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Displays

Submission + - High Definition LED Front Projector

stepinside writes: "Prism, Inc. is planning on unveiling a secret research and development project at CES 2007. A source inside the company says the project is a high definition (1080p) front projector that uses light emitting diodes (LEDs). In contrast to the LED pocket projectors currently on the market (example), this device will produce hundreds of lumens at cinema quality resolution and contrast. The best part, however, is the use of LEDs as the lamp because the lifetime of the projector is years of continuous use, it produces brilliant and lifelike colors, and it's whisper quiet. Check out Prism's projector if you're a hardcore gamer, a movie buff, or someone who wants the biggest screen on the block."
Books

Submission + - Make Projects: Small Form Factor PCs

Joshua Benuck writes: "Here's my phone number: 801-722-5744 (I didn't see a field for it and the book review guidelines say that you need it). [EDITORS, PLEASE NOTE — Please do not include my email address or phone number!] 'Make Projects: Small Form Factor PCs' provides detailed step-by-step instructions on building a variety of small form factor systems, starting from the larger ones (about the size of a shoe box) and working its way down to the smallest (which is about the size of a pack of gum). It includes instructions on creating a digital audio jukebox, digital video recorder, wireless network range extender, home network gateway, network monitor, portable firewall, cheap Wi-Fi SSH client, and a Bluetooth LED sign.

First off, this is a PDF that, as far as I can tell, is only available from oreilly's website. Most of the projects in the book will require at least $300 dollars to complete.

If you don't know why you would want to use a small form factor PC there is a good discussion of why you might want to consider using one in the introduction along with a list of some of the currently available small form factor PCs. You'll need to keep in mind that some of the systems mentioned would be more commonly referred to as embedded systems so the authors have expanded the definition of what 'small form factor PC' means. Not all of the systems mentioned are used in one of the projects in the book so if you get bored or are looking for another small system to play with, this may be a good resource.

The remaining chapters deal with projects that each use one of the systems mentioned in the introduction. The chapter headings show a picture of the finished product, a list of needed components, a bar showing the time it will take, and a rating of difficulty from 'easy' to 'difficult'. The bars and pictures provide a quick indication of what you are getting yourself into with one glaring exception; they do not tell you how much money you'll need to sink into the project. In order to find this information you'll need to go back to the introduction and read through the paragraph that tells you about the system used in the chapter.

This is followed by an overview of what is going to be built and which system was chosen for the implementation along with a description of its unique characteristics that made it a good fit for the project. A lot of emphasis is put on the power consumption of the various components. They even measure it at startup, shutdown, and during normal operations. This is used to make a couple of power and cooling design decisions.

If you're like me, you don't like when your systems makes a lot of noise (Especially ones that aren't supposed to look like they have a computer in them). This book gives a good overview on what to look for when building a system that you want to be as quiet as possible. They mention whether the system can get away with passive cooling (e.g. no fans) and they show some very non-conventional ways to reduce the noise production of a system (such as hanging a hard drive from wires within an enclosure).

The step-by-step instructions on assembling the hardware components of the systems include plenty of good quality pictures that should make it easy to follow along with the various projects. The pictures are about a third the width of the page which I feel is a good size. They are crisp, clear, and add to the discussion of the topic at hand.

If you are an experienced Linux or BSD user you'll probably be able to skim most of the step-by-step operating system installation instructions. If you are new to Linux and BSD the steps should help you find your way to project completion. Just don't expect the book to have all of the answers all of the time. I feel it is impossible for one book to contain the answers to all the questions that someone new to this area may have. That said, I think this book does an admirable job at giving you what you need to succeed.

Littered throughout the text are various warnings, other options, and lessons learned which I found to be valuable. Some of these include mistakes the authors made (such as using a WinTV-Go card instead of a higher model with a built-in MPEG decoder), using a CF Card Reader if you are unable to use NFS to transfer files to a system that uses a Compact Flash card, and numerous other practical tidbits that should serve to save you some frustration when trying to do the projects on your own.

You don't have to use the hardware platforms or components recommended in this book to gain benefit from its contents. I've used the instructions on setting up the Linux Infrared Remote Control (lirc) project to help with an Iguanaworks USB Infrared Transceiver (a device that sends and receives infrared signals) while the authors used an Irman receiver. The MythTV box I've setup uses Ubuntu Linux instead of Gentoo Linux and uses a spare system instead of the Shuttle XPC used in the book. I found the instructions in the book to be indispensable as I worked through this.

I've never done a case mod before, but I like the idea of being able to hide away a computer in something that looks like a decoration. There is a detailed explanation of how the authors used an old antique radio as a cover for their digital jukebox. I enjoyed the discussion of the various places they could put the power supply, infrared receiver, and other design considerations. It really gave me a feel for what types of questions I'll need to answer as I do a case mod myself.

That leads me to what I think is the biggest strength of this book. It is the very conversational way in which the authors tell you what they did, why they did it, and what they could have done. Along the way they provide links for further information, and search terms that can help you learn more about the topic at hand. The book is packed with information that is up-to-date, accurate, valuable, and easy-to-read.

That said, some of the information will lose value over time. For example, the specific gumstix computer that was used does not appear to be available anymore. This is probably a good thing since the authors had to make some adjustments to get the 200 Mhz Bluetooth enabled version to work. I mention it only to point out that the information on the specific systems and the other instructions will lose value over time. It is impossible to future proof a work likes this.

The projects in this book opened my mind to a whole new world of what is possible with small systems. I haven't had a chance to purchase of the specific systems mentioned, but the information on setting up the various software and hardware components has already proven the book's worth. I look forward to one day getting my hands on the systems mentioned so I can gain the full advantage that small form factors provide. So if you don't mind spending $300+ to play with some a small form factor PC or you love to tinker with networking, or multimedia applications then you might want to give this book a try. I certainly don't regret it."
Businesses

Understanding Burnout 289

Cognitive Dissident writes "New York Magazine has posted a feature story about the growing phenomenon of 'burnout' and the growing interest of both healthcare professionals and even corporate management in this problem. Probably the most surprising thing learned from reading this article is that work load is not the best predictor of burnout. Instead it has more to do with perceived 'return on investment' of effort. So work places are having to learn to adjust the work environment to reduce or prevent burnout. From the article: '"It's kind of like ergonomics," [Christina Maslach] finally says. "It used to be, 'You sit for work? Here's a chair.' But now we design furniture to fit and support the body. And we're doing the same here. The environments themselves have to say, 'We want people to thrive and grow.' There was a shift, finally, in how people understood the question."' NPR's Talk of the Nation also had a recent feature story based on this article."
Space

Submission + - Water on Mars?

Thalin writes: NASA has announced today that data from the Mars Global Surveyor indicates photographic evidence for the existence of liquid, flowing water on Mars.
NASA photographs have revealed bright new deposits seen in two gullies on Mars that suggest water carried sediment through them sometime during the past seven years. "These observations give the strongest evidence to date that water still flows occasionally on the surface of Mars," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, Washington.
PlayStation (Games)

Submission + - PS3 Firmware 1.30 released

wanderers_id writes: I just turned on my PS3 to note that firmware 1.30 is available. The official site http://www.us.playstation.com/ps3/network/updates does not have anything up about the new firmware. At the time I was trying to test new network settings, and it errored giving me new network settings saying that I needed to update to firmware 1.30. Is anyone else uncomfortable with a forced install without being able to look at what they are changing?
Space

Submission + - Water Flowing on Mars Is Filmed: NASA

MajorBytes writes: "Water flows on Mars. In one image, a shining snake of light flows from a hidden spring into a crater's depression, an orbiting camera aboard NASA's Mars Global Surveyor catching sunlight reflected by the evaporating liquid. In another, a smear of ice grows mysteriously over a period of years, expanding like a slow-motion inkblot over the red planet's parched landscape. More of the story here.... http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2006/12/flowing_wate r_o.html"
Security

Submission + - Laptop theft from Nationwide exposes 11m accounts

Gandalf_the_Beardy writes: The BBC reports "Eleven million Nationwide customers may have been put at risk of identity crime after an employee's laptop was stolen. The computer with customer information on it was stolen during a domestic burglary three months ago. But details of the serious security lapse are only just emerging." http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/moneybox/616 0054.stm
Enlightenment

Journal Journal: Welcome back to those halcyon days of yesteryear! 5

Ten years. Wow. Doesn't seem nearly so long ago.

Hurts different than it did then. Sharp, stabbing pain then. More of a diffuse something or the other now.

Shrug.

Nothing actually enlightened to say. Just wanted to mark the date.
Guess that's icon fraud? :-?

Oh, and I made it home in one piece. No thanks to NorthWest Airlines.
The bastards.

Privacy

Submission + - Stolen laptop puts eleven million at rsik

rgbecker writes: "The BBC today reported here that 11 million people have been put at risk of ID theft after a laptop was stolen. In a radio interview Nationwide's MD claimed that police advice prevented him from revealing what kind of details had been contained on the stolen laptop. He also claimed that there was no risk of pin numbers becomin public or of financial loss. If as additionally claimed the laptop was secure why the three month delay and why the reticence on disclosing exactly what information was stored on the machine."

9 Billion-Year-Old "Dark Energy" Reported 118

loid_void writes to mention a New York Times article about the discovery that dark energy, or antigravity, was present at the formation of the universe. A team of 'dark energy prospectors' at the Space Telescope Science Institute theorizes that this may have directed the evolution of the cosmos. By observing supernova activity almost 8 billion years in the past, the team was able to study whether or not dark energy has changed over the millennia. From the article: "The data suggest that, in fact, dark energy has changed little, if at all, over the course of cosmic history. Though hardly conclusive, that finding lends more support to what has become the conventional theory, that the source of cosmic antigravity is the cosmological constant, a sort of fudge factor that Einstein inserted into his cosmological equations in 1917 to represent a cosmic repulsion embedded in space. Although Einstein later abandoned the cosmological constant, calling it a blunder, it would not go away. It is the one theorized form of dark energy that does not change with time. Sean Carroll, a cosmologist at the California Institute of Technology who was not on the team, said: 'Had they found the evolution was not constant, that would have been an incredibly earthshaking discovery. They looked where no one had been able to look before.'"
NES (Games)

Submission + - Chiptunes Improvisation finds home at Juilliard

An anonymous reader writes: Tonight, the prestigious Juilliard School will host the next concert of improvisation team smop(), a group that performs music exclusively on video game controllers (steering wheels, joysticks, and gamepads). They're using a NES as a synth, and even controlling the same pipe organ of Juilliard's roboRecital of yesteryear. In their own pompous words:

"For too long, terrestrial music has been bound by the limitations of human minds. Now smop() is ushering in a new epoch in the history of civilization, an epoch which calls for a union of human improvisation with the thunderous cogitations of seriously big-league digital computers. Human interaction with smop()'s programmery will not be limited by the obsolete musical machines of the past (e.g. xylophone, pennywhistle); instead smop() exclusively uses joysticks, gamepads, steering wheels, and other devices originally designed for digital interactive gaming. Performed entirely on such devices by red-jumpsuit-clad terrans, this concert will feature Paul Hall's Holtkamp pipe organ, a Nintendo Entertainment System rigged as an instrument, and other gadgetry. At last, the revolution has begun."
OS X

Submission + - Leopard vs Vista 4: Naked Sales

Rockgod writes: "From the article:
The vast majority of PCs come with Windows pre-installed, and actually can't be sold without it. Leading PC hardware makers can't freely advertise PCs sold without Windows, or with an alternative OS such as Linux, without having to pay Microsoft significantly more for every other OEM license they ship. That's why all name brand PCs prominently repeat their own version of the cult-like phrase "Dell recommends Windows XP Professional," as if there were a choice in the matter and they thought it would be helpful to provide some guidance.
Also from the article:
Apple's current Get a Mac advertising campaign doesn't compare Mac OS X to Windows, it compares the complete experience of a Mac with that of a PC. After all, Windows is only half of what's wrong with the PC as a product. This strategy also allows Apple to highlight Mac advantages without specifically drawing attention to Windows, avoiding the common marketing mistake of inadvertently creating brand recognition for rival products.
"
Input Devices

Submission + - Clue to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Found

Yetihehe writes: Researchers at Mayo Clinic used powerful microscopes to look inside the carpal tunnels of patients with carpal tunnel syndrome and suggest that violently or repeatedly moving adjacent fingers in different directions may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. From article:
In all of the carpal tunnel syndrome patients, the researchers found, the connective tissues appeared to be damaged, causing bulky fibers and scar tissue. As might be expected if the damage were the result of injury, the worst damage occurs nearest to the tendon.
If these findings are confirmed, this may lead to new treatments for CTS
Unix

Submission + - Interview with Rob Savoye of the Gnash Project

An anonymous reader writes: With Sun opening up Java under the GPL and Adobe contributing source code for Flash to the Mozilla Foundation it seems like a lot of big companies are embracing the open source movement. Ryan Stewart of ZDNet interviewed Rob Savoye, the lead developer on Gnash, an open source alternative to the Flash Player. In the interview Rob talks about the future of Gnash and what the goals of the project are.

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