Friday, November 28, 2008

Apple Stores to match competitor prices on Black Friday

Apple has internally announced that its Apple Stores are authorized to match the Black Friday sales of any authorized Apple re-seller. There have been reports indicating that Apple was already planning significant price cuts for Black Friday, so this Thanksgiving should be a great time to purchase Apple products at attractive prices.

read more | digg story

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Help at last for IT and consultants

Those of us that work in computer support have all seen our share of bad IT support policies and awful help desk software. In my years of doing technical support I have seen some of the very best help desk software to some of the worst. Bad or difficult to use help desk software is a major reason of unhappiness for not only your support staff but also for your customers.

One fantastic customer support program you may not of heard of is called Web Help Desk. The Web Help Desk is a high performance web application designed as a 100% browser-based solution. The Web Help Desk's browser-only focus guarantees a rich, powerful cross-platform application regardless of your operating system. Web Help also offers integration with LANrev Client Manager and Apple Remote Desktop.

This week MacsDesign Studio LLC makers of Web Help Desk split there product line to into three offerings:A full feature Help Desk Software Comparison Checklist can be reviewed here or the full technical specifications of the software here.

In a gesture of pure generosity MacsDesign Studio offer consultants and small one support man shops a fantastic gift Web Help Desk for free and this version has very few limitations and no adversing! I hope you will enjoy using their software as much as I do!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Global warming will help Russian economy

Global climate change is supposed to contribute to Russian economy, according to Michael McConnell, director of US national intelligence. It is said in the document that by 2025 Russia’s profit from the rising temperatures on the Earth will be the largest of all the countries. One of the reasons is the expected lengthening of the sowing term, but the key factor would be an easier access to oil and gas fields in Siberia and in the North, including the Arctic shelf. This will be a great success for the Russian economy, according to the NSC report, and the Arctic waterway would also open huge prospects for Russia.

read more | digg story

Saturday, November 22, 2008

2009 Volkswagen Jetta Tdi: A High-Mileage Masterpiece

Among a wave of diesel cars and trucks — whose advanced emissions systems let them meet pollution rules in all 50 states -- the Jetta is the people’s choice, costing half as much as diesels from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The VW is also the current champion of diesel economy.

The Jetta is frugal in the middle years, with a rating of 30 miles a gallon in town and 41 on the highway. The tiny two-seat Smart is the only nonhybrid car that can match the 41 m.p.g. rating.

Since hybrids are the golden child in the public’s mind, talking about diesels necessitates a head-to-head comparison. But I’ve always argued that diesels and hybrids aren’t a zero-sum game. It’s possible to extol diesel’s virtues without dismissing hybrid technology, and vice-versa.

In that vein, if your commute involves tearing your hair out in freeway gridlock, a Prius or Civic Hybrid will still beat the mileage of a comparable diesel car. Diesel fans, no matter what you say on your blog, your old soot-spewing Rabbit will not touch those hybrids’ 40-50 m.p.g. in low-speed traffic. The same goes if you live in an urban paradise and spend 20 minutes driving 20 blocks.

But if you cruise relatively unhindered through suburban hill and exurban dale, the modern diesel has the clear edge in both economy and entertainment value. Even in the city, the Jetta’s 30-plus m.p.g. is a quantum leap over a conventional gasoline car.

That makes the VW a real solution to real problems. The TDI is easy on money, fuel and the planet. It just needs Americans to give it a spin and a fair shake.

read more | digg story

Apple Launches "iPhone Your Life" Site [Direct Link]

Apple has launched a new web iPhone web site. Once you own an iPhone, you discover that it’s more than a phone. It’s a way of life.Take a look at some ideas to help you get the most out of your iPhone, wherever you go.

read more | digg story

Why Cigarettes Should Cost $10 a Pack

As the U.S. government throws tax money on the banking bonfire, you have to wonder how many billion-dollar notes are left in the Washington ATM machine for health-care reform. If an income-tax hike isn’t in the cards for 95% of Americans, there will surely be a revenue hunt elsewhere. Why not cigarettes?

Why pick on tobacco even more?
According to data from R.J. Reynolds, total tobacco taxes in 2007 were $22.4 billion. The company is outraged about that, but consider this November 13 statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “Smoking in the United States causes 443,000 deaths annually and costs $193 billion.”

Now 443,000 is one of those hideous death counts that numbs the mind. But I’m betting we’re all a bit better these days at processing numbers like $193 billion. And if that’s what smokers are costing the economy, shouldn’t they—so to speak—help bail out health care?

read more | digg story

Honda's New Fuel Cell Sports Car

Honda surprised the motoring world today with the release of the radical and futuristic Honda FC Sport, a three-seat Hydrogen-powered design study that hints at the future of Honda sports cars to come. Using the Honda V Flow fuel cell setup already found in the Honda FCX Clarity, the FC Sport is the supercar to the FCX's stately sedan.

read more | digg story

Friday, November 21, 2008

Apple's OpenCL standard near complete in just six months

Apple has reportedly set an industry record by moving its OpenCL parallel computing standard from its beginnings to imminent approval in 6 months, paving the way for inclusion in Mac OS X Snow Leopard.The operating system will use technology to accelerate general-purpose tasks using both individual processor cores, video chipsets inside its system.

For Intel, the prospect of seeing OpenCL already in a shipping operating system for 2009 has been a strong lure. Employees have "divorced [their] families" and worked extreme levels of overtime to complete a draft that many said would be "impossible," according to the chipmaker's Tim Mattson.
read more | digg story

The Chinese Want To Buy the Big 3 Automakers

It appears that the Chinese car makers SAIC and Dongfeng have plans to acquire the Big 3: "A take-over of a large overseas auto maker would fit perfectly into China's plans. As reported before, China has realized that its export chances are slim without unfettered access to foreign technology. The brand cachet of Chinese cars abroad is, shall we say, challenged. The Chinese could easily export Made-in-China VWs, Toyotas, Buicks. If their joint venture partner would let them. The solution: Buy the joint venture partner. Especially, when he's in deep trouble.

At current market valuations (GM is worth less than Mattel) the Chinese government can afford to buy GM with petty cash. Even a hundred billion $ would barely dent China's more than $2t in currency reserves. For nobody in the world would buying GM and (while they are at it) Chrysler make more sense than for the Chinese. Overlap? What overlap? They would gain instant access to the world's markets with accepted brands, and proven technology."

read more | digg story

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sun + Water = Fuel

With catalysts created by an MIT chemist, sunlight can turn water into hydrogen. If the process can scale up, it could make solar power a dominant source of energy.
By Kevin Bullis

"I'm going to show you something I haven't showed anybody yet," said Daniel Nocera, a professor of chemistry at MIT, speaking this May to an auditorium filled with scientists and U.S. government energy officials. He asked the house manager to lower the lights. Then he started a video. "Can you see that?" he asked excitedly, pointing to the bubbles rising from a strip of material immersed in water. "Oxygen is pouring off of this electrode." Then he added, somewhat cryptically, "This is the future. We've got the leaf."

What Nocera was demonstrating was a reaction that generates oxygen from water much as green plants do during photosynthesis--an achievement that could have profound implications for the energy debate. Carried out with the help of a catalyst he developed, the reaction is the first and most difficult step in splitting water to make hydrogen gas. And efficiently generating hydrogen from water, Nocera believes, will help surmount one of the main obstacles preventing solar power from becoming a dominant source of electricity: there's no cost-effective way to store the energy collected by solar panels so that it can be used at night or during cloudy days.

Solar power has a unique potential to generate vast amounts of clean energy that doesn't contribute to global warming. But without a cheap means to store this energy, solar power can't replace fossil fuels on a large scale. In Nocera's scenario, sunlight would split water to produce versatile, easy-to-store hydrogen fuel that could later be burned in an internal-combustion generator or recombined with oxygen in a fuel cell. Even more ambitious, the reaction could be used to split seawater; in that case, running the hydrogen through a fuel cell would yield fresh water as well as electricity.

Storing energy from the sun by mimicking photosynthesis is something scientists have been trying to do since the early 1970s. In particular, they have tried to replicate the way green plants break down water. Chemists, of course, can already split water. But the process has required high temperatures, harsh alkaline solutions, or rare and expensive catalysts such as platinum. What Nocera has devised is an inexpensive catalyst that produces oxygen from water at room temperature and without caustic chemicals--the same benign conditions found in plants. Several other promising catalysts, including another that Nocera developed, could be used to complete the process and produce hydrogen gas.

Nocera sees two ways to take advantage of his breakthrough. In the first, a conventional solar panel would capture sunlight to produce electricity; in turn, that electricity would power a device called an electrolyzer, which would use his catalysts to split water. The second approach would employ a system that more closely mimics the structure of a leaf. The catalysts would be deployed side by side with special dye molecules designed to absorb sunlight; the energy captured by the dyes would drive the water-splitting reaction. Either way, solar energy would be converted into hydrogen fuel that could be easily stored and used at night--or whenever it's needed.

Nocera's audacious claims for the importance of his advance are the kind that academic chemists are usually loath to make in front of their peers. Indeed, a number of experts have questioned how well his system can be scaled up and how economical it will be. But Nocera shows no signs of backing down. "With this discovery, I totally change the dialogue," he told the audience in May. "All of the old arguments go out the window."

read more | digg story

Don't waste your time with Shell Vacations Club

"Always keep in mind that the saying is true about " If it sounds too good to be true it usually is." There is usually always a catch to something and the best way to find out what the catch is, is to read the fine print." Well I should have kept this in mind when we were told that we won a free trip to Hawaii from Shell Vacations Club working out of the Anaheim Crowne Plaza Resort.  All we had to do is come down and view a video tape of what they offer and you don't have to buy a thing. Sounds good huh? So off we went to hear what ever their snake oil sales people were offering and after spending over an hour in traffic and then waiting for them to get around to speaking to us.

They ask us to fill out the same paperwork we have already filled out once before we came. So I ask they girl one behind the desk does it matter if I put a lower amount then I actually make on the form? She said no put whatever and so I did. Then girl #2 starts asking if my wife would like to put her income down and I said no. She then said well we can't speak to you. I say fine Ill put what I actually make on the form we traveled a long way to hear what you have to say. After all was a simple misunderstanding that could have been corrected but it was more important for these people to try to prove a frivolous point. Now this is when it starts to get amusing and I have only seen this attitude in clerks in tiny little countries where they are going to try and show you how important they are. Yes, their life sucks so they want to try to impress you with their power. Girl #2 says oh you marked on the paper and that is very serious we can't have that! You must go!

So after trying to reason with the little paper pusher I ask to see a manager. Well I got whomever I guess was eleted to play the role that night. But here is where the story becomes really funny. All of a sudden they have no one that can speak to us. After multiple phone calls and emails to have us show up (and even early at that) you have no sales people to talk with us? They they said perhaps they might be able to find some one to show us around (in a tone acting like it was a lot of trouble) if we were willing to come back another time. Really do you ever buy from a sales guy who acts like they are doing you a big favor by letting you hear their 90 minute sales pitch? Oh but then they told us we could commute in tomorrow and we could give you the same presentation. Seriously who do they think would take them up on this bad deal?

I really hope the patronizing treatment we received after they thought we were of little means
 (and we are far from it) was worth because I know that when you treat customers badly it's going to bite you in the butt sooner or later.

Well at least at the end I got the truth they had been over booked and they were really planning on wasting our time for two nights in a row because they had over booked. 

IMHO this may have been the true goal as they were looking for a rube to buy their services. My advice is to stay away from these guys and any resort that they are partnered with as you may get more then you bargained for...

For those of you thinking about having dealing with Shell I have some additional links I found on the web for you:

Complaints Pile Up Against Vacation Club

Report: Shell Vacations Club And Holiday Travel Of America
It is not worth going for a 2 hour timeshare meeting and having to give your first born to get your free gift. Bad company, and very rude service.

Shell Vacations Club Do not Buy Shell Vacations Club Time Share!! Hawaii

Complaints Board

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Review: Parallels Desktop 4 For Mac Boosts Stability, Performance

The previous version of the Parallels virtualization package for running Windows and Linux on Macs was a buggy disappointment. Will version 4 be able to win back users' hearts?

By Mitch Wagner, InformationWeek
Nov. 18, 2008

When the first version of Parallels Desktop hit the streets two years ago, it was just amazing. The software allowed you to run Windows, along with its applications, on Mac OS X. Mac users just flipped for it.

But with Parallels Version 3, introduced last year, the company seemed to have lost its way. The software was slow and buggy. Users put up with the problems for a while, because it was the only product of its kind, but when competition emerged, in the form of VMware Fusion, users switched to the new product. VMware even ran its own "switcher" marketing campaign, like Apple did against Windows.

Today, I know about a dozen people who use the VMware product. I only know one person who still uses Parallels. He complains about it a lot.

This month the company (also called Parallels) introduced Parallels Desktop 4, which it says has significantly improved performance and stability over the previous version, and a few new features.

In other words: Parallels is back from its long spree in Vegas, with a bouquet of roses in hand and a hangdog expression its face. It's promising to be good. It wants us to take it back.

Should we open our hearts and give the relationship with Parallels one more try? Or should we kick it to the curb?

Continue Reading the full story

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nuclear Energy: Fueling the Future?

I found this very interesting show on about Nuclear Energy

People across the political spectrum are agreeing that we have to reduce our dependence on oil. But what's the best solution to the problem?

Nuclear energy has been hailed as a cheap and effective alternative energy source, but what are the safety risks associated with nuclear plants? What can we do with the waste? How is France, a country that relies heavily on nuclear power, dealing with these concerns?

Come find out everything you need to know about going nuclear from a panel of experts with a variety of opinions and perspectives - The Commonwealth Club of California

The Commonwealth Club of California
San Francisco, CA
Aug 4th, 2008

T. Boone Pickens - Reducing Oil Dependence

Georgetown University
Washington, D.C.
Sep 22nd, 2008

Billionaire T. Boone Pickens presents his plan to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil at Georgetown University.

The plan is centered on generating electricity with wind while diverting natural gas from power generation to transportation fuel.

Augmented Reality Girlfriend

This just in via Next Nature, if you speak and read Japanese and lack the will to find a real live woman who will give you the time of day. Then this new virtual Augmented Reality toy from Japan may make your Windows XP do something semi useful. 

Using the special cube, stick, and web camera, ARis will appear and move around in the monitor of your PC. When you touch her by the AR Stick, she shows various reactions. You can also change her clothes and give her some presents such as a teddy bear.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Melamine it's what's for breakfast!

I received an e-mail regarding the bar code number of products made in China. The e-mail reads as follows:

China milk poisoning incidents make everyone afraid to look at the daily news report. Everyday, the reports are changing. No one can clearly tell us what to eat and not to eat.

1.What really is poisoned milk?

It is the milk powder mixed with "MELAMINE"

What is Melamine use for? It is an industrial chemical use in the production of melawares.
It is also used in home decoration. " US resistant board"
Do you understand? Melamine is use in industrial production & it cannot be eaten.
2.Why is Melamine added in milk powder?

The most important nutrient in milk is protein. And Melamine has the same protein that contains "NITROGEN"
Adding Melamine in milk reduces milk content and it is cheaper than milk so it lowers capitalization.  It can give the business man more profit!
Below is Melamine; doesn't it look like milk? It doesn't have any smell, so cannot be detected.

3.When was it discovered?

Year 2007, US cats and dogs died suddenly, they found that pet food from China contains Melamine.
Starting 2008, In China , an abnormal increase in infant cases of kidney stones.
August 2008 China Sanlu Milk Powder tested with Melamine
Sept. 2008, New Zealand gov't ask China to check this problem
Sept. 21, 2008, lots of food products in Taiwan tested with Melamine

Although surgery can remove the stones, but it will cause irreversible kidney damage.
It can lead to loss of kidney function and will require kidney dialysis or lead to death
because of uremia.

What is dialysis? In fact, it should be called "blood washing"; it is filtering all of the body's blood into the machine and then go back to the body.

The whole process takes 4 hours and it is necessary to dialysis once for every 3 days for the rest of your life.

Here is a dialysis center
Large dialysis center
A small hole is required in the arm to insert the sub-dialysis catheter.
Why is it more serious in babies?Because the kidney is very small and they drink a lot of milk powder.

Here is a baby undergoing dialysis.

China currenty has 13,000 infants hospitalized
It does not matter how much a human being took Melamine. The important point is
"It cannot be EATEN!"

5.What are the foods to be avoided?

Foods that contain dairy products should be avoided.
Remember: Foods with creamer or milk should be avoided.

6.Which companies are affected?

Hereunder are the companies affected with Melamine.
The following companies were affected:


AsiaInfo, Camry, Ueda, Shun Xiang special, old rooms, food-wei of Taiwan's high education biotechnology companies,
Yunlin Pak Kong and Thailand were the food, yet effective, high-goods, long-Jin, Yi-dimensional food, real taste, than Lend Lease, Shing Hing Fat Industrial, Huasheng food, HOSSONI food, bird food is, Yima international marketing, business Bao Jia-hong, Kam-three enterprises, Clostridium International Industrial and international trade Reserve, trading million, far edge of trade, enterprise-cheng, Yu Zhang, Lin Qi, with the co-hing, when the British company, Friesland, Kaiyuan

If you have friends or relatives in China, avoid products from these companies.



Pai Baoji in Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia Mengniu card, Tianjin Qi can be more and more signs licensing Yashi Li, Guangdong, Hunan Nanshan times the benefit card, license Qining Heilongjiang, Shanxi licensing Yashi Li, Shenzhen's gold will license, Guangzhou En card Guangzhou Jin card, Inner Mongolia Yili card, Yantai, Shandong Macao and the United States more than licensing, Qingdao love to license small, unlicensed Bao Yu Xian in Shaanxi Province, Shandong Yantai licensing Lei Lei, Shanghai Bao-power license, the city of Fuding in Fujian morning card crown

The data will continue to update, if you have the latest information, also said that with the small-U!

7.What do we do next?

Avoid the above foods for at least six months.

If you have snack bar, restaurant or coffee shops, stop selling dairy products for the meantime.

If you have infants at home, change to mother's milk or find other substitutes.

Finally, share this information with friends so they will understand the risk of milk poisoning.

The whole world is scared of China made 'black hearted goods'. Can you differentiate which one is made in the USA , Philippines , Taiwan or China ? Let me tell you how... the first 3 digits of the barcode is the country code wherein the product was made.

Sample all barcodes that start with 690.691.692 until 695 are all MADE IN CHINA. 471 is Made in Taiwan
This is our human right to know, but the government and related departments never educate the public, therefore we have to RESCUE ourselves.

Nowadays, Chinese businessmen know that consumers do not prefer products 'made in china', so they don't show from which country it is made.

However, you may now refer to the barcode, remember if the first 3 digits is 690-695 then it is Made in China .

00 ~ 13 USA & CANADA
30 ~ 37 FRANCE
40 ~ 44 GERMANY
49 ~ JAPAN
50 ~ UK
57 ~ Denmark
64 ~ Finland
76 ~ Switzerland and Lienchtenstein
628 ~ Saudi-Arabien
629 ~ United Arab Emirates
740 ~ 745 - Central America

All 480 Codes are Made in the Philippines.

Please inform your family and friends for them to be aware.

End eMail

However doing some checking on the Internet I found this from enterpgirl:

In researching about the bar codes of products, I came across the website of GS1, which is a global organization dedicated to the design and implementation of global standards and solutions, and the most widely used supply chain standards system in the world. It states that:

GS1 Prefixes do not provide identification of country of origin for a given product. They simply provide number capacity to different countries for assignment from that location to companies who apply. Those companies in turn may manufacture products anywhere in the world.
The management of the GS1 System is carried out locally by GS1 Member Organisations established in over 100 countries. GS1 Member Organisations use their assigned prefix to allocate GS1 Company Prefixes to their member companies to enable them to create GS1 Identification Keys.

So there's really no way of knowing if the products are made in China or if there are raw ingredients used in the product that are made in China. I guess this bar code may help a little but does not eliminate all the possibilities and risks. I do hope they find a more accurate way of detecting product and raw ingredient origin. But I guess the main thing here is for China, being the top manufacturer of the world's products, to stop using harmful chemicals in the production of food and materials so that we can all avoid these toxic and sometimes fatal goods.

I found this via ramilcvaliente:

Barcodes not guide to product origin
SENIOR technician Chan Chee Kong, 54, found himself scrutinising food-product barcodes after reading an e-mail he recently received.

The e-mail claimed that consumers would be able to differentiate between Taiwan- and China-produced food by decoding the first three digits of the 13-digit European Article Number (EAN) barcode usually found on packaging.

The EAN-13 barcode is defined by global-standards organisation GS1, which administers barcodes for retail goods in about 140 member countries. EAN is a superset of the Universal Product Code - the world's first barcode symbology.

The latter was formally established in 1973. Singapore got its assigned GS1 prefix back in 1986 or 1987, according to a local GS1 spokesman. China's assigned GS1 prefixes are 690, 691 and 692, while Taiwan's is 471.

The e-mail went on to exhort its recipients to avoid food products with China- assigned barcodes, referring to the recent scandal surrounding tainted China-made food products.

Mr Chan found out that, contrary to what the e-mail said, his Chinese cooking wines bore the Singapore-assigned prefix 888, despite being labelled as a product of China.

He told my paper that he also discovered Malaysian products that appeared to have been re-packaged in Singapore had the '888' barcode on their labels.

So, while it is true that each country does have a unique three-digit prefix, it does not reflect the origin of its contents.

This is stated in bold on the GS1 website: "GS1 prefixes do not provide identification of country of origin for a given product."

It added that the prefixes indicate only the locations from which companies apply for the barcode. In other words, a company that registers its barcode in Singapore will carry the '888' prefix on its products, even if they were manufactured elsewhere.

A spokesman for the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority said that the agency does not have any regulation pertaining to barcodes on food packaging.

However, Singapore's food regulations do require that basic information - such as a list of ingredients, the name and address of the manufacturer or importer, and the country of origin - be declared on food labels in English.

It's so to be honest there is no way to 100% know if the food our eating has been repacked in some way other then to keep an eye on the FDA site:
Melamine Contamination in China

FDA Updates Health Information Advisory on Melamine Contamination
Interim Melamine and Analogues Safety/Risk Assessment

"Responding to concerns about the presence of the contaminant melamine in numerous foods made in China and exported to the United States and elsewhere, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that consuming a very small amount of the chemical poses no serious risk.

The exception, officials said, is melamine in baby formula, which has sickened more than 54,000 infants in China. The agency said it was unable to determine what a safe amount of melamine in formula might be.

The FDA set 2.5 parts per million as the maximum "tolerable" amount of melamine that could be safely consumed in other foods.

"It would be like if you had a million grains of sand and they were all white, and you had two or three that were black, that's kind of the magnitude," said Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's food safety program."
FDA Sets Safety Threshold for Contaminant Melamine

Bullies' Brains Light Up With Pleasure as People Squirm

When shown videos of someone inflicting pain (such as closing a piano lid on a player's fingers, above), bullies experience activity in their brains' pleasure centers, a November 2008 study showed. The subjects tested seemed to enjoy seeing people hurt.

Image courtesy Jean Decety, University of Chicago

The brains of bullies—kids who start fights, tell lies, and break stuff with glee—may be wired to feel pleasure when watching others suffer pain, according to a new brain scanning study.

The finding was unexpected, noted Benjamin Lahey, a psychologist at the University of Chicago and co-author of the study, which appears in the new issue of the journal Biological Psychology.

The researchers had expected that the bullies would show no response when they witnessed pain in somebody else—that they experience a sort of emotional coldness that allows them to steal milk money with no remorse, for example.

Previous research had shown that when nonbullies see other people in pain, the same areas of the brain light up that do when the nonbullies themselves experience pain—a sign of empathy, Lahey said.

The new research showed these areas in the bullies' brains were even more active than in the nonbullies.

But the bullies' empathetic response seemed to be warped by activity in the amygdala and ventral striatum, regions of the brain sometimes associated with reward and pleasure.

"We think it means that they like seeing people in pain," Lahey said.

"If that is true," he added, "they are getting positively reinforced every time they bully and are aggressive to other people."

read more | digg story

Thursday, November 13, 2008

XCPV Solar Panels Aim for Much Cheaper, Chip-Based Power

CHICAGO — Paul Sidlo doesn't see solar power toppling king coal's reign in the energy kingdom any time soon—not today and maybe not tomorrow. But he does see it seizing at least a portion of the fossil fuel's territory. On Friday, Sidlo's SUNRGI startup introduced a solar panel he claims will generate electricity cheaper than coal using only a fraction of the space needed by conventional photovoltaic panels. Xtreme Concentrated Photovoltaics (XCPV) technology was publicly unveiled for the first time at Wired NextFest here with the promise of generating electricity at five cents per kilowatt-hour—cheaper than coal-fired power and less than a third the cost of conventional solar power. [Check out hands-on video here; story continues]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

China's wasteland of toxic consumer electronics revealed

Watch CBS Videos Online
Thomas Ricker of engadget writes "Any self-respecting gadget hound knows that China is responsible for packing millions of shipping containers with the consumer electronics we crave. What you may not know is what we ship in return: our waste for recycling. Of growing concern is e-waste, resulting from the deluge of PCs, cellphones, televisions and crapgadgets we churn through at an accelerating clip each year. While domestic recycling programs are good-intentioned, often the most toxic of our e-waste is shipped illegally back to China and boiled down for its precious metals under some of the most crude conditions you can imagine. When faced with the choice of familial poverty or the slow accumulation of poison in their bloodstream (for $8 per day), it's not hard to imagine what many rural Chinese people will choose. So while we give Greenpeace's self-congratulatory promotions and oft-subjective "Guide to Greener Electronics" company ratings the occasional hard time, their attempts to raise e-waste awareness are commendable. Now go ahead, check the video from 60 Minutes' intrepid reporters after the break and let the guilt wash over you."

Click here for the full article and additional disturbing videos

Air-Powered Cars to Hit US by 2010

The Air Car caused a huge stir when we reported last year that Tata Motors would begin producing it in India. Now the little gas-free ride that could is headed Stateside in a big-time way.

Zero Pollution Motors (ZPM) confirmed to on Thursday that it expects to produce the world’s first air-powered car for the United States by late 2009 or early 2010. As the U.S. licensee for Luxembourg-based MDI, which developed the Air Car as a compression-based alternative to the internal combustion engine, ZPM has attained rights to build the first of several modular plants, which are likely to begin manufacturing in the Northeast and grow for regional production around the country, at a clip of up to 10,000 Air Cars per year.

And while ZPM is also licensed to build MDI’s two-seater OneCAT economy model (the one headed for India) and three-seat MiniCAT (like a SmartForTwo without the gas), the New Paltz, N.Y., startup is aiming bigger: Company officials want to make the first air-powered car to hit U.S. roads a $17,800, 75-hp equivalent, six-seat modified version of MDI’s CityCAT (pictured above) that, thanks to an even more radical engine, is said to travel as far as 1000 miles at up to 96 mph with each tiny fill-up.

Domestic Drilling Will Never Satisfy U.S. Oil Demands

read more | digg story

Recycling Myths: Debunking 5 Half Truths about Recycling

Is chucking a soda can in the trash an unforgivable sin? That depends who you ask: You'll find plenty of people on both sides of the great recycling debate, each equally convinced the other side is ill-informed. The truth is that opponents and proponents alike often rely on facts that are outdated, oversimplified or simply untrue. We tackle five of the biggest myths about recycling. For more, check out the December issue of Popular Mechanics.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Duke Energy Carolinas and Progress Energy, two major utilities in the Southeast, have partnered to test a fleet of smart-charging plug-in electric car

Duke Energy Carolinas and Progress Energy, two major utilities in the Southeast, have partnered to test a fleet of smart-charging plug-in electric Priuses in what they say will be the country’s first interstate electric car-charging scheme involving multiple utilities. Each of the Priuses will be equipped with a V2Green Connectivity Module while Advanced Energy, a non-profit focused on energy and transportation solutions, will design and implement the trial. The project will look at the issues of tracking energy usage and billing when a car that is subscribed to one company charges on another's network.

Continue reading on earth2tech

T. Boone Pickens - Domestic Energy Sources are Patriotic

The One True Way to Wrap Your Headphones

Via Gizmodo you know there are lots of ways to wrap your headphones. Only one of them is correct. Some ways are more wrong than others—if you hate your buds, looping them tightly around your iPod like a bondage rope is the surest way to kill them fast while making it look like it was done in by natural causes. This is how you're supposed to do it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

iPhone 3G overtakes the RAZR as best-selling domestic handset!

Joshua Topolsky of engadget writes:

"According to a report from NPD, sales of cellphones have shifted in a manner which should shock and stun even a casual observer. Apparently for the first time in years, Motorola's ubiquitous RAZR has been overtaken in consumer sales... by the iPhone 3G. This is a watershed moment for handset sales in the US, marking not only a shift away from the dominant market leader, but a turn towards more complex, full-featured devices. The news comes hot on the heels of NPD's previous findings, which still placed the RAZR in the top spot -- though with ever-decreasing numbers. In that same report, the iPhone found itself in second place, but it appears that flagging interest in the inescapable dumbphone coupled with the recent iPhone PR blitz have put Apple's moneymaker into the top position. The news is also buoyed by recent reports that Apple has overtaken RIM as the number two smartphone vendor, and a J.D. Power study which found affection for the device waxing in the extreme. Overall, however, handset sales fell 15 percent year-over-year, and LG managed to snag the top brand position, with two models in the top five. Still, if there already wasn't a clear indication of the market moving towards both smartphones and touchscreen devices, this should give everyone a clearer picture of both the public's wants, and the power of Cupertino's ad-men."

Astronauts head for extreme home makeover in space

The international space station is about to get all the comforts of a modern, high-end, "green" home: a fancy recycling water filter, a new fridge, extra bedrooms, workout equipment and the essential half-bath.

It will be a home makeover in the extreme. The space station will go from a three-bedroom, one-bath house with kitchenette to a five-bedroom, two-bath house with two kitchenettes and the latest gizmos NASA has to offer.

To be more precise, astronauts will be installing an extra toilet, more sleeping compartments with individual thermostats and laptop hookups, and an exercise machine capable of some 30 routines.

They also will be delivering the essentials of NASA's first attempt at a closed-loop environmental system in orbit, where almost everything gets recycled. Already, the power on the space station is generated from solar panels.

Most significant is the water recovery system - it will turn urine and condensation into fresh drinking water. The system is essential if NASA is to increase the size of the space station crew from three to six. That switch is supposed to occur by the middle of next year.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Forensic Tool Detects Pornography In The Workplace

Pornography in the workplace can pose a serious problem for employers because a significant amount of material is downloaded by employees during business hours. The viewing of porn at work can result in lost time, creativity, productivity, and employer profitability. More importantly, it can help create a hostile work environment and can be...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Review: Lenovo Ideapad S10 Netbook

Every sign we've seen thus far leads us to believe that netbooks are going to be very popular this holiday shopping season. With good reason, too – they fill a void which has existed since the dawn of mobile computing. Truly cost efficient, rugged, little notebook computers with enough processing power and screen resolution to get basic tasks done – nothing more, nothing less. Given that pocketbooks are hurting in the current economic climate, these new low-cost mobile systems become that much more attractive, besides being a downright exciting product category.

Many of the large-scale PC vendors have already developed, or are developing a netbook product for the end of the year. Dell’s Inspirion Mini 9, along with the Asus Eee PC and MSI’s new Wind netbooks appear to be some of the more popular models. As this year comes to a close, the pace of netbooks hitting the market has certainly accelerated, and we expect that to continue for the next month or so. One of the more exciting netbook models that came to market just recently is Lenovo’s IdeaPad S series.

read more | digg story

Battered, but not broken: understanding the WPA crack

Glenn Fleishman writes that WiFi security takes a hit with the disclosure of an effective exploit for small packets encrypted with the TKIP flavor of WiFi Protected Access. The technique is fiendishly clever; the security solution, simple: switch to AES-only in WPA2.

Academic researchers have found an exploitable hole in a popular form of wireless networking encryption. The hole is in a part of 802.11i that forms the basis of WiFi Protected Access (WPA), so it could affect routers worldwide. German graduate student Erik Tews will present a paper at next week's PacSec in Tokyo coauthored with fellow student and aircrack-ng team member Martin Beck that reveals how remnants of WPA's predecessor allow them to slip a knife into a crack in the encryption scheme and send bogus data to an unsuspecting WiFi client.

In an interview from Germany, where he is a PhD candidate studying encryption at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Tews explained that an existing attack on Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) was modified to provide a slim vector for sending arbitrary data to networks that use the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP). (Tews' collaborator Beck is a student at the Technical University of Dresden; Tews credits Beck with the discovery, after which they jointly developed the paper that Tews will present at PacSec.)

Largest Wind Farm in World Halted By Credit Crisis

The credit crunch is not just hurting the banks and the real estate market. Even the billionaire and wind energy enthusiast, T. Boone Pickens is having trouble financing his high profile 4000 MW wind farm. The proposed Texas wind farm has a hefty $10 and $12 billion price tag.

read more | digg story

Friday, November 7, 2008

Apple’s iPhone suffers great debacle in Russia

Picture from iLounge.

The current sales of Apple’s iPhone 3G in Russia are insufficient in comparison with the previously announced plans. Only 30,000 devices were sold in Russia in 30 days since its official launch in the country. Experts say that the situation is not going to change for the better during the upcoming months. To crown it all, Apple plans to cut the production of its 3G phones by 40%.

The poor sales of Apple’s revolutionary device in Russia can be explained with the late appearance of the phone on the Russian market, the onerous terms of the contracts that come with the device, the absence of fully developed 3G and Wi-Fi networks in Russia, the lack of iTunes support and so on.

read more | digg story

OS X Leopard one year on five lessons Microsoft should learn

One year on from Leopard's launch, we take a look at the state of the operating system. Along the way, Apple -- and its competitors -- have learned some important lessons this year, analysts say. Lessons
1. Fix Problems Fast.
2. Style and Substance Matter.
3. One OS to Bind Users.
4. Don't Let Your Rival Shape Your Brand.
5. Macs Must Mean Business.

read more | digg story

Thursday, November 6, 2008

There's nothing easy about letting Apple into the enterprise

Mac veterans say Apple doesn't always act like other technology partners. Today, half of Serena's workers opt for the MacBook over a Lenovo laptop according to their senior manager of worldwide IT operations. Not only have support calls declined, but users are also grateful for the choice.

In terms of enterprise penetration, Forrester Research says that Mac OS use rose from 3.6% in October 2007 to 4.5% in June 2008, based on more than 50,000 clients connecting to Forrester's Web site. And according to in Steve Jobs in his keynote address at the Apple World Wide Developer's Conference in June, 35% of the Fortune 500 are testing the iPhone's new enterprise features, including Walt Disney, Oracle, Genentech and Kraft Foods. Jobs also claimed that more than 250,000 developers have downloaded the iPhone SDK.

Outside of Apple's own efforts, five software companies formed an alliance in June to promote the use of the Mac in the corporate environment, including Atempo, Centrify, Group Logic , LANrev and Parallels.

The group, dubbed the Enterprise Desktop Alliance, says its products enable IT organizations to deploy, integrate and manage Macs, using the same standard tools used for Windows. It claims that enterprises can achieve the same level of control, security, policy compliance and services that they currently have with their Windows platforms.

Meanwhile, some users contend that the perception that Macintoshes don't play well in the enterprise is largely exaggerated. Ben Hanes, senior systems analyst at Children's Hospital of Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), in Oakland, Calif., has been supporting Macintoshes for more than five years. Half of the research organization's 600 computers are Macs, with about two dozen running Parallels virtualization software.

Hanes' data center is a mix of Apple and Windows servers, with Windows running on the database and file servers, and Apple Xserves running applications that touch the Web, including a mail server, a Web server and an iChat server. "I definitely stick to the philosophy that whatever is on the perimeter is Apple technology because it's proven to be secure," Hanes says.

According to Hanes, the Macintosh desktops plug into the network "just like a PC," thanks to products like ExtremeZ-IP from Group Logic, which enable file and printer sharing between Mac desktops and the Windows server. Hanes says he has successfully integrated Macintosh desktops with Active Directory, using the "golden triangle" strategy, in which Mac clients authenticate with Active Directory while getting managed group settings from a Mac OS X server.

Hanes believes his team has been successful deploying Apple technology in part because they conduct a lot of research, apply a lot of scrutiny before making final decisions, and keep an open mind about what they use, including open-source technology. For instance, he says it took a year to establish that the team would use Communigate Pro from Communigate Systems for its e-mail server. And for its antivirus platform, CHORI selected Sophos because it enables both Macs and PCs to be viewed on one console.

Hanes does use Apple's Xserve RAID technology but says the company's move away from storage doesn't concern him. "They've certified EMC software to work with Apple," he says, "so switching will be a trivial thing."

As for service, Hanes says he has certified CHORI as a self-service shop, which means it gets the same rights as a Macintosh repair consultant, such as next-day parts delivery. You need to have 150 Macintoshes to qualify, he says. Hanes also participates in Apple beta programs and NDAs.
read more | digg story

Microsoft's Guided Tour of the Windows 7 Taskbar

As we pointed out in our Windows 7 walkthrough, one of the biggest improvements to the UI is the taskbar. It is hard to explain new features like "Peek" and how the functionality of the taskbar has evolved without actually showing you how it works—so this video should do a lot to clear things up. All-in-all it looks like a major upgrade.

read more | digg story

iPhone Bug Crashes the Phone When Malicious Video is Played

Piergiorgio Zambrini, the author of the ZiPhone unlocking tool, has allegedly come up with a way to crash iPhones remotely via a simple video. By playing the video, an iPhone would shut itself down, and iPods and Apple computers are also vulnerable.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New Coating= Solar Panels Harvest 96% of Available Sunshine

By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - A new type of reflective coating can make solar panels far more efficient, soaking up nearly all available sunlight from nearly any angle. Current solar panels -- which convert energy from the sun into electricity -- absorb only about two-thirds of available sunlight.

read more | digg story

Sunday, November 2, 2008

TSA violating privacy with its body scanning machines?

While the USA seems to have no problem with scanners the Virtual Strip Search’ At Airports Debated in Europe.

(All Photos Courtesy Der Spiegel)

"Virtual strip searches" are currently being done using full-body scanners at Los Angeles International, JFK, Baltimore-Washington International, Miami, and many other airports. But late last week, Germany decided that it would not allow its airports to use full-body scanners.
Passengers are randomly selected to step into the machines. The scanning process takes about 40 seconds. You make two quick poses. One with your arms up and the other with them down.
read more | digg story