Saturday, January 13, 2007

Friday, January 12, 2007

New Swiss Supercar – the Beck LM 800

Though not known for its auto industry, Switzerland can boast at least two supercar builders: Rinspeed and now Beck Engineering and Composites. Beck showed off its LM800 this week at the Luxus Motor Show in Vienna. It's powered by a 4.2 liter, 650 hp, turbocharged, MTM V8, attached to a 7-speed semi-sequential gearbox. The car's description sounds more Formula 1 than street car: Kevlar, carbon fiber, pneumatic jacks. But it also has luxuries, including air conditioning, satellite navigation, keyless entry, and leather seats. The only options on the $600,500 car are power windows, an LCD screen, additional airbags and a higher output engine.

At just under 2,000 pounds including driver and a full tank of gas, Beck's claim of 0-60 in three seconds and top speed near 217 MPH is believable. Performance must be Veyron-like with the upgraded 1,000 hp engine.

TV Shows Become Podcasts Instead Of Being Paid Content In iTunes Store

From TUAW:
So why is it that TV shows are now starting to show up as podcasts rather than in the iTunes store? Today the first episode of Season 2 of Extras became available through iTunes--but it's a podcast. Something similar happened the other day with the PBS science pilots, also available as podcasts. So what's the deal?

Normally, we've been expecting audio blogs, interviews and behind-the-scenes looks in the podcast section and pay-for-episodes in the store. So why is it that entire episodes are now starting to appear in podcastland? Is it just licensing terms? Or is it that this works internationally? Or is it that this way vendors don't have to pre-buy a million episodes at once like ABC did a few months ago? If you have some insight into this new trend (assuming it is a trend), let us know in the comments.
I'm guessing this is just a teaser to get us hooked before the pay version comes out. The article seems to think this is some sort of trend but the only other example was a PBS show which you would expect to be free anyway. Does anyone else have examples of this growing "trend?"

Image: Peacekeeper-missile-testing

LGM-118A Peacekeeper missile system being tested at the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

The lines shown are the re-entry vehicles -- one Peacekeeper can hold up to 10 nuclear warheads, each independently targeted. Were the warheads armed with a nuclear payload, each would carry with it the explosive power of twenty-five Hiroshima-sized weapons.

From the comments on Digg:

"I've been on island for these tests, so I'll help everyone out here.
1) The launches are from Vandenberg AFB
2) The REV's are NOT traveling at 4k MPH. Honest. That's the DISTANCE from Vandenberg to Kwaj RTS (Reagan Test Site)
3) There are tons of these pictures. The Kwaj. calendar every year has one of these on the cover, and is distributed all over. Whenever there's a "mission" everybody who isn't directly involved in it (doing telemetry, security, whatever) turns out at the north end on Kwaj to watch them come in. I probably have three or four mission pictures that I've taken.
4) Generally launches occur around 2200 island time, and the warheads splashdown at 2230-ish (I think the total flight time is around 22 minutes or so, but I don't know that for-sure for sure). I'd compute the actual speed for everyone, but I don't know the exact altitude before MRV.
5) The REV's come in one-at-a-time through the clouds. No, you don't see the streak. You see a very bright "dot" (although it looks big for a dot to me) come in on the path to the ocean. There are never two visible at once. I would imagine that's so the folks in telemetry have an easier time of it during the test.
6) The total time that REV's are visible is about 1 minute.
7) When I was there, two or three missions were held each year.
8) No, you can't visit. It's a military base. The only way you get out there is to be hired or to know or be related to someone who already is out there.
9) It's one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Better than Hawaii by a TON. The diving in particular is spectacular. Due to the low population in and around the lagoon, the reefs are just outstanding.
10) One of the three world-wide GPS control stations is there.
11) The mission performed by the men and women involved in this work is critically important. The physicists, technicians, computer scientists, and others that work on Roi, Meck, an Kwaj (and a few other islands in the atoll) have learned an enormous amount about not only ballistic missiles, but re-entry of other objects as well. That technology, wisdom, and experience are critically important in, for example, the ability to determine the threat that NEO's pose to Earth, and in determining the threat that rogue states such as PRK pose to their neighbors."

Video: Aluminum foil boat floats on dense, invisible gas

What they have is Sulfur hexafluoride. It’s 5.11 times as dense as air. It’s non toxic, although it’s byproducts can be extremely dangerous.

Video: A Closer Look At The iPhone

PQI's 64GB SSD with SATA

PQI just announced the availability of their 64GB, 2.5-inch drive -- doubling the size of current SSDs packed in either 1.8-inch or 2.5-inch IDE enclosures. No word on pricing yet.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Geometry trick to get free drinks at the bar

Apple iPhone

Specs of the 11.6 millimeter device include a 3.5-inch 480 x 320 touchscreen display with multi-touch support and a proximity sensor to turn off the screen when it's close to your face, 2 megapixel cam, 4GB or 8 GB of storage, Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR and A2DP, WiFi that automatically engages when in range, and quad-band GSM radio with EDGE. Runs OS X with support for Widgets, Google Maps, and Safari, and iTunes with CoverFlow. A partnership with Yahoo will allow all iPhone customers to hook up with free push IMAP email. Apple quotes 5 hours of battery life for talk or video, with a full 16 hours in music mode -- no word on standby time yet. The 4GB iPhone will go out the door in the US as a Cingular exclusive for $499 on a two-year contract, 8GB for $599. Ships Stateside in June, Europe in fourth quarter, Asia in 2008.

Hands on Review from David Pogue:

"Today, I had meetings with Steve Jobs and then Phil Schiller, Apple’s director of worldwide marketing. I basically played with the iPhone the entire hour.
Here are some of the things you can’t tell without actually handling and using the iPhone:
* It feels amazing in your hand. Not like an iPod, not like a Treo — but something new. It’s so thin, and the rounded stainless-steel edges are so smooth, you can excuse its larger-than-Treo fa├žade. When you’re on a call, it’s so cool how the screen turns off to save power, thanks to its proximity sensor.
* You operate the iPhone with your fingertips. Apart from buttons that appear on the touch screen, the only physical buttons are volume up/down, ringer on/off, sleep/wake and a Home button.
Apple went through numerous iterations of the glass surface, trying to find one that’s not too slick or too rough, or that shows grease and fingerprints too much. You still get finger streaks, but they’re relatively subtle and a quick wipe on your sleeve takes care of them.
* During my one test call, the sound quality was loud and clear. Of course, your mileage (and your Cingular signal) will vary.
* Typing is difficult. The letter keys are just pictures on the glass screen, so of course there’s no tactile feedback.
Software helps a lot. You can afford to make a lot of typos as you muddle through a word, because the software analyzes which keys you *might* have meant and figures out the word you wanted. Its best guess appears just under what you’ve typed; if it’s correct, you tap the Space bar to accept it and continue. I typed a couple of e-mail messages with lots of typos but eventually 100 percent accuracy, thanks to this auto-correct feature. (My testing didn’t involve proper names, however.)
Bottom line: Heavy BlackBerry addicts may not want to jump ship just yet.
* The phone won’t be available until June, so some of its software isn’t finished yet. As I tapped my way into obscure corners of the phone, Mr. Jobs pointed out a couple of spots where only a placeholder graphic was available.
* Both in the onstage demo and during my hands-on hour, the Web speed was OK—not great, but OK. But all of this used the phone’s built-in Wi-Fi, not Cingular’s notoriously slow Edge network. I couldn’t help wondering how bad the speed will be when you’re connecting over the cellular airwaves. (Here again, though, I was playing with a prototype whose software will undergo a lot of fine-tuning between now and June.)
* I tried out the camera. It was really cool to frame a shot using the HUGE 3.5-inch screen; it’s rare to find that big a screen on any camera. The refresh rate felt typical of a camera-phone to me, but Mr. Jobs said that it would be much smoother by the time the phone is done.
* The Web browsing experience is incredible. You see the entire Web page on the iPhone’s screen. You double-tap any spot to zoom in. Or you use the two-fingered spread-apart gesture to “stretch” the image larger, or pinch your thumb and forefinger on the glass to zoom out again. The manipulation is seamless, smoothly animated—and useful. Using Google Maps to get you driving directions and maps, for example, is just light-years simpler and more powerful than on any other machine, thanks to this “rubber Web page” stretching technology."

Boeing, Rockwell offer Enhanced Vision System for Jets

Boeing [NYSE: BA] Business Jets and Rockwell Collins today introduced an Enhanced Vision System (EVS) offering for Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) operators. The offering will be available to BBJ customers through Boeing and Rockwell Collins service bulletins, and certification for the system is expected by early 2008.

The Rockwell Collins EVS presents an image of the external environment on the Head-up Guidance System (HGS®) and head-down displays to enhance pilot situational awareness of terrain and the airport environment in low-visibility situations. When displayed on the HGS, EVS allows the pilot to descend below minimums, if the visual references to the intended runway are visible using the EVS.

"The EVS upgrade will increase safety and operational capability of the aircraft by enhancing situational awareness at night or in poor weather conditions," said John Desmond, vice president, Rockwell Collins HGS. "We look forward to working closely with Boeing to deliver this offering to their BBJ customers."

"Boeing is pleased to collaborate with Rockwell Collins to provide EVS capability on BBJs," said Boeing Business Jets President Steven Hill. "Boeing constantly evaluates and adds cutting-edge technology that brings value to our customers and enhances the performance and efficiency of a great product like the BBJ."

Rockwell Collins has teamed with Max-Viz to complete the certification of EVS on the BBJ. Rockwell Collins will incorporate a Max-Viz multi-wavelength infrared sensor into the Rockwell Collins HGS. BBJ operators that upgrade to the new EVS system will require an upgrade to their HGS 4000, as well as the infrared camera.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Flipping Japanese Roller Coaster

HD is so old. Quad HD is where its at.

From TomsHardware:
1080p is really what you should be looking for in a new high-definition HDTV, but the next generation is just around the corner: Westinghouse showcases a 2160p - commonly referred to as a Quad HDTV.

The 52" TV runs a super high-resolution of 2160p (3840 x 2160 pixels). In absolute numbers, the device is running a stunning 8.3 megapixels - four times more than 1080p TVs (1920x1080p) and more than twice the resolution of Dell's, HP's and Apple's 30" desktop LCDs. So, what do you get from this resolution, especially if HD DVD and Blu-ray are running only 1080p anyway?

According to Westinghouse, the TV does not really target the consumer market, but high-end industrial applications. What we saw was a demo of an oil company viewing a digital version of a mining site. And even at this very specialized application, the difference to the best 1080p we saw at CES appeared to be marginal, at least to our eyes. However, of course you do see a much clearer picture when compared to some lower-priced 1080p TVs. Westinghouse said that it has begun taking orders for the 2160p. However, the TV will not come to the consumer market anytime soon. Company officials decline dto comment on pricing, but the highest resolution on the market combined with limited availability are a good indication for one pricey TV.

Monday, January 08, 2007

VIDEO: Live demo of Ford/Microsoft's Sync


From Autoblog:
Our car-culture obsessive friends over at Jalopnik traveled into the bowels of FoMoCo to get some exclusive playtime with the Sync, the infotainment progeny of the Ford and Microsoft partnership.

You can view the first installment, as Ray Wert sits down with one of Ford's techy PR people for a demo and comes away more than just impressed. Once you see the video, you'll understand why, as the Sync seemed to make everything look, well, easy. Does it get any simpler than just plugging any USB equipped music player (or simple flash drive) into a port in the armrest, speaking the name of the song and then forgetting about it?

Just the fact that they got a speech recognition function to work is enough to impress, but what if you don't have your iPod isn't at, but you're Bluetooth phone can stream music? Even simpler. The system integrates with the phone and, as long as you have Microsoft Windows Media Player and an internet connection, you can stream whatever you like: music, talk radio, our podcasts and whatever else you can find online.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

What does a hard drive look like inside while in use?

German robotics group crafts LEGO factory to build... LEGO cars

t's one thing to craft something remarkable all by your lonesome, but constructing an entire factory to handle all the dirty work for you is really doing something. A robotics group assembled (ahem) at a German "grammar school" (VHG) in lower Bavaria has fabricated a feat that even Toys R Us would marvel over, as the group's expansive LEGO Mindstorm factory was built entirely out of LEGO blocks, and moreover, programmed to assemble LEGO-based vehicles. Taking a note from every other major assembly plant in the world, this automated construction site feeds blocks from one end to the other, carefully pushing, pulling, and connecting pieces as necessary to completely assemble a LEGO car.