Friday, December 08, 2006

Homeland Security eyes high-power lasers for protecting commercial flights

How It Works

1. Find Target
An infrared camera on the laser continuously scans a 6- to 10-mile radius around the airport for suspicious heat emissions. When it finds a plume, it relays the coordinates to an identification-and-tracking system, which is also on the unit.

2. Confirm Threat
The onboard computer checks the object’s heat signature against a data bank, confirms that it’s a missile (and not a bird or a plane), and activates the laser.

3. Prepare to Fire
Reactive gases in the laser’s fuel tanks are funneled through a vacuum tube to heat up atoms and send them cascading through resonator mirrors. This produces a tightly focused, high-energy beam.

4. Destroy Missile
The laser-beam cannon emits a burst of intense light aimed at the missile’s most vulnerable spot, usually the explosives compartment. Simultaneously, it relays a wireless signal to a computer located in the airport control tower to give authorities a fix on the origin of the rocket.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Enough about the Iphone already!

Macworld is almost here and Apple fan boys are going nuts with this Iphone. Its been talked about for years. Macworld is coming up in a few weeks and it could be a reality. Kevin Rose Spilled the beans on Diggnation:

What everyone has been talking about is an Ipod/cell phone device. I think these people are wrong. I think Apple is finally going to let you download your music independent of a computer. You will be able to download songs directly from Itunes to your Ipod. Of course Apple will need to integrate cell phone technology into the player, but its main purpose will be to play music. Cingular is the first carrier to come to mind that they will be dealing with. They have worked with them in the past.

My reasoning for why Apple would come out with this types of device instead of an Iphone comes from a few places. First, taking the computer out of the equation has always been a goal for the Ipod. If you want new music, you want to get it now. You don't want to go to a computer, hook it up, go online...when you can just download music whenever and where ever. Second, Michael Kanellos points out some good reasons is his article:
Apple opted to adopt the 1.8-inch hard drive, a piece of hardware spurned by other manufacturers. That was the world's mistake. The 1.8-inch drive let Apple put a huge amount of storage--the real problem with MP3 players--into a small form factor. The first iPod sported 5GB of storage, or nearly 40 times as much as the upper crust of flash players. The company even locked up supply of 1.8-inch drives for a while, so no one could copy it.

The iPod also conquered the problem of small screens and cheesy navigation. With its newfound popularity, the company was also able to get music publishers to agree to its terms.

Unfortunately for Apple, problems like that don't exist in the handset business. Cell phones aren't clunky, inadequate devices. Instead, they are pretty good. Really good. Why do you think they call it a Crackberry? Because the lumpy design and confusing interface of the device is causing people to break into cars? No, it's because people are addicted to it.

Samsung has scoured the world's design schools and hired artists on three continents to keep its phones looking good. Motorola has revived its fortunes with design. KDDI, a Japanese carrier, has a design showcase in the teen shopping area of Tokyo just to be close to trends. And Sharp doesn't skimp when it comes to putting LCD TVs on its phones.

Apple, in other words, won't be competing against rather doltish, unstylish companies like the old Compaq. The handset companies move pretty quick and put out new models every few weeks.

So I think this news at Macworld wont be an Iphone, just an Ipod that can let you DL songs directly to the Ipod.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Stealing Fair Use, Selling It Back to You

"Apparently, Hollywood believes that you should have to re-purchase all your DVD movies a second time if you want to watch them on your iPod." That's what I said last week, commenting on the Paramount v. Load-N-Go lawsuit, in which Hollywood studios claimed that it is illegal to rip a DVD to put on a personal video player (PVP), even if you own the DVD.

Well, this week the other shoe dropped. According to an article in the New York Times:

Customers who buy the physical DVD of Warner Brothers’ “Superman Returns” in a Wal-Mart store will have the option of downloading a digital copy of the film to their portable devices for $1.97, personal computer for $2.97, or both for $3.97.
So you buy the DVD, and if you want a copy on your PVP or computer, you have to pay a second time. Despite the fact that you bought the DVD, and you have a DVD drive in your computer that is perfectly capable of making a personal-use copy. Imagine if the record labels offered you this "deal" for every CD you bought -- pay us a few dollars extra, and you can have a copy for your iPod. And a few more dollars, if you want a copy on your computer, too! As LA Times reporter Jon Healey puts it in his blog: "So from the perspective of the studios and federal officials, consumers have to pay for the privilege of doing the sorts of things with DVDs that they're accustomed to doing with CDs (and LPs and cassettes)."

This latest bitter fruit from Hollywood is brought to you by the DMCA, which treats "protected" content (like the encrypted video on DVDs), differently from "unprotected" content (like every audio and video media format introduced before 1996). Thanks to the DMCA, Hollywood believes fair use personal-use copies simply do not exist when it comes to DVDs.

Given that the Copyright Office has refused [PDF, see p. 71-72] to recognize any DMCA exemption for space-shifting, claiming that putting a DVD you own on your iPod "is either infringing, or, even if it were noninfringing, would be merely a convenience," (excuse me, Copyright Office, that's a decision for a court to make) the ball is now in Congress' court. Let's hope Congressman Rick Boucher is listening and will reintroduce his DMCA reform bill first thing next year.
We need to take Labels and Studios out of the equation. Take a look at the viral videos and music on the internet. They never went to a major record lable or signed a deal with a major movie studio or TV Network. By word of mouth these vidoes were able to get distributed. Thats the job of the Studios and Labels. If music and movies can become so popular virally, studios and labels can get removed out of the equation and the cost of this media can go way down. Also the producers of this content will get a much higher percentage of money earned on their media instead of 70-90% going to studios/networks/labels.

Monday, December 04, 2006

1,054 hp for a new World Record for Street-Legal Cars

MISSION 400 PLUS Based on Porsche 997

1,054 hp for a new World Record for Street-Legal Cars

MISSION 400 PLUS - under this project name H &R presents an especially spectacular world premiere at the ESSEN-MOTOR-SHOW 2006. Jürgen Alzen Motorsport, long-time partner of H&R in the long-distance championship on the Nürburgring, engine tuner RS Tuning and H&R have jointly developed a sports car based on the Porsche 997. It is destined to win the Blue Ribbon for the world's fastest street-legal sports car next year, with a top speed of more than 400 km/h.

The idea to tackle the world record was born in August 2006 at the Six-Hour Race on the Nürburgring: After the H&R-sponsored Alzen Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 fell victim to an accident in only the second lap, team boss Jürgen Alzen and H&R marketing director Hardy von der Brake had time to discuss means to better demonstrate the technology transfer from motorsports to the development of sporty suspension components.

The idea quickly turned into the MISSION 400 PLUS concept, whose prototype now celebrated its world debut at the ESSEN-MOTOR-SHOW 2006. The three companies that have joined forces to turn this concept into reality have proven their potential in building super-fast sports cars numerous times before.

The experienced team of technicians from Jürgen Alzen Motorsport in Betzdorf is responsible for the technical design and for building the car. The engine is based on that of the latest 997-series Porsche 911 Turbo, and comes from RS Tuning. H&R contributes its immense know-how in the field of suspension design and setup.

Favorable aerodynamic properties are essential for a car that is designed to break the 400-km/h barrier. Minimizing frontal surface area is absolutely elementary, which is why Jürgen Alzen decided to lower the roof by 75 millimeters. At the same time the A-pillars were tilted back further by 5.5 degrees. To give the coupe a homogenous overall appearance the tilt of B- and C-pillars was adjusted accordingly. Special flush-mounted polycarbonate windows all around complete the roof conversion.

Also part of the MISSION 400 PLUS aerodynamics concept are numerous other modifications that were developed and tested in the wind tunnel. Among them are a long rear with pronounced separation edge and the absence of rain channels. Streamlined cowlings for the 18-inch BBS light-alloy wheels will reduce air turbulence on the vehicle's sides during the record run.

The MISSION 400 PLUS engine is built by RS Tuning in Kirchhaslach, where the racing engines for Jürgen Alzen Motorsport have been created for many years. The displacement of the six-cylinder flat engine is increased from 3.6 to 3.8 liters and the engine is reworked entirely. Company owner Reinhold Schmirler's power cocktail also includes special combustion chamber shapes as well as precision-machined cylinder heads with larger valves, and high-performance camshafts.

The engine's peripherals are also completely new. In addition to an intake manifold with larger and smoothened ports the engine is equipped with a more powerful turbocharging system and a high-performance exhaust.

The stock turbos with variable turbine geometry are replaced by larger conventional ones, which are supplied with optimal amounts of exhaust gas by the custom-tailored stainless-steel exhaust manifolds. Higher capacity intercoolers provide cooler charge air for maximum power output, aided on the exhaust side by a stainless-steel sport exhaust with metal catalysts.

RS Tuning's stationary test bench is used to fine-tune the perfect interaction of all individual components with special 100-octane fuel mapping for the Bosch-developed engine electronics.

With a boost pressure of 1.5 bar the engine develops 1,054 hp / 775.7 kW at 7,700 rpm and a peak torque of 1,030 Nm at 5,800 rpm. And yet, the speed-record hunter meets stringent EURO IV emission limits.

Power is transferred to the rear wheels via a high-performance clutch and a modified high-geared six-speed transmission.

The high-speed track in Nardo, where the world record is supposed to be set next year, places extreme demands on the MISSION 400 PLUS suspension, due to its undulated surface. H &R has custom-developed a special version of its H&R HIGH-END suspension specifically for this purpose.

The top-of-the-line product in the H &R lineup distinctly sets itself apart from conventional sport suspensions. In addition to special struts with sporty springs and shocks the H&R HIGH-END suspension further consists of bearings made from especially high-quality harder materials, custom-made aluminum lower A-arms as well as special tie rods and newly designed upper rear axle links.

Installing this almost infinitely adjustable suspension results in even more strength and more direct response. It also allows an even more precise setup of the record car to account for the banked track at Nardo. The MISSION 400 PLUS is further equipped with adjustable H&R sport sway bars on front and rear axle.

The overall lightweight design is completed with Carbon-made doors and hoods and a Spartan interior with Recaro carbon-fiber racing seats and a roll cage.

MISSION 400 PLUS will hunt for the record in Nardo in the first half of 2007. Creator and race driver Jürgen Alzen will pilot the ultra-low-profile coupe.