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Friday, September 30, 2005

Broad Band Power

Matsushita, parent of Panasonic, has developed a broadband over AC wiring product, with speeds of up to 170 megabits per second. I have heard about this technology for at least 15 years, and all I have ever seen from it is X10. So my one question: Will we really see any products developed from this?

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Grand Challenge Robot Race

The DARPA Grand Challenge autonomous robotic auto race is on in California. The teams are competing for a $2 million prize, and this year they hope to have a winner. Last year no robot completed the race, and no one won the $1 million prize. For more information visit the Grand Challenge website.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New PSP Hack

Various people have coverage of the new hack to the PSP. The hack allows people to downgrade to software version 1.5 so that they can "launch unauthorized third-party applications - including homebrew games and programs, emulators, and pirated games - off their Memory Sticks."

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Solar Car Video

The BBC has video coverage of the Solar Car race currently underway in Austalia.

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MIT Fab Labs

Now this is very cool technology. MIT is developing fabricators, and setting them up in Fab Labs all over the world. The labs are being used by sheep herders in Norway to people working on cooking tools for the Ghanaian national dish.

This work is part of The Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT. Check out the FabLab website to learn how you can use a Fab Lab.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

iHome Mini Review

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the iHome, a small radio with iPod dock. I did get a chance to see & hear one at the local Apple store, where it sells for $99. While the Apple store is not the perfect listening environment, it did allow me to compare the iHome to the Bose SoundDock which sells for 3 times as much.
The iHome does not have the bass output of the SoundDock, but it does sound much better than the average alarm clock radio. If you want to put your iPod next to the bed or in a quiet study the iHome is worth a try. I have to say it is priced right. And for the $200 difference between it and a SoundDock, you might be able to figure out how to add a subwoofer.

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Cool House

Live Data feed for a Maryland house with a Geothermal Heating and cooling system. Their home page (http://www.ourcoolhouse.com/) tells the story of their home design.
Rather than building a traditional Energy-Hog home, or even a non-traditional Energy-Efficient home, our new home is a unique fusion of energy efficient techniques, and environmental sanity. Our goal was to create a home that uses the sun, earth and water to create a pleasant living environment where we can enjoy the wildlife, and which also reduces our demands on non-sustainable resources. I think we succeeded!

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Solar Cars

OK, so these cars aren't made for the run to the local grocery store, but it is an interesting approach. They also show what happens when you take efficiency to the extreme. The Panasonic World Solar Challenge is run over 1,800 miles in Australia and pulls in teams from MIT to Iran.

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Battery Problems

Yahoo and USA Today have an article today on battery technology. The author misses the fact that the need for better batteries goes beyond hand held devices. Better battery technology will also boost hybrid cars, and even my "cordless" electric lawn mower.

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Real Battlebots

An article on Yahoo talks about the South Korean governments plans to build robots that can help monitor the North/South Korean border.
South Korea envisages the robots performing roles on the battlefield now done by dogs, such as sniffing for explosives and catching intruders, the ministry said.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Army Develops Hybrid

In a quest for something more efficient than the 11 mpg Hummer, the Army is developing a low cost 50 mpg hybrid diesel truck.

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Behind the times

Proving its hard to hit a moving target, Dell has targeted the iPod shuffle with its DJ Ditty. The device appears aimed at the shuffle with out taking the battle to Apple's home turf (Dell doesn't acknowledge any support for the Mac).

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Day in Robot News

Smallest Mobile Robot
"When we say 'controllable,' it means it's like a car; you can steer it anywhere on a flat surface, and drive it wherever you want to go. It doesn't drive on wheels, but crawls like a silicon inchworm, making tens of thousands of 10-nanometer steps every second. It turns by putting a silicon 'foot' out and pivoting like a motorcyclist skidding around a tight turn."

Robot Lifeguard Assistant
September 19, 2005 The BraunPrize for 2005 has been awarded to Jens Andersson from Sweden for his design “Rescue Buoy” - a swimming robot in the form of a lifebuoy.

NASA Robot Prize
"They bring in their rovers and each get 30 minutes in the sandbox," NASA spokesman Brant Sponberg explained. "The machine that autonomously excavates and delivers the most lunar soil simulant to a collection point in 30 minutes wins the purse."
The prize is $250,000 U.S.

Mitsubishi Robot Companion
Able to recognize up to 10 people and call them by name, the 100 cm (40 inch) tall Wakamaru will approach and greet family members in a gentle, feminine voice when they arrive home and offer to pass on telephone messages or read out any e-mails that may have arrived.

Fujitsu Service Robot
As a fully developed practical-use service robot, enon features enhancements such as lighter weight, smaller size, and more safety features than the prototype that Fujitsu developed last year.

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

USB Car Stereos

This morning Slashdot has a posting about CNN's coverage of VW's new car stereo. The stereo has a in dash USB connector to allow connections to iPods and similar music players. A few people reply that there are off the shelf stereos in Europe that offer this.

So I take a look at the site of the masters of car stereo here in the U.S., Crutchfield. And yes, they do have an in dash stereo that accepts USB inputs among other features. The Audiobahn A1200N supports the iPod. From the description:
For starters, the A1200N offers a direct connection for your iPod® that lets you control track and playlist selection right from the radio. Just connect the optional data cable, plug in your iPod, and the CD player will display iPod song, artist, and album information, giving you near total iPod control for less than $20.
So this goes to prove my theory that I car companies should go back to standard sized and shaped stereos in their cars. But that discussion is for another day.

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Intel Vs. AMD for Apple

Thanks to MacCentral, Yahoo has an article about Apple picking Intel over AMD. It is an interesting read, but I disagree with it on one point. This article fails to mention that due to its success in recent years AMD has been unable to produce enough chips to meet demand. I think this weighed more on Jobs' mind than laptop processors. AMD CPUs generally have had lower power requirements than comparable Intel chips. But it could be that Intel is doing more in the extreme low power end of the market than AMD.

In other news there is also an article on the slowing of Moore's Law. Which has a quote that ties into the discussion above.
One way to innovate differently is to make chips more energy efficient, which is crucial for the fast-growing segment of mobile electronics devices such as mobile computers. Of the three P's -- power, performance and price -- power becomes more important.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hybrid Hype

Hybrids at the Frankfurt Auto show

"Record fuel costs pushed hybrid cars to center stage at the world's biggest car show this week but automakers argued over whether the rising popularity of petrol-electric vehicles was just the result of marketing hype.

Long sniffed at as a fad by European carmakers enamoured of modern diesel motors that can be just as fuel efficient, hybrids are on the ascendancy as even erstwhile skeptics fall into line and rush to offer products with an environmental halo. "

9/15/05 Add. - More coverage at Forbes.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

iHome for iPod

I saw an add for this device in a magazine (yes print) this afternoon. The iHome appears to be a "Bose Radio" type device for the iPod. It has a relatively modest price of $129 when compared to the Bose Radio or the similar radio from Cambridge Soundworks.

I have not heard or used this product so I have no review to share. If you have a review please add a comment. Or if the manufacturer would like to loan me an iHome for a week or two, I'd love to write a review of the radio.

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VOIP in Africa

Article on VOIP in Uganda

The above article is an interesting application of some relatively off the shelf technology. Inveneo is providing VOIP systems powered by solar panels or bicycle generators to allow communications in remote parts of the world. This is a brilliant use of technology in a non-obvious application for the "greater good."

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Monday, September 12, 2005

Samsung and Sun

Other than buy outs, the big news today comes from Samsung on the chips used to make 32GB flash memory cards; and from Sun Micro who has released a new line of computers.

The Samsung announcement brings to mind future release of an iPod nano with as much storage as the bigger hard drive based models. Or even keeping your computer working environment on a keychain.

Sun's new line of computers start with the X2100 model whose $745 low end price seems a bit of a teaser. However there may be a few farm environments where disk-less CPUs will be used, so I won't completely condemn them for cheap marketing tricks.

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Grass Power

Due to the Katrina induced spike in fossil fuel prices people are turning to bio-products to try to cut energy costs. Some people are proposing the burning of a certain grass in coal fired power plants as a renewable resource and to "cut" CO2 emissions. While I doubt this process is truly carbon dioxide neutral as the proponents claim, it might be close.

While this is the first I have heard of burning a grass for fuel. Bio-fuel products have been around for a while, of course they are seeing a rise in demand.

If you are looking to make money on this interest in Green Power, check out the PBW fund. I like its long term prospects, but personally I think the recent run up in price will retreat when gas prices are no longer making head lines. I don't own any of this fund, but I plan to watch it now that I know about it.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

iPod nano

Looks like the iPod nano must be why Apple wants to buy 40% of Samsung's flash memory production. For those who want the functions of the "regular" iPod in something almost as small as the Shuffle the nano is made for you.

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No Bluetooth for ROKR

Earth to Steve Jobs. Come in. There is no way I am going to physically connect a phone to my computer. Not after the bliss that is my Sony Ericsson T610, Bluetooth, and Isync. In the Apple CEO's presentation today, he said that you connect the ROKR to your computer with a simple USB cable to synchronize music. And Apple's site confirms that this is unfortunately the only way it can be done today. This might be different if the ROKR had an Ipod-style dock that I could just pop the phone into, but apparently it doesn't.

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New Spin on Old Tech

This is not so much new and interesting technology, but an interesting spin on old technology. DirecTV has created a Katrina info channel in the wake of what is sure to be the worst hurricane disaster in the US. Think of it as sorta like a broadcast CraigsList.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Columbia to use Stratellites

Stratellites will be used to build a wireless broadband network in Columbia.

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Dual format NG DVD player

dual-standard DVD player

Samsung Electronics Co. will bring out a DVD machine next year capable of playing both Blu-ray and HD DVD if backers of the rival standards fail to agree on a unified format, a newspaper said.

This is an example of a company doing something sane, instead of the standard fighting for dominance. Got to luv it when the consumer wins.

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