News For Geeks: 4/20/09

News flash

In the gadget world, rumors are swirling again over the new Sidekick from T-Mobile. This time the rumor comes complete with a memo from a T-Mobile employee who anonymously reveals, among other things, it’ll have a swivel screen. <golf clap>. It’ll also have Exchange/Activesync e-mail support, I’m sure the IT Pros are going to love having to support “yet one more enterprisey phone that opens a hole in their network”.

I for one still heart my Pantech duo, a dual-slider phone that gives me both the candy bar style I prefer, with the wide qwerty keyboard for those times I get a hankering to work on my novel or send a lengthy SMS.

Elsewhere in gadgetland, the US military enlists the iPod Touch for the battlefield environment. Its application support just rocks my socks, and apparently the Army’s as well. Ever since the Zune worldwide meltdown of Dec 31, 2008, I’ve been cursing my brown 30G Zune. I’ve been waiting for one more issue to appear with my player make me an iPod Touch owner. The recent release of Blizzard’s Mobile Logon Authenticator just about sent me over the edge towards making the switch because it was made available only for the iPhone/iPod.

In Science news, amid a great budget crunch to get the ISS complete, the Shuttle’s fate nears point of no return. Can you believe that the original design for the Shuttle originated during the Nixon administration? It’s time to end of life this pig and move on.

A doctor contends that if the 16th President of the US hadn’t been assassinated 144 years ago he would have been dead from cancer within the year. He wants’ a piece of the prez’ bloody pillow case and he intends to prove his theory through DNA analysis. Where’s the ACLU and why aren’t they in pit bull mode over this invasion of privacy?

Last in Science news is that apparently keeping slim is good for the planet. Or so say some serious scientists. Since I need to lose weight I should be supplementing my lifestyle changes with cardio workouts to get the pounds off; that means more CO2 generated. Question: Is the planet better off with me not contributing more to the problem or getting slim and trim? I’m too tired to figure out the math on this one.

In Internet & Software news, Adobe is trying to take Television to the next level and announces Flash for TVs. God help us.

Washington, DC will be the 1st US city to get free mobile TV. Broadcasts take place this summer by the five major networks nbc, cbs, fox, pbs, abc. Do we not watch enough TV already that the coalition for mobile video has to try and shove it down society’s throat?

Bonus internet news: Oprah gets pwned by Shaq on Twitter. HAHAHAHAHA!

News Links For Geeks: 4/8/09

  

Men in Black Men In Black 3 In Development! – [ScreenRant] – Sony announces plans for Men in Black 3, rumors say Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones have expressed interest. What do you think about a third installment?

news_DnD Wizards Of The Coast Learning That Pissing Off Geeks Isn’t Such A Good Idea – [techdirt] If there’s one group online that it’s useful to avoid pissing off, it’s "the geeks." And one thing that plenty of geeks love is Dungeons and Dragons. Yet, D&D publisher, Wizards of the Coast, has fans of the game up in arms

ATT  AT&T’s unionized workers poised to strike, with a ringtone to remind them – [BetaNews] AT&T’s contract with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) expired at midnight yesterday, and if the union’s demands aren’t met in contract re-negotiation, AT&T’s wireline employees — nearly 100 thousand in number — will strike.

Speech_Bubble  Group protests Kindle’s read-aloud limits – [MSNBC Tech&Sci] – A group representing the blind and other people with disabilities protested limitations to the new read-aloud feature on Amazon.com Inc.’s latest Kindle electronic reader Tuesday, arguing that the restrictions unfairly limit their access to e-books.

Mouse Computer Mouse + Taxidermied Mouse = Mouse Mouse! – [Neatorama] What do you get when you combine taxidermy with gadget hacking?

Neurons New neurons update remote memories – [Physorg] It is not easy to find your student bedroom when you left university 10, 20 or 30 years ago. But once you have found it, you can easily return the next day.

Orion_Spacecraft NASA Selects Material for Orion Spacecraft Heat Shield – [NASA] NASA has chosen the material for a heat shield that will protect a new generation of space explorers when they return from the moon. After extensive study, NASA has selected the Avcoat ablator system for the Orion crew module.

Google Earth Pixel Art!

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We’ve all heard of, or even had dead pixels on the digital displays of various electronic devices we use on a daily basis.  And, I can say with near certainty that most people don’t want that.  I know that the small gaps on my nintendo DS drive me crazy whenever I use it.  However, an ingenious Dutch artist, Helmut Smits, thought of an entertaining idea for the upcoming image scanning in his area for use in Google Earth.  He cut out an 82 x 82 cm square of grass in an open field, so that when that area is scanned from the height of 1km, it would look just like a dead pixel in the image.  I’d love to be a fly on the wall in Google HQ when they see that and wonder if their equipment is bad 😉

I’ll keep an eye on the area, and update this post when the image is available!

Netflix Drones Exposed

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Actually, the title sounds more nefarious than this post really is :)  Here we have a behind the scenes look at one of the Netflix sorting warehouses in the east coast.  Thirteen photos of the internal workings and machinations of the receiving, and then immediate shipping out of DVD’s from one customer to another.  I had a Netflix membership once, and never had a problem with the time it took movies to get to me…aside from the occasional broken DVD.

Regardless, this is an interesting peek into their processing.  Check it out HERE.

Wix Website Builder

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Here’s an interesting website I came across a few days ago, called Wix.  It’s one of the many flavors of free website builders you can find out there in the interweb.  I found this one to be simpler and more intuitive to use in many ways, than the other builders I have attempted to use in the past.  After signing up for a free account, you can have a functioning website setup in less than ten minutes.  After spending some time on it, I managed to create a website using one of Wix’s premade templates that looked nearly professional enough to use mainstream!

Check it out and have fun.  If you make a website, tell us about it here, and maybe we’ll give you some exposure :)  Cheers!

Happy Cow Brush

Apparently someone thought that this mechanical brush would make for happy cows, and then happy milk ;)  Regardless, this makes for an entertaining couple of minutes!

Now if they only had something like this in WoW, I might do better in the battlegrounds!  Moo!

Blizzard Theme Park Contest

 Blizzard Theme Park

If you have artistic skills and a modicum of knowledge of the blizzard universe and what motivates its fans, then Blizzard has a contest right up your alley. Here’s their pitch:

Step right up, and take a ride on Onyxia’s Revenge — a wild, whelp-filled roller coaster through the depths of the nefarious dragon’s lair! Head to Koprulu Food Court and grab yourself a Zerger Burger — then don your Horadric Poncho, and prepare to get soaked in a rain of fire on Diablo’s River of Flame!

What thrills would you seek in the Blizzard Entertainment theme park of your dreams? This is your chance to show us.

We’re challenging you to design and illustrate your own Blizzard Entertainment Theme Park, including roller coasters, water rides, shows, shopping areas, food courts, game areas, patrons, and whatever fantastic attractions you desire.

Submit your original park design by March 30, 2009, and we’ll choose our favorites based on the creativity of the design, artistic technique (including the medium and style), and how your park reflects the lore and spirit of Blizzard Entertainment’s games.

You can submit illustrations that look like theme-park maps, compose your park to look like a screenshot from a game, or create whatever kind of park you wish — the only limit is your imagination. Winning entries will be featured on Blizzard Entertainment websites around the world as well as at BlizzCon 2009, being held in Anaheim, California on August 21 and 22.

The park designer who most creatively incorporates the StarCraft, Warcraft, and Diablo universes will receive a Wacom Cintiq 12WX Digitizing Tablet, a pair of StarCraft II beta keys, and more. See below for more prize details, or check out the official rules for more information.

Award Categories:

Best Overall Blizzard Theme Park

(incorporating StarCraft, Warcraft, and Diablo)

Grand Prize – Wacom Cintiq 12WX Digitizing Tablet, Echoes of War: The Music of Blizzard Entertainment, and two (2) StarCraft II beta keys

Best StarCraft Area or Theme Park

1st Prize – Echoes of War: The Music of Blizzard Entertainment and two (2) StarCraft II beta keys

Best Warcraft Area or Theme Park

1st Prize – Echoes of War: The Music of Blizzard Entertainment and two (2) StarCraft II beta keys

Best Diablo Area or Theme Park

1st Prize – Echoes of War: The Music of Blizzard Entertainment and two (2) StarCraft II beta keys

News Link Dump: 3.14 2009 – Happy Pi Day

news_links_global_dimming  Global dimming: Air pollution clogging skies worldwide – Air pollution has caused skies above most of the world’s land areas to dim slightly over the past 30 years

news_links_pi  Today is National Pi Day, March 14 – Happy 3.1415926. In other Pi news today, a Michigan teen recites 2,000 digits of pi

news_links_google  Are Google’s Behavior-Based Ads a New Privacy Concern? – Google’s new interest-based advertising may lead to increased revenues for the search company, but privacy advocates have a list of new concerns for Google

news_links_battery   Batteries recharging in a matter of seconds – MIT researches discovered how to greatly improve recharging batteries; they worked on how lithium ions travelled from the cathode back to the anode. They achieved their performance goals by changing the structure of the standard Li-ion battery, making use of nanoparticles and some other elements such as carbon

news_links_blimps   Pentagon Seeks Fleet Of Massive DARPA Spy Blimps – The Pentagon has announced intentions to launch an entire fleet of giant 450-foot-long airships which will act as a massive airborne radar system providing perpetual surveillance of vehicles, planes and people on the ground

news_links_thor   New superhero movies pushed back – Marvel pushes out dates for Avengers and Thor. But hey, at least Samuel Jackson is still on board for a 9 pic deal to play Nick Fury.

FuzzFind – A Unique Meta-Search Engine

Fuzzfind

What’s FuzzFind?

FuzzFind is a web search mashup that combines the power of the leading search engines and social bookmarking sites to make it easier for you to locate and identify the most relevant information. All results are grouped together and sorted according to the search engine rankings plus the popularity of the sites according to the social bookmarking community.

As  you can see in the user interface screenshot above, you can tune the search results for various search engines by moving a slider left or right based on your personal preferences. This is cool and I’d love to see more engines included hear like Stumbleupon for instance. Or to do an image and video search as well.

I’m looking forward to see more like this, so far I’m liking what I’m seeing.

BitTorrent To The Rescue

Broken-DVD

I’ve been downloading torrents for many years, and have come to know many handy tips and tricks.  One that I learned a while back, but had never had an opportunity to utilize, is correcting and repairing hefty sized files using your client’s hash of that file.  Yeah, it may sound complicated, but its actually pretty simple.  If you have a slow connection and downloaded something like the newest ISO of Ubuntu, then when you went to burn the image to a disc it’s corrupted for some reason…Don’t pull your hair out!  No need to download the file again; with some creative copying and a hash check, you can be back in business in no time at all.

Read this detailed article HERE to get the skinny on this procedure.  Be sure to backup anything you plan on testing this with, as the method can be a bit shaky at times.  Good luck!

Trekkers Rejoice! Star Trek MMO First Look

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I can’t tell you just how long I’ve been waiting for this bad boy to be released!  I’d heard rumors of it as far back as two years ago, when NCSoft was shutting down some of its earlier developed games, and announced upcoming developments.  If you remember, Andy and I were down in Vegas last summer, and had an opportunity to check out some of the literature for the game there, and there was even a presentation of the MMO by none other than Leonard Nimoy himself.  Early videos promised some beautiful, yet functional space battles, unique character customizations, and many innovative worlds to explore.  One of the online consultants from MMORPG.com has had an opportunity to play the game, and give a semi-detailed analysis of its play HERE.

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I’m chomping at the bit to play this game – and I’m hoping that it’s released soon.  With the new Star Trek movie just around the corner, it would be a smart move to ride the popularity coattails to help promote the game.  Especially since this early look suggests that there are tie-ins between the MMO and movie :)

Jailbreak Stores Plot to Plunder iPhone App Revenue

apple logo varied 

Several groups are interested in hosting iPhone apps, but they wouldn’t be officially blessed by Apple, meaning they’re not signed by our favorite fruity gadget maker. Which means to install one of these apps from outside the iTunes environment you must jailbreak your iPhone.

Why not just host these apps on iTunes with all the rest? Well, it appears Apple takes its sweet time to get a developer’s app into the cloud turning it into a minor crisis. And then there’s the whole porn thing that turns your iPhone into a smut emporium.

So if you’re interested in non-Apple certified apps, apps that that Apple hasn’t censored, then you’re only solution is to jailbreak the phone. The cause and effect part i’ve outlined is not news, what’s news is that it appears the desire for alternative non-blessed applications may be building to the point that it’s worth trying to act as an alternative to big brother.

In other Apple news:

  • Rumor: Apple touch-screen Netbook in the works? [CNET News]

  • U2 Hangs up on Apple, Dials BlackBerry [Wired]

  • Apple Shares Again Hit By Analyst Souring Sentiment [CNN Money]

    • The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park revitalises iconic air traffic control technology

      radar stations

      The technology that for decades kept airspace over Southern England safe can now be seen in action in public for the first time ever at The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.

      For 25 years the British-designed IRIS investigative radar recording system operated behind closed doors at West Drayton handling millions of aircraft movements without a single incident ever being attributed to an Air Traffic Control failing. With the transfer of Air Traffic Control to Swanwick, the last of the PDP11-based radar stations were decommissioned earlier this year. Two were transferred to The National Museum of Computing where expert volunteers have brought them back to life after six months of diligent reconstruction.

      The two large radar displays, affectionately known as the Big Green-Eyed Monster because of their size and remarkable retro appearance, can be viewed for the first time by the public replaying historical recordings of flights in and out of London’s Heathrow Airport.

      Titan Backup With A Bang!

       titan-logo   20080908211122_Lacie_logo

      Hey folks!  Our good friend, Flavius Saracut over at Neobyte Solutions (creators of Titan Backup)got a hold of me the other day to tell me about a fantastic weekly giveaway they’re sponsoring right now.  Every week, one lucky person will walk away with a 500gb LaCie external hard disk.  How awesome is that?  I think everyone could use an extra 500gb of storage, myself included :)  All you have to do is head on over to their website, and click on the banner across the top of the page.  Good luck!

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      Click HERE to go check out the review on Titan Backup!