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.

The US is in a recession, who knew?

On Monday the National Bureau of Economic Research released a statement saying that the US economy has officially been in a recession since December of 2007. The NBER is an organization of academic economists who study business cycles. To no surprise the stock market has begun heading for the basement. Well, it was already in the basement so I guess they've gotten out the shovels and jackhammers to find lower ground to wallow in.

I'm so glad that somebody got up and told me the economy was in a recession because I don't think we the people had any idea. Oh wait, that's right . . . we were the ones loosing our jobs and homes. But, don't worry, I have formed my own panel of experts to draft a response to the "experts" on Wall St. and at NBER. The Chairman of my committee has release the statement below in reply:

Kevin Martin: I like this guy!

Here at Digistenz I try to stay away from tech news that "could be" and post only things that are actually happening. You will also rarely see me applaud the FCC here. However, somethings are too good to pass on. I tend not to like the FCC because I don't believe in censorship, however I realize they have their place and have actually been pretty happy with the decisions made at the FCC of late. Then today I came across an article at the Wall Street Journal that just blew me away. Kevin Martin, the current FCC Chairman is pushing for free wireless internet for all Americans. Yes, you read that correctly, FREE WIRELESS INTERNET FOR THE ENTIRE US!

As I said, I try not to post tech news that could be because 90% of it never comes into existence. But, again, somethings are too good to pass on. There have been grumblers of course. Consumer advocates have voiced concern over a pornography filter that would be placed on access, but Mr. Martin went back to the drawing board and then stipulated that adults could opt out of the filter.

Of no surprise is the fact that wireless companies such as T-mobile have voiced concern about a free internet. And why not? They are charging for it now. They didn't say it like that of course. T-mobile said they fear that the access would cause interference with the transmission signals of their 3G network. Because for reasons that escape you, me and the FCC as a whole, free internet causes interference with nearby signals but when you charge for them they magically co-exist with other frequencies. Here's your sign T-mobile. But Mr. Martin has dismissed their concerns and continues to push the measure along. So here's to hopefully starting the new year with free internet and also to Mr. Kevin Martin - I like this guy!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Carbon Motors' E7 "The Machine"

It's been awhile since I've done a car post and a friend of mine still had not heard about this one so here we go. The E7 from Carbon Motors is billed as the first "purpose-built" law enforcement vehicle. Carbon says the E7, affectionately nicknamed "The Machine", is more fuel efficient, much cheaper to buy, equip and maintain than other police cruisers. The E7 is also more durable. Carbon states that "vehicle life durability specification" is 250,000 miles. It's also a mean looking vehicle whose specs are even meaner:

Engine: Forced Induction 3.0 Diesel
Recommended Fuel: Ultra-low sulfur (ULS) Diesel or BioDiesel
Driveline: Rear-Wheel-Drive
Horsepower: 300 bhp
Torque: 420 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Front Brakes: 14" Vented Discs, ABS
Rear Brakes: 13" Vented Discs, ABS
Wheels: 18 x 8" Steel
Tires: 245/50R18
Front Suspension: Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension: Multi-link, coil springs, self-leveling shocks, anti-roll bar

0 - 60 mph: 6.5 seconds
Quarter Mile: 14.5 seconds @ 98.0 mph
Top Speed: 155 mph
Braking 60 - 0 mph: 125 feet
Lateral Acceleration: 0.85 g
Combined City/Hwy Fuel Economy: 28 - 30 mpg
Fuel Capacity: 18.0 Gallons

There are other cool features of this vehicle that you'll wish were on your car:
Designed to 250,000 mile durability specification
Aluminum spaceframe body structure
75 mph rear impact crash capability
Vehicle dynamic control
Optimized approach / departure angles and ground clearance
Heads up display
Reverse backup camera
Remote start capability
Driver specific intelligent key
Nightvision compliant interior illumination

There are also other cool features that are specific to law enforcement, some of which you'll wish were on your car too:
Cockpit with fully-integrated factory fitted law enforcement equipment
Integrated emergency lights, spot lights, take down lights, and directional stick
Segment exclusive coach rear doors for safer suspect ingress and egress
NIJ Level III-A (or better) ballistic protection (front doors and dash panel)
Purpose-designed seat for use with on-body equipment - Heated and ventilated seats
360 degree exterior surveillance capability
Automatic license plate recognition system
Video and audio surveillance of rear passenger compartment
Integrated forward looking infrared system (FLIR)
Integrated shotgun mounts
Hoseable rear passenger compartment
Integrated push bumpers and PIT capability

I have on occasion met up with officers of the law. Most of them are good people doing a very difficult job. One I could not do myself. In response to this someone once asked me if I was scared and I finally got to use a line by Robert Deniro from Ronin: "Am I scared? Of course I'm scared! You think I'm reluctant because I'm happy?" This is why although some members of law enforcement are my least favorite people I do not fault or blame them in the least. They are strong, brave people doing a job not many can. They put their live on the line everyday to protect good citizens from the peril they face everyday. And to all members of law enforcement I thank you for your sacrifice and bravery. I sincerely hope that this type of equipment that can enable you to do your job better and more safely makes it's way into your hands sooner rather than later.

I can almost hear Elwood now:
"It's got a cop motor, a forced induction 3.0 liter plant, it's got cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks. It's a diesel model so it'll be good on gas and last forever. What do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?" Elwood Blues - The Blues Brothers.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

One Browser to Rule Them All

For web developers like myself, testing in multiple browsers is a mundane excruciating fact of life. This testing must be done because different browsers use different rendering engines that display content in different ways. Most rendering engines layout content in almost identical ways. Some have a mind of their own. Enter Lunascape. Lunascape is a Japanese browser that has just been made available in an English language alpha version, but that's not the cool part. The cool part is that Lunascape has three rendering engines not just one, they include the big 3: Gecko(Mozilla), Webkit(Safari, Chrome), and Trident(IE). Lunascape gives the user the unique ability to switch between rendering engines. If your an everyday web surfer, you don't care. If you're a web designer, your already drooling. Lunascape also supports all Firefox and IE addons. The makers claim that the browser is faster than anything out there, even Safari and Firefox. Although currently the reviews are less than stellar, that's what alpha software is all about. Reviews are available here: CNET, Lifehacker, OStatic.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

IBM's "Next Five in Five"

IBM has once again unveiled it's venerable "Next Five in Five" list detail five innovations that will change our lives in the next five years. The third annual list is based on current technologies, market and society trends to predict the technologies that will have the biggest impact on our lives in the next five years. They include:

Solar Power: Citing advancements in solar power technology IBM believes solar power gathering surfaces will be placed on nearly every man made surface including roof tops, side walks, paved roads, painted surfaces, tinted windows and portable devices such as phones, laptops even clothing. Solar panels used to be big, bulky and very expensive. But thanks to advancements in solar "film" from companies like First Solar, energy gathering cells can be "stamped" onto film and placed on nearly any surface.

DNA Analysis: IBM predicts that DNA analysis, which the company predicts will cost less than $200, will give us a so called "crystal ball" to view what health risks we will be exposed too ,much like the basis of the futuristic world of Gattaca. We will also be able to see what we are not at risk for. IBM also says that DNA mapping will lead to new more effective medicines.

The Talking Web: IBM predicts that searching the internet with our voices will become a wide spread technology that will make the web more accessible worldwide, particularly for those who cannot read or write.

Digital Shopping Assistants: IBM predicts that the advancement in mobile technologies will change the way we shop enabling devices to read product ratings from other consumers, download coupons and send photos to contacts for opinions. IBM also predicts that there will be digital shopping assistants in fitting rooms, touchscreen and voice activated kiosks that can also alert employees to your needs.

The Memory Aid Network: IBM says forgetting will become a thing of the past thanks to a vast network of portable and smart devices that will record every detail of our lives and conversations to propagate "smart" notifications such as reminding to pickup a prescription when we drive by a pharmacy. The legal ramifications make this a difficult one to swallow.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Nov. 28, 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.

You wear too much perfume, I'll see you in court!
DETROIT (AP) - A federal judge says a Detroit city employee can proceed with a civil suit claiming she couldn't work because of a co-worker's strong perfume. I for one have thought there should be a law against too much perfume / cologne for years and sincerely hopes she wins.

Man executed for selling ant farm for $439Million!
BEIJING (Reuters) - China has executed the leader of a bogus scheme for breeding ants to make aphrodisiacs that conned investors out of 3 billion yuan ($439 million), the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.

Crappiest Christmas ornaments ever, $5:
Madison, Wis. (AP) - The Christmas ornaments for sale at the Miller Park Zoo's gift shop are partly manufactured by reindeer. Honest! Staffers make decorations out of droppings from the zoo's two reindeer, Ealu and Rika. The droppings are dried, then clear-coated and either painted or rolled in glitter.

Name your baby Mussolini, get $2k!
ROME (Reuters) - An Italian right-wing party is offering 1,500 euros ($1,930) to parents who name their babies after wartime fascist dictator Benito Mussolini or his wife Rachele, saying their names are under threat.

NJ police have Hollywood style standoff with . . . no one!
MONTGOMERY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - A standoff at a New Jersey bank is over after police learned a "person" seen inside was actually a full-size cardboard figure.

Tourist season officially open, GPS to lure game in!
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Three Norwegian tourists came under fire and one was shot after the satellite navigation system in their car guided them straight into one of Rio de Janeiro's most dangerous slums.

Stop! Or I'll run myself over!
Santa Fe, N.M. (AP) - A man is in a northern New Mexico jail, accused of driving drunk and leading police on a chase that finally ended with him running over himself.

Ireland to Russia, "Get your priorities straight"!
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The global financial crisis has grown so bad that Russians are cutting back on vodka.

How Dr. Seuss stole Christmas from Louisville children:
Louisville, Ky. (AP) - The city of Louisville is scrapping plans to use the iconic Dr. Seuss village and characters as part of its annual Christmas display after receiving a cease and desist letter from Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

Germany faces Santa shortage:
BERLIN (Reuters) - Wanted: Cheerful, chubby men, preferably with fluffy white beards and no criminal record, ready to work hard for one month.

Maverick Thai general does the hand-grenade waltz.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - A maverick Thai general who has threatened to bomb anti-government protesters and drop snakes on them from helicopters has been reassigned as an aerobics teacher, the Bangkok Post said on Friday.

Winner of the annual sexism award? The mayor of course!
CANBERRA (Reuters) - An Australian outback mayor's plea for lovelorn female "ugly ducklings" to move to a remote mining town to reverse a shortage of eligible women has won him the country's yearly award for outrageous sexism.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from Digistenz!

Just a quick post to wish all my readers, their friends and loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tesla: its powerful, fast and it's electric

No, it's not the Tesla roadster new to the automotive scene, it's the worlds first personal super computer. Yes, I did just call a super computer "personal". For $10k you too can have a massively parallel processing computer with up to 960 cores, processing 4 TeraFLOPS that the company says is 250 times faster than standard PC's and workstations. The CPU and GPUs are programmed using C and Nvidia's proprietary parallel programming model, CUDA.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Element Four WaterMill

The WaterMill is a new device from Element Four that promises to magicallty pull water right out of thin air sans top hat. The device which uses roughly the same amount of energy as three light bulbs works by drawing air through filters to remove dust and particles, then cooling it to just below the temperature at which dew forms. The condensed water is passed through a self-sterilizing chamber that uses microbe-busting UV light to eradicate any disease causing bacteria.

Our current water obtaining situation is putting strain on our economy and our environment to the tune of about $11Billion and 1.5Million Barrels of oil a year in the U.S. alone. While the new device is currently priced at $1,200, as prices come down it could help to alleviate this situation and become a staple of the modern kitchen in the same fashion as a microwave has become common place in today's homes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Trapster: Avoiding Smokey in the 21st Century

Greetings techies and speedsters. Today you unite into one voice proclaiming your love of a fairly new social app that will touch both your hearts. Trapster is a small and free application designed to keep the pitfalls of motoring down the road at a elevated speeds. Social in nature, Trapster works much like the CB's of the old timers (sorry, but I just can't help a crack at the baby boomers when ever I get the chance). This time rather than shouting a message to anyone who may be in range, now we can leave that message behind for all to find at any time. If you spot a speed trap or red light camera, give a click and the trap is noted. When a Trapster user stumbles through the area an alert warns of the impending fine. So rejoice all, and speed on!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Project Splitwheel: The Peoples Car

In a first for the auto industry Caterham Cars is taking a page out of Pepsi Co's play book involving the internet community (you) to develop their next product. Where the beverage maker opened an internet forum to get the opinions of it's customers to develop a new soda, Caterham wants you to tell them how to make their next car. At you can offer your opinions and ideas to develop the next big thing on 4 wheels.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Minority Report Interface: From Vaporware to Reality

A young company from California has developed g-speak, what it calls a "spatial operating environment". In a nutshell, g-speak is the computer interface from the movie Minority Report, literally. The science and technology adviser for the 2002 film is one of the founders of Oblong. G-speak was an extension of his doctoral work at the MIT Media Lab.

From Oblong: "The SOE's combination of gestural i/o, recombinant networking, and real-world pixels brings the first major step in computer interface since 1984; starting today, g-speak will fundamentally change the way people use machines..."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Apple's Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: Full Throttle

Apple's new OS, Snow Leopard may be arriving sooner than expected. This news inadvertently broken by an Apple director is surprising as it was originally announced at WWDC '08 that the 64bit operating system would take a year to bring to market. But, apparently $11Million dollars in R&D will get you results. Snow Leopard will include many advancements never before implemented in a consumer level operating system. One feature, that was really a hopeful but not expected is OpenCL, a royalty-free, open parallel computing standard being created by Apple. Apple partnered with the standards overseer Khronos Group as well as AMD, Intel and Nvidia in order to set an industry record to bring the computing standard to it's imminent approval in only six months. A feat that usually happens in a 5 year time frame. The new operating system may be fast but it's development has been blazing!

While there will most likely not be very many visual changes to the new operating system, it will clearly be the most advanced consumer level operating system ever. Here are a few of the advancements we are promised to see in the new release:

True 64bit Computing: The current implementation of OSX sports a 32bit kernel that uses some neat tricks to handle 64bit apps. Snow Leopard will feature a 64bit kernel which in addition to being able to directly handle 64bit apps will support well over 32GB of memory. The current implementation of OSX can address 32GB of memory which in itself is a feat because 32bit operating systems can only address 4GB of memory. For those of you reading this on a windows system that may have sounded a little off. It that is the case, I hate to be the one to tell you this but it's true. Your computer cannot possibly handle more than 4GB of ram. In many cases, if you have a video card with 1GB of memory the usable ram shrinks to 2.3GB. I know what your saying "but my system properties window tell me my 8GB of memory are installed!", sorry but Microsoft and the computer manufacturer lied to you.

OpenCL: As described above OpenCL is a royalty-free, open parallel computing standard being created by Apple. All the ways in which OpenCL will benefit Snow Leopard have yet to disclosed but this much is known: OpenCL will allow applications to take advantage of multi-core CPU's in ways never before possible and will also enable all applications to utilize the graphics and physics processing power of the GPU and it's multiple cores if they are present along side of the CPU. GPU processing power has to date generally been a relegated to gaming. For Snow Leopard look to only see performance enhancements. In following OS's look to see stunning visual effects within the operating system and the applications it will spawn. OpenCL is also said to be able to be scaled down for smaller devices such as smart phones. It will be interesting what OpenCL can do for smart phones such as the iPhone.

HFS+: HFS+ and enhancement of HFS the current file system used in OSX features many enhancements of which there are to notables to us common users. One is that the HFS+ file compression implementation will ensure that the operating system takes up much less disk space. The second is drive and file size. If you have ever worked with large files such as lossless video you know that computers have their limits when it comes to how big a file you can save onto the drive and also that drives can only be so big until the OS does not recognize the increased size. HFS+ can handle a max file size of 8EIB (EIB = Exbibyte) and a max volume size of 16EIB. To put that into perspective 1EIB is equal to 1,073,741,824GB!

ZFS Support: Although it won't replace HFS+ outright the Sun Microsystems developed ZFS file system will be supported with the ability to read and write to the file system. If you're wondering what's so cool about ZFS then consider this: HFS+ is a 64bit file system (we just saw how cool that is), but ZFS is a 128bit file system!

Native Microsoft Exchange Support: The ability to create and view content pulled from Microsoft Exchange servers in Address Book, iCal and Mail will be available. Automator can also send out its completed workflows as operating system services. If you work with MS Exchange you're already giddy, if you don't basically this means your IT admin will have less reason to shun your request for a Mac workstation.

Cocoa Finder: 64bit Cocoa finder will be faster with a more consistent appearance and behavior as the rest of the OS as a whole.

ImageBoot: Similar to virtualization software, ImageBoot will allow multiple disk images to boot from either on a secondary partition or external drive. This technology, mainly to be used as a testing environment for developers may hint at a future with true Mac virtualization which may also hint that Apple has it's eyes set on the enterprise market.

OSX Apps On A Diet: All applications bundled with OSX along with the operating system itself is being put on a diet. This move is being made to increase performance, reduce resources required, and reduce HD space being used by OSX and it's bundled apps. Other than the fact that this just makes common sense, Apple is moving in this direction so that OSX being smaller and faster will behave more robustly on the smaller more portable systems that the industry is moving towards. Currently the applications bundled have with OSX have lost over 500MB of bulk in the latest builds of Snow Leopard.

Text Auto-Correction: Many of the modern text-handling technologies made popular on the iPhone will make their appearance in Snow Leopard.

Apple is steaming ahead full speed to bring us the fastest most advanced OS anyone has ever used. On Wednesday it came to light that Microsoft knew that the then current Mac OS, OSX 10.4 Tiger, was far beyond the yet to be released Vista OS and were worried about it back in 2005. Leopard has been released blowing away Vista with Snow Leopard only months away. I can't imagine how worried / scared they are now. Keep Dancing Monkey Boy!

Nov. 21, 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.

All hail our new arachnid space lords!

A two spiders were taken aboard the international space station and one was subsequently "lost". So far NASA has no idea where the spider could have gone. Sigourney Weaver has reportedly been giving NASA disdainful looks and rolling her eyes.

In other "objects lost in space" news . . .
NASA on Wednesday said astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper's grease gun shot it's load a little early causing her to loose her tool bag. Apparently even in space women are still aggravated by pre-mature ejaculation.

Sorry I tried to cut your head off mom, here's $5!
Authorities say an 11-year-old boy hit his mother in the head with a saw and then offered her $5 not to call police. The boy is reportedly facing an aggravated battery charge and time out.

Won't you be my psychotic neighbor?
Police said a Pennsylvania man bound his neighbor with duct tape, doused him with gasoline and threatened to set him on fire unless the neighbor confessed to burglarizing his house.

Drop that coffin or I'll taser you!
Five sheriff's deputies will be disciplined after they used a taser while serving an arrest warrant on a man at his father's funeral while he was loading his fathers casket into a hearse.

Don't arrest me or I'll pee on you!
A 35-year-old man faces charges after allegedly driving drunk and then urinating in the back of a squad car and on the arresting officer. Daniel Shilts, pulled over for driving under the influence and striking a pole at a gas station, urinated in the back of the squad car and sprayed the officer in the back of the head.

Dog to owner: I'll teach you to leave me in the car!
A dog left inside a running van put the vehicle in drive, causing it to crash into a Long Island coffee house where his owner entered to buy coffee.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We Can Rebuild Him, Make Him Stronger, Faster And Lazier!

Honda a few weeks ago introduced it's new technology. What the Japanese automaker calls the "Body Weight Support System". This is great, can't wait to get my own. To think I can sit around and still get around and do stuff, awesome!
Click Images to Enlarge

Click Images to Enlarge

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Anti-Matter: Because Peace & Complacency Are Overrated

Ah the nuclear bomb, what a wonderful thing that was, good times. The nuclear bomb was the perfect dooms day device. First of all there was nothing worse than a nuclear bomb which made it a hit with Hollywood. It seems like every action movie I've seen since the 1980's has featured a nuclear bomb because it's so terrifying, what with the ability to wipe out an entire civilization and all it's the perfect weapon of a well funded antagonist, or even a protagonist. Take the 2003 movie 'The Core' where director Jon Amiel conducts and all star casts of winners who, when the earths core stops spinning, decides the best way to start it again is by setting off a series of nuclear explosions in the core. Right, when in doubt, nuke it! The nuclear bomb was the perfect dooms day device because although it was the "sum of all fears" we could all sleep soundly knowing it could never happen because anyone who used a nuclear bomb was sure to wipe themselves out as well. We all learned this lesson because in 1983 a young Matthew Broderick hacked into NORAD and accidentally got the WOPR computer to begin initiation of WWIII in the movie 'War Games'. A quick thinking Matt gets WOPR to play tic-tac-toe which the computer magically uses to realize no one can win a nuclear war stating "the only winning move, is not to play".

But all that wonderment is now behind us thanks to a group of geniuses (and I say that in the most sarcastic way possible) from Livermore, California. Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL for all you acronym lovers) have discovered a way to create anti-matter. For those of you who can't remember the term from your comic book loving days, anti-matter is most easily described as the opposite of matter. You can CLICK HERE if you're day is lacking serious bored0m for a more "scientific" description. The important thing to note is that it is believed that when anti-matter meets our well known friend matter (you know, buildings, air, us, the universe) the two will combine, canceling each other out and the two would cease to exist. Some of you may have missed that point so I will repeat it, cease to EXIST! Not blown up, not dead, not burning alive or even slowly rotting away in nuclear winter but ceasing to EXIST! And these winners thought it would be a good idea to create the stuff. Apparently this cracker jack group of think it all the way through to the end scientist heard about us sleeping soundly in our beds after watching 'Broken Arrow' and said "That just won't do"! Why? I can only posit that, to these guys at least, our every day squabbles just weren't getting the ratings.

From the South Park Episode 'Cancelled'.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why We Shouldn't Bail Out the American Automakers.

This is going to be a long one, so please, bare with me. There has been much to do lately about bailing out the American automakers. Because of the behemoth size and reach of these companies, they must be bailed out just to keep our economy from collapsing. However, I would like to look for a moment at why they should not be bailed out. If you're like me, the recent tilt-a-whirl ride of gas prices has you thinking one thing: I want off. Unfortunately most US cities do not provide a robust enough public transportation system to make this a viable and livable option as it may be in places like Manhattan or Tokyo. Places where residents have as much need for a private jet as they do an automobile.

So, until the money to develop these systems magically appears in every municipality across the country where citizens would sooner pay $4 a gallon for gas than vote for tax increases we are forced to look to the future. But don't look to Detroit. The American automakers know about as much about fuel efficiency as President Bush knows about grammar and public speaking. GMs' new Cruze (the artist formerly known as Cobalt) was going to be delayed until major backlash erupted across the net forcing even the most irresponsibly staunch supporters of GM (cough, MotorTrend, Cough, Popular Mechanics, Cough, Cough) dissented, chastising the car maker.

Meanwhile, more Americans have been buying less and less American made cars for years, a trend that has understandably accelerated during the latest gas crisis. It has accelerated because of the inefficient nature of American cars. But sales of American made cars had been on the decline for many years now because of a lack of quality. This is no surprise to anyone who has purchased a car in the passed 5+ years. Buying a better made Japanese or Korean car with higher quality materials, better fuel efficiency, higher resale value for as much as $5k less than a comparable American made car has been common place for some time now.

However, and most likely unknown to you and most Americans, is that American cars are renowned the world over for their extreme fuel efficiency as well as their extremely high quality build, materials and reliability . . . wait for it . . . as long as you don't buy them in America.

Many will tell you to buy American made because "it's the American thing to do" to "help American industry" in this difficult economic environment. However, what you have to understand, is that there has never been one company let alone an entire industry of companies that are more un-American than those of the American automobile industry.

To understand what I mean, consider the Ford Focus. Not exactly known for any of the redeeming qualities mentioned above save for the fact that it gets 35mpg. But even that isn't very impressive when you consider that the Ford Focus sold in Europe gets up to 65.6mpg not to mention it carries a reputation for reliability and high quality. Consider also the Ford Mondeo, a mid-sized family sedan also offered in wagon form. An automobile whose reputation for reliability, high quality and impeccable driver oriented interior is only out shined by it's stylish exterior. So much so that it was featured in the last James Bond film: Casino Royale (the car 007 drove to the ocean resort in while tracking down "ELIPSIS"). Did I mention that the Mondeo, comparable in size and price to a Chevy Malibu or Ford Taurus, gets up to 53.3mpg and the interior quality has been compared to that of a Jaguar? You think that's air you're breathing now? No Morpheus, I don't.

GM as well is known for high quality stylish vehicles that are above reproach in the area of fuel efficiency under the Opel brand name, often called the Audi of GM, no joke. Not even Cadillac, GMs highest quality, most luxurious brand is strong enough to garner that kind of comparison.

So while you, as an American, continue to suffer the effects of rising gas prices and a beleaguered economy drastically effected by failing Multi-Billion dollar American automakers, the cars we NEED are being made by the companies that so desperately NEED us to buy them. But they refuse to make those vehicles here. Why? I've been asking that question myself for many years to no avail. It's a question that is never addressed by any American automaker because most Americans don't know about it (pay no attention to the man behind the curtain). However, although this information is never presented to the American consumer, that doesn't change the fact that while we long for higher quality, more fuel efficient vehicles, the American automaker sells them everyday . . . wait for it . . . to anybody but us, their home town, America. Instead we get Expeditions and Escalades shoved down our throats by automakers only concerned with the quick money. Americans should not bail out the American automaker because the American automaker doesn't like the American.

So, as Detroit begs for another $25 Billion in government loans on top of the $25 Billion already approved, all while lobbying with Nancy Pelosi to be included in the $700 Billion Wall St bailout, ask yourself this: If you asked an American company to sell you something you desperately needed, only to have them refuse and announce their disdain for the American consumer by selling the exact product needed to nearly every other country on the planet, including our enemies, would you give them $750 Billion when they asked for it?

No? Then why are we?

But to reiterate what I said in the beginning the American auto industry must not be allowed to fail. Below is a video released today by GM. The facts are correct and the grim future it portrays is absolutely true. What it leaves out is the angering fact that inept management, an inability to adjust to known incoming market changes, greed and horribly inefficient product offerings in large part brought this burden to our, the tax payers, doorstep. Instead, the blame is diverted to the bad economy as though they have absolutely no accountability or responsibility for the current situation. At the end of the video GM pleads with you to write your congressmen to urge them to bail out the Big 3. I suggest you do the same, but I also suggest that you stipulate that other major changes need to be made such as cutting the salaries of the over paid executives that got the Big 3 into the mess they are in. Point in Fact, as I was writing this news came of Chrysler paying out $30Million in executive bonuses rather than using that cash to stay alive. In the 2008 election, we voted in part to elect a new president but also to remove an inept administration. If we the tax payers are to bail out the automakers, to the tune of $750 Billion, we should have the same option to remove those who had a hand in creating this travesty. A free hand out with no consequences cannot be allowed to occur. To do so will only ensure that this type of debacle will occur again having breached the "moral hazard" that was so atrociously man handled on Wall Street this year.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Message in a Bottle? That's so last Century!

If you find a rubber ducky floating along the shores of your favorite beach don't be so quick to dismiss it as a toy lost by some errant child, there may be a reward for returning the buoyant sea goers. Researchers from the University of Colorado hoping to better understand global warming have release 90 of the beloved childhood toys at the Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier, one of Greenland's largest. While this may seem like a kooky idea that some hope to work, it has actually been in practice for some time and has actually been given a name by researchers, Flotsam Science. Imprinted on the rubber duckies is an email address and the promise of a reward in three different languages.

In a time of petaflop computers, billion dollar satellites and telescopes and the LHC, one can't help but laugh at the fact the best insight we have into global warming is a rubber ducky. One thing is for sure though, Ernie would be proud!

Adobe ARMing Flash . . . for iPhone?

Adobe today said it would develop optimized versions of its AIR and Flash 10 apps for ARM11 and Cortex processors for 2009. The technology is aimed at portable devices that integrate technologies like ARM processors and OpenGL ES 2.0 graphic hardware. The largest group of devices to be affected will obviously be smart phones but it is also targeted at other mobile devices that implement the targeted technologies such as GPS units and other MIDs that could be used for serving media. Though the iPhone is not called out by name, it would seem the iPhone is a direct target of the project as the iPhone uses the Samsung ARM 1176 processor and relies on OpenGL ES 2.0 for graphics rendering.

iPhone adopters around the globe have questioned the absence of Flash on the iPhone. Steve Jobs has said he would like to see Flash on the OSX phone but is impractical because of the high resource demand the current Flash and Flash Lite players put on systems. Others have posited that there is a squable between Apple and Adobe over PDF licensing. I have often thought that Apple avoids Flash on the iPhone to avoid losing revenue on the app store. Flash and AIR would most certainly give developers a way around the app store for deploying apps for the iPhone. But once this player hits the streets, Steve's public complaints about Flash will have been addressed leaving the ball squarely in the Mac makers court. Either way it should be interesting. Here's to hoping to see Flash on the iPhone, it would come to much fanfare.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

YouTube Nation . . . Address

Hot on the heels of President-Elect Obama's creation of, a website designed to make the new U.S. Presidents policies more accessible, an announcement comes that the weekly Presidential address will be uploaded and broadcast on YouTube and featured on the Below is the first ever YouTube Presidential address of many to come.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Take My Data Shaken, Not Stirred.

I bring you news today of a new operation called Pionen located 30 meters within the bed rock of Stockholm city, Sweden. 100% up time operation is ensured by two German made Maybach MTU diesel engines producing 1.5 Megawatt of power. The lair, designed to withstand a hit from a hydrogen bomb, consists of 16 inch thick fortified front doors. The entire facility can be surveyed from the conference room whose floor is molded to be the surface of the moon. Cooling is handled by Baltimore Aircoil fans producing a cooling effect of 1.5 megawatts. Connectivity is no issue with triple redundancy Internet backbone access (full redundancy with both fiber optics and extra copper lines with three different physical ways into the mountain). It features greenhouses, simulated daylight and waterfalls for aesthetics as well as atmosphere creation, fog machines that produce a thin film of smoke across the floor where you walk and a huge 2600-liter salt water fish tank. Why? Just because.

It may sound like the secret underground lair of James Bonds latest nemesis but it is actually the newest data center built in a former nuclear bomb shelter by one of Sweden's largest ISPs. Jon Karlung, CEO at Bahnhof (the ISP behind Pionen) had this to say on the design of the facility:
I’m personally a big fan of old science fiction movies. Especially ones from the 70s like Logan’s Run, Silent Running, Star Wars (especially The Empire Strikes Back) so these were an influence,“ said Karlung. “James Bond movies have also had an impact on the design. I was actually looking for the same outfit as the villain ‘Blofeld’ in Bond and even considered getting a white cat, but that might have been going a bit far!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Five Coolest Things the US Govt is Developing

The Flying Car:
Call Doc Brown, all we need now is a flux capacitor and it'll be 1985 all over again, ...wait

Thought Controlled Limbs:
Because reaching for another Toastito is really cutting into my sitting around doing nothing time.
Demonstration Video

Artificial Pack Mules:
I'll wait for Gen11, with any kind of luck it'll have arms so it can mow the grass.
Demonstration Video

Laser Guns:
[insert Star Wars / Light Saber joke here]

"Kill Proof" Soldiers:
Research? Why are we spending money on this? Someone get Matt Damon on the line, we'll bang this out before the weekend.

Truly Embedding Video ... wait for it ... In Video.

This post goes out to all you production artists out there as well as anyone who works with video. Stanford artificial intelligence researchers have developed software that makes it easy to embed objects such as images or video within a video. The objects are not placed over the top of the base video, they are actually embedded within the video. The software is easy to use and hints at a future where users can easily and cheaply serve video to users that feature targeted ads just as web pages do now.

At the Zunavision site the Stanford developers offer the below video as well as a sign up form to use the software

Weaponised Lasers On Sale, Just In Time For Christmas

Northrop Grumman has said that it is ready to take orders for the "world's first ruggedised, weaponised high energy solid state laser designed for battlefield applications". The raygun module is dubbed FIRESTRIKE™. The solid-state laser unit weighs over 400lbs, sends/receives instructions and data via an RJ-45 jack and can be synchronized with additional units to emit a 100 kW beam.

No I'm not reminising about the '85 film Real Genius. This is the real deal. Just in time to fill my long time christmas wish of being able to vaporize my enemies with the click of a mouse. So for all you out there looking to get me a stocking stuffer this year, this will do just fine, sans Iceman.

Gear Head Post: '09 ZR-1 Engine Build

For all my gear head brethren dying to see a video showing an engine build from start to finish of GM's super charged 7 Liter LS-9 for the 2009 Corvette ZR-1.

Nov. 14, 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.

If I gotta go, so do you!
Police say a woman has died on the way to a cemetery when a traffic accident hurled her late husband's coffin against the back of her neck. Barcelos died instantly.

Man eats his way out of prison!
Canadian prison authorities were forced to release a 450-pound (205 kg) drug gang member this week because he was too large for his cell, the Journal de Montreal newspaper reported on Wednesday.

And you thought you were bad about cleaning up!
An elderly woman has been living with two skeletons and a badly decomposed body of her siblings in a suburb of Chicago, one of whom may have died at least 20 years ago, authorities said on Saturday.

If you want me you'll have to go through my grandpa!
Contradicting Homer Simpsons' belief that old people are useless, police say a Tampa man used his 72-year-old grandfather as a shield against officers during his arrest.

Note to self: Blow torch not a viable duster.
A single-story home in Sargent, GA was damaged by fire after the homeowner accidentally set the fire while cleaning cobwebs from the eaves around the exterior of the residence with a blow torch.

Ken Mink, a 73-year-old full-time student, scored two points Monday night in Roane State Community College's 93-42 victory over King College's junior varsity. Mink entered the game with about 16 minutes left in the second half and attempted one shot in about three minutes. Seven minutes later, he went back in the game, was fouled and made two free throws.

Economy got you down? Have a sexy party!
An Australian holiday resort will hold a month-long, nude "anything goes" party to combat an expected economic downturn, media reports said on Thursday.

Parents got you down? Go to Grandma's!
A 9-year-old boy was caught driving his parents' car alone after police received a report about an unmanned vehicle moving down the street. The boy took the car, which had been parked with the key in the ignition at his family's home in Gifu, central Japan, to visit his grandmother's house, a police spokesman said.

Little House on the Prairie? Only on Cinemax!
Finally, confirming what I've been saying for years, Finland has rated the DVD release of the much-loved children's television series "Little House on the Prairie" suitable for adult viewing only.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ken Block: The driver all men THINK they are!

When it comes to driving, Ken Block is a god among men. In the video below he gives us another example at Gymkhana practice of his seraphic if not supernal driving skills.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Doctor, a Mutation and a Potential Cure for AIDS

It has been about 6 1/2 years since the "Jared Has Aides" South Park episode announced that AIDS was officially funny since it had been 22.3 years since the discovery of the fatal disease. Which makes it almost 29 years since it's discovery today. But today is a new day and there may finally be a cure for the AIDS causing HIV disease.

From The Wall Street Journal:
"The breakthrough appears to be that Dr. Gero Hütter, a soft-spoken hematologist who isn't an AIDS specialist, deliberately replaced the patients bone marrow cells with those from a donor who has a naturally occurring genetic mutation that renders his cells immune to almost all strains of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS."

All I can wonder is: I should have been a doctor. 30 year deadlines??? That's my kind of time line! How long would you last in your industry if it took you that long to accomplish something?