Thursday, June 29, 2006

MIT research may spell end for the battery (article)

The Boston Globe reports: "Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology think they're on the verge of making traditional batteries obsolete. ... The researchers are working on a new device that uses carbon nanotubes to store and release electrical energy in a system that could carry as much power as today's lead or lithium batteries."

The really exciting news about these batteries is the fact that they can be charged really fast. They can also be charged ones of thousands of times before wearing out.

Blu-ray vs. HD DVD: What You Need to Know (article)

PC Magazine reports: "the battle to replace the DVD has finally reached consumers. The consumer electronics industry is attempting to replace the millions of DVD players and DVD-ROM drives across the globe. The problem is it can't decide which format to replace them with: Blu-ray or HD DVD. ... Each format has its own heavyweight industry backing. HD DVD is supported by Toshiba, Intel, and Microsoft, which will offer an add-on HD DVD player to its Xbox 360 game console this fall. Blu-ray is supported by Samsung, Pioneer, and Sony, which will build a Blu-ray drive directly into its upcoming PlayStation 3 game system, also available this fall."

Also checkout the following articles:

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

New Type of Phishing (uses Voice Response Systems)

PC Magazine reports: "Websense Security Labs has reported a heretofore theoretical attack called "vishing," or voice phishing. The attack involves an actual phone number and a voice-response system (or is that "phoice-response system"?) to collect personal information."

I have to admit hate the new name that they're giving this type of attack (i.e.: 'vishing'), but I didn't create it. I think the new name is only going to confuse people about the subject more then they might be right now.

Its getting harder and harder these days to tell what's e-mail from a real business and what's a new type of phishing attack. As important as email is for some of us, the one thing that you have to remember is that 'e-mail is untrustworthy'.

To protect yourself, you should do the following:
  • Don't download and run attachments in e-mail.
  • Don't trust links or phone numbers provided in e-mails.
    • Go to the site yourself rather then trusting a links in the e-mail, or call the company using a existing phone number that you trust.
  • Don't rely solely on technology (spam filters, firewalls, anti-virus, etc.) because it can't protect you 100% of the time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Data Brokers and Buyers Anger Congress (article)

Eweek reports: "Almost every piece of personal information that Americans try to keep secret - —including bank account statements, e-mail messages and telephone records - —is semi-public and available for sale."

Its scary how easy it is for anyone to obtain information about yourself, from bank account numbers, to your phone bill, and much more. All the person has to do is be willing to pay a few hundred dollars for the information.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Star Trek vs. Star Wars (video)

There are not a lot of good Star Trek parodies in my opinion, but this is one of the better ones. This video asks, 'what would happen if the starship Enterprise encountered the Death Star?' Watch the video to find out.




Also make sure to checkout my other post called the 'Best Star Wars Parody/Fan Films'.

PC Pitstop: Vista Readiness Center

PC Pitstop has recently released their new Windows Vista Readiness Center. Windows Vista is Microsoft's next generation operating system. The PC Pitstop readiness test quickly analyzes your computer to find out if its hardware meets Microsoft system requirements to run the new operating system.

Note: This site requires Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher in order to work because it uses ActiveX controls to check your computer.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

'Transformers' Web Site Goes Live

The official web site for the upcoming 'Transformers' movie has recently come online. The site includes very little except a countdown timer showing how long until the premier of the first Transformers trailer on the 4th of July.

Check out the IMDB or Wikipedia for more information.

Mind Games (Color Test)

Here is a very simple game that puts both halves of your mind against each other. It displays the name of different colors, in a color other then the word. For example, red, blue, orange, etc. You have for seconds to correctly identify the word before you have to move on to the next one.

Have fun...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Search Engine Partnership Chart

Most people use Google for search, but there are several other smaller search engines out there competing for the crumbs from Google's table. A lot of these smaller search sites rely on results provided by larger search companies.

To see all the relationships between these companies, check out the following site. It shows all the relationships between these search engines.

Microsoft Rolls Out Robotics Dev Kit (article)

PC Magazine reports: "Robotics has captured the minds and imagination of those inside and outside the technology market, but as a market unto itself, robotics can barely get its act together. Microsoft today announced during Robo Trend Inc.'s RoboBusiness Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, a set of development tools that it believes can help unify this fractured market."

Read the article for all the details, or if you want to get more information on Microsoft Robotics Studio (MRS) check out this web site.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lyrebird unbelievable Jungle Bird Mimics Bird and Human Sounds

The unbelievable Lyrebird jungle bird can mimic other birds and human noises (such as: car alarms, chainsaws, cameras shutters, etc.)

iDon't.com (Are you an iSheep)

I recently came across a site called iDon't.com, which is a site that mocks iPod owners. Then asks if iPod owners are sheep? The iDon't.com site is a really viral ad Web marketing campaign launched by SanDisk few weeks ago. SanDisk's is using the site to promote its Sansa flash drive player.

Personally I don't own an iPod, and I hope and pray I never do. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing technically or aesthetically wrong with the device. I am just not crazy about the cult following they have or the DRM (digital rights management) encoded music it uses. I know people who have spend thousands of dollars to download this DRM encoded music and load it on to these devices.

Personally, give me a legal copy of a CD any day. I prefer the format, its more portable from device to device then any DRM format. I can also play it in my home stereo, computer, car stereo, or portable CD player. Then 10 years from now, I will still be able to play it (granted that the media last that long, and its not all scratched up).

I also want to state I am not against DRM encoded media. As I have always said that I believe that an artist and their publisher has its right to protect their investment. But I as a consumer have the right to choose the format I want to access my media in.

Although If I am going to use a DRM-based media format, I will use the Windows Media format primarily because I believe its just as good as iTunes and its supported by several different devices.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Nissan Pivo (Prototype Car)

The Pivo is a new prototype car from Nissan that is possibly the most unique cars you have ever seen to date. The cabin can spin a 180 degrees so backing up is the thing of the past.

The car itself it kind of ugly (but beauty is in the eye of the beholder), but it has a lots of very advanced features.

Jet Turbine Powered Bike (video)

I don't believe I need to say anything other then, 'why would you do this'? (watch the video if you want to know what I mean)

Liquid Armor (article w/video)

ScienCentral News reports: "Flexible full-body protection that could save our troops' lives and limbs is at the top of the list for many researchers and technology companies. One such product could soon make its way to Iraq. As this ScienCentral News video explains, the secret ingredient is a liquid that could turn lightweight material into full-body armor."

The way this product works is it basically makes strong materials (such as Kevlar) even stronger when its comes to impact resistance. This is an amazing product, and its going to probably have several of commercial applications as soon as people discover it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Virgin Galactic Updates on Plans For SpaceShipTwo (article)

Virgin Galactic has revealed plans to build SpaceShipTwo (SS2) that will be larger than the original SpaceShipOne. The new craft will carry 6 passengers and 2 pilots to an altitude of about 140km (about 87 miles) above the Earth.

SS2 will be carried into the air by a large aircraft, where it will then be dropped and then fire its new hybrid rocket motors. Passengers will be able experience 5 minutes of weightlessness. After that SS2 will then decelerates back to Earth through the atmosphere, where the passengers will experience about 7Gs of force.

Read the Universe Today article for more information.

The Dirty Secret of China's Economy (article)

BusinessWeek reports: "Yes, China is a remarkable growth story. But it is also fast becoming an ecological wasteland, home to world-class smog, acid rain, polluted rivers and lakes, and deforestation. Environmental problems play a role in the death of some 300,000 Chinese people each year, according to World Bank estimates."

China is an amazing economic growth story, but has the prosperity come at the cost of their people and the environment. The current population of China is about 1.3 billion people, with an increasing percentage of those people moving from poverty to prosperity. With that prosperity comes increased demand from the middle class for raw material, resources, etc...

Google Checkout (aka Gbuy) preparing to launch (article)

ZDNet.com reports: "Google Checkout — what the press calls GBuy — is getting closer to launch. Just minutes ago, checkout.google.com was given a CNAME record pointing to checkout.l.google.com which resolves to a ton of IP addresses. This probably means they have some pretty impressive load balancing going on and the product's uptime and performance is very important. "

Friday, June 16, 2006

SaveTheInternet.com (Net Neutrality, just say No)

The current hot political topic on the Internet these days seems to be the battle over 'Net Neutrality'. If you have not heard about it, its about Internet Service Providers (ISPs) wanting to control what content you access by setting up 'tiered service' to limit your ability to access different sites. They can do this by slowing down your connection to that site, or by blocking access to it all together.

You might ask why would the ISPs want to do this? Well, its about them trying to make more money by charging web site owners fees so that you can get fast access to their site. Its also about them setting up exclusive deals with sites, and giving them preferential treatment. So in theory the ISP can hinder or block your access to one site, so that you will go to a site that has an exclusive arrangement with that ISP.

A site called SaveTheInternet.com is trying to start a grass roots movement against 'tiered Internet service'. Their asking visitors to call or write their congressmen to stop the ISPs from implementing tiered service. Also, to support the cause, an all female rock group called 'The Broadband' has created a new single entitled, "God Save the Internet." (IMHO its a really good song.)

If you still don't understand Net Neutrality, the video below includes a dramatization that will hopefully make it a little clearer. If you understand Net Neutrality the video is still pretty funny to watch.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Building the Ultimate Home entertainment System

Do you want to own your own home entertainment system, with an LCD projector, 100"+ screen and PVR (Personal Video Recorder), but think its too expensive? If you're willing to construct it yourself, I can point you to some resources that will help you build this equipment and save you thousands of dollars.

In the articles below you will find almost everything you need to know, to build your own low-cost home entertainment system with a video projector, screen, cables, and DVR.

Building the Projector:
To make the projector, check out the following site (Lumenlab). Here is a brief except from the site: "You can build an HDTV projector that rivals units costing many thousands of dollars! Our free builder guide will get you started and our user forums will give you the critical support you need. Imagine a 120" HDTV screen in your living room. You can use it for Power Point presentations, video games (PlayStation 2, Xbox), DVD movies, HDTV and more. Building it yourself means you control the quality and the cost. I should warn you though - this can become a very addictive hobby."

Building the Screen:
To make the screen check out the following article (Make a 100" Screen for under $100). Here is a brief except from the article: "As the price of entry level home theater projectors drops below $1,000, the price of professional quality projection screens has become increasingly objectionable for new home theater enthusiasts. Nobody who spends $1,000 for a projector is interested in spending another $500 to $1,500 for a screen. You can always use a white wall, but there is no frame, and walls usually have texture that shows up in the image. Not only that but the color of the white paint on the wall is rarely conducive to giving you good color balance."

Building the Cables:
This is a article and video podcast on how to make high quality A/V cables. Here is an except from the article: "Say goodbye to the bank-breaking audio/video cables at your local electronics superstore. Save your money and build out your home theater DIY style. With a total running time of 45 minutes, Kevin and Dan talk to a broadcast engineer to demonstrate how to make your own high end A/V cables for a fraction of the cost and a 'monster' savings."

Building the DVR:
This is a article and video podcast on how to make a MythTV system. Here is an except from the article, "Tired of shelling out hard earned cash to download the program listings of your DVR? Want to backup your videos but don't want to deal with the hassle of DRMed files? Kevin Rose & Dan Huard show you everything you need to know about the free and open source PVR alternative, MythTV."

You don't have a use MythTV for your PVR, there are several other alternatives out there such as Windows Media Center, and other software. There are also several other pre-built solutions that are available at most local electronics stores.

Running Wires
This is an article on how to make some basic cables and run them behind walls for new home entertainment system.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Robonova-1 Robot (video)

Robonova-1, is a humanoid robot for educators, students, and robotic hobbyists that is fully programmable. The robot can walk, run, do flips, turn cartwheels, dance, stand on one leg, lie down, pick itself back up, turn a flip, and do push-ups, and more. You program it with PC software that is included. Watch the video below to see it in action.

The robot is available two ways: as a kit, so you can build it yourself, or pre-assembled, also known as "RTW" or "ready to walk" for those looking for instant gratification.

Smart Dust used in Iraq?

Have you ever heard of 'Smart Dust'? Well, the military has had it in development for the last ten years. Basically its a miniaturized RFID like device about the size of a rice grain that can be used for tracking people.

The smart dust can be made to look like dirt, and can be placed on people's clothing. Each device has a unique id number assigned to it, that can be track by troops or aircraft when sent a special 'interrogation signal'.

Smart dust is believed to have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was also believed to have been used in the recent death of the al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Iraqi Sandstorm (Video)

This is an amazing video of an Iraqi Sandstorm. I have to admit after watching this I have a new found respect for them. Its amazing how they look like they're not even moving until they're right on top of you.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Life as a Guy (video)

I hope you enjoy this video. The animation is crude, but its very funny...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Proposal to Implant Tracking Chips in Immigrants (article)

LiveScience reports "Scott Silverman, Chairman of the Board of VeriChip Corporation, has proposed implanting the company's RFID tracking tags in immigrant and guest workers. He made the statement on national television on May 16."

The VeriChip is a very small RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tag about the size of a large grain of rice. This device can be injected directly into a person's body. It also has a special coating that helps it to bond to living tissue and not to move.

A special RFID reader broadcasts a signal into the antenna of the VeriChip. The chip uses the signal to draw its power to send back its data. This allows the VeriChip to operate without ever needing batteries.

Special forces to use strap-on 'Batwings' (article)

A German company called ESG has developed strap-on wings for use by special forces to fly into combat. The wings will allow a soldier to be dropped from an airplanes at high altitude, and soar for up to 120 miles in total silence and without being picked up by radar. Once the soldier is above the target, they deploy their parachute.

Here is a picture of the strap-on wing. To be honest it looks like something I saw from a G.I. Joe cartoon. I can't remember if G.I. Joe or Cobra was using it.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

QuadSki: Its a Quadrunner and a Jet ski

The QuadSki is a jet ski that turns in to a quadrunner at the push of a button. Here is a video of it in action.

Its suppose to travel up to 50 miles-per-hour on land or water, and its powered by a 140-horsepower engine. On a full tank of gas is suppose to have a 372-mile range on land or two hours of boating on the water.

I really want one... Now all I have to do is see if anyone will give me it for free.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

One Laptop Per Child First Public Demo

The One Laptop Per Child project recently demonstrated its first working laptop prototype at the Red Hat Summit. In the video below, Christopher Blizzard a member of Mozilla Corporation board demonstrated the device.

The ruggedized laptop will weigh about two pound, running Fedora Linux, with mesh networking built-in. Each unit will sell for about $130 to $140 to governments starting in April 2007.

Scientists ponder invisibility cloak (article)

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports: "WASHINGTON -- Imagine an invisibility cloak that works just like the one Harry Potter inherited from his father. Researchers in England and the United States think they know how to do that. They are laying out the blueprint and calling for help in developing the exotic materials needed to build a cloak."

The material technology required to make this cloak of invisibility sounds almost science fictionish, but the scientist believe that one day we will be able to create it. Basically the way it works is that light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation would strike the cloak and simply flow around it. To an onlooker it would appear as if they're seeing right through the cloak.

In August of 2003 Wired did an article called "Being Invisible" about a type of 'cloak of invisibility' but far less sophisticated then what is being talked about above. Here is excerpt from the article: "With recent advances in optics and computing, however, this elusive goal is no longer purely imaginary. Last spring, Susumu Tachi, an engineering professor at the University of Tokyo, demonstrated a crude invisibility cloak. Through the clever application of some dirt-cheap technology, the Japanese inventor has brought personal invisibility a step closer to reality." Here is a video to show you what I am talking about.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Best Star Wars Parody/Fan Films

Below are my picks for all-time best Star Wars parodies and fan films. When you watch the videos you will notice that they all vary in video quality from really good (i.e.: I.M.P.S.), to really bad (i.e.: Tie-Tanic). I also tried to find versions of these videos that use the Google Video service so their easier to view, but some of them were not available from there.

So here is my list:
  • I.M.P.S.: The Relentless: IMHO, this is the best Star Wars fan film (ever). (Note: This file is about 200MB+ in size.)
  • MTV Movie Awards 2005 Star Wars Parody: A hilarious and well edited Star Wars parody featuring Jimmy Fallon
  • Troops: Hilarious take-off on Cops, using Storm Troopers.
  • Ryan vs Dorkman: One of the best amateur lightsaber battles ever done in a fan film.
  • Hardware Wars: The grand daddy of all Star Wars fan films. It was probably created in the late 70's, and its very cheesy but very funny.
  • Tie-Tantic: A hysterical Titanic/Star Wars cross parody. (Note: The video quality of this file is really bad, but watchable.)
Honorable Mention
  • Triumph vs. Star Wars Geeks: This is not a fan film or parody, but if you have not watched Triumph (the insulting comic dog) take on the Star Wars geeks then you're missing some great comedy. (Note: some content in this video is PG-13)
  • Star Wars Kid: I almost hate to list this video because of its background story, but in many ways its really part of the of the Star Wars fan film/parody culture. (Note: There are several remixes of these videos available all over the Net.)