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Patents

Submission + - Facebook patents the news feed (thenextweb.com)

daedae writes: It seems Facebook has been granted a patent for the news feed, as a method of monitoring activities, storing them in a database, and displaying an appropriate set of activities to an appropriate set of users.
Cellphones

Submission + - Why ATT Should Dump iPhone's Unlimited Data Plan 1

pickens writes: Pickens writes:

Farhad Manjoo has an provocative story at Slate asserting that while the iPhone has prompted millions of people to join ATT, it has paradoxically also hurt the company's image because all of those customers use their phones too much and ATT's network is getting crushed by the demand. The typical smartphone customer consumes about 40 to 80 megabytes of wireless capacity a month while the typical iPhone customer uses 400 MB a month so as more people sign up, local cell towers get more congested, and your own phone performs worse. Manjoo says the problem is that a customer who uses 1 MB a month pays the same amount as someone who uses 1,000 MB and the solution is tiered pricing. "Of course, users would cry bloody murder at first," writes Manjoo. "I'd call on AT&T to create automatic tiers--everyone would start out on the $10/100 MB plan each month, and your price would go up automatically as your usage passes each 100 MB tier." Manjoo says the key to implementing the policy is transparency and that the iPhone should have an indicator like the battery bar that changes color as you pass each monthly tier. "Some iPhone fans will argue that metered pricing would kill the magic of Apple's phone--that sense of liberation one feels at being able to access the Internet from anywhere, at any time," writes Manjoo. "The trouble is, for many of us, AT&T's overcrowded network has already killed that sense, and now our usual dealings with Apple's phone are tinged with annoyance."

Submission + - Penny-Sized Nuclear Batteries Developed 1

pickens writes: Pickens writes:

Nuclear batteries that produce energy from the decay of radioisotopes are an attractive proposition for many applications because the isotopes that power them can provide a useful amount of current for hundreds of years at power densities a million times as high as standard batteries. Although nuclear batteries have been used for military and aerospace applications for years their large size has limited their general usage but now a research team at the University of Missouri team has developed a nuclear battery the size of a penny that could be used to power micro- and nano-electromechanical systems. The researchers' innovation is not only in the battery's size, but also that the batteries use a liquid semiconductor rather than a solid semiconductor. "The critical part of using a radioactive battery is that when you harvest the energy, part of the radiation energy can damage the lattice structure of the solid semiconductor," says Jae Wan Kwon. "By using a liquid semiconductor, we believe we can minimize that problem." The batteries are safe under normal operating conditions. "People hear the word 'nuclear' and think of something very dangerous," says Kwon. "However, nuclear power sources have already been safely powering a variety of devices, such as pacemakers, space satellites and underwater systems."

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