Saturday, October 1, 2011

iPhone 5 To Be Announced Next Week According to Apple Engineers

We are just a week away from the iPhone 5 announcement, according to sources giving information to Nick Bilton from The New York Times. According to the sources which were unnamed Apple employees, the iPhone 5 is just a week away from being announced by Apple with a ‘fairly different’ design. The iPhone 5 design will not be so different from the Case-Mate case design for the iPhone 5 that were leaked early today.

iPhone 5 caseIt was also said that the next iPhone will have an eight-megapixel camera that will be made by Sony, as expected ever since Sony’s CEO Howard Stringer accidentally revealed earlier this year during an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg. The Apple engineer also said that the iPhone 5 would feature a faster A5 dual-core processor.

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Microsoft releases Windows 8 Developer Preview

The Windows 8 Start screen borrows heavily from Windows Phone 7

The Windows 8 Start screen borrows heavily from Windows Phone 7

Image Gallery (4 images)

Microsoft previewed the next version of its Windows OS in June at D9 and a few more details leaked out shortly after that, but the biggest reveal came this week with Microsoft giving a preview of Windows 8 to kick off its Build conference, followed by the Developer Preview hitting Microsoft servers for anyone to download. With the surge in popularity of touchscreen devices over the past few years the new OS is designed to run on a wider variety of devices and chipsets and embraces touch and apps in a big way with the new "Metro style" interface.

Although Windows 8 has similar system requirements to Windows 7, it boots much faster by saving the kernel memory at shutdown and reloading it during startup. Borrowing from Windows Phone 7, the default Windows 8 Start screen features customizable live tiles, although users can switch to the traditional desktop interface via the desktop tile.

Microsoft has designed Windows 8 is a one-size-fits-all OS to run on everything from 10-inch tablets to 27-inch desktops so users can swipe and scroll via touchscreen, touchpad or mouse. Not one, but two virtual keyboards - one full sized and another split thumb keyboard - are on board for devices without physical keyboards.

No doubt envious of Apple raking in all that cash from its App Store, Microsoft has placed a strong emphasis on apps in Windows 8 and put the new Windows Store front and center so it's easy to buy them. Like Apple, Microsoft will screen all apps before they make it to the Windows Store. Apps can be run in full screen, work on x86, x64 and ARM platforms and adapt to different screen resolutions and device form factors. Different apps can also communicate with each other and will sync over multiple devices.

Internet Explorer 10 is onboard and has been optimized for touch browsing with gesture-based navigation and a touch-friendly navigation bar that only appears when you ask (swipe) for it. Notably, Microsoft has also followed Apple's lead and will ditch plug-ins, including Flash, in the Metro version of IE10 for use on tablets in order to improve battery life, security and reliability. However, plug-ins will still be supported in the desktop version on IE10.

Windows 8 is compatible with Windows 7 applications and Windows Explorer and Task Manager have been redesigned to bring commonly used features to the fore. Explorer will feature the controversial "ribbon" toolbar, while Task Manager is now an all-in-one dashboard to monitor and control your PC, with information tracked in real time and able to be viewed as summary graphs.

With the release of the Windows 8 Developer Preview, Microsoft will refine and update the OS using the feedback from developers. The company hasn't set a date for the finished version but isn't expected until the second half of 2012. If you want to get a taste of the new OS the Developer Preview is available for download here.

But be warned, this is an early version and is still buggy. It can only be installed as a clean install and can only be removed with a reformat so be sure to use a separate partition or spare machine because you won't be able to go crying to Microsoft if you run into any problems.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

The Climate Reality Project's 24 hour live streamed event beginning NOW - alert your friends

The Climate Reality Project has just kicked off its '24 Hours of Reality' live streamed ev...

The Climate Reality Project has just kicked off its '24 Hours of Reality' live streamed event

The Climate Reality Project (formerly known as the Alliance for Climate Protection) has just kicked off its "24 Hours of Reality" live streamed event. The presentation runs 24 hours, is available in 13 languages, and is the beginning of a worldwide campaign to tell the truth about the climate crisis and reject the misinformation we hear every day.

"Fossil fuel companies and their allies will go to great lengths to deny the fact that climate change is happening now," said Maggie L. Fox, President and CEO of The Climate Reality Project. "But we have one powerful response: Reality. We will dedicate our resources toward educating and engaging the public about the reality of the climate crisis and helping build the global movement for change."

One of the key themes of the event will be an attempt to show that the recent extreme weather events (floods, droughts and storms) are the first signs of climate change and the 24 hour event will conclude with a one hour presentation by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

"The climate crisis knows no political boundaries. Ferocious storms and deadly heat waves are occurring with alarming frequency all over the world. We are living with the reality of the climate crisis every day. The only question is, how soon can we act?" said Vice President Gore.

The non-profit Climate Reality Project is inviting people from around the world to take part in specific activities to help solve the climate crisis.

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MIT researchers build a bridge to better energy harvesting MEMS device

The MEMS energy harvesting device created by MIT researchers can generate 100 times as muc...

The MEMS energy harvesting device created by MIT researchers can generate 100 times as much power as similarly sized devices (Image: Arman Hajati)

The advantages of wireless sensors to monitor equipment and structures in remote locales are obvious, but are lessened significantly if their batteries need to be regularly changed. We've seen a number of microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, that harvest energy from the environment, such as ambient light and radio waves and vibrations. Now MIT News is reporting the development of a new piezoelectric device that is about the size of a U.S. quarter and can generate 100 times as much power as similarly sized devices.

One of the most common piezoelectric designs in recent years sees a small microchip with layers of PZT - a material that shows a marked piezoelectric effect - glued to the top of a tiny cantilever beam. When the chip is exposed to vibrations, the beam moves up and down like a wobbly diving board. As the beam bends it stresses the PZT layers, which build up an electric charge that can be picked up by arrays of tiny electrodes.

As with everything, the cantilever beam has a frequency at which it wobbles the most. This is known as the resonant frequency and outside of it, the beam's wobbling response drops off along with the amount of power the device can generate.

"In the lab, you can move and shake the devices at the frequencies you want, and it works," says Arman Hajati, who conducted the work as a PhD student at MIT and co-authored the study. "But in reality, the source of vibration is not constant, and you get very little power if the frequency is not what you were expecting."

Some researchers have increased the number of cantilever beams and PZT layers on a chip to overcome this problem, but Hajati and Sang-Gook Kim, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and co-author of the paper, say this approach is not only wasteful, but also expensive.

"In order to deploy millions of sensors, if the energy harvesting device is $10, it may be too costly," says Kim, who is also a member of MIT's Microsystems Technology Laboratories. "But if it is a single-layer MEMS device, then we can fabricate [the device for] less than $1."

To create a device with just one layer that is still able to pick up a wider range of vibrations, Kim and Hajati threw out the cantilever design and engineered a microchip with a small bridge-like structure that is anchored to the chip at both ends. They then deposited a single layer of PZT on the bridge and placed a small weight in the middle of it.

After putting the device through a series of vibration tests, the researchers found that it responded to a wide range of low frequencies. They calculated that it was able to generate 45 microwatts of power with a single layer of PZT, which is 100 times more than similarly sized devices of current design.

"If the ambient vibration is always at a single frequency and does not vary, [current designs] work fine," Daniel Inman, professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan told MIT News. "But as soon as the frequency varies or shifts a little, the power decreases drastically. This design allows the bandwidth to be larger, meaning the problem is, in principle, solved."

Inman added that, since few vibrations in nature occur at the relatively high frequency ranges captured by the device, the MIT researchers will have to aim lower in the frequencies they pick up, which they say is just what they intend to do.

"Our target is at least 100 microwatts, and that's what all the electronics guys are asking us to get to," says Hajati. "For monitoring a pipeline, if you generate 100 microwatts, you can power a network of smart sensors that can talk forever with each other, using this system."

The MIT team published its results in the Aug. 23 online edition of Applied Physics Letters.

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Owl 360 serves as a third eye for cyclists

The Owl 360 is a rearview camera and monitor system for bicycles

The Owl 360 is a rearview camera and monitor system for bicycles

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What do cars have that bicycles don't? Lots and lots of things, actually, but one of those is a rearview mirror. While both cyclists and drivers have to shoulder check when changing lanes, cyclists additionally have to twist all the way around in order to see what's directly behind them. Helmet- and handlebar-mounted side mirrors are certainly one way to minimize that twisting, but for people who like stuff, there's another - mini rearview camera and monitor systems. Cerevellum has just started taking orders for one called the Hindsight, which now has a competitor known as the Owl 360.

The Owl consists of a CMOS video camera that attaches to the bike's seatpost, and a 3.5-inch monitor that attaches to the handlebars. A cord connects the two devices. The monitor contains a 3.7-volt lithium-polymer rechargeable battery, that powers both the monitor and camera for a reported five hours per charge. The handlebar mounting bracket has a hot shoe connection, so the monitor can easily be removed before the bike is left unattended.

The camera is surrounded by a ring of ten red LEDs, which will automatically start flashing when the built-in light sensor notices that it's getting dark outside. Both the camera and monitor are said to be weather-resistant and vibration-protected.

Consumers can expect to pay US$179.99 for the Owl 360 when it hits stores, although it is available now for preorder via the company website.

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Dyson applies its Air Multiplier fan technology to a heater

Dyson has unveiled a room-heating version of its Air Multiplier bladeless fan, named the D...

Dyson has unveiled a room-heating version of its Air Multiplier bladeless fan, named the Dyson Hot

Introduced in 2009, Dyson's Air Multiplier bladeless fan is still probably the trendiest, most unique device one can buy for moving cooling air around a room. Today, the British company announced that consumers will now be able to use that same bladeless technology for heating a room, in the form of the Dyson Hot fan heater.

Like the cooling fan before it, the ABS-bodied Hot uses Dyson's proprietary Air Multiplier technology. This involves using an impeller in the base of the device to draw air in through slotted intakes (also in the base), then blowing that air out through a small aperture in the fan's "loop amplifier." The inside surface of the loop is shaped like an airfoil, so the air that is blown into it is channeled forward. Air behind the loop is drawn in by this outwards airflow, and is subsequently also propelled forward itself, the end result being that the fan reportedly expels six times more air than its impeller sucks in.

What's different about the Hot is the fact that it also includes a heating element in its base. This can be set, either on the fan itself or with a remote, to heat a room to anywhere from 1 to 37 degrees Celsius (33.8 to 98.6F). A built-in thermostat will turn the fan off when the desired temperature is reached, and turn it back on again when the temperature drops. Users can also adjust the oscillation and rate of airflow.

For people who don't already own a regular Dyson Air Multiplier, the Hot can also be set to blow unheated air.

The Dyson Hot is available as of today at John Lewis stores in England, and can be purchased nationwide for GBP269.99 (US$427) as of next month. There is word yet regarding availability or pricing in other markets.

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Microsoft Shows Windows 8 for Tablets, Notebooks and Desktop Using New Metro-style User Interface

Microsoft today demoed the latest Windows 8 build running on tablets, notebooks and desktop during its BUILD conference in Los Angeles. Steve Sinofsky demonstrated Windows 8 OS running on ARM-powered devices, Qualcomm powered devices and even one tablet running NVIDIA’s upcoming quad-core Tegra 3 chipset. One of the desktop on display, the HP Phoenix, is expectable to be announced later on this week – although specs for this computer have not been revealed yet.

HP PhoenixIn addition, Microsoft will also provide a “Samsung Windows Developer Preview PC”  to 5,000 developers at the conference. The preview PC comes with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of on board storage, a slot for the microSD card, HDMI-out, NFC support, Ethernet and more unsaid features. Tablet owners will also receive one year of free data service with 2GB of data per month from AT&T. Is that AT&T being nice? Unbelievable for a lot people.

Here are more hardware picture Microsoft showed during the BUILD conference:

(Source BoyGeniusReport)

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