Engineers have come up with a bit of sick technology, and we're not using that term as slang. Instead, they've found a way to assemble a key component of a microscopic battery using viruses, potentially paving the way for cheap and simple construction of pint-sized power sources.
The MIT group had previously been able to genetically engineer viruses to make a protein skin capable of attracting bits of metal, and this new research builds on that by having those same viruses build a specific part. In the MIT experiment, the genetically engineered viruses would help build the anode portion of a battery by attracting cobalt oxide. And more than just a proof of concept, the process has been drawing attention because of its ease-of-use and low cost.
One stumbling block preventing the widespread use of viruses in battery construction is a lack of application. There currently aren't any devices that would require a battery roughly one tenth the width of a human hair, though future applications could see the technology being used in nanotechnology.
Anyone else see the plot for a bad B-movie shaping up?
With the exception of a Celine Dion concert, nothing sucks more than having your laptop stolen. Not only is there the physical cost of the notebook to consider, but there goes all your saved and private data into the hands of a crook. To help deal with this type of harrowing situation, LoJack offers a service for laptops that, once installed, will track your notebook anytime it's able to detect an internet connection. Even better, the software comes pre-installed in most BIOSes, so once activated, it will still be able to dial home even if the hard drive is reformatted or swapped out altogether.
That's well and fine, but according to a team of computer scientists at the University of Washington, your privacy could still be at risk by relying on a third party to handle your security. To alleviate this concern, the team has come up with an open-source alternative called Adeona, named after the Roman goddess of safe returns. With Adeona, the developers say users can install the software themselves without the help of a corporate intermediary. The service is said to work much like LoJack does (minus the BIOS integration), except that it's up to the user to track their stolen notebook. And best of all, it's free.
Which would you prefer - taking security into your hands, or ponying up a fee for professional assistance? Sound off below.
How connected to the internet do we need to be? I already tote my laptop everywhere in the house with me. Often it is quicker to email me as opposed to calling me. As it is, my wife gets mad at me if I bring the laptop in to watch a chick flick on TV with her. It is as if I mitigating my affection for her by not suffering through Sex and the City with her.
As if my internet addiction isn’t bad enough, Chrysler is making a roving hot spot option available on it’s mini-van’s. I now have to convince my wife that she needs a mini-van. Then maybe I can get the dealer to slip in the UConnect Web option on the sly. I can then play dumb when she asks why I have an internet connection so often when she is diving down the road. “Oh a lot of open hot spots in this neighborhood, honey.” Do you think she’ll buy it? Me either.
From a technical aspect the UConnect Webis way cool. It is however also pretty disturbing too. I cringe when I think of all the people I see driving in rush hour traffic shaving, applying makeup, reading the paper, or working their Crack- uh, I mean BlackBerries. I can just imagine adding a laptop to the mix. It’s bound to create a lot more combination vehicles like a “Chevroler”, or a “Forlet”. Of course, vehicles combined due to driver inattention just lose all of their value.
With around 40,000 traffic fatalities a year in the US now, do we really need to get our hit off the net in the car too? We don’t need to add fatalities beyond Fatal1ty to the information super highway. Chrysler’s intention is for the service to be used by the kids in the back seat, but do they really believe that is where it will stay? This article from the NY Times says no, but do you agree?
Call ZPower ambitious or destined to fail, but whatever you do, don't tell ZPower's brass that lithium-ion batteries are the way to go. Instead, this company has made it their mission "to be the leading global provider of silver-zinc rechargeable battery technology for portable power applications."
Toppling lithium-ion as the technology of choice is no easy task, but according to ZPower, next generation silver-zinc rechargeables will offer 40 percent more runtime than traditional Li-Ion while also being chemically stable. And in a nod towards environmentalists, the company says over 95 percent of the primary elements in silver-zinc batteries can be recycled and reused.
Does it all sound too good to be true? Perhaps, but if it means we can kill time during a cross-country flight by watching a 3-hour flick and getting in a round or two of gaming, then here's hoping ZPower can pull it off.
Rumblings that Amazon is working on a revised Kindle eBook reader have been coursing through the web since July, and it's believed the new version will come in a variety of colors to appeal to a larger audience. We'll have to wait and see, but at least one analyst sees an opportunity to cash in with college students and believes a collegiate version could make a debut in the not too distant future.
"There are already several new, improved versions of the Kindle in the works," said Tim Bueneman, an analyst with McAdams Wright Ragen.
Bueneman also predicts that one of the new features might include improved interface operating controls, which he notes has been issue with some buyers. But if Amazon is to target the collegiate crowd, the biggest issue might come down to price - $360 buys a lot of Ramen noodles.
Intel’s CTO, Justin Rattner, delivered a pretty phantasmagoric keynote at the IDF in San Francisco. Invariably most keynotes by tech honchos are about future technologies. But Rattner just didn’t concern himself with the imminent future – the Nehalems and Larrabees - but he allowed his imagination take unbridled flight. He pictured what the world might be like in 2050, where computers would be smarter than us frizzled, frayed Homo sapiens.
“There is speculation that we may be approaching an inflection point where the rate of technology advancements is accelerating at an exponential rate, and machines could even overtake humans in their ability to reason, in the not so distant future,” Rattner said.
Rattner even demonstrated a couple of personal robot prototypes, which employ razor-sharp sensing technologies, though only crude precursors to the “2050 machines”. The first robot – a robotic arm actually - was equipped with electric field pre-touch technology that allows it to sense objects before even touching them. And, just for your knowledge, fish are bestowed with this capability. The second robot is capable of recognizing faces and performing simple tasks as commanded.
IOGEAR, makers of connectivity products that link up USB, video, and networking devices, has just announced their latest KVM Switch. KVM (short for Keyboard, Video, and Mouse) is a hardware and software technology solution that allows you to control multiple computers from one set of peripherals. This new USB Laptop KVM switch connects to any two computers via USB (laptop-to-laptop, PC-to-PC, or laptop-to-PC), so you can control one system from the other as a console. The software embedded in the Switch's firmware adjusts for desktop resolution scaling and also facilitates drag-and-drop file transfers via a shared temporary window. An extra USB 2.0 port on the switch allows for extra device sharing, such as with an external hard drive. No extra power supply is required, and the entire cable stretches a total of nine feet (three feet on one end, six on the other). The USB Laptop KVM Switch goes on sale today for $129.95.
Click through for the full release and more photos
Ahoy hoy! This week, Maximum PC is going to be reporting from Nvision 08, Nvidia's three day visual computing festival in downtown San Jose. In addition to being a massive LAN party (bigger than the GeForce LANs of previous years), Nvision is also playing host to an epic gathering of Demo Scene developers, ready to show off their visual coding skills. We'll be there to sit in on the keynotes to be given by Nvidia's CEO and Battlestar Galactica's Tricia Helfer (seriously?), check out the various workshop tracks, and test drive the new hardware and software on display. Keep your eyes peeled for daily photo galleries and event reports. And if you're in the area and going to Nvision yourself, stop by the exhibit hall on Tuesday at 2:30pm to watch a presentation run by our own Will Smith. Personally, I can't wait for the Buzz Aldrin meet and greet session and a chance to heckle the too-kool-for-skool hosts of Diggnation during their live recording session. Hope to see some MaxPC readers there.
In between the ultra-high frequency television channels sits a spectrum of TV "white space," and as U.S. broadcasters transition from analog to digital transmission in time to meet the Federal Trade Commission's February 2009 deadline, these vacant bands are becoming a point of contention.
Google, Motorola, Microsoft, Philips, and others envision these vacant bands being used for universal wireless internet, and to plead its case to the FCC (and apply some pressure), Google has setup a website called FreeTheAirwaves.com with a four minute YouTube video outlining why opening up the spectrum would be a good thing.
But not everyone is in agreement with Google and Co.'s semi-Utopian vision. According to audio industry professionals, opening up the spectrum could be disastrous. Why? Because wireless audio equipment could suddenly find itself facing significant interference from electronic devices searching for wireless connectivity.
"The radio frequency environment is going to become more crowded and more difficult to use," says Mike Torlone, director of marketing services at AKG Acoustics, a division of audio-equipment manufacturer Harman International.
The fear is that everything from celebrity concerts to the local church sermon could potentially be affected, but Google thinks there are ways around the problem, such as using a geolocation database to ensure no white space device could transmit without first getting the all-clear from the database.
What's your take? Should the FCC open up the spectrum, or will doing so cause more problems than it purports to solve?
Lest there be any lingering doubt that everything in the free world can be patented, Microsoft has managed to add 'Page Up / Page Down' to its portfolio. Specifically, US Patent 7,415,666 states:
A method and system in a document viewer for scrolling a substantially exact increment in a document, such as one page, regardless of whether the zoom is such that some, all or one page is currently being viewed. In one implementation, pressing a Page Down or Page Up keyboard key/button allows a user to begin at any starting vertical location within a page, and navigate to that same location on the next or previous page. For example, if a user is viewing a page starting in a viewing area from the middle of that page and ending at the bottom, a Page Down command will cause the next page to be shown in the viewing area starting at the middle of the next page and ending at the bottom of the next page. Similar behavior occurs when there is more than one column of pages being displayed in a row.
We're computer enthusiasts and not legal beagles, but that sure sounds like Microsoft owns the Page Up and Page Down functionality on your keyboard, perhaps paving the way for some interesting royalty demands if the patent goes unchallenged. Think about the number of keyboards, both already sold and those currently being manufactured, and it's easy to see why granting such an obvious patent is troublesome.
Anyone know if the arrow keys have been patented yet?