the whole history of the modern personal computer to allow a single power supply to be used in different countries by changing the AC cable. Thus, the "prior art" that should invalidate this patent is even built into the device, and even a blind patent examiner should have spotted that art. 
Fun with Lasers,
Directed Energy Directorate
- Will Microsoft wake up smarter and extend the retail lifetime of Windows XP beyond 30-June-2008? Dell has announced they will provide copies of XP Pro past the cut off date, this is being done under the Windows Vista for Business downgrade license program, so you need to buy a Dell machine with a Vista for Business license and they will supply an install image CD for XP Pro (in case you want to downgrade to XP) or on some models Dell will even pre-install the downgrade at the factory. Microsoft says that XP will still stop selling in June. There are some on-line petitions to save XP and there has been an attempt to demonstrate that people still want XP by calling in to Microsoft's support lines en-masse. More on Dell's XP Pro downgrade offering, looks like it will only be available on a few of their machines, and it may cost you $50. Microsoft said in late June that there would be no reprieve for XP, but that local OEMs may still continue to buy XP through to 31-Jan-2009, they also say that support for XP will last until 2014. This article claims that Microsoft's software license allows customers who purchase a copy of Windows to install and run a previous version of the OS at no additional cost, I wonder what really happens when you enter a Vista license key into an XP install... 
- The Tile64, a 64 processor CPU appeared in 2008, along with a PCIExpress development board and a Linux-based development kit. They claim one of these chips can outperform a dual-core Xeon by a factor of 10. Might be just the thing for some fast ray tracing. Though with the development cards hosting a pair of 10Gbit ethernet ports the initial applications are probably going to be in the internet packet sniffing and routing fields. 
- Factoring out common args to zipped generators gives some examples of generator usage (taken from a project on additive waveform synthesis). 
- Super Talent is adding a few new SSD drives, in the 2.5 inch laptop drive form factor, for as low as $299 for a 30GB drive (which is finally a bit less than CompactFlash cards on a $/GB basis). 
International Currency Index, this artical confirms something I
have suspected since the 1980's, that the British Pound is way over
valued. In my trips to England from Canada I have always observed
that when in Britain I "spend pounds just like I spend dollars back in
Canada", so a person living in Britain must earn far more dollars to
have the same standard of living as a Canadian (or American). When
relatives from Britain have come to visit they have the reverse
impression, they are always amazed at how far their pounds go when
spent in Canada. The classic example of this (though largely a tax
artifact) is that the price of gasoline in the UK (in pounds) is the
same as in Canada (in dollars) - and this has held true since about
- The ASUS Eee Box B202 is another small form factor PC from ASUS. Here are some photos of it. An early pre-production version gets reviewed here and discussed here on Engadget, it appears that the 1.6GHz Atom cpu does not have enough power to do more than 720P so you are not going to be using this as a HD media display device. This is supposed to be available in July'08 for a price of $299 with 1GB RAM, 80GB hard drive and Windows XP (probably Home). A review of it can be found here. Another review here clearly shows it running 720P video but not being up to the task of 1080P. 
- A look at the past, present and a guess at the future of web hosting from the perspective of what a startup company needs to spend on infrastructure just to get going. This is worth a read as it does a good job of pointing out that while the cost of the basic infrastructure (servers and software) has dramatically dropped in the last decade (for the entry-level portion of the market) it is still not easy to get the show on the road and while some progress is being made in addressing the scalability issues with things like Amazon's EC2 and Google's AppServer there is still much to be done.
Currently I think a virtual private server (VPS) solution is the best bet for those who need to start small, and while EC2 has some advantages its pricing is currently a lot higher. Going the VPS route has some scalability, some vendors (such as linode.com) offer about a 10:1 scaling ratio in features across their offered services.
Once you have maxed out a typical VPS vendor's offerings you are in the price range of a single dedicated server so the migration path could be continued by switching to a dedicated server or by getting your own hardware and perhaps co-locating it. Doing this could add about a factor of 5 to the scaling curve, so in total, the virtual and dedicated private server approaches should allow you to scale your application about 50 times without having to rework the architecture or selected technology. Once you have grown to encounter those limits you are probably leaving the domain of the startup, so its probably time for a rethink anyway.  
- The Gigabyte M912 could add some new features to the low cost mini-laptop market with its twist and flip touch sensitive display. Here's a hands-on from Engadget, this also looks at the 7-inch M724 version (which is supposed to be only available to the education market). The M912 is expected to cost $656 while the M724 is to be $556 - which is probably a factor of 3 less than anything else that's ever had "tablet" in its name. In July'08 this got unboxed, so its shipping somewhere. It gets reviewed here and is priced at $699. 
- Common design patterns in Python, references this article which gives examples of iterators, decorators, factories, states and templates. There is also a link to a video of a Google talk on the subject. 
- In June'08 Via updated its mini-ITX form factor to version 2.0. 
- PopPhoto runs a comparison of AA batteries (both regular and rechargeable). They perform a rather screwy cost comparison: they base the cost of the rechargeables on a single use (rather than say 100 recharges) - even with this handicap rechargeables are almost the same price as disposables (though they should be about a factor of 100 less!). It is interesting to see that for digital photography the NiMH rechargeable battery always has more capacity than the one-use battery (with the exception of the more expensive one use lithium batteries). As well, their test shows that the claimed mAh capacity ratings of rechargeable batteries are not a very accurate guide, for example the Polaroid 1800mAh was the lowest claimed capacity, but it solidly out performed the Kodak 2400mAh battery. 
- In this article on the Asus P5W64 motherboard there is a comparison of the on-board ICH7R RAID controller (in RAID 0 and 5 modes) to the Areca ARC-1210 PCI Express RAID controller card. While the Areca has a significant (about a factor of two to three) advantage in RAID 0 mode, it completely blows away the ICH7R in RAID5 write performance. In this case the ICH7R got an average write performance of only 11MB/sec versus the 244MB/sec that the Areca got. The 11MB/sec speed seems rather low, in my experience with an ASUS P5E motherboard using the on-board RAID5 (with 4 drives in the array) I get about 30MB/s, still that's a lot slower than the Areca card gets. 
- A look inside the Lego factory. 
- Google is now indexing 1 Trillion URLs, a factor of a thousand increase over just 8 years ago, so their view of the web is a little more than doubling every year. 
- ASUS is planning up to 23 more versions of the Eee PC, possibly with two new form factors. 
- A technique that uses microwaves to help form lithium iron for use in lithium batteries could result in reduced manufacturing costs. 
- The UK is looking at building a system to store records of every text, email and browsing session that takes place in the UK. Hard disk manufacturers must be happy. 
- Viliv showed the S5 MID and S7 UMPC at the IDF, these are small form factor devices that would be nice as webpads if priced reasonably. There is something strange about the picture of the S7, the keyboard is missing the "P" key. The S7 got shown at CES'09 and it is compared to the new SONY VAIO P here (oh, and they have put the "P" key back on the keyboard). Viliv has added a larger version of the S5 called the X70. The S5 will be available for pre-order on May 8th at $599. It gets reviewed here apparently it has a video output jack that can provide VGA, component and S-Video and it can be used with Bluetooth mice and keyboards - might make a good replacement for my aging Palm PDA. The X70 device gets a short demonstration on video here. The X70 is going to be imported to the US for about $599. The X70EX is now (Sept'09) available at NewEgg, pricing starts at $599. Their S10 Blade is a netvertible (netbook that converts to a tablet) that should launch in Nov'09 starting at $570 which is pretty inexpensive for a tablet. This is now available through Best Buy and gets a review here, price is now around $889. Their N5 UMPC looks rather nice. 
- Gizmodo takes a look at how the Lego mini-figures are manufactured. 
- PC Hardware manufacturers love piracy, and what about component manufacturers (like hard drives, CD/DVD burners...) and come to think about it - what about all those high speed DSL and Cable providers, without piracy who would need so much bandwidth? 
- This article: Benchmarking hardware RAID vs. Linux kernel software RAID, shows that a high end RAID card can outperform a software implementation of RAID5 by about a factor of two (from about 150MB/s to 300MB/s write speeds with 6 disks) using an AMD X2 2.2GHz CPU. They also mention that XFS has some performance advantages over ext3 when used on a RAID disk set. 
- In Use Mercurial, you Git! the argument is made that Git is too complex. A rebuttal to this argues that for the most part, if you stick to simple use cases the two systems are very similar and the added complexity only appears if you need to do something exotic in Git (which you might not be able to do in Mercurial at all). For me the biggest deciding factor in choosing Mercurial over Git was that Git really did not work well on Windows machines while Mercurial worked well on both Windows and Linux. Another, short, note on choosing between Git, Mercurial and SVN. Smashing Magazine has a fast overview article: 7 Open Source Version Control Systems Reviewed. 
- Slashdot discusses how big a swap partition (or file) should be and why. The old maxim of twice your physical RAM no longer makes much sense, in fact having no swap is perfectly acceptable and may be the best thing to do if you are using a solid state disk. One good reason to have swap still (and make it as big as your RAM) is so that you can hibernate your machine. 
- Delkin has produced a Secure Digital to Compact Flash adapter, this appears to be a CF type-1 form factor device and allows SDHC cards to be used by devices that only take compact flash cards. 
- Wireless networking security is now under attack by Nvidia GPUs. Elcomsoft has written a system that can use these cards to accelerate the cracking of WPA and WPA2 keys by a factor of 100. Discussed here on Slashdot and also mentioned here on Engadget. A new attack on WPA-TKIP has been announced that can lead to some compromise in security in as little as 15 minutes. Here is a more detailed discussion of the attack (with further discussion here on Slashdot), along with some useful background material on WEP, WPA and WPA2. 
- The Alaris 30 Desktop 3D Printer would be a great way of creating small custom project cases, of course its probably super expensive as no price is mentioned and the supplies won't be cheap. But in another 5 years perhaps? These devices could be used to make small metal parts through the lost wax process, so they are potentially a game-changing device in the design to manufacturing world. 
- Slashdot discusses open source hardware, in particular the Arduino controller project (which was featured in this Wired article). 
- XDepth 48 is an attempt at moving JPEGs to 16 bits per color (i.e. 48 bits per pixel). This would be a very good thing as it would allow camera manufacturers to build systems to capture a greater dynamic range (without having to resort to RAW formats).  
- Netbooks have hurt Windows profits, Microsoft is finding it hard to monopolize the low-end market because the cost of their Windows license is a significant part of the overall machine cost. This is something that anyone who has tried to build a low-cost "appliance" type machine (like a NAS device) based on Windows knows quite well. Typically you can buy all the new hardware you need for a few hundred dollars, and then the $140 or so for an XP license is close to half the cost of the hardware making you think strongly about using Linux instead. It looks like the netbook manufacturers are getting their XP licenses for something like $50, which means that on a $250 machine Microsoft is still 20% of the total, leaving little room for profit. The sudden development of the netbook market has taken Microsoft by surprise, its increasing size and popularity due to the typically lower price point is seen as threatening to erode the sales of traditional laptops and desktop systems and thus reduce Microsoft's profits. What Microsoft is not considering is that many of these netbook sales are going to people who are adding a second or third computing device, and who are only doing so because of the tempting price, so it is likely this new market is not eroding the traditional markets to the degree that Microsoft fears. In fact, if Microsoft were to extend its reduced price XP license some more it might find XP showing up in other low-cost devices like NAS boxes and set-top media players where Linux (thankfully) has a near total monopoly. 
- The VIA ARTIGO A2000 (just like the old Amiga 2000...) is a small form factor bare bones unit that will be selling for $299 (see LogicSupply). 
- The Tech Report takes a look at a lot of computer power supplies in a power supply round-up, discussed here on Slashdot. This article also includes information on the type and lengths of the cables on these supplies, which can be hard to find. I have found that Antec makes pretty reliable power supplies (the review only takes a look at a very low end model). Don't forget that these days, unless you have some monster graphics card installed you likely do not need anything bigger than 400W, in fact you may find your system is really in the 100-200W range. If you do have a smaller system you will find that the power supplies below about 350W get harder to find, have fewer peripheral connectors, use smaller fans (so potentially are noisier) and get more expensive, so you might just end up getting a larger supply anyway (which might not be a bad thing as the 80+ supplies in this review all tested at about 90% efficient when run at 25% load which is very good). A power meter (such as the UPM EM100 energy meter) is quite useful for seeing what is really going on. 
- Cygnus has patented file preview with an iconic representation. This was filed for in 2001 which is rather late, as many applications did some form of this long before that. In fact my own VBBS TERM (later called IceTERM) had a preview function that allowed users to preview reduced size images of photos to help them decide on spending the time to download the full image. That function was in use before May 1992 and at the time it was not new (though this might have been the first BBS-Terminal system to support it). 
- Pretec has taken the CompactFlash physical form factor and given it a SATA interface to allow for much faster flash storage. What would be really neat would be to have a SATA interface at one end of the card and the old CF IDE interface at the other end, then you could use the same card in old and new devices. 
- The ASUS EEE D200 is a medium sized NAS box with a couple of twists, it includes a router and LAN switch (for connecting 4 other computers), has DVI and audio outputs, and also has a LCD display on the front. From a look at the back panel it appears this is not using a standard form factor motherboard/case (there is no conventional IO panel area and no expansion card slot) and the power supply is an external brick. 
- Full disk encryption is expected to drop in price (to near zero) and become available on most new drives, but when? With this approach a drive must receive the appropriate password before it will load any data, so you end up entering the password before the computer starts to boot. But what happens if you forget the password? Will you be able to overwrite the old disk with a new data set using a new password, or is the drive rendered inoperative to protect the encrypted data on it? Or, is there an administrative password you can enter to reset the user password? Or do you have to ship it back to the manufacturer to be unlocked? Or is there even a secret back door - say for customs to use? This gets discussed here on Engadget and here on Slashdot.  
- Michelin and Valeo are working on e-wheels, these are a full electric drive and suspension system built into the wheel allowing for a simpler electric car design. I wonder if these will refuse to roll if another manufacturer's tires are mounted on them. 
- The US economic stimulus package contains billions to stimulate the US battery manufacturing industry. 
- Could we get some solar power collection happening in space in the next decade? I don't see this being very likely, given the costs of getting things into orbit and the fact that earth-based generation has lots of room to grow and will keep getting less expensive with time. It appears that PG&E is about to purchase power (also here) from Solaren who are planning to start beaming power back to Earth in 2016. They are going to build a photovoltaic system illuminated by concentrated sunlight. More news on it here. 
- The Neuros Link (discussed here on Slashdot) is a small form factor HTPC running a custom Ubuntu Linux distro. It will be priced at $300, which is pretty much at the low end of what you could build yourself. The system I build around the Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H board works very well as an HTPC, and as the Neuros system is based on a very similar motherboard I would expect that (with the right device drivers) it also works very well. 
- Manufacturing costs of solar cells from First Solar (FSLR) reached $1/Watt in March 2009 (discussed here on Slashdot), establishing a new benchmark in low-cost solar power (especially compared with silicon-based solar cells at about $3/Watt). 
- The ASUS Eee Keyboard puts a different twist on the small form factor PC by packing the PC into a keyboard. It also includes a small 5-inch touch sensitive LCD instead of the number pad. 
- The Eee Box 206 is an update for the ASUS Eee Box small form factor PCs which brings the ability to play HD content. This can be mounted on the back of an LCD display. This will likely be followed by the Eee Box B208 which will have a dual core Atom and ATI Radeon HD 4350 graphics, so could function quite well as an HTPC. It looks like the Eee Box 206 is not up to the task of playing high-def media. 
- Is the data within a railway time table protected by copyright? I would have thought the data fell in the category of "facts" which cannot be copyrighted. We may find out what Australia thinks about this thanks to an iPhone train timetable app. 
- A new design for lithium battery electrodes could greatly increase charge and discharge rates (perhaps by more than a factor of 10). This change does not require any new materials, it is just improving the way the materials are physically structured to allow for faster flow of ions. Discussed here on Slashdot, here on Engadget, announced here by MIT and discussed here on Technology Review. 
- In 2009 the US electric car industry received a $2.4G stimulus package, most of which was directed towards battery manufacturing. 
- This Slashdot article asks about how to get a prototype circuit board built. Turns out there are quite a lot of circuit board manufacturers that offer low volume (typically about a 3 board minimum) one-off production services. These include:
As well, some suggestions on other prototyping sources (cases, plastics, machine parts) were made. 
- At least one netbook running Android is in the works, see: I-Buddie shows a prototype. Skytone is also going to produce an Android-powered ARM-based netbook, this one in a tablet-convertible format at a price of about $250 which sounds a bit high but it is for a convertible so they have much less competition than the standard netbook form factor. 
- The next wave of netbooks might be powered by ARM processors as this would allow their power consumption to be greatly reduced, but this would also force manufacturers to stick with Linux as the operating system. There are some hints that Microsoft (in a strange echo of Windows NT's distant past when it could also run on the DEC Alpha and PowerPC chips) might make a version of Windows 7 that would run on ARM to address this. I find it more plausible that Microsoft would just try to push Windows CE into that role instead. 
- A overview of using factory functions. 
- A new rechargeable battery technology that uses oxygen from the surrounding atmosphere to increase the capacity by up to a factor of 10. If this can be commercialized it would be a game-changing event for battery power, for example typical electric cars currently get a maximum rage on the order of 100 miles, with a factor of 10 this could reach 1000 miles which is more than almost anyone would drive in a day. This is called STAIR for St. Andrews Air. Engadget discusses it here. 
- Some reviews and sample footage from the Canon VIXIA HF200 (a HiDef 1080i/p capable camcorder with SDHC flash card storage).
, this got down converted to SD. Probably about 300W of incandescent to illuminate a kitchen and dining area.
- Day and night, this was shot with the HF20 (which is the same thing as the HF200, except with some built-in flash storage), the day time shots are in a cactus garden, so there is a lot of sharp detail visible. It also gives you some idea of the depth of field on closeups. The night time views were probably shot during and after sunset. So provide a range of lighting levels. There also appears to be some use of the built-in video light to illuminate a child in the foreground of some of the shots.
- A discussion on low light performance on the AVForums.
- A positive review from infoSync. This one likes the low light performance:
Not only were video clips sharp and highly detailed, but noise levels were also minimal across the board, even in low light. In fact, there were some instances where we preferred the Vixia HF20's low light performances to the formidable Canon Vixia HF S10's.
and provides a few still samples of the low light performance.
- Camcorderinfo.com's review finds low light performance to be poor. It appears that the previous model (HF11) had a larger sensor and could reach 50 IRE in about 1/2 the illumination of the HF20.
- With an 11.6-inch screen the BenQ Joybook Lite U121 pushes the upper limits of the netbook form factor, but might be a great small laptop. 
- An old article on the manufacturing cost of prescription drugs. 
- The Ion 330-BD nettop from ASRock appears to be a pretty capable small form factor device. It gets a positive review here. 
- Some US Senators are looking into the cell phone exclusivity deals that are common in North America between carriers and cell phone manufacturers. Here's hoping they find this to be anti-competitive and monopolistic behavior and then this spills over to Canada. 
- An air-lithium battery system being developed by PolyPlus might increase storage densities by a factor of 10. Discussed here on Slashdot and here on Technology Review. 
- Solar cells built using nanopillars may cost a factor of 10 less than silicon cells (though they might not be as efficient). 
- A Utah startup company called Millenniata is developing a modified DVD drive and special media with the objective of having a 1000 year life span (which is better that current writable DVDs by probably a factor of 100). 
- Engadget takes a stab at building an HTPC with Blu-ray for under $1000, in fact they suggest ways of building a less-capable machine for about $500. 
- A new bio fuel production process claims up to about a factor of 10 improvement over current approaches, allowing it to reach 20,000 gallons of fuel per acre per year. 
- A study by Siemens of the whole bulb life cycle (from manufacture to disposal) is showing that LED and compact fluorescent bulbs are now about equal in energy usage. They expect that LEDs will continue to improve in the future so should eventually use less total energy. 
- The Nissan Leaf electric car is claimed to get an equivalent of 367 miles per gallon. The US DOE has a formula for calculation of the equivalent gallons of gasoline that a pure electric or hybrid vehicle would use, it is discussed here. Essentially what they do is to use a conventional vehicle dynamometer to measure fuel consumption in simulated driving (just like they do with any other vehicle) and then they take that measurement (which is actually in Watt-hours per mile) and convert it from an electric energy value (a Watt-hour is just 3600 Joules - which is a true energy unit) to a gallons of gasoline by using the factor 82049 Watt hours per gallon of gasoline (which would be 295.4MJ/gallon). The odd thing here is that published energy content for gasoline (also here) is about 45.8MJ/kg which would result in about 124.6MJ/gal... 
- Another comparison of 2.5 inch form factor SSDs, this time (Aug'09) all the devices have improved controllers and are getting read speeds in the 200MB/s range and even some write speeds in the 200MB/s range. 
- Silicon Ink solar cells from JA Solar and Innovalight are supposed to be less expensive to manufacture and deliver up to an 18% conversion efficiency. Initial commercialization expected in 2010. 
- Modern SATA hard drives are built to a set of standard block sizes which are available from a number of manufacturers. This generally makes replacing a failed drive in a RAID array (where the exact drive size must match) quite easy. However, some recent motherboard "features" may actually reserve some space on the hard drive to store a copy of the BIOS for backup purposes. When this happens the motherboard sends special commands to the hard drive to tell it to change its reported size so that regular operating system partitioning software will not see the reserved area (the so called Host Protected Area - HPA). This issue was discussed here when it showed up on some Gigabyte motherboards to do with their Virtual Dual BIOS. If you connect several drives to one of these motherboards you may find that only one of them gets its size changed (probably the one on the lowest numbered SATA port), so even identical drives may no longer be identical. 
- TI calculators are a favorite of hobbyist hackers, to the point that a group factored the digital key used by TI to sign operating system binaries. 
- An example of refactoring a wxPython application to improve the code. 
- I wonder why Apple never put an infrared receiver and transmitter in the iPhone/iTouch, as with it they would make very nice universal remote controls. You can "fix" this problem with the RedEye base which the iPhone talks to via WiFi and the base then sends the appropriate infrared controls to your home theater system. But still, its not a portable system and it costs nearly $200, to provide functionality that was standard in earlier PDAs like the Palm and probably costs about $0.25 to manufacture. An IR dongle type attachment (along with a universal remote application) has been announced, of course this probably makes more sense for use with the iTouch. The L5 iPhone IR dongle was shown at CES 2010. Logitech has released an app for the iPhone that turns an iPhone into a wireless trackpad or keyboard - this might make the iTouch a rather nice HTPC remote controller. The New Potato's FLPR IR dongle is another IR controller for about $80. The RedEye mini will bring the IR remote dongle down to about $49, it gets reviewed here. The i-Got-Control IRB1 is another entry into this market. 
- Western Digital is going to start introducing hard drives that are formatted with 4K byte sectors rather than the current 512 byte sectors in 2010. This will apparently allow for improved error correction while slightly increasing storage density. This will potentially cause a performance issue for Windows XP (and older systems) due to these older Windows versions creating the first partition in a way that it is misaligned to the 4K blocks on the drive (sort of an off by one type error). WD has two solutions for this, one is they provide a jumper on the drive that can compensate for the off by one misalignment (but it is only good for drives with a single partition) and the other is a utility that will realign the partitions on the drive. More discussion here on Slashdot. The first of these drives from WD will have "EARS" as part of the model number. An article about the issues with these 4K sector drives causing bad performance under Linux, both the Reiser and EXT3 file systems can have severe slow downs on writing small files if these drives are not installed correctly at the current time. 
- 2009 saw the small form factor PC niche expand a bit with the nettop computer category, such as the Viewsonic VOT132 which has an ION chip set for 1080p video. 
- Some articles on the Weibull distribution which can be used to model the probability of failure of devices. The significant difference between this and the normal distribution is that the Weibull is a one-sided curve, so all the events happen above a reference point rather than being distributed on either side of the reference point. This makes sense for things like time to failure given that a component cannot fail before it is put into use (well, if you include manufacturing defects and shipping issues it could...).
- The Trexa EV development platform is a complete chassis, drive train and suspension system for building electric vehicles on. Now if this sort of thing got adopted by a few manufacturers and picked up by the kit car market, things could get really interesting, fast! 
- China is now becoming the dominant manufacturer of renewable energy devices. 
- A new type of solar panel made from silicon wires embedded in plastic has been developed. Initial reports claimed a very high conversion efficiency, but a later article corrects this back to the 15-20% range. Further discussion here on Slashdot. Still these panels may be much less expensive than current designs as they only require 1% of the silicon that a conventional cell would use and as they are flexible could be manufactured in a high-volume roll-to-roll process. 
- Will 2010 be the year of the tablet? At CeBIT low end tablets are appearing aimed at a price point of about $100. Apparently more than 50 ARM-based tablets are currently in preparation, so the later parts of 2010 could see a lot of activity in this market sector. I'm guessing that manufacturers are looking at this "new" segment and thinking they had better not miss it like the early days of the netbook segment which allowed ASUS to run away with that market. It looks like Toshiba is thinking along the same lines and is getting back into this market segment. 
- Hollow spy coins continue to be made today, in fact a US Nickel (a 5 cent coin) is the perfect size to hide a Micro SD card in. 
- The Google Nexus One Phone does work on Virgin Mobile in Canada. As of 26-Mar-2010 I was able to successfully connect my (ATT/Rogers style) Nexus One to the Virgin Mobile network in Calgary, Canada. It runs fine and with the data plan activated it works over the 3G (HSDPA) network quite nicely. Getting connected was much more painful than it needed to be. Here's the story:
- It all started when I heard from a couple of friends that the unlocked Nexus One was now available to Canadians and that they had taken the plunge. So I did a bit more research and found that there were now two variants: one (the AWS version - for "3G on T-Mobile USA") would only work on the Wind network in Canada and the other ("compatible with 3G on ATT and Rogers Wireless") should work on Rogers, Fido, Telus, Bell and Virgin. I ordered the ATT/Rogers version because it offered me more carrier choices in Canada.
- After researching the various carrier offerings (and rediscovering that the thinly-disguised monopolistic cell phone price fixing conspiracy was still alive and well in Canada) I decided to stick with Virgin Mobile where I already had a pre-paid phone.
- I then called Virgin's support to see if they thought the Nexus One was compatible, they confirmed that the specifications were a match and stated that: as this was not a "supported phone" they could not guarantee data would work. They said when I got the phone to take it to one of their stores and get hooked up using their GSM SIM card.
- I then paid a visit to their North Hill mall booth (they don't really have "stores" just booths in Calgary) only to be told "they only do CDMA phones". Of course Virgin has only recently begun handling GSM/3G type phones, but you'd think their staff training would have mentioned the fact that now they are carrying the iPhone and offering SIM cards and that they had joined the GSM/3G service crowd (like the rest of the Virgin operations around the world). I also visited the Bell booth (Virgin runs on Bell's network in Canada and shares network towers with Telus, competing with Rogers and Fido) and they were ready to try right away.
- Undaunted I called Virgin service the next day, reconfirmed that the phone would work and that I would be able to port my pre-paid phone number and remaining balance to the new plan and then settled back to wait for DHL to deliver the phone.
- Once the phone arrived I returned to the Virgin booth, this time it was staffed by someone who did know that they did more than CDMA, so we got set to the task of hooking up. After about 15 minutes of credit check, verifying that the phone's IMEI number was listed in their database as compatible (for the 3rd time!) we got to the part where they scan in the SIM card's number and associate the phone by its IMEI number. At this point we got a rather odd error from their system saying something like "the SIM card is incompatible with the selected plan". The salesman called his support line and they got the same error and after a few minutes they just gave up. The salesman gave it another shot (this time starting as if I did not have an existing account, in case the pre-paid legacy account was messing things up) and even used a different SIM, but still got the same error. As I was running late, I just called it a day and left.
- The next morning I called Virgin support and told them what had happened, they went through the same registration process (again checking the IMEI for compatibility) and ran into the same error (using a SIM card on their end as I had been unable to purchase one). This time support called their support, and after a few minutes on hold, they returned to say they had got around the error and we could proceed, but that I would have to now buy a SIM card from one of their stores. However, all the account stuff had been done and I had a new (non-working) phone number and once I had the SIM I was to call back and they could complete the process.
- So at lunch time I went SIM shopping, its just a little $5 card that all the Virgin retailers carry and there are several a short ways from my office, so I checked stock levels at The Source (as the Virgin Booth is further away) and walked over. On my way I passed "The Telephone Booth" which had a big Virgin Mobile display at the front of their store, so I went in and asked for a SIM, they wanted $42 for it (unless I registered through them) so I resumed my search for The Source.
- At The Source they said no problem, they had the SIMs but needed to check the phone first, so they checked the IMEI against the database and then got out their "test SIM" (which was from Bell), popped it into the phone and declared it good. So then they proceeded to sell me the Virgin SIM, but at some point in the checkout process they have to have a Virgin Account number (to sell the SIM against), so they wanted to go through the registration process (again!). I told them this had already been started and it was on hold pending purchase of the SIM. They called Virgin, and after about 10 minutes of back and forth (and another IMEI check, credit card check and photo ID recheck) they got the account number out of Virgin and were able to complete the sale. All in all, about 25 minutes to make a $5 sale - how do these guys stay in business?
- Later that day, SIM in phone, I call Virgin back again to resume the process. After about 10 minutes on hold I get an operator and after a brief description of what I need to do she decides another department needs to handle the call, so back on hold. After about 30 minutes more on hold I hang up and call back to the support line again, this time I get through and after about 5 minutes we have completed the next step. The SIM and the IMEI are now associated! So now I have to power off the phone, pull out the SIM, reinsert it, power up the phone and then wait for 2 hours for the phone and network to connect up and then call them back to finish the data configuration step.
- After 2 hours I check the phone and the it appears to be on the GSM network (I don't see any 3G indicator), I can make a phone call with it and I have received two text messages from Virgin welcoming me to the party. Things are looking good, so I call them up, wait for about 15 minutes, talk to someone in support who curtly tells me the phone is not supported by them so 3G ain't going to work, your phone's only going to do what its doing now, goodbye. I hope Virgin reviews their call recordings on that one... Muttering to myself I dig through my accumulated net-searches on Virgin 3G lore and find this helpful article where the author reports the same sort of grief. He mentions that the solution is actually documented on Virgin's site (note: Virgin has since removed this page from their site and when I pointed it out to them they denied it even existed, you can get the information you need from Bell's site, since Virgin just resells Bell's service) in a cunningly concealed section of the page on their SIM cards. I found that following the setup (under the misleading heading "What Do I Get?") for the iPhone 3G/3GS eventually worked just fine. These are the settings that worked for me, there are some other settings that I didn't enter anything for.
To get to the data entry page on your Nexus One go into the Settings menu, then "Wireless & networks", then "Mobile networks", then "Access Point Names", then (for me) it says "virgin pda.bell.ca", I click on this and it gets to the "Edit access point" menu.
Initially it did not seem to do anything, but after a few minutes I thought "what if my phone's too smart, perhaps when it is connected via WiFi it does not display the 3G indicator?". So I shut down my WiFi connection and the 3G icon popped into view, a quick test confirmed that data was flowing through 3G and all was well!
- APN: pda.bell.ca
- Proxy: web.wireless.bell.ca
- Port: 80
- MMSC http://mms.bell.ca/mms/wapenc
- MMS Proxy: web.wireless.bell.ca:80
- MCC: 302
- Well that should have been the end of the story, only the next day I realized that in all of this Virgin never actually shut down the old account and ported the number, so I had to call them again (20 minute hold) and go through the number porting process. This required another SIM remove/replace and wait an hour or two cycle, but now things appear to be working.
- I just have to wait a few days and check that their accounting department did move the unused balance from my pre-paid phone to the new monthly (one month term contract) plan. Oh joy, another half hour of hold time ahead. And yes, they did transfer the remaining balance from the pre-paid plan, so nothing was lost there.
- Thoughts after a couple of weeks. I have owned a Google Nexus One for a couple of weeks now and I thought it would be a good time to record some first impressions. In a word BETA. Yes, in keeping with Google's fine tradition of apparently never finishing anything, this is most certainly a beta product. Now given the intended audience (geeks) of the Nexus One this is not a particularly bad thing, but Android is being billed as a mass-market phone (and appliance) operating system and I am finding the smart phone platform is falling short of what a consumer would need, want or expect.
The hardware is quite good, the device looks and feels nice. The screen is very nice, except in bright sunlight. The digitizer generally works quite well, it certainly feels like the iPhones I have played with. The sound quality is good for both phone and media functions. The battery life is good for this sort of device, I'm getting about two days of use out of it by which time the battery level is at about 30%, but I don't do many calls and maybe log about an hour of web surfing, an hour or two of MP3 playback and about 2.5 hours of GPS use in that time. I leave the WiFi and Bluetooth radios on all the time. The fastest drain is when I use the GPS (using Google's Latitude and the MyTracks route tracker applications). I like the fact the battery is user-swapable and there is a microSD card slot.
The only issues I have with the hardware so far are:
The software, this is the part of the phone that's really beta. I have not had any real problems with the underlying OS, I have not had to reboot the phone to get it to function properly or anything like that. My gripe is with the included applications. One of the things I wanted from this phone was a unification of the functions of my old phone plus my old Palm Tungsten T3 PDA, so that I would be able to replace two devices with one and have more functionality at hand too (like the GPS and browsing on the go). So far the places I find that fail are with the basic PDA functions. Here's how I see it:
- The ringer volume (as is mentioned here along with other issues) is too low
- the back cover is rather hard to remove, they could fix this quite easily by including a ridge or slot to get a grip on, or better yet a small latch.
- I would prefer that the microSD card slot was exposed (i.e. externally accessible on one side) so one could change cards without having to power down the phone, remove the back cover and battery and the reassemble everything. My little Samsung flip phone did this quite well. Perhaps there should be two slots, an internal one that is used as fixed storage and an external one that is intended for user-swapping?
- the dock connector appears to only provide a power connection, any other connection must be either through the USB port (which is limited) or via Bluetooth or WiFi radio. This may be a good thing, but at the moment it limits what other things the unit can be used for. Perhaps someone will make a WiFi player dock for it so that the device can be used to play video to an external monitor or TV.
- For a few cents more why didn't they put an infrared transmitter/receiver on this so that it could also be used as a programmable remote control?
- The GMail client is pretty good, its an effective way of doing email triage on the road (train) and the unification of your email into the Google GMail cloud is very well done. You do something on either the GMail web client (at home or at the office or where ever) or on the phone and it's auto-synchronized in a seamless fashion. For anyone who needs to deal with email while on trips this would be worth it alone.
- The contacts manager is also very good, again it pulls off a nice, seamless two way synchronization All you need to do to make this useful is to import your contacts into the GMail contacts lists. I had to do some work on this one because GMail does not have a direct import from Palm devices, you have to export to a CSV and then upload to GMail, which is ok, except GMail import does not understand a lot of the columns that the Palm export provides so it just tosses a lot of stuff into the "Notes" section.
- The todo (tasks) list is missing. Total fail, GMail has a todo list on the web, but to get at it from your Nexus One you must visit a web page! Todo lists have been standard on PDAs since the beginning, so why is this missing?
- The Note taking function is also missing. It seems obvious that this should have been implemented as something that interfaced with Google Docs on the web, in fact there is a third-party free application called GDocs that attempts to fill this void.
- While the device does have a media player that does a reasonable job of MP3 playback and video playback this is a very basic implementation. It lacks the glitter of what the world has come to expect from the iPhone, so it's just basic marketing that this needs to be improved. Note the video formats this can play appears to be pretty limited, so expect to transcode anything you want to view here. Given there are a lot of inexpensive media players that are based on Linux that do a great job of playing just about anything without using super powerful chips one wonders why this cannot be done on this phone?
The last issue is with accessing the microSD card over the USB cable to load or unload data. As a geek I can understand why they have done what they have done, but surely there must be a better way! Here is what the user sees:
In my view what should happen is that when you plug in the USB cable the phone should immediately do all the mounting, the fact it can detect the connection and then prompt you, tells me that there's no real reason why it could not have just done the mounting right away. The mounting attempt might fail if some phone application current was using the SD card (though I have not seen this happen yet), in which case it should notify you of the problem. Then Windows would have quickly opened the drive and you could get onto the important business of dragging over some more MP3s right away. Once you are done with the drive in Windows, you should just use the Windows eject function as normal. Then the phone would detect the end of the session (as it currently does) and instead of bothering you with some more UNIX voodoo it should just silently umount the drive and return it to the normal phone mode - only if there is a problem should it prompt you for anything. This would make the whole process plug and play, the only voodoo left is on the Windows box when ejecting the drive at the end, and that's now accepted as "normal".
- Upon connecting his Nexus One to a computer via the USB cable he gets a notification that says the USB was connected.
- He then drags open the notifications list and touches the USB notification.
- Then a dialog appears saying: "You have connected your phone to your computer via USB. Select "Mount" if you want to copy files between your computer and your phone's SD card." and it gives you two buttons: "Mount" and "Don't Mount". This simply reeks of geek, and not just any geek, we're talking about 50 year old UNIX geeks with massive beards that wear old hiking boots to work in case they need to climb things in the server room! Mount, don't talk to me about Mount! Steve Jobs must find this hilarious!
- Once you hit "mount" your microSD card becomes accessible from the computer and then you can use it until you use the Window's remove USB devices tool to eject it (in a way equally mysterious, but in this day of USB thumb drives something that most people know how to use).
- Once you do this the Nexus One gives you another notification titled: "Turn off USB storage", tapping this gets you another dialog that reads "Before turning off USB storage, make sure you have unmounted the USB host. Select "Turn Off" to turn off USB storage." and gives you to choices "Turn Off" and "Cancel". Again the mountains appear on the phone.
- An overview of the 2010 crop of Atom-based mini-ITX form factor motherboards which are good for building low-power appliance servers. And an idea for building a small NAS out of the Supermicro X7SPA-HF and a Lian Li PC-Q08. 
- The safety of X-ray back-scatter machines used in airport passenger screening is now being called into question. Still the safety factor on these (compared to other X-ray exposures) appears rather large, so even if current estimates are too low by a factor of a hundred these would still be pretty safe. 
- Slashdot discusses formatting SD flash cards to get them to function again. It appears that A-Data may be having quality issues, in fact of all the flash cards (SD or CF) and USB flash drives I have owned the only one that I ever had issues with was an 8Gig USB flash drive from A-Data (this would occasionally lock up while being written to). The SD card association has an SD card formatting utility. 
- The US GAO is now recognizing that most media industry piracy claims are not founded in fact. Discussed here on Slashdot. 
- Factor analysis as used in the iTunes Genius algorithm might be useful in looking for financial trend correlations. 
- In the 300 DPI print myth the author examines a the same source image resized down to a number of resolutions to see what printing resolution is really necessary. The conclusion is that anything over 200 DPI is not necessary and above 150 DPI is all you need to use to fool the naked eye. With this in mind an 8M pixel camera should be able to produce a 16x24" print at about 150 DPI resolution that will look quite good, I have printed 8M pixel images from my Minolta A2 on a 13x19" Canon printer and I don't see any obvious artifacts. 
- A new approach to the construction of battery cathodes by using graphite nanotubes could increase battery capacity by a factor of 5. 
- The skin that HTC applies to Android to make things pretty has some security issues, in the Droid Incredible phone it saves screenshots of the user's browser to internal memory, to make this worse these are not deleted by resetting the phone to factory defaults. 
- ECO-Green-Speed is a Chinese manufacturer of electric scooters. 
- The US Army is getting close to manufacturing artificial blood. Wonder if they are going to call it True Blood? 
- In Python one can easily add the contents of two lists together with a statement like:
a = b + c
where b and c are lists. But if you need to join a large number of lists together into a single list using the extend() function (of the list object) is much faster. In one rather extreme case where I needed to build an overall list of about 1 million points from individual lists that were about 400 points long, switching to the extend() function sped this up about a factor of about one thousand. So the faster code would be something like:
a =