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Submission + - The Quiet Revolution of Formula E Electric Car Racing ( 1

pbahra writes: The greatest emotional trigger at any auto-racing event is the noise. In Nascar, it is the earthshaking growl of V8 American muscle. In Formula One, it is the chest-rattling wail of 15,000 rpm. To some the sound is repellent. To others it is like an opera.

But what if there is no sound at all?

Welcome to the quiet world of Formula E, a global racing series for electric cars, which debuts this month in Beijing.

Comment Re:Occupation - Invasion (Score 5, Interesting) 192


China is in complete violation of international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which China itself signed and had agreed to and ">ratified in 1996.

China has been building structures, hunting and mass poaching endangered species and destroying coral reefs within the maritime exclusive economic zones of The Philippines and Vietnam (200 nautical miles or 370km from the coastline of those countries) while at the same time, forming naval blockades and harassing fishermen from Vietnam and the Philippines in their own waters. Recently a Chinese fishing vessel was caught with the poaching and mass slaughter of over 500 endangered and protected sea turtles within Philippine waters. Pics of the slaughter.

This article is a must-read on the behavior of the 800lb gorilla China and its bullying tactics: China's Pre-Imperial Overstretch and follow-up article: China and the Mosquitoes.

Another must read is the NY Times article A Game of Shark And Minnow about the ragtag crew of Philippine marines stationed on a grounded derelict ship in the area as an outpost. That NY Times article has a very good diagram on the 200NM exclusive economic zones and China's ridiculous "nine-dash line" tongue-shaped delineation which claims the entirety of the area hundreds of miles away from their nearest legal territory, Hainan Island. The basis of China's 9-dash line claims? Fabricated bullshit. Pre-19th century maps show this. Even China's own historical maps contradict their absurd claims. Bullying, intimidation, violation, invasion and annexation of territories of smaller, weaker states. It's that simple. See also: Tibet.

Comment Re:Had high hopes for Pixel Qi (Score 2) 119

Don't be misled by those reviews. I was able to borrow some OLPC XO units via the contributors program and let me tell you they kick ass.

If you reduce the brightness of the unit to zero, it will automatically go into gameboy/calculator black and white LCD mode. When the backlight is on (which will activate color), it's still readable in sunlight, will just look black and white.

The only quirk it has is that it uses parallel diagonal strips of red, green and blue pixels separately so there's a dithering effect in backlit color LCD (only 1 R,G or B light per pixel essentially instead of the usaul mix of all 3), but it trumps any of those black & white only no-backlight screens like e-ink.

Comment If you really want to get your hands on one (Score 4, Informative) 119

Hey everyone.

Although units are very hard to get a hold of, if you're really sincere and interested about developing, OLPC will ship and lend you units free of charge with the promise that you will pass them on to the next developer when you're done with your project.

msobkow, all you need to do is to make a good project proposal and apply for the contributors program:

They really do send these out. I applied and OLPC sent over some units all the way to the Philippines

You guys can check what's happening with the different OLPC mailing lists here:

And the developer mailing list which is the most active:

I've also been able to do some hands on testing stuff on a prototype XO-1.75 which is the Marvell Armada-driven ARM version meant to succeed the XO-1.5 (as well as being the basis for the XO-3). It's been a really interesting experience with the prolonged battery life, but not without its quirks as a "real mainstream linux" OS running on an ARM machine (it's running Fedora ARM, dual bootable to the Sugar UI paradigm or Gnome). If anyone wants to contribute to Fedora-ARM development, this would also be an excellent avenue.

Try to check if there any local groups near your place and check em out. The local group near where I'm at right now (NZ) was kind enough to lend me one of these rare prototypes (and will be returning it soon).



Comment Re:Hmm... I'm waiting for the stories (Score 1) 130

Okay, all kidding aside, OLPC machines are is in serious need of content/testers/developers.

If you've got a project where you can think of a good use for these machines, you can sign up for the contributors program here: and if your project is approved, OLPC will ship developer units to you on loan (honor system) free of cost.

Any takers?

Comment Re:Native Apps? (Score 2) 354

To start, they should create a [write-once run-anywhere environment] for Windows. There's more than enough libraries that should make it possible.

It's called Java

Surprise surprise! It's called the Flash Platform! -> Flash/Flex/AIR

...and it does it relatively well with proper dev & if your app isn't too resource-intensive:

OP Author is yet another guy who didn't do his homework and properly research the tech he was talking about. With the Adobe AIR pathway instead of targeting the in-browser Flash Player, you can a good workflow going. Very cost effective to do minor tweaks from single code/asset base as opposed to having separate devs or doing separate ports to Android, iOS, Desktop, etc with their native languages if you lack time/developers/resources.

Check it out: Multi-Screen application running on Android, iOS and the Playbook all powered by Adobe Flex & AIR

For those with any doubts about the Flash Platform/AIR solution for iOS, Machinarium which was built entirely with Flash CS Pro took the #1 spot in paid apps and knocked Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies from the top spot during its release: Top iPad Game Apps: Machinarium Topples Angry Birds Seasons

So yes, it is a good production & deployment solution.

As for open source, the Adobe Flex SDK is open and free so no probs on that front. It's more or less the same thing as the JDK. Runtime/player might not be open source, but the toolchain can be: build your flex/AS3 app using any text editor/IDE you want, then compile via command line with mxmlc instead of javac ;)


Comment Re:akihabara is awesome! (Score 5, Interesting) 121

For those who want to live a little more dangerously, you should try Shenzhen, right beside Hong Kong. It's the new Akihabara and all the new bleeding edge mix & match gadgets the rest of the world hasn't seen before is there. It's now also the electronics manufacturing hub of the world since Everything now's made in China :)

Check these sites out for some of the goodies:
One of the most interesting non-knockoff gadgets to come out of there last month is the Apple Peel, a smart jacket you can slip over an iPod touch that turns it into an iPhone.

Not everything over there is fake knockoffs and Shenzhen China's Shanzhai garage hardware hacking & remixing culture is very interesting.

You should also check out the blog of Andrew "bunnie" Huang, said to be the first guy outside Microsoft to hack the X-Box & wrote the book on it. He co-founded & created the Chumby (open source hackable hardware gadget) and his adventures in Shenzhen are pretty cool.

Comment Re:Yes (Score 1) 403

3. Flash/Flex is not touch-friendly and generally make for a poor mobile experience.

Stop repeating that FUD troll statement. Flash was made precisely for touchscreen kiosks from the outset back in the 90s. You're talking about hover events and Flash is no less friendly than any other language out there (Like Javascript for hover dropdown menus).

Moreover, Flash 10.1 now supports native multitouch & gesture recognition (pinch, zoom, etc), which is more than you can say for HTML5/Javascript w/ o the aid of 3rd party libraries.


Comment Re:Bollocks (Score 2, Insightful) 403

No. The main problem with Flash Lite was that it was always 1 or 2 generations behind the desktop version and it was a real headache as this left Flash Lite crippled in functionality (Flash Lite 1.x had no arrays - frikken arrays man! wtf?, Flash Lite 2.x had no cacheAsBitmap which would speed up performance, etc) and because of the different implementations, this left the mobile landscape very fragmented, and it was a real headache. I still get a lot of trauma flashbacks when I think of Flash Lite 1.x

Now, since the desktop and mobile versions of Flash are essentially the same, this is no longer as bad a problem.

As I mentioned before, you'd get optimal performance results on native code, but depending on the needs of your App, Flash should be enough. The Eco Zoo, a really cute and impressive full-3D Flash site with N64-level polygon graphics (built by Masayuki Kido aka ROXIK on his custom Sharikura 3D Engine) runs pretty fast on the Google Nexus One (and this is surprising because it wasn't targeted at mobile at all! See what real optimization can accomplish? Those Japanese coders are really crazy good!). This videoblog review by Thibault Imbault will show you actual Flash 10.1 performance on the Nexus One.

Also, you mentioned you're doing this in the context of K-12. You can't go wrong with Flash then as it's the de facto standard for building multimedi animated and interactive e-learning content.

Comment Re:Yes (Score 5, Informative) 403

Learn Flash/Actionscript3/Adobe AIR. It will simply run everywhere. (cue Flash vs HTML5 flame war. off-topic, IE9 ain't coming to XP so screw that -- I'm sick of all the "this will only work on Safari" or "this will only work on Chrome" HTML5 demos. As someone who actually builds stuff for clients instead of just blogging about these technologies, this is a dealbreaker and ***FORWARD*** compatibility headache as Windows XP will never go away for the near future. The original reason I learned Flash coding was because of the bloody headache of cross-browser compatibility.)

Back on topic, Flash is coming to every single smartphone platform (and even TV set top boxes). 19 of the top 20 mobile manufacturers are already part of the consortium Adobe Open Screen Project and they're working to get Flash running on their respected platforms. Only Steve Jobs didn't sign up for whatever his reasons. Flash is now out on Android, Symbian, Maemo, coming to WinMo 7 (Flash Lite is already out on older versions of WinMo), Blackberry & Palm, definitely on Meego (Nokia Maemo + Intel Moblin).

Flash CS5 can now be used to make native iPhone apps legally again as per App Store policies (the process is the same as making an Adobe AIR app). Here's a refresher on exporting your AIR project into iOS: Packager for iPhone Refresher.

There's some surprising current statistics to fix one's perspective on the death of Flash by the iOS gadget crowd. Currently 97% of the internet is Flash capable and iOS only has 1.1% share. Of course, the iOS share will increase as more customers buy them, but think of that when building stuff with the widest reach possible. Also, currently, devs seem to be monetizing the most on iOS, but the App store is now *so* *so* *so* saturated that it's hard for a new app to get noticed amidst all the noise.

Flash 10.1 is already out on Android Froyo (2.2) and AIR for Android is currently in public beta and should come out soon so Flash is already good to go if you want to target Android.

Another thing to consider is that Android market share has now overtaken iOS and since there's not enough decent content on the Android and Adobe AIR marketplaces compared to the Apple App Store, if you build a good app on any of those platforms, it's easier to pull in a user base since there isn't much competition yet.

Your Flash apps would run on Symbian^3 devices which are already out (N8, C3, etc) as they have all Flash Lite 4.0 (A slightly stripped down version of Flash 10 which already runs AVM2 AS3 swfs). In fact, Nokia just launched the $10million Calling All Innovators N8 app contest and Flash is one of the formats you can enter in.

Not only will your apps run on mobile devices if you build 'em in AIR, they will also run on Desktop Linux, Mac & Windows and that is the biggest plus for me. For complaints about the cost of Adobe tools, you can build SWFs and AIR apps from completely Open Source tools. The Flex SDK is FOSS and you can build apps just with your .AS3 sourcecode + a command line just like with the JDK for Java (or pick any appropriate IDE of your choice to make your life easier). Oh, btw, the commercial Flash Builder is free for students & teachers + developers who're hit by the economic crisis and are currently unemployed -> apply here for license.

Of course, please don't forget to *optimize* *optimize* *optimize*. Flash is not a slow platform. The terrible content you see out there is due to abusive content creators who don't know how to optimize for CPU, memory & bandwidth and especially for mobile.

Of course learning Native Android or iPhone dev will give you the best understanding and performance for the Platforms you're targeting, but if you're short on time & resources and need to deploy on multiple platforms, this is the way to go.

Comment Hmmm (Score 3, Insightful) 64

Y'know, one thing to come of this is that it's probably a good idea to create accounts in social media/networking sites even if you'll never use them just to "reserve" your identity and to deter impersonators a bit, kinda like reserving domain names before cybersquatters bag them. Use a separate "throwaway" email account for them.

That way, if someone creates a fake account in your name, if people see that there's more than one account which has your name, it will give them cause to suspect that one of them is fake, making them more wary against fake accounts.

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