Episode 225

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES

Image Resizer for Windows

About

This is a clone of the Image Resizer Powertoy for Windows XP — a PowerToy that allows you to right-click on one or more image files in Windows Explorer to resize them. It was created (by me) to extend support to non-XP and 64-bit versions of Windows (including 2000, Vista & 7)

 

 

Plug pulled on Guitar Hero – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Plug pulled on Guitar Hero
“We simply cannot make these games profitably based on current economics,” Activision’s chief executive of publishing, Eric Hirshberg, told analysts on a conference call.
The company also says it will not release a skateboarding game next year and that it will discontinue the game True Crime: Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, a new digital platform – Beachhead – will focus solely on the highly successful Call Of Duty franchise.
Since the launch of Call Of Duty: Black Ops in November, it has pulled in more $US1 billion in sales.


Malawi moves to ban farting – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Malawi moves to ban farting
Malawi’s government has confirmed reports that it intends to outlaw breaking wind in public.
The African nation’s justice ministry says the proposed legislation is part of a wider campaign to “mould responsible and disciplined citizens”.
Local media is questioning how the proposed law will be enforced when it is so easy to blame the offence on others.


Japan’s giant net to trawl for space junk – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Japan’s giant net to trawl for space junk
Japan’s space agency has joined forces with a fishing company to build a giant net several kilometres in size to collect debris littering space.
The agency plans to attach the thin metal net to a satellite and will then detach it so it can orbit Earth.
It will snare hundreds of thousands of pieces of junk threatening satellites and space shuttles.
The net and its contents will eventually be drawn back towards Earth and will burn up while entering the atmosphere.


The recall recalled – What Intel’s continued shipment of 6 Series chipsets means for you
The recall recalled – What Intel’s continued shipment of 6 Series chipsets means for you So who isn’t affected by the SATA bug?
The bug is in the SATA controller in the Series 6 chipsets that supports the Sandy Bridge processors. These chipsets control two SATA 3 6Gbps and four SATA 2 3Gbps ports (these six ports are what connect drives to the computer system). The 6Gbps ports, which are ports 0 and 1, are not affected by the fault. So any system with drives connected just to those two ports are unaffected by the bug. This will include many laptops, which only have a hard drive and an optical drive

How does the fault manifest itself to the user?
If a user has a system with some drives connected to the flawed ports, the fault would not be noticeable for a while. The affected controller has some transistors that aren’t able to handle the high voltage they have to process, and as a result, are leaking current. Over time, this will degrade the SATA 2 ports and eventually – maybe in two or three years – cause them to  fail. If a hard drive or optical drive were connected to an affected port, it would start slowing down and eventually become unusable.

To determine if you have one of the impacted Intel® 6 Series chipsets in your system, follow these steps.

Note: You must be logged in as an Administrator to complete these instructions. If you are not logged in as an Administrator, log out and then log back in as an Administrator.

  1. On your Windows 7* desktop, click on the Start button in the lower-left of the screen. Enter “devmgmt.msc” in the Search window; your results will appear automatically.
  2. Click on the file name to open the Device Manager.
  3. In the Device Manager window, scroll down and expand System Devices. The screenshot below is an example of what you should look for to identify your chipset. If Intel® 6 Series is listed, you may be affected.




Sick of seeing ads on your smartphone? No you’re not, according to new study
Sick of seeing ads on your smartphone? No you’re not, according to new study A Global Perspective on Mobile Advertising, which surveyed over 20,000 mobile users across 14 countries, found that 75 per cent of Australian user participants were comfortable with the ads they see on their mobile devices (“very” rating 48%, with “somewhat” at 25%), which puts the nation a whole 12 percentage points higher than North American users, and six and seven per cent higher respectively than users in Asia and Europe.

Apple’s new, more powerful iPad coming | The Australian
Apple’s new, more powerful iPad coming
The new device will be thinner, lighter and will come with a faster processor, more memory and a more powerful graphics processor, the people said. It will have a front-facing camera for the first time for features like video-conferencing, but the resolution of the new iPad’s display will be similar to the first iPad.
People familiar with the new model said Apple had had trouble improving the display technology, in part because of the iPad screen’s size.


Telstra allows Foxtel another distribution channel for its content | The Australian

Telstra allows Foxtel another distribution channel for its content

Users of the T-Box — a digital recorder Telstra launched last year — will be able to subscribe to 30 Foxtel channels delivered via a BigPond broadband connection from May, the companies announced yesterday.

The deal is similar to Foxtel’s partnership with Microsoft, which allows Xbox 360 users to subscribe to up to 30 channels.

Telstra chief executive David Thodey said T-Boxes were in “close to” 120,000 Australian homes.

All Foxtel channels delivered via the T-Box will be unmetered, meaning downloads will not count towards users’ monthly data allowance.

‘Dating’ site imports 250,000 Facebook profiles without permission – CNN.com
‘Dating’ site imports 250,000 Facebook profiles without permission launch with 250,000 member profiles on the first day?

You scrape data from Facebook.

launched Lovely-Faces.com this week, with profiles — names, locations and photos — scraped from publicly accessible Facebook pages. The site categorizes these unwitting volunteers into personality types, using a facial recognition algorithm, so you can search for someone in your general area who is “easy going,” “smug” or “sly.”
Or you can just search on people’s real names.
website presently unavailable

Man charged for hacking Super Bowl feed, inserting porn – Oddware – Technology – News –
Man charged for hacking Super Bowl feed, inserting porn A man accused of hacking Comcast’s live feed of the 2009 Super Bowl to replace it with hardcore pornography has been arrested.

These charges relate to the 37-second  X-rated pornography interruption of Comcast’s Tucson 2009 Super Bowl broadcast,” said Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. “As a result of the alleged tampering to its servers, Comcast suffered significant economic losses.”

Instead of seeing Arizona Cardinal’s superstar Larry Fitzgerald complete a touchdown during the year’s biggest football match, Comcast’s Tucson viewers were treated with half a minute of well-known porn star Evan Stone “swinging his junk around like a maniac”, according to Gizmodo, which reported on the incident at the time.
At the time Comcast said it was “mortified” by the interruption.

WILL’S SHOWNOTES

 

A123 supplies giant battery for ‘hybrid power plant’ | Green Tech – CNET News
Lithium ion battery company A123 Systems today said that it will supply a 20-megawatt battery for grid storage in northern Chile, one of the larger projects to use batteries to fortify the grid.
AES Gener, a division of U.S.-based power generation company AES, will install 10 shipping container-size storage systems in northern Chile to work in conjunction with a new 500-megawatt power plant called Angamos.
The batteries will be used for “spinning reserves” to ensure grid reliability by filling gaps in power in that area, which needs a reliable supply of electricity for mining operations. The system is designed to supply its full power for 15 minutes.
The project follows a similar 12-megawatt battery installation AES did in Chile in 2009 with A123 Systems’ products for frequency regulation. Rather than ramp up power production from natural gas plants to maintain a steady frequency, the grid draws on the batteries’ storage for quick bursts of power.
Energy storage on the grid has been done for decades in the form of pumped hydro plants, but different types of storage, such as batteries and flywheels, are starting to take hold in the U.S. Batteries now are mainly used to improve reliability with short-term storage, but some projects are seeking longer-term storage coupled with wind and solar farms.
Lithium ion battery companies are targeting hybrid and electric vehicles, but grid storage is another important, if smaller, market. A123 Systems, which will supply batteries for Fisker’s Karma plug-in hybrid, said it has sold 35 megawatts worth of grid storage.


Winter, snow, and solar panels: A mixed forecast | Green Tech – CNET News
With many people in the U.S. bemoaning the punishing winter weather this year, solar-panel owners have their own special gripe: sun-blocking snow and ice. But at the same time, very cold temperatures have given some owners a power boost.
A thick blanket of snow can slow a solar photovoltaic (PV) array’s production to a trickle. That’s something I discovered two years ago when a snowy winter led me to buy a modified snow rake to remove snow from my solar panels. It’s now on my list of regular winter chores.
Even with my diligence, this year has been particularly tough because of the frequency of the storms and the type of snow. Last week, New England had yet another dump of wet and sticky snow followed by icy rain, which made snow removal tricky.
Patiently letting the sun melt the snow is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, say solar industry professionals. But many people manually remove snow in winter to maximize power output. Solar panels, it turns out, really like cold weather.
At the opposite end of the country in the U.S. Southwest, frigid temperatures last week resulted in fantastically good production. The parents of my colleague Stephen Shankland have three high-end solar panels on their roof which produced just over 14.5 kilowatt-hours one day last week. That’s well above the daily average for this time of year and more than my roof-full of 14 panels often does.
With the temperatures in the region not getting above zero all day, the panels generated 2 kilowatt-hours for two hours in the middle of the day, which is extremely rare. It’s also a good bang for your buck when you consider many homes have limited roof space with good sun.
Although it may sound counter-intuitive, solar PV panels perform better in cold weather and similarly, performance degrades in high heat. Amy Beaudet, who has a solar array in Massachusetts, calculates that the maximum wattage of her array in Massachusetts is up to 25 percent higher in the winter than in the warmer months.
The technical reason for the power increase is that the voltage of solar panels increases as temperatures go down, said Beaudet who does technical sales at renewable-energy e-commerce outlet AltE Store. The higher voltage (you can think of it as pressure), combined with the same current from the panels as during warm weather, results in higher wattage, she explained.
The tilt of panels also figures in winter versus summer production. People who use solar panels in an off-grid situation typically angle the panels to better take advantage of the winter sun because of the shorter days, she said.
Still learning
Back at my house, snow removal has become a bit of a preoccupation for me on sunny days after it snows. And I’m planning on modifying my roof rake again to better ensure I don’t damage the surface.
With my 20-foot snow rake, I can only reach the bottom one third of the panels. So my strategy is to pull away what I can and wait for the sun to do its thing. Once more dark-colored panel is exposed, more current starts flowing and the rest of the panels heat up.
Clumps of snow tend to slide down from the higher panels and I scrape those chunks off as they come. It’s not unusual to hear a large thump from sliding snow on sunny days after a snow storm, something I try to remember when I walk beneath them so I don’t get clobbered.
The snow rake I bought at my local hardware store is made of aluminum. So to ensure that the hard head does not strike or scratch the solar panels (and generally keep metal away from electricity generation), I screwed on a strip of door weatherstripping to the edge of the rake head, which means that a strip of nylon is gliding along the panels. Now, I’m planning to screw soft pipe wrapping, the kind you insulate hot water heat pipes with, along the edge.
Often, solar-panel owners use some sort of squeegee-like contraption to take snow off, said AltE Store’s Beaudet. A friend of mine with newly installed panels bought a snow rake with a plastic head which allows him to push the snow off from inside the house. Another product called the Sno Knife, which has a flat plastic head designed to work in different types of snow, shouldn’t damage glass-covered solar panels, according to the company.
The story for solar hot water panels or tubes is very different. The copper inside solar hot water panels gathers heat relatively quickly and the snow tends to melt quickly, Beaudet said.
One technical advance which is helping make shading of solar PV panels less disruptive is microinverters. Traditionally, an array of panels is wired together and connected to a single inverter, a box about the size of a PC that converts the direct current to household alternating current.
One downside of this approach is that if one panel is shaded by leaves or snow, production of the entire string is compromised. Microinverters do the DC-to-AC conversion on each panel so if one panel is blocked, it doesn’t affect the others.
Of course, removing snow assumes you can actually get access to a roof. Often, people simply just wait for the sun and wind to do the work for you. And if it’s icy, trying to scrape it off is not a great idea, said Beaudet.
In my case, I popped in and out a few times on Friday in an attempt to speed up the melting with an occasional raking. I wanted to avoid a chunk of snow sliding down and freezing in place when the cold weather set in for the night. It worked: by the afternoon, the panels were cleared. Just in time for night fall–and the next forecasted storm.


GM’s eAssist ‘mild hybrid’ to juice Buick mileage | Green Tech – CNET News
General Motors today said it will bring hybrid technology to Buick models that will improve fuel efficiency by about 25 percent using what GM calls “light electrification.”
The powertrain, called eAssist, uses a lithium ion battery with high power but relatively little storage capacity. Like a traditional hybrid, the battery will help propel the car with up to 11 kilowatts of power from a stopped position and store energy from braking.


The battery also runs the electrical systems when the car is idle, allowing the gas engine to turn off, and provides a boost during cruising to avoid shifting into a lower gear.
This approach, called a mild hybrid technology, can significantly enhance efficiency at a relatively low cost. eAssist will be one of the options that GM will offer with a four-cylinder 2012 model of the Buick Regal which will be available later this year.
“We’ve done a lot of work at the high end with the Chevy Volt. We’re also trying to lead with this more foundational approach,” said Steve Poulos, GM’s global chief engineer for mild hybrid and battery electric powertrains. “There are many other places this same vehicle and power train is used so the bandwidth is there (to use it in other vehicles).”
This is the second generation of GM’s mild hybrid design, which uses a Hitachi battery and is already used in the Buick LaCrosse. Poulos did not say which other models might use eAssist or what the added cost would be but said GM could supply it in high volume.
With the 2012 Regal with eAssist, GM estimates the fuel economy will be 26 miles per gallon in city driving and 37 miles per gallon on the highway, which is a 25 percent improvement over the 4-cylinder 2011 powertrain. Controls in the car allow the driver to choose a more efficient air conditioning setting and monitor a real-time efficiency gauge.
The battery itself is placed between the back seat and trunk, which removes about three cubic feet of trunk space.


Sony mistakenly retweets PS3 jailbreak code | The Digital Home – CNET News
Kevin Butler, Sony’s fictional spokesman and vice president of several fake departments who appears frequently in PlayStation 3 commercials, retweeted the console’s jailbreak code last night after apparently believing that it was a reference to the board game, “Battleship.”
“Lemme guess, you sank my battleship?” read the tweet on @TheKevinButler. It was followed by the complete code, which had been tweeted to Sony’s account by user @exiva. The user, whose name is Travis La Marr, according to his Twitter page, followed the code with a message to Sony: “come at me.”
After realizing its mistake, Sony removed the tweet from Kevin Butler’s Twitter feed. The company did not mention its error and instead went back to cracking jokes about the PlayStation 3, as it normally does in that Twitter account. However, people did capture screenshots before Sony removed the tweet.
Sony’s mistake is all the more glaring, considering the company is so sensitive about the jailbreaking that continues on its PlayStation 3.
Last month, Sony requested a restraining order against famed hacker George Hotz, also known as Geohot, for creating a jailbreak that allows people to run custom packages on the PlayStation 3. Sony alleged that the jailbreak violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and asked a court to stop Hotz from making anything related to his hack available on the Web.
Hotz took issue with Sony’s claim that his jailbreak violated DMCA, asserting that his solution was a jailbreak for a closed system, just like any jailbreak for mobile phones, which are explicitly allowed by DMCA.
After some jousting between Hotz’s and Sony’s attorneys, a U.S. District Court granted Sony a temporary restraining order. Hotz has since removed all mentions of the jailbreak from his site.
But if Sony really wants to stop the jailbreaking, it should probably stop tweeting the code itself.


DOE designs energy-saving AC units | Green Tech – CNET News
The U.S. government has released specifications for a highly-efficient rooftop air conditioning unit it believes could save the country a plethora of electricity, and commercial properties a considerable amount of money.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) had announced its laboratories were working on such a rooftop air conditioning (RTU) in fall 2010. However, it became clear on Tuesday that the project was successful when the DOE announced it would be holding a Webinar on building high-efficiency RTUs to interested manufacturers on February 23 via its list of upcoming forums posted on the Building Technologies Program Web site.
“High-efficiency rooftop units, when built according to the criteria of the new specifications, are expected to reduce energy use by as much as 50 to 60 percent compared to the current ASHRAE 90.1-2010 standard, depending on location and facility type,” the DOE said in a statement.
In the meantime, the DOE has released a summary (PDF) and fact sheet (PDF) roughly outlining the specifications for the ten-ton capacity air conditioning unit.
Manufacturers of RTUs might want to take notice as the DOE has all but lined up buyers for manufacturers willing to build these types of units. The design was developed in conjunction with the Commercial Building Energy Alliances (CBEAs), a group of U.S. companies with vast commercial real estate holdings that includes Target, Walmart, and Macy’s.
“CBEA members are eager to start purchasing these units and are encouraging manufacturers to develop products to these specifications,” the DOE said in a statement.
“To help achieve the best-in-class rooftop units requested by industry partners, DOE national laboratories, including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Lab, will provide technical assistance to manufacturers or developers who want to build the more efficient units. Interested manufacturers will receive assistance in designing, constructing, measuring, and testing the new air conditioner units produced to this specification,” said the DOE.
In conjunction with the release, the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has also launched a free online cost calculator. The Unitary Air Conditioner (UAC) estimator allows a company to compare different high-efficiency or standard commercial air conditioning units based on more than a dozen different specs for a given unit and its location.


Recyclable school building makes the grade | Green Tech – CNET News
Could prefab structures be a quick and cost-saving way to get U.S. students out of dilapidated and energy-sucking schools?
A recent award to a Gen7 school building, made by American Modular Systems, seems to signal that modular classrooms have moved beyond being ad hoc building solutions for developing nations.
For the first time in California, a prefab building has been awarded national Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) certification for new school construction. CHPS certification is awarded to those schools that meet specific health, comfort, maintenance, and environmental sustainability standards.
“The Gen7 classroom proves that a prefab structure can achieve the same desired high performance results as a conventional building,” CHPS Executive Director Bill Orr said in a statement.
The Bolsa Knolls Middle School in Salinas, Calif., which has added a Gen7 school building that will house classrooms, met the CHPS requirements. The building will hold six classrooms totaling 5,760 square feet, and it reportedly will exceed the California Title 24 Energy Code by more than 30 percent. The permanent structure was designed and built in about 60 days, according to Gen 7.
Features of the building include: smart lighting, Energy Star-rated tubular skylights, thermal ventilation, and interiors made from low- and no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) materials. The building is 100 percent recyclable, and made almost entirely of recycled materials.
Whether the idea takes off across the nation remains to be seen, but some California school districts, at least, seem to be interested. In addition to Bolsa Knolls, the Santa Rita Union School District has ordered eight Gen7 classrooms and a restroom facility slated for installation in June 2011, according to American Modular Systems


Leukaemia sufferer Stepan Supin stays home, sends robot to school | News.com.au

  • Robot goes to school on sick boy’s behalf
  • We treat him as if he is here with us – teacher
  • Technology could be used for workers too

A VERY special student is attending a lesson at Moscow’s school number 166: Stepan, a plastic robot, is in the classroom to help a little boy with leukaemia to follow the lesson through his eyes.
In the meantime, the real Stepan, a 12-year-old boy with big blue eyes and brown hair, sits in front of a computer at his home and takes an active part in the lesson with help of his plastic friend.
Stepan Supin has been suffering from leukaemia for two years and his immune system is too fragile to allow him to leave home.
Equipped with a webcam, a microphone and a loudspeaker, the robot broadcasts in real time what happens in the classroom to the computer at the boy’s home.
A screen in front of the robot actually allows the human Stepan to intervene at any time to ask for the teacher’s clarification or to answer a question, teacher Alla Gevak said.
“We also call our robot Stepan. When the lesson begins, he starts working as an ordinary student and participates very actively,” she added.
Since September, the robot has been helping the boy to follow history, geography, English, and French lessons. Other subjects, such as Russian and mathematics, still require a teacher’s visits, Gevak said.
Stepan said he feels like his is actually present in the classroom as he can fully control the robot’s movements.
“I can change the robot’s speed, to go slower or faster. I can move his head to look left or right. I really feel as if I am in the classroom,” Stepan said.
Gevak shares the feeling. “At first it was a bit strange, but we got used to it. During breaks between lessons, Stepan communicates very actively with other students. We treat him as if he is here with us,” she said.
For the boy’s mother, Nina Supina, this “presence” is really what matters.
“Children have fun in the classroom, frolic and communicate. Stepan can take part. He lacks it – a little boy’s normal life,” she said.
Designed in 2008 at a Moscow institute, the robot which costs $3000, can receive orders remotely via the internet from anywhere in the world, the project coordinator Vyacheslav Kravtsov said.
“It can be used in many spheres of life. We intend to use it primarily in the social sphere – in education, healthcare, and for disabled people’s remote work,” he said.
“There are many disabled people in our country and they need help.”
Stepan Supin’s school received the robot for free as part of a pilot project launched by its designers.
But no matter how grateful he is to his robot, Stepan said he hopes though to get away from him one day and go back to school like every other boy of his age


Researchers develop “thinking cap”, aids in creative development | Space, Military and Medicine |

  • Study shows “stimulation facilitates insight”
  • Thinking cap first conceived of 8 years ago
  • Changes approach to problem solving

NOW when someone tells you to “put on your thinking cap”, you actually can.
AUSTRALIAN researchers have found a way to temporarily change how we view the world with a “thinking cap” that stimulates the scalp with electrical pulses.
Professor Allan Snyder and Richard Chi from Sydney University’s Centre of the Mind said subjects wearing the cap were able to acquire new modes of thinking and were three times as likely to solve complex problems.
“We look at the world through what we know,” Prof Snyder told news.com.au.
“We have lots of preconceptions that allow us to manoeuvre quickly in the world, but that has a downside.
“That downside is that we tend to see the world as it was rather than as it is.”
Prof Snyder and Mr Chi’s cap is designed to counter that condition, opening the brain up to new ways of thinking.
The possibility of a thinking cap was first suggested by Prof Snyder eight years ago and its development has been widely reported.
The “thinking cap” experiments have since yielded positive results. The scientists’ publication in peer review journal PLoS ONE is the first to demonstrate that brain stimulation can help people to “think outside the box”.
Urban legends have abounded for decades about people struck by lightning who suddenly acquire the ability to play Brahm’s piano concerto, or head- trauma patients suddenly developing artistic abilities they didn’t have before.
In many of these cases, brain trauma victims experience a suppression of the left temporal lobe – which, in layman’s terms – frees up the right side of the brain to be more creative.
Prof Snyder and Mr Chi’s cap artificially manipulates the hemispheres of the brain to recreate the phenomenon.
After being exposed to low-level electrical pulses for 10 to 15 minutes, subjects were easily able to acquire new modes of thinking and were able to apply them for up to an hour.
The subjects were also three times as likely to solve complex problems while wearing the cap.
“Without the stimulation, only 20 per cent of people could do it,” Mr Chi told news.com.au.
“With the stimulation, 60 per cent of people could solve the problem.”
Prof Snyder said it was “the largest cognitive enhancement we are aware of”.
Despite such results, Prof Snyder said the “thinking cap” wasn’t designed to make people smarter.
“Its advantage isn’t in acquiring more knowledge quickly,” he said.
“Its advantage is in seeing the world anew. Taking ideas from different places and developing them into a new synthesis.
“It’s more of a ‘creativity cap’.”


Ken Olsen legacy more than ‘no reason for anyone to have a computer in their house’ | News.com.au
KENNETH Olsen, a computer industry pioneer and co-founder of Digital Equipment Corp, has died.
He was 84.
His death on Sunday was announced by Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he was a trustee and benefactor. The college did not release a cause of death.
Olsen was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. With undergraduate and graduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he founded DEC in 1957 in an old mill in Maynard, Massachusetts.
It grew from three employees to 125,000 workers in 86 countries.
DEC is considered an icon in technology circles today.
The company attracted top engineers and helped usher in a technology revolution that changed the way people interact with computers.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Digital played a central role in creating the market for “minicomputers” – powerful, refrigerator-sized machines that appealed to scientists, engineers and other number crunchers who did not need the bigger, multimillion-dollar mainframes used by big corporations.
At its peak in the 1980s, DEC was the second-largest computer maker behind International Business Machines Corp.
“In the heady days of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, it’s too easy to forget that it was Ken Olsen’s vision of interactivity that took computing away from the centralised mainframe and into the hands of the people,” said Gordon Bell, who joined DEC in 1960 and headed the company’s engineering operations for more than 20 years.
DEC named its first computer the PDP-1, for Programmed Data Processor.
But it was the PDP-8, which was introduced in 1965 and became a building block for computer systems made by other companies, that really established minicomputers as a major new industry.
The PDP-11 – and later DEC’s Virtual Address eXtension, or VAX, series – offered a serious alternative to IBM’s central mainframe approach. By the mid-1980s, many other companies had tried to enter the business.
Digital was also a pioneer in the use of networking technology to link its computers together and enable DEC engineers around the world to communicate electronically almost instantly.
Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen used the PDP-10 to create the first version of the BASIC programming language for a personal computer.
Olsen is often referred to as the man who, in 1977, said: “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”
However, it is a quote that is almost always taken out of context, as Olsen was referring to having a computer which runs a house, as opposed to owning PCs for general use.
Compaq Computer Corp acquired DEC in 1998.
A memorial service for Olsen at Gordon is set for May 14.


Asteroid Apophis – we know when it will hit, say Russian scientists. If it hits… | News.com.au
GOT your bucket list ready?
The date for Armageddon has been set, and it’s not going to happen in 2012.
That’s according to Russian scientists who claim they know the exact day asteroid Apophis is most likely to hit the Earth.
If you were born on April 13, plan your biggest party for the year 2036.
“Apophis will approach Earth at a distance of 37,000-38,000 kilometers on April 13, 2029,” Professor Leonid Sokolov of the St. Petersburg State University told Ria Novosti.
“Its likely collision with Earth may occur on April 13, 2036.”
You might have noticed he used the word “may”.
Asteroid 99942 Apophis was first discovered to be in the Earth’s impact zone back in 2004, and at roughly 300m wide, is estimated to be able to hit the Earth with the force equivalent to somewhere around two Krakatoas.
More sketchy science puts Australia well out of the path of possible destruction – Apophis could land anywhere in a streak that runs from the Middle East through the tip of South America to the west coast of Africa, according to a paper delivered to the 2007 Planetary Defense Conference.
Which is not to say we won’t feel its impact. A simulation tool devised by the University of Southampton in the UK shows that, depending on where it hits, it could cause up to 10 million deaths.
There’s several reasons not to panic, though.
One is the fact that it will probably break up and smaller bits of it will bombard the Earth over the next few years.
The other is that we’ve got a bit of warning.
In 2029, when it swings close by the Earth, we’ll find out whether Apophis has nailed a gravitational keyhole that will drag it into our orbit seven years later.
The gap is just 600m wide, so there’s a fair chance it won’t happen.
“If it goes through what we call a keyhole during that close Earth approach (in 2029) … then it will indeed be perturbed just right so that it will come back and smack Earth on April 13, 2036,” Donald Yeomans, head of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office, told The Christian Science Monitor, before adding that the chance was “minuscule”.
But that slight chance it will happen – at one stage predicted to be somewhere in the two to three per cent range – is enough to get at least the Russians working on a solution.
“Our task is to consider various alternatives and develop scenarios and plans of action depending on the results of further observations of Apophis,” Prof Sokolov said.
Disappointingly, the head of Russia’s space agency said back in 2009 that there “won’t be any nuclear explosions”.
“Everything will be done according to the laws of physics,” Anatoly Perminov said.
“We will examine all of this.”


Your move, creep – Detroit demands answers on why a RoboCop statue isn’t a good idea | News.com.au

  • Mayor calls for ideas to revitalise city
  • Rejects calls to erect RoboCop statue
  • “How do you know when you haven’t tried it?”

PHILADELPHIA has a statue honoring Sylvester Stallone’s character in Rocky, but when fans in Detroit wanted a statue erected in honour of their city’s fictional hero RoboCop, the idea was rebuffed by the mayor.
IGN reported Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who had asked citizens online for ideas on how to revitalise the city, shot down the RoboCop statue idea via Twitter.
“There are not any plans to erect a statue to RoboCop,” Mr Bing wrote. “Thank you for your suggestion.”
The 1987 sci-fi satire RoboCop featured a slain Detroit police officer rebuilt as a super-powered crime-fighting cyborg.
Mr Bing’s rejection sent RoboCop fans into a Twitter frenzy.
“RoboCop would never turn his back on Detroit,” one user tweeted at the mayor.
“So why turn your back on RoboCop?”
Another user said: “Detroit mayor says building a RoboCop statue not the key to Detroit’s revival. HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU HAVEN’T EVEN TRIED IT?”
Yet another person suggested that a RoboCop statue “would look nice amidst the gang fights”


Study: Expect a billion 802.11ac Wi-Fi devices in 2015 | Deep Tech – CNET News
People in the technology world just now adjusting to the arrival of 802.11n should begin bracing themselves for 802.11ac.
For those who can’t keep up with the alphanumeric jumbles that are technology standards, 802.11n is at the moment the fastest version of Wi-Fi. The arrival of 802.11n was delayed by interminable standards wrangling–thus the profusion of “Draft N” wireless routers–and research firm In-Stat already predicts its faster successor, 802.11ac, soon will surge into the market.
From zero 802.11ac devices this year and the first ones next year–the standard isn’t done yet–the market will blossom to nearly a billion in 2015, In-Stat predicts.
The forthcoming standard, which uses existing radio spectrum in a range below 6GHz, is designed to exceed data-transfer rates of 1 gigabit per second by sending multiple simultaneous streams of data from access points to devices.
“The goal of 802.11ac is to provide data speeds much faster than 802.11n, with speeds of around 1Gbps,” said analyst Frank Dickson in a statement. “The timing for 802.11ac approval is to have a draft standard created by 2011 and have the first 802.11ac products out by the end of 2012.”
Although those data transfer rates likely will appeal to many folks–companies that want high-speed networks but not the expense of laying cable, for example–home customers should think twice before drooling over the latest wireless router. Although it can be nice to have fast home networks for networked backup and streaming media, most people’s broadband connections to the Internet are slower than even older versions of Wi-Fi like 802.11g.
Earlier versions of 802.11 wireless networking standards used the 2.4GHz frequency band, but 802.11n expanded to the 5GHz range as well. It’s designed to reach up to 600Mbps. A consortium called the Wi-Fi Alliance certifies 802.11 products and promotes the technology.
Wi-Fi overall continues to thrive. In 2015, about 800 million mobile phones will ship with the technology, In-Stat forecast. The group also projects that 90 percent of electronic e-book readers will come with Wi-Fi by 2015 and that 20 million vehicles will ship with Wi-Fi in 2012.


Teenage boy tops the iPhone app chart with Bubble Ball puzzle game | Online Video Games Reviews &
A SIMPLE but hugely addictive video game is taking the world by storm.
Bubble Ball is a physics-based puzzle game that has been downloaded by more than two million iPhone users, becoming the top free application on the iTunes App Store in the US.
But it hasn’t been designed by a team of highly paid experts. It’s the work of a 14-year-old Utah boy, Robert Nay.
Since its release on December 29, Bubble Ball‘s success has become astounding, outstripping even the free version of Angry Birds.
Adding to Nay’s glory is the David versus Goliath nature of his victory.
While he designed Bubble Ball in his bedroom in Spanish Fork, Utah, Angry Birds was developed by 17 professionals in Finland.
The rules of Bubble Ball are simple. Players must move a small blue ball from one side of the screen to the other by steering it around various obstacles.
Nay was encouraged to try his hand at programming by a friend who noticed how much he liked his iPod Touch.
He firstly tried the standard Objective-C programming tools, but found the software a bit difficult, so switched to GameSalad, which he didn’t like.
After deciding Corona tools from Ansca Mobile best suited him and let him write and publish for both Apple and Android devices, Nay set about making his game.
While his mother, Kari Nay, drew some of the levels and submitted the apps to the Apple store and Android marketplaces, the talented teenager did all the coding work by himself.
Nay released Bubble Ball through his own company, Nay Games.


Sprint unveils dual-screen Echo phone (live blog) | Signal Strength – CNET News
NEW YORK–Sprint Nextel will take the wraps off a new smartphone at an event here this evening.

(Credit: Sarah Tew)
The company has been tight-lipped about the announcement. But The Wall Street Journal today reported the new smartphone will be a dual-touch-screen device running the Android operating system. The phone, made by Kyocera, is reportedly called the Echo and has two 3.5-inch touch screens that can be opened up side by side.
CNET will be at the event here in Manhattan where the new device is to be revealed. I will be blogging the news live with commentary from CNET Reviews editors Bonnie Cha and Kent German and photos from CNET photographer Sarah Tew. The event starts at 3 p.m. PT. Sign up for a reminder to the live blog below:


New iPhone app helps with confessions | News.com.au
A NEW “confession” application for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch has received the blessing of a Catholic bishop.
“Confession: A Roman Catholic App,” is the first program for the Apple devices created by a South Bend, Indiana-based company called “Little iApps”.

Its developer, Patrick Leinen, said the app was designed to be used in the confessional and was intended “for those who frequent the sacrament and those who wish to return”.

He said the app, which provides a step-by-step guide to the sacrament, had received the imprimatur from Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, the first program to receive the stamp of the church.

Mr Leinen said he was inspired in developing the app by Pope Benedict XVI’s call to the faithful to use new media to good purposes.
“Our desire is to invite Catholics to engage in their faith through digital technology,” Mr Leinen said in a press release on his littleapps.com website.

“Taking to heart Pope Benedict XVI’s message from last year’s World Communications Address, our goal with this project is to offer a digital application that is truly ‘new media at the service of the Word,'” he said.

The app costs $US1.99 ($1.97) in Apple’s iTunes store.

It offers password protected customised profiles, a guide to performing the sacrament as well as a list of acts of contrition.

“Individuals who have been away from the sacrament for some time will find Confession: A Roman Catholic App to be a useful and inviting tool,” Mr Leinen said.

Death grip seems to plague Verizon’s iPhone as much as it did AT&T’s | Smartphone News & Reviews |
THE Verizon iPhone appears to suffer from antenna problems similar to those of the AT&T iPhone, according to a report on Apple-centric blog ILounge.
“The CDMA iPhone 4 can still lose substantial cellular signal strength when held in the prior ‘death grip’ position,” the report read, referring to the firm grasp some users apply to their device, “as well as Wi-Fi signal when held in a different position, in each case noticeably slowing or completely stalling the reception of data.”
ILounge added: “The problem with Wi-Fi reception appears when the device is held snugly in landscape orientation with two hands, a position common when playing games or using the widescreen keyboard.”
As with the AT&T iPhone, iLounge said an iPhone case or cover should solve any issues.
Verizon will begin selling the iPhone in stores today.


Newspapers complain after Apple forces them to sell iPad subscriptions through iTunes | News.com.au
EUROPEAN newspaper publishers are complaining about apparent plans by Apple to require all newspaper subscriptions for the iPad to be bought through its iTunes store.
The European Newspaper Publishers’ Association said that newspaper publishers in at least five countries – Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and France – have received letters from Apple in recent weeks informing them of the planned change.
In an online statement, the association said it fears newspaper publishers would lose access to critical information about readers of their digital editions.
Francine Cunningham, the association’s executive director, said Apple indicated it would charge a commission for subscriptions sold through iTunes, which in some cases is 30 per cent of the overall subscription price.
That’s the same agreement Apple has in place with software developers who sell apps – programs of all types, from games to business applications – for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch on the iTunes store.
The same revenue split applies to purchases made from inside applications, too, such as new levels for video games.
As more and more people use the iPad and other Apple devices for reading magazines, newspapers and books, Apple seems to be stepping up efforts to control how that content is distributed.
Last week, Apple rejected Sony’s e-book reader app for the iPhone because it doesn’t give people the choice to buy books without leaving the app for a website.
Apple wants such programs to at least give consumers the choice to use the in-app system for buying content on iTunes.
Newspaper publishers are watching to see what happens with The Daily, the first iPad-only newspaper, which News Corp unveiled last week.
The media company is charging 99 cents per week or $40 per year through the iTunes store, giving Apple its customary cut.
A spokesman for Apple in London didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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