Monday, December 8, 2008

US successfully test missile defense system.

The US military shot down a missile in an operation designed to test the new US missile defense system. The target missile was fired from Kodiak Island, Alaska and then tracked by several ground and ship-based radar systems and intercepted by a "kill vehicle" roughly 1900 miles away half an hour later over the Pacific according to the Missile Defense Agency.

The head of the Missile Defense Agency, Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, said the test was the most realistic test of the system to date, although the 40 year old target missile did not deploy the countermeasures as was intended. The program has come under fire for cost and viability questions. The test alone cost $120Million. It is hoped that the success of this test will allay the apprehension and fears of the tax payers.

A completely unreliable source (my imagination) has reported that Matthew Broderick was quoted as saying "You guys are missing the point, I'll just have to make another movie".

Sunday, December 7, 2008

YouTube now serving up HD content

YouTube is now offering videos in HD quality. While not full 1080 HD the 720p resolution is well above the current quality we have all learned to live with. A search for videos with the tag HD reveals some of the first content uploaded. You'll note that embedding a video as I have done here does not offer the HD option. Hopefully that feature will be available soon. Double click on the video to go to the YouTube page. Once there you will see a link directly below the video that says, "watch in HD". Click, and enjoy the Hi Res goodness. So without further a do is the trailer for the new upcoming Ghostbusters video game.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Apple looking to liquid cool notebooks

In a recent patent filing, Apple tipped it's hand that it's developing water cooling technology for notebooks. While the idea is not completely new, bring it to market would be. Voodoo, acquired by HP, promised liquid cooled notebooks last year but failed to deliver. Whether or not Apple will bring the technology to market remains to be seen, but worth watching.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dec. 5, 2008: The Week in Weirdness

"It's amazing, it's astounding, but it's no B.S."
- George Carlin(RIP)

News involving your fellow man at their less than stellar moments.

Yes, karaoke is annoying.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Police say a Malaysian man has been stabbed to death by customers at a karaoke bar for singing too much and refusing to share the microphone.

O Tannenbaum, Brings to us all, both joy and glee!
Parrish, Fla. (AP) - Authorities say a west Florida man who lives with his parents has been arrested on a felony assault charge after he used a Christmas tree as a weapon to attack his father.

Not exactly a burning bra:
Garden City, N.Y. (AP) - Hundreds of people paid $9 admission for a "smashing pumpkins" event where New Yorkers threw rotten pumpkins off a second story balcony to answer the age old question of what to do with old pumpkins after Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Goodwill toward men, not pregnant women in labor.
BOSTON (AP) - A man in Massachusetts is appealing a $100 ticket he got for driving to a hospital in the breakdown lane of a gridlocked Boston highway while his wife was in labor.

Life imitating the internet:
Reno, Nev. (AP) - The Nevada Highway Patrol says a drunken driving suspect in Reno was gassed in more ways than one. A 40-year-old Reno woman was arrested early Tuesday after an ambulance crew saw her driving on U.S. Highway 395 with a fuel hose and nozzle sticking out of her gas tank. So even if that tired image passed around the internet of a gas nozzle hanging out of a moving car with the caption 'yes, it's a woman' was true before or not, it is now.

Apple does something stupid, Finally!

I love Apple and everything mac. For me, they usually can do no wrong. They have done things in the past I have not agreed with but they have always had clear reasoning behind it, even if that reasoning made me grind my teeth. Take Flash on the iPhone for example, or better yet the lack thereof. This seems an idiotic crusade on behalf on Jobs and company but at least they have purpose, and coming in 2009, this crusade may well benefit the entire net-accessing mobile device industry.

So, while you will rarely hear me complain about products and services provided by the venerable Mac maker, they finally did something that's got me scratching my head. So, to remain impartial, I'm gonna have to call you on this one Steve.

Apple on Tuesday started taking orders for the Apple Earphones and In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic. These new offerings from Apple are not unlike other ear pieces that connect via wire to a mobile phone to take calls hands free. The only problem is they are not supported on the iPhone. That's right, they only work with iPods. As the devices are new there is still debate about whether the devices will actually work with the iPhone sans stated compatibility. However, officially the iPhone is not supported.

Why the mic then? The answer is that new iPods introduced in September of this year support audio recording through the 4th connector of the headphone jack, just like the iPhone. In spite of this fact, the iPhone is still not officially supported. In the coming days or months I suspect that an update for the iPhone will appear that will enable these products to be supported. But Apple has a solid track record of updating existing software and hardware well in advance of upcoming software / hardware offerings.

For these reasons, I hate to do it Mr. Jobs, but here's your sign.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Patent Insanity

Throughout the blogosphere sarcasm and criticism has run rampant about the patent system for some time, and for good reason. For years now companies and individuals have started patenting everything under the sun. Patents, for impatient laymen like myself, are a lot like stocks: some are valuable, most are worthless and all of them are about as tangible as a fart. And just as with stocks, they are bought and sold by entities that often have little to do with the industry the patents are relative too.

This has given way to a new form of business called Patent Trolling, which of course is done by a Patent Troll, where by a person or company holds patents for the expressed purpose of waiting and watching for someone or some company to infringe on that patent and then drag them into court. It's a lot like fishing, you have your bait and you wait, or Troll for all you deep sea fishermen out their. When some unsuspecting shmoe comes along, you devour them and their assets to make a profit. These trolls often seek vague patents. The vaguer the patent, the higher the success rate of nailing someone.

Patent trolling gave birth to the idea of patent reform. Which was really just companies looking for headlines and publicity with little to no concern for actual patent reform. Many of these companies made bold statements about patent reform only to turn around and dirty their own hands with the forbidden fruit. Fruit forbidden by them.

Two examples that apparently have no shame are Amazon and IBM. Amazon vowed to reform the US patent system. IBM vowed to stop submitting vague and seemingly invaluable patents and stress significant technical content in its patents. However, Amazon is in it's ninth year of trying to patent 1-click buying on the internet. A technique employed basically since the birth of e-commerce. IBM has applied for a patent on software that basically recognizes a name as either a girls name, a boys name, or as being generic or genderless such as the name Pat. IBM has also submitted a patent for splitting a check at a restaurant. You know, us four are eating together but we all think the others will get the lobster but I'm only getting the salad bar so give us all separate checks.

While these patents seem ridiculous in nature (and they are) even patent trolling itself is not free from the foray. Haliburton (commonly known as the evil entity that once employed Dick Cheney, who is commonly known as pure evil), has applied for a patent on patent trolling. In a "anything you can do I can do better" move, IBM has applied for a patent on finding areas lacking patents. Careful, be calm, we're not quite done and whiplash can hurt for many years.

Like a virus, patent trolling has now mutated into patent insurance. A new company, RPX Corp is buying up patents promising not to use them, as long as you license the patent in question of course. You see how this is completely different right? Don't worry I just took another Advil myself. If that weren't enough, another new company, Article One Partners, is offering $50,000 rewards to anyone that finds prior art for certain valuable patents. Basically they tell you which patents help by companies with lots of money they want to go after. You find loop holes in the patents, they give you $50k and they in turn use that information to blackmail the company holding the patent.

To finish off, here are a few patents being applied for by companies. Hopefully the patent office will laugh just as hard as you will:

Microsoft: Applying for a patent to censor offensive words. Because the FCC hasn't mandated that offensive words be censored yet. That was sarcasm, try to keep up.

TiVo: Won an appeal to safe guard it's patent for Pause, Ffwd and Rwd. According to TiVo, no matter what you think you have never had these features until they came around. If you remember using these features in the past before TiVo existed, you should "just say no".

McDonald: If you made it all the way to the end of this post I applaud you and reward you by saving the best for last. McDonald's has applied for a patent titled "METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR MAKING A SANDWICH". That's right boys and girls, Mickey D's is patenting the sandwich. Put that turkey on rye down or you'll owe them a nickle! They even have a flow chart. For those of you who haven't died and gone to Corporate America heaven, you most likely are like me, your forehead hurts and 3 hours have mysteriously passed since you saw the flow chart. Stop, don't look again, or you may be doomed to be caught in this vicious vortex of time for all eternity.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Great, another 6 figure ecomomy car

Fisker Automotive today unveiled the production version of the new Karma electric-hybrid sports car ahead of the 2009 NAIAS. The car boasts impressive stats:

0-60mpg: 5.8 Seconds
Top Speed: 125mph
Fuel Economy: 100mpg

The Karma can go 50miles on electric alone before invoking the 4 cylinder engine to power the on board generator and has a total range of 620 miles on a single tank and it's dead sexy. I'd being lying if I said I wouldn't die to have one.

However, the Karma costs $100k. I really get the need for this car. After all, the Tesla is only two doors and we absolutely had to have a 4 door. But, I gotta ask, do the ultra rich really need another economy car? Do you think the ultra rich even care about getting good gas mileage? You think that Jay Leno is gonna tool on down the road and tell people 'I bought it because it get's 100mpg and it was getting difficult to fill the tank'? Like I said, I love this car, but, where is the 100mpg car for people who actually need one to get to work, not for bragging rights at a red light when they pull along side a Porsche?

click image to enlarge

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Education: brought to you in part by Corporate America.

If you think the Federal Economy is in bad shape, you should check out the educational system. While every industry across the country runs out of money, I think we tend to forget that the educational system has a budget too, and as such it's well is running dry too. I know this more than most because several members of my family are teachers in Florida. I won't delve deep into the troubling fiscal issues affecting the sunshine states educational system, but I will say that by comparison, Bush didn't do that bad of job. I'll also say that the next time you decide to give your child's teacher a piece of your mind, you should remember consider that they most likely paid for a majority of the supplies the kids use out of their own pockets. Why? Because the schools refuse to give them the money they need to purchase the needed supplies. Why? Because there is no money. But these issues are not exclusive to my home state, they are national.

Which brings us to the topic at hand. Finally unable to pay for simple things like test and quizzes, Tom Farber, a calculus teacher from San Diego, California gone the way of Google. Google is free, and so are the tests and quizzes, and they are funded in the same ways now as well. To offset district budget cuts, Mr. Farber is selling ads on his tests and quizzes, much like the ads that make Google free. The ad cost scale is as follows: $10 for a quiz, $20 for a chapter test, $30 for a semester final. In one weekend Farber received 75 e-mail requests for ads.

My usual reaction to something like this would be to write out some sarcastic quips that would be contemptuous and scornful to say the least with special emphasis on his being a corporate whore. However my "inside" knowledge as it were of how dire the situations is, has left me speechless. It's wrong, I know that, but what are you going to do? Not teach?

USA Today is running an article on the news. Also in the article are more dignified means for teachers to raise money for supplies.