Mar 112007

Om Malik has an interesting Tech History article he posted last week called ‘10 Fun Facts About Storage‘. It’s a compiloation of tidbits regarding storage, the past/present/future, that he’s gathered from other sources. Here’s two examples:

- The magnetic HDD is 50 years old. In 1956 IBM introduced 305 RAMAC (random access method of accounting and control), which is like the great-great-great grandfather of today’s disks. It was the size of a refrigerator, and stored a total of 4.4 megabytes on 50 doubled-sided, two-foot-diameter disks.

– Consumers bought 739.7 million gigabytes of hard-drive storage space last year. That is 11 times what they bought in 2003.

 Posted by at 8:48 pm
Mar 102007

New York Times tries to sort out the sordid story of who invented MP3 (Reg. Req.) and therefore should be the true holder of the patent in order to license it.

Is it Fraunhofer IIS, Lucent, Bell Labs, Philips? I don’t promise you’ll be able to answer that after reading the article but you will have a much clearer understanding of why this is a problem.

Today, if you pay the wrong company to license it you may end up paying through the nose later.

 Posted by at 6:53 am
Mar 092007

This is simply amazing. A totally new way to manage your files and utilize your desktop space with very interesting results.  BumpTop aims to spruce up the desktop metaphor with expressive, lightweight techniques based on real world items and actions.

BumpTop Interface

Now, I thought this prototype was a pretty cool system.  I don’t keep a lot of icons on my desktop as it is – but if I could interact with my data in this way, I might start letting them accumulate.  Simply for that ability of moving items, the intermediary step of crumpling up a document, and the sorting and stacking of information; for me, this is a nice segway in to what the hecklers crave – the next generation of computer interaction.  I’m for it, because if they get this off the ground it will open up a lot of eyes and get people thinking about the future of their desktops.

Mar 092007

Walking robotCheck out this Youtube video of the world’s first dynamically balanced walking robot. The company is Anybots and they’ve brought forth Dexter and Monty. These guys are robots just under 6 feet tall and weigh in between 135-160 pounds.

The neat thing about the two is that they are dynamically balanced. Sure Asimo from Honda is also balanced, but his movements are programmed. If you push on him he’ll tip over. Not Dexter and Monty. They actually walk on their own by balancing themselves and falling forward as they take each tentative step. If you push on them they’ll step back and regain their balance so they don’t fall over.

Just like humans.

Here’s much more information on the theory and practice behind these bots, that Youtube video of the walk, a short video of Dexter Jumping and a choice quote from the web site after comparing to Asimo:

Dynamically balancing—the way we walk—is much harder. It looks fairly smooth when we do it, but it’s really a controlled fall. At any given moment you have to think (or at least, your body does) about which direction you’re falling, and put your foot down in exactly the right place to push you in the direction you want to go. Practice makes it seem easy to us, but it’s a very hard problem to solve

[Found on Neatorama]

 Posted by at 12:54 pm
Mar 092007

The military and the Energy Department chose a new design that was developed by the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, the other competing design came from the Los Alamos National Lab. These are the two premier nuclear weapons labs in the government and have had their proposals scrutinized over the past year.

This new design is supposed to eventually replace the aging existing arsenal of weapons, they should be safer and more robust which should increase their reliability compared to the current designs which are a maintenance nightmare when they’re expected to last decades (assuming nuclear war doesn’t break out in the interim).

It’s estimated that as the old warheads are replaced with the newer models, the total number of nukes will likely be reduced from 6,000 today to about 2,000 in the year 2012.

If you’re curious about the ‘why’ of the program you should read this 2 pager from the DOE ‘Reliable Replacement Warhead Program‘ (PDF).

Read the USA Today article on the event as well.

 Posted by at 6:33 am