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Journal: Dell shipping "green" MacMini killer

Journal by jdray
Dell has gotten on the "green computing" bandwagon in rainbow colors with their "Studio Hybrid" PC, a MacMini knock-off available in a rainbow of first-gen iMac jewel tone colors. Specs seem good for something that will likely go on a media rack and run MythTV or Media Center. HDMI and 5.1 channel SPDIF output is included. FTA:

The Studio Hybrid uses 20% of the material of a standard desktop mini-tower, and as little as 30% of the energy to run. Packing materials are 95% recyclable and have been reduced in weight by 30%. The printed documentation has also been reduced in weight by 75%. This gives the Studio Hybrid the title of Dell's most environmentally friendly PC.

User Journal

Journal: Constructing Machine Consciousness

Journal by jdray
Seed Magazine is carrying an article about Blue Brain, a project to model a complete mind inside a supercomputer. The current state of the project has a single neocortical column, the basic computational element of a brain, of a two-week old rat working. The project manager indicates that the biggest hurdle holding them back is computing horsepower to scale the experiments. With current technology, they estimate that running a model of a complete human mind would cost $3 billion annually in electricity alone.
User Journal

Journal: Science and the Candidates

Journal by jdray
As the field of candidates narrows, and America starts to feel like they've heard the survivors hash and rehash their positions on the major issues, topics not previously covered are starting to bubble up. Business Week is reporting that there has been a call for a debate on science, tentatively scheduled for April. The candidates haven't exactly jumped on the bandwagon, possibly hoping the whole issue will just go away if they ignore it. Would you like to see a debate focused on science rather than the war in Iraq or national health care?
User Journal

Journal: Oracle's Second Bid for BEA Succeeds

Journal by jdray
On the heels of news that Sun has acquired MySQL, it seems that Oracle has succeeded in its efforts to slurp up middleware maker BEA for US$8.5 billion, or $19.375 per share. What this means for rival IBM and its WebSphere product is unclear, as is the impact that this merger will have on the future of enterprise computing. Oracle has been on a march in recent years to acquire more and more components to build up its already-formidable software stack.
User Journal

Journal: Google Quietly Adds HTTPS Support to GMail 4

Journal by jdray

This may be old news, but I just noticed myself and thought I'd report it. I've been using the "New Version" of GMail for a couple of weeks (I hardly notice the difference from the "Old Version"), and happened to notice today that the inbox URL still used "http://", even after all the complaints that they didn't maintain "https://" after login. I decided a quick test was in order, and added the all-important "s" to the protocol indicator. It worked fine. After clicking around some, opening mail, using filters, etc., the "https://" protocol remained. This is great news for those of us who use GMail heavily and want some modicum of security while doing it.

User Journal

Journal: Apple ships Bento, a database with glam

Journal by jdray
The Apple subsidiary Filemaker has released a Leopard-specific personal database app named Bento that promises to bring cross-app data syncing (Address Book, iPhone, .Mac, etc.) to the masses in an easy-to use, iTunes-like way. At $50 for a single seat and $100 for a five seat family pack, it's certainly affordable. Is this the first foray into what will one day become a business productivity tool a la Access?
User Journal

Journal: Digg no longer churning out?

Journal by jdray
Something's going on over at Digg, the "other" news site for nerds. Or not, as the case may be. As of right now, the last story on the front page is "Concorde parts go under the hammer" at just over two hours old. Considering the stories previous to it at a rate of one every ten minutes or so, I figure something's going on (or not) behind the scenes. I hope no one died.
User Journal

Journal: Burning Salt Water

Journal by jdray
A Penn State University chemist seems to have stumbled upon a way to burn salt water by applying an RF field. More study is required to verify and fine-tune the phenomenon into an industrial process, but there seem to be quite a few applications of the technology if it's even modestly efficient. Mr. Kanzius evidently made the discovery after an observer of his cancer-fighting microwave prototype showed condensation in the test tube and suggested that Kanzius use the device for water desalination. During the desalination attempt, he noticed a spark in the test tube. That's quite a chain of discoveries for one invention.
User Journal

Journal: How do you pronounce "pwn" ?? 1

Journal by jdray
After months of reading it online, with my inner voice sort of munging the sound in a faint echo of something verbally pronounceable, I decided to check out what that vast knowledgebase of society, Wikipedia, had to say about this maddening bit of online vernacular. Unfortunately, what I discovered is that pretty much whatever you think is the way to pronounce it is on the list. So, how do you pronounce it?
Role Playing (Games)

Journal: What features would you put in a custom gaming table?

Journal by jdray

As a teen in the 80's, we spent many hours designing paper-based aids to take some of the burden out of role playing, freeing us up to dive deeper into the scenarios. Twenty-five years later, there have been significant advances in three things: game mechanics, technology and our disposable incomes. Most members of our campaign group have six figure incomes, and several of us are technologists by trade. Lately we've been discussing the idea of custom building a gaming table. But where to start? Our campaign's host is willing to completely remodel the gaming room, which is about 12x15. Power, water and broadband Internet are all available. We have skills in electric wiring, plumbing, networking, cabinet making, house remodeling, software design, programming and engineering. We can probably commit a couple thousand dollars to the project overall, probably leaving out advanced technologies like that found in Microsoft's Surface, but not flat screens, individual displays, comfortable chairs or refrigerators.

So, what features would you put in? If there's a computer involved, what software? What should the shape be like?

User Journal

Journal: Entrepreneurs create mushroom-based insulation board

Journal by jdray
A Vermont farmer and his business partner have created a mushroom-based insulation board that is grown in a form, taking about two weeks. Early tests indicate that the material insulates slightly better than the typical pink fiberglass batting found in homes today. To date, the two inventors have been growing samples under their beds while searching for affordable lab space and some venture capital. If nothing else, talking to venture capitalists should give them plenty of feedstock for further tests...
User Journal

Journal: Tuna-inspired aircraft runs on fuel cell

Journal by jdray

The startup R&D organization "Team SmartFish" has come up with a design for a performance aircraft that's inspired by a tuna fish, which is evidently (one of?) the fastest fish in the sea and has been clocked at 85 km/h. Their model-sized prototype is powered by a fuel cell stack with a pusher prop. The full scale version calls for a 900-1000# turbofan in the tail.

If this thing works out, I wonder if a small modification to put one of Rutan's rocket motors below the turbofan output would make this a viable sub-orbital launch vehicle.

User Journal

Journal: Boeing Working on Fuel Cell Aircraft 163

Journal by jdray
Boeing is working with development partners on a fuel cell-based small aircraft as a technology demonstrator. It seems like a logical use of the technology. From the article, a Boeing research director was quoted as saying, "While Boeing does not envision that fuel cells will provide primary power for future commercial passenger airplanes, demonstrations like this help pave the way for potentially using this technology in small manned and unmanned air vehicles." Now if they can come up with a quiet, personal-sized VTOL craft a la Paul Moller's Skycar (which is anything but quiet), we'll really have something.
User Journal

Journal: AppleTV hits the streets 474

Journal by jdray
Stories are starting to pop up all over the web about the AppleTV, which evidently means that Apple has set loose the hounds of marketing and the units are (or will be tomorrow) available in Apple stores. Still no word on whether or not it plays DivX files. That will be the key to me purchasing one.

"Don't discount flying pigs before you have good air defense." -- jvh@clinet.FI

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