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Intel Envisions Shape-Shifting Smartphones 79 79

An anonymous reader writes "It's not sci-fi, but rather advanced robotics research which is leading Intel to envision shape-shifting smartphones. 'Imagine what you would do with this material,' says Jason Campbell, a senior researcher at Intel's Pittsburgh Lab who's working in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. 'If you want to carry the device, you'd make it as small as possible by making it pack itself as densely as possible. When you go to surf the Web, you're going to make it big.' The material being studied is transparent silicon-dioxide hemispheres, which can roll around each other under electrical control to create different shapes. The lab has built 6-inch long actuators, which it's working to reduce to 1-mm tube-sized prototypes. When will we see a shape-shifting phone? 'In terms of me being able to buy it, that's a difficult forecasting problem, because I have to guess about manufacturing costs,' Campbell said. 'I won't do that. But we hope the science will be proved out in three to five years.'"
Social Networks

Is It Worth Developing Good Games For the Web? 82 82

SlashSlasher writes "A friend of mine started up a Facebook MMORTG game called Realm of Empires with his buddies as a personal project. Over the last couple of years, I've seen it grow up from an idea into a thriving community. A lot of money and effort has been sunk into constant improvement. As a result, it has become one of the most polished and substantial applications I've seen on Facebook. It's been quite interesting seeing the action behind the scenes without being directly entangled. Normal gameplay is free but certain premium features do exist. Recently, after allowing an open beta of premium features, the users complained vehemently that they would have to pay to keep these special features. They went so far as to start a petition to stop them from charging for premium features. People are getting up in arms about features that can be bought for less than $3 a month. I know the project hasn't broken even yet, and more money is put into it every day. I had always assumed that developers would receive a chunk of the ad revenue they attract to Facebook; apparently I was wrong. Facebook only gives the developer a very small (and shrinking) piece of real estate to try and make money with. How are these people supposed to break even, let alone profit? What working business models exist for the small game developer? Are people just too spoiled by free, throw-away games to be a target market for anything significant? Are developers who want to make any money for their work forced to move to restrictive platforms like the iPhone or the console market? More details of their story are available at their blog."

Senate Passes Another Bill To Delay Digital TV Transition 318 318

An anonymous reader tips news that the US Senate has passed another bill to delay the transition to digital TV. This is the second such bill to pass the Senate; the first was narrowly defeated in the House. The new version has an important difference — it would allow the transition to take place gradually over the four-month period between the original transition date (February 17th) and the extended date (June 12th). TV stations around the country could choose when they wanted to make the change, allowing those who have already begun plans to stop analog transmission to continue their shut-down operations.

Comment: Re:A simple answer (Score 5, Funny) 664 664

I'd support this except for a few key issues (you clearly haven't thought this out):
1) Reds in NTSC are either illegal (out of gamut) or very close to black (bad for black and white sets)
2) solid color borders and constant flashing cause bandwidth issues to crop up, making the content illegible
3) Part of the issue with delaying the shut-off is that MANY full-power TV transmitters are on their last legs and new parts are unavailable.
4) You don't need the "If you did not expect this, " part.
5) You are stupid.

US House Kills Proposed Delay For Digital TV Transition 664 664

An anonymous reader writes "The Digital TV transition delay bill has failed to pass the United States House of Representatives. By a vote 258 to 168 in favor of changing the date, the bill has failed as two-thirds of the votes are required for it to pass. The delay bill was once perceived as inevitable, [but the House] has now apparently made February 17th the date of transition once again. Now the question remains, will they attempt to pass it again by the deadline?"

Comment: Re:Why bother? (Score 3, Informative) 479 479

Actually, Digital has a wider reach with the same power output which is why most stations have had power greatly reduced from their analog to their digital transmitters. Unfortunately, DTV is very susceptible to multipath (you see this as "ghosting" in analog, with a low-grade digital receiver, you see this as "no signal") and in many places, with the lower power required for interference prevention with neighbors, the coverage becomes reduced.

Comment: Re:Why bother? (Score 1) 479 479

You won't be getting HDTV with one of these converter boxes, but you'll be getting the SD sub-channel, which has the advantage over analog of zero static.

Actually, you can get the HDTV channel, your box will just downconvert it.

There is nowhere that anyone who watches analog TV can claim that.

Actually, the transmitter site is quite a place, and you can get static-free reception quite a ways away from one too.

Over the air digital broadcasts, which is what these converter boxes are for, are actually the only way to get a full-bandwidth signal currently.

Define full-bandwidth. MPEG-2 is compressed, OTA or otherwise.

(All of the cable and satellite companies molest the signal in various ways to maximize bandwidth.)

They recompress it for their digital service tiers because they cannot easily simply retransmit the inputted MPEG stream. While it is possible, it becomes an issue of signal management and converting to baseband and recompressing is easier than playing with MPEG streams.

And there's absolutely no DRM on OTA digital broadcasts.

Most ATSC encoders and Muxers offer a variety of encoding and encryption options. Broadcasters could broadcast signals that are not watchable or listenable by viewers, but they would be blocking almost all viewers (broadcast equipment with the proper keys could still decode it).

They're not "rolling out" digital. It's already here. All this program is supposed to do is help people who haven't already upgraded, even though they've had about ten years to do so already.

Not all markets have had digital stations for this long. North America is quite unique in the high number of individual broadcast areas (we call them markets) and the nations of this continent have had logistical nightmares trying to arrange frequencies.

Comment: Re:buy high cap. (Score 1) 485 485

They make wonderful little boxes that you can plug a real HDD in and plug a memory card in and it will transfer the data from the card to the HDD... or you can just use your computer when you return home. I personally just use one card per device and when the portions it writes get full, that data gets archived and wiped from the card.

Comment: Re:Task based learning (Score 3, Interesting) 452 452

100 REM TASK 1
110 LPRINT CHR$(33); "hello world"; CHR$(33); CHR$(13); CHR$(12);
200 REM TASK 2
210 LPRINT CHR$(33); "what is your name?"; CHR$(33); CHR$(13); CHR$(10);
220 INPUT N$
230 LPRINT N$; CHR$(13); CHR$(12);
300 REM TASK 3
310 LPRINT CHR$(33); "give me a number to square:"; CHR$(33); CHR$(13); CHR$(10);
330 S = I * I
340 LPRINT S; CHR$(13); CHR$(12);

You said you wanted it printed, right?


Best Cross-Platform, GUI Editor/IDE For Python? 144 144

What do you find is the best text editor for Python software development? I've tried several, and I'm always frustrated by the limitations of each. Eclipse is cool, but it's huge, and I've had multiple problems with corruption of the workspace. It got so bad at one point that every week or so I was tearing it down and recreating it. I spent so much time re-creating Eclipse's workspace that I found any productivity gains were lost due to Eclipse's brokenness. (Read more below.)


Biologist (Almost) Creates Artificial Life 539 539

Aditya Malik writes "Wired has an interesting story up about how a lab led by Jack Szostak, a molecular biologist at Harvard Medical School, is building 'protocells' from artificial molecules which are very close to satisfying the conditions for being 'alive.' 'Szostak's protocells are built from fatty molecules that can trap bits of nucleic acids that contain the source code for replication. Combined with a process that harnesses external energy from the sun or chemical reactions, they could form a self-replicating, evolving system that satisfies the conditions of life, but isn't anything like life on earth now, but might represent life as it began or could exist elsewhere in the universe.' This obviously raises some questions about creationism, not to mention some scary bio-research-gone-wild scenarios."

Many people are unenthusiastic about their work.