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Journal Journal: Self-healing artificial muscle built at UCLA

A group of researchers from UCLA Department of Materials Science and Engineering developed an artificial muscle made of carbon nanotubes, capable of healing itself. From the article: "The researchers used flexible, ever-more ubiquitous carbon nanotubes as electrodes instead of other films, often metal-based, that fail after repeated use. If an area of the carbon nanotube fails, the region around it seals itself by becoming non-conductive and prevents the fault from spreading to other areas." I don't know about you, but whenever I hear stories like these, my first concern is always whether I can use this technology to charge my iPod. Turns out, I can, as evidenced by Discovery Channel news report Artificial Muscle Heals Itself, Charges IPod.


Journal Journal: Intel sends Wi-Fi tens of miles away

MIT Technology Review describes a new Wi-Fi router from Intel capable of sending Wi-Fi signal at tens of miles away with somewhat decent 6 Mbps performance, which makes it perfect for rural Internet-less areas, and a number of countries interested in developing their Internet infrastructure, but no means to lay expensive cable or fiberoptics. The cost is roughly $500, and you need two such routers to create a point-to-point connection, Intel says: "Intel's RCP platform rewrites the communication rules of Wi-Fi radios. Galinvosky explains that the software creates specific time slots in which each of the two radios listens and talks, so there's no extra data being sent confirming transmissions. "We're not taking up all the bandwidth waiting for acknowledgments," he says. Since there is an inherent trade-off between the amount of available bandwidth and the distance that a signal can travel, the more bandwidth is available, the farther a signal can travel."


Journal Journal: Acer exploring open game console

Acer is considering introducing an open, or standards-based gaming console into the market, company's sernior vice-president told BetaNews: "Wong said that, beyond "openness," all of the Acer-branded systems being eyed right now, including the game machine, are envisioned as offering new and innovative form factors and applications." Currently global gaming market is dominated by Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, with $480 million worth of gaming hardware sold in the United States in a single month, with projected 2008 spending of $6.4 billion just in the US.

Data Storage

Journal Journal: 9 terabyte hard drives reviewed

ExtremeTech is running a review of 9 terabyte-sized hard drives. They take a look at Seagate 7200.11, Seagate Barraduda ES.2, Western Digital WD10EACS, Western
Digital WD1000FYPS, Hitachi 7K1000, Hitachi A7K1000, and Samsung HD103UJ. The verdict? "HDTach measures raw performance, such as transfer rates, access times, and CPU utilization. It's a very low level test that works best on unformatted drives. As we can see from both the read and write tests, Samsung's higher platter density gives it a substantial edge in raw data transfers. The Seagate drives come in second, while the Western Digital drives, with their slower rotational speeds, take up the rear."

Linux Business

Journal Journal: Wal-Mart ditches $199 Linux PCs

Wal-Mart will discontinue stocking $199 Linux PCs made by Taiwanese company Everex, due to the lack of interest from Wal-Mart shoppers, company said. Company will sell gPCs through its online store at " now carries an updated version, the gPC2, also for $199, without a monitor. The site also sells a tiny Linux-driven laptop, the Everex CloudBook, for $399."


Journal Journal: Where BitTorrent is headed

Business Week takes a look at BitTorrent, not the protocol, but the company, in an attempt to figure out Bram Cohen's and Ashwin Navin's future directions. Currently the company is in talks with hardware manufacturers, who would incorporate BitTorrent code into home network routers. What's after that? "Next up: the big launch in early 2007 of the company's online content site, a project that's been pushed back since the summer. "The services that have launched are not getting any advantage for being early, in fact they're getting blasted for not getting the product right," Navin says. "We want to do better." He compares it to Apple's strategy with iTunes and the iPod."


Journal Journal: Trojan installs its own antivirus

eWeek is reporting on a new kind of Trojan horse that self-installs a patched pirated copy of Kaspersky's AntiVirus, which then removes every virus and spyware, except the SpamThru virus itself. From the article: "Stewart also found SpamThru using a clever command-and control structure to avoid shutdown. The Trojan uses a custom P2P protocol to share information with other peers--including the IP addresses and ports and software version of the control server. "Control is still maintained by a central server, but in case the control server is shut down, the spammer can update the rest of the peers with the location of a new control server, as long as he/she controls at least one peer," he said."


Journal Journal: San Franciscans against free Google WiFi

Davis Freeberg is reporting from San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting, where Google and EarthLink discussed their plans for free Wi-Fi for the city. It seems that quite a few activist groups were either thinking that public funds were given to Google and EarthLink, or the license to build a Wi-Fi cloud is comparable to Comcast's exclusive license to provide cable high speed Internet, and hence some weird demands ensued: "Some of the crazier demands that were suggested at the meeting included a requirement for every San Francisco renter to sign a lease addendum with their landlords before being allowed to install a WiFi card in their PC, forcing Google to agree to transport kids back and forth to the Zoo in their Google busses and a requirement for EarthLink to pay the electrical costs for running computers in order to prevent brownouts."


Journal Journal: Microsoft to develop own chips

Microsoft is looking into developing its own chips due to challenges presented by the next generation XBox and technologies like voice recognition. NYT reports: "Microsoft is exploring hardware design now in part because of a new set of tools that will make it possible to test ideas quickly, he said. The researchers will employ a system designed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, that makes it possible to reconfigure computer designs without the cost of making finished chips."


Journal Journal: Music player headphones present health risks

New Scientist is reporting that stock earbuds and headphones shipped with popular digital music players can be damaging to one's hearing: "They found that all of the music players produced similar loudness at similar device volume settings, but that different headphones altered this loudness. On average, both earbud and canalphone earphones were 5.5 decibels louder than supra-aural headphones."

User Journal

Journal Journal: Libya to supply every kid with MIT's $100 laptop

Libya will buy MIT's $100 laptops to supply every kid in the country with a brand new portable PC. Libya ordered 1.2 mln laptops, and somehow the deal adds up to $250 mln, MSNBC reports. From the article: "Negroponte, a computer researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he had met with Moammar Gadhafi and the project appealed to the Libyan leader's political agenda of creating a more open Libya and becoming an African leader."

Wireless Networking

Journal Journal: Nokia to sell WiMAX phones by 2008

Nokia expects to sell WiMAX phones by 2008, Reuters reports. The mobile devices could be used with traditional cellular networks as well with WiMAX hotspots. From the article: "Nokia said its WiMAX base stations will be commercially available for broadband operators in the 2.5 gigahertz band at the end of 2007 and for 3.5 gigahertz in the first quarter of 2008."


Journal Journal: Wireless carriers and their coverage claims

Watch five different commercials of five different wireles networks, and you will hear five different claim about having the largest wireless network in the United States. Call up the carrier, or ask the sales rep about the square miles each network has, and they will be clueless - all claims about wireless coverage are based on the number of people that have access to the network in densely populated areas. Which really means the competition is pretty much about reaching the largest amount of customers with the lowest amount of towers, and hence even the largest wireless network will have quite a few dead zones in the United States.

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