Friday, November 30, 2007

Every Episode of South Park Ever Being Put Online for Free Next Year

southparkxbox.jpgEarlier this year, Viacom put every Daily Show episode online for free, and it was awesome. Now, they're following suit with South Park, with plans to put every episode of the animated series online for free next year.

It's a ballsier move than putting The Daily Show online, as South Park sells lots of DVDs, and these episodes will directly compete with episodes available for sale in stores. The Daily Show is less valuable as it gets older, as it's news-based, so putting episodes that poke fun of Ralph Nader online wasn't as much of a risk. If successful, look for more MTV and Comedy Central shows to get this treatment (The State! Please!). The more free TV shows online the better, as far as we're concerned. We'd like it if they spread the love and made all these episodes available to other players such as Joost, but I guess we should be happy with what we get. [Reuters]

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Soropot Teapot is Sexy, Architectural [Design Concepts]

sorapot_2shot.jpg Some tea connoisseurs are calling the Soropot the "sexiest teapot ever," but we just think it's downright architectural. There's function behind that form, too, where the arched handle is supposed to act as a heat sink to keep the tea from oversteeping. Its arched support straddles a burner on the stove, and the water in that horizontally oriented boiler acts like an old-timey locomotive, getting all hot and steamy until it's ready to pour over your favorite teabags. All this stainless steel and glass and design overload isn't quite available yet, but when/if it is, we tea drinkers at the Giz are even willing to forsake our gorgeous Michael Graves teapot from Target for one of these. [ Snarfd]

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Oculon Hikari Pro920 Pocket Projector Debuts for $299 [Small Package]

pocket_projector_oculon.jpg You never know when you might need to whip out a projector, and here's the smallest one you can buy so far, made by the Chinese company that calls itself Oculon. The 640x480 Hikari Pro920 is $299, giving you a 24-inch image from about a yard away, or a 12-inch picture from a foot away. If you're looking for a bit more resolution, you can get an 800x600 model for $399.

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Vudu Goes HD, Thumbs Nose at Blu-ray and HD DVD [Digital Downloads]

Vudu_Bourne.jpgThis winter, Vudu will give every Vudu owner and new buyer copies of both The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy, pre-loaded on their boxes in glorious HD. They will also have the opportunity to download The Bourne Ultimatum to own for $25. This is a sign that Vudu—and Universal—are looking past the current format war toward the increasingly inevitable download-only distribution.

Until now, Vudu has just seemed like a better alternative to CinemaNow or Movielink, IP-based video-on-demand that was ready-made for the living room. It still costs money to rent or own movies after you buy the the box, and content selection was limited to (very high quality) standard-def video. But now it's challenging the current state of HD.

Whenever we talk about the format war, there is always a segment of commenters who scream out "Neither!" in favor of the still nebulous digital download scenario. At the beginning of Blu-ray and HD DVD, Hollywood execs talked of a strict code: HD was for packaged disc-locked media only, while downloads had to be standard def. But Xbox Live changed that when it began distributing HD video for rent, and now, it seems, the floodgates are open. Even staunch HD DVD defender Universal seems eager to see what happens when you give customers to take their HD movies straight up, hold the shiny silver disc.

But there are good reasons why this doesn't yet signal the death knell of the disc formats:
• There's high-def and there's high-def. The video quality of Vudu's downloads is 1080i, impressive especially for film content, but a far cry from the 1080p favored by true videophiles. Also, packaged disc content can have higher-resolution audio at this point, too, though that will change as pipes widen.

• $25 for a software-only copy of a movie sounds a little steep, considering you can get the HD DVD of The Bourne Supremacy at Amazon for $20. iTunes had to sell albums for $10 at a time when CDs costs $15 or more. I think $20 is the most Vudu could really charge for HD download-to-own titles.

• Saving an HD movie to your Vudu may put the screws to the HD DVD/Blu-ray debate, but it also starts up another format war, what our own Matt Buchanan labeled the Infinite Format War. For the time being, an HD movies saved on your Vudu is going to stay there, and you won't be able to play it on your Xbox 360. Never say never, but that's the deal for now.

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MIT Designs Electro-Scooter That Folds Up into Tiny, Wheeled Package [Rent-a-Scooter]

mit_scooter22.jpg Those eggheads at the Smart Cities group at MIT are a clever bunch, coming up with a design concept for an electric scooter that folds up into a package scarcely larger than a wheeled carry-on suitcase. In the Utopian vision for such bikes, you'd ride one to work, then fold it up and roll it right into the office, where it will take up very little space. But wait. This idea gets even more appealing:

mit_scooter_02.jpg
As depicted in the conceptual rendering above, there's a plan to rent the electric bikes in numerous locations throughout a city, where a rider could take a bike one-way, dropping it off near a destination in a different part of town.

The scooter's not bad looking, either. If you like this, wait 'til next year, when the group will be rolling out a foldable electric car. [InfoSync and Technology Info]

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Tea Stick Stirs Heaven Into Your Cup [Leaf Soaker]

teastick_real.jpg All right you potheads, knock it off. This is not a special one-hit toker. No, it's the Tea Stick, a spring-loaded doodad that lets you place loose tea on its little retractable shelf, and then you stir it into some nice hot water, resulting in a tea connoisseur's nirvana. The stainless steel and plastic implement, formerly only dreamed about as a design concept, is now available for $20. Say goodbye to those old tea bags, and indulge yourself with all the other tea snobs, using that precious loose tea that will take you to another place. Or something. If that doesn't do it for you, you can just put your weed in it. [Chiasso, via Crave]

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Precocious Kids Mess with Tracks of an Oncoming Train

These kids messed with the tracks of their local express train and got it to go off its normal tracks. I don't want to spoil this video for you, so just watch it. Trust me, it's worth it. It's another one of these great videos in the spirit of yesterday's flying car clip, of which I cannot get enough.

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Micron's Future Concept of SSD is RAM-Module Like [Solid State Drives]

Micron_ssd_module.jpg In addition to Micron's traditional solid state drives announced today , they also showed off a concept for a SSD module that resembles RAM in physical design and would fit into a similarly designed port. It's obvious but genius: while the SSD drives with SATA interfaces are terrific because they can be used in current laptops with no mods, the real performance of flash mem is only going to be unlocked when we cast aside the legacy of spinning disks and their cases and interfaces and mount SSDs on the mobo like we do RAM modules.

The design uses a SATA interface and is only 4 mm thick. Micron claims the advantages of such a design are the small size and the ability to line up multiple drives next to each other. In addition, this design requires no wires or attaching the motherboard with screws, reducing the risk of the SSD becoming disconnnected or loose inside a computer. While this product is nowhere near ready for market, Micron says they would need to work with an OEM or someone who can offer a compatible computer solution. [Micron]

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Rambus Targets 1TB/sec Bandwith For Computer Memory [Memory]

terabyte_bandwidth_memory_architecture.jpg Memory maker Rambus has unveiled its Terabyte Bandwidth Initiative with the goal to develop a new memory architecture capable of achieving 1TB/sec bandwidth. The plan is to push the data rate to a whopping 32X—which can provide a 16Gbps signaling rate with a 500MHz clock. Compare that with to the 2bits/1Gbps provided by conventional DDR at the same rate. Add differential signaling an both the data and command/address channels and you have yourself one blazingly fast system.

According to Rambus, graphics and game consoles will push memory bandwidth needs toward 1TB over the next 4-5 years. Rambus believes that they can achieve the 1TB goal in that time frame using a multi-chip array. There is no doubt that the need will be there sooner or later, but whether Rambus can succeed in this time frame remains to be seen. [Rambus via Electronista]

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Playstation 3 Turned Into "Crackstation" for Super Hacking Goodness [Hax]

ps3s.jpgForget Folding@home and its feel-good applications. There are cooler things to be done, like cryptography cracking. Taking advantage of the Cell's vector architecture , a security consultant with Security-assessment.com has cooked up a way to to bust passwords open like bad Easter eggs really, really fast. His Crackstation shoves past "the current upper limit of 10-15 million cycles per second—in Intel-based architecture—up to 1.4 billion cycles per second." To put that in non-geek, "Intel processors are designed to do all kinds of complex calculations, whereas the PS3 is good at doing simple things very quickly." The work apparently stands to change the whole cryptography industry.

For one, it shows that using Intel processors or ones with similar architecture as benchmarks "just is not good enough anymore." Cracking cryptographer will probably get faster all around as well, which should ultimately drive stronger cryptography with better implementation. Though they haven't tried it yet, by using a technique similar to Folding@home with distributed loads, the cracking power could obviously be increased exponentially.

All of that said, I just think it's funny how it's emphasized over and over again how "simple" Cell's architecture is, after Sony's spent all this time telling us how complex and awesome it is. [PC World]

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Verizon Switches to GSM's Side For Ultra Highspeed 4G Technology [Cellphones]

Verizon_Chooses_LTE.jpg Verizon Wireless today announced it would support "Long Term Evolution" (LTE), the super fast 4G technology currently in testing from Nokia and its European friends in the 3GPP group, and operating at a blistering 100Mbps. It's certainly hot technology, but one seen as an extension of GSM's high-speed packet technology. This is a rejection of CDMA's EV-DO (which has a faster Rev. C that could have been rolled out) and a definite rejection of WiMax, which has been Sprint's chosen 4G technology . As dramatic as the shift is, it's not totally surprising when you look at Verizon's historic lack of compatibility with its European co-owner, Vodafone, an early LTE supporter. It also fits with Verizon's new pledge of openness : presumably this means interchangeable SIM cards for easier-to-swap phones and mobile devices. (Press release with lots of nice details after the jump.)

VERIZON SELECTS LTE AS 4G WIRELESS BROADBAND DIRECTION

Technology Platform to be Trialed in 2008

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. - Verizon today announced plans to develop and deploy its fourth generation mobile broadband network using LTE - Long Term Evolution - the technology developed within the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards organization. The selection of LTE provides Verizon and Vodafone - joint owners of U.S.-based Verizon Wireless - with a unique opportunity to adopt a common access platform with true global scale and compatibility with existing technologies of both companies.

Verizon and Vodafone have a coordinated trial plan for LTE that begins in 2008. Trial suppliers include Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia-Siemens, and Nortel. These suppliers, along with others in the world community, have contributed significantly towards development of the standards in 3GPP. Discussions with device suppliers have expanded beyond traditional suppliers such as LG, Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, and Sony Ericsson, as consumer electronics companies anticipate embedded wireless functionality in their future products.

Working within 3GPP, Verizon and Vodafone, as well as a broad group of infrastructure suppliers, device suppliers, and technology companies from around the globe, have advanced the standards to enable a technology that will deliver unprecedented wireless broadband service for high performance mobile computing, multimedia, and consumer electronic devices and applications. The technology is designed to deliver mobile data networks with higher speed and throughput performance, lower latency, global roaming, and improved efficiencies.

Today's LTE announcement builds on Verizon Wireless' technology leadership as the first company to launch high-speed wireless broadband service in the United States using CDMA Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) technology. Its data innovation and leadership have been marked by the introduction of new multimedia handsets and innovative applications such as V CAST Music, V CAST Video, VZ NavigatorSM, V CAST games, e-mail, Internet access, and picture and video messaging on a variety of devices, including handsets, PDAs and laptops.

Richard Lynch, executive vice president and chief technology officer of Verizon Communications observed that "while this next generation technology will be exciting to develop and deploy, it comes at a time when we are adding record numbers of customers to our existing CDMA2000 1x and EV-DO networks. We relish the challenge of preparing for the time when our customers start demanding such 4G capabilities, while continuing the expansion and operation of our existing technologies for many years to come."

"The company's move toward a 4G network is driven by our vision of pervasive wireless Internet connectivity and mobility," said Lynch. "Customers want to be truly untethered with advanced communication devices that provide functionality comparable to today's wired networks - whether it's downloading or uploading video, gaming, downloading their favorite music, or social networking. They want to be able to communicate in new and innovative ways whenever and wherever they choose around the globe. A number of factors are setting the stage for our 4G network migration; most importantly, our view of customers' evolving appetite for more information, entertainment, and functionality, combined with an increasing customer expectation for easy access, high speed, easy handling, and seamless mobility. With a host of new devices and applications, and a particular focus on embedded wireless in virtually every piece of electronics you buy in any store, we believe LTE is the best technology with global scale to deliver on the promise."

"Vodafone is delighted to be working alongside Verizon in the development of LTE technology, and we're looking forward to assessing the results of the joint engineering trials. We fully support Verizon's decision to select LTE as their next generation wireless broadband solution," said Steve Pusey, Vodafone's global chief technology officer. "We expect LTE to form a key part of Vodafone's future technology strategy, and the prospect of moving towards a common platform with Verizon Wireless is an attractive long-term goal. LTE will build on the capabilities of Vodafone's 3G broadband High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) network technology, which is available across the entire Vodafone 3G footprint."

"Today's 4G announcement, coupled with our Open Development initiative announced earlier this week present a major growth opportunity for Verizon Wireless," said Doreen Toben, chief financial officer of Verizon. "Fourth generation's higher data speeds will usher in a new era of wireless applications and appliances, all of which can benefit from connecting to the nation's premier wireless network."

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Wall Art That Will Get You Drunk: A True Masterpiece [Alcoholic Art]

winewall.jpgEven someone who has never set foot in a museum before can appreciate art like this. This "interactive" art installation by artist Hannes Broecker in Dresden, Germany, features wall-mounted containers filled with deliciously intoxicating cocktails for patrons to enjoy. The idea behind the work is that art should stimulate the senses. In this case, the sense of taste is being stimulated while all the other senses are being dulled. Call me crazy, but Broecker could be the next Picasso. [Coolhunter]

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Comcast Getting 100Mbps Cable Modems Next Year, Fiber Scared?

quicksilver2.jpgComcast confirms we'll see the rollout of DOCSIS 3.0—the next-gen data over cable standard allowing bandwidth of 160Mbps down and 120Mbps up— starting next year, with 20 percent of its footprint expected to be blanketed in bandwidth goodness by the end of 2008. Even though Comcast isn't saying where it'll fall, markets where there's FiOS are probably going to continue having all of the fat pipe fortune—competition is good for people in those areas, bad for the rest of us. Now for the real bad news:

The upstream magic—where cable is so sorely gimped right now—is going to remain hobbly, at least at first. And it's not 'cause Comcast is incompetent (for a change). As "a reflection of the status of upstream channel bonding technology" we won't see upstream on steroids until deep into 2008 or even 2009. Consequently, while downstream's getting a Rosie O' Donnell plumping with initial offerings in the 20-50Mbps range—what Verizon's offering now—upstream speeds still aren't going to stack up, dulling the competitive edge DOCSIS 3.0 was supposed to bring against fiber.

That means The Flash is going to stay ahead of Quicksilver for the foreseeable future, since by 2009 Verizon's GPON-based FiOS will probably cover the majority of its footprint, allowing them to flip a switch to out-juice whatever cable's got by then. [Broadband Reports]

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Google Takes a Lesson From Digg?

a840e102_screen.jpgTaking a lesson from Digg and similar sites, Google Labs is testing out a new reader response interface for search results (with only a select few users for a limited time). Essentially, your normal search results are enhanced with "like it" and "don't like it" buttons that would tweak the order of said results on your list. And you can also add URL results that you would have liked to receive given your search premise. Google explains:

When you search for the same keywords again, you'll continue to see those changes. If you later want to revert your changes, you can undo any modifications you've made.
But your poor tastes/opinions won't screw everyone.

The system only works within browser...for now...meaning that your opinions will not affect other users. Of course, if such a system were deployed in a widespread fashion, we're guessing Google would aggregate data trends to alter search results over time for better relevance.

And would such a system be better? What do we trust more, man or machine? Or sweatshops full of children adding "Nike.com" to every query result? [google via theregister]

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Zonbu's prepping subscription laptops for 2008

The Zonbu Mini is about to get a portable friend. Zonbu has just revealed its Everex-built Zonbu Notebook, which will be hitting the market in Q1 2008. The $279 upfront pricetag is quite a bit heftier than the $99 Mini, but the subscription fee remains the same at $14.95. Specs are quite the improvement on the Mini, with a 1.5GHz VIA C7-M processor, 60GB HDD, DVD-RW / CD-RW drive, VIA Chrome9 HC integrated graphics, WiFi and a 15.4-inch 1440 x 900 display. Zonbu claims up to three hours of battery, and of course all those "hassle-free" promises and managed Linux software of the original. In a world of $399 Eee PCs and cheaper Black Friday bargains, a $279 laptop with a hefty subscription fee might not seem like such a steal, but it's not hard to see the appeal for a first-time PC buyer, and it certainly bests the Mini. The best news is that if you're willing to put up with some beta software, Zonbu is selling the Notebook as of today for those risk-taking luddites out there.

 

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College course via mobile phone being offered in Japan

Finally, your greatest and weirdest dream can be realized. Besides being able to check your Facebook account, email your girlfriend, call your Mom on the holidays, or play a Java version of Golden Axe, you can take a college class via your mobile phone. The questionably named Cyber University in Japan has begun offering a mobile class on the "mysteries of the pyramids," but instead of a typical PC's display of text, images, sound, and video, the mobile version offers a streaming Power Point presentation on the topic. The university -- 71-percent of which is owned by Softbank, a mobile service provider -- has 1,850 students, and offers almost 100 courses, though only one is available for phones. Sakuji Yoshimura, head of Cyber University, says that the technology will allow those with jobs or who have disabilities greater access to education. "Our duty as educators is to respond to the needs of people who want to learn," he said -- then went on to add, "Even if the course is interrupted by an SMS."

Update: Did we say Golden Axe? Because we meant Wonder Boy . Whoops.

 

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Blockbuster in talks with mobile makers for video on the go

from Engadget by Sean Cooper
Apparently Blockbuster Video is wooing mobile device makers in an attempt to make mobile video content consumption a little easier on the consumers. While no names were specifically mentioned, Blockbuster CEO James Keyes did say that they were in talks with virtually all major handset manufacturers. We've no clue how the vids will be delivered if this gets off the ground, but wouldn't be too averse to downloading flicks on the device if the file size -- and data tariffs -- could be kept sane. Mr Keyes went on to say that he's started watching films on his BlackBerry thanks to a little technical help from a Blockbuster employee and from Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Research in Motion. Of course, we're sure the technical help mentioned didn't have anything to do with DVD Decrypter and the illegal copying of DVDs, right guys?

 

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California school district getting 1,000 Asus Eee PCs

Students in California's Fresno Unified school district have a little something to be excited about this week, as officials have just invested $650,000 in 1,000 Asus Eee PCs, set for classroom deployment over the next few weeks. The concept is to use the miniscule laptops alongside good, old-fashioned textbooks, with each student being given the chance to create a "digital portfolio" of essays, drawings, and whatever else they can get away with. The computers will remain in roughly 60 classrooms, and will be shared by students -- but some worry they'll hinder the learning process by distracting pupils. Says Stephen Lewis, a geology professor at California State University, Fresno, "Teaching and learning is a person-to-person business. Are we moving toward a remote-control classroom?" We're not sure what he means by that... then again, we drifted off half-way through his statement to watch a video of that dog on a skateboard.

 

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Google unveils GPS-less handset locator technology


If your smartphone came with a built-in GPS receiver, you can choose to just overlook Google's latest technology, but if your mobile is among the 85-percent (or so) out there lacking an integrated GPS module, listen up. The search giant has revealed new software (dubbed My Location) that enables non-GPS-equipped phones to be pinpointed within three miles of their actual location. Google is claiming that it can provide "neighborhood-level" data, and that pressing "0" while in the app will enable users to skip the task of entering in a starting address when looking up directions. Notably, the system is not set up to collect phone numbers or any other personal details, and for those still paranoid, it can indeed be switched off. Currently, the tracking database still has a few gaps to be filled -- namely locales in Europe and all of China / Japan -- but Google could very well use the location data to eventually provide targeted ads to those who use it.

[Image courtesy of TracyAndMatt, thanks to everyone who sent this in]

 

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Cowon Q5W goes on sale in US, shows off its premium skills

We knew the Cowon Q5W was coming to our fair shores this week, but now that it's here, we've got some fresh details that make that $549 pricetag seem downright reasonable. You're still looking at a 5-inch 800 x 400 touchscreen and Windows CE, but Cowon has really thrown down the gauntlet with codec support, including DivX, XviD, AVI, ASF, WMV9, MPEG4, OGM, Ogg, FLAC and APE -- and the browser supports Flash. There's also a "pen mode" for the interface and an optional WinCE Office Viewer that might let you actually get some work done. To top it all off, the entire UI appears to be skinnable, and Cowon says a version with GPS will also hit next month. Damn, looks like our love affair with the Archos 605 WiFi is over.

PS. Check the Cowon America product page for some of the best machine translation pickup lines we've ever seen.

[Thanks, Gibran]

 

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Verizon and Vodafone to launch LTE trial in 2008

The decision to move to LTE for their next-gen network is old news. However, Vodafone and Verizon's coordinated trial set to launch in 2008 is most definitely new. Suppliers will include Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia-Siemens, and Nortel with devices anticipated from the usuals (LG, Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, and Sony Ericsson) in addition to non-traditional consumer electronics companies looking to get a foothold on the nascent wireless broadband service. Presumably the latter is a nod in the direction of Verizon's suspect, Open Development initiative announced earlier this week. No word on dates or locations but we'll certainly let you know how this trial network, with a theoretical 100Mbps download and 50Mbps upload capability, unfolds.

 

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Objet Geometries set to unveil multi-material 3D printer


CAD fans, prepare to get stoked. Objet Geometries -- a "world leader" in photopolymer jetting -- has announced that it will debut a system capable of producing 3D parts and assemblies made from different materials in a single build. The device, known as the Connex500, utilizes the company's "PolyJet Matrix," which can create 21 composite materials and seven separate model materials. "The Connex500 opens a new chapter for the 3-D printing and rapid prototyping industry," said Adina Shorr, CEO of Objet. The machine is capable of producing both rigid and flexible material, and can create polypropylene-like surfaces. Honestly, the process the Connex500 uses is pretty complicated stuff, but you really only need to understand one basic fact: you will never again be missing a piece from your chess set. Hit the read link and get all the technical details on your next pricey purchase.

 

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Mobile phone subscriptions hit 3.3 billion

Filed under:

Just last month we heard that there were some 2.68 billion mobile accounts currently active in the world, but a new study by Informa has found that there are actually 3.3 billion subscriptions. This number is somewhat significant considering that it's approximately half of the world's population, but alas, not half of all Earthlings actually own a cellphone. Researchers found that 59 countries had mobile penetration over 100 percent, suggesting that some individuals actually accounted for numerous mobile subscriptions. Sure, the figures here could be picked apart in a myriad ways, but why not just raise your handset to commemorate hitting the big three point three? You are one of them, right?

[Image courtesy of W3]

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A TV Style Video Player for Watching Your Favorite Web Videos

If you love watching videos on the web, World TV is one service that you should bookmark.

Contrary to the name, World TV it is not about watching TV channels online, rather it lets you play your favorite web videos in a proper TV kind of environment.

You also get a full screen video player and can easily flip through videos using the onscreen controls.

watch videos online

You begin by creating a playlist of your favorite web videos that could be residing on any video sharing websites like YouTube, Blip, Daily Motion and more.

If a site is not supported, just type the direct URL of the FLV video file in the World TV editor.

Each of your web TV channel gets a unique URL that can also be changed if you like. Plus you can brand the video player with a custom background and your logo that will link to your own blog or website. Brilliant.

worldtv.com | My Channel | Thanks Scoble

world tv channel

Related: Watch YouTube in Full Browser Window

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Play Nearly Any Media File with MPlayer for Windows Mobile

mplayer_wmobile_scaled.jpg
Windows Mobile 5 & 6 only: Free open source media player MPlayer, long known to Linux fans for its format friendliness and streamlined operation, has been ported in somewhat rough fashion to Windows Mobile-powered smartphones. While that means formats like RealAudio/Video, Ogg, M4A and others are playable, users are reporting that the program is a monster when it comes to processor use (which also makes it a battery killer) and has only the most basic "open file" functionality. But if you've got a low-quality file or a powerful phone, it could make for a nifty toy to play with until it gets fixed. MPlayer is a free download for Windows Mobile 5 and 6 phones only.

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Golden Triangle Suggests How People Scan Google Search Pages

from Digital Inspiration by

This visual heat map suggests how web searchers navigate scan the search results shown on Google pages and which areas on the Google web page tend to get the maximum attention.

The areas highlighted in red are noticed by almost Google user but the visibility decreases drastically for search results that show up below the fold (i.e., search results at position 5 or below).

google golden triangle

Like the letter “F”, human eyes read the content at the top in a horizontal manner and then travel vertically along the left side of the results.

Most of the Google ads in the right sidebar largely go unnoticed (compared to the top organic search results) while the reverse is true for the horizontal Google ad unit placed at the top of search results - it probably offers the highest conversion rate for advertisers.

Full details of this Google Eyetracking study is available on Eyetools.

Related: How to Draw Heat Maps

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Live Documents To Take on Google Docs and Microsoft Office

Sabeer Bhatia Hotmail Sabeer Bhatia, who sold Hotmail to Microsoft in 1997 for around $400 million, has now challenged the cash cow (read Office Suite) of the same company that made him a millionaire.

Sabeer has launched Office Live Documents - an online+offline Office suite of programs similar to Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

live documents screenshot Like Zoho Office or Google Docs, Live Documents lets you create, edit and share Office documents in the web browser.

All your edits are automatically synchronized with all other copies of the documents.

And if you own a copy of Microsoft Office, you can download a Live Documents toolbar desktop client that makes it easy to upload documents from your Office programs to the Live Documents cloud (very similar to Office Live Workspace).

Other than uploading documents online, this Live Docs desktop client will also synchronizes all changes made to a document - either on the browser or on the desktop within Microsoft Office - to ensure that the most up-to-date document is available on both platforms.

Live Documents is done in Flex so should work on any system that has the Flash plug-in. Overall, Live Docs sounds like a good concept but they are definitely up against some heavyweights notably Google and Microsoft.

Request invite for Live Documents here. Official site: live-documents.com

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Jajah, Jaxtr, Jangl - How Are These Skype Alternatives Different ?

cheap internet phone calls Jajah, Jangl and Jaxtr have very similar-sounding names and what further adds to the confusion is that all of them are in the web-calling (VoIP) space each trying to make their presence strong on online social networks and at the same time, grab a piece of pie from big daddy Skype.

Jajah, Jaxtr and Jangle make it possible for you to receive calls without revealing your phone number. They all work with regular phones without the computer. They provide widgets allowing readers and friends to connect with you without leaving your website. And none of them will require you to download or install any software on your computer or phone.

So what are some unique features that makes each of these "Ja.." (fill in the blanks) service different? Let's take a look:

jajah voipJAJAH - Jajah lets you make phone calls over the internet but using regular telephone lines. Type in your phone number on the Jajah website and also the phone number of the person you wish to reach – Jajah will then connect the two numbers seamlessly.

Jajah will also let you send SMS text messages to any mobile phone in the world. And they have just introduced a new service called Jajah Direct which lets you make Internet calls even without a computer or an Internet connection.

You can add Jajah call buttons to your website, social networks or email signatures and receive calls without giving away your phone number. The call charges in this case will be paid by the person who is receiving calls through Jajah (i.e., you).

Jajah supports voice conference calls and call scheduling so you will never forget calling your aunt on her birthday as Jajah will automatically make the call for you.

jaxtr phoneJAXTR - Jaxtr provides a simple click-to-call widget that you can embed in your social web profiles or blogs.

Anyone on the web can can type his phone number inside this widget on your web page and Jaxtr will then connect his phone to your phone almost immediately.

When you register with Jaxtr, you also get a local phone number and any calls made to this number are automatically redirected to your main phone number.  

The best part about Jaxtr is the simplicity - it doesn't require the caller to register before placing a call - they can just key in their own phone number and wait for Jaxtr to connect.

jangl phoneJANGL - Like Jajah and Jaxtr, Jangl also allows anyone to call you without knowing your phone number but there's a difference in approach - when you have to make a phone call through Jangl, you first have to provide Jangl an email address of the person you wish to reach.

Jangl will then give you a local phone number, you call that and leave a voice mail message that will be delivered to the recipient over email. Once they agree to connect with you, the recipient receives instructions to get a number – local to them – to call you back. (read that line again, it may take a while for you to understand the Jangle concept but its actually quite simple)

The interesting feature here is that all phone numbers assigned by Jangl are always different - so if you have five friends who you have allowed to connect through Jangl, they will all be assigned unique phone numbers .

Jangl is quite popular on dating websites but unfortunately, India in not in their list of supported countries yet.

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Blogs Can Download and Use Copyrighted Images from Corbis Legally

corbis picture Stock photography website Corbis is allowing bloggers to download their pictures on blogs for free without having to worry about "copyright infringement" - in return Corbis will embed a banner ad beneath the photograph or image.

There exists dozens of stock photography websites offering royalty free pictures at no cost but the Corbis advantage is that they have tie ups with big news agencies like Reuters so you could gain "legal access" to photographs that are otherwise extremely expensive.

According to Reuters, you can download Corbis pictures from PicApp website (currently in private beta) and they will be tracked automatically. The photos will either include an ad overlay on part of the image, or embedded advertising that pops up when you move the cursor over the picture.

PicApp follows a CPC based model and shares revenue based on the number of clicks made my visitors on the image but it is not clear if Corbis has any plans to share advertising revenue with publishing sites.

Corbis is privately owned by the same person who started Microsoft - Bill Gates.

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Universal Music CEO: Record industry can't tell when geeks are lying to us about technology

Universal Music's CEO Doug Morris did a Wired interview in which the 68-year-old man said that he didn't really understand technology, that the record industry couldn't respond to Napster in 1999 because it didn't even have the in-house expertise to figure out whether a technologist was lying or not -- also, he compares his industry to a character from the comic strip Li'l Abner (which, New York magazine reminds us, stopped running in 1977).
"There's no one in the record industry that's a technologist," Morris explains. "That's a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn't. They just didn't know what to do. It's like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?"

Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn't an option. "We didn't know who to hire," he says, becoming more agitated. "I wouldn't be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me."

Link (via Michael Geist)

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CASH music, a platform for Radiohead-style digital distribution that makes fans into stake-holders

Chris sez, "One of my favorite songwriters, Kristin Hersh (Throwing Muses, 50FOOTWAVE, and solo) has founded the Coalition for Artists and Stake Holders, on the assumption that both artists and fans are stakeholders in the production of music. She's built a framework to distribute music on the internet while taking donations (sort of Radiohead-style: pay what you want) and taking full advantage of the medium -- including offering ProTools tem files via BitTorrent so you can remix her song!" Link (Thanks, Chris!)

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Six-Person Video Conferencing with Meebo/TokBox [Video Conferencing]

meebo_conference_scaled.jpg
Web-based chat application Meebo now lets you video conference with up to five other contacts from any instant messaging service through a team-up with TokBox. As with their regular video chat, you log in, open a chat window, hit the "rocket ship" icon and choose the "Group Video Chat" option. There's simultaneous text chatting in the same window, and the video quality looks to be about the same as the one-on-one setup. Not too shabby for a free, no-installation service.

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Samsung's Thin 3-Megapixel SCH-u900 FlipShot Camera Phone Hits Verizon

Samsung_SCH-u900.jpg Last time you saw the SCH-u900, it was fugly. Now, gussied up and ready for the holidays, the u900 makes its Verizon Wireless debut in red and black with a new nickname, the FlipShot. The 3.0-megapixel camphone replaces the now defunct a990 with a thinner body and a new rounded-edge look. It's got what you'd expect from a high-end feature phone: EV-DO, GPS with VZ Navigator, and Bluetooth—stereo audio, dial-up networking, serial port and object push for vCard, plus basic print and image profiles. The black version starts selling on Verizon's website today, while the seductive red model will only be available at Best Buy, beginning 11/26. Total cost for this baby will be $200, after you sign your life away for one-fifth of a decade, of course. [Verizon Wireless]

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Compact Florescent Light Bulbs, Gone Crazy [Art Bulbs]

plumen-image.jpgCompact fluorescent bulbs get more popular every day because of their energy-saving characteristics, but their conventional corkscrew/spring design leaves something to be desired. Enter Hulger, a bunch of British designers with a bent for the unusual, who have bent those tubes around into crazy configurations, making something that once appeared rather prosaic into an artform. You're looking at a prototype of the spaghetti-like bulb, and we're all hoping to see a shipping version before too long. Now if they can just make them instant-on and light 'em up with a warm color temperature of 2700 Kelvin, they'll really be onto something. [Core 77]

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GPS Letterlogger to Solve the Problem of Missing Snail Mail [Mail Tracker]

gpsletterlogger2-medlg.jpg TrackingTheWorld has come up with a potential solution to the problem of letters that go missing in action. Letter Logger is a quarter-inch-thick device that fits into a standard number 10 business envelope and allows the US Postal Service to track its progress throughout the system alongside Google Earth. Here's how it works.

Letter Logger consists of a powerful microprocessor developed by Texas Instruments, and a low-power consumption uBlox ANTARIS 4 GPS module, and is powered by a slim 1100mAh battery. It can be deployed in two different ways. Users can choose to receive reports every two, five or ten minutes (which would, I think, drive you nuts) if Letter Logger is in Constant mode, or they can go for Tilt mode, which notifies you only when the envelope is tilted. Constant mode gives you 20 hours' battery life, while Tilt mode will keep tabs for two weeks.

The service starts up on January 2 next year and it won't be available to the general public. It's a shame the British Government's Customs and Revenue department didn't have access to this when the CD-Rs containing 25 million people's bank details got lost in transit earlier this month. [Tracking the World via Engadget]

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First Supersonic Private Jet Sold to Obviously-Very-Rich Guy [Supersonic Private Jet]


This is the Aerion Supersonic Business Jet, the first private plane that will fly at 1.6 Mach. The first unit has just been purchased by Sheikh Rashid, the ruler of Dubai. This bird will be able to fly the Ellisons, Jobs and Gores of this world from Paris to New York in just over 4 hours, so even while it has a $80,000,000 price tag, there will be no demand problems for it. The aircraft specs are amazing:

aerion-jet.jpg

Thanks to its design, the Aerion Supersonic Business Jet will be able to cruise at 1.15 Mach over land without producing any boom on the ground. The plane can also keep a 0.98 Mach speed offering a similar cost-per-mile than competing subsonic private jets and complying with US regulations. Over water, however, you will be free to speed it up and sustain 1.5 Mach with ease. To give you an idea, at this speed the Aerion can cross the Atlantic in two hours (it has a 4,600 miles range over 45,400 pounds of fuel) thanks to its Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219 engines.

Unlike the Concorde, which could only fly to certain airports through the world because of its operative requirements, this supersonic jet is designed to comply with environmental, sound and airport regulations everywhere. For example, the Aerion can land in just 3,460 feet, which makes it usable in most airports and a prime candidate to be Larry Ellison's next private plane.

Design-wise, the Aerion looks even better than the fastest turboprop private plane . At least, it looks stunning except for the color. But hey, for $80,000,000 I'm sure they will be able to deliver it in secret-plane black with alien markings.

The Aerion Supersonic Business Jet will be delivered in 2014, so you only need to decide if you want to spend $250,000 now for one of the forty "early delivery positions" or wait a couple more years to get it on a Black Friday, just like the rest of us. [Aerion]

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Lifefast Transparent 360º Ad Display is LED Craziness in a (Big) Can [Led Display]

ad_1-thumb-450x337.jpg Technohouse showed off the Lifefast, a radical transparent, 360º LED display unit at the Inter BEE 2007 fair in Japan. Placed at right angles to each other in the Lifefast's cylindrical design are four bars, each fitted with 600 three-color LEDs, which revolve between 12 and 13 times per second, flashing up images. More info and pics below.

ad_2-thumb-450x337.jpgThe unit, which supports VGA, DVI and video signals, can display three 600 x 800-dot images, two 600 x 1,200-dot images, or one 600 x 2,400-dot image, and the size varies between 75 cm and 150cm tall. The unit, which is manufactured by German firm Kinoton GMBH, costs from around $6,450. New Launches

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Lotus and Hot Wheels Create Badass Concept [Cars]

Lotus_Hot_Wheels_concept_MotorAuthority_006.jpg Lotus makes a sexy car on their own, but teaming up with die-cast maker Hot Wheels they've really outdone themselves. A 1:5 scale model created for SEMA, one of its most distinctive characteristics is the exposed center spine which incorporates switches and gear linkages while supporting that massive wing you see sticking out the back. Mostly men want nice cars to attract women and get them sex. This car is so hot it can skip the finding a woman part. Hit the jump for a mega sized pic. [jalopnik and motorauthority]

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Verizon Says You Can Port From Sprint, Build Your Own Phone [Verizon Opens Wide]

VZW_Test_Head_2.jpg We just got the juicy details on the Verizon Wireless Any App, Any Device initiative going live in the second half of next year. The big answers, from the company heads:
• Yes, you will be able to port existing CDMA phones from Sprint—or Korea—to Verizon, provided they operate on the correct frequencies.
• The cost of certification for BYO phones will be "very reasonable", and that even an at-home tinkerer could feasibly submit a device for approval.
• Previously Verizon only tested phones that could sell in the hundreds of thousands of units; now it will be happy to approve devices that require much lower volume.
• This is for CDMA products only. The iPhone ain't gonna port, even though several reporters seemed to not understand why. Here are more details:

• There will be no problem with Java-powered CDMA phones running on VZW, even though the carrier is so partial to BREW.
• The testing process will involve than basic network interactivity and a simple security screen so that devices that could upload malware to the network won't get through.

CTO Dick Lynch on homemade devices:

If somebody has the technical capability of building a device on a breadboard and they want to bring it to be tested, the philosophy of this program says "Have at it!" If it is tested and passes, it can get on the network. Does it make it hard to be the small guy on the block? Not now, with availability of components, etc. The provider of the device would have some fee that they would pay. I think it's going to be surprisingly reasonable - it's not gonna have many many zeroes on the back. They will be very reasonable fees for professional services rendered.
CEO Lowell McAdam on what might turn up:
This isn't just phones—itcould be a very small module in a gaming station, a home appliance, something that goes into your car. It doesn't have to have the traditional distribution or volumes. [Traditionally] if a device is not going to sell hundreds of thousands, it's hard to decide because of our scale. But now, if something only sells five, now it can be on our network.
McAdam on porting from other carriers:
If somebody wants to bring a device over from any other CDMA carrier or somewhere else, if it passes the test and operates on our frequencies, they can. [Can someone move from Sprint to Verizon?] The short answer is "Yes."
Of course, this is all about device availability, not about the services and fees for service. The honchos admit that there will have to be new plans and open discussion of bandwidth caps.
Depending on the type of device, different usage models will apply. If there's a device that only access network once a month to update, the idea of a utility meter reading comes to mind. If it's doing video download, something else makes sense.
The topic of Google's Open Handset Alliance came up, but the response was fairly boilerplate, and indicated that Verizon was more likely to test popular Android models on its standard service offering, a la Treos, BlackBerrys and Windows Mobile devices. Verizon reminded reporters constantly that BYO was, after all, just augmentation of its standard business model, not a total change. I for one am happy about it, but this is too early to know what will come about. [Press Release]

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'Segway of the Sky' Tops My Christmas Wish List [Definition Of Awesome]

bitar.jpgYes, the Segway is lame. But then, the Segway can't fly. If it could, I wouldn't judge its owners so harshly. Say hello to the VertiPod, which is basically just that. You stand on it and steer it around, and by leaning in one direction or another it'll point you in that direction. It all sounds terribly dangerous, and I want one.

The VertiPod looks a bit like a one-passenger helicopter turned upside-down. Its propeller is on the bottom and the pilot stands on a platform built around it with back support and controls at waist level.

It is powered by a 440-cubic-centimeter engine that runs on gasoline or ethanol and can be activated with a pull-start, like a lawnmower. The VertiPod is intended to travel five to 15 feet above ground at a top speed of 40 mph. Bitar said it will be sold for $10,000 in a kit that can be assembled in a weekend.

"It actually flies, unlike a hovercraft, which is just a ground effect," Bitar said. "It could have applications for law enforcement, especially border patrol, but it will also be available to the consumer market."

No word on when you can start putting yourself and others in harm's way with this thing, but we will, of course, keep you updated. [Product Page via Danger Room]

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False choices that work

Just finished buying some checks online. Got to the page with the ridiculous charges for shipping and handling. They were:

Slow...$14 (Expected delivery, December 15th)
Fast...$18 (Expected delivery, December 10th)
Expedited...$18 (Expected delivery, December 5th)

"Wow!" I said to myself, "I'll show them... I'll get the expedited shipping without paying a penny more than fast."

Perhaps I'm the only customer who had the insight, intelligence and flair to both realize it and take advantage of it. Perhaps some employee is quaking in his boots, fearful for his job because of the millions in losses his employers are going to take because he mispriced expedited shipping.

Or perhaps, perhaps, everybody chooses Expedited.

Nine times out of ten, especially online, people focus on comparisons, not absolutes.

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75-story Skyscraper on 53 West 53 rd Street by Jean Nouvel

November 27th, 2007 by Chantal

A new 75-story tower designed by the architect Jean Nouvel for a site next to the Museum of Modern Art in Midtownbetween 53rd and 54th streets just west of MoMA promises to be the most exhilarating addition to the skyline in a generation.

Its faceted exterior, tapering to a series of crystalline peaks, suggests an atavistic preoccupation with celestial heights. It brings to mind John Ruskin's praise for the irrationality of Gothic architecture:
"It not only dared, but delighted in, the infringement of every servile principle."

Its faceted exterior, tapering to a series of crystalline peaks, suggests an atavistic preoccupation with celestial heights. It brings to mind John Ruskin's praise for the irrationality of Gothic architecture: "It not only dared, but delighted in, the infringement of every servile principle."

Nouvel's bold design will rise 75 stories Currently, a mix of uses is contemplated for the building including: a 50,000-square-foot expansion of MoMA's galleries (levels two to five); a 100-room, seven-star hotel and 120 highest-end residential condominiums on the upper floors. The project will likely commence pre-sales in late 2008.

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