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Friday, February 8, 2008

Uncrate - A Geek's Guide to Everything Stylish

Alerted to a very cool website thanks to a link in someone's tweet (twitter post) yesterday. Uncrate, finds all the links that interest the geek, from gameboy bricks for your walkway to the Utilikilt for the Scottish geek who wants deep pockets to carry their gear, and doesn't mind a little draft down there... Uncrate covers gear, cars, style, body tech, and gadgets for your home (crib). According to the site "Uncrate is the No. 1 buyer's guide for men. We test and highlight cool items from cell phones to DVDs to cars. Five new products are added every week day for your perusal." I'm subscribing to the RSS feed now!

Scientists Create Knee-Mounted Generator

Researchers at Simon Fraser University and two American universities have developed a knee-mounted generator that is capable of producing enough energy to power multiple cellphones. While human generated power is nothing new, you just have to take a stroll threw any department or hardware store to see a number of crank driven flashlights or radios. The difference with this knee-mounted device is that the electricity is generated from the energy put into slowing down the knee joint which makes the effort required substantially less. Good luck getting the thing through security at the airport though! CBC story here.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ford Offers Hi-Tech Features To F-Series Trucks and E-Series Vans

Ford Motor Co. is offering up some innovative features to appeal to contractors and business owners. The company announced yesterday that it was rolling out four new features branded as Ford Work Solutions. “Our truck customers are smart - and they work hard,” said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. “Ford Work Solutions provides truck customers new technologies and tools to help them work even smarter and further boost their productivity.” The lineup includes:
  • an in-dash computer system that provides full high-speed Internet access via the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network and navigation by Garmin;
  • Tool Link, a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) asset tracking system enabling customers to maintain a detailed real-time inventory of the tools or equipment stored in the pickup box;
  • Crew Chief, a fleet telematics and diagnostics system; and
  • Cable Lock, a security system to discourage theft of tools too large to fit in the cab.
It's funny, I never saw Ford as a Geek's company but these features would make Tim Taylor drool! On second thought my '79 Pinto wagon was a little on the geeky side...

Want Fast Internet Connection - Move to Quebec.

Quebec now boasts the fastest commercial Internet speeds in North America thanks to a service available to 112,000 households in Laval, just north of Montreal. Service provider Videotron intends to extend the service to Montreal and Quebec City later this year. It provides two tiers of service, a $64.95/month 30-mpbs plan and another at $75.95/month and 50-mbps. According to this CBC article, "Verizon Communications Inc., one of the largest U.S. internet service providers, also offers some customers speeds of up to 50 mbps over its fibre-optic network, but at $139.95 U.S. a month, it's nearly double the cost of Videotron's top service." The system built by Cisco Systems Inc. is said to be capable of 100-mbps speeds but Videotron decided to cap it at 50 because most servers are not able to pump out the information at that speed. "The network was too fast for the internet," says Isabelle Dessureault, general manager of communications for Videotron.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Study Says Males More Likely to Become Video Game Addicted

Researchers at Stanford University, using brain-imaging in a study of video game players, have concluded that "the part of the brain that generates feelings of reward is more stimulated in men than in women." The conclusion is therefore drawn that this neural affect explains why men are more likely to become addicted to video games. Speaking of the 22 test subjects, 11 male and 11 female, "The females 'got,' the game..." said Allan Reiss, who headed up the study. "They appeared motivated to succeed at the game. The males were just a lot more motivated to succeed." The game played involved gaining screen 'territory' by completing simple tasks and the researchers point out the the male of our species is definitely more territorial than the female, which could explain why the men were more driven to succeed. I think we're just amused by simple games and way too competitive for our own good. The CBC has the story.

CBS Mobile & Loopt Bring Location Based Ads to Cell Phones

The New York Times is reporting this morning that CBS will announce the introduction of a new location based ad campaign customized for a person’s location and delivered to their cell phone via CBS Mobile News and CBS Mobile Sports web sites. “Mobile phone users already see ads on Web pages. But with the CBS service, instead of a more or less random banner popping up on the screen, people who have chosen to participate might see an ad from a business in the neighborhood, even one within a block or two.” The experiment is, for now, limited to two carriers that Loopt has signed deals with, Sprint Nextel and Boost Mobile. If it's an opt in service, and the result is no more ads than would normally be displayed, I really wouldn't have objections. Then again, I live in a very small market and it will probably be a very long time before this type of service makes it way here. I also don't subscribe to the privacy concerns of many... I just don't think that anyone is going to be that interested in where I am at any given time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Telco Strikes Back

In an attempt to stem the flow of phone subscribers away from their telco business (1.2 million to the cable companies in 3 years), Montreal's Bell has introduced a couple of new features to it's landline and cell phone clients. One new service "... allows landline customers to access their voice mail messages through any internet-connected computer. The service can also alert customers to new messages by automatically sending an e-mail or text message to their mobile phones." On the cell phone side of the equation, Bell has a new offering that "converts text messages into voice on landlines... which can be listened to on a landline by the receiving customer or sent to voice mail." Of course these new features will cost you... between $3 and $13 per month depending on your phone plan. Somethings will never change! CBC story here.

China's City of the Future, Today!

Wired describes Beijing's Skywalk-Linked Megacomplex as a City Within a City. The objective is to limit it's inhabitants foray into the real world of polution and uncontrollable climate swings by offering everything they need within a ring of eight 21-story towers, all interconnected and providing for nearly all of its residents' needs. "Galleries, caf├ęs, bars, and shops will line these public passages. With its 82-floor hotel, the project boasts a total interior space of 2.4 million square feet, and the 15-acre grounds feature everything from a skateboard park to tai chi platforms." The project is the design of architects Steven Holl and Li Hu and is expected to be complete this summer.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ballmer Wants to Hurry Along Consumer Version of Surface PC

cnet's reporter Ina Fried is reporting that Steve Ballmer is anxious to bring to market a consumer version of the Surface PC. Reports last year were that Microsoft would unleash a commercial version by end of year 2007, but it now looks like a Spring '08 release. At the time the outlook for a consumer product was about 5 years, but Ballmer says "We're going to follow our nose," referring to the public demand that could drive an accelerated development cycle. I, for one, will be sitting on pins and needles waiting to that happen! This is much more exciting than a Yahoo! hostile takeover...

Google Takes Aim at Microsoft's Proposed Yahoo! Acquisition

A post yesterday on The Official Google Blog calls on legislators and policy makers around the globe to question the impact a Microsoft - Yahoo! takeover would have on "openess and innovation". "Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? While the Internet rewards competitive innovation, Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies -- and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets." writes Eric E. Schmidt, placing a call to Yahoo’s chief, Jerry Yang, offering the Google’s help to fend off Microsoft and “back-channel” calls to AOL and Time Warner execs.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Navy Rail Gun Tests

Here is an interesting Discovery Channel segment on the US navy's trials of Electro-kinetic Rail Gun technology that they are developing as a mid range ship fired ordinance. The projectiles are fired at extreme speeds and the sheer impact causes immense damage meaning there is no requirement for arming them with explosive charges. Neat!